QBiz: SC Lifts Ban on Cryptocurrency; Oyo to Sack 5,000 Employees

Catch the top business headlines of the day here.

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1. SC Does Away with RBI Curbs on Crypto Trading

The Supreme Court scrapped a Reserve Bank of India (RBI) circular preventing banks from providing services in support of cryptocurrencies, lifting a de facto ban on trading in bitcoin and other such instruments.

Cryptocurrency exchanges welcomed the decision and startups said they will revive plans to invest and expand their businesses in India. The move may set the tone for a more calibrated regulatory approach toward digital currencies, lawyers said.

A three-member bench headed by Rohinton F Nariman said the central bank hadn’t demonstrated that trading in such currencies was deleterious in any manner, while pointing out that there was no ban on them. “While we have recognised… the power of RBI to take a pre-emptive action, we are testing in this part of the order the proportionality of such measure, for the determination of which RBI needs to show at least some semblance of any damage suffered by its regulated entities. But there is none,” the bench said.

(Source: The Economic Times)

2. Global Markets Bet on Biden Win, but Sensex Still in Red

The last time the US and global investors reacted to developments in American politics was on that famous November day in 2016 when markets first tumbled and then rallied spectacularly after Donald Trump’s unexpected victory. Wednesday, 4 March, 2020 was not like that day but it came close in the way global stocks and investors reacted to Joe Biden’s stunning comeback in the Democrat primaries.

The former US vice-president and Democrat presidential candidate swept large parts of the Democrat electorate in the American south and emerged triumphant winner of Super Tuesday primaries. Biden’s win and the loss of his challenger Bernie Sanders, who had made investors nervous with his proposals on healthcare and attacks on billionaires, spurred stocks late on Wednesday.

(Source: The Economic Times)

3. Oyo to Sack 5,000 Worldwide as Business Catches a Cold

Oyo Hotels & Homes will fire about 5,000 employees across the globe, with a significant number of the dismissals taking place in China, which the company calls its second home market but where it has struggled to build a sustainable business.

The Covid-19 outbreak, which has ravaged the world’s second largest economy, has hit the hotel room aggregator’s operations in China, Oyo group CEO Ritesh Agarwal told Bloomberg in an interview on Wednesday, 4 March.

Oyo is in the process of firing an estimated 3,000 direct employees in the country and temporarily laying off some of its 4,000-strong discretionary staff, the agency reported.

(Source: The Economic Times)

4. Pay AGR Dues in Full or Explain Calculations, DoT Tells Telecom Companies

The department of telecommunications (DoT) on Wednesday issued notices to all the telecom companies, including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Tata Teleservices, asking them to pay the remaining adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues as per the Supreme Court order or submit documents explaining their self-assessment calculations.

According to sources, notices were issued even to those firms which are undergoing insolvency proceedings. Bharti Airtel has deposited a total of Rs 18,004 crore towards AGR dues while Tata Teleservices has paid Rs 4,197 crore. Vodafone Idea has paid Rs 3,500 crore so far as the company has not completed its self-assessment exercise.

(Source: The Financial Express)

5. NCLAT Asks CCI to Investigate Charges Against Flipkart Again

The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) on Wednesday, 4 March, directed the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to launch a probe against Flipkart on alleged charges of abuse of dominant position, setting aside CCI’s 2018 order absolving the e-commerce firm of the same.

The NCLAT directive follows a plea lodged by the All India Online Vendors’ Association (AIOVA) with the tribunal in January 2019, asking to “set aside” CCI’s impugned order.

The NCLAT order comes less than two weeks after Flipkart filed a writ petition in the Karnataka High Court seeking a stay on the “operation, effect and implementation” of CCI’s January order (following a plea by Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh) asking its director general (DG) to investigate Flipkart’s alleged business practice of deep-discounting, preferential listing of sellers and exclusive pacts.

(Source: The Financial Express)

6. Ultra Mega Renewable Projects: Centre Asks States to Expedite Land

The Centre has asked the state governments to speed up the process of tying up with central public sector undertakings (CPSUs) and identifying land parcels to set up ultra mega renewable energy power parks (UMREPPs).

To this end, Gujarat will form separate special purpose vehicles (SPVs) with Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) and NTPC for two 5,000-mega watt (MW) UMREPPs and Rajasthan will form SPVs with Power Finance Corporation (PFC) for 3,000 MW, SECI for 5,000 MW and NTPC for 10,000 MW.

According to sources, the states have also been asked to start planning for large scale transmission infrastructure required to evacuate power from these renewable energy parks. In some zones, land acquisition will have to be exercised after consultation with the defence ministry as some areas fall in the territory along the international border with Pakistan. While Gujarat is said to have zeroed in on land in Kutch district, the Rajasthan plants are likely to be installed in Bikaner, Jaisalmer and Barmer.

(Source: The Financial Express)

7. Cabinet Tweaks Aviation FDI Policy to Help Air India Divestment to Take Off

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday, 4 March, approved a slew of decisions including one to further ease divesting the government’s stake in Air India.

It also approved the Companies (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019 and the consolidation of 10 public sector banks into four.

An official statement said that the amendment to the foreign direct investment policy on civil aviation will permit FDI in Air India up to 100 percent by non-resident Indians.

“The proposed changes to the FDI policy will enable foreign investment by NRIs into Air India. Up to 100 percent, under the automatic route,” the statement said. Till now, NRIs were allowed 100 percent FDI under the automatic route in other scheduled air transport service/domestic scheduled passenger airline.

(Source: The Hindu BusinessLine)

8. FMCG Companies Ramp up Manufacturing to Meet Demand for Hygiene Products

FMCG companies are either ramping up production or doubling down on distribution efforts to ensure availability of hygiene products such as handwash and hand sanitisers on retail shelves to meet the massive spike in demand, as India begins reporting an increase in the number of coronavirus cases.

Consumers in certain regions took to social media to report shortage of products such as hand sanitisers. But key FMCG players on Wednesday, 4 March, stated they have adequate stocks available for such products.

(Source: The Hindu BusinessLine)

9. Zomato Buys UberEats India for $206 Million

Ride-hailing major Uber sold its food delivery business in India to food-tech giant Zomato for $206 million according to the firm’s recent regulatory filings.

Zomato had acquired UberEats India in January in an all-stock transaction with UberEats selling the business for a 9.99 per centstake in the online food delivery business.

The two companies had not disclosed the financial terms of the deal back in January. Zomato, apart from the payout also reimbursed $35 million in goods and services tax to the US-based ride-hailing giant.

(Source:The Hindu BusinessLine)

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