Sparks fly as molten steel is poured from a ladle at an arc furnace in the steel melting shop of the JSPL plant in Raigarh, Chhattisgargh, India. (Photographer: Udit Kulshrestha/Bloomberg)

BQuick On Oct. 17: Top 10 News Stories In Under 10 Minutes 

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

1. Mukesh Ambani: India’s New Cable King

Reliance Industries Ltd. agreed to buy controlling stakes for more than Rs 5,200 crore in two of India’s largest cable and wired internet services providers as the nation’s richest man Mukesh Ambani now prepares to disrupt broadband and direct-to-home TV services industry.

  • RIL will invest Rs 2,045 crore to subscribe to preferential shares and buy Rs 245 crore worth of stake from the promoters to pick 66 percent holding in Den Networks Ltd.
  • It will also invest Rs 2,940 crore through a preferential issue for a 51.3 percent stake in Hathway Cable and Datacom Ltd.
  • Reliance Industries will also make an open offer to the shareholders of both the companies to meet SEBI norms.

Here's what Hathway and Den bring to Reliance.

2. Petchem Saves RIL; Jio's ARPU Falls

Reliance Industries Ltd.’s profit in the July-September quarter met estimates as a strong performance by its petrochemicals business offset the weakness in its mainstay refining unit.

  • Standalone profit increased 0.4 percent over the previous three months to Rs 8,859 crore.
  • Revenue rose 5.5 percent to Rs 96,167 crore on a quarterly basis.
  • Operating margin contracted 110 basis points to 15.5 percent.
  • The gross refining margin declined to $9.5 per barrel from $10 earlier.

Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd.’s profit rose in the quarter ended September on the back of strong subscriber additions due to the introduction of a newer version of its low-cost JioPhone.

  • Revenue rose 13.9 percent to Rs 9,240 crore.
  • Operating profit increased 13.5 percent to Rs 3,563 crore.
  • Operating margin contracted 10 basis points to 38.7 percent.
  • ARPU fell to Rs 131.7, the lowest since inception.

3. Indian Markets Snap Winning Streak; U.S. Stocks Decline

Indian equity benchmarks snapped their three-day rise after financial and auto stocks came under selling pressure.

  • The S&P BSE Sensex fell 1.09 percent or 383 points to 34,780.
  • The NSE Nifty 50 Index dropped 1.24 percent or 132 points to 10,453.
  • From the day's highest level, the Sensex fell as much as 878 points while the Nifty fell below psychologically important level of 10,450.
  • S&P BSE Realty Index was the top loser, while the S&P BSE FMCG Index was the top gainer.

Follow the day's trading action here.

U.S. stocks fell as the week’s second big serving of corporate earnings did much less to reassure bulls than yesterday’s almost uniformly strong reports.

  • The S&P 500 Index slid back below 2,800, heading for a second loss in three days.
  • Ten-year Treasury yields remained in a tight range around 3.15 percent ahead of Federal Reserve meeting minutes.
  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index advanced 0.2 percent to the highest in a week.
  • West Texas Intermediate crude decreased 1 percent to $71.18 a barrel.

Get your fix of global markets update here.

4. Why Indiabulls Housing Tumbled

Shares of Indiabulls Housing Finance Ltd. tumbled again, though for a different reason. Investors now seem to be concerned about its exposure to SuperTech Ltd., a property developer whose credit facilities have been downgraded to default.

  • Macquarie’s sales team, in a note to clients today, said Indiabulls Housing Finance’s loans to SuperTech could be more than Rs 500 crore.
  • The lending, the brokerage said citing its discussions with the management, was for a specific project that is ringfenced and earns monthly rentals of close to Rs 30-35 crore.
  • Brickwork last week revised ratings on Rs 1,866.4 crore of SuperTech’s bank facilities to default citing its failure to service debt obligations. It blamed the developer’s troubles on cash-flow mismatches because of a slowdown in the real estate industry.

Read more to see how much Indiabulls Housing Finance’s stock price fell.

5. RBI Says No To Yes, Again

They tried. They failed. A request by the board of Yes Bank Ltd. to seek an extension of Chief Executive Officer Rana Kapoor’s term until September 2019 has been rejected by the regulator, the private lender said in a notification to stock exchanges.

  • On Sept. 19, the bank had disclosed that the Reserve Bank of India had asked Kapoor to step down as MD and CEO of the bank by Jan. 31, 2019.
  • A week after the RBI’s communication to the bank, its board decided to write to the regulator asking that Kapoor be allowed to stay on till April 2019 to finalise financial results for the year and till September 2019 to complete annual general meeting formalities.
  • The RBI has now rejected that request too, leaving the bank with little choice but to find a successor to Kapoor immediately.

To be sure, Yes Bank has initiated this process.

6. Arcelor To Clear $1 Billion In Dues

ArcelorMittal agreed to pay off loans for two group companies in India to be eligible to bid for the indebted Essar Steel India Ltd. as the world’s largest steelmaker seeks to get a foothold in a market that is poised to be second-biggest producer of the alloy.

  • The company approved payment of Rs 7,469 crore ($1 billion) to creditors of Uttam Galva Steels Ltd. and KSS Petron Pvt., the Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal said in a statement Wednesday.
  • The Supreme Court had asked Arcelor and a rival consortium Numetal Ltd., led by VTB Capital, to clear dues in group companies by Thursday to be deemed eligible bidders for Essar.
  • Numetal declined to comment on whether it will make payment by the deadline.
  • A failure to clear the dues will make Numetal ineligible, paving the way for Arcelor to emerge as the preferred bidder, unless the lenders call for fresh bids.

7. Buybacks To Fund Fiscal Deficit?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government asked state-run companies to buy back shares as it seeks to raise as much as Rs 20,000 crore ($2.7 billion) to meet the fiscal deficit target, according to people familiar with the matter.

  • Oil & Natural Gas Corp., NMDC Ltd., Indian Oil Corp. and Oil India Ltd. are among companies that have been asked to repurchase shares, the people said asking not to be named as the information is not public.
  • A decision on the pricing has been left to boards, they said.
  • The government has raised Rs 9,700 crore selling state assets since April 1, a little over one-tenth of what it needs to cut the budget deficit to 3.3 percent of gross domestic product this fiscal year.

Here are the other firms that are being asked to consider buybacks.

8. Gold Price Surge To Dent Diwali Demand?

Gold buyers in India, the biggest market after China, may give jewellery stores a miss in the run-up to the Diwali festival this year because of a surge in domestic prices to the highest level in more than two years.

  • Bullion has climbed in local markets because of a weak rupee, and rising prices just before Diwali and Dhanteras aren’t good for demand, said Chirag Sheth, an analyst with Metals Focus Ltd. in Mumbai.
  • Plus, “overseas spot gold has, in the last two or three days, shown the first signs of breakout,” he said. “If this trend continues, then it’s going to be a dampener.”

Jewellery companies are staring at a muted quarter.

9. India’s Halftime Report

Halfway through the financial year, the Indian economy has seen both hits and misses in equal measure. Growth has been strong and inflation modest. But the current account deficit has widened and economists are reserving judgment on whether meeting the fiscal deficit target will be a struggle. Meantime, markets, both currency, and credit have been volatile. Will the second half of the year follow the same script?

  • Inflation is expected to remain in check after it has remained below 4 percent for the last two months.
  • GDP growth rate will reduce over the rest of the three quarters due to higher oil prices and lower food inflation.
  • Current account deficit is nearing the red line and its expected to remain wide due to India's growth differential with developed economies.

Here’s how the Indian economy will look like over the next six months.

10. MJ Akbar Resigns To Contest #MeToo Allegations In Court

India’s junior foreign minister MJ Akbar has resigned after more than a dozen women accused him of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior, the first politician to step down as the #MeToo movement continued to spread across India.

  • Akbar, who denied the sexual harassment allegations, submitted his resignation on Wednesday, according to a statement.
  • He had recently filed a criminal defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani, who wrote about her experience in Vogue India.
  • In his petition, Akbar said she “willfully, deliberately, intentionally and maliciously” defamed him.
Since I have decided to seek justice in a court of law in my personal capacity, I deem it appropriate to step down from office and challenge false accusations levied against me, also in a personal capacity.
MJ Akbar