Episode 462

Business News at 09:30 am on 29th March 2023

In today’s audio bulletin, we talk about Adani Group refuting the ‘incomplete loan repayment’ report, Jio’s impact on cable TV, fresh hiring outlook and more.

Today’s Latest Business News at 09:30 am on 29th March 2023.

[Disclaimer: This transcript is auto-generated]

We begin the day with the Centre’s big push for the green energy sector. As many as 11 companies, including Reliance, ReNew, Indosol, First Solar, Tata Power Solar and Avaada have bagged solar photovoltaic manufacturing projects of a total 39,600 MW capacity under the second tranche of the production-linked incentive scheme for the solar sector, the Union power ministry said on Tuesday. The tranche II, which entails a budget outlay of Rs 14,007 crore, is estimated to generate investments worth Rs 93,401 crore and over 100,000 jobs, 35% of which would be direct employment, the ministry said. Manufacturing capacity totalling 7,400 MW is expected to become operational by October 2024, 16,800 MW capacity by April 2025 and the balance of 15,400 MW capacity by April 2026. A good response to the tenders is expected to give a fillip to India’s efforts to build a globally competitive domestic manufacturing base for solar PV cells and modules.

Moving on. State governments are offering to underwrite certain capacity for flights that connect regional airports under the Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik scheme after many new routes failed to generate enough enthusiasm among airlines. Udan, launched in 2016, was positioned as a game changer as it promised to connect several unserved and underserved airports in the country by making air travel more affordable. But as new routes closed without receiving any bids, the Centre believes that the scheme needs some tweaking to regenerate interest from stakeholders. Speaking to Financial Express, civil aviation secretary Rajiv Bansal said: “A lot of the low-hanging fruits, where it was easier to operate, are already done. As we go forward, it will become increasingly difficult. We will need to support them in better ways.” With the opening of new airports, coupled with restarting operations at older airports, state governments, which are eager to put non-metro markets on the aviation map, have come forward with a solution.

Meanwhile, in a move aimed at improving the returns for its over 65 million subscribers, the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation may increase its exposure to equities via exchange-traded funds up to the maximum permitted level of 15% of annual investible funds in the next fiscal. The 15% ceiling was never fully used by the EPFO; in FY23, only a little over 10% of incremental deposits by the subscribers got invested in ETFs. The move is prompted by the attractive returns from ETF investments after the pandemic and a trend of declining income from a chunk of its debt investments, forcing it to sell ETF investments to find resources for interest payouts to the subscribers.

Now, the latest from the tech world. Days before the Indian Premier League is scheduled to begin, the cable TV industry could witness another setback owing to Reliance Jio’s new bundled offering of fixed broadband, OTT and live TV channels at reduced rates. The pay-TV industry, which is already witnessing ‘cord cutting’ with subscribers disconnecting cable connections and moving to OTT platforms, could see the trend accelerating with the latest disruptive tariff packages by Jio, which aim at the convergence between wireless telecom services, fixed broadband and broadcasting services. Till now, the fear among cable TV as well as DTH operators was largely related to the free streaming of IPL on JioCinema. However, the only thing they were positive about was the higher cost of data which the users will have to factor in before shifting to JioCinema for watching IPL free on a 4K resolution. Now, Jio’s entry-level broadband plan, at a price as low as Rs 198 per month with a top internet speed of 10 Mbps, could cause big trouble for cable TV operators as well as IPL broadcaster Disney Star, industry analysts said.

In other news, around 80% of early-stage startups currently having less than 20 employees on their payroll are looking to expand their workforce this year, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry said in a report jointly published with recruitment agency Randstad India. Bucking the layoffs trend, the survey found that these are the new-age companies that have raised money in Series A and B funding rounds and are well-capitalised to execute their hiring plans.

Now, the latest from the corporate world. Adani Group has sought to refute a media report raising questions about the completion of repayment of $2.15 billion in share-backed debt, saying that it has completed the full prepayment of $2.15 billion loans. This has freed up substantial share pledges for listed entities Adani Green, Adani Ports, Adani Transmission, and Adani Enterprises, leaving only residual share pledges on outstanding loans availed by respective operating companies, Adani Group said in a late-night statement.

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Business News at 09:30 am on 29th March 2023