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India faces challenge to replace Iran oil: Report

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Mumbai, April 23 (IANS) India depends on Iran for nearly 10 per cent of its oil requirements, with the US sanction drying this source by May 2, the country’s macroeconomic situation may go for a tailspin if an alternative is not found immediately.

India will have to increase its dependence on oil imports from OPEC nations such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In addition, India may also have to look at US shale gas to stabilize its high oil demand, a Care rating report said on Tuesday.

“India’s dependence on Iran to the extent of almost 10 per cent of total oil imports means that the immediate challenge is to find alternative suppliers which will provide crude oil at the same competitive terms,” the report said.

The report noted that the rupee will be the first to be impacted as the trade deficit and current account deficit will widen. FII, FDI etc, would need to balance out this deficit or else the balance of payments would be under pressure.

On the sanction impact on current account deficit, the report said higher crude oil prices will tend to pressure the trade deficit and current account deficit. As the price of crude oil goes up, so would the value of imports.

The impact on inflation is also significant as it will be driving monetary policy decisions in future. “Inflation has been low of late and increasing only gradually due to food and fuel prices moving up. The impact would be to the extent by which crude oil price goes up.”

However, until the elections are completed, it is unlikely that there will be a full pass-through as it will affect voting patterns.

The increase in crude oil prices could also have a bearing on Indian consumers who could have to spend a higher amount on petrol and diesel.

In the case of the WPI, the overall impact will be more significant as the weight in the index is above 10 per cent.

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Global markets under pressure over fear of coronavirus spread

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Stock Market Down

Mumbai, Jan 24 : Fears that the outbreak of coronavirus in China may disrupt economic activity and global growth has sent the stock markets tumbling.

Chinese health authorities on Friday said that 830 cases of pneumonia caused by coronavirus were confirmed in 29 provincial-level regions in the country. The pneumonia has so far claimed 25 lives.

A sharp adverse reaction from Asian, US and European markets was witnessed because China is entering one of its busiest travel periods on account of its Lunar New Year holiday. The virus outbreak could hurt demand.

On Thursday, Chinese stock markets logged its biggest slide in eight months. However, Indian markets closed higher as the oil prices plunged significantly. The global oil benchmark, Brent slipped to $62 a barrel as the virus outbreak in China may dent fuel demand.

Meanwhile official sources told IANS that though over 500 Indian students study in Wuhan city’s medical colleges and universities, most of them had left for home for the Chinese New Year holidays.

Deaths due to the virus have revived memories of the SARS epidemic, caused by a coronavirus, which killed nearly 800 people and infected more than 8,000 others across the world in 2002-2003.

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SC stays NCLAT order on RoC plea for changes in Tata-Mistry verdict

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Cyrus Mistry

New Delhi, Jan 24 : In a major development in the Tata Sons-Cyrus Mistry row, the Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal’s (NCLAT) order dismissing the Registrar of Company’s (RoC) plea to modify its verdict on the Tata Sons matter.

Tata Sons had challenged in the apex court the NCLAT’s January 6 order on conversion of Tata Sons from a public to a private company.

Agreeing to hear the Tata Sons’ plea, the apex court on Friday issued a notice to the parties concerned. The three judge bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde will hear the matter along with the main plea filed by Tata Sons against NCLAT’s verdict.

The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) had on January 6 rejected the plea by the RoC to modify the appellate tribunal’s judgement in the Tata-Mistry case.

The NCLAT had in its December 18 verdict termed the RoC’s decision to allow conversion of Tata Sons from a public to private company as illegal, while the RoC had filed a plea at the appellate tribunal to remove the word “illegal” from its verdict, among other observations.

The two-judge bench headed by NCLAT Chairman Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya had observed that the judgment did not cast any aspersions on the RoC.

Posting the matter for hearing after four weeks, the Supreme Court had, on January 10, stayed the NCLAT order reinstating Cyrus Mistry as Tata Sons Chairman. Chief Justice S.A. Bobde said the NCLAT had granted a prayer not made.

However, Mistry has already made a statement that he is no longer interested in taking up the chairmanship of Tata Sons.

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Swamy warns against Air India sale, wants House panel to vet his note

It has been reliably learnt that the Rajya Sabha member had expressed reservations over privatisation of Air India the meeting of a Parliamentary consultative committee earlier this month.

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Subramanian Swamy

New Delhi, Jan 23: The government’s plan to sell national carrier Air India may face political and legal headwinds with senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy raising the red flag against the decision.

Days before the launch of bidding process by inviting Expressions of Interest (EoI) from potential suitors, Swamy has warned against such move, saying the issue was currently being discussed by a Parliamentary panel.

“Right now, it (Air India disinvestment) is before the consultative committee and I am a member of that. I have been asked to give a note which will be discussed in the next meeting. They can’t go ahead without that,” Swamy told IANS.

“If they do, I will go to court. They know that too,” he cautioned.

A vocal opponent of Air India privatisation, Swamy had earlier suggested to list 49 per cent of Air India shares on stock exchanges while government holds 51 per cent in the carrier as an alternative to selling its entire stake to private companies.

It has been reliably learnt that the Rajya Sabha member had expressed reservations over privatisation of Air India the meeting of a Parliamentary consultative committee earlier this month.

After its failed first attempt, the Modi government has shown great zeal this time to sell Air India. It is set to offer a sweetened deal to potential buyers this time around by removing a large chunk of the debt and liabilities from the airline books.

Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri had earlier said that Air India will be shut down, in case the disinvestment exercise is not successful.

Sources told IANS that the preliminary information memorandum (PIM) inviting EoI has been tentatively scheduled to be unveiled on January 27.

Air India is proposed to be sold along with its subsidiary Air India Express and ground-handling joint venture company Air India Singapore Airport Terminal Services Ltd (AISATS) in which it has 50 per cent stake.

Air India on January 10 came out with tender for engaging aircraft asset management companies for carrying out technical audit of its entire fleet.

A Ministerial panel on Air India chaired by Home Minister Amit Shah on January 7 approved the draft EoI and a share purchase agreement (SPA) for the airline’s disinvestment.

(Nirbhay Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])

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