RBI holds rates, HDFC Bank names new CEO, Vivo drops out of IPL sponsorship

India's central bank kept interest rates on hold, amid a recent rise in retail consumer prices and said it would ensure inflation remains within target. Insider Sashidhar Jagdishan is the new CEO of HDFC Bank, taking over India’s largest private lender when the economy is in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic. Vivo India withdrew from its title sponsorship of this year's Indian Premier League. Reliance Industries was said to be finalising its acquisition of Future Retail. India’s aviation regulator asked SpiceJet to stop a sale offer. Here is more on what made news this week.

Business Standard
8th August

  • The Reserve Bank of India kept the benchmark repo rate unchanged at 4 per cent, already at the lowest since 2000, and reverse repo rate at 3.35 per cent. It allowed lenders to provide a restructuring facility on some loans marked standard as on March 1. The central bank set up an expert committee to thrash out modalities and look into resolution plans of eligible borrowers.
  • HDFC Bank said it has received the approval to name insider Sashidhar Jagdishan CEO, as India’s largest private sector lender steers itself through the coronavirus downturn. Jagdishan, who will replace Aditya Puri, takes over at a time when banks are facing a flood of potential loan defaults as the pandemic brings small businesses to the brink.
  • Vivo India, an arm of the Chinese mobile phone manufacturer, stepped back from its title sponsorship of this year's Indian Premier League (IPL). Vivo has sought a one-year replacement for the brand since it could make its way back next year, expecting that India and China would have settled their border standoff then.
  • Indiabulls Housing Finance, the third-largest housing mortgage lender, is preparing for a management revamp. Founder Sameer Gehlaut may step down as chairman. He took charge as CEO and whole-time director of Indiabulls Ventures—a sister company—in June and cannot hold executive positions in two firms at the same time. Independent director S S Mundra could be elevated.
  • India’s biggest firm, Reliance Industries (RIL), is giving final touchesto the acquisition of Future Retail (FRL). This will also involve Future Group’s grocery and logistics arms. The acquisition will include the flagship Future Retail and other group companies, like the logistics firm Future Supply Chain Solutions and Future Consumer.
  • India’s aviation regulator asked low-cost carrier SpiceJet to stop a sale offer, citing price-cap imposed by the government in May. SpiceJet was offering one-way fares starting at Rs 899 (excluding taxes) and a complimentary voucher of up to Rs 2,000, which could be used for future booking.
  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos this week sold more than $3.1 billion worth of shares in his company. The disposals adds to a $4.1 billion sale earlier this year. The proceeds are a fraction of the amount that Bezos’s holdings have increased this year as the Covid-19 pandemic forced people to stay at home and created a surge in demand for Amazon’s e-commerce services.

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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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