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RBI withdraws permission to open new branches of Bandhan Bank

Kolkata-based Bandhan Bank, which was the first instance in the country of a microfinance entity transforming in to a universal bank, completed three years of operations this August.

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Reserve Bank of India RBI

Kolkata, Sep 28 : Private-lender Bandhan Bank on Friday said the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has withdrawn its general permission to open new branches and frozen the remuneration of the lender’s MD and CEO Chandra Shekhar Ghosh till further notice as it failed to comply with a licensing condition.

“RBI has communicated to us that since the Bank was not able to bring down the shareholding of Non Operative Financial Holding Company (NOFHC) to 40 per cent, as required under the licensing condition, general permission to open new branches stands withdrawn and the Bank can open branches with prior approval of RBI and the remuneration of the MD & CEO of the Bank stands frozen at the existing level, till further notice,” it said in a regulatory filing.

The Bank is taking necessary steps to comply with the licensing condition to bring down the shareholding of NOFHC in the Bank to 40 per cent and shall continue to engage with the RBI in this regard, it added.

According to RBI’s new banking licensing norms, any bank offering “universal” services will have to bring down the promoter holding to 40 per cent in three years from the date of commencement of business.

Kolkata-based Bandhan Bank, which was the first instance in the country of a microfinance entity transforming in to a universal bank, completed three years of operations this August.

Bandhan Financial Holdings Ltd (BFHL), the promoting entity of Bandhan Bank, is owned by Bandhan Financial Services Ltd (BFSL). The promoter holding in the bank currently stands at around 82 per cent after a successful Initial Public Offer (IPO) launched in March this year.

Before IPO, the promoter holding in the bank was nearly 89 per cent.

Significantly, the capital market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India’s rules mandate one year’s lock-in period for promoter holding after an IPO.

Ghosh was unavailable to comment on the RBI restrictions. Sources in the bank, however, said the restrictions imposed on the new branch expansion “will not impact its present operation”.

According to information available in the bank’s website, it has 937 branches and 2,764 doorstep service centres.

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Online grocery to become $18bn industry in India by 2024: Report

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Online shopping, sharing data

As companies from Reliance to Amazon put their top dollar in serving daily grocery at your doorstep, a new report said on Friday that online grocery is going to be the next battleground for growth, expanding to over $18 billion by 2024.

According to a joint report by a joint initiative by Bengaluru-based market consulting firm RedSeer and Bigbasket (Brand Intelligence), driven by the significant rise in organic adoption during Covid-19, eGrocery has been on a surge with clocking 1.7 times in gross merchandise value (GMV) in June this year as compared to January.

Online grocery will remain steady for the rest of the year to reach more than $3 billion, the report mentioned.

“The industry has seen more than 70 per cent ARR (annual recurring revenue) jumps in the last quarter across categories. This brings the opportunity to serve a larger set of customers, and some challenges with it,” said Hari Menon, co-founder and CEO of BigBasket.

The report found that demand for comfort foods like noodles and cookies, immunity boosters like lemon and hygiene products like sanitizers picked up after the pandemic while essentials remained strong.

Snacks and branded foods grew by 5 per cent quarterly pre-Covid, however growth jumped to 75 per cent in the June quarter.

Within snacks and branded foods, biscuits and cookies was the largest sub-category and grew the most in Q2.

Beverages grew by 2 per cent quarterly pre-Covid, however growth jumped to 50 per cent in Q2.

“Personal Care grew by 5 per cert quarterly pre-Covid but jumped to 24 per cent in Q2 due to Covid.

“We have observed that traditional brands which pivoted quickly to be digitally ready brands have seen 2x+ jump in sales compared to offline brands. We are excited to have this opportunity to serve the ecosystem,” said Anil Kumar, founder and CEO of consulting firm RedSeer.

Home utilities grew by 6 per cent quarterly pre-Covid but jumped to 11 per cent in Q2.

Within home utilities, detergents and dishwash were the largest sub-category but grew the least in the last quarter.

According to the report, home utilities were not severely affected by the pandemic.

-IANS

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Centre suspends fresh IBC proceedings till Dec

In June, the Union Cabinet approved the suspension, which came into effect from March 25 and was brought in through the ordinance route.

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Nirmala Sitharaman

New Delhi, Sep 24 : In a major relief for stressed companies amid the pandemic woes, the Centre on Thursday announced the suspension of fresh insolvency proceedings under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) by three more months till December.

In a gazette notification, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) said that the suspension on operation of Section 7, 9 and 10 of the IBC has been extended.

“In exercise of the powers conferred by section 10A of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016, the Central Government has extended the suspension of sections 7,9, 10 of the IBC for a further period of three months,” the Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs, Nirmala Sitharaman said in a tweet.A

She said that the decision reinforces the government’s commitment to protecting businesses.

“It also gives companies breathing time to recover from financial stress,” she said.

In June, the Union Cabinet approved the suspension, which came into effect from March 25 and was brought in through the ordinance route.

Section 7 of the IBC allows initiation of corporate insolvency resolution process by financial creditor, while Section 9 allows operational creditors to file application for initiation of insolvency process by operational creditor.

Further, a corporate debtor who has committed a default, can file for initiation of a corporate insolvency resolution process under Section 10 of IBC.

Although the decision to extend the suspension has brought much-needed relief for business stressed in the midst of the pandemic, sector experts, however, have raised concerns regarding the financial stress it may create once the suspension is revoked.

Sumit Batra, Partner at India Law Alliance, said: “Another extension of three months beyond 25.09.2020 for initiation of bankruptcy against defaulting corporate entities will further aggravate the situation and lead to an unprecedented rise in fresh filing once the suspension is revoked.”

Noting that while the logic of suspension for not being able to initiate proceedings under Section 7 and 9 of IBC, seems justified to an extent that lockdown triggered due to widespread outbreak of Covid-19 affected the paying capacity of the corporate debtors, but “why such a suspension is being imposed for applications under section 10 seems illogical”.

The intent and extent of section 10 petition is to enable the corporate debtor to initiate insolvency against themselves in order to resolve the financial stress in a time-bound manner, Batra said, adding that, therefore, Section 10 petitions should have been excluded from being covered under this suspension.

In a recent debate in the Parliament, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had defended the decision to suspend Section 10 saying that in view of the economic situation, the companies filing for bankruptcy would not have achieved high valuations and bidding amounts would have been low, thereby not achieving the desired goal.

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Oil Ministry yet to recover $510 mn from contractors under PSC: CAG

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Dharmendra Pradhan

New Delhi, Sep 23 : The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has said that the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has not recovered $510 million as cost of unfinished minimum work programme (CoUMWP) from contractors in respect of 45 blocks.

The CAG report on Union Government (Economic & Service Ministries-Civil) – Compliance Audit Observations, which includes important audit findings, was presented in the Parliament on Wednesday.

It noted that the government awarded 254 blocks during the New Exploration and Licensing Policy’s (NELP) I to IX rounds for exploration of oil and gas. As per the terms and conditions of Production Sharing Contracts (PSC), contractors are required to pay the cost of unfinished minimum work programme, if the block is relinquished or terminated by government.

However, contractors of 54 relinquished blocks failed to pay the CoUMWP as specified in the PSCs.

“An amount of $510.79 million (Rs 3,652.64 crore), which was 77 per cent of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas’s (MoPNG) approved amount of $664.67 million (Rs 4,753.03 crore) on account of CoUMWP in respect of 45 blocks still remained unrecovered (September 2019),” the report said.

It added that the CoUMWP for nine blocks is yet to be worked out by Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) or yet to be approved by the ministry.

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