A $3-billion defence deal, SBI Cards IPO, bidding race for Air India & more.

A lot of bonhomie and mutual appreciation was witnesses between US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the former’s 36-hour India visit. Some headway was made on the business front with the signing of $3-billion defence deals and three other agreements, but the visit seemed to have done little to break bilateral trade deal deadlocks. Even as Trump and Modi were discussing peace and business in New Delhi, parts of the city were witnessing scenes of violence and bloodshed as pro- and anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protestors clashed in Northeast Delhi. Meanwhile, the government decided to put the second round of airport privatisation on hold as different arms of the government were debating whether to cap the number of airports an entity could bid for. The previous day, it had been learnt that the Adani group, which operates three airports at present, was joining the race to acquire Air India.

Business Standard
29th February

  • Trump’s first visit to India was most notable for the fact that he refrained from controversial tweets, performed manfully to script and delivered on the minimalist agenda: A $3-billion defence deal, high-voltage pomp and pageantry, and the promise of a trade deal later this year, though there was no breakthrough to announce after formal talks.
  • As the death toll in Northeast Delhi communal violence over the CAA reached 20, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed for peace and brotherhood in the national capital. Assuring people that the police and other agencies were working on the ground to ensure peace, PM Modi tweeted, it is important that calm and normalcy be restored at earliest. National Security Advisor Ajit Doval said people had a sense of unity among them and that there was no enmity. A few criminals who were spreading violence would be isolated soon, he assured.
  • The second round of privatising six airports in Amritsar, Varanasi, Bhubaneswar, Indore, Raipur and Trichy has been put on the back burner as different arms of the government are debating whether to cap the number of airports an entity can bid for.
  • The Adani group will join the race to acquire Air India and plans to submit an EoI by next month. The final decision of Adani will, however, depend on the outcome of the due diligence after submission of the EoI. After the EoI process, prospective bidders will get access to data of the airline.
  • A major exercise to recalibrate the country’s 240,000-odd automated teller machines (ATMs) is underway to replace Rs 2,000 notes with Rs 500 notes While the highest-denomination currency will remain legal tender, it might gradually be pulled out of circulation, it is learnt.
  • On a three-day visit to India, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said it was not the Artificial Intelligence (AI) engine, but the teams that built it, as well as the algorithms to make it intelligent, had to be diverse and inclusive, so that the solutions they built did not show up any sort of ‘unconscious bias’ that they might have.
  • Global financial markets, including India, have been surprised by how Coronavirus has spread across countries, casting a shadow on economic growth. Jim Rogers, chairman of Rogers Holdings said he was looking to invest in India on a correction.
  • The IPO of SBI Cards & Payments Services, India's second-largest credit card issuer, will open on March 2. The price band of the offer has been set at Rs 750-755 per equity share. The offer comprises a fresh issue worth Rs 500 crore and an offer for sale (OFS) of up to 130,526,798 equity shares.

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A few links for further reading

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