Crew members monitor cargo loading operations on the upper deck of roll-on roll-off vessel Delphine, operated by Cldn Ro-Ro SA, before sailing to the U.K., at the Port of Zeebrugge in Zeebrugge, Belgium (Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg)  

BQuick On Jan. 7: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes

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

1. Bandhan Joins Hands With Gruh

Gruh Finance Ltd. is set to merge with Bandhan Bank Ltd. in a share-swap deal. The boards of both lenders met separately on Monday where it approved the “merger co-operation agreement”, according to the housing finance company’s exchange filing.

  • Shareholders of Gruh Finance will receive 568 shares of Bandhan Bank for every 1,000 shares of the housing finance company.
  • The deal follows the Reserve Bank of India’s decision to impose strictures on Bandhan Bank for failing to reduce promoter shareholding as per the agreed regulatory timeline.
  • The merger will help reduce the stake of Kolkata-based bank’s promoter entities, while giving HDFC—the largest shareholder in Gruh Finance—a 14.96 percent stake in the combined firm.

The merger is a “win-win” for both Gruh and Bandhan Bank, said Deepak Parekh.

2. India Forecasts Fastest Growth Since 2016

The Indian economy will grow at its fastest pace in three years in the current financial year, as it recovers from the twin shocks of demonetisation and the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax.

  • GDP growth is expected at 7.2 percent in 2018-19 compared to 6.7 percent last year, according to the first advance estimates released by the Central Statistics Office today.
  • Gross Value Added, which strips out indirect tax and subsidies, is expected to grow at 7 percent compared to 6.5 percent.
  • Both GDP and GVA growth estimates are in line with economist expectations.

The estimates suggest a slower pace of growth in the second half of the year.

3. Indian Market Extends Climb

Indian equity benchmarks ended higher for the second straight trading session on Monday.

  • The S&P BSE Sensex Index closed 0.43 percent higher at 35,850.16.
  • The NSE Nifty 50 Index ended at 10,776.60, up 0.46 percent.
  • Eight out of 11 sectoral gauges compiled by NSE advanced, led by the NSE Nifty Realty Index's 1.19 percent gain.
  • On the flipside, the NSE Nifty Pharma Index was the top sectoral loser, down 0.58 percent.

Follow the day’s trading action here.

4. MSME Debt Restructuring, Only If Viable

The Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das met representatives from micro, small and medium industries to note their views on the recent loan restructuring scheme announced by the central bank.

  • The views and demands of small businesses on the issue have been noted, Das told reporters after the meeting.
  • Das said that banks have been asked to look into the viability of individual MSMEs before restructuring loans.
  • Last week, the RBI announced a one-time restructuring scheme for small borrowers who have taken loans of up to Rs 25 crore from banks and non-bank lenders.

Das said RBI examined the scheme very carefully before announcing it.

5. Portfolio Managers Underperform

Portfolio managers failed to recover from the rout in mid-cap stocks and the liquidity crisis for non-bank lenders in 2018 even as the nation’s two benchmark indices managed to end higher.

  • Fifty portfolio managers with equity assets worth Rs 1,03,253 crore ($14.75 billion)—more than 88 percent of the money managed by the category—lost 6.7 percent on an average in the just-concluded year, according to data compiled by BloombergQuint from disclosures to the market regulator.
  • That compares with 5.9 percent and 3.2 percent gains in the Sensex and the Nifty 50, respectively, during the period.
  • The average portfolio returns for the 50 such firms—managing more than Rs 1 lakh crore in equities for more than 1.3 lakh high and ultra-high net worth investors—fell 5.3 percent on an average in the first half of the calendar year on account of the mid-cap carnage.

6. India’s Love For Biopics Is Good For PVR

India’s biggest movie stars just delivered duds as Netflix-loving viewers demand better quality. Bollywood will hope that The Accidental Prime Minister and a string of real life-inspired drama and action films pull crowds in the new year.

  • The nation’s largest multiplex chain stands to make the most of it. PVR Ltd. fills a higher proportion of seats and earns more by selling corn to colas than second-placed Inox Leisure Ltd.
  • It also bought SPI Cinemas to extend its reach in the movie-crazy south—the biggest contributor to the world’s No. 1 film-producing industry.
  • The new year offers hope as cinema lovers will have a variety to choose from.
  • Edelweiss Securities expects these films to attract higher footfalls in the January-March quarter, helping PVR that has 711 screens compared with Inox’s 547.
BQuick On Jan. 7: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes

7. Quota For Upper Castes?

The Union Cabinet has approved 10 percent reservation in jobs and educational institutions for the economically backward section in the general category, PTI reported citing unidentified people in the know.

  • The section doesn't get reservation as of now, the people said.
  • The proposed reservation will be over and above the existing 50 percent reservation enjoyed by the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and the Other Backward Classes, taking the total reservation to 60 percent.
  • A top government functionary said a constitutional amendment bill will be tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, the last day of the Winter Session.

Here’s why constitutional amendment is required to push this through.

8. Goldman Slashes Oil Price Forecasts

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. cut its oil price forecasts for 2019, citing a re-emerging surplus and resilient U.S. shale production.

  • Global benchmark Brent crude will average $62.50 a barrel this year, analysts said in a Jan. 6 note, down from a previous estimate of $70.
  • U.S. marker West Texas Intermediate will average $55.50 a barrel, down from a prior forecast of $64.50.
  • Societe Generale SA also lowered 2019 price outlooks by $9 a barrel in a Jan. 7 note, with Brent now seen averaging $64.25 for the year and WTI at $57.25.
  • A surge in OPEC production in late 2018 means the market started this year better supplied than the last, and pipeline constraints in the U.S. Permian Basin will clear up faster than expected, according to Goldman.

9. The 2019 Agenda For India’s Startups And Venture Capitalists

A rising tide of more mature founders, including serial entrepreneurs, are raising the bar for Indian startups as a whole, writes Sanjay Nath of Blume Ventures.

  • Startups that can redefine the ‘future of work’ and how we will constantly enhance our knowledge bases will stand out.
  • The Indian hinterland will absorb innovation across all sectors.
  • There’s lots of innovation possible that can abound on the domestic front.

All we need is supportive and committed stakeholders including the government.

10. Who Ruled The Golden Globes?

“Green Book,” about race relations in the 1960s U.S. South, and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the biopic about Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, emerged as the top films at the 76th Golden Globe Awards.

  • Rami Malek, who portrayed the late singer in the 20th Century Fox film, won the Golden Globe for best actor in a film drama at the ceremony Sunday in Beverly Hills, California.
  • “Green Book” won a total of three awards, a big showing for Universal Pictures that gives the film a boost for the Oscars.
  • Netflix Inc. led all studios with five wins, including prizes for “Roma,” about the maid in a well-to-do Mexican family, and the comedy “The Kominsky Method.”

The Globes have now set the stage for the race to the Academy Awards, with voting on the Oscars scheduled to begin Monday.