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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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Vodafone Idea plunges 16%, now less than Rs 3 a stock

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Mumbai, Feb 18 : Vodafone Idea scrips on Tuesday plunged over 16 per cent to trade below Rs 3 a stock after India Ratings downgraded its rating on non-convertible debentures of Rs 3,500 crore citing stress on the company’s near-term liquidity post the Supreme Court’s ruling.

From a 52 week high of Rs 35.30 a stock that Vodafone Idea logged on March 13, 2019, it has now fallen below Rs 3 a share on Tuesday as its survival has come under question after the apex court ruling on February 14 directing the telcos to pay the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) related liabilities to the government next month.

With the government mulling the possibilities of invoking bank guarantees of the telcos to recover the statutory dues, Vodafone Idea chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla on Tuesday met Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash on the AGR payment issue after paying Rs 2,500 crore on Monday.

The company had urged the court that the bank guarantee deposited with the government by Vodafone Idea should also not be encashed. Birla has maintained that without relief on the AGR payout, it may not be possible to continue as a going concern.

The company in a regulatory filing said that “India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra), has downgraded its rating on Non-Convertible Debentures of Rs 3,500 crore of erstwhile Vodafone Mobile Services Limited (since merged with the Company)”.

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Bill Gates Is Driving a Porsche Taycan. Here’s Why He Didn’t Get a Tesla

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Bill GatesPorche

San Francisco, Feb 18 : Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Tuesday took a jibe at Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates after the world’s second richest man declared he has bought his first EV — Porsche Taycan.

Gates told a noted YouTube tech reviewer Marques Brownlee in an interview that he purchased his first-ever EV Porsche Taycan, calling the vehicle “very, very cool”.

“My conversations with Gates have been underwhelming tbh (to be honest),” Musk tweeted to a user.

The initial EV Porsche Taycan Turbo S model starts at $185,000 while the entry-level Tesla Model 3 starts from $35,000.

In the interview, Brownlee asked Gates about his thoughts on Tesla’s dominance in the electric vehicle market.

Gates acknowledged that Tesla is the cream of the crop when it comes to electric cars, adding that lots of manufacturers are moving to produce electric vehicles because Tesla’s appeal has been increased over the past few years.

“Tesla, if you had to name one company, that’s helped drive that, it’s them,” said Gates.

You can watch the complete interview here:

Musk has been tweeting his thoughts about tech honchos.

He recently questioned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s understanding of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and called Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos a “copycat”.

Gates recently commissioned a $644 million hydrogen-powered superyacht. The plans of buying the superyacht were unveiled at the Monaco Yacht Show in December last year.

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Network18, TV18 stocks rise after consolidation announcement

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Reliance Communications

Mumbai, Feb 18 (IANS) Shares of Network18, TV18, Hathway and Den Networks surged on Tuesday after Reliance Industries’ announcement of consolidating the four entities into Network18.

Late on Monday evening, RIL announced a consolidation of its media and distribution businesses spread across multiple entities into Network18 and said that its stake in Network18 will reduce from 75 per cent to 64 per cent upon implementation of the scheme.

At 10.30 a.m., stocks of Network18 on the BSE were at Rs 30.05, higher by 4.89 from the previous close, and shares of TV18 were 14.12 per cent higher at Rs 28.70 per share.

Hathway Cable Datacom was at Rs 23.10 up 20 per cent, and stocks of Den Networks were up nearly 10 per cent at Rs 59.50 per share.

In its statement on Monday, RIL said: “The appointed date for the merger shall be February 1, 2020. The Board of Directors of the respective companies approved the scheme of amalgamation and arrangement at their meetings held today.”

The broadcasting business will be housed in Network18 and the cable and ISP businesses in two separate wholly owned subsidiaries of Network18. The company said that the restructuring would create value-chain integration, and render substantial economies of scale.

Post the consolidation, Network18 will be an integrated media and distribution company with a revenue of Rs 8,000 crore and will scale-up as one of the largest listed players in the sector, according to the company. Network18 will be net-debt free at consolidated level, providing a solid base for growth as well as improved shareholder returns, the statement said.

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