QBiz: No Limit on Cash Withdrawals, Says PNB; EPFO Reduces Rates

Here are the top business stories of the day.

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Business
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1. PNB Dismisses Rumours of Cash Withdrawal Limits, Says it Has Enough Capital

Dismissing speculations about restrictions on cash withdrawal, fraud-hit Punjab National Bank (PNB) on Wednesday sought to assure customers that it is capable of safeguarding the interests of stakeholders and it is business as usual at the bank.

The bank also stressed that it has a strong sovereign backing and adequate capital. “We have adequate capital coupled with a strong non-core asset base,” PNB tweeted.

The bank had a capital adequacy ratio of 11.58 percent as of December end. It was also planning to monetise its large real estate holdings across India as well as its holdings in its insurance and mutual fund joint ventures.

(Source: Livemint)

2. PNB Fraud: ED Raids Shell Firms; I-T Attaches Rs 145 Crore Assets

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday continued raids for the seventh day as it visited 17 locations across the country, including four shell companies in Mumbai, even as the I-T department attached assets worth Rs 145 crore in the alleged Rs 11,400-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud.

While the ED seized assets worth Rs 10 crore on Wednesday, the tax department said it has attached a total of 141 bank accounts and fixed deposits worth Rs 145.74 crore of the Nirav Modi group. The department said it has attached these assets to realise outstanding tax demands.

With today's seizure, the total value of gems and gold jewellery seized by the ED stands at Rs 5,736 crore.

(Source: PTI)

3. EPF Interest Rate Reduced to a Five-Year Low of 8.55%

The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), India’s retirement fund manager, has cut the interest rate it pays to more than 50 million subscribers to 8.55 percent for the year to 31 March, the lowest in five years.

The labour ministry-controlled retirement fund manager had paid 8.65 percent the previous year.

The cut, announced after a meeting of the central board of trustees (CBT) on Wednesday, was the best the body could offer in the “current uncertain” market conditions, labour secretary M Sathiyavathy said.

The decision could prove politically problematic for the BJP-led government as it may anger the vocal middle class, a point that employee representatives on the EPFO board told central government representatives at the retirement fund body.

(Source: Livemint)

4. Indian Companies Lost $5,00,000 to Cyber Attacks in 1.5 Years: CISCO

Cyber attacks in the country caused financial damages to the tune of about USD 500,000 to India companies in the last 12-18 months, says a study.

"...more than half of all attacks resulted in financial damages of more than USD 5,00,000, including, but not limited to, lost revenue, customers, opportunities, and out-of-pocket costs," the technology firm CISCO 2018 Annual Cybersecurity report released on Wednesday said.

CISCO interviewed around 200 organisations across verticals in the country including financial services, manufacturing, government (including defence), telecommunication, retail, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, education.

The report said that security is getting more complex and scope of breaches is expanding.

(Source: PTI)

5. Bajaj Finserv, Grasim, Titan To Be Included In Nifty 50

The NSE Nifty 50 Index will sport a new look from 2 April.

Bajaj Finserv Ltd, Grasim Industries Ltd, and Titan Company Ltd will be included in the benchmark index, the exchange said in a statement today.

Ambuja Cements Ltd, Aurobindo Pharma Ltd, and Bosch Ltd will be excluded. With Bajaj Finserv’s inclusion, the number of financial services firms in the Nifty will increase to 11, while Aurobindo Pharma’s exit will bring down the number of pharma companies to four.

(Source: BloombergQuint)

6. UP Investors Summit: Adani, Birla, Ambani Lead Rs 4 Trillion Investment Promises

The Uttar Pradesh government received what it said was an overwhelming response from business heads on the opening day of its ‘Investors Summit’, with 1,045 proposals worth Rs 4.28 trillion.

The biggest announcement came from Adani Group chairman Gautam Adani, who promised aggregate investment of Rs 350 billion over the next five years. Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani promised extension of his Reliance Jio telecom venture, with fresh investment worth Rs 100 billion.

Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman of the Aditya Birla Group, committed Rs 250 bn for the state in the next five years. Anand Mahindra, chairman of Mahindra Group, said his group could set up a manufacturing unit for electric vehicles if the state government came up a with a favourable policy in this regard.

(Source: Business Standard)

7. India’s Bus Sales Set To Fall First Time In Three Years

Bus sales are on track to decline first time in three years in India as cities are not increasing fleet size despite inadequate public transport.

That’s because the government scrapped separate funding to buy new buses and merged it with its flagship Smart Cities Mission. Sales of passenger carriers contracted 25.7 percent on a yearly basis to 27,431 units in the first 10 months of the year ending March.

Sales have not been picking up owing to the shortage of orders from state transport authorities within and outside the Smart Cities Mission, said Sugato Sen, deputy director general at lobby group Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. Typically, bulk of the orders come from local public transport authorities.

(Source: BloombergQuint)

8. Pawan Hans Disinvestment Finds No Takers

The government is likely to call for fresh bids for the disinvestment of Pawan Hans in the next "two to three months" after an attempt to sell its entire 51 percent stake in the chopper company didn't find many takers.

Last year, the government had invited bids from private companies, including foreign ones, to buy out its stake along with management control in helicopter service operator Pawan Hans Ltd (PHL).

The chopper company is a 51:49 joint venture between the Civil Aviation Ministry and oil behemoth ONGC.

Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju on Wednesday said that during the bidding process, there was effectively only one bid.

(Source: PTI)

9. No Decision Yet on How Much Air India Stake up For Sale: Ashok Gajapathi Raju

The government has not taken a final decision yet on how much stake in Air India it wants to sell, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said on Wednesday.

Last year, the Union Cabinet approved privatisation of the debt-ridden national carrier, which is staying afloat on taxpayers' money. A group of ministers has been appointed to chalk out the strategy for Air India's stake sale.

"There is no final decision that has taken place. There are lots of suggestions, there is lots of thinking. (Some suggest) why not have a share (in Air India) so that if market goes up you can recover (debt). I say you are welcome to suggest," Raju said at a press interaction.

(Source: PTI)

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