News in Numbers, Jan 31, 2017: Merger on the airwaves

Rs 78,000 crore

What is it? The estimated combined revenue of a proposed merger of Vodafone India and Idea Cellular.

Why is it important? The all-share merger will create India’s largest telecom company, larger than the Rs-50,008-crore-earning Bharti Airtel. Debt on both the companies’ books and likely losses incurred from the tariff-reduction race started by Reliance Jio are being seen as triggers for the move. It looks like a much needed consolidation boost in the 22-circle Indian telecom market, as seen from the stock gains of Indian telecom operators yesterday ranging 8-10% with Idea gaining a record 26%.

Tell me more: The merged entry would still have to address, in many markets, the telecom regulator’s anti-monopoly restrictions of owning no more than 50% of spectrum in a band and 25% of available spectrum in a circle (or geographic market).


1 day

What is it? Number of days to go before the RBI-mandated daily ATM withdrawal limit of Rs 10,000 is removed, from February 1.

Why is it important? The first sign of reverting to pre-demonetisation days of cash management was made with RBI’s circular removing the ATM limit. Two weeks ago, RBI signalled its ease in handling cash by expanding the limit to Rs 10,000 from Rs 4,500. The Rs 24,000-weekly limit on savings-bank withdrawal, however, stays put, but restrictions on  current account, cash credit and overdraft accounts will be removed.

Tell me more: RBI mentions the savings-bank limit is under consideration for withdrawal in the “near future”. Banks can use their discretion to set their own operating limits at ATMs as was the practice before old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes were withdrawn.



What is it? The number of cases the Income Tax (IT) departmentregistered nationwide under the recently-enforced Benami Transactions Act.

Why is it important? Warnings in public advertisements by the IT department against depositing unaccounted old currency in someone else’s bank account anonymously are materialising now. The BenamiAct’s section 24 has been invoked for 87 notices, for attaching bank accounts with crores of rupees of such dubious deposits and an immovable property.

Tell me more: These cases, if proven true, would attract a heavy penalty and a rigorous jail-term of a maximum of seven years.



What is it? The number of new administrators appointed by the Supreme Court to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

Why is it important? The neutral committee headed by former Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), and the current Chairman of Banks Board Bureau, Vinod Rai, will pave the path to reform the embattled BCCI, richest sporting body in India and the most profitable cricket board in the world. The team, with a mix of financial acumen, social perspective and cricketing enthusiasm, is tasked with bringing in accounting rigour and good governance to a body mired in controversies, the latest being its earlier president and secretary sacked on January 3. It would also finalise the Indian Premier League’s 10th edition besides reporting on the Lodha panel recommendations to the court.

Tell me more: The other members are Vikram Limaye, managing director and CEO of IDBI Bank; former Indian women’s cricket captain Diana Edulji; and historian and writer Ramchandra Guha. Limaye will represent BCCI in an ICC meeting in February. The committee has no term limit.



What is it? The number of branches of the India Post Payments Bank(IPPB) to be set up by September, 2017.

Why is it important? The IPPB will locate these branches in postal district headquarters which would enable all the post office branches under those head offices to be served by the payments bank. With India Post’s envious branch network of no less than 155,000 post offices, expanding its reach should be one of IPPB’s easiest tasks.  It would let enabled post offices accept limited deposits at a maximum interest of 5.5% and offer payment services but not offer loans, unlike commercial banks.

Tell me more: The IPPB joins Airtel Payments Bank, offering 7.25% on savings, in a new financial services category, with more players to come.

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News in Numbers, Nov 24, 2016: Home sweet home?


What is it? The percentage of Indian millennials that live with parents, according to a survey.

Why is it important? This compares with 60% in China, 35% in Australia and 63% in Asia Pacific, suggesting that cultural influence of regions on families is still a strong factor and/or the high property prices and rentals could be a reason. A quarter of the Indian millennials have no intention of leaving their family homes (this is the highest among the countries surveyed and is more than twice the global average at 12%) while 23% said they would move out within the next 2-5 years. Indian and Chinese millennials have the strongest intentions to buy a property, the former for mainly investment purposes while for the latter, stability is the primary reason.

Tell me more: The survey included 13,000 millennials (those born between 1986 and 1993) across 12 countries in the Americas, Asia Pacific and Europe.


Rs 21,000 crore

What is it? The amount that has been deposited in Jan Dhan Yojana bank accounts in the last 13 days since the government announced the withdrawal of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes. These are zero-balance accounts opened to promote financial inclusion.

Why is it important? This raises questions about the sudden inflow of cash into such accounts where the maximum deposit allowed is Rs 50,000. The share of zero-balance accounts (an indicator of inactivity) has declined to 23.27% as of November 9 from 28.88% as on February 24. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said on Wednesday that the Jan Dhan Yojana bank accounts are being misused to help those who have hoarded money and has warned of taking strict action against those involved in such unauthorised dealings. Suspicious accounts in these accounts have come under the scanner of the Financial Intelligence Unit.

Tell me more: The RBI, in a circular, announced that banks would not accept old currency notes in Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denominations in small savings schemes such as Public Provident Fund, National Savings Certificates, Senior Citizens Savings Scheme and Kisan Vikas Patra, with immediate effect. Post office savings accounts are exempt from this rule.



What is it? The interest rate offered on deposits by India’s first payments bank rolled out by Airtel in Rajasthan on Wednesday.

Why is it important? This is higher than the 4-6% interest rate offered by commercial banks on deposit, and it also beat online marketplace Paytm that was planning to launch its payments bank on the eve of Diwali last month. Being the first one in the market, it would be an indicator of how successful this new model of banking would turn out to be in the country. Of the 11 that have received payment banks licenses from the RBI, three have already backed out of setting up payments banks and of the remaining eight, only four have a clear business plan.

Tell me more: Airtel Payments Bank Ltd will run its pilot at 10,000 Airtel outlets in Rajasthan and it plans to expand its merchant network in the to 100,000 by the end of the year. Customers can open bank accounts at the outlets without any documents with the help of Aadhaar based e-KYC (Know Your Customer) and basic services such as cash withdrawal and deposits can be availed.


Rs 7.5 lakh crore

What is it? The combined market capitalisation of the larger listed Tata Group companies on November 23.

Why is it important? This is down by Rs 1.16 lakh crore from Rs 8.7 lakh crore (as on October 24) before the ouster of former chairman of Tata Sons, Cyrus Mistry and the subsequent spat between the group and him. All the group companies have been impacted with the most erosion seen in TCS, Tata Motors, Titan and Tata Steel in absolute terms. However, in percentage terms, Indian Hotels, Voltas, Tata Global and Tata Chemicals have taken the maximum hit. Retail investors have lost about Rs 11,000 crore since the day Mistry was fired. The S&P BSE Sensex, an index of the 30 most financially-sound and large stocks, declined by 7.5% during this period (about half of Tata’s).

Tell me more: With the market regulator looking into any possible breach of corporate governance norms and listing regulations and the spat showing no signs of any abatement, it remains to be seen the extent of impact this issue has on the stocks’ value.


Rs 6 lakh crore

What is it? The total deposits received by the Indian banking system since Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes ceased to be legal tender.

Why is it important? An impact of demonetisation, banks have deposited Rs 4.1 lakh crore with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) as of November 23 under the liquidity adjustment facility (a monetary policy where banks can borrow or lend money to the RBI with government securities as collateral). This is the highest liquidity absorption ever by the apex bank, surpassing the Rs 1.7 lakh crore deposited in May 2009. This is likely to put pressure on RBI’s government securities worth Rs 7 lakh crore and it may have to look at offering other collateral against the bank deposits.

Tell me more: With excess liquidity in the system, deposit rates have already been slashed by 5-100 basis points (a basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point) by many Indian banks, which are likely to pull down lending rates as well.


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