QBiz: TRAI Cuts Mobile Call Connection Costs; FM Discusses Economy

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1. Airtel Loses Out to Jio As TRAI Cuts Mobile Call Connection Costs

India's telecom regulator has cut the fees operators pay for cross-network calls by more than half, a move which was strongly opposed by the biggest player Bharti Airtel Ltd as it benefits the newest entrant Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd.

Interconnection charges from mobile to mobile have been cut to 6 paise per minute from 14 paise per minute effective from 1 October, according to a press release by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). The interconnect usage charge will completely go from 2020.

Read the full story on The Quint.

2. Arun Jaitley Discusses Ways to Revive India’s GDP Growth

Finance minister Arun Jaitley and his colleagues on Tuesday took stock of the economy and discussed specific efforts to revive growth that has decelerated to the slowest pace in three years.

The finance ministry will hold more inter-ministerial consultations and finalize a package of measures aimed at stimulating economic growth, officials present at the meeting said on condition of anonymity.

A presentation will then be made to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will take the final call, these officials said.

(Source: Livemint)

3. 18 McDonald's Outlets Reopen in Delhi: Vikram Bakshi

Eighteen outlets of fast-food major McDonald's have reopened in New Delhi on Tuesday even as joint venture partners Vikram Bakshi and McDonald's India Pvt Ltd (MIPL) remain embroiled in a dispute.

In a board meeting of Connaught Plaza Restaurants Private Limited (CPRL), the 50:50 joint venture company, which was called on Sunday, a resolution was passed to reopen 21 outlets, Bakshi, who is managing director of CPRL, said. "Eighteen restaurants in Delhi reopened on Tuesday," he said, adding the decision was taken in the interest of all stakeholders including employees, landlords and vendors.

The board meeting was held under the chairmanship of judge G S Singhvi, who is the court-appointed administrator. While Bakshi and his wife attended Sunday's board meeting, MIPL representatives, who have two board seats, were absent, sources in the know said.

4. Flipkart, Amazon in Rs 100 Crore Ad Blitz

Arch rivals Amazon India and Flipkart are sparing no effort — or expense — in the latest fight for dominance in India’s e-commerce market.

The two online retailers have launched a television ad blitz plugging the deals and discounts on offer in their annual flagship sales on which they are spending a collective Rs 100 crore, executives from three media buying agencies said on condition of anonymity.

Flipkart’s Big Billion Days sale starts on Wednesday and ends on 24 September. Amazon India’s Great Indian Festival will start a day later, and end on 24 September.

(Source: Livemint)

5. Reliance Jio impact: Top 3 Telcos Lose 5 Million Users in August

If declining profitability has been a concern for the telecom industry since Reliance Jio disrupted the market with deep discounts, now there’s much more to worry. The latest numbers show that the top three telcos — Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular —have together lost close to 5 million subscribers in August.

This is the first time since the launch of Jio last year that Airtel’s user base has dipped.

While Vodafone and Idea Cellular lost around 2.4 million and 2.8 million subscribers, respectively, market leader Bharti Airtel’s count dropped by 200,000 in August.

Telecom experts, however, argue that in a market like India, where customers have multiple connections, the best way to judge an operator’s health is through revenue numbers.

6. Shell Crackdown: Govt Makes Public Names of Over 55,000 Directors

Intensifying its crackdown on shell companies and their operators, the government has made public names of over 55,000 directors linked to such firms to ensure they do not get associated with similar roles again.

More such names will be published soon as the government has already identified over 1.06 lakh directors for their association with shell firms which are either yet to commence any business or have failed to submit their financial statements or annual returns for three straight years.

More than two lakh such companies have already been struck off the register of the companies with various ROCs (Registrar of Companies).

(Source: PTI)

7. SoftBank Vision Fund, Sun Mobility in Talks For $100 Million Investment

SoftBank Vision Fund, the 100 billion dollar technology investment fund of Japan’s SoftBank Group, is in early talks to invest as much as 100 million dollar in Reva Electric founder Chetan Maini’s latest venture Sun Mobility, said two people aware of the development.

Sun Mobility is a joint venture between Chetan Maini’s Virya Mobility 5.0 and Khemka family’s Sun Group, which has investments across sectors such as energy, mining and real estate.

Sun Mobility is developing smart batteries for a wide spectrum of electric vehicles including cars, buses and scooters. The company also plans to develop a network of renewable energy-powered battery-charging stations.

(Source: Livemint)

8. Banks Can Classify Priority Loans as Standard Debt: RBI

The Reserve Bank of India has assured banks that they can classify priority loans extended to defaulting companies in the bankruptcy process as standard debt in a move aimed at ensuring that entities which can be revived are able to raise resources, said people with knowledge of the matter. This will come as a relief to those companies that are struggling to recast loans within the strict deadline imposed by the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.

The central bank has however said this classification will be allowed only if repayments are made every month rather than later in the form of bullet payments or after a few months. The banks had sought a clarification on the difference in treatment of such loans by banks and finance companies. Priority loans take precedence over other forms of debt and are repaid before other loans in the event of liquidation.

9. PPP Projects at Major Ports at Risk of Running Aground

A rigid regulatory framework and market dynamics threaten to run aground contracts worth thousands of crores of rupees at public-private-partnership (PPP) projects at India’s major ports or those owned by the Centre, giving beleaguered lenders cause for more worry.

Kandla Port Trust scrapped two PPP projects in August, with the two sides blaming each other for the default: the port trust says RAS Infraport Pvt Ltd and IMC Ltd were not paying the contractually mandated revenue share, while the PPP operators allege the port trust did not give them rail connectivity and water depth on time.

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