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QBiz: World Bank Clears $1 Bn for India to Fight COVID-19 & More

Catch all the top business headlines here.  

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1. World Bank Approves $1 Bn Emergency Financing for India to Tackle Coronavirus

The World Bank on Thursday approved USD 1-billion emergency financing for India to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, which has claimed 76 lives and infected 2,500 others in the country.

The World Bank's first set of aid projects, amounting to USD 1.9 billion, will assist 25 countries, and new operations are moving forward in over 40 nations using the fast-track process, the bank said.

The largest chunk of the emergency financial assistance has gone to India – $1 billion.

(Source: Mint)

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2. Global Economy Could Shrink by Almost 1% in 2020 Due to COVID-19: UN

The global economy could shrink by up to one percent in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, a reversal from the previous forecast of 2.5 percent growth, the UN has said, warning that it may contract even further if restrictions on the economic activities are extended without adequate fiscal responses.

The analysis by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) said the COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting global supply chains and international trade. With nearly 100 countries closing national borders during the past month, the movement of people and tourism flows have come to a screeching halt.

(Source: The Financial Express)

3. COAI Writes to FM Nirmala Sitharaman, Seeks Relief Measures

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has written another letter to the government seeking relief measures such as reduction in licence fee and spectrum usage charges (SUC) as well as access to low-cost funding. The association said in the last few days, the load on telecom networks has seen an exponential surge due to the COVID-19 outbreak and people working from home.

“Telecom service providers (TSPs) have invested and will continue to invest significantly in the telecom infrastructure and it has enabled to meet the increased demand for telecom services,” COAI director general Rajan Mathews said in a letter dated 28 March to finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

(Source: The Financial Express)

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4. Oil Companies Switch to BS-VI Fuel Without Raising Prices

India has switched over to the world's cleanest petrol and diesel without raising prices, Indian Oil Corp (IOC), the nation's largest oil firm, said on Thursday, 2 April.

Leapfrogging from BS-IV grade fuel straight to BS-VI grade, equivalent to Euro-VI fuel, petrol and diesel would have resulted in an up to Re 1 per litre increase in cost but oil companies decided against passing this on to consumers and instead adjusted it against the reduction warranted from international oil prices plummeting to a 17-year low.
IOC also said the prices of petrol and diesel have not been increased despite cost going up significantly.

(Source: The Times of India)

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5. British Airways Temporarily Lays off 28,000 Staff

British Airways will furlough about 28,000 employees to save cash after grounding most of its fleet in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Following laboUr talks, all idled staff will receive 80% of their usual pay, the Unite union said in a statement Thursday, 2 April. That will be funded by the UK government up to a value of 2,500 pounds ($3,095) a month under a national plan, with the airline picking up the tab for wages beyond that level.

British Airways is falling into line with carriers around the world in furloughing workers as the virus effectively wipes out global travel demand. Among UK rivals, EasyJet Plc laid off cabin crew for two months Monday after grounding its entire fleet, while staff at Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. have signed up for eight-week breaks, extended sabbaticals or voluntary severance.

(Source: Mint)

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6. Reliance to Raise Rs 25,000 Cr Through NCDs in Tranches

Oil to telecom conglomerate Reliance Industries (RIL) on Thursday, 2 April, said the company’s board has approved a proposal to raise Rs 25,000 crore through non convertible debentures (NCD)s in multiple tranches. The company did not disclose the purpose for the fund raising.

“It is hereby informed that the board of directors of the company, at its meeting held today, has approved, the proposal for raising of funds through issuance of Non-Convertible Debentures (NCDs) up to Rs. 25,000 crore in tranches from time to time, on a private placement basis,” RIL said in its statement to BSE.

While the company did not disclose the purpose for fund raising, the management earlier guided the company’s capex cycle will slow down going forward.

(Source: Business Standard)

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7. Uber Partners with BigBasket to Deliver Essentials to Customers

Ride-hailing firm Uber India has launched a last mile delivery service and partnered with online grocery firm BigBasket, to deliver essentials to customers at their doorstep during the countrywide lockdown.

This will enable BigBasket to serve its customers across four cities – Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chandigarh and Noida.

Uber plans to expand the new service and is conversation with other companies as well, to make its network for essential services available during a time when there is acute shortage of delivery personnel and a surge in demand for daily, essential goods, a top company executive said.

(Source: Mint)

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8. Aurobindo Abandons $1 Bn Deal With Sandoz

Aurobindo Pharma Ltd has abandoned a proposed $1 billion purchase of the US dermatology business as well as three manufacturing plants of Sandoz, the generics unit of Swiss drug maker Novartis, as it did not get approval from the US Federal Trade Commission (US FTC).

“Aurobindo today announced the mutual agreement with Sandoz Inc. to terminate the agreement to buy the Sandoz US generic oral solids and dermatology businesses from Sandoz Inc. This decision was taken as approval from the US Federal Trade Commission for the transaction was not obtained within anticipated timelines," the company said in a regulatory filing on Thursday, 2 April.

Hyderabad-based generics drug maker Aurobindo had agreed in September 2018 to acquire these businesses from Sandoz for an upfront payment of $900 million and performance-based payouts of $100 million.

(Source: Mint)

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9. SBI Employees Pledges Rs 100 Cr to PM-CARES Fund

State Bank of India (SBI) on Thursday, 2 April, pledged Rs 100 crore for Prime Minister''s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM-CARES) Fund.

Around 2,56,000 employees of the country’s largest lender, State Bank of India (SBI) have decided to contribute two days’ salary to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.

Last Week, SBI had committed 0.25% of annual profit for FY 2019-20 as a part of its CSR activities to fight COVID-19.

(Source: Mint)

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