PNB comes out of red in Q1 on lower bad debt

Wednesday 31st July 2019 05:41 EDT

Punjab National Bank (PNB) reported a profit of £101.9 million during the June quarter as improved situation of bad debt has led to lower provisioning, providing relief to the fraud-hit state-run lender. The bank had reported a loss of £475 million during the January-March and a loss of close to £1 billion during the first quarter of 2018-19. “During the last quarterly results, we had said that the worst was behind us and we will do better in the coming quarters... We have introduced major changes, the bank has done a lot in improving our system and processes so as to bring in stability into business results and to bring in stability in our asset quality,” PNB managing director and CEO Sunil Mehta said. While the bank reported a 17% decline in operating profit, it was lower provisions for bad debt that helped the bank make up for the fall. During the first quarter, provisions for non-performing assets were down nearly 57% at £214.7 million, compared to £575.8 million.

Lakshmi Mittal's brother held in Bosnia

Indian industrialist Pramod Mittal, the younger brother of steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, was arrested in Bosnia for suspected fraud and “abuse of power”, a prosecutor said. The case is related to the running of a coking plant in the northeastern town of Lukavac, which Pramod Mittal has co-managed since 2003. It has 1,000 employees. “Police, who acted upon the order of the prosecutor, arrested the president of the supervisory board of Global Ispat Koksna Industrija Lukavac (GIKIL), Pramod Mittal,” prosecutor Cazim Serhatlic told reporters. GIKIL was founded in 2003 and is co-managed by Pramod Mittal's Global Steel Holdings and a local public company (KHK). Two other company officials - general manager Paramesh Bhattacharyya and another member of the supervisory board - were also arrested. They are suspected of “organised crime, notably the abuse of power and economic crimes,” the prosecutor said. Serhatlic said that if found guilty the suspects could get jail sentences of up to 45 years.

Rel Jio pips Voda-Idea to be India’s no. 1 telco

Less than three years after making a re-entry into the telecom business, Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio has emerged as India's largest mobile operator, edging out Vodafone-Idea from the top position. Jio has also made more revenue than Vodafone-Idea in April-June quarter. Jio had started operations in September 2016 and finished the quarter ending June 30, 2019 with a subscriber base of 331 million. Compared to this, Vodafone-Idea had 320 million users in the same period as the company continued to shed low-spending customers as part of a new business strategy. For the new 4G-only telecom entrant - which had moved ahead of Bharti Airtel in March this year - the growth has been swift and profitable, despite its charge being led by dirt-cheap tariffs and free voice calling. For Jio’s rivals, going remains tough. Airtel is struggling to get back into profitability. Vodafone-Idea said that its April-June loss stood at £487.4 million.

Anil Agarwal to exit from Anglo American

Billionaire Anil Agarwal is divesting his nearly 20% stake in Anglo American, ending months of speculation that he would launch a bid for the South African miner. Agarwal has been holding interests in Anglo American through exchangeable bonds since 2017. Though the bonds mature in 2020, the metals tycoon has decided an early redemption of the bonds and make gains from the investment. Agarwal said the targeted returns had been achieved “even sooner than expected” and Anglo American’s stock price had nearly doubled since he made his investment. Based on its current market price, Anglo American is valued at $40 billion. Agarwal, according to reports, will likely make about $500 million from his investment and pocket between $200 million and $300 million after fees. Though the chairman of Vedanta had insisted that his investment in Anglo American was purely financial, the Street thought otherwise.

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