Govt extends timeline for Air India selloff

Tuesday 17th March 2020 15:44 EDT

The Indian government has extended the timeline for disinvestment in Air India by 1.5 months considering coronavirus pandemic. Instead of March 17, the bids now can be submitted till April 30. And, qualified bidders will be announced on May 14 and not March 31. Leaving nothing to chance, last week the government had allowed NRIs, who are Indian nationals, to own up to 100% stake in the airline without violating the substantial ownership and effective control (SOEC) norms. AI’s debt-cum-liabilities combined burden is almost £9 billion and aviation minister H S Puri has warned the airline may shut down if not sold off in the second attempt. The government has offered for sale its 100% stake in AI and AI Express - instead of 76% in the first attempt - and the entire 50% it owns in ground handling joint venture AI-SATS. Eligibility terms have been relaxed for bidders and they will be expected to take on £3.25 billion of debt-cum-liabilities of the total amount of £8.88 billion with the government keeping with it £5.63 billion.

Worst day for markets

The S&P BSE Sensex and NSE Nifty 50 indexes suffered their biggest single-day selloff ever as they entered the bear market on Thursday last wiping out £114.2 billion of investors' wealth. The Nifty 50 crashed as much as 9 per cent or 950 points to 9,508 during the session - its lowest level recorded since June 2017 and the S&P BSE Sensex dropped as much as 8.97 per cent or 3,204 points to 32,493 - its lowest in 23 months. The investor sentiment - which has been shaky in the past few weeks in the backdrop of the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak - took a further beating after the World Health Organisation declared the deadly virus as a pandemic. The last time Indian stock indexes dropped as much was at the height of the global financial crisis in 2008. The virus outbreak heightened worries over the Indian economy, which was already slowing, with the recent collapse of Yes Bank adding to concerns over the country's financial sector.

Flipkart seeks govt nod for food biz

Walmart-owned Flipkart has sought permission to set up a venture focused solely on food retailing of items manufactured and produced in India. It will mark its entry in a segment, where Amazon already has presence through the online route. The government may take two-three months to clear application by this Bangaluru headquarters e-commerce company filed with Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT). It has sought registration as Flipkart FarmerMart. It will be solely an online initiative, at least in the beginning. It will also focus on deep agri-supply chain investment, especially at the farm gate level and will encourage demand-driven sowing, which will help farmers produce right fruits and vegetables and get paid as per market value. The company plans to engage kirana stores across the country through Shadowfax, a business-to-business last-mile delivery platform that is helping the online retail giant scale up its hyperlocal capabilities.

Many companies to work from home too

Online food delivery company Swiggy, fintech startup KhataBook, Tata Group, software giant Wipro , Hindustan Uniliver Limited and vernacular content platform Dailyhunt are among the latest set of start-ups that have mandated work-from-home for their employees. E-commerce giant Amazon has also “recommended” that its employees start working from home till the end of March, expecting most of them to use the option and only those who have urgent work to come to office. Swiggy, whose delivery service will continue, has over 7,000 corporate employees, while Dailyhunt has about 500 employees and KhataBook has 80. Amazon has an estimated employee base of over 50,000 in India with major offices in Bengaluru and Hyderabad. Flipkart, which had asked employees to work from home has also extended the policy from this week.

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