QBiz: Rupee at 15-Month Low Against US Dollar; ICICI Profits Down

Here’s a round-up of the top business stories.

6 min read
A man walking past an  ICICI Bank branch.

1. Rupee Falls to 15-Month Low Against US Dollar

The Indian rupee fell heavily against the US dollar in the mid-morning trades on Monday breaking the 67 per dollar mark for the first time in last 15 months as US dollar went on to a four-month high following a sharp appreciation in crude oil prices and the geopolitical tensions between the United States and Iran.

The rupee opened marginally higher against the US dollar but very quickly fell into losses cracking 67-level versus the US dollar.

The domestic currency has been broadly on a declining trend since after the Union Budget 2018 has been passed followed by a steep plunge from the second week of April 2018 till now.

(Source: Financial Express)


2. New Technologies to Fuel IT Sector Hiring in Next 6 Months, Reveals Survey

IT employers across corporate India are looking to hire bigger numbers in the next two quarters as compared to the previous two on the back of cutting-edge technologies, according to the IT Employment Outlook Survey for April-September 2018 of 500 IT employers, conducted by Experis ITManpowerGroup India.

“Hiring intentions are slightly higher as businesses strive to keep up effectively with the pace of evolving technologies.

Outlook for employment is better, with a lot of oppor opportunities”, said Manmeet Singh, president at Experis IT, ManpowerGroup India.

He said job opportunities are there and employers are ready to pay for the right skillsets. “It is up to the employees to fill this gap through self-training. The highest-paid technology areas are big data analytics, machine learning and AI developers”, he added.

(Source: The Economic Times)

3. Mukesh Ambani’s EWPL Seeks Tripling of KG Gas Transportation Tariff

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani-led East-West Pipeline Ltd has sought nearly tripling of the tariff it charges for transporting KG gas from east coast to Gujarat. Downstream oil regulator PNGRB on Monday, 7 May floated a public consultation paper on EWPL, earlier known as Reliance Gas Transportation Infrastructure Ltd (RGTIL), seeking a rise in pipeline tariff from Rs 52.23 per million British thermal unit charged till 2017 to Rs 151.84 per mmBtu for 2018-19 to 2035-36.

A rise in tariff would lead to increase in the price of electricity and fertiliser as well as city gas like CNG.

“EWPL in its updated tariff filing for determination of final tariff has submitted the capital expenditure of East-West pipeline excluding interest during construction (IDC) as Rs 18,736.71 crores,” PNGRB said in the consultation paper. This includes Rs 16,227.30 crore of actual capex on building of the 1,460-km pipeline and another Rs 700 crore capex towards additional connectivity and Rs 1,809.41 crore for maintenance and replacement.

(Source: Financial Express)


4. ICICI Bank Profit Down By 50%

ICICI Bank Ltd reported a 50 percent drop in its fiscal-fourth quarter profit as it set aside cash to cover a surge in bad loans, a fallout of the central bank’s revised scheme on resolution of stressed assets.

Even as the board, sans government nominee director Lok Ranjan who skipped the meeting, approved the results on Monday, 7 May it stayed mum on the controversy surrounding its chief executive officer Chanda Kochhar on allegations of conflict of interest with respect to loans made to Videocon Group.

In a post-earnings conference call, Kochhar said that, “Today, there was no discussion at all on this issue… Board has made its stance very clear and we do not have anything more to add”.

The board will meet again on Tuesday, although little is expected to be discussed on the controversy with Kochhar saying that it was a routine meeting, conducted every year after the announcement of annual results, to finalize planning and budget.

(Source: Livemint)

5. Gold Imports By India Are Said to Have Plunged for Fourth Month

Gold imports by India, which vies with China as the biggest consumer, declined in April, according to a person familiar with the information, falling for a fourth month amid lackluster sales.

Overseas purchases dropped 46 percent to 52.7 metric tons last month from a year earlier, the person said, asking not to be identified as the figures aren’t public. Imports in the first four months totaled 211.7 tons, a drop of 43 percent from a year ago, data collated by Bloomberg show. Finance Ministry spokesman DS Malik didn’t answer calls made to his mobile phone.

Rising prices have taken the sheen off gold demand in India, with sales last month during a key auspicious Hindu festival - Akshaya Tritiya - remaining subdued. A depreciating rupee has magnified gains in international markets, leading to the third-weakest quarter for jewelry demand during January-March in the past decade, the World Gold Council has said.

(Source: BloombergQuint)


6. Jaypee Promoters Submit Revival Plan for Jaypee Infratech

Jaypee group promoter Manoj Gaur on Monday, 10 May made a Rs 10,000 crore offer to pay off bank loans and complete the stuck housing projects as part of plans to bring Jaypee Infratech out of bankruptcy, sources said.

The offer, which includes paying part of Rs 9,800 crore debt, giving lenders an equity stake in the company and completing unfinished housing projects, is over 25 percent higher than the best bid made for Jaypee Infratech at the bankruptcy proceedings.

Sources said Gaur, who had previously sold interest in hydroelectric and cement projects to keep the real estate-to-hospital group alive, made a presentation before the committee of Japyee Infratech lenders.

They said it is not clear whether the Committee of Creditors (CoC) has accepted the offer as also if the panel would weigh it against the rival offer made by Lakshadweep Pvt Ltd.

(Source: The Economic Times)

7. BigBasket Eyes $500 Million War Chest as Walmart, Amazon Loom

BigBasket, India’s largest grocery start-up, is in talks with investors to build a large war chest to prepare for a long-drawn-out battle with deep-pocketed rivals Amazon India and Walmart Inc, which is nearing a deal to buy online retailer Flipkart, three people aware of the discussions said.

BigBasket, which raised $300 million from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and others in February, is in talks to raise between $300 million and $500 million from Alibaba and new investors, the people cited above said, adding that the talks are at an initial stage. All three people requested anonymity.

While BigBasket is in talks with new investors, it is possible that the funds could be raised entirely from existing investors led by Alibaba, one of the three people said.

(Source: Livemint)


8. Nestle Bets $7 Billion on Starbucks to Revive Coffee Sales

For years, a smoldering George Clooney would sip his espresso and ask: “Nespresso...what else?” Turns out the answer is: Starbucks.

In the third-biggest transaction in Nestle SA’s 152-year history, the Swiss food giant will spend $7.15 billion for the right to market Starbucks Corp products from beans to capsules, marrying its international distribution network with the allure of arguably the biggest name in java.

Nestle won’t get any physical assets in the deal. Instead, Chief Executive Officer Mark Schneider is harnessing the name recognition of Starbucks, with its 28,000 outlets around the globe and massive draw in the US Nestle has struggled there for years with its own products like Nespresso and Dolce Gusto.

Nestle could use a jolt - sales rose at their weakest pace in more than two decades last year. By entering a marketing pact with Starbucks, the Swiss company is revealing the limits to growing with Nescafe and Nespresso.

(Source: BloombergQuint)

9. Cognizant’s First Quarter Profit Declines 6.6%

Cognizant on Monday, 7 May said its net profit for the quarter-ended March 2018 declined 6.6 percent to $520 million from $557 million, or 92 cents per share, a year ago.

The Nasdaq-listed company’s revenue increased 10.3 percent on a yearly basis to $3.91 billion during the quarter, driven by strong growth across verticals like healthcare and communications, media and technology, Cognizant said in a statement. This is within its top line guidance of $3.88-3.92 billion for the March quarter.

“We achieved solid financial results in the first quarter and progressed our shift to digital services and solutions. Cognizant has built the capabilities and scale to help clients digitise their offerings, create personalised customer experiences, instrument their operations, and modernise their IT infrastructure,” said Francisco D’Souza, CEO, Cognizant.

D’Souza said the digital-at-scale value proposition had positioned the company “well to deliver a strong 2018”.

(Source: BloombergQuint)


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