QBiz: Airtel’s 4G Push, Tata Steel UK Under Scanner, Forex Surge

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Tata Steel has been facing major losses in its UK operations. (Photo: Reuters)

1. UK Orders Criminal Investigation Into Tata Steel’s British Operations

Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has launched a “criminal investigation” into workings of Tata Steel UK in relation to certain events of 2015, amid the steel maker scouting buyers for its loss-making business.

The matter relates to certain inappropriate testing and certification procedures at the South Yorkshire-based Speciality Steels business and a full investigation that was carried out internally with the help of experts.

In a statement on Friday, Tata Steel UK said it had informed relevant bodies, including SFO, about the issue after completion of internal investigation. Without disclosing specific details about the probe, the company said since the initial notification, it has been cooperating fully with the SFO in their investigation.

Amongst other bodies proactively notified by Tata Steel UK was the Serious Fraud Office, which has opened a criminal investigation. It is not appropriate for Tata Steel to comment on that investigation. Tata Steel UK took immediate action to address the issues uncovered. The practices were immediately stopped. A detailed investigation was carried out by a technical team from outside the Speciality Steel business, and its conclusions were verified by independent experts.
Statement by Tata Steel UK

Read more on The Quint.

2. India’s Foreign Exchange Reserves Surge to Record High of $ 360 Billion: FE

India’s foreign exchange reserves has swelled to a record high of $360 billion for the week ended 1 April, reports Financial Express. This is largely on account of the central bank’s dollar purchases to rein in the rupee’s strength as foreign funds poured into Indian financial markets, analysts were quoted saying in the report.

Foreign investors added Indian debt and equities worth $3.7 billion in March, the highest in a year, after being net sellers in the previous two months. For the week, forex reserves were up $4 billion, data from the Reserve Bank of India showed.

The surge is a stark turnaround from 2013 when the country’s current account gap hit a record high due to outflows on expectations the US Fed would rein in its stimulus programme.

3. Airtel Acquires 4G Spectrum of 8 States From Aircel: FE

The country’s largest telecom provider, Bharti Airtel, on Friday announced the acquisition of 20 MHz spectrum in 8 circles from Aircel for Rs 3,500 crore. The circles include Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Assam, North-East, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.

According to The Financial Express, with the acquisition, Bharti Airtel is now a pan-India 4G operator. Aircel had won the spectrum in government conducted auction and was entitled to hold it till 20 September 2030.

A statement issued by Bharti Airtel said the transfer of right to use for the circles of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha is subject to the revision of spectrum caps with the upcoming auction to be conducted by Department of Telecommunication (DoT).

4. Investors Approve Marriott’s $12.4-Billion Acquisition of Starwood Hotels: Livemint

Marriott International cemented a $12.4-billion deal to acquire Starwood Hotels and Resorts to create the world’s largest hotel operators. The deal was approved by shareholders of both the firms.

According to The Livemint, more than 97 percent of Marriott’s shareholders at a company meeting, representing more than 79 percent of outstanding shares, voted in favour of the deal. Similarly, on the Starwood side, more than 95 percent of shareholders representing more than 63 percent of outstanding shares supported the deal.

Marriott’s purchase of Starwood is the largest takeover of a hotel company since Blackstone Group LP acquired Hilton Worldwide Holdings for $26 billion in 2007.

5. OECD Calls Meeting to Discuss ‘Panama Papers’ Fallout: FE

The global economic body, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has called for a special session on 13 April in the wake of ‘Panama Papers’ disclosures. The leaked documents contained names of about 500 Indians holding offshore assets in nations that are tax havens.

According to The Financial Express, a Finance Ministry official acknowledged the invite for the meeting which is meant for all the countries affected by Panama Papers. However, the government is yet to decide on the Indian representation in the meeting.

India adheres to a number of OECD norms for strengthening overseas tax cooperation and exchange of information and at the first meeting of a specially constituted Multi-Agency Group (MAG) of probe agencies held in New Delhi, it was decided to approach the global body along with another similar forum FATF for support in this regard.

6. TPG Capital Raising Fund to Help India Build Infrastructure: ET

India’s power plants and highway projects may soon garner support from a marque US investor TPG Capital. The private equity firm is getting ready to raise $4 billion (Rs 26,588 crore) global infrastructure funds.

According to The Economic Times, experts believe that emerging markets such as India will be among the core destinations for the firm to invest. The exact amount to be allocated to India has not been finalised yet but the money raised would be put to use only in infrastructure companies.

The global investment committee of TPG had visited India a month ago. Jim Coulter, the fund’s cofounder and co-chief executive, told Bloomberg in March that he saw a $131-billion opportunity in Indian distressed assets.

7. Microfinance Firms Step up Hiring Ahead of Small Banks Launch: Livemint

Microfinance entities, some of whom are gearing up to launch small finance banks, are said to go on a hiring spree with plans to recruit as many as 15,000 people in the next one year, particularly in semi-urban and rural areas as per the Livemint report.

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) gave in-principle approval to start small finance banks to 10 microfinance firms, including Ujjivan Financial Services, Janalakshmi Services and Equitas Holdings back in September last year.

The central bank has granted them 18 months to complete the transition.

With plans to convert most of the existing branches to bank branches and open new ones within this year, these entities are aggressively adding to their staff and putting in place leadership teams.

8. Govt Plans Massive Reboot of DBT Scheme for Easy Transfer of Money: ET ​

So near, yet so far. From the perspective of most people who live in the villages, that’s probably the best way to sum up how what is probably the world’s largest benefit programme has fared, says a special report in Economic Times.

The exercise – Direct Benefit Transfer – is undoubtedly mammoth. Transferring Rs 6,000 crore ($900 million) of subsidies and wages electronically every month to the bank accounts of 30 crore people is only the first and easy part of the process. The problem starts after that.

Going to the bank to withdraw the money is proving to be the bane of the scheme for folks in rural India, where most of the recipients live. Reason? The poor presence of bank branches and ATMs.

9. Model Shop Law to Boost E-Commerce: BS

The government’s decision to bring warehouses under the purview of the Model Shops and Establishments Act will benefit logistics and e-commerce companies, reports Business Standard.

For the first time, godowns, warehouses or workplaces related to packaging activities have been proposed to be covered by the law.

The current size of warehousing sector is Rs 75,000 crore. E-commerce logistics sector in the country expected to reach about $2 billion by 2019.

According to the draft Act, establishments with 10 or more workers like shopping malls and warehouses will be allowed to be kept open round the clock and on all days in a year.

The draft proposes allowing women to work in night shifts. The ministry has sent the proposed legislation for Cabinet approval.

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