Airtel Africa’s mobile money biz receives $100 million investment from Mastercard


Airtel Africa’s mobile money biz receives $100 million investment from Mastercard

The transaction values Airtel Africa’s mobile money business at $2.65 billion on a cash and debt-free basis.

Airtel Africa has signed a deal to sell about 3.75 per cent stake in its wholly-owned subsidiary Airtel Mobile Commerce to Mastercard for $100 million (about Rs 733 crore).

In a statement, issued on Thursday, the telco said Mastercard would hold a minority stake in AMC BV on completion of the deal, with Airtel Africa continuing to hold the majority stake.

AMC BV is currently the holding company for several of Airtel Africa’s mobile money operations and is intended to own and operate the mobile money businesses across all of Airtel Africa’s 14 operating countries.

“Airtel Africa, a leading provider of telecommunications and mobile money services, with a presence in 14 countries across Africa, announces the signing of an agreement under which Mastercard, a leading innovator and global technology company in the payments industry, will invest $100 million in Airtel Mobile Commerce BV…,” Airtel statement said.

The transaction values Airtel Africa’s mobile money business at $2.65 billion on a cash and debt-free basis.

The transaction is subject to regulatory nod, and the transfer of specified mobile money business assets and contracts into AMC BV.

“Alongside the investment, the Group and Mastercard have extended commercial agreements and signed a new commercial framework which will deepen their partnerships across numerous geographies and areas including card issuance, payment gateway, payment processing, merchant acceptance and remittance solutions, among others,” Airtel statement said.

The proceeds from the transaction will be used to reduce Group debt and invest in network and sales infrastructure in the respective operating countries.

In a similar deal, Airtel Africa had sold 7.5 per cent stake to US private equity firm, TPG for $200 million earlier this month.

Post the announcement, shares of Airtel were closed higher at Rs 520.90, up by 0.70 per cent on the BSE. Earlier in the day, it had touched the high of Rs 523.90.




Reliance Infrastructure sells Santacruz-based HQ to Yes Bank for Rs 1,200 crore


Reliance Infrastructure sells Santacruz-based HQ to Yes Bank for Rs 1,200 crore

Reliance Infrastructure (RInfra) has closed three major transactions in the last 90 days including sale of the asset.

Reliance Infrastructure on Thursday announced sale of Reliance Centre that houses the group’s headquarters to Yes Bank for Rs 1,200 crore.

In July last year, the lender had taken symbolic possession of the complex overlooking the Mumbai Airport. The action was taken after under the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFAESI) to recover dues from Anil Ambani’s Reliance Infrastructure. In terms of amount, the dues stand at Rs 2,892 crore.

With this, Reliance Infrastructure (RInfra) has closed three major transactions in the last 90 days including sale of the asset.

“RInfra and YES Bank Limited (YES Bank) announced a sale transaction of Reliance Centre, Santacruz, Mumbai to YES Bank,” the company said in a statement adding that the transaction value is Rs 1,200 crore.

“Entire proceeds from the sale of Reliance Centre, Santacruz, is utilized only to repay the debt of Yes Bank,” it said.

A company official said, with this transaction RInfra’s exposure to Yes Bank has been reduced from Rs 4,000 crore to Rs 2,000 crore and the company is committed to being a debt-free company by 2021.




Sensex, Nifty rallies in extended trading session


Sensex, Nifty rallies in extended trading session

Trading at the Nifty50 was halted at 11:40 a.m. and resumed only at 3:30 p.m. after a glitch resulted in stopping of rate updates.

The National Stick Exchange benchmark Nifty50 soared on Wednesday after trading resumed following a temporary shutdown of its cash and derivatives segment caused due to a technical glitch. The Nifty50 closed nearly 284 points higher and Sensex rose over 1,000 points, tracking strong buying in financial stocks.

Trading at the Nifty50 was halted at 11:40 a.m. and resumed only at 3:30 p.m. after a glitch resulted in stopping of rate updates. As a result, the BSE trading session was extended as the trading in NSE resumed at 3.45 p.m. till 5 p.m.

After resumption of trade at 3.45 pm, NSE Nifty zoomed 274.20 points or 1.86 per cent to end at 14,982.

The S&P BSE Sensex zoomed 1,030.28 points or 2.07 per cent to hit 50,781.69 levels.

The gainers on the Sensex pack were led by Axis Bank, surging around 5 per cent, followed by HDFC twins, ICICI Bank, Bajaj Finance and SBI.

On the other hand, PowerGrid, Dr Reddy’s, TCS and Asian Paints were among the laggards.

“A late surge by bulls across financials post lifting of the embargo on the grant of GOI business to private banks took indices up 2 per cent when trade time was extended till 5.00 pm,” said S Ranganathan, Head of Research at LKP Securities.

Elsewhere in Asia, bourses in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo ended on a negative note.

Stock exchanges in Europe, however, were trading with gains in mid-session deals.

Meanwhile, the global oil benchmark Brent crude was trading 0.96 per cent higher at USD 65.10 per barrel.

In the forex market, the rupee gained 11 paise to settle at 72.35 against the US dollar supported by positive domestic equities and weakness of the American currency in the overseas market.




Government approves PLI scheme for IT, Pharma sector


Government approves PLI scheme for IT, Pharma sector

The scheme would position India as a manufacturing hub, spur exports and create new jobs opportunities, Prasad added.

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for laptops, tablets, all-in-one PCs and servers. Along with this, PLI for pharma sector was also approved.

The approval of PLI scheme for these hi-tech IT hardware gadgets comes after the Cabinet last week cleared a Rs 12,195 crore scheme for telecom equipment manufacturing.

While addressing the media post the Cabinet meeting, Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Cabinet cleared the about Rs 7,350 crore PLI scheme for IT hardware that would cover laptops, tablets, all-in-one PCs and servers.

The scheme would position India as a manufacturing hub, spur exports and create new jobs opportunities, Prasad added.

He further said that five largest companies of the world manufacturing laptops or tablets will be brought to India and will be offered PLI.

Incentives worth Rs 7,350 crore will be provided over four years for manufacturing of these products in India. Production worth Rs 3.26 lakh crore and exports worth Rs 2.45 lakh crore are estimated over the four year timeline.

The development comes just a week after the Cabinet approved the PLI scheme for telecom equipment.

The push for domestic manufacturing cones in line with the government’s vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat.




Punjab & Sind Bank shares nearly hit upper circuit


Punjab & Sind Bank shares nearly hit upper circuit

The scrip hit its upper trading limit on the NSE as well, with a gain of 4.80 per cent at Rs 17.45.

Share price of Punjab & Sind Bank hit nearly 5 per cent upper circuit on Wednesday after the lender announced that it will shares worth Rs 5,500 crore to the government in lieu of capital infusion.

During the afternoon hours the stock was trading at 4.98 per cent to hit the upper circuit limit at Rs 17.48 a piece on the BSE.

The scrip hit its upper trading limit on the NSE as well, with a gain of 4.80 per cent at Rs 17.45.

The bank in a regulatory filing on Tuesday said that an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) of the shareholders of the bank is scheduled on March 25, 2021 for preferential issue of equity shares to the government up to Rs 5,500 crore.

The general meeting will take place via video conferencing and other audio visual means for passing the resolution for issuing shares to the government.

In September last year, the government had approved a Rs 20,000 crore fund as part of the Supplementary Demands for Grants for 2020-21, for capital infusion into public sector banks (PSBs). Of this, Rs 5,500 crore was approved to be infused into Punjab & Sind Bank.




Ultratech Cement board approves up to Rs 3,000 crore fund raising plans


Ultratech Cement board approves up to Rs 3,000 crore fund raising plans

Ultratech Cement said the proceeds from the issuance will be used to refinance existing rupee debt, with the remainder reserved for regular ongoing capital expenditure requirements and general corporate purposes.

Board of Directors of Ultratech Cement board has approved a proposal of raising funds for an aggregated amount of up to Rs 3,000 crore through issuance of US dollar-denominated bonds.

“The Board of Directors of the Company (“Board”) at its meeting held on 23rd January, 2021 considered and evaluated a proposal for raising of funds through permissible mode(s) and accordingly, approved raising of funds for an aggregate amount not exceeding Rs 3,000 crores, subject to applicable regulatory approvals and market conditions, by way of issue of any instruments or securities in India and/or overseas,” the company said in a late evening regulatory filing on Wednesday.

Further, the Board had also authorised the Finance Committee of the Board of Directors to finalise the manner of raising the funds and decide on all matters and transactions relating to the same, including but not limited to the finalisation and approval of detailed terms and conditions of issue, size, pricing and timing of the transaction.

“The Finance Committee, in terms of the aforesaid authority, at its meeting held today, approved raising funds by way of issuance of foreign currency (US$) denominated bonds (“Notes”) aggregating up to US$ 400 million, corresponding to Rs.3,000 crores, to be offered and sold within the United States to qualified institutional buyers in reliance on Rule 144A of the United States Securities Act of 1933, as amended (“US Securities Act”) and outside the United States in offshore transactions as defined in and with reliance on Regulation S under the US Securities Act (“Offering”), in one or more tranches,” the release added.

Ultratech Cement said the proceeds from the issuance will be used to refinance existing rupee debt, with the remainder reserved for regular ongoing capital expenditure requirements and general corporate purposes.

The company said it is contemplating listing of the Notes on the Singapore Stock Exchange, subject to market conditions




RIL’s subsidiary to disinvest upstream assets in Marcellus shale assets for $250 million


RIL’s subsidiary to disinvest upstream assets in Marcellus shale assets for $250 million

A Purchase and Sale Agreement (“PSA”) has been signed between RMLLC and NOG on February 3, 2021 for this sale.

Reliance Industries on Thursday announced that it will divest all of its interest in certain upstream assets in the Marcellus shale play of south-western Pennsylvania. These assets, which are currently operated by various affiliates of EQT Corporation, will be sold to Northern Oil and Gas (NOG) Inc for $250 million.

In a regulatory filing, the company said, “Reliance Marcellus, LLC (“RMLLC”) a wholly owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited (“RIL”), announced the signing of agreements to divest all of its interest in certain upstream assets in the Marcellus shale play of south-western Pennsylvania.”

“These assets, which are currently operated by various affiliates of EQT Corporation (“EQT”), have been agreed to be sold to Northern Oil and Gas, Inc (“NOG”), a Delaware corporation, for a consideration of $250 million cash and warrants that give entitlement to purchase 3.25 million common shares of NOG at an exercise price of $14.00 per common share in next seven years,” it added.

A Purchase and Sale Agreement (“PSA”) has been signed between RMLLC and NOG on February 3, 2021 for this sale and the transaction is subject to customary terms and conditions of closing, it said.

Citigroup Global Markets, Inc. acted as financial advisor to Reliance and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP served as its legal counsel.




Sensex, Nifty trade positive amid cautious trade


Sensex, Nifty trade positive amid cautious trade

Gainers on the Sensex were led by Sun Pharma, rising 2.49 per cent, followed by ONGC, Bharti Airtel, IndusInd Bank, HUL, ITC, NTPC AND ICICI Bank.

Domestic markets traded higher during the intraday-day trade on Monday, tracking gains in index majors Sun Pharma, ONGC, Bharti Airtel and HUL amid persistent foreign fund inflow.

After hitting record intra-day high of 45,291.56, the S&P BSE Sensex 104.47 points or 0.23 per cent higher at 45,184.02 levels while the broader NSE Nifty rose 124.65 points or 0.95 per cent up at 13,258.55. Nifty touched its intra-day peak of 13,280.05 in early trade.

Gainers on the Sensex were led by Sun Pharma, rising 2.49 per cent, followed by ONGC, Bharti Airtel, IndusInd Bank, HUL, ITC, NTPC AND ICICI Bank.

On the other hand, HDFC Bank, Kotak Mahindra, Nestle, Bajaj Auto, Titan, M&M, TCS and Bajaj Finserv were among the laggards.

In the previous session, Sensex ended 446.90 points or 1 per cent higher at 45,079.55, while Nifty finished 124.65 points or 0.95 per cent higher at 13,258.55 — its record closing high.

Foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) were net buyers in the capital market as they purchased shares worth Rs 2,969.59 crore on a net basis on Friday, according to provisional exchange data.

The Reserve Bank’s commitment to ensure a broad-based growth by maintaining a dovish tone continued to bode well for equities, said Binod Modi Head-Strategy at Reliance Securities.

Further, positive progress on COVID-19 vaccination and increased visibility of fiscal stimulus in the US may continue to attract FPIs into emerging markets including India, he added.

Elsewhere in Asia, bourses in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo were trading in the red in mid-session deals.

Meanwhile, the global oil benchmark Brent crude futures were trading 0.41 per cent lower at USD 49.05 per barrel.




Punish Amazon with Rs 1.44 lakh crore penalty: CAIT to ED


Punish Amazon with Rs 1.44 lakh crore penalty: CAIT to ED

CAIT alleged that Amazon, through Amazon Seller Services Private Ltd (‘Amazon India’) and other wholly owned subsidiaries and benamis, have been carrying on multi brand retail trading (inventory-based model of e-commerce) in the garb of marketplace-based model of e-commerce in complete violation of FDI Policy, Press Notes and FEMA Act, Rules and Regulations.

The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has asked the Enforcement Directorate to immediately punish Amazon for the brazen violations of FEMA Act, Rules and Regulations by imposing maximum penalty of 3 times the value of the illegal investments of Rs 48,500 crore – a penalty of Rs 1.44 lakh crore.

In a letter to Sushil Kumar, Special Director, Enforcement Directorate, CAIT alleged that Amazon’s investments in India are in violation of the provisions of Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (‘FEMA Act’) and the Rules and Regulations.

“Amazon.com Inc. (‘Amazon’) is one of the world’s biggest global corporations, having unbridled access to financial and information resources. Amazon has been operating in India since 2012. Amazon, in every one of its investments and businesses in India, has been brazenly and flagrantly violating the laws, rules and regulations of this Country causing untold misery to crores of small traders (by resorting to predatory pricing ) who are sought to be protected by the FDI Policy and the FEMA Rules and Regulations,” CAIT said.

CAIT alleged that Amazon, through Amazon Seller Services Private Ltd (‘Amazon India’) and other wholly owned subsidiaries and benamis, have been carrying on multi brand retail trading (inventory-based model of e-commerce) in the garb of marketplace-based model of e-commerce in complete violation of FDI Policy, Press Notes and FEMA Act, Rules and Regulations.

CAIT said Amazon has apparently invested under the automatic route in Future Coupons Private Ltd (FCPL), a promoter company of Future Retail Ltd (FRL), a listed company engaged in MBRT business. It questioned that how the above investment is only a ‘perception’ but not the truth, how by shareholders’ agreements Amazon is exercising “control” over FRL, how the ‘Control Rights of Amazon’ over FRL have never been publicly disclosed; Not disclosed to DPIIT or ED, how Amazon has mis-represented its investment in FCPL to the Competition Commission of India (CCI) for securing CCI approval and how Amazon is now publicly claiming that it has ‘control rights’ over FRL to such an extent that it can prevent a scheme of arrangement of FRL to re-organize its business and sell the retail business to Reliance.

“Amazon has material control rights which are not available to even an ordinary shareholder of FRL – The law prohibits a non-resident from acquiring even ordinary rights as shareholders without Government approval which is a blatant and flagrant violation. The order of the arbitrator puts paid to any claims of Amazon otherwise,” CAIT alleged.

“Amazon identifies a set of persons who act as benami and sets up companies in which Amazon owns 49 per cent voting rights, 51 per cent voting rights is held by the benami. The benami holds miniscule economic interest in the company. Almost 100 per cent of economic interest is held by Amazon (example Cloudtail, Appario Retail),” it alleged.

In these Nominated Retailers, Amazon has entered into agreements with the benami, which allow Amazon to fully control the business and affairs of these Nominated Retailers. These agreements have never been disclosed in the public or to Government authorities, especially ED and DPIIT.

“This Benami Company (Cloudtail) is, on paper, a company controlled by Indian Residents. But hidden are the shareholders agreements. Further, it is clear that Amazon contributes the entire money and bears all the losses of this entity,” CAIT said.

Amazon (the US entity) has invested Rs 1,431 crore in December 2019 towards 49 per cent equity in Future Coupons Private Ltd (FCPL), a promoter entity of Future Retail Ltd (FRL) under the automatic route. FRL is a listed company engaged in MBRT business. FCPL holds 9.82 per cent in FRL. This looks like an investment by Amazon in FCPL, a company engaged in business of loyalty cards, gift cards, but in reality it is not. It is a controlling investment in FRL, a MBRT Company, made without Government approval in violation of FEMA Regulations, CAIT said.

“The above fact that Amazon has acquired the above ‘control rights’ (with which Amazon has now obtained an injunction restraining FRL from proceeding with the recently announced scheme of arrangement under which FRL is selling its retail undertaking to Reliance) has never been disclosed to the stock exchanges, SEBI, ED, DPIIT. Had it been disclosed, perhaps ED would have immediately taken action,” CAIT said.

CAIT said the nail in the coffin is the award of the Singapore arbitrator restraining FRL from proceeding with its scheme of arrangement – a confirmation that Amazon had control rights to prevent FRL from reorganizing itself.




Reliance retail business receives Rs Rs 9,555 crore from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund


Reliance retail business receives Rs Rs 9,555 crore from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund

1. With this latest investment, the firm has raised total Rs 47,265 crore in the last two months.
2. Reliance Retail Limited, a subsidiary of RRVL, operates India’s largest, fast-growing retail business serving close to 640 million footfalls at its 12,000 stores across the country.

Reliance Industries and Reliance Retail Ventures on Thursday announced that they have raised Rs 9,555 crore from Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia. PIF will take a 2.04 per cent stake in Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd (RRVL), the Indian conglomerate said.

“Reliance Industries Limited (“Reliance Industries”) and Reliance Retail Ventures Limited (“RRVL”) announced today that The Public Investment Fund (“PIF”) will invest Rs 9,555 crore (approximately $1.3 billion) for an equity stake of 2.04 per cent into RRVL, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries. This investment values RRVL at a pre-money equity value of Rs4.587 lakh crore (approximately $62.4 billion),” the company said.

With this latest investment, the firm has raised total Rs 47,265 crore in the last two months.

The investment also comes at a time when the country’s retail sector is preparing for the festival season and would help Reliance to launch an assault on rivals such as Walmart-owned e-commerce company Flipkart and Amazon.

This investment will further strengthen PIF’s presence in India’s dynamic economy and promising retail market segment. The investment in RRVL follows PIF’s earlier acquisition of a 2.32 per cent stake in Jio Platforms, the digital services subsidiary of Reliance Industries.

“The transaction is in line with PIF’s strategy as a leading global investor with a proven track record of investing in innovative and transformative companies globally and develop strong partnerships with leading groups in their respective markets,” it said.

“India’s retail sector is one of the largest in the world and accounts for over 10 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) which presents meaningful growth potential.”

Speaking about the investment Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries, said, “we at Reliance have a long-standing relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. PIF is at the forefront of the economic transformation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

“I welcome PIF as a valued partner in Reliance Retail and look forward to their sustained support and guidance as we continue our ambitious journey to transform India’s retail sector for enriching the lives of 1.3 billion Indians and millions of small merchants,” he added.

Reliance Retail Limited, a subsidiary of RRVL, operates India’s largest, fast-growing retail business serving close to 640 million footfalls at its 12,000 stores across the country.

Reliance Retail’s vision is to galvanize the Indian retail sector through its new commerce strategy, serving millions of customers by empowering millions of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), the Indian firms said.

Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Governor of PI said, “We are pleased to be furthering our trusted partnership with Reliance Industries, the leading player in some of India’s most exciting sectors. This transaction demonstrates PIF’s commitment to investing and partnering for the long-term with innovative businesses around the world that lead and transform their sectors.”

“This investment further demonstrates PIF’s commitment to generating returns for the Saudi people and driving the economic diversification of Saudi Arabia,” he said.

RRVL had previously raised Rs 37,710 crore from leading global investors including Silver Lake, KKR, General Atlantic, Mubadala, GIC, TPG and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA).

The investments equip Reliance Retail with funds to compete in both offline and online formats. The company operates India’s most profitable retail business spanning supermarkets, consumer electronics chain stores, cash and carry wholesale business, fast-fashion outlets and online grocery store JioMart.

The new funding comes weeks after Reliance acquired the retail, wholesale, logistics and warehouse business of Future Group for an enterprise value of Rs 24,173 crore to consolidate its dominant market positioning in offline retail.

The deal, however, is being challenged by US e-commerce giant Amazon, which had taken a stake in Future’s unlisted entity.

Earlier Reliance raised an unprecedented Rs 1.52 lakh crore for Jio Platforms, the group’s telecom and digital services company, from investors such as Facebook, Intel and Google.

The oil-telecom-to-retail conglomerate intends to divest minority stakes in its digital and retail businesses, and hold initial public offerings for each within five years. Retailers are expecting to pick up in sales during the current festive season.

Reliance Retail in May this year launched JioMart, an e-commerce venture, to connect mom-and-pop stores, called Kirana, with consumers. In July, JioMart was serving 4,00,000 orders a day and is currently operational in 200 cities.




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