ECONOMY, P2 NATION, P9 INTERNATIONAL, P8 NO CLEAR ROLLOUT TIMEFRAME TO OFFER MORE SIZE OPTIONS BEIJING SEEKS BOLDER GLOBAL ROLE Wait for higher pension under EPS to be longer Coke says no to price war with Campa Cola Xi to visit Russia next week after China touts Ukraine peace plan MUMBAI, SATURDAY, MARCH 18, 2023 FOLLOW US ON TWITTER & FACEBOOK. APP AVAILABLE ON APP STORE & PLAYSTORE WWW.FINANCIALEXPRESS.COM READ TO LEAD VOL NO. LXIII NO. 64, 10 PAGES, `10.00 P U B L I S H E D F R O M : A H M E D A B A D , B E N G A L U R U , C H A N D I G A R H , C H E N N A I , H Y D E R A B A D , K O C H I , K O L K ATA , L U C K N O W, M U M B A I , N E W D E L H I , P U N E SENSEX: 57,989.90 ▲ 355.06 NIFTY: 17,100.05 ▲ 114.45 NIKKEI 225: 27,333.79 ▲ 323.18 HANG SENG: 19,518.59 ▲ 314.68 `/$: 82.55 ▲ 0.19 `/€: 87.88 ▼ 0.04 BRENT: $74.13 ▼ $0.57 GOLD: `58,034 ▼ `7 IN THE NEWS ED files charge sheet against Razorpay, fintech firms, NBFCs THE ED ON Friday said it has filed a charge sheet against payment gateway Razorpay, three fintech companies controlled by Chinese nationals and as many NBFCs, and some others in a money-laundering probe linked to Chinese loan apps case, reports PTI. A total of seven entities and five individuals have been named as accused. Walmart infuses $200 mn in PhonePe PHONEPE ON FRIDAY said that it has raised an additional $200 million in primary capital from Walmart, at a valuation of $12 billion, reports Tushar Goenka. ■ PAGE 4 Air India makes VRS offer to staff, again IN SECOND SUCH offer since June 2022, Air India launched a VRS for its non-flying staff with relaxed criteria for those aged 40 and above, reports Swaraj Baggonkar. ■ PAGE 9 Forex reserves fall most since Nov INDIA'S FOREIGN EXCHANGE reserves fell to $560 billion as on March 10, down $2.4 billion since last week, and at their lowest level since November last year, reports fe Bureau. ■ PAGE 7 HDFC to mull `57k-cr fundraise on Mar 27 HDFC ON FRIDAY said its board would consider raising funds through non-convertible debentures in tranches aggregating to `57,000 crore, reports PTI. ■ PAGE 7 EXPLAINER Marriage equality demand & objections ■ PAGE 9 FE S P E C I A L Mercedes-AMG E 53 Cabriolet: Open-top, but not over the top The E 53 Cabriolet can make you wonder if you even need a Lamborghini or a Ferrari, which are 3-4 times pricier. ■ MOTOBAHN, P8 DEFINITION TO BE ADDRESSED Founders to face stricter Sebi scrutiny Must not own ESOPs PLUGGING THE GAP ■ One key if they have rights example is akin to promoters Paytm founder reducing his shareholding to JAYSHREE P UPADHYAY Mumbai, March 17 THE CAPITAL MARKETS regulator is planning to change its rules to address concerns around founders and familymembers of tech orappbasedstartupsowningsharesunder the employee stock ownership plan (ESOP),two sources told Reuters. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) does not want founderstoownstockoptionsifthey have rights akin to those enjoyed by promoters, the sources with direct knowledge of the mattersaid. A decision in this regard could come sometime this year, the sources added. UnderSebi laws,promoters hold direct and indirect control over the company,advise,directandinstruct the board of directors,and have the right to nominate directors to the board, but are barred from owning ESOPs.“Innew-agetechcompanies, founders have reduced their shareholding to below 10% and have stayedawayfromthepromotertag,” the first source said. The regulator is examining the gap in the law and whether it is being misused,the source added. One key example has been One97 Communications, parent of Paytm,whosefounder,VijayShekhar Sharma,owned 14.7% equityayear before filing to go public in 2021. As per current regulations, “a directorwhoeitherhimself,through his relative or any corporate body, directly or indirectly, holds more than10%oftheoutstandingequity shares of the company” is not eligi- Under Sebi regulations, promoters are barred from owning ESOPs 9.1% through the trust route ■ This made Vijay Shekhar Sharma ■ Founders have stayed away from eligible to promoter tag by receive shares reducing holding under the to below ESOP 10% ■ The intention of regulations is to include all structures for equity holding ble to receive stock options. Sharma reduced his shareholding to 9.1% by transferring 30.97 million shares to Axis Trustee Services, acting on behalf of the Sharma familytrust in 2021,which made him eligible to receive shares under the ESOP. This seems like an instance unique to Paytm, where the trust route has been used to reduce direct equity holding to below 10%,the second source said. “The intention of the regulations is to include all structures for equity holding. This is a gap which needs to be plugged, it will be done via an amendment to Sebi's stock options rules,”the source added. Continued on Page 2 Tatas cease talks on Bisleri deal Valuation proves to DEAL-BREAKER be a stumbling block ALOKANANDA CHAKRABORTY New Delhi, March 17 TATA CONSUMER PRODUCTS (TCPL)hascalledofftalkswithBisleri for a potential acquisition of the packaged water major.In a notice to stock exchanges on Friday, the Tata group firm said it had not entered into any definitive agreement or bindingcommitmentonthismatter. “The above announcement is issued voluntarily to prevent any speculationconcerningthematter,” TCPL added. Sources familiar with thedevelopmentssaidthetwosides could not agree on the valuation. TheownersoftheBisleribrandwere reportedly looking to sell the brand for about `7,000 crore. Bisleri brand owners reportedly looking to sell it for about ■ Tata Consumer Products said it had not entered into any definitive agreement or binding commitment `7,000 crore about four months of speculation about Tatas acquiring a majority stake in the packaged water company INSIDE Tata Tea’s ‘street chais’ now in Mumbai PAGE 9 Speculation about a deal had started only after Bisleri chairman RameshChauhansaidinNovember thathehadmadeup hismindtosell the company after a series of meetingswith theTatas.Chauhan’s decision to sell may also have been prompted byreluctance of the next generation to steer Bisleri. Media reports had quoted Chauhanassayingthatwhileselling Bisleri was a painful decision, the Tata groupwas likelyto nurture and Bharti takes on Jio with unlimited 5G data offer JATIN GROVER New Delhi, March 17 IN A SIGN of the intense competition in the telecom market, Bharti Airtel on Friday allowed all its postpaid customers and those with prepaid plans of `239 or more unlimited access to 5G data. On Wednesday, Reliance Jio had launchedpostpaidplansforindividualsandfamiliesthatwerepricedat a discount of 30% to those of peers. The tariff war between the top two telcos in the country is likely to continue as they go all out to woo subscribers. Bharti Airtel, industry watchersnoted,wasworkingtopreventitssubscriberbasefromswitching over to Reliance Jio, which has been offering unlimited 5G data over 4G recharge plans since the launch of 5G. Bharti Airtel has over 10million5Gsubscribersonitsnetwork across 270 cities. Analysts also view the Airtel plans as a strategy to get its users familiarwith5Gbeforeintroducing ■ Bisleri is expected to log a turnover of `2,500 crore with a profit of `220 crore in 2022-23 TARIFF WAR HOTS UP ■ Bharti's postpaid customers and those with prepaid plans of ■ Jio has been offering unlimited 5G data over 4G recharge plans since the launch of 5G ■ On March 15, Jio launched postpaid plans for individuals and families at a discount of 30% to those of peers ■ Analysts view Bharti's plans as a strategy to get users familiar with 5G before any tariffs `239 or more get unlimited access to 5G data any tariffs. So far,Airtel consumers were able to use 5G to the extent of their daily or monthly data limit in their respective 4G plans. In January, Jio lowered the entry barrier for 5G users by upgrading its 4G data add-on plan of `61 to 5G, whichallowsthosewithrechargeplans below `239 to get a 5G welcome offer.The new postpaid plans by Jio ■ Bharti Airtel has over 10 million take care of the brand much better that anyotherpotential suitor. Apart from Bisleri,the company owns a premium packaged water brand — Vedica — and four fizzy drinks — Spyci, Limonata, Fonzo, and Bisleri Soda. Continued on Page 2 RAJESH GOPINATHAN OUTGOING CEO, TCS It’s a day of mixed feelings for me. I am happy where we are, I am also a bit sad as the reality of this step is slowly sinking in. There is no better time than this, and it’s also important to do this before the start of the financial year. 5G subscribers on its network across 270 cities would come into effect from March 22 and are an effort to migrate users fromprepaidtopostpaidtoenhance its average revenue peruser(Arpu). Analystsalsopointedoutthetelcos were gearing up for the Indian Premier League (IPL), an extremely popular cricket tournament. Continued on Page 2 REPORT ON PAGE 4 Banking system stable, resilient: Das Consent of borrowers PIYUSH SHUKLA Mumbai, March 17 RESERVE BANK OF India (RBI) governor Shaktikanta Das on Fridaysaid that the country’s banking system continues to be stable and resilient, and lenders have built sufficient buffers to shield themselves from any unforeseen stress. His comments come amid the recent turmoil in the banking sector globally. Das also said that the worst of inflation is behind us and that the rupee exhibited the least volatility among its peers. Hestressedthatdespitethemultiple and overlapping shocks to the globaleconomyfromthepandemic, Russia-Ukraine war and monetary SHAKTIKANTA DAS, RBI GOVERNOR The focus is now more on identifying the root cause of vulnerabilities, rather than dealing with the symptoms alone. The worst of inflation is behind us and the rupee has exhibited least volatility among the peer currencies. policy tightening by central banks across the world, the Indian economy remains resilient and is expected to be the fastest-growing major economyin theworld. Commenting on the recent developments in the US banking system, including the failure of three banks, he said that it has brought to the fore the criticalityof regulation and supervision in the banking sector. Speaking at the 17th KPHormis Commemorative ceremony, Das said the developments highlight importance of banks ensuring prudent asset liability management, robust risk management, and sustainable growth in liabilities and assets. Further, they also put in focus the need forbanks to conduct periodic stress tests and build up capital buffers. “They also bring out that cryptocurrencies, assets or the like, can be a real danger to banks, whether directly or indirectly. The RBI has taken necessary steps in all these areas,”Das said. Continued on Page 2 BUMPER YIELD EXPECTED TO IMPROVE SUPPLIES AND REDUCE PRICES Wheat fields in full bloom as heatwave fears recede SANDIP DAS Jhajjar & Karnal (Haryana), March 17 WALKING THROUGH HIS wheat fieldsthatappearuniformlyformed and about to turn from pale to golden yellow, Bijendra Singh is unfazed by concerns that heat waves would reduce yield for the second year in a row. “Abhi tak fasal ko dekhke ke yeh lagrahahaikipichlesaalkanuksaan isbaarbharpaihojayega(Lookingat this year’s crop, it seems that last year’s losses will be compensated),” the farmer at Lagarpur village in Haryana’s Jhajjar district says. The reason forSingh’soptimism is all around — the crops,at the lateflowering stage, look robust and unaffected by heat in most of the north and central Indian regions. Singh, who has sown wheat in ■ Deal talks end after THE FARM FACTOR ■ For the current crop year (202223), a record wheat harvest of 112.2 MT Bijendra Singh at his wheat farm in Jhajjar, Haryana 6.5 hectare this time, says there has been no incidence of yellow rust disease so far,and the temperature,which is“slightly above normal” at 32-33 degree Celsius, has had no impact on the crop. He is expecting to harvest around 6 tonne of the grain per hectare this is seen against last year's 109 MT year,which is quite high by Indian standards,where the average yield is 3-3.5 tonne. Singh is certainly not alone. About 150 km away,Vikash Choudhary, from Tarawari village in Karnal district, says the crop hasn't been hit by high temperature, let ■ As on Thursday, the FCI had wheat stocks of 10.7 MT against buffer for April 1 of 7.4 MT ■ FCI and state agencies’ wheat procurement in the April-June 2022 season jumped 57% to 18.8 MT alone a“heatwave”.Choudhary cultivates seed varieties that are in demand — his fields’ yield had fallento5.7tonne/hectarelastyear, down from 7 tonne in 2021. Officials agree.“The wheat crop outlook at present seems to be good and keeping in view the likely tem- perature scenario in the next 15 days, India is moving toward a better wheat production this year,” Rajbir Yadav, principal scientist, Indian Agricultural Research Institute,says. Temperature conditions are likely to remain conducive for “grain-filling” over the crucial period of next couple of weeks, say weather forecasters. This augurs well not only for the country’s wheat stocks, but also the global suppliesofthegrainin2023.Global wheat prices have cooled in recent months, even as domestic wheat inflation is still high. FEspoketofarmersandtradersin otherkeywheat-growingstates,including Punjab,Madhya Pradesh,Rajasthan and UttarPradesh,with most confirming brightcrop prospects. Continued on Page 2 must for NFIR to share data, says DEA secy PRASANTA SAHU New Delhi, March 17 BORROWERS' CONSENTWILL be a must for the proposed National Financial Information Registry (NFIR) to share the data at its disposal with the lenders, economic affairs secretary Ajay Seth told FE. The lenders will be owners of the registry,aimed at quickerand more streamlined credit appraisal and better pricing of loans. AccordingtoSeth,“Thedatamay belong to an individual oran enterprise.Unlesstheindividualorenterprise gives consent to sharing his/enterprise’s data, data will not be shared by NFIRwith lenders.” He added: “If an individual or enterprise wants a lower interest rate, the bank will ask for the consent of the borrower to access data about business volume, electricity consumed, GST paid, etc, from NFIR. If consent for data is not given, banks will likely ask for collateral and loans may be costlier.” The consent condition implies that privacy concerns that have arisen after the Budget proposal to set up NFIRwill be addressed. The Bill to set up NFIRwill likely be taken up in the Monsoon session ofParliament,Sethsaid,addingthat its shares will be jointly held by lenders like in the case of the National Payments Corporation of India(NPCI).Theproposedfinancial data registry is considered to be a public good for the stakeholders. With regard to the NFIR Bill, Reserve Bank of India governor Shaktikanta Das had said on February11 that“the idea is to create one registry to provide a 360-degree kind of information system which will be readily available to the lend- COMING UP ■ Lenders will be owners of the information registry ■ Bill to set up National Financial Information Registry likely in Monsoon session ■ NFIR aimed at quicker credit appraisal and better pricing of loans AJAY SETH, ECONOMIC AFFAIRS SECRETARY Borrowers' data helps in assessing the risk better as well as the business needs of the enterprises better. ing institutions to ensure that it quickens the process of credit”. Sethsaidifbanksorotherlenders areunabletoassesstheriskproperly, theywillinevitablyassumemorerisk. So,NFIRhelpsinabetterassessment oftheriskwithalltherequisiteinformation, which at the moment lies scattered at several places.“Borrowers’ data helps in assessing the risk betteraswellasthebusinessneedsof the enterprises better,” Seth said. NFIR will be a company with banks and other financial institutions as shareholders and would be regulated by the RBI. Continued on Page 2
The Financial Express (FE) is a business paper that’s closest to the people who are in the business of business. From business policies to market trends to new developments, The Financial Express comes packed with incisive news on every relevant issue.