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Morning Scan: All the big stories to get you started for the day

A round-up of the biggest articles from newspapers

November 26, 2021 / 08:06 AM IST

Upstox eyes tiger-led $200 million round; value may touch $3 billion

Tiger Global is in talks to lead a $150-200 million funding round in online stock brokerage Upstox, The Economic Times reported.

Why it’s important: The New York-based investment fund is doubling down on the domestic online investment and stock brokerage market.

Tiger is an existing investor in Upstox and currently has a 31 percent stake.

If the funding round goes through, it will not only make Upstox a unicorn but also take its valuation significantly higher at more than $3 billion.

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Tiger Global is also an investor in rival firm Groww which tripled its valuation in just six months post $251 million funding round in October to $3 billion.

 

Crypto-focused funds rejig their strategy amid talk of trading ban

A few blockchain and crypto-focused funds are rethinking their investment strategy amid speculation that trading in virtual currencies would be banned, The Economic Times reported.

Why it’s important: They are planning for contingencies to ensure they do not face a situation like in 2018 when the RBI cut banking access for the crypto and blockchain community.

Though the broader crypto community feels a ban is unlikely, some funds are erring on the side of caution.

Experts say that a possible ban will tarnish the perception of the crypto community and could hinder the inflow of risk capital into India.

So if a ban happens, crypto investors are looking for a way out of the regulatory quagmire.

Global VCs are pinning their hopes on the government unveiling innovation-friendly regulations, not a ban.

 

Global investors queue up for LIC IPO anchor book

Global investors are looking at the anchor book allocations in the proposed IPO of Life Insurance Corp of India, The Economic Times reported.

Why it’s important: Blackstone, BlackRock, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Govt of Singapore Investment Corp and Capital International are understood to have held preliminary discussions.

Canadian pension managers such as CPPIB and CDPQ, California University Endowment, Brookfield and Kuwait Investment Authority are among the other funds with which meetings are going to be held this week and early next week.

The 10 investment banks managing the issue are reaching out to as many as 100 top global fund managers, sovereign and pension money managers and private equity funds.

The share sale will likely value the LIC at around $110 billion.

The finance ministry is yet to take a final decision on the timeline of IPO, though it’s expected in the last quarter of the fiscal.

 

Will not compromise India’s interests at WTO: Piyush Goyal

India will strongly pitch for significant outcomes at the upcoming WTO ministerial without compromising the country’s interests and push for a permanent solution to the public stockholding issue, Minister of Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs and Textiles Piyush Goyal said in an interview with The Economic Times.

What the Minister says: The ministry is in talks with stakeholders and will come out with a robust set of rules.

It is aimed at protecting the interests of consumers and promoting the orderly growth of e-commerce within the laws of the land.

Large-scale stakeholder consultations are being done before India inks free trade agreements.

The policy on e-commerce has been “crystal clear” and there is no scope for ambiguity.

Piyush Goyal: “After this level of clarity of what is intended within the law, it is very surprising that reputed companies have chosen to find ways and means to go around the spirit in which they were allowed to first come in and set up their marketplace operations.”

 

Bank privatisation is not in one go, as govt may retain at least 26 percent in 2 PSBs

The government is not likely to fully exit from the two state-run banks that are to be privatised, The Economic Times reported.

Why it’s important: The government instead retain at least a 26 percent stake for the first few years.

The extent of the stake sale will depend on interest from investors and market conditions.

The government will introduce a bill in the winter session of Parliament to make the changes needed before privatising the two banks.

The Central Bank of India and Indian Overseas Bank have reportedly been shortlisted by Niti Aayog for disposal.

A similar strategy is being pursued in the case of state-run BEML, where the government is divesting 26 percent equity along with management control.

 

Adani readies up to Rs 15,000-crore SBI funding for Navi Mumbai Airport

The Adani Airport Holdings is readying funding of up to Rs 15,000 crore from the SBI for the proposed airport in Navi Mumbai, The Economic Times reported.

Why it’s important: The group is said to have lined up one of the largest project financing loans from India's largest lender, signalling the return of capex loans for infrastructure projects.

The estimated project cost has further increased by Rs 4,000 crore to Rs 20,000 crore.

The bank is said to have completed the project appraisal. It is now finalising the contours of the loan, which is likely to be long term, possibly of a 15-year tenor.

 

Startups sweeten Esop terms to hire and retain employees

Indian startups are exploring creative ways to hire and retain staff, Mint reported.

Why it’s important: The move includes expanding their Esops, as they battle each other and more established companies for talent.

Surging demand for digital skills and a section of workers dropping out of the workforce during the pandemic has caused an acute skills shortage.

So they are increasing salaries and forcing startups to part with their stocks to retain employees.

Startups are outdoing each other to retain employees.

The plan did not exist in the startup ecosystem until recently and is a manifestation of the funding boom and skills shortage.

 

SpiceJet settles suit with aircraft lessor Goshawk

Low-fare airline SpiceJet Ltd has settled a lawsuit filed by aircraft lessor Goshawk and its trustee Wilmington Trust SP Services Dublin Ltd, Mint reported.

Why it’s important: They were attempting to block the transfer of its cargo and logistics business to a separate company.

The settlement paves the way for SpiceJet to complete the spin-off by January 2022.

Goshawk and its trustee had leased three planes to SpiceJet.

SpiceJet’s pending dues for the three aircraft stood at about $16.2 million.

The move by SpiceJet to segregate its profitable logistics and cargo business will help the airline raise funds.

 

Telcos may ring in 5G on Independence Day

The government is engaged in talks with telecom firms for the launch of commercial 5G services in some cities by Independence Day, Business Standard reported.

Why it’s important: The Centre has assured them that spectrum auction will take place in April-May, providing them with a three to four-month window for the rollout.

Telecom equipment makers say they will need 4-6 weeks to deploy a 5G network in a city.

Experts say that commercial orders need to be signed by January 2022.

Telecom companies say the deadline is stiff and will depend on various contentious issues, such as 5G auctions.

Telcos are taking aggressive steps anyway, such as testing their 5G network capabilities through trial runs.

 

Air India to prepay Rs 12,900 crore; board meets on November 29

The board of directors of Air India will meet on November 29 to finalise a plan to prepay debt worth Rs 12,900 crore to the lenders, Business Standard reported.

Why it’s important: The loans were raised by the airline as non-convertible debentures.

It will be repaid by the airline as part of the government’s sale of the airline to the Tata group.

The airline was paying very high interest of between 9.05 per cent and 10.05 per cent on its NCDs.

The NCDs are expected to be repaid by the government through AIAHL before the Tatas take over the airline next month.

Tata Sons, which has the highest credit rating, will be able to refinance Air India’s residual loans worth Rs 15,300 crore at a far lower rate, bankers said.
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