Episode 463

Business News at 05:30 pm on 29th March 2023

In today’s bulletin, we talk about Zee Entertainment, IndusInd Bank settling loan default dispute, the Alibaba shakeup, setback to Google and more.

Today’s Latest Business News at 05:30 pm on 29th March 2023.

[Disclaimer: This transcript is auto-generated]

First up, Zee Entertainment Enterprises and IndusInd Bank told an Indian tribunal on Wednesday that they have settled a dispute over a loan default, paving the way for the media company’s merger with a local unit of Sony. IndusInd started bankruptcy proceedings against Zee Entertainment late last month over a default of $10.10 million. Zee Entertainment challenged the move in the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal, which put the insolvency proceedings on hold. IndusInd Bank, on Wednesday, told the NCLAT that it would also withdraw its objection to Zee Entertainment’s merger with a local unit of Japan’s Sony. Zee Entertainment’s shares jumped as much as 4.4% to a nearly one-week high.

Now big news from the tech world. The NCLAT on Wednesday upheld the order of the fair trade regulator CCI imposing a penalty of Rs 1,337.76 crore on Internet giant Google. A two-member bench of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal directed Google to implement the direction and deposit the amount in 30 days. The NCLAT bench comprising Chairperson Justice Ashok Bhushan and Member Alok Shrivastava also done some modifications to the CCI order. It also rejected Google’s plea that there was a violation of natural justice by the Competition Commission of India in the probe. On October 20 last year, the CCI slapped a penalty of Rs 1,337.76 crore on Google for anti-competitive practices in relation to Android mobile devices. The regulator also ordered the Internet major to cease and desist from various unfair business practices. This ruling was challenged before the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal, which is an appellate authority over the orders passed by the CCI.

Meanwhile, National Payments Corporation of India on Wednesday said there is no charge for the bank account to bank account-based UPI payments or normal UPI payments. However, interchange charges are only applicable for the prepaid payment instruments merchant transactions and there is no charge to customers, NPCI clarified in a statement. NPCI has permitted the PPI wallets to be part of interoperable UPI ecosystem and levied 1.1 per cent charge on unified payment interface transactions above Rs 2,000 while using PPI. “The interchange charges introduced are only applicable for the PPI merchant transactions and there is no charge to customers, and it is further clarified that there are no charges for the bank account to bank account-based UPI payments (i.e. normal UPI payments),” it said. With this addition to UPI, the customers will have the choice of using any bank account, RuPay Credit card and prepaid wallets on UPI-enabled apps, it said.

In other news, the Reserve Bank of India will raise its main interest rate by 25 basis points on April 6 and then pause for the rest of the year, according to a Reuters poll of economists who said the central bank would still maintain its tightening stance. Inflation in Asia’s third-largest economy remains above the central bank’s upper tolerance limit of 6.00%, reaching 6.52% in January and easing only slightly to 6.44% in February, a key reason for the RBI to hike again. A strong majority of economists, 49 of 62, said the RBI would lift its repo rate by 25 basis points to a seven-year high of 6.75% at the conclusion of its April 3-6 meeting. A majority of economists in the March 23-28 Reuters poll also said the RBI would then keep the rate steady for the rest of the year. If realised, that would mark a cumulative 275 basis point increase from the Monetary Policy Committee since last May, a relatively modest rate cycle compared with some other central banks like the U.S. Federal Reserve, which started earlier.

Moving on. Alibaba Group’s overhaul could serve as a template for a restructuring of China Tech itself: a shake-up that achieves Beijing’s aim of carving up the country’s tech titans while unlocking potentially billions of dollars in pent-up shareholder value. China’s online commerce leader surprised markets by announcing Tuesday plans to split its $220 billion empire into six units that will individually raise funds and explore initial public offerings. In executing the biggest overhaul in its history, Alibaba manages to address two objectives that have eluded many of its rivals — appeasing both a government distrustful of Big Tech and investors traumatized by a years-long regulatory crackdown. Its shares soared over 16% in Hong Kong, a tad more than it managed in New York, adding more than $30 billion to its market value. Rivals including Tencent Holdings Ltd. also surged, on anticipation that Alibaba’s peers might explore similar actions in a loosened regulatory regime. The shift to a holding company structure is rare for major Chinese tech firms and could present a template for peers such as WeChat operator Tencent.

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Business News at 05:30 pm on 29th March 2023