QBiz: HUL Q4 Volumes Drop 7%; Govt Raises Cash Via Tax-Free Bonds

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1. COVID-19 Impact: HUL Q4 Volumes Decline 7%, More Than in Demonetisation

Hindustan Unilever (HUL), the country’s largest consumer goods company, on Thursday, reported a 7 percent decline in volumes for the quarter ended March 31, 2020 (Q4FY20), faring even worse than the demonetisation quarter (October-December 2016), when the fall was 4 percent.

The Street had factored in a drop of 2-4 percent in Q4 volume growth on account of the Covid-19 outbreak and subsequent lockdown. “But a 7 percent decline was a surprise,” said Kaustubh Pawaskar, associate vice-president (research) at brokerage Sharekhan.

Source: The Business Standard)

2. Government May Raise up to Rs 10,000 Crore via Tax-Free Bonds

The government is seeking to raise up to Rs 10,000 crore in its maiden tax-free bond issue to help bridge the fiscal gap, which is set to widen in the aftermath of Covid-19-induced economic disruptions and low tax collections.

The finance ministry has begun negotiations with bankers on a likely tax-free bond issue. The money may be raised in multiple installments, people aware of the plan told ET.

“We are in talks with bankers and other resources regarding the launch of such an issue,” said one of them.

The government plans to raise temporary funds from the central bank through ways and means advances (WMA), a short-term borrowing window. However, this may not be sufficient to meet anticipated immediate expenses, said the people cited above.

(Source: The Economic Times)

3. Microsoft Revenue Beats as Remote Work Boosts Teams

Microsoft Corp on Wednesday beat Wall Street sales and profit expectations, powered by sharp demand for its Teams chat and online meeting app and Xbox gaming services as the world shifted to working and playing from home because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The company's shares, up over 12% this year, rose about 5% in extended trading.

The results reflect Chief Executive Satya Nadella's focus over his six-year tenure on cloud computing, in which companies tap Microsoft's data centers for computing power - a growing business dominated by Amazon.com Inc's Amazon Web Services.

(Source: Livemint)

4. RIL Aims to Raise Rs 53,125 Crore Through India's Biggest Rights Issue

Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) on Thursday declared the much-awaited details of its rights issue, which is not only India’s largest but the company’s first in nearly three decades. The company is planning to raise Rs 53,125 crore by issuing one equity share for every 15 shares held by eligible shareholders as on the record date, which will be announced later.

This would mean an equity dilution of 6.7 percent at the proposed issue price of Rs 1,257 per share (including a premium of Rs 1,247 per share). The rights offer price is at a 14.3 percent discount to RIL’s closing price of Rs 1,467.05, on Thursday.

(Source: The Business Standard)

5. FinMin Issues Modified Circular on Salary Contribution to PM-Cares Fund

The finance ministry has issued a modified circular to staff regarding the contribution of one day's salary every month till March 2021 to the PM-CARES Fund.

A circular issued on April 17 had urged all the officers and staff of the finance ministry to contribute one day's salary every month to the fund till March 2021, beginning with May salaries.

Making changes, the new circular has said those willing to donate must write to the drawing & disbursing officer of the revenue department.

The earlier circular had said those "not willing to donate" should write to the drawing & disbursing officer intimating their unwillingness to make the contribution.

In the modified circular issued on April 29, the Department of Revenue has appealed to all the officers and staff to donate their one-day’s salary to the PM-CARES Fund to fight the COVID-19 pandemic which has already taken the lives of over 1,000 people and infected more than 33,000 people in the country.

(Source: Livemint)

6. Auto Sector May Get Rs 1-Lakh Crore Jolt on 45-Day Shutdown

A 45-day factory shutdown will result in a revenue loss of over ₹1 lakh crore for the Indian automotive industry, which amounts to 0.5% of GDP. The country has been locked down from March 25 to May 3, by which factories would have been shut for 40 days, to curb the spread of Covid-19. Most auto plants shut on March 20.

Zero production also means the government’s goods and services tax (GST) collections will take a hit of more than ₹28,000 crore, apart from ₹14,000 crore in other state levies, according to an analysis by the ET Intelligence Group.

Although the government has allowed some plants to restart, auto companies feel there’s little point as vendor supplies are uncertain, showrooms are shut, inventories are piled high and no one’s buying any cars right now. There’s no clarity yet on what happens after May 3. Auto companies want all segments of the ecosystem to be opened up for business once the lockdown is over, with precautions in place.

(Source: The Economic Times)

7. India Needs to Grow at 8.5 Percent in Succession to Get Back on Track: Report

The lockdown throughout the country due to COVID-19 concerns may cause a permanent erosion of 4 percent of India's GDP. India may need to grow 8.5 percent for three years in succession to be back on track according to rating firm Crisil.

"We estimate 4% permanent loss to real GDP (from the decadal trend levels) in the base case," Crisil said. "Catch-up requires a never-before-seen GDP growth of 8.5% on average for three years up to fiscal 2024" Crisil has forecast FY'21 growth rate at 1.8 percent in its latest revision.

Rating firms and many brokerages have already revised their GDP forecast twice since the COVI-19 pandemic resulted in lock-downs throughout the country halting the economic activity throughout the country and many parts of the globe.

(Source: The Economic Times)

8. Power Package: Rs 90,000-Crore Credit Line to Fund Discoms Afresh, but With Strict Riders

A fresh loan of Rs 90,000 crore is being extended by sector-specific lenders PFC-REC to the state-run power distribution companies, but with definite riders meant to ensure that the facility indeed comes to the aid of these tottering entities.

According to sources, the fresh funding would be done in two tranches of Rs 45,000 crore each, both special long-term institution loans of tenures up to 10 years.

The release of the first component of the loan to each state discom will be contingent on the respective state government undertaking to clear the departmental dues to its discom in three years, and putting in place a credible mechanism to release the subsidies – meant for the consumers but routed through the discoms – in advance.

To receive the second tranche of the package, the discoms will have to furnish evidence of actions taken to implement the initial undertakings, which will include enabling digital payment of electricity bills. At the stage of release of the second tranche of Rs 45,000 crore, the discoms will also have to come up with a plan, endorsed by the respective state governments, to reduce their losses.

(Source: Financial Express)

9. Core Sector Output Shrinks by 6.5% in March Amid Coronavirus Lockdown

The output of India's eight core sectors contracted by a record 6.5 percent in March, after 7.1 percent growth in the previous month, as many factories shut down and production came to a virtual halt amid the coronavirus lockdown.

The latest broad-based decline meant that core sector output in 2019-20 dropped to just 0.6 percent, down from the 4.4 percent growth seen in the previous year.

“The core sector contraction in March 2020 represents the worst performance in the current series. With the lockdown in place throughout April 2020, which is expected to have severely curtailed production in many core sectors, the contraction in core output is likely to worsen to alarming levels," said Aditi Nayar, principal economist at ICRA.

(Source: The Business Standard)

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