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discretion to set their own operating limits at ATMs as was the practice before old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes were withdrawn.

 

42

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.

 

4

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.

 

650

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 – August 21

News In Numbers: August 20

 

24

The number of additional days banks in India will be closed, beginning September 1. The government yesterday issued a notification, announcing that banks would remain closed on second and fourth Saturdays as against the current norm of working half-day. This February, the Indian Banks’ Association signed a pact with bank unions agreeing to increase employee wages by 15% and increasing the number of holidays by two every month. With this, the number of holidays in a year for bank employees will almost double (excluding Sundays), considering that banks have 25 public holidays in 2015.

 

1.85%

Low-cost airline SpiceJet on Thursday announced an offer of sale of 1 lakh tickets at rates ranging between Rs 799-2,699 one way, excluding taxes, for travel dates between 25 August 2015 to 26 March 2016. This is just 1.85% of the total passengers the airline carried between September 2014 and March 2015. After the airline changed hands and Ajay Singh returned to take over, it returned to profitability after seven quarters and recorded a net profit of Rs 22.5 crore in the fourth quarter of 2014-15. This February, the airline had put on offer 4 lakh tickets in a sale it called ‘cheaper than train fares’.

 

72.9%

The share of public sector banks in aggregate deposits as on March 31, 2015. With the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) giving an in-principle approval to 11 entities for payment banks, there could be a case of these affecting the small and medium public sector banks, especially in terms of deposits. Overall, during 2014-15, banks have showed a decline in both deposit and credit growth. For instance, India Post, which is one of the 11 entities that can set up a payment bank, has 139,000 post offices, which is more than three times the number of bank branches in rural areas. Payment banks could offer deposit rates of 6-7% to attract customers, against the average of 4% that public sector banks offer, according to a report by Ambit Capital.

 

59

The number of companies the market regulator has barred from accessing capital markets for misusing stock options to allegedly evade taxes. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) is yet to find out the exact reason for the misuse of stock options and has referred this case to the income tax department, Financial Intelligence Unit and the Enforcement Directorate to further investigate the matter and take appropriate action. In the last few months, there have been quite a few instances of companies getting barred from the capital markets or being suspended from trading. For example, this February, Sebi suspended trading in Kamalakshi Finance Corporation, and imposed trading restrictions on 33 entities for making undue gains of Rs 1,800 crore.

 

Rs 80

Wholesale prices of onions touched a two-year high at Rs 4,900 a quintal (100 kg) in Lasalgaon, Nashik (Maharashtra), India’s largest bulb wholesale market. It jumped by 8.9% in just a day. According to the National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation’s director, prices have increased mainly due to a decline in supplies: harvesting has been delayed and there might be a fall in production of kharif onion. A few months ago, India had a stock of about 40 lakh MT, which has since reduced to about 16-18 lakh MT, mainly due to consumption and storage loss. Retail prices of onions are currently in the range of Rs 50-60 per kg in many parts of the country and have hit Rs 80 in the national capital.

 

 

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