Current Affairs July 2016 - Economic


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News 1 - RIL, SBI ink shareholder agreement for payments bank Joint Venture

RIL and SBI

Reliance Industries (RIL) and SBI have signed a shareholder agreement to set up a payments bank joint venture. Reliance Industries will be the promoter with a 70 % equity contribution and SBI as joint venture will have 30 % equity contribution in the payments bank.

RBI granted in-principle approval to RIL as a promoter in September 2015 for the setting up of the payments bank. RIL now will seek all regulatory and statutory approvals for operationalizing the payments bank.

News 2 - FPI invests over Rs. 3,700 crores into Indian equities in June

FPI invests

According to the data available with depositories, Foreign portfolio investors have invested a net of Rs. 3,713 crores in the Indian stock market in June, mainly on hopes of a good monsoon.

However, they pulled out 6,220 crore rupees from the debt market during the period under review. So far this year, FPIs have invested 20,648 crore rupees in equities while withdrawing 12,105 crore rupees in the debt market, resulting in a net inflow of 8,543 crore rupees.

News 3 - Pharma market in India is expected to be worth USD 55 billion by year 2020

Pharma Market

The pharmaceutical market in India is expected to be worth 55 billion US dollars by 2020, becoming the sixth largest market globally in absolute size. India is the largest provider of generic drugs globally with the Indian generics accounting for 20% of global exports in terms of volume.

Inaugurating the 34th annual convention of American Association of Physicians of IndianOrigin (AAPI) here yesterday, India's ambassador to the US Arun Singh said the Indian pharmaceuticals market is growing rapidly, from USD 6 billion in 2005 to USD 55 billion by 2020.

News 4 - Hero MotoCorp inked a 3-year wage agreement with Gurgaon Workers

Hero MotoCorp

Hero MotoCorp Ltd. (HMCL) has signed a wage settlement pact with its permanent workers at the Gurgaon Plant. The company has agreed to provide a hike of Rs. 12,500 spread over three years with retrospective effect starting from 1 August 2015 till 31 July 2018. The previous wage settlement was effective from 1 August 2012 to 31 July 2015.

There are about 1400 permanent employees at the company’s Gurgaon facility. Hero MotoCorp has four manufacturing facilities: two of these are based at Gurgaon and Dharuhera in Haryana and one each at Haridwar, Uttarakhand and Neemrana, Rajasthan.

News 5 - Online pharmacy 1mg Technologies acquired diagnostic lab aggregator Medd

Online pharmacy 1mg Technologies

Gurgaon-based online pharmacy 1mg Technologies Pvt. Ltd has acquired diagnostic labs aggregator Medd (HolaMed Healthcare Technologies Pvt. Ltd). The value of the deal was undisclosed. The move is aimed at boosting its diagnostic footprint.

All the three founders of Medd - Arpit Kothari, Anurag Mundhada, and Era Dwivedi, have joined the 1mg team. 1mg also appointed Ankur Gigras, a former marketing head for gastroenterology at healthcare firm Abbott India Ltd, to oversee the diagnostics business.

News 6 - Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail partnered with fashion brand Forever 21

Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail

Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail (ABFRL) took decision to do a joint venture with US fast fashion brand, Forever 21, replacing DLF Brands in a 26 million US dollars’ deal. The company acquired Forever 21’s exclusive offline and online rights in the country, including its existing store network. Aditya Birla Fashion executed a business transfer agreement with Diana Retail, Franchise of Forever 21.

This is the third major brand that DLF Brands have been unassociated with itself. Others include Mango and Sephora. At the moment Mothercare, Sunglass Hut and Claires are the prominent international brands that DLF still has partnered with it.

News 7 - Zydus enters into an agreement with Bristol-Myers for Hepatitis C Drug

Zydus

Drug firm Zydus Cadila entered into a generic manufacturing agreement with the Medicines Patent Pool for manufacturing global pharma major Bristol-Myers Squibbs daclatasvir tablets used in the treatment of Hepatitis C.

The agreement allows Zydus to produce and sell daclatasvir in 112 low and middle income countries. The MPP licence permits generic manufacturers to manufacture fixed-dose combinations that have the capacity to treat all of the six major genotypes of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV). Around 130 to 150 million people worldwide are estimated to have HCV.

News 8 - Search Giant Google acquires French startup Moodstocks

Google acquired Moodstocks

Google acquired Moodstocks, a startup based out of Paris that develops machine-learning based image recognition technology for smartphones. Moodstocks announced that the company will discontinue API and SDK. Moodstocks to build great image recognition tools within Google.

In the past, Google has made other acquisitions in France, including FlexyCore (also for improving smartphone performance). Some other acquisitions include JetPac and PittPatt for facial recognition, to improve its tech in imaging.

News 9 - India’s first CoE-IoT start-up warehouse unveiled in Bengaluru by NASSCOM

NASSCOM

India’s first Centre of Excellence focused on Internet of Things (CoE – IoT) at its Startup Warehouse in Bengaluru, which was unveiled by the National Association of Software and Services Companies to empower start-ups to come up with new techniques on Internet of Things (IoT). It is a joint initiative between the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DEITY), education and research network (ERNET) and the IT industry body.

The Centre of Excellence lab has the capacity to involve up to 40 start-ups. Lab will not only provide funding to start-ups but also guide as a mentor.

News 10 - Swiss based Lafarge to sell its Indian assets to Nirma for Rs. 9400 crores

Lafarge

Swiss cement giant LafargeHolcim has entered into a letter of agreement with Nirma Ltd. subject to approval by Competition Commission of India (CCI) for the disinvestment of its interest in Lafarge India for an enterprise value of approximately $1.4 billion. The disinvestment amount will be used to reduce debt of Lafarge Cement Company.

Ahmedabad-based Nirma has business expansion in soaps, detergents, salt, soda ash, caustic soda, cement, packaging, etc. It has 12 manufacturing facilities in India and the US and has a turnover of over Rs. 7,300 crores.

News 11 - BSE introduces 'Paperless SIP'

Paperless SIP

'Paperless SIP' (Systematic Investment Plans) that will give an option to mutual fund investors to make transactions, or buy units through various modes of payments, is launched by Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). This will facilitate MF distributors to register SIPs for their clients.

Initially, this facility is available only for non-dematerialized transactions and for instalment of amount more than Rs 2 lakh. MF distributors have the facility to register only Exchange SIP (XSIP) for their clients which allows for ECS payment route.

News 12 - Wholesale Inflation rose to 1.62% in June

Wholesale Inflation

Rising for the third straight month, wholesale inflation climbed to 1.62% in June 2016, from 0.79% in May 2016.

Inflation rose on the back of costlier food and manufactured items. Wholesale food inflation rose to 8.18% while Wholesale inflation in vegetables climbed to 16.91%. Inflation in pulses stood at 26.61%, and in potatoes at 64.48%. But encouragingly, onion prices actually declined 28.60% during the month. In the manufactured items category, wholesale inflation stood at 1.17%.

News 13 - E-filing: ATM-based validation facility enhanced

ATM-based validation system

The Income Tax department has widened the ATM-based validation system for filing of online Returns by taxpayers. The department has included Axis Bank to enhance the paperless regime of filing the annual Income Tax returns. Other banks are also expected to join soon.

The new facility is available on the official efiling portal of the department- incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in. These measures are used to validate the e-ITR so that the taxpayer does not take the trouble of sending the paper-based ITR-V by post for final resolution and processing.

News 14 - Industrial production expands 1.2% in May

Industrial Production

The country's industrial production grew 1.2% in May 2016, mainly due to an uptick in consumer durables output. Factory output, measured in terms of the Index of Industrial Production, had expanded 2.5% in May 2015.

The data released by the Central Statistics Office showed that output of consumer durables, which include goods like televisions, refrigerators and washing machines, rose 6% in May this year. The manufacturing sector grew 0.7%, power generation increased 4.7%, and mining sector output grew 1.3% during the month.

News 15 - BHEL commissions a 250 MW power plant in Gujarat

BHEL

Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) has successfully commissioned another 250 MW unit based on eco-friendly Circulating Fluidized Bed Combustion (CFBC) technology, using low quality coal (lignite) as the primary fuel at Bhavnagar Energy Company Limited (BECL)’s 2x250 MW thermal power project, located at Padva village in Bhavnagar District of Gujarat.

BHEL had earlier executed the 4x125 MW Surat Lignite Power project at Nani Naroli in Surat, Gujarat, also involving CFBC technology. The Hon’ble Chief Minister of Gujarat had earlier laid the foundation stone of the supercritical technology-based 1x800 MW Wanakbori project in Gujarat, which is presently being executed by BHEL on Engineering, Procurement & Construction (EPC) basis.

News 16 - SIT on black money recommends ban on cash transactions above Rs. 3 lakhs

Black Money

The Supreme Court constituted Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money, headed by retired Justice M B Shah, submitted its 5th report to the apex court.

The SIT has recommended a ban on cash transactions of above Rs. 3 lakhs and restricting cash holding of an industry or individuals to not more than Rs. 15 lakhs to curb illegal wealth in the economy. In case any person or industry requires holding more cash, it may obtain necessary permission from the Commissioner of Income Tax of that area.

Good to know info − In addition to the SIT, the Union Government has enacted two different laws to curb black money and they are −

  • Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015.

  • Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Bill, 2015, which the government hopes will get passed in the upcoming monsoon session of parliament.

News 17 - Government revised time schedule for making payments under Income Declaration Scheme 2016

Income Declaration Scheme

The decision was taken following practical difficulties expressed by various stakeholders that the time period available under the Scheme up to 30 November 2016 for making payment of tax, surcharge and penalty is very short.

The Government has decided to revise the time schedule for making payments under the Income Declaration Scheme 2016 as under −

  • A minimum amount of 25% of the tax, surcharge and penalty to be paid by 30.11.2016.

  • A further amount of 25% of the tax, surcharge and penalty to be paid by 31.3.2017 and

  • The balance amount to be paid on or before 30.9.2017.

News 18 - Yatra agrees for its merger with Terrapin 3

Yatra

A merger agreement was inked between Online travel portal Yatra and Terrapin 3 Acquisition Corporation that values Yatra at an enterprise value of $218 million. Merger decision came after when Yatra wished to get itself listed on the NASDAQ Stock Market under the symbol "YTRA". Recently, Yatra received honor of most trusted eCommerce travel brand in India.

As per the agreed merger terms and conditions, it has been decided that the current shareholders of Yatra will continue to own at least 35% of the issued and outstanding shares in the combined company. Yatra Online will still be under leadership of co-founder and CEO Dhruv Shringi.

News 19 - Cabinet approves proposal of M/s. Ambuja Cements Limited for acquisition of 24% shares in its holding Company-Holcim (India) Private Limited

Ambuja Cements Limited

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the proposal for M/s. Ambuja Cements Limited for acquisition of 24% shares in its holding Company-Holcim (India) Private Limited from M/s. Holderind Investment Limited and subsequent reverse merger through a share swap. This would entail outflow of Rs. 3500 crores.

These transactions would enable Lafarge Holcim group to create a linear corporate structure (with Ambuja and ACC becoming parent and subsidiary) with a view to harvest significant synergies from India operations.

News 20 - Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) signs seven Unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs)

CBDT

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) entered into seven (7) Unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs) with Indian taxpayers. Some of these agreements also have a “Rollback” provision in them. The total number of APAs entered into by the CBDT has reached 77. This includes 3 bilateral APAs and 74 unilateral APAs. In the current financial year, a total of 13 Unilateral APAs have been entered into so far.

The latest APAs signed with taxpayers pertain to various sectors like banking, information technology and automotive. The international transactions covered in these agreements include software development Services, IT enabled Services (BPOs), Engineering Design Services and Administrative & Business Support Services.

News 21 - Softbank to Acquire UK Chip Designer ARM Holdings for $32 billion

Softbank

Japan's SoftBank has agreed to buy Britain's most valuable technology company ARM Holdings PLC for $32 billion in an all cash deal. ARM is U.K. based designer of the microprocessors that power more than 95% of the world’s smartphones. The deal is SoftBank’s largest-ever investment.

ARM licenses the blueprints to chip makers such as Qualcomm Inc. For 2015, ARM reported revenue of $1.5 billion and profit of £340 million ($448.4 million).

News 22 - Dabur inks MoU with DRDO for growing medicinal plants in high altitude

Dabur

Dabur India has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Defense Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR), a part of DRDO, to promote sustainable cultivation of rare medicinal plants in Ladakh.

Under this agreement, both the organizations will educate farmers in the Leh-Ladakh about high altitude medicinal plant species and also help enhance the livelihood of villagers in the cold desert area by involving them in cultivation of medicinal plants. The farmers will also be provided free saplings of rare medicinal plants and herbs.

News 23 - Grocery retailer Heritage Fresh ties up with Paytm

Paytm

Grocery retailer Heritage Fresh has entered into a tie up with Paytm. As a result, payments through Paytm will now be accepted at all 114 supermarkets of Heritage Fresh across Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai.

Heritage Foods Limited is one of the largest private sector dairy enterprises in Southern India and the brand "Heritage Fresh" is a leading food and grocery brand of it. Paytm aims to provide more and more users the convenience and safety of cashless transactions.

News 24 - BHEL Commissions a massive 40 MW Hydro Power Plant in West Bengal

Hydro Power Plant

Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) has successfully commissioned the third unit of the 4×40 MW Teesta Low Dam Hydro Electric Project (HEP) Stage-IV in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal and is being set up by National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC), on the River Teesta.

The fourth and final unit of the project is also in advanced stages of execution. BHEL’s scope of work in the project comprised design, manufacture, supply, installation and commissioning of complete E&M works including vertical shaft Kaplan Turbines and matching generators.

News 25 - World Bank’s Report on the Economic growth of India

India's Economic Growth

World Bank’s Report on the Global Economic Prospects, published in June 2016, projected that India’s growth will be 7.6% in 2016-17 and will improve to 7.7% in 2017-18. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), in its World Economic Outlook (WEO), published in July 2016, has projected that India will grow by 7.4% in 2016-17, which would be one of the highest growth among the major world economies.

The IMF has indicated that India’s growth will continue to be driven by private consumption, which has benefited from lower energy prices and higher real incomes. There is a broad consensus that the passing of the Goods and Services Tax Bill will pave the way for an improvement in the overall economic outcome.

News 26 - Government approves setting up Funds for Startups

Funds for Startups

The Government has approved the setting up of Fund of Funds for Startups (FFS) with a corpus of Rs. 10000 crores. Of which Rs.500 crores have been released in the Financial Year 2015-16 to the Small lndustries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) to start its operations and Rs.600 crores have been earmarked for Financial Year 2016-17. As a Fund of Funds, FFS would not invest directly in Startups, but would participate in the capital of Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) registered Alternate Investment Funds (AIF).

FFS is designed to support 18 lakh jobs at full deployment. The Startup will act as a catalyst to attract private capital by way of equity, quasi-equity, soft loans and other risk capital for start-up companies.

News 27 - NASSCOM ranks TCS as the Top Employer in the IT industry

TCS

NASSCOM has ranked software services major, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), as the top employer in the Indian IT industry followed by Infosys, Cognizant, Wipro and Capgemini. Others in the top 10 include HCL Technologies, Tech Mahindra, Genpact, Intelenet Global Services and Aegis.

TCS had a total headcount of 362,000 while Infosys and Wipro had 197,000 and 173,000, respectively at the end of June 2016. The Indian IT-BPM industry's employee base has reached a total of 3.7 million with nearly 1.3 million employed in the sector are women.

News 28 - Quikr acquires Hiree, an online recruitment startup

Quikr

Cross-category classifieds business Quikr has acquired Hiree, an online hiring platform focused on white collar jobs. Hiree will be merged with its jobs vertical QuikrJobs and will operate out of Quikr HQ. The acquisition will further strengthen QuikrJobs’ offerings to address recruitment needs for the entire spectrum of job categories across industries.

Hiree was founded in 2014 by former Yahoo executives Manjunath Talwar and Abhijit Khasnis. Hiree has some of the leading IT companies and established start-ups as their client. This acquisition is expected to strengthen QuikrJobs' offerings to address recruitment needs for the entire spectrum of categories.

News 29 - Yahoo to be sold to Verizon Communications for nearly $5 bn

Yahoo

US based Internet Firm Yahoo will be sold to American Telecom Giant Verizon Communications for nearly five billion dollars.

Yahoo, whose search engine and other sites have more than 1 billion monthly users, would make Verizon, a global mobile media company. It comes after Verizon bought AOL, another major internet name, in 2015. The deal, which does not include Yahoo's valuable stake in Chinese Online Giant Alibaba, is expected to close by the first quarter of the next year.

News 30 - Flipkart buys Jabong in a $70 million ‘Discount’ deal

Flipkart

Flipkart owned online fashion retailer Myntra has acquired Jabong for a reported deal valued at $70 million. With the acquisition, Myntra looks to strengthen its portfolio in the high margin online fashion retail space. These two sites will now have a combined base of 15 million monthly active users.

Jabong was owned by Global Fashion Group. Jabong reported an operating loss of Rs. 426 Crores in FY15. The revenue growth in FY15 inched up by just 7% to Rs. 866 crores. Some of the well-known global brands that will be exclusive to both the platforms include Dorothy Perkins, Topshop, Tom Tailor, G Raw Star, Bugatti Shoes, The North Face, Forever 21, Swarovski, Timberland and Lacoste.

News 31 - Hinduja National Power commissions 1,040 MW thermal power project in Visakhapatnam

HNPCL

Hinduja National Power Corporation Limited (HNPCL) has commissioned its 1,040 MW (2 * 520MW) Power project at Visakhapatnam. The entire power generated by this project is being sold to the state owned southern and eastern power distribution companies of Andhra Pradesh.

The project cost is estimated at $1.25 billion. The project has been allocated coal by Mahanadi Coalfields Limited. Andhra Pradesh has become the first southern State to become power surplus. Andhra Pradesh is implementing 24×7 “Power for All Scheme.”

News 32 - Vodafone M-Pesa ties up with Punjab Power Utility

Vodafone

Vodafone M-Pesa has tied up with Power Utility Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) to enable consumers pay their electricity bills instantly. Vodafone MPesa is a digital wallet service from Vodafone that offers money transfer, bill and utility Pay, merchant payments and business solutions.

The bill payment touch points are easily available at every nook and corner, including all 31 Vodafone brand stores in Punjab. As an added benefit, new users of M-Pesa can earn 5% cashback on the payment made through the App.

News 33 - Union Cabinet drops 1% additional tax on inter-state sales from the GST Bill

GST

The Union Cabinet has approved two key changes in the GST Constitutional Amendment Bill. The first one is that they have dropped 1% additional tax levy by manufacturing States and introduced a guarantee of 100% compensation to States for five years to compensate any revenue loss incurred by them due to the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax.

Further, any dispute between states and the Centre will be adjudicated by the GST Council. The existing bill provides that the centre will give 100 percent compensation to states for first three years, 75% and 50% for the next two years.

News 34 - A10 Networks acquires cloud firm Appcito

A10 Networks

US-based A10 Networks has acquired Appcito, a provider of Software-As-AService (SaaS) based, multicloud Application Delivery Controllers (ADC) solutions. A10 Networks is an application networking and security company. In 2015, Gartner named Appcito as one of the "Cool Vendors in Enterprise Networking."

The acquisition positions A10 Networks as a comprehensive secure application services leader. It will help customers become more secure. New A10 "Harmony-based cloud" solution integrating Appcito technology will be available later this year.

News 35 - Facebook successfully tests its first Aquila Internet drone flight

Facebook

In an effort by Facebook Inc. to connect the places which are not yet connected, it successfully tested Aquila, a solar-powered, unmanned plane over Arizona. Aquila is designed to cover an area 60 miles in diameter, reaching some of the 4 billion people that don't have internet access. Prototype was tested over Arizona and plane landed safely after 90 minutes. The Aquila project is part of Facebook's Connectivity Lab, a department creating new technologies including aircraft, satellites and wireless communication systems.

This technology is developed and designed by the Somerset-based company Ascenta, which Facebook bought for around £12.5 million in 2014. Aquila is designed to be hyper efficient and it can fly for up to three months at a time at power consumption of only 5,000 watts.

News 36 - Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion conducted Startup India States Conference in New Delhi

DIPP

A State Conference was organized by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion in New Delhi for promoting Startup India in all the states. This conference was presided over by Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

DIPP requested State Governments and Administration of Union Territories to set up a Startup Hub as well as incubators to help Startups during various stages of their development wherein Telangana and Gujarat have already set up T-Hub and iCreate. According to commerce minister, 4,400 technology startups exist in India and the number is expected to reach 12,000+ by 2020.

News 37 - Snapdeal partnered with e-ticketing portal BookMyShow

Snapdeal

Snapdeal entered into a partnership with e-ticketing platform BookMyShow. With this deal, customers can now book tickets for movies on Snapdeal as well. This will help Snapdeal to achieve its target of 20 million daily transacting users by 2020.

With this partnership with Snapdeal, BookMyShow will benefit its users to meet their movie ticketing needs without having to leave the platform as BookMyShow's e-ticket booking service can be accessed through Snapdeal's app as well.

News 38 - Collections under the Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme Reach a New High

Gold

The amount realized through the 4th tranche of the Sovereign Gold Bond (SGB) scheme, at around Rs. 919 Crores, is the highest achieved as yet. The previous highest was Rs. 746 Crores in the 2nd tranche when the issue price was only Rs. 2600 per gram of gold. This was mobilized through over 1.95 lakh applications representing around 2.95 tonnes of gold.

The top 5 among the receiving offices were SBI, NSE, Bank of India, ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank, in that order. The total subscription in first 3 tranches was Rs. 1318 Crores corresponding to 4.9 tonnes of gold.

News 39 - Cabinet increases the limit for foreign investment in Stock Exchanges from 5% to 15

Stock Exchanges

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for raising foreign shareholding limit from 5% to 15% in Indian Stock Exchanges for a stock exchange, a depository, a banking company, an insurance company, a commodity derivative exchange. The Cabinet has also approved the proposal to allow foreign portfolio investors to acquire shares through initial allotment, besides secondary market, in the stock exchanges.

This move will help in enhancing global competitiveness of Indian stock exchanges by accelerating/facilitating the adoption of latest technology and global best practices which will lead to overall growth and development of the Indian Capital Market.

News 40 - Allowing 74% FDI in the Pharma Sector

FDI

FDI in Brownfield Pharma Sector has been permitted up to 74% under the automatic route; and FDI beyond 74% and up to 100% is allowed under the Government approval route. The move to permit 74% FDI under automatic route in Brownfield pharmaceutical sector is aimed at attracting required capital, international best practices and latest technologies in the sector. Further, 100% FDI under automatic route is permitted for Greenfield pharma sector.

The Government has put in place necessary safeguards by providing that non-compete clause would not be permitted. This will enable Indian promoters to operate in the same line of business in new ventures.



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