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Nov 24, 2017 10:13 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

News highlights of the day: Chinese, Indian, Iranian firms eye $10 billion refinery in Brazil

This blog will keep track of key global and local developments impacting business and markets through the day. Important local and global political developments will also find resonance here.


Top Headlines
1. Nearly 5,500 wilful defaulters owe lenders Rs 60,700cr as of Sept. This is a Moneycontrol exclusive
2. LIC may get Irda breather on 15% investment cap in PSU banks, reports Business Standard
3. Bharti Airtel eyes spectrum, equipment of RCom, reports The Economic Times
4. 2nd derailment in one day, 14 bogies of coal-laden goods train go off track in Odisha. This after 13 coaches of the Vasco Da Gama-Patna express derailed near Manikpur railway station in Uttar Pradesh, leaving at least three dead and nine injured
5. Parliament's Winter Session to be held from December 15 to January 5
6. GST-compliant MSMEs likely to get more sops, reports Mint

7. Hep-C, cancer, cardiac drugs to cost less as regulator caps prices of 51 formulations

That's all for today, readers. Thanks for staying on with our coverage of the day's action. Your enthusiasm encourages us to better our coverage every day. Do come back tomorrow for more news, views and insights.

21:30 Chinese, Indian and Iranian firms are discussing a partnership to invest between USD 7 billion and USD 10 billion to build a new oil refinery in the state of Maranhão in northeastern Brazil, a government official said on Friday.

Negotiations over the refinery, with proposed capacity of 300,000 barrels per day, are ongoing between the companies and local officials, Oil and Gas Secretary Márcio Félix said.

21:18 In a sudden move, the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) today cancelled the appointments of 10 office-bearers made during the recent Assembly election, maintaining that these were not approved by

the party high command.

The officer-bearers, whose appointments have been annulled, are reportedly supporters of Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, PTI reported.

The leaders removed from the state leadership included former MLAs Yograj, Satya Prakash Thakur and Surender Pal, who were appointed general secretaries, Devindar Bushahri, Pushp Raj Sharma, Dhirendra Chauhan, Chandra Sen, Man Chand Thakur, Rajendra Mohan, and Damodar Singh.

21:12 The government has doubled the rates for incentives to 4 percent for readymade garments and made-ups to boost shipments of the sector, the commerce ministry today said.

The rate of incentives are increased from 2 percent to 4 percent under Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS). The estimated annual incentives will be Rs 1,143.15 crore for 2017-18 and Rs 685.89 crore for 2018-19, the ministry said.

Readymade garments' exports dipped by about 40 percent to USD 829.44 million in October.

21:01 The note-ban has resulted in a "fundamental shift" in the payment habits in the economy-a move away from cash payments to and a wider adoption of retail electronic payments, card usage at merchant terminals and cheques, an RBI study has found.

The government had on November 8 last year surprisingly cancelled all the banknotes in the Rs 1,000 and 500 denominations, which was around 86 per cent of the money in circulation, with multiple objectives.

"The demonetisation has impacted the inter-bank payments and settlement system significantly in moving cash transactions to non-cash modes of payments in three segments-retail electronic payments, card usage at PoS terminals and cheques," the Reserve Bank has said in its weekly supplement, Mint Street Memos.

As per the study, cheque volumes and values contracted during the pre-demonetisation period but recorded positive growth during demonetisation as well as post-note-ban months.

20:44 At least 235 people were killed in a bomb explosion near a mosque in Egypt's North Sinai region, the state media reported. The bomb went off during the Friday prayers. Gunmen also opened fire on people trying to escape from the mosque, the reports said.

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi will hold an emergency meeting with officials to discuss the incident.

20:36 Fortis dengue case: The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has asked Fortis Healthcare to provide copies of bills in relation to the case of alleged overcharging of a dengue patient by its hospital in Gurugram.

Reacting to reports that Fortis Gurugram charged approximately Rs 16 lakh from Jayant Singh for treatment of dengue of his late daughter Adya, NPPA shot off a letter the company's CEO/MD seeking copies of invoices/bills raised, name of medicines administered along with details of quantity and price charged towards medicines and consumables.

20:20 Sun Pharma is recalling two lots of Riomet of strength 500 mg/5 ml. The company in a press release said that use of Riomet could lead to infections like pneumonia, sinusitis and disseminated infection. It also clarified that it hasn't received any reports of adverse events related to this recall.

The recall is being conducted with knowledge of the US FDA, it said.

20:14 Rahul Gandhi today said that the BJP government delayed Winter Session of Parliament to avoid discussions on Rafale deal, Doklam stadoff and ongoing case against Amit Shah's son Jay, before the Gujarat elections.

The government on Friday announced that the Winter Session will be held from December 15 to January 5.

"They have closed Parliament...every year Parliament opens in November, this year it will not open in November. You see, it is not going to open before elections," Gandhi said.

"Why? because they don't want Jay Shah, Rafale deal and Doklam issues to be discussed in Parliament before Gujarat elections," he told a gathering of Dalits in this town near Ahmedabad.

19:57 China has signed a deal to build a third large nuclear reactor in Pakistan, which wants to get a fifth of its electricity from nuclear by 2030, Reuters reports.

World Nuclear News, supported by industry lobby World Nuclear Association, reported that China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) have signed a cooperation agreement for the construction of a 1,000 megawatt (MW) HPR1000 "Hualong One" reactor at the Chashma nuclear power plant in Punjab.

19:51 Air India Chairman and Managing Director Rajiv Bansal's term has been extended by three months, reports PTI. Bansal took over the reins of the debt-laden airline in August this year.

Bansal's extension comes at a time when the government is in the process of finalising the modalities for the strategic disinvestment of the flagship airline.

However, the airline has removed its executive director for in-flight services AS Soman from the post due to some internal issues. Bansal, last week, directed Soman to take charge of ED - HQ with immediate effect.

Though no official reason has been cited for the surprised removal, which is the second for Soman in as many years, an insider said the transfer was due to some recurring tiffs between operations and in-flight services departments, PTI said.

19:39 The Indian Army have started work on the three foot-overbridges (FOBs) at suburban railways stations in Mumbai, PTI reports.

The Army engineers have begun piling and foundation work for FOBs at Elphinstone Road on the Western Railway, and Currey Road and Ambivli on the Central Railway after obtaining necessary approvals from the transport PSU, said the Railway official.

The official said the permission from the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) for the FOB at Elphinstone Road was expected "any moment". He added that the General Arrangement Drawing (GAD) for the Elphinstone bridge was submitted by the engineers on Thursday.

19:28 Mumbai attack mastermind and Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Saeed today said ousted Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif had committed "treason" by seeking friendship with India and ignoring the "Kashmir cause", hours after his release from house arrest.

Saeed gave an hour-long Friday sermon at the JuD headquarters here, for which a large number of JuD activists had gathered at the Jamia Masjid Al-Qadsia at Chauburji.

After Friday prayers, the charged workers greeted Saeed on his release and renewed their pledge for "Kashmir Jihad". Saeed in his speech also targeted the Pakistani government for "taking dictation from foreign masters" and spoke of "Indian atrocities" in Kashmir.

19:24 The Supreme Court on December 1 will hear a plea seeking various steps to curb air pollution, including a ban on sale, possession and bursting of firecrackers across the country.

The plea, which has also sought a solution on the issue of crop burning which is a major source of air pollution in Delhi-national capital region (NCR), was listed before a bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan.

19:10 Ether, the digital currency of the ethereum blockchain, hit an all-time high of USD 425.55. It broke the previous high of USD 414.76. Ether, the second largest cryptocurrency with market capital of more than USD 40 billion, has risen more than 5000 percent this year, a CNBC report said.

Bitcoin, Ether's main rival, recently fresh an all-time high rallying above USD 8,000.

18:51 The foreign exchange reserves rose by USD 240.4 million to USD 399.533 billion in the week to November 17, helped by an increase in foreign currency assets, the weekly data from the Reserve Bank showed today.

In the previous week, the reserves had risen by USD 554.2 million to USD 399.293 billion.

The foreign currency assets, a major component of the overall reserves, increased by USD 220.4 million to USD 375.096 billion, the data showed.

18:40 The Delhi High Court on Friday dismissed a PIL that questioned the powers of the censor board to recertify films. The court said the plea was "entirely misconceived" and instead imposed a penalty of Rs 50,000 on the petitioner for wasting the judicial time.

The petition claimed that the censor board didn't have the right to recertify films after they undergo changes.

18:30 At least 115 people were killed and about 85 injured in a bomb explosion near a mosque in Egypt's North Sinai region, the state media reported. The bomb went off during the Friday prayers. Gunmen also opened fire on people trying to escape from the mosque, the reports said.

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi will hold an emergency meeting with officials to discuss the incident.

18:25 RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on Friday made a strong pitch for building the Ram Temple on the disputed site at Ayodhya, saying only the mandir would come up there and not any other structure.

Addressing the "Dharma Sansad", a congregation of 2,000 Hindu saints, mutt heads and VHP leaders from across the country at this small temple town here, he said there should be no ambiguity that Ram Temple will be built at Ayodhya.

"We will construct it. It is not a populist declaration but a matter of our faith. It will not change," Bhagwat said.

18:18 The US government today asked Pakistan to arrest the recently released Hafiz Saeed, accused of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attack.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Saeed's organisation, Lashkar-e-Taiba, was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of civilians, including American citizens, reports Reuters.

18:09 An IAF Kiran aircraft on a routine training mission crashed near Siddipet in Telangana today, but the rookie pilot ejected safely, the second such incident in less than two months.

"Today at about 1400 hrs one IAF Kiran aircraft on a routine training mission crashed around 50km from the Air Force Station, Hakimpet, Hyderabad. The trainee pilot ejected safely," a defence release said

17:29 Buoyed by the success of reverse auction of renewables, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy today announced auction of up to 21 GW solar and wind capacities by March 2018.

The ministry will put on the block 3-4 GW wind power capacities during third and fourth rounds by March 2018. Each round will be of 1.5-2 GW each, said Power and New and Renewable Energy Minister R K Singh during a media interaction.

17:18 S&P on Friday retained India's outlook at stable and rating at BBB-.

In January 2007, S&P had changed India’s rating to BBB-, which is the lowest investment grade rating for bonds. The outlook that it assigned back then was “stable” which it later changed to negative in 2009 and again raised it to stable in 2010.

In 2012, the outlook was lowered to negative, which again changed soon after the Modi government assumed office in May 2014, as per a Times of India report. However, the rating remained unchanged at BBB-.

Since then the government has announced a recapitalisation plan for public sector banks and has revamped GST rates.

17:07 Fake data is a big threat to the economic and financial stability like it is to politics, a European Central Bank said. According to Reuters, European Central Bank board member Benoit Coeure said that there is rising prevalence of poor quality data which could lead to economic panic.

16:51 Telecom operator Aircel has denied that it is shutting down its operations, Reuters report. The company said that it is working to make the business profitable.

“Media reports about Aircel as regard insolvency or shutting down operations in 14 circles is completely speculative & misleading,” Aircel said in a statement.

16:37 The new Ordinance for the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) could lead to large losses for banks, a Kotak Securities report said. As per the Ordinance, promoters - who have defaulted or have default history - will not be allowed to bid for assets.

"Promoters of most large steel companies were quite intent to regain control and did appear to offer the most competitive bid during the resolution process but are barred from doing so now," the report said.

16:17 Mnangagwa, the 'Crocodile,' sworn in as Zimbabwe president

Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn in on Friday as President of Zimbabwe in front of thousands of cheering supporters at Harare’s national stadium, bringing the final curtain down on the 37-year rule of Robert Mugabe, reports Reuters. Taking his oath of office, the 75-year-old former security chief known as ‘The Crocodile’ vowed to uphold the constitution of the former British colony and protect the rights of all Zimbabwe’s 16 million citizens.

16:08 RTI query reveals RBI, Election Commission have no info on bonds for political funding

The Reserve Bank of India and the Election Commission have no information on electoral bonds, which were announced about nine months back for the funding of political parties, according to an RTI reply. "We have no information to furnish," the central bank said in its reply to the RTI query. The RBI was asked details of the draft electoral bond scheme.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had on February 1 announced introduction of electoral bonds. Under this scheme, a donor could purchase bonds from authorised banks against cheque and digital payments only. "They shall be redeemable only in the designated account of a registered political party. These bonds will be redeemable within the prescribed time limit from issuance of bond," the finance minister had said.

The RTI application was also filed with the Election Commission. The information sought is not available "in any material form hence cannot be provided", the Commission said in its reply to the RTI application filed by Venkatesh Nayak, who works with NGO -- Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.

Nayak told PTI that electoral bonds, if implemented in the present form, will bring the era of transparency in political party funding to an abrupt end, contrary to the trend across the world which is for greater transparency in order to make them more accountable to the people.

16:02 A Kiran trainer aircraft crashed in Telangana's Siddipet, reports ANI. A woman cadet on board, who was undergoing fighter training, ejected in time. The aircraft took off from Hakimpet Air Force station and crashed while make a failed emergency landing attempt.

15:58 Gujarat polls: BJP releases fifth list of 13 candidates

The BJP released its fifth list of 13 candidates for the second phase of Assembly polls in Gujarat, dropping two sitting MLAs, reports PTIPrahlad Patel, who had joined the BJP ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls after resigning as Congress MLA, did not get a ticket from Vijapur constituency in Mehsana which he represented. The BJP has fielded Ramanbhai Patel from the seat.

Of these 13 seats in central and north Gujarat, seven were held by the Congress, including Vijapur. The BJP has so far named candidates for 148 seats out of 182. Among the candidates named today are Gujarati actor Hitesh Kanodiya and BJP MP Prabhatsinh Chauhan's daughter-in-law Suman Pravinsinh Chauhan.

Amit Chaudhary, who resigned as Congress MLA after allegedly cross voting in favour of the BJP candidate during the RS polls, has been given ticket for Manasa seat in Gandhinagar which he represented in the outgoing assembly. The BJP has retained four of its sitting MLAs – Ranchhod Rabari (Patan), Narayan Patel (Unjha), Vallabh Kakadiya (Thakkarbapa Nagar) and Pankaj Desai (Nadiad).

The party has dropped Laljibhai Koli Patel, its MLA from Dhandhuka seat in Ahmedabad. He has been replaced by local leader Kalubhai Dabhi. For Idar (SC) seat, the BJP has fielded actor Hitesh Kanodiya. Gujarat Assembly Speaker Ramanlal Vora had won this seat in 2012. However, the party has now fielded Vora from Dasada (SC) seat.

For Kaalol seat in Panchmahal district, the ruling party dropped sitting MLA Arvindsinh Chauhan and chose Suman Pravinsinh Chauhan.

15:08 China issues new rules on banks' interest rate risk management

China’s banking regulator has issued draft guidelines for commercial banks to better manage their interest rate risks, as China pushes forward with its interest rate liberalisation reform, reports Reuters. New rules have details on banks’ risk management requirements and ask commercial banks to conduct interest rate stress tests and routine assessments on their risk conditions. The guidelines will take effect on January 1, 2019.

15:06 HDFC Life looks to raise exposure to infra, auto, metal stocks

HDFC Standard Life Insurance Co is looking to invest more in the capital goods sectors and a range of companies that are expected to benefit from a major government push to build more homes and roads. Funds are likely to be put into cement makers, suppliers of building materials such as tiles and paints, and financiers of road and housing projects, Prasun Gajri, Chief Investment Officer at HDFC Life told Reuters. “The entire capital goods sector could start looking better than what it has been in the past,” said Gajri, who oversees management of more than $15 billion of investments in debt and equity. “We could look to increase exposure in some of these areas as we go along.”

The insurer, however, does not expect better days any time soon for property developers, many of whom are weighed down by high debt levels and stricter regulations, Gajri said. Among other areas HDFC Life is positive on are consumer discretionary sectors such as automakers, which, Gajri said, could report positive earnings growth as the impact wanes from both the government’s surprise removal of high-value banknotes from circulation and its new Goods & Services Tax. Gajri said he would also look to “allocate a bit more” to commodity stocks, especially metals, as a supply clampdown in China has led to higher prices in India. The insurer is bearish on information technology and pharma stocks.

15:00 South African appeals court more than doubles Oscar Pistorius murder sentence

South Africa’s Supreme Court increased Oscar Pistorius’ murder sentence on Friday to 13 years and five months after the state argued that his original sentence of six years was “shockingly lenient”, reports Reuters. Pistorius was imprisoned in July last year after being found guilty on appeal of murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013 in a case that attracted worldwide interest.

The athlete was not in court for Friday’s ruling where the court handed down the minimum 15-year sentence prescribed for murder in South Africa, and subtracted the years Pistorius had already served. “The sentence imposed... in respect of murder is set aside and substituted with the following: the respondent is sentenced to imprisonment for a period of 13 years and five months,” the judge said, reading out the court’s decision.

14:49 European shares set to snap two-week losing streak as consumer stocks buoyant

European shares edged higher in early deals on Friday, underpinned by gains among heavyweight consumer goods firms as the pan-European STOXX 600 index was set to snap a two-week losing streak, reports Reuters. The STOXX 600 index was 0.1% higher, while Germany's DAX advanced 0.2%. The growing prospect of a grand coalition in Germany also boosted sentiment around the region’s equities, as the DAX has been stuck around the 13,000-point level for the past two weeks.

14:46 Late buying supports China stocks after worst day in months

Chinese stocks ended a choppy day little changed on Friday after suffering their biggest selloff in months the previous session, reflecting a clash between bulls and bears over the implications of fresh government steps to reduce financial risks, reports Reuters. While some investors used Beijing’s latest crackdowns on shadow banking and micro-lending as an excuse to take profits after a solid rally this year, others were out bargain hunting, betting the regulatory measures will reduce systemic risks.

Afternoon buying put a floor under the blue-chip CSI300 Index, which ended the day up 0.04% at 4,104.20 points. It had tumbled nearly 3% on Thursday, its worst one-day loss in nearly 18 months, and was down earlier on Friday. The broader Shanghai Composite index rose 0.06% to 3,353.82, after skidding 2.3% the previous day in its worst performance since December. Financials led the gains, highlighting optimism in some quarters that tough steps to reduce risk and leverage will ultimately be a good thing for Chinese banks.

14:38 Hep-C, cancer, hemophilia drugs to cost less as regulator caps prices of 51 formulations

The national drug price regulator on Friday fixed the ceiling price of 51 additional drug formulations that include vaccines and medicines to treat hepatitis-C, kidney diseases, hemophilia B, cardiac problems and cancers making them much cheaper than the prevailing market prices.

The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), which brought 51 scheduled formulations of Schedule-I under Drugs (Prices Control) Order, 2013, asked manufacturers that are selling the branded or generic drugs at a price higher than the ceiling price to immediately comply with the notification.

The new price caps are likely to hit many Indian drug makers' domestic formulation businesses. The 51 formulations include Velpatasvir-Sofosbuvir — the latest two-drug combination used to treat chronic hepatitis C — a viral infection that damages the liver.

14:35 Govt assures support to green steel production

Steel Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh assured all possible support to secondary steel sector, which uses eco-friendly electric furnace to produce the commodity, reports PTI. Electric arc furnace route emits less Co2 and cost of production is also reduced compared to the blast furnace route. All India Induction Furnaces Association Conference (AIIFA) Secretary General Kamal Agarwal enumerated the problems being faced by the sector including lack of financial support from banks, varying power tariffs in states, and non acceptance of the products by government bodies such as NHAI, CPWD, Railways.

Besides, there is shortage of scrap which is required for making steel through electric furnace route. Duty on import of scrap is another issue. Responding to this, Singh said his ministry will take steps to address all issues of the sector which has the potential to create employment for 3 crore people. He also urged the industry to work on technology.

14:28 MahindraUber come together for EV push in India

Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) will team up with Uber to explore deployment of electric vehicles (EVs) on the cab aggregator's platform in several cities across India, the automaker told PTI. The company, which has already tied up with Uber's rival Ola to build an electric mass mobility ecosystem in Nagpur, will deploy "hundreds of electric vehicles in Delhi and Hyderabad" under the new partnership. Mahindra's electric vehicles on the Uber platform will include the e2oPlus hatch and the eVerito sedan. As part of this collaboration, both the companies will also explore deployment of Mahindra electric vehicles in other cities.

13:34 Siemens Q4 net profit plunges 75% to Rs 624cr

Siemens reported a sharp 74.94% decline in standalone net profit at Rs 623.77 crore for the fourth quarter to September on account of lower exceptional income. The company, which follows October to September financial cycle, had reported net profit of Rs 2,489.62 crore in the same period last fiscal. Its total income fell 2.54% to Rs 3,204.8 crore, from Rs 3,288.46 crore earlier.

During the quarter under review, Siemens reported an exceptional income of Rs 560.3 crore following the sale of a property in Worli in Mumbai. In the September quarter of 2016, Siemens had reported an exceptional income of Rs 2,992.32 crore. The company announced a dividend of Rs 7 per share for the year to September 2017.

13:17 Stock brokers body voices concern over NSE investor message, alert modified

A prominent stock brokers' group has raised concerns about the NSE asking investors not to keep funds and securities idle with trading members, saying such messages are "counter-productive" and create distrust about brokerages, reports PTI. The Association of National Exchanges Members of India (Anmi) has called on the NSE to immediately modify the message, following which the exchange has "reworded" its 'investor alert' and dropped the contentious part.

The NSE's new modified message being sent to clients reads: "As a prudent practice, you are advised to settle funds/securities on monthly/quarterly basis with your broker." Earlier, the exchange had issued the investor alert stating that "never keep idle funds or securities with brokers and insist on monthly and quarterly settlement". Anmi then shot off a letter to the exchange saying such message gives an impression that NSE's trading members should not be trusted with idle funds and securities.

12:47 RIL sells stake in Marcellus Shale to BKV Chelsea for $126m

Reliance Industries said it has completed sale of its interest in one of the three shale gas assets in the US to BKV Chelsea for $126 million, reports PTI. Reliance Marcellus II, a subsidiary of Reliance Holding USA and RIL, closed the sale of its stake in the Marcellus shale gas asset operated by Carrizo Oil & Gas, the company said in a statement.

The transaction, which was announced on October 6, will be effective April 1, 2017. RIL held stakes in three US shale gas ventures – 45% with Pioneer Natural Resources in the Eagle Ford shale play; 40% with Chevron and 60% with Carrizo Oil & Gas in the Marcellus Shale play. The assets, which are operated by Carrizo Oil & Gas, were sold to BKV Chelsea, an affiliate of Kalnin Ventures, for $126 million.

12:36 Hanging dead body found in Jaipur’s Nahargarh fort main gate; a message "We don't burn effigies, we hang people' found near body.

12:22 RK Nagar bypoll in Tamil Nadu on December 21: Election Commission

By-poll to the Dr Radha Krishnan Nagar Assembly constituency here which fell vacant following the demise of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa last year will be held on December 21, the Election Commission announced today, reports PTI. The counting of votes will be held on December 24 and the election process will be completed before 26th of next month.

The announcement comes days after the Madras High Court said it expected the EC to hold by-election in RK Nagar by December 31. By-poll in RK Nagar previously scheduled for April 12, 2017 was subsequently cancelled by the EC following allegations of bribing of voters. Also, the cancellation of by-poll came days after the Income Tax department held searches in premises of Tamil Nadu Health Minister C Vijayabaskar.

12:16 FIR against PVR's directors, promoters for cheating, forgery

The Gurgaon Police has registered an FIR against PVR Cinemas, and its promoters and directors on charges of cheating and forgery on the directions of a Gurgaon civil court, reports PTI. Its promoters Ajay BijliSanjeev Kumar BijliNiharika Bijli and eight others have been booked under relevant sections of the IPC for selling stocks at inflated value of Rs 820 crore illegally and causing loss to Gurgaon-based real estate companies. The FIR was registered at the Sushant Lok phase-1 police station on Wednesday.

The case came to light when Elan Group filed a complaint in the court, which on November 17 directed the local police to register an FIR against Chairman and Managing Director of PVR Ajay Bijli, and directors Niharika BijliSanjeev Kumar Bijli and others. PVR had claimed they were going to have 1,000 screens by 2018, according to the FIR. "It entered into MoUs with builders of commercial space and Ajay Bijli made sensational statements to the press that PVR was in the process of achieving its target of 1,000 cinema screens by 2018, thereby inflating the share prices of PVR based on false statements," it read.

"Once PVR sold its 14% stakes by overpricing to Warbur Pincus, a US based fund, it fraudulently and malafidely tried to terminate the MOU," the FIR claimed. The complainant found that PVR never had any intention of taking on lease the multiplex proposed to be developed in terms of the aforesaid MoUs. Elan Group found that "the accused had hatched a well-planned conspiracy with the malafide intent to allure investors to increase the share value and worth of PVR in global market".

12:06 GST-compliant MSMEs likely to get more sops, says report

The Finance Ministry is considering introducing more incentives for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that comply with the requirements of the new Goods & Services Tax (GST) regime, including access to loans at discounted rates, in an attempt to reward early adopters and encourage others to comply, reports Mint. A senior government official said this is one of the ideas being considered in the ministry.

MSMEs have been at the forefront of the protests against GST. Many of these enterprises operated in the informal economy and several got away by paying a fraction of the taxes they should have. The new tax regime has hit them hard. For instance, MSMEs that were suppliers to large companies were clearly told by the latter to comply with the regime. If they didn’t, the larger companies couldn’t claim input tax credit.

The proposed incentives are meant to complement the drive to integrate the cash-driven unorganised sector with the formal sector that has been a major policy focus for the Narendra Modi administration. Difficulty in accessing credit is a key obstacle MSMEs face in doing business, especially as many of them do not have immovable assets to offer as collateral.

11:39 The Supreme Court has granted the Gujarat government six weeks' time to apprise it whether any disciplinary action has been initiated against the cops who were convicted in the Bilkis Bano gangrape case.

11:30 The Delhi High Court has dismissed a plea to set up a panel prior to the release of film Padmavati to ensure there is no "distortion" of history, reports PTI. The court said the PIL against release of the film is hopeless and misconceived and such pleas are encouraging people who are agitating against it.

11:24 Goods train derails in Odisha, second derailment in one day

Paradeep-Cuttack goods train jumped the rails between Goraknath and Raghunathpur in Odisha early this morning, officials said. However, no casualty was reported in the accident which occurred at around 5.55 am, spokesperson, East Coast Railway, JP Mishra told PTI. He said the train was plying towards Cuttack carrying coal from Paradeep. Around 14 open wagons derailed on down line near Banabihari Gwalipur PH Railway Station, 45 km from Cuttack and 38 km from Paradeep.

The guard was the first to inform the nearest station. The control room was informed immediately and relief trains and crane have been deployed. General Manager Umesh Singh has ordered Khurda Road Division to set up an inquiry committee and submit a detailed report.

After a detailed site inspection, it was decided that 12 of the 14 wagons would be thrown off the track with the help of cranes. Two wagons would be re-railed on the track.

11:13 Bharti Airtel eyes spectrum, equipment of RCom

Bharti Airtel is interested in buying select spectrum and some equipment of Reliance Communications (RCom) under a process being run by its lenders to sell assets of the Anil Ambani-owned telco piece by piece and recover some portions of the roughly Rs 45,000 crore that it owes them, reports The Economic Times. “We have expressed our interest only in buying select spectrum and some equipment,” a spokesperson for Bharti Airtel said, when asked about its interest in RCom’s assets being put on the block by the debt-ridden telco’s lenders

The sale process could thus see Airtel vying with Reliance Jio for the spectrum in the 850 MHz band — considered highly efficient for 4G services — with the proceeds going to the lenders. The sale of RCom’s assets, including spectrum, network equipment and fibre, has evoked interest of many of the companies in the sector, including from tower providers like Indus, Bharti Infratel and Canada’s Brookfield for towers.

10:58 Parliament's Winter Session to be held from Dec 15 to Jan 5

The Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs recommended that the Winter Session of Parliament be held from December 15 to January 5. The Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh met here to decide on the dates of the Winter Session. "We request and seek cooperation from all parties, including the opposition, for smooth functioning of both Houses to make this session fruitful," Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Ananth Kumar said.

10:14 Fourteen bogies of a coal laden goods train has derailed near Jagatsinghpur in Odisha. This is the second derailment in one day. Earlier today, 13 coaches of the Vasco Da Gama-Patna express derailed near Manikpur railway station in Uttar Pradesh, leaving at least three dead and nine injured.

09:59 US to send F-22 jets to South Korea in show of force for Pyongyang

The US will send F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets to South Korea for a joint drill, reports said today, in a new show of force aimed at Pyongyang. Six fighter jets, normally based in Okinawa, Japan, will be deployed to the South for a five-day joint military exercise, Vigilant Ace, starting December 4, local media reported. A South Korean Air Force spokesman said an "unspecified number" of F-22s would take part in the drill.

A US Air Force spokesman declined to give details. Local media reported that the US aircraft will engage in precision strike drills with South Korean Air Force fighter jets. The move comes as the US pushes what President Donald Trump has called a "maximum pressure campaign" against the North's nuclear program.

9:54 Building collapses in Bhiwandi; many feared trapped

A four-storey building collapsed in Bhiwandi in the district and many persons are feared trapped under the debris, officials told PTI. The building in Navi Vasti locality collapsed at around 9 am, Regional Disaster Management Cell chief Santosh Kadam said. A senior district administration official said teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been rushed to Bhiwandi for the rescue and relief operation. Senior police and civic officials have also rushed to the spot, he said.

09:28 Nearly 5,500 wilful defaulters owe lenders Rs 60,700cr as of Sept

At a time when promoters are being barred from bidding for their assets under insolvency, Moneycontrol News’ Beena Parmar reports that about 5,490 wilful defaulters owing lenders Rs 25 lakh and above each have defaulted on loans worth Rs 60,739 crore. This is a decline of nearly 40% from a quarter ago which saw 9,077 wilful defaulters with unpaid loans worth Rs 1.07 lakh crore, data compiled by TransUnion Cibil, a credit bureau company, shows.

09:11 LIC may get Irda breather on 15% investment cap in PSU banks, says report

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irda) is open to allowing the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) to increase its stake beyond the 15% ceiling in public sector banks (PSBs), reports The Business Standard. The move is to give a boost to the government’s recapitalisation plan, an initiative to help banks tackle bad loan woes and revive growth.

The insurance sector regulator has set a 15% cap on equity shareholding in single stocks for insurance firms. Currently, LIC’s holding in a dozen PSBs is between 10% and 14%. Irdai’s relaxation could allow the insurance behemoth to participate in the capital raising programme of PSBs, which are looking to raise Rs 58,000 crore in equity capital.

Sources said Irdai’s relaxation was likely to come with caveats. “A prior approval might be needed for investments above the 15% ceiling. The insurance regulator could vet such investments to ensure that interests of policyholders are not compromised,” said a regulatory official.

The government at present is in the process of finalising the structure of recapitalisation bonds and a notification in this regard is expected to come by the end of this month. Sources say the government is keen to seek LIC’s help when it comes to equity investments in some of the banks’ qualified institutional placements (QIPs) or rights offerings. LIC’s participation in share sales by government-owned entities is a common phenomenon.

08:31 South Korea's Lotte Confectionery buys Havmor Ice Cream for Rs 1,020cr

South Korea’s Lotte Confectionery has acquired Ahmedabad-headquartered ice cream maker Havmor Ice Cream (HIL) for Rs 1,020 crore in an all-stock deal, reports PTI. Privately held Havmor, whose annual turnover is estimated to be Rs 450 crore, has a significant parlour network across 14 states in India. It makes 150 kinds of products from two plants and sells via 30,000 dealers.

The $80 billion Lotte Confectionery entered India in 2004 and has established choco-pie factories in Chennai and Delhi. Last year, its market share reached 90% in the Indian choco-pie market. Lotte plans to expand its market power from the northwest region to all across India with this entry into the Indian ice-cream market, the company said.

Havmor, however, will continue to operate its signature chain of restaurants and eateries across Gujarat as well as its signature brand and concept cafe - Huber and Holly.

08:19 EPFO approves proposal to credit ETF units to PF a/cs

Retirement fund body EPFO on Thursday approved a proposal for crediting exchange traded fund (ETF) units to provident fund accounts of its 4.5 crore members, reports PTI. Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) subscribers would be able to see ETF units in their PF accounts by March-end next year. EPFO's apex decision making body Central Board of Trustee (CBT) has approved an accounting policy for valuation and accounting of equity investments which was prepared in consultancy with IIM Bangalore,

Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar said. Gangwar, who also heads the CBT, said the observations of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) were also incorporated in the accounting policy. Labour Secretary M Sathiyavathy said that whenever the subscribers take advance or settle their PF accounts, the ETF units would be liquidated by EPFO.

08:13 No proposal to withdraw cheque book facility: FinMin

The Finance Ministry on Thursday evening said there is no proposal to withdraw the bank cheque book facility as part of exercise to promote digital transaction, reports PTI. The clarification comes in the backdrop of reports in a certain section of media that there is a possibility that the central government may withdraw bank cheque book facility in the near future, with an intent to encourage digital transactions.

This has been denied by the government and reaffirmed that there's no such proposal, it said in tweets. "The Government of India has reaffirmed that there is NO proposal under consideration to withdraw the bank Cheque Book facility," said one of the tweets.

08:06 US oil hits 2-year high on pipeline outage, lower inventories

US crude hit a two-year high in thin trade on Thursday as the shutdown of a major crude pipeline from Canada and a draw on fuel inventories pointed to a tightening market, despite rising output from US producers, reports Reuters. West Texas Intermediate crude CLc1 was up 54 cents at $58.56 per barrel, close to a two-year peak of $58.58 touched earlier in the session.

Brent crude LCOc1 settled at $63.55 per barrel, 23 cents above its previous close. Trading volumes were thin because of the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. The shutdown on TransCanada Corporation’s 590,000-barrel-per-day Keystone pipeline following a spill last week has helped drive oil prices higher because of expectations it will reduce crude stocks in the US storage hub of Cushing, Oklahoma.

07:59 Teva Pharmaceutical set for major layoffs in Israel, US, says report

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries is expected to cut 20-25% of its workforce in Israel, where it employs 6,860 people, and a few thousand more jobs are to go in the United States, financial news website Calcalist said on Thursday. The world’s largest generic drugmaker will send termination letters to “tens of percents” of its 10,000 employees in the United States in coming weeks, Calcalist said. Teva’s new Chief Executive Kare Schultz is working out the details with regional management in Israel and the United States, Calcalist said, adding that those set to be ousted include its chief scientific officer and president of research and development, Michael Hayden.

07:52 Mnangagwa the "Crocodile" to be sworn in as Zimbabwe's president

Emmerson Mnangagwa will cap a stunning political comeback when he is sworn in as Zimbabwe’s president on Friday, bringing the final curtain down on the 37-year rule of Robert Mugabe, reports Reuters. Mugabe, 93, who had led Zimbabwe from independence in 1980, stepped down on Tuesday after the army seized power and the ruling ZANU-PF party turned against him.

The world’s oldest serving head of state resigned as parliament began a process to impeach him, sparking wild celebrations in the streets. His sudden fall had been triggered by a battle to succeed him that pitted Mnangagwa against Mugabe’s much younger wife Grace. Just two weeks ago, she seemed to have the upper hand after Mugabe fired Mnangagwa on November 6 as vice president for showing “traits of disloyalty”.

That prompted Mnangagwa, 75, long one of Mugabe’s most trusted lieutenants, to flee the country in fear for his life. It also brought the tanks into the streets. Addressing a cheering crowd in Harare on Wednesday night after his return, Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe was entering a new stage of democracy. “The people have spoken. The voice of the people is the voice of God,” he told thousands of supporters.

07:44 Irish government on verge of collapse ahead of EU Brexit summit

The Irish government was on the verge of collapse on Thursday after the party whose votes Prime Minister Leo Varadkar depends on to pass legislation said it would seek to remove the deputy prime minister in a breach of their cooperation agreement, reports Reuters. The crisis comes three weeks ahead of a European Union summit in which the Irish government has an effective veto on whether Britain’s talks on leaving the bloc progress as it determines if EU concerns about the future of the Irish border have been met.

In a row that escalated rapidly, the opposition Fianna Fail party said it would put a motion of no confidence in Deputy Prime Minister Frances Fitzgerald before parliament on Tuesday over her handling of a legal case involving a police whistle-blower. That would break the three-year “confidence and supply” agreement that allowed Varadkar’s Fine Gael party to form a minority government 18 months ago.

07:39 UK consumer confidence slumps to post-Brexit vote low

British households are their least confident since immediately after last year’s Brexit vote, partly because of this month’s interest rate hike and further signs of a slowdown in the housing market, reports Reuters. A consumer confidence index produced by polling firm YouGov and the Centre for Economics and Business Research, a consultancy, sank to 106.6 in November, down sharply from 109.3 in October.

It was the first fall since June although it remained above the 100 level above which consumers are considered to be feeling confident. All eight of the index’s underlying measures weakened and a score for household finances over the past 30 days sank to its lowest level since January 2014.

07:32 ECB split over keeping bond buys open-ended

European Central Bank policymakers broadly agreed last month on extending their asset purchase scheme but a decision to keep the bond buys open-ended appeared to generate fiercer debate, minutes of the meeting released on Thursday showed. Having to reconcile rapid economic growth with anaemic inflation, the ECB opted last month to halve its asset purchases while extending them by nine months, hoping that gentler though longer stimulus would still keep growth strong enough to generate inflation, reports Reuters.

But minutes of the debate at the October 26 policy meeting suggest policymakers were far from unanimous, with some keen to signal a clear end to the ECB’s lavish asset purchases and others arguing for a change in emphasis as a precursor to their eventual end. The euro zone’s central bank already has over EUR 2.2 trillion worth of assets on its balance sheet.

While the nine-month extension of the scheme at EUR 30 billion per month enjoyed broad support, policymakers discussed a range of alternatives, debated an eventual change in the bank’s guidance, and agreed that other components of central bank stimulus should also be highlighted, the minutes showed.

07:29 Japan Nov manufacturing activity grows at fastest pace in over 3 years

Japanese manufacturing activity expanded at the fastest pace in more than three years in November as output, new orders, and new export orders all accelerated in a sign the economy will continue its growth streak, a preliminary survey showed on Friday. The Markit/Nikkei Japan Manufacturing flash Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) rose to 53.8 in November on a seasonally adjusted basis from a final reading of 52.8 in October, reports Reuters.

07:28 Asian shares off 10-year peak, eyes on China markets

Asian shares hovered below their 10-year peak on Friday while investors viewed Chinese shares with caution after their big fall the previous day. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan ticked down 0.1% in early trade, led by a 0.3% fall in Australian shares. The MSCI index hovered still just 0.5% below its 10-year peak hit earlier this week. Japan's Nikkei fell 0.6% after a market holiday on Thursday while US stock futures were little changed after shortened trading on Thursday.

07:02 3 dead, 9 injured in Vasco Da Gama Patna Express train derailment

Thirteen coaches of the Vasco Da Gama-Patna express derailed near Manikpur railway station in Uttar Pradesh today, leaving at least three dead and nine injured, reports PTI. The Patna-bound train derailed at 4:18 am near Manikpur railway station in Chitrakoot district of Uttar Pradesh, less than 12 hours after a bolero had collided with a passenger train near Lucknow killing four and injuring two.

"The injured have been rushed to the hospital and officials have left for the spot. Relief operations are underway," North Central Railway PRO Amit Malviya said. He further said that soon after the accident, a medical train reached the spot and by 5:20 am, an accident relief train was dispatched for the spot. The divisional railway manager (DRM), Allahabad has already reached the spot while the General Manager, NCR is on his way, he said.
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  • November 24, 2017 03:19 PM IST

    Top Headlines

    1. Nearly 5,500 wilful defaulters owe lenders Rs 60,700cr as of Sept. This is a Moneycontrol exclusive

    2. LIC may get Irda breather on 15% investment cap in PSU banks, reports Business Standard

    3. Bharti Airtel eyes spectrum, equipment of RCom, reports The Economic Times

    4. 2nd derailment in one day, 14 bogies of coal-laden goods train go off track in Odisha. This after 13 coaches of the Vasco Da Gama-Patna express derailed near Manikpur railway station in Uttar Pradesh, leaving at least three dead and nine injured

    5. Parliament's Winter Session to be held from December 15 to January 5

    6. GST-compliant MSMEs likely to get more sops, reports Mint

    7. Hep-C, cancer, hemophilia drugs to cost less as regulator caps prices of 51 formulations

  • November 24, 2017 10:11 PM IST

    That's all for today, readers. Thanks for staying on with our coverage of the day's action. Your enthusiasm encourages us to better our coverage every day. Do come back tomorrow for more news, views and insights.

  • November 24, 2017 09:28 PM IST

    Chinese, Indian and Iranian firms are discussing a partnership to invest between USD 7 billion and USD 10 billion to build a new oil refinery in the state of Maranhão in northeastern Brazil, a government official said on Friday.

    Negotiations over the refinery, with proposed capacity of 300,000 barrels per day, are ongoing between the companies and local officials, Oil and Gas Secretary Márcio Félix said.

  • November 24, 2017 09:16 PM IST

    In a sudden move, the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) today cancelled the appointments of 10 office-bearers made during the recent Assembly election, maintaining that these were not approved by
    the party high command.

    The officer-bearers, whose appointments have been annulled, are reportedly supporters of Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, PTI reported.

    The leaders removed from the state leadership included former MLAs Yograj, Satya Prakash Thakur and Surender Pal, who were appointed general secretaries, Devindar Bushahri, Pushp Raj Sharma, Dhirendra Chauhan, Chandra Sen, Man Chand Thakur, Rajendra Mohan, and Damodar Singh.

  • November 24, 2017 09:10 PM IST

    The government has doubled the rates for incentives to 4 percent for readymade garments and made-ups to boost shipments of the sector, the commerce ministry today said.

    The rate of incentives are increased from 2 percent to 4 percent under Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS). The estimated annual incentives will be Rs 1,143.15 crore for 2017-18 and Rs 685.89 crore for 2018-19, the ministry said.

    Readymade garments' exports dipped by about 40 percent to USD 829.44 million in October.

  • November 24, 2017 09:00 PM IST

    The note-ban has resulted in a "fundamental shift" in the payment habits in the economy-a move away from cash payments to and a wider adoption of retail electronic payments, card usage at merchant terminals and cheques, an RBI study has found.   The government had on November 8 last year surprisingly cancelled all the banknotes  in the Rs 1,000 and 500 denominations, which was around 86 per cent of the money in circulation, with multiple objectives.   "The demonetisation has impacted the inter-bank payments and settlement system significantly in moving cash transactions to non-cash modes of payments in three segments-retail electronic payments, card usage at PoS terminals and cheques," the Reserve Bank has said in its weekly supplement, Mint Street Memos.   As per the study, cheque volumes and values contracted during the pre-demonetisation period but recorded positive growth during demonetisation as well as post-note-ban months.

  • November 24, 2017 08:35 PM IST

    Fortis dengue case: The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has asked Fortis Healthcare to provide copies of bills in relation to the case of alleged overcharging of a dengue patient by its hospital in Gurugram.   Reacting to reports that Fortis Gurugram charged approximately Rs 16 lakh from Jayant Singh for treatment of dengue of his late daughter Adya, NPPA shot off a letter the company's CEO/MD seeking copies of invoices/bills raised, name of medicines administered along with details of quantity and price charged towards medicines and consumables.

  • November 24, 2017 08:25 PM IST

    Sun Pharma is recalling two lots of Riomet of strength 500 mg/5 ml. The company in a press release said that use of Riomet could lead to infections like pneumonia, sinusitis and disseminated infection. It also clarified that it hasn't received any reports of adverse events related to this recall.

    The recall is being conducted with knowledge of the US FDA, it said.

  • November 24, 2017 08:12 PM IST

    Rahul Gandhi today said that the BJP government delayed Winter Session of Parliament to avoid discussions on Rafale deal, Doklam stadoff and ongoing case against Amit Shah's son Jay, before the Gujarat elections. The government on Friday announced that the Winter Session will be held from December 15 to January 5. 
      "They have closed Parliament...every year Parliament opens in November, this year it will not open in November. You see, it is not going to open before elections," Gandhi said.  "Why? because they don't want Jay Shah, Rafale deal and Doklam issues to be discussed in Parliament before Gujarat elections," he told a gathering of Dalits in this town near Ahmedabad.  

  • November 24, 2017 07:56 PM IST

    China has signed a deal to build a third large nuclear reactor in Pakistan, which wants to get a fifth of its electricity from nuclear by 2030, Reuters reports. 

    World Nuclear News, supported by industry lobby World Nuclear Association, reported that China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) have signed a cooperation agreement for the construction of a 1,000 megawatt (MW) HPR1000 "Hualong One" reactor at the Chashma nuclear power plant in Punjab.

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