Top business news of the day: India likely to block Chinese investment in insurance giant LIC's IPO; Sony Pictures buys Zee Entertainment to form media conglomerate, and more

Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), in Mumbai. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

India wants to block Chinese investors from buying shares in Indian insurance giant Life Insurance Corp (LIC) which is due to go public, four senior government officials and a banker told Reuters. Separately, the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (DICGC) has decided to pay the depositors of the insured ailing banks that come under All Inclusive Directions (AID), an amount equivalent to the deposits outstanding, up to ₹5 lakh.

In another development, shares of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited on Wednesday surged 25% after announcement of a merger with Sony Pictures.

4:55 P.M.

JPMorgan faces oil bribery probe in Brazil

Brazilian authorities are investigating whether JPMorgan Chase & Co played a role in an alleged bribery and money laundering scheme dating back to 2011 and involved state-run oil company Petrobras, according to documents reviewed by Reuters and two law enforcement sources.

So far, police have focused their attention on purchases of roughly 300,000 barrels of Petrobras fuel oil by JPMorgan in 2011 according to the court documents and sources, who requested anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

A view of the exterior of the JP Morgan Chase & Co corporate headquarters in New York City.

A view of the exterior of the JP Morgan Chase & Co corporate headquarters in New York City.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

 

4:52 P.M.

Infosys to develop quantum computing capabilities on Amazon Web services

Infosys announced a strategic collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to develop quantum computing capabilities and use cases.

Infosys will use 'Amazon Braket' to explore and build multiple use cases in quantum computing as part of Infosys Cobalt cloud offerings, PTI reported.

4:20 P.M.

Vodafone Idea eyes funding on govt package boost

Vodafone Idea is confident it can reach a fundraising deal with potential investors, bolstered by a federal government package that provides much-needed relief to the debt-ridden mobile carrier, its chief executive officer said on Wednesday.

"With this package all of those fears to some extent have been put aside," said Takkar, without specifying the names of investors the company was in talks with or a timeline for the fundraising, Reuters reported.

4:10 P.M.

Rupee slumps 26 paise to close at 73.87 against U.S. dollar

The rupee fell by 26 paise to close at 73.87 (provisional) against the U.S. currency on Wednesday, tracking a strong American currency in the overseas markets ahead of the outcome of the U.S. Fed meeting, PTI reported.

At the interbank foreign exchange market, the local currency opened at 73.70 and witnessed an intra-day high of 73.66 and a low of 73.93 against the U.S. dollar in day trade.

4:08 P.M.

CPCL begins work on project in Tamil Nadu

Chennai Petroleum Corporation Ltd, (CPCL), belonging to Indian Oil Corporation Ltd, has begun work on a 9 MMTPA refinery and petrochemical complex being set up at an estimated investment of ₹31,580 crore in Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu, the company said on Wednesday, PTI reported.

Chief Minister M. K. Stalin early this month handed over a government order for the acquisition of 606-acre land adjoining the existing refinery site in Nagapattinam to IOCL Chairman S. M. Vaidya and CPCL Managing Director Arvind Kumar.

4:06 P.M.

Sensex declines 78 pts; Nifty ends below 17,550

Equity benchmark Sensex ended 78 points lower after a choppy session on Wednesday, tracking losses in index majors HDFC twins, ICICI Bank and Kotak Bank as investors turned cautious ahead of the U.S. Fed's policy decision.

The 30-share BSE index slipped 77.94 points or 0.13% to close at 58,927.33. The NSE Nifty declined 15.35 points or 0.09% to 17,546.65.

4:01 P.M.

Tata Group named most trustworthy by Equitymaster poll

The Tata Group has been voted as the most trusted corporate house in a poll conducted by Equitymaster to gauge the trustworthiness of various corporate groups of India, it said. The equity research firm said it had carried out the poll on 17 of India’s most well-known corporate groups and a total of 5,274 people participated in it.

The Tata Group has garnered 66.3% of the total votes, which is more than double the number of votes (31.8%), it had received in the last such poll conducted in 2013.

A man walks past a Tata sign outside their offices in London, Britain.

A man walks past a Tata sign outside their offices in London, Britain.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

 

3:54 P.M.

Hero Electric to ramp up production capacity at Ludhiana plant to over 5 lakh units

Hero Electric on Wednesday said it plans to ramp up production capacity at its Ludhiana facility to over five lakh units by March next year in order to cater to enhanced demand for electric two wheelers.

The company noted that it has been witnessing a robust demand after the COVID situation improved in the country, PTI reported.

3:53 P.M.

Gold jumps ₹196, silver climbs ₹319

Gold rose by ₹196 to ₹45,746 per 10 gram in the national capital on Wednesday amid firm global cues and rupee depreciation, according to HDFC Securities.

In the previous trade, the precious metal had settled at ₹45,550 per 10 gram. Silver jumped ₹319 to ₹59,608 per kg from ₹59,289 per kg in the previous trade, PTI reported.

3:51 P.M.

U.S. to donate 500 million additional COVID-19 vaccines to world

President Joe Biden will announce Wednesday the U.S. plans to donate an additional 500 million Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccines to the rest of the world, bringing its total commitment to 1.1 billion, officials said.

The donations are being made "free of charge, no strings attached," a senior administration official said ahead of the meeting. "For every one shot we have administered in this country to date, we are now donating three shots to other countries," she added, according to an AFP report.

3:48 P.M.

Rajasthan leading state in country in solar energy production: CM

Rajasthan has become the leading state in the country in solar energy production, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said.

"I am happy to share that Rajasthan has come first in the country by installing 7,738 MW of solar power capacity," he tweeted.

Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot

Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot   | Photo Credit: PTI

 

3:46 P.M.

Flipkart launches ‘Flipkart Xtra’, aims to create over 4,000 jobs this festive season

Walmart-owned Flipkart on Wednesday said it is introducing a separate marketplace model 'Flipkart Xtra' to offer flexible earning opportunities to individuals, service agencies and technicians.

Through the 'Flipkart Xtra' app on Google Play Store, Flipkart will provide a simple and seamless onboarding experience to interested individuals, PTI reported.

The logo of Flipkart is seen on a building in Bengaluru, India.

The logo of Flipkart is seen on a building in Bengaluru, India.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

 

3:26 P.M.

Haryana govt to give subsidy on purchase of e-vehicles: CM Khattar

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar Wednesday said the state government has decided to give subsidy on the purchase of e-vehicles to encourage their use, PTI reported.

Speaking to reporters on the occasion, the chief minister appealed to people to cycle as often as possible, saying it is an affordable and environment-friendly mode of commuting.

Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar

Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar   | Photo Credit: PTI

 

3:19 P.M.

Amazon plans to offer own apparel brands, high-tech dressing rooms in department stores

Amazon.com Inc.’s planned department stores will aim to boost its apparel sales by offering shoppers a chance to try on clothes from its own private-label brands in technology-fueled dressing rooms, the Wall Street Journal reported citing people familiar with the matter.

3:13 P.M.

India likely to block Chinese investment in insurance giant LIC's IPO

India wants to block Chinese investors from buying shares in Indian insurance giant Life Insurance Corp (LIC) which is due to go public, four senior government officials and a banker told Reuters, underscoring tensions between the two nations.

State-owned LIC is considered a strategic asset, commanding more than 60% of India's life insurance market with assets of more than $500 billion. While the government is planning to allow foreign investors to participate in what is likely to be the country's biggest-ever IPO worth a potential $12.2 billion, it is leery of Chinese ownership, the sources said.

An exterior view of Life Insurance Corporation of India's (LIC) headquarters is seen in Mumbai.

An exterior view of Life Insurance Corporation of India's (LIC) headquarters is seen in Mumbai.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

 

3:05 P.M.

DICGC to pay depositors of PMC and other stressed banks

The Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (DICGC) has decided to pay the depositors of the insured ailing banks that come under All Inclusive Directions (AID), an amount equivalent to the deposits outstanding, up to ₹5 lakh.

The DICGC will complete the payment process within 90 days from the date of announcement.

3:03 P.M.

Crisis-hit Sri Lanka seeks World Bank Covid loan

Sri Lanka will seek an emergency loan of $100 million from the World Bank for a coronavirus vaccination drive, officials said Wednesday, as the country struggles with an acute currency crisis.

The government said in a statement that the cabinet had "granted approval to the resolution furnished by the Minister of Health for obtaining the relevant supplementary financing facility" from the international lender, AFP reported.

3:01 P.M.

Zee Entertainment shares zoom 25% after merger announcement with Sony Pictures

Shares of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited on Wednesday surged 25% after announcement of a merger with Sony Pictures, PTI reported.

The stock jumped 24.97% to its 52-week high of ₹319.50 on the BSE. At the NSE, it zoomed 24.99% to its 52-week high of ₹319.60.

2:51 P.M.

Data Patterns files draft papers with Sebi; aims to raise ₹600-700 cr via IPO

Data Patterns (India), which supplies electronic systems to defence and aerospace sector, has filed preliminary papers with capital markets regulator Sebi to mop up ₹600-700 crore through an initial share-sale, PTI reported.

The public issue comprises a fresh issue of ₹300 crore and an offer for sale (OFS) of 60,70,675 equity shares by promoters and individual selling shareholders, according to draft red herring prospectus (DRHP).

2:40 P.M.

TotalEnergies CEO Pouyanné subject of preliminary conflict of interest probe

Patrick Pouyanné, chief executive of France's TotalEnergies, is the subject of a preliminary investigation into alleged conflict of interest, the French financial prosecutor's office said, according to a Reuters report.

The probe was opened following a complaint filed at the end April by the French arm of Greenpeace, as well as by anti-corruption group ANTICOR, and an association called La Sphinx, which says it represents students and alumni of the university.

TotalEnergies CEO Patrick Pouyanné

TotalEnergies CEO Patrick Pouyanné   | Photo Credit: Reuters

 

2:27 P.M.

Axis Bank commits ₹30,000 crore till FY26 towards sustainable lending

The country's third largest private sector lender Axis Bank has committed ₹30,000 crore lending till fiscal year 2025-26 under its sustainable financing framework, a senior official told PTI.

These commitments are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), supporting India’s commitments under the Paris Agreement.

2:24 P.M.

Explained | Why did GST Council refuse to bring petrol, diesel under its ambit?

Petrol and diesel are two of the most highly taxed goods in the country and bring in huge revenues to both the Centre and the State governments. The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council last week decided to not bring petrol and diesel under the ambit of the GST.

The proposal to bring domestic fuels under the GST was taken up by the Council after an order by the Kerala High Court but members of the Council refused to accept it. Here's why it happened.

2:20 P.M.

Indian Oil seeks LNG cargo for November delivery

Indian Oil Corp is seeking a liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargo for delivery on Nov. 6, two industry sources told Reuters.

It is seeking the cargo on a delivered ex-ship (DES) basis for delivery into Dahej in a tender that closes on Sept. 24, they added.

2:00 P.M.

Britain launches 220 mln pound support scheme for industry to go green

Britain has launched a 220 million pound ($300 million) investment scheme to help some of the most polluting industries cut fossil fuel use and reduce emissions, it said on Wednesday.

The move comes as industrial energy users are grappling with record high wholesale electricity and gas prices which have forced some companies to curtail production, Reuters reported.

1:55 P.M.

Developing economies in Asia to grow at pace slower than expected: ADB

Developing economies in Asia will likely grow at a slower pace than earlier expected due to prolonged COVID-19 outbreaks and uneven progress in vaccinations, the Asian Development Bank said in a report Wednesday.

The regional lender lowered its outlook for economic growth to reflect renewed coronavirus outbreaks as variants spread, prompting fresh pandemic precautions, AP reported.

1:52 P.M.

London Stock Exchange to shut down derivatives trading arm CurveGlobal

The London Stock Exchange Group said it will shut its five-year old derivatives trading arm CurveGlobal after failing to win sufficient market share in interest rate futures from long-established rivals.

CurveGlobal sought to win business in a sector dominated by entrenched rivals Deutsche Boerse and ICE, Reuters reported.

A man shelters under an umbrella as he walks past the London Stock Exchange in London, Britain.

A man shelters under an umbrella as he walks past the London Stock Exchange in London, Britain.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

 

1:47 P.M.

Saudi wealth fund PIF to issue green debt soon, says governor

Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund plans to announce soon its first green debt deal, with borrowing linked to sustainability, the Public Investment Fund's governor told a virtual event, according to a Reuters report.

"We will be the first sovereign wealth fund in the world to announce this green issuance," Governor Yasir al-Rumayyan told an event on Tuesday held alongside the United Nations General Assembly.

PIF Governor

PIF Governor   | Photo Credit: Reuters

 

1:43 P.M.

IT startup Lio raises ₹37 cr from Sequoia Capital India, Lightspeed India

IT start-up Lio on Wednesday said it has raised around ₹37 crore in a seed funding round led by Sequoia Capital India and Lightspeed India.

The company plans to use the investment primarily to expand its engineering team and increase the number of users of the mobile application, PTI reported.

1:20 P.M.

Facebook oversight board reviewing 'XCheck' system for VIPs

Facebook’s semi-independent oversight board says it will review the company’s “XCheck,” or cross check, system following an investigation by The Wall Street Journal into the use of this internal system that has exempted high-profile users from some or all of its rules, AP reported.

1:15 P.M.

L&T commissions expansion project of Utkal alumina refinery

Larsen & Toubro said its metallurgical and material handling business has commissioned the 0.5 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) expansion project of Utkal Alumina International, a wholly-owned arm of Hindalco.

The plant is located at a remote location at Kucheipadar, near Tikiri in Odisha’s Rayagada district, PTI reported.

L&T

L&T   | Photo Credit: Reuters

 

 

Indian shares inched higher today, helped by tech and auto stocks, while media firm Zee Entertainment soared after receiving board approval for its merger with Sony Pictures Networks India.

Meanwhile, stock markets in broader Asia rose after debt-laden China Evergrande said it would pay some bond interest due on Thursday, allaying fears of an imminent and messy collapse. Investors are now awaiting policy cues from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s two-day meeting ending later in the day.

In commodities, copper hovered near a month low and oil prices found support from a relaxation of inbound travel rules, likely to boost airline fuel demand.

Separately, the Asian Development Bank cut its forecast for India’s GDP growth in 2021-22 to 10%, from 11% projected earlier, with downside risks dominating the economic outlook.

12:30 P.M.

Serum Institute of India to invest $68 million in U.K.’s Oxford Biomedica

Vaccine producer Serum Institute of India will invest 50 million pounds ($68.24 million) in Oxford Biomedica, one of the COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers for drug major AstraZeneca, according to a Reuters report.

12:22 P.M.

Digital credit platform ZestMoney raises $50 million funding

ZestMoney, which offers Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) platform, on Wednesday said it has raised $50 million (about ₹369 crore) from global BNPL provider Zip Co Ltd, as part of a larger Series C fundraise, PTI reported.

Zip will acquire a minority shareholding in the company and a board seat as part of the investment, the company said. It has raised $120 million till date from investors including Ribbit, Goldman Sachs, Quona Capital and Xiaomi, the report noted.

12:11 P.M.

SoftBank backs Steven Mnuchin’s $2.5 billion private equity fund

Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group’s Vision Fund had invested in a $2.5 billion private equity fund set up by former U.S. Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin, the Financial Times reported.

SoftBank’s investment in Mnuchin’s Liberty Strategic Capital came alongside sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East including Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala, the report said.

Mubadala will participate in the fund with a contribution of roughly 2% of the total amount raised so far, its spokesperson told Reuters.

11:49 A.M.

Copper rebounds as Evergrande worries fade

Copper prices advanced today, driven by easing default fears around property giant China Evergrande after its main unit said it would to pay some bond interest due later this week, Reuters reported.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange rose 3.1% to $9,255 a tonne, reversing losses from the previous session when the contract went as low as $8,810 a tonne, its weakest since Aug. 19, the report noted.

11:12 A.M.

Oil rises over 1% after report of big draw in U.S. crude stocks

Oil prices climbed more than 1% today, extending overnight gains after industry data showed U.S. crude stocks fell more than expected last week in the wake of two hurricanes, highlighting tight supply as demand improves, Reuters reported.

Brent crude futures climbed 1.2%, to $75.24 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 1.3%, to $71.38 a barrel.

10:46 A.M.

Mastercard chairman Ajay Banga to retire at year-end

Mastercard Inc said on Tuesday Chairman Ajay Banga would retire on Dec. 31, nearly a year after he stepped down as the payment processor’s chief executive.

The company said current lead independent director Merit Janow would be the non-executive independent chair and would assume her new role on Jan. 1, 2022.

Mastercard Chairman Ajay Banga.

Mastercard Chairman Ajay Banga.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

 

10:41 A.M.

Rupee slips 11 paise against U.S. dollar in early trade

The Indian rupee depreciated 11 paise to 73.72 against the U.S. dollar in opening trade today, tracking a strong greenback in the overseas market, PTI reported.

At the interbank foreign exchange, the rupee opened at 73.70 against the dollar, then fell further to 73.72, registering a decline of 11 paise from the last close.

Forex traders said a positive trend in domestic equities and sustained foreign fund inflows supported the rupee, but firm crude oil prices and broad strength in the U.S. dollar index dragged the local unit down.

10:26 A.M.

U.S. government panel reviewing Zoom deal to buy Five9

A U.S. Justice Department-led committee is reviewing Zoom Video Communications Inc’s proposed $15 billion all-stock deal to buy cloud-based call centre operator Five9 Inc, Reuters reported, citing a letter filed with U.S. regulators.

The Aug. 27 letter filed with the Federal Communications Commission said the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector -- known as “Team Telecom” -- is reviewing to see if the deal “poses a risk to the national security or law enforcement interests.”

10:12 A.M.

ADB cuts India growth forecast to 10%, sees faster inflation at 5.5%

The Asian Development Bank has cut its forecast for India’s GDP growth in 2021-22 to 10%, from 11% projected earlier, with downside risks dominating the economic outlook. The ADB also sees rising input costs fuelling inflation to a faster 5.5% pace, than the 5.2% previously estimated.

10:02 A.M.

Govt extends Uday Kotak’s term at IL&FS for another 6 months

The Government of India through a gazette notification has extended the term of banker Uday Kotak as the non-executive board member & chairman of scam hit Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd (IL&FS) for a period of six months till April 2, 2022.

Uday Kotak.

Uday Kotak.  

 

9:46 A.M.

Sony Pictures, Zee Entertainment initiate merger talks

Sony Pictures Networks India and Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. on Wednesday said they had entered into an exclusive, non-binding Term Sheet to combine both companies’ linear networks, digital assets, production operations and programme libraries.

9:43 A.M.

IPO-bound Paytm employees add 5.45 lakh more shares for monetisation

Digital payments and financial firm Paytm has received over 5.45 lakh shares from around 20 more employees for monetisation in its upcoming IPO.

Earlier, 200 former and current employees had converted their ESOPs into shares, taking the total count of employees to around 220.

9:34 A.M.

BSE adds 1 crore investor accounts in 107 days

Premier bourse BSE has added 1 crore registered investor accounts to its platform between June 6 and September 21, taking the total to over 8 crore in a span of just 107 days.

On June 6 this year, the exchange had said its registered user base has crossed the 7 crore mark, which was an addition of 2 crore registered investor accounts in a little over 12 months.

9:17 A.M.

Indian benchmark indices open higher

Indian indices opened higher today. Sensex opened at 59,166.15, up 160.88 points, while Nifty opened at 17,580.90, up 18.90 points.

On Tuesday, the 30-share Sensex ended 514.34 points or 0.88% higher at 59,005.27, while the NSE Nifty surged 165.10 points or 0.95% to 17,562.

9:09 A.M.

Asian stocks find some footing after Evergrande relief

Stocks found support today after teetering developer China Evergrande said it would pay some bond interest due on Thursday, allaying fears of an imminent and messy collapse that had spooked investors, Reuters reported.

Markets in Taiwan and China reopened lower after a two-day break, catching up with a sharp sell-off around the world triggered by concern over Evergrande’s predicament, but were soon paring losses as the payment promise buoyed the mood, the report noted.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was 0.3% lower mid-morning. Japan’s Nikkei fell 0.6%, while Australian shares rose 0.7%. Hong Kong markets were closed for a holiday.

9:00 A.M.

Wall Street ends near flat on cautious note ahead of Fed meeting

U.S. stocks ended near flat on Tuesday after a broad sell-off the day before, with worries over troubles at developer China Evergrande and caution ahead of Wednesday’s Federal Reserve policy news keeping a lid on the market, according to a Reuters report.

Trading was choppy, with the Dow and S&P 500 erasing session gains just before the close, while the Nasdaq finished slightly higher.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 50.63 points, or 0.15%, to 33,919.84, the S&P 500 lost 3.54 points, or 0.08%, to 4,354.19 and the Nasdaq Composite added 32.50 points, or 0.22%, to 14,746.40.

A sign for Wall Street hangs in front of the New York Stock Exchange. File

A sign for Wall Street hangs in front of the New York Stock Exchange. File   | Photo Credit: AP

 

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