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Nita Ambani, Arundhati Bhattacharya in Forbes Asian women power list

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Reliance Industries director Nita Ambani and State Bank of India chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya have been ranked top two in Forbes’ “Asia 50 Power Businesswomen 2016” list, which acknowledges the inroads women are making in the business world, despite gender inequalities.

Including Ambani and Bhattacharya, eight Indian businesswomen have made the cut in the latest list who among them bring to the table representations from diverse business fields — banking, bio-tech, data analytics, textiles, pharma and even wellness and beauty.

“In a country where billionaire wives tend to remain in the shadow of their husbands, Nita’s rising profile in the Reliance empire is unusual and earns her a debut spot on our Power Businesswomen ranking this year,” said Forbes, which also ran a separate story on her.

Incidentally, a Reliance Group entity is a licensee for publishing Forbes India.

“As Reliance’s non-executive director, Nita has no formal operational role in the conglomerate that her husband runs as chairman and managing director. But it’s no secret that ‘Bhabhi’ — Hindi for brother;s wife — as she is called by insiders, is a power near the throne.”

Mukesh Ambani, her husband, is the group chairman.

Among her achievements, the magazine said an an accidental entry into sports made her the face of her group after Reliance spent $112 million for a cricket team, snatching such icons as Sachin Tendulkar. Mumbai Indians, as he team is called, went on to win two titles after her induction.

On the flip side, the magazine said the Ambanis have been criticised for not having personally been givers, commensurate with Mukesh’s $22-billion wealth, and for moving into Antilla, a 27-storey sky palace in south Mumbai, billed as the world’s most expensive home for its $1 billion tag.

Here’s what Forbes said on other Indian women on the list:

Bhattacharya: She facing her most challenging test yet with the State Bank of India, the country’s biggest. Mounting bad loans, which stood at $11 billion in December, caused net profit to plunge more than 60 percent to 190 million in a recent quarter.

“The days of promoters gaming the banking system are over,” she warned in February, before urging the arrest of liquor baron Vijay Mallya, whose defunct Kingfisher Airlines owes more than $1.3 billion to state-run banks.

Ambiga Dhiraj, chief executive, Mu Sigma: In February Dhiraj became the first female boss of an Indian-owned tech unicorn when she took over Mu Sigma, a provider of data-analytics services, from husband Dhiraj Rajaram, who founded the firm in 2004. With estimated revenue of $250 million, it is valued at $1.5 billion, based on its latest funding round.

Dipali Goenka, chief executive, Welspun India: Five years ago, when Goenka took charge of home textiles maker Welspun India, the buzz in the male-dominated industry, she recalls, was: “Welspun has lost its mind.” Goenka has doubled down to disprove that.

Vinita Gupta, chief executive, Lupin: Gupta runs India’s third-largest pharmaceutical company, with $2 billion in revenue. In the past year she has spearheaded $1.2 billion in acquisitions, the biggest of which was the $880 million purchase of Gavis Pharma, giving Lupin its first manufacturing facility in the US.

Chanda Kochhar, managing director, ICICI Bank: As boss of the country’s largest private-sector lender, Kochhar has to contend with the current bane of India’s banking system: Bad loans. In a bid to retain female staff, she launched “[email protected]”, which allows employees to work from home for a year. Executives can also take children under the age of 3 on business trips, with a caregiver, at the bank’s expense.

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Paytm App Removed From Google Play Store

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Paytm APP

Google has pulled the popular Indian financial services app Paytm from the Play Store for violating its gambling policies. Paytm is India’s most valuable startup and claims over 50 million monthly active users. Its marquee app, which competes with Google Pay in India, disappeared from the Play Store in the country earlier Friday.

Google said that Play Store prohibits online casinos and other unregulated gambling apps that facilitate sports betting in India. Paytm, which has promoted fantasy sports service within its marquee app, repeatedly violated Play Store’s policies, two people familiar with the matter told TechCrunch. Paytm’s fantasy sports service, called Paytm First Games, was also available as a standalone app and it has been pulled from the Play Store, too.

The Android-maker, which maintains similar guidelines around gambling in most other markets, additionally noted that if an app leads consumers to an external website that allows them to participate in paid tournaments to win real money or cash prizes will also be deemed in violation of its Play Store policies.

In an email Google has sent to many firms in India, and was reviewed by TechCrunch, the company has asked developers to pause all advertising campaigns in their apps to drive users to websites that offer installation files of sports betting apps.

Google’s Pay app currently dominates the payments market in India, and Android commands about 99% of the smartphone market share in the country.

The announcement today from Google is also a preemptive attempt from the company to remind other developers about its gambling policies ahead of the popular cricket tournament Indian Premier League, which is scheduled to kick off tomorrow.

Previous seasons of IPL, which last for nearly two months and attract the attention of hundreds of millions of Indians, have seen a surge in apps that look to promote or participate in sports betting.

While sports betting is banned in India, fantasy sports, where users select their favorite players and win if their preferred teams or players play well, is not illegal in most Indian states.

A person familiar with the matter told TechCrunch that Google has also asked Disney+ Hotstar, one of the most popular on-demand video streaming services in India, to display a warning before running ads about fantasy sports apps.

“We have these policies to protect users from potential harm. When an app violates these policies, we notify the developer of the violation and remove the app from Google Play until the developer brings the app into compliance,” wrote Suzanne Frey, Vice President, Product, Android Security and Privacy, in a blog post.

“And in the case where there are repeated policy violations, we may take more serious action which may include terminating Google Play Developer accounts. Our policies are applied and enforced on all developers consistently,” she added.

In a televised interview with CNBC TV18, Paytm co-founder and chief executive Vijay Shekhar Sharma accused Google of not allowing Paytm to acquire new users.

He acknowledged that Google had reached out to Paytm before and raised concerns about Paytm First Games, but the incident with Paytm’s main app, he said, is over “nothing but” paying cashback to customers.

The cashbacks were issued in ways of cricket-themed scratch cards, he said, adding that if Paytm isn’t allowed to issue cashback to customers, the same rule should be applied to every player. Google Pay, as well as Walmart’s PhonePe give customers similar incentives in India.

“This is the problem of India’s app ecosystem. So many founders have reached out to us… if we believe this country can build digital business, we must know that it is at somebody else’s hand to bless that business and not this country’s rules and regulations,” he said.

In an interview with TechCrunch, Madhur Deora, President of Paytm, said Google did not raise any issue about Paytm First Games app today. He said Paytm had rolled out the cricket-themed sticker for cashbacks early Friday. Hours later Google raised objection about it and suspended the app.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS), an “industry body” that represents some fantasy sports firms, claims it complained to Google to take action on companies that distribute or promote fantasy sports through Play Store.

Dream Sports, the parent firm of India’s most popular fantasy sports app Dream 11, is the founding member of FIFS. Dream11 app is not available on the Play Store. In a message to their members, FIFS said the following:

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Govt’s stake divestment to be credit negative for PSBs: ICRA

Furthermore, ICRA expects the deposit franchise for these banks will be monitorable as these deposits could be highly sensitive to their ownership.

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Centre proposes Disinvestment

New Delhi, Sep 17 : The proposed divestment of the Centre’s majority stake in certain PSBs will be credit negative for these lenders, ratings agency ICRA said on Thursday.

Citing recent reports which suggest a possible divestment of majority stake in few PSBs that were left out of the PSBs consolidation exercise announced last year, ICRA said that most of these PSBs have weak credit profile and their credit ratings are primarily supported by their sovereign ownership and a stable deposit base, which in turn is supported by their ownership.

“The existing ratings are also notched up from the standalone credit profile and going forward, the ratings on these PSBs would reflect their standalone credit profile depending on their new ownership of these banks,” it said in a statement.

Furthermore, ICRA expects the deposit franchise for these banks will be monitorable as these deposits could be highly sensitive to their ownership.

The ratings agency noted that the proposed divestment of these PSBs will require amendment to the Banking Companies (Acquisition And Transfer Of Undertakings) Act, 1970/1980, which mandates the Centre to hold no less than 51 per cent of the paid-up capital of these lenders.

Commenting on these developments, Karthik Srinivasan, Group Head – Financial Sector Ratings, ICRA said: “The financial profile of these PSBs is very weak and the standalone profiles of these banks could be low within investment grades rating given their weak asset quality, profitability, capital and solvency profile.”

“The liability profile for these banks will become a key monitorable in the immediate term.”

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Govt is amending Banking Regulation Act to benefit depositors: FM Sitharaman

The Finance Minister said the government is trying to bring amendments in order to protect the interest of depositors who in the last two years have been put to hardships.

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Nirmala Sitharaman

New Delhi: `The government has brought amendments to the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 in order to protect the interests of the depositors, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in Parliament on Wednesday.

The Finance Minister said the government is trying to bring amendments in order to protect the interest of depositors who in the last two years have been put to hardships.

The depositors in some unfortunate situations in the banks or cooperative societies, which are also operating as banks, are put to hardship, the Minister said while moving the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020 to amend the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 in the Lok Sabha.

She said the government had introduced the Bill so that the depositors interests will be taken care of. But, the Minister said, unfortunately, during the Budget session the government could not have this Bill passed and had to bring in an ordinance. Sitharaman said the ordinance was brought in only because the financial health of many of these cooperatives, which were also performing as banks, was becoming very bad.

She informed the Lower House that the financial condition of 277 urban cooperative banks was very delicate and they were reporting losses, while 105 such banks were unable to fulfil their minimum regulatory capital requirement.

She said a total of 47 urban cooperative societies had a negative net worth and 328 urban cooperative banks were having more than 15 per cent gross NPA (Non Performing Assets).

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Sitharaman said the gross NPA ratio of urban cooperative banks increased from 7.27 in March 2019 to over 10 per cent in March 2020. Therefore, the Minister said, the government had to bring an ordinance in the interest of the depositors and now that ordinance has to be replaced.

She said her Ministry has brought in amendments in Section 3, Section 45 and Section 56. By amending Section 3 and 56, the government is making provisions applicable to banking companies applicable to cooperative banks also so that cooperative banks are equally subject to better governance and sound banking regulations through the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Section 45 is being amended because it will enable the RBI to make a theme of reconstruction and amalgamation, she said.

Giving the example of the recent Yes Bank reconstitution scheme, she said it is to protect the interest of the public depositors without making the bank undergo a moratorium period. She also gave an example of BMC bank in which the depositors could not get a resolution till now.

The minister clarified that the Bill will not be applicable to the Primary Agricultural Credit Society and will also not be applicable to the cooperative society whose primary business is providing long term finance for agricultural development. “This will be applicable only on those who bank, banker and banking business in cooperative society.”

Mentioning that her government is not doing anything new, the Minister said Section 3 and 56 have also been amended earlier in 1965, 1984, 1987, 1989 and 2012.

On the first day of the session, Sitharaman had withdrawn the Bill saying “it is being withdrawn to add a few new things giving the Reserve Bank of India a chance to be able to restructure distressed cooperative banks, which are in serious need”. The Bill was not passed by Parliament during the Budget Session and subsequently an ordinance was issued.

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