BQuick On Oct. 20: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes    
Vehicles pass a police officer at the India Gate monument (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)  

BQuick On Oct. 20: Top 10 Stories In Under 10 Minutes   

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

1. Kishore Biyani's Rs 7,500-Crore Request

The Kishore Biyani-led Future Group has approached lenders, led by State Bank of India and Bank of India, to restructure its outstanding debt under the Reserve Bank of India’s one-time restructuring scheme, permitted by the regulator to help companies tide over the Covid-19 crisis.

  • Future Group is looking to defer repayments on Rs 7,500 crore in debt over the next few months under the scheme, within which time the group expects to close the sale process of its logistics, retail and warehouse assets to Reliance Industries Ltd., said two bankers with direct information of the restructuring proposal.

Given the size of the group’s outstanding debt, a restructuring plan, if approved, will also need to be reviewed by an RBI-mandated expert panel.

2. HUL Says Worst Is Over

Hindustan Unilever Ltd.’s quarterly profit and sales rose as demand improved after the nation eased lockdown curbs.

  • Net profit of India’s largest consumer goods maker rose 8% year-on-year to Rs 1,967 crore.
  • Volumes rose 1% in the reported period, excluding the consumer businesses acquired from GlaxoSmithKline Plc and VWash.
  • Consolidated revenue rose 15.6% to Rs 11,683 crore.

HUL says the worst is now behind them.

3. Hindustan Zinc: Highest Interim Dividend In 12 Years

Hindustan Zinc Ltd. has declared its highest-ever interim dividend in 12 years weeks after the delisting offer of its parent, Vedanta Ltd., failed.

  • The subsidiary announced a dividend of Rs 21.3 per share—implying a dividend yield of 9.5% to its closing price as on Oct. 20, according to its exchange filing.
  • The record date for paying the dividend is Oct. 28.
  • Hindustan Zinc had paid a higher dividend of Rs 30 per share in July 2008

Find out how much Vedanta stands to earn.

4. Nifty Flat; Google Faces Landmark U.S. Antitrust Case

Indian equity markets ended little changed after witnessing pressure at higher levels.

  • The S&P BSE Sensex ended 0.3% higher at 40,544.
  • The NSE Nifty 50 index ended just below the 11,900 mark.
  • Broader markets managed to outperform the benchmarks in today's session.

Follow the day’s trading action here.

Related Coverage

U.S. stocks rose as lawmakers kept at efforts to reach a spending-bill deal before the Nov. 3 election.

  • The S&P 500 rebounded from Monday’s selloff after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said differences were narrowing in stimulus negotiations.
  • The U.S. Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit against Alphabet Inc.’s Google, accusing it of abusing its monopoly in search in the most significant antitrust action against an American company in more than two decades.
  • Google shares fell less than 1% at 9:30 a.m. in New York.

Get your daily fix of global markets.

5. Modi Eyes Buybacks For Extra Cash

India is planning to ask some state-owned companies to repurchase shares to help the government shore up its finances amid the coronavirus pandemic, a person with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg News.

  • Coal India Ltd., NTPC Ltd., NMDC Ltd., MOIL Ltd., KIOCL Ltd, and Engineers India Ltd. are among the eight companies that might be asked to buy back shares this year, the person said, asking not to be identified as the information is not public.

The government is encouraging buybacks wherever companies have extra cash.

6. Uday Kotak's Sons And Succession

For billionaire banker Uday Kotak, retirement is still “a long way off”.

  • “At some point in time it will be appropriate for considering a role as a non-executive director. But certainly not in the near future,” Asia’s richest banker, also the founder and chief executive officer of Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd., said in a conversation with David Rubenstein, co-founder of Carlye Group Inc., at the Bloomberg India Economic Summit on Thursday.

Kotak, however, said that for him succession will be based on merit and his post will not necessarily go to his son.

7. HDFC Bank’s Karamchand Gang

How do you exit an organisation you built from scratch into the country’s largest private lender? Not without a few tears. And how do you take over the reins from a larger-than-life CEO who is stepping down after 26 years? Not without ensuring he leaves the team with some last bits of advice.

  • Aditya Puri, addressing his final post-earnings analyst call at HDFC Bank Ltd., gave a peek into what that process has looked like.
  • The farewell process was more than just bouquets and souvenirs for Puri.
  • Sashidhar Jagdishan, who takes over on Oct. 27 seems to have ensured that Puri is working till the last day, pulling him into a series of review meetings.

While the analyst call was littered with banter and praise for the outgoing and incoming chiefs, there was also real business to be discussed.

8. Modi's Virus Warning

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his government will ensure that all 1.3 billion Indian have access to a Covid-19 vaccine as soon it is ready and asked citizens to exercise caution ahead of the country’s traditional festival season to check a spike in infection in the world’s second-worst affected nation.

  • “We need to remember that the lockdown is over, but the virus is still here,” he said in a televised address today.
  • Modi highlighted the second wave of Covid-19 that is emerging in Europe and U.S. and said that Indians need to stay vigilant to avoid a repeat in India.

More updates from Modi’s address here.

Meanwhile, new cases of coronavirus in India hit a near 3-month-low.

  • The nation reported just over 46,000 cases, according to health ministry data.
  • That’s the lowest since July 23.
  • Total cases stood at 75.97 lakh, of which active cases were a little less than 7.5 lakh.

Track the latest updates on the Covid-19 pandemic in India, here.

Also read: China Defends Vaccinations; Fast Tests at Airports: Virus Update

9. Bihar Polls: Candidates With A Criminal Past

Almost a third of the candidates contesting in the first phase of the upcoming Bihar election have a pending criminal case registered against them.

  • From among 1,064 candidates contesting in the first phase, 328, or 31%, have declared criminal cases against themselves, an analysis of candidates’ affidavits by the Association of Democratic Reforms India and MyNeta showed.
  • Of these, 244, or 23%, have serious criminal cases that are non-bailable offences.

Get more details here.

10. Death By Starvation In A Food-Rich India

Covid-19 is exposing India’s big divides, like access to quality health care and proper sanitation. And of course, there’s the basic question of who gets to eat, and who doesn’t. Even before the lockdowns, roughly three-quarters of the population couldn’t afford a healthy diet.

  • Government warehouses brim with more than 70 million metric tons of grains, or almost 15% of global stockpiles, and the nation’s wheat and rice harvests have surged to records.
  • Still, millions of Indians have never gotten any of the subsidised food promised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration.
  • Bureaucratic difficulties were cited by the government’s think tank Niti Aayog as the single-most-important reason blocking access to the food programme.

Some economists in the country are calling for a universal public distribution system and removing the need of a ration card.

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