ECONOMY - 2017 AUGUST

August 1

Facebook acquires AI startup Ozlo to make Messenger smarter
To build out a more elaborate personal assistant for the Messenger users, Facebook has acquired an artificial intelligence (AI) startup Ozlo that specialises in understanding text-based conversations.
Ozlo launched last year, making its assistant available outside of other apps with assistants, including Alphabet's Google Allo, Facebook's Messenger, and Microsoft's Skype. Ozlo can give you recipes; point to nearby restaurants and show movie showtimes, among other things.
Messenger's many end users can already talk with many chatbots in the app, and Facebook wants to get even more businesses using the technology to talk with customers.
Facebook has also tested a dedicated first-party M assistant for a small group of users, and more recently it has made a few components of M available to everyone on Messenger.

August 2

SEBI forms committee on fair market conduct
Regulator SEBI set up a committee on fair market conduct which will suggest measures for improving surveillance of the markets and strengthens rules for algo trades, among other norms.
The panel, under the chairmanship of former law secretary T K Viswanathan, would suggest measures for improvement in PIT (Prohibition of Insider Trading) norms, PFTUP (Prohibition of Fraudulent and Unfair Trade Practices) regulations and mainly related to trading plans and handling of unpublished price sensitive information during takeovers.
It would be responsible for recommending steps to align insider trading regulations with Companies Act provisions.
The committee will suggest short term and medium term measures for improved surveillance of the markets as well as issues of high frequency trades, harnessing of technology and analytics in surveillance

India on track to meet 3.2% fiscal deficit target: UBS report
According to UBS report, The Indian government is on track to achieving the fiscal deficit target of 3.2 per cent of GDP in the current fiscal year.
The central government's fiscal deficit has already reached 81 per cent of the full-year target in the first quarter (April to June) of 2017-18.
Accordingly, the cumulative fiscal deficit reached 2.6 per cent of GDP FYTD. the central government will be able to achieve the fiscal target of 3.2 per cent of GDP in FY18.
The Centre's fiscal deficit narrowed from a peak of 6.5 per cent of GDP in 2009-10 (after the global financial meltdown) to 3.5 per cent of GDP in 2016-17 and is estimated to fall further to 3.2 per cent of GDP in 2017-18.

August 3

Airtel and Telenor receive NCLT nod for proposed merger
The proposed merger between Bharti Airtel and Telenor India has been approved by the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT). The companies have been instructed by tribunal to hold a meeting of equity shareholders and unsecured creditors.
The acquisition is slated to bolster Airtel’s 4G spectrum holdings and revenue market share, strengthening its hand in the battle against Reliance Jio Infocomm. Airtel will pocket 43.4 units of 4G spectrum in 1800 MHz band once the Telenor deal is concluded.
Bharti Airtel in June received nod from the Competition Commission of India (CCI), Securities & Exchange Board of India (Sebi), BSE and the National Stock Exchange of India.
Airtel will also take over Telenor India’s outstanding spectrum payments of some Rs1,650 crore and other operational contracts, including tower leases with Bharti Infratel and Indus Towers, besides employees and 44 million customers.

Mahindra Agri Solutions signs MoU with MCX for data on agricultural pricing
Mahindra Agri Solutions Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd. and Multi Commodity Exchange of India Limited (MCX), India’s No. 1 commodity exchange and, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to provide agriculture related price information.
This information would be available on Mahindra’s recently launched mobile application- ‘MyAgriGuru’. MyAgriGuru is a unique platform which aims to bring all the farmers and agri-experts across the country to a single platform.
This MoU would enhance the decision-making ability of the farmers further. To start with, MCX would be providing price information, open interest information, spot price, future price and derived data (analytics) for all the agri commodities namely – CPO (Crude Palm Oil), Cotton, Cardamom & Mentha Oil.
Additionally, this partnership also signifies the vision of the two leading organizations to empower farmers by offering knowledge based solutions, and is in line with the Government's motive to digitize the agricultural sector.

Patanjali teams up with tech giants Google, Facebook for online brand campaign in Swadeshi push
Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev’s herbal products manufacturing branch Patanjali has now teamed up with tech giants Google, Facebook and is going big on digital advertising by investing in campaigns particularly tailored for online audiences in a bid to reap bigger dividend.
Patanjali, which has already become a household name, is seeking an online campaign with an aim to reap bigger dividends than its print and electronic media campaigns.
Two of the key tweaks in its online ad campaign that have worked in Patanjali’s favour have been - reducing the usual 30-second ad duration to six seconds for the Facebook audience and holding live interaction with people during product promotions.

India, ASEAN-5 more fetching to FDI than other emerging markets
According to Nomura report, India along with Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam is more attractive to FDIs as compared to other emerging markets and flows to these nations are expected to surge to around USD 240 billion by 2025.
The Japanese financial services major has dubbed India and ASEAN-5 (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam) as "Asias tiger cubs", and FDI inflows to these nations will increase from around USD 100 billion per year now to around USD 240 billion by 2025.
Moreover, sources of FDI to these nations are also witnessing a significant shift with more inflows expected from countries as China and Japan.

August 4

Bharat-22 ETF to comprise PSU, bank stocks, SUUTI holdings
The government is set to launch a second exchange-traded fund (ETF) known as the Bharat-22 that will comprise stocks of 22 blue-chip public sector units, State-owned banks and some holdings in SUUTI ((Specified Undertaking of Unit Trust of India).
It has a diversified portfolio comprising six sectors including basic materials, energy, finance, FMCG, industrials and utilities. it has a sectoral cap of 20 per cent and stock capping of 15 per cent.
Shares of firms nine PSUs including Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (5.3 per cent stake), Coal India Ltd (3.3 per cent) , and Indian Oil (4.4 per cent) and four state-owned banks such as State Bank of India (8.6 per cent) will comprise the ETF. Besides, SUUTI holdings in Axis Bank (7.7 per cent), ITC (15.2 per cent) and Larsen and Toubro (17.1 per cent) will also be part of the fund.

BigBasket gets nod for FDI in food retail
After Grofers and Amazon India, online grocery firm BigBasket received the government’s nod for foreign direct investment to undertake retailing of food products, which are manufactured or produced in India.
The start-up, which applied for FDI in September last year, will have to spin off a new entity to start this business since 100% FDI is only applicable for food products manufactured or produced in India, whereas currently BigBasket sells other household products such as soap, shampoos etc through its e-commerce channel.
Bigbasket had applied seeking approval for FDI in food retail with an overall investment of $695 million over a period of time with the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP).

Government disinvests 6.83% of equity in Hindustan Copper Limited through Offer for Sale
Government has disinvested 6.83 percent of paid up equity in Hindustan Copper Limited through Offer for Sale. Government is likely to get approximately 400 crore rupees from this disinvestment.
The floor price was fixed at 64.75 rupees per share and retail investors were offered discount of 5 percent on the cut off price for the Non-Retail Category.
The retail portion of HCL got good response from the retail investors and the revised offer size of 1.26 crore shares also got fully subscribed. The initial offer was for disinvestment of 4 percent paid-up capital.

August 5

L&T bags Rs 3375-crore Mauritius metro order
Engineering conglomerate Larsen & Toubro announced a Rs 3,375 crore-worth metro order from the Mauritius government.
L&T has won the order from Metro Express Limited which is owned by the Government of Mauritius to design and build an Integrated Light Rail-based Urban Transit System in the African island nation.
The projects will be fully funded through a grant by Government of India and line of credit. The metro project comprises of a 26-km route which will connect Curepipe to Immigration Square in Port Louis and will feature 19 stations, 2 of which will be state-of-the-art elevated stations.
Although the project is scheduled to be completed in 48 months, L&T commits to complete and deliver a priority section of 13 km in 24 months.

L&T signs ₹1,050 crore EPC contract with railways
The Railways Ministry has signed nine EPC (engineering, procurement, construction) contracts for electrification of railway lines at a cost of ₹2,800 crore.
This is part of a strategy to speed up the electrification of railway lines(only 42% of the lines are currently electrified). Prime Minister Narendra Modi set a target to double this in five years and this year’s Budget had announced the Railways would tap the EPC route for expediting electrification projects.
The first EPC contract worth ₹1,050 crore was awarded to private sector engineering major L&T for electrifying 781 route kilometres while eight more such pacts worth ₹746 crore had been signed by zonal railways with public sector firms.

Forex reserves surge to record $392.86 billion
The country's foreign exchange reserves surged by $1.536 billion to touch a fresh life-time high of $392.867 billion during the week to July 28, helped by rising in foreign currency assets (FCAs).
In the previous week, the reserves had increased by $2.27 billion to $391.33 billion. FCAs, a major component of the overall reserves, rose by $1.609 billion to $368.759 billion.
Expressed in US dollar terms, FCAs include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US currencies such as the euro, the pound and the yen held in the reserves.

August 6

MobiKwik partners Bajaj Finance for larger financial services
Mobile wallet major MobiKwik has entered into a strategic partnership with Bajaj Finance to transform itself into a financial services app from a payments app at present.
Under this partnership, Bajaj Finance has picked up 10.83 per cent equity stake in MobiKwik for about ₹225 crore and offer its lending (purchase finance, credit card, mortgage loans and personal loans) and insurance products to be sold through the MobiKwik app.
This partnership is a simpler and better strategy for us to offer a full service financial suite to customers without having to go through the complexities of regulations and licensing. This puts us at a significant advantage ahead of competitors.
Government revises the base year of All-India Wholesale Price Index (WPI) from 2004-05 to 2011-12
The Government has revised the base year of All-India Wholesale Price Index (WPI) from 2004-05 to 2011-12. The revision of the base year of the macroeconomic indicators is a regular exercise to capture structural changes in the economy and to improve the quality, coverage and representativeness of the indices.
The revised basket of WPI and its weighting structure conform to the structure of economy in 2011-12.
The number of items in the basket has increased from 676 to 697 and the number of price quotations has increased from 5482 to 8331.
New series of WPI does not include indirect taxes. This is in consonance with international practices and will make the new WPI conceptually closer to Producer Price Index.

August 7

Infosys buys London-based design firm Brilliant Basics for Rs 63 crore
Indian IT major Infosys has signed up an agreement to buy London-based product design and customer experience firm Brilliant Basics.
Infosys has bought Brilliant Basics for Rs 62.76 crore or 7.5 million pounds. With this acquisition, Bengaluru-based Infosys plans to expand its global network of digital studios plans.
This acquisition represents Infosys' commitment to the expansion of a worldwide connected network of Digital Studios. These studios are focused on fulfilling the needs of our global clients for end-to-end Digital Transformation solutions required to meet customer demand for next - generation enhanced customer experiences.
Infosys currently has digital studios in Bengaluru, Pune, New York, London and Melbourne. Brilliant Basics will help Infosys in driving its design-based technology services in Europe and West Asia.

Govt forms action plan for easy execution of trade facilitation agreement
The government has formulated a detailed action plan with timelines for smooth implementation of WTO's trade facilitation agreement (TFA).
Members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) including India have ratified TFA, which aims at easing customs procedures, expediting movement, release and clearance of consignments.
For the implementation of the pact, the government has last year set up Cabinet Secretary-headed National Committee on Trade Facilitation (NCTF).
Recommendations made by four working groups on legislative changes, time release study, outreach programme and infrastructure augmentation are included in the National Trade Facilitation Action Plan (2017-20).

Britannia to set up Rs1,000 crore plant in Maharashtra’s Ranjangaon food park
Biscuit-maker Britannia Industries Ltd will set up its biggest manufacturing facility at Ranjangaon in Maharashtra at an investment of Rs1,000 crore.
The facility, for which the company has already secured 96 acres and has applied to the administration for an additional 48 acres, will be ready in two years, but it will be fully functional only in 4-5 years.
The facility will have six lines for production of biscuits, and one each for filled croissants, cakes, rusks, flour and dairy. It will employ 3,000 people, and will be the first to have an integrated dairy and flour mill.
The plant is located in the Pune-Ahmednagar region, which is one of the biggest producers of milk in the country

August 8

Netflix made its 'first ever' acquisition by buying Mark Millar's comic book publisher
Online entertainment platform Netflix announced that it has acquired Millarworld, a comic book company.
The acquisition was the first ever by Netflix. Together, the two companies will bring Millarworld's portfolio of character franchises to life through films, series and children's shows available exclusively to Netflix members.
Netflix is the leading one entertainment platform globally with 104 million members in over 190 countries. It offers over 125 million hours of TV shows and movies per day, including original series, documentaries and feature films.

ONGC Videsh to pump $150 million in Colombia, Kazakhstan & Bangladesh
ONGC Videsh, the overseas arm of the state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp, plans to invest $150 million in exploration this fiscal year to drill more wells in Colombia, where it just made a commercial discovery, as well as in Kazakhstan and Bangladesh.
ONGC Videsh, which operates the CPO-5 block of Colombia, has made a commercial discovery in its exploration well Mariposa-1.
The company is now drawing up plans for the development of the Mariposa-1well that has begun a test production of 4,500 barrels per day. The success has also opened opportunity for further exploration in the block.
ONGC has also accelerated its exploratory efforts in Kazakhstan and Bangladesh. Drilling has begun in the Kazakhstan block in the Caspian Sea while preparations are on to drill the first well in Bangladesh.

Flipkart launches ‘Budding Star Programme’ for employees, to provide financial assistance up to Rs 3 Lakhs
Flipkart has launched ‘Budding Star Programme’ for its staff. This programme is aimed towards helping the employees in achieving their dreams.
It will offer financial assistance to employees in order to help them explore opportunities that are beyond the walls of the workplace and includes national level competitions and programmes, in a field of their interest.
This initiative by Flipkart will aid employees to unleash their talent beyond work and participate in opportunities that will help them achieve success in their personal aspirations.
There is a slight catch with the financial assistance that will be provided to the employees. Only those who have completed six months with the company will be eligible for ‘Budding Star Programme’.

Bajaj Auto ties up with Triumph to make mid-capacity motorcycles
Bajaj Auto, the country’s fourth biggest two-wheeler maker, announced a partnership with UK’s Triumph Motorcycles to jointly make mid-capacity motorcycles for Indian and global markets.
This non-equity partnership will look to address growing demand for leisure riding, something on the lines of products from Harley Davidson. However, with Bajaj’s low-cost expertise the partnership will address the budget segment buyers looking for bikes having engine capacity of 400cc-800cc.
While Bajaj Auto stands to gain from Triumph’s technology and brand the UK-based company will benefit from low-capacity higher volumes bikes. Bajaj will make new range of locally developed Triumph bikes at its Chakan facility in Pune.

August 9

Amazon launches virtual customer service in four Indian cities
Amazon announced the launch of virtual customer service (VCS) model, an initiative launched to create cost efficient employment prospects for skilled candidates seeking more flexible work opportunities.
With the initiative, Amazon is reaching out to a wider talent pool to ensure a high rate of diversity while also roping in talent who might not be able to physically attend regular office for various reasons.
VCS has currently been launched in Hyderabad, Pune, Coimbatore and Noida and is hiring for entry level job opportunities along with opportunities for team managers and group managers in these cities.

Finance Ministry panel to resolve bank pensioners' issues
The Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance, has set up a committee to resolve the pending issues of bank pensioners and retirees.
This is the outcome of a series of meetings the All India Pensioners and Retirees’ Confederation had with the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley; Minister of State Santosh Kumar Gangwar; and department officials.
Demands of the pensioners/retirees include 100 per cent DA neutralisation for pre-2002 retirees; improvement in family pension, medical insurance and a medical benefit scheme; pension updation; second options to compulsorily retired officers and resignees who have put in a pensionable service.

August 10

Facebook launches YouTube competitor called ‘Watch’
Facebook has rolled out ‘Watch’ – a redesigned video platform for creators and publishers. The social media giant last year launched ‘Video’ tab in the US which offered a predictable place to find videos on Facebook.
‘Watch’ will be available on mobile, on desktop and laptop and in our TV apps. Shows are made up of episodes live or recorded and follow a theme or storyline.
The shows available include “Nas Daily”, “Gabby Bernstein” and “Kitchen Little”. “Nas Daily” publishes a daily show where he makes videos together with his fans from around the world.

NSDC, Google launch programme to improve mobile developer ecosystem
The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and Google India launched Android Skill Development programme to impart mobile development training on the Android and web platform and improve the quality of mobile app development ecosystem in India.
Under the initiative, NSDC would introduce a specific course to create applications for the mobile platform that can be used on smartphones and tablets running on the Android operating system.
The collaboration aims to accelerate mobile skill training and create opportunities for youth in the country. The 100-hour duration course is designed to be delivered by NSDC's partner agencies, outside the formal education system.

Sebi launches online registration for custodians of securities
Markets regulator Sebi has introduced an online registration mechanism for custodians of securities to make it convenient for them to do business.
The new system would help custodian of securities to complete registration and other regulatory filings with Sebi much faster and in a cost-effective manner.
All applicants desirous of seeking registration as a custodian of securities are now required to submit their applications online only, through Sebi intermediary portal.
The custodian of securities seeking approval as Designated Depository Participant (DDP) in terms of Sebi (FPI) regulations shall also apply through this portal.


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