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BQuick On Feb. 28: Top 10 News Stories In Under 10 Minutes

This is a roundup of the day’s top stories in brief.

1. ‘Have Evidence Pakistan Used F-16 Jet’

Indian Armed Forces representatives said that they had proof that Pakistan used an F-16 aircraft to violate Indian airspace in Feb. 27’s operation. This after Pakistan denied the claim that India had downed one Pakistani F-16 fighter jet, saying that they did not use the said aircraft in yesterday's operation.

  • There is enough evidence that Pakistan used F-16 fighter jet that fell inside Pakistan side of Kashmir, said Air Vice Marshal R.G.K. Kapoor.
  • He said that the electronic signatures prove that F-16 jet was used by Pakistan.
  • The Air Vice Marshal also showed the wreckage of an AMRAAM missile fired by Pakistan.
  • Indian army is keeping strict vigil and on high alert, said Major General Surendra Singh Mahal, at the briefing.
  • The Indian Navy is in a high state of readiness to deal with any maritime misadventure from Pakistan, said Rear Admiral DS Gujral.
  • All this after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan, who was captured yesterday, will be returned on March 1 as a “peace gesture”.

Catch all updates around the developments today.

2. India’s GDP Growth Moderates

The Indian economy slowed in the October-December 2018 period, showed government data released on Thursday. The slower growth in the third quarter, together with a downward revision in growth for earlier quarter, brought down the estimate for growth in 2018-19 to 7 percent from the earlier estimate of 7.2 percent.

  • Gross domestic product rose by 6.6 percent in the third quarter of the current financial year.
  • This compares to 8 percent growth in the first quarter and 7 percent growth in the second quarter.
  • In gross value added terms, the economy grew at 6.3 percent in the third quarter of FY19.

Here’s what the data tells us about India’s economy and industrial trends.

3. Airtel’s Mega Fundraise

Bharti Airtel Ltd. plans to raise nearly Rs 32,000 crore (nearly $4.5 billion) to pare debt as India’s second-largest telecom company fights a tariff war sparked by Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd.

  • The Sunil Mittal-controlled company will raise up to Rs 25,000 crore through a rights issue and another Rs 7,000 crore through foreign currency-denominated perpetual bonds.
  • The rights issue will be priced at Rs 220 apiece—priced at a discount of 31 percent to Thursday’s closing price of Rs 319—with an entitlement ratio of 19 shares for every 67 held.
  • A perpetual bond is a fixed income security with no maturity date, which means that Bharti Airtel will only have to service interest payments linked to the bonds. This amount raised won’t form a part of debt.

The fundraise could reduce Bharti Airtel’s debt by 30.5 percent.

4. Nifty Drops For The Third Day

Indian equity benchmarks ended lower for the third consecutive trading session.

  • The S&P BSE Sensex ended 0.11 percent lower at 35,867.
    NSE Nifty 50 ended 0.13 percent lower at 10,792.
  • In the February series, the 50-share gauge ended 0.36 percent lower.
  • Seven out of 11 sectoral gauges compiled by NSE advanced, led by the NSE Nifty Realty Index’s 0.99 percent gain.
  • On the flipside, the NSE Nifty IT Index was the top sectoral losers, down 1.1 percent.

Follow the day’s trading action here.

BQuick On Feb. 28: Top 10 News Stories In Under 10 Minutes

U.S. stocks were mostly lower as lingering concerns over trade and geopolitical risks offset a report showing the economy cooled by less than expected last quarter.

  • China’s economic worries and the abrupt end to the U.S.-North Korea summit, alongside escalating tensions between India and Pakistan added to a growing array of investor worries.
  • The Dow, Nasdaq and S&P 500 were all in negative territory.
  • The dollar climbed from earlier lows and Treasury yields increased.
  • Gold rose 0.2 percent to $1,322 an ounce.

Get your daily fix of global markets here.

5. Biyani Brings World’s Largest Convenience Store Chain To India

7-Eleven Inc., the world’s largest convenience store chain, entered India in partnership with Kishore Biyani’s Future Group as it looks to tap shoppers in the fastest-growing major economy.

  • Future Retail Ltd. signed a master franchise agreement with the Japanese-owned, U.S.-based chain to set up small-format stores, the Indian company said in an exchange filing.
  • The first 7-Eleven, similar to kirana or neighbourhood outlets in India, is expected to open this year itself.
  • 7-Eleven, which has more than 67,000 stores worldwide, is foraying into India as the goods and services tax has increased the pace of formalisation of the economy.

7-Eleven will support Future Retail to implement and localise its unique business model.

6. Will The Cement Pricing Power Stay?

Cement industry seems to be getting back its pricing power as prices jumped for the second straight month in February, according to a BloombergQuint survey of dealers.

  • Prices rose the most in the south, followed by the nation's western and central regions, the survey—covering 14 dealers in five regions—revealed.
  • Prices remained stable in east and north India.
  • A pick-up in infrastructure activity in the ongoing quarter as well as price increases by pan-India players like ACC Ltd. and Ambuja Cements Ltd. provided room to most of the cement makers, according to dealers.

The rebound in prices in the last two months came after five months of decline.

7. SEBI’s Appeal To The Government

The Securities and Exchange Board of India wants the government to do away with the practice of its board having a nominee from the Reserve Bank of India, or alternatively provide for a cross-representation of the two regulators on each other's boards.

  • Officials said the market watchdog first proposed to the Ministry of Finance to amend the relevant provisions in the SEBI Act to discontinue RBI's representation on its board, as it already has adequate presence of the government nominees and in its over 25 years of existence the regulator has evolved as an "effective and one of the best in the world.”
  • Besides, the boards of other regulators such as IRDAI and PFRDA do not have nominees from other regulators, while there is no corresponding representation of other regulators on the RBI's board, the SEBI has contended.

But the Finance Ministry says the role of RBI in the financial sector cannot be discounted.

8. NCLAT Tells NCLT: Decide Essar Steel Case By March 8

The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal today asked the Ahmedabad bench of the National Company Law Tribunal to pass its final order in the Rs 42,000-crore resolution plan submitted by ArcelorMittal for the insolvent Essar Steel by March 8.

  • Earlier, the NCLAT had given time till Feb. 28 for the NCLT to deliver its final order in the case, stating that the appellate tribunal would take over from March 1.
  • The NCLAT allowing more time to the NCLT to deliver a judgment on Essar Steel’s insolvency process has added to the already delayed procedure.
  • The delays have been cause by multiple litigations filed by the Ruia family, operational creditors and other financial creditors in the insolvency proceedings for Essar Steel over the past 18 months.
  • The case has dragged for over 500 days, longer than the 270-day deadline set for resolution under IBC.

The NCLT has also decided on cases filed by the 40 operational creditors that are opposing ArcelorMittal's plan.

9. Eviction Of 11.8 Lakh Forest Dwellers Stayed

The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed its Feb. 13 order directing 21 states to evict 11.8 lakh illegal forest dwellers whose claims over the land have been rejected by the authorities.

  • A bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Naveen Sinha directed the state governments to file affidavit giving details about process adopted in rejecting the claims.
  • The apex court posted the matter for further hearing on July 10.
  • The top court had on Wednesday agreed to hear the central government’s plea seeking withholding of its Feb. 13 order asking 21 states to evict nearly 11.8 lakh forest dwellers whose claims were rejected.
  • The bench also directed that the affidavit has to be filed by the chief secretaries of the states giving details of various steps covered for carrying out the eviction of the forest dwellers.

After briefly hearing the matter, the bench said: "We stay and hold our Feb. 13 order.

10. Super Crops That Thrive in Salty Deserts

Scientists in Dubai are developing crops like quinoa that can thrive in the salty soils intruding into the world’s croplands. Winning over enough people to eat them is proving a greater challenge.

  • At an experimental farm within sight of the world’s tallest skyscraper, researchers at the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture are trying to help farmers in the Middle East and beyond earn a living from unlikely plants known as halophytes.
  • These plants, from trendy quinoa to obscure salicornia, flourish in salty and arid environments where staple crops like wheat or rice would wither.
  • Concerns about climate change, population growth, and the degradation of fertile farmlands add urgency to the work of ICBA, which runs on a shoestring budget of $15 million a year.

The challenge now is to convert lab success into a commercial one.