In focus this week:
Banking, Energy and Telecom Sectors

The spread of the coronavirus and the fallout of Yes Bank coming under the state’s care dominated news this week. There are now 80,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and over 3,000 deaths worldwide. A 76-year-old man in Karnataka became the first person to die of the disease in India, which has now more than 70 confirmed patients. The government invited initial bids for sale of its entire 52.98 per cent stake in Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL).

Business Standard
14th March

  • The government invited bids for a majority stake in Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL), more than three months after the Union Cabinet approved the strategic divestment. Private companies with a net worth of over $10 billion (Rs 74,000 crore) will be eligible to bid by May 2. Based on the current market capitalisation of Rs 87,388 crore, the government stake of 52.98 per cent in BPCL is valued at around Rs 46,300 crore.
  • At least three private banks assured customers their deposits were safe after Yes Bank was put under moratorium and its board removed last week. Karnataka Bank, South Indian Bank,and RBL Bank, in separate communications, asked customers not to heed rumours. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has asserted that banks in India are well capitalised and are safe and healthy.
  • The government has received part payment of about Rs 25,900 crore from telecom operators towards statutory dues, Parliament was informed. A minister said the government has "again" directed the operators to make full payments in a letter dated March 4, 2020. Bharti Airtel has paid Rs 18,004 crore and Vodafone Idea has shelled out Rs 3,500 crore. Tata Teleservices has paid about Rs 4,197 crore, while Rs 3.9 crore has been received from Reliance Communications. Reliance Jio has paid about Rs 195 crore.
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is considering clawing back the employee stock options and bonuses issued to the entire top management of Yes Bank to date. A closer look at how the beleaguered bank went about classifying its “top management” is also on the cards, given that there are more than 100 people in this category--several times the number in much larger private banks--and the sharp fluctuations in the same over the years.
  • The new coronavirus outbreak can now be described as a pandemic, the head of the World Health Organization announced. The number of cases in over 100 countries around the world has risen to more than 124,000, with over 4,500 deaths, including a jump in fatalities in Iran and Italy in particular, according to an AFP tally. China remains the worst-affected country with more than 80,000 confirmed cases and over 3,000 deaths. India suspended all tourist and medical visas until April 15 to contain the disease.
  • President Donald Trump imposed sweeping restrictions to prevent people from 26 European countries from traveling to the United States for a month, responding to mounting pressure to take action against the spread of the coronavirus. The travel order does not apply to the United Kingdom and Ireland, and does not apply to American citizens. Trump also announced several economic steps aimed at cushioning the blow to American businesses struggling with a sudden loss of consumer demand.

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A few links for further reading

Hard path to growth

The signals for the economy are not positive: overall demand is yet to pick up; the share of total exports in India’s GDP is declining, and industrial output pattern remains worrying.

Small savings scheme

Investors breathed a sigh of relief when the government announced that interest rates on these instruments would not be revised for the fourth quarter of the calendar year.

Invest and emigrate

The great Indian dream of settling abroad is achievable if one has a few crores to invest. Rich nations offer a variety of investment options in a quid pro quo arrangement: immigrants get a better quality of life and revenue from them helps these countries’ finances. Wealthy Indians, troubled by polluted cities and the red tape holding up entrepreneurship, may want a quick ticket out of the country. Sanjay Kumar Singh lists a range of options: from a Canadian province’s investor programme to America’s US EB-5 plan.

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