Private equity investors bring in deals worth $983 mn in January: Thornton

January was dominated by investments in start-ups which contributed to 52% of total investment volumes

Private equity (PE) investors announced deals worth $983 million in January, a 23 per cent rise in value terms over last year, driven by big ticket transactions, says a Grant Thornton report.

According to the assurance, tax and advisory firm, in January, there were 84 PE deals worth $983 million, against 81 such transactions worth $796 million in January 2017.

“Private equity deals recorded 4 per cent increase in deal volumes and 23 per cent increase in deal value in January 2018 as compared to January 2017,” said Pankaj Chopda Director at Grant Thornton India LLP.

January was dominated by investments in start-ups which contributed to 52 per cent of total investment volumes. On the other hand, energy & natural resources and real estate sectors witnessed big-ticket PE investment over $100 million together capturing 39 per cent of total PE deal values.

Altico Capital’s investment of $195 million across five realty projects in Hyderabad and Pune was the top PE deal in January.

Other major transactions include Canada Pension Plan Investment Board’s 6 per cent stake acquisition in ReNew Power Ventures for $144 million and Warburg Pincus and SAIF Partners’ $50 million investment in Rivigo Services.

Going forward, the PE deal outlook looks bullish especially for the start-up sector.

“Increasing customer penetration in online transactions and increasing solutions to simplify online transactions offered by start-ups will attract interest in start-ups engaged in retail, fintech, foodtech, on demand services and travel and logistics,” Chopda said.

“Government reforms such as RERA, focus on cleantech and on increasing digital financial transactions will drive the momentum in banking and financial, real estate and energy and natural resources.

India-specific strategies by global and already present PE firms and funds raised by new players will act as catalyst for PE transactions,” he added.

Source: Business Standard


Forex reserves surge by $4.1 bn to a new high of $421 bn

India’s foreign exchange reserves swelled by USD 4.12 billion to a new high of USD 421.914 billion on a healthy increase in the core currency assets and uptick in the gold stock, the Reserve Bank said today.


The total reserves had risen by USD 3 billion to USD 417.89 billion in the previous reporting week.


The reserves had crossed the USD 400-billion mark for the first time in the week to September 8, 2017 but have been fluctuating since then.


However, there has been a continuous surge since the start of this year for the fifth straight week. In reporting week to February 2, foreign currency assets, a major component of the overall reserves, rose by USD 3.025 billion to USD 396.769 billion, the RBI said.


Expressed in US dollar terms, the foreign currency assets include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of the non-US currencies such as the euro, the pound and the yen held in the reserves.


The value of gold reserves rose USD 1.092 billion to USD 21.514 billion during the week, the central bank said.


The country’s special drawing rights with the International Monetary Fund rose by USD 3.2 million to USD 1.547 billion, while the country’s reserve position with the Fund jumped by USD 4.3 million to USD 2.084 billion during the reporting week, the central bank said.


Source: Business Standard


India, Japan Ink 15 Agreements Including Aviation, Trade and Science

The pact in the area of disaster risk management, entered into between the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Cabinet Office of the Government of Japan, aims to cooperate and collaborate in the field of disaster risk reduction, an official statement said

India and Japan on Wednesday signed 15 deals in key areas, including civil aviation, trade, science and technology, and skill development.

The pact in the area of disaster risk management, entered into between the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Cabinet Office of the Government of Japan, aims to cooperate and collaborate in the field of disaster risk reduction, an official statement said.

It said the understanding in the field of skill development looks to further strengthen bilateral relations and cooperation in the field of Japanese language education in India.

The one titled ‘India-Japan Investment Promotion Road Map’ envisages enhanced Japanese investments in India while the ‘Japan-India special programme for Make In India’ is on bilateral cooperation towards infrastructure development in the Mandal Bechraj-Khoraj region in Gujarat.

There was exchange of RoD (Record of Discussions) on civil aviation under which Indian and Japanese carriers can now mount unlimited number of flights to selected cities in both countries.

There was an agreement to establish a joint exchange programme to identify and foster talented young scientists from both countries to collaborate in the field of theoretical biology.

The MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) between the Department of Biotechnology and Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Science & Technology (AIST) seeks to promote research collaboration between these institutions in the field of life sciences and biotech, the statement said.

The India Japan Act East Forum, among the agreements signed, seeks to enhance connectivity and promote developmental projects in India’s North Eastern region in an efficient and effective manner, it said.

There were four agreements in the field of sports, including one to facilitate and deepen international education cooperation and exchanges between both Sports Authority of India and Nippon Sport Science University, Japan.

Source: NDTV

Central Board of Direct Taxes cuts profit margin for safe harbour rules

Safe harbour rules are defined as circumstances under which the income-tax authorities accept the transfer pricing declared by the assessee.

Given the lukewarm response to the safe harbour mechanism for transfer pricing, Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) on Thursday cut the operating profit margin for information technology-enabled services, knowledge process outsourcing services (KPOs) and research and development (R&D) related to software and generic pharmaceutical drugs companies.

The new rules will apply to transactions of up to Rs 200 crore. Safe harbour rules, a dispute-avoidance mechanism, are defined as circumstances under which the income-tax authorities accept the transfer pricing declared by the assessee. The rule provides the minimum operating profit margin in relation to operating expenses that a taxpayer is expected to earn for certain categories of international transactions. The same is acceptable to the income tax authorities as arm’s length price (ALP). The rules are applicable for transactions between group companies based in different countries so that a fair price or ALP is arrived at by the tax authorities. The rules have come into effect from April 1 this year and will continue to remain in force for two successive years up to assessment year 2019-2020, the board said in a statement

For software development services, safe harbour margins have been reduced to a peak rate of 18% from 22% in the previous regime. Similarly, for KPOs, a graded structure of three different rates of 24%, 21% and 18% has been provided, based on employee cost to operating cost ratio, replacing the single rate of 25% earlier. For the third category of R&D services, the margins have been reduced to 24% from 30% and 29%, respectively, earlier. “The lukewarm response to the earlier safe habour scheme was on account of the high rates. Thus, taxpayers opted for unilateral APA process instead. The revised scheme has been designed to attract small to medium business, especially in the IT/ITeS segment, so as to give them a viable alternative to APA regime, which is both time consuming and expensive. The rates for IT/ITeS segment are more or less in line with the APAs being settled and hence the safe harbour scheme, this time, should get a positive response,” Arun Chhabra, director, Grant Thornton Advisory, said.

Assessees eligible under the present safe harbour regime up to AY 2017-18 shall also have the right to choose the safe harbour option most beneficial to them, the board said. It added that a new category of transactions being “Receipt of Low Value-Adding Intra-Group Services” has been introduced. “The revised safe harbour rules are a welcome step towards making safe harbour a viable alternate dispute resolution mechanism. Key highlights are: Reduction of margins for service units, introduction of safe harbour rate for low-valued services (in line with BEPS recommendation) and well-thought scheme for knowledge process outsourcing companies. Overall, it’s a welcome step towards strengthening the safe harbour option for small and mid size companies,” Kunj Vaidya, leader transfer pricing, Price Waterhouse & Co, said.


India’s consumer confidence highest among emerging markets: Credit Suisse

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India’s buoyant consumer sentiment was supported by consumers’ greater confidence in their current and future finances, as well as relatively lower inflation expectations.

India’s consumer confidence is highest compared to other emerging market peers despite the near-term sentiment being adversely impacted by the Centre’s demonetisation move, says a survey.

According to the Credit Suisse Emerging Consumer Scorecard, India has the highest consumer confidence score among the eight emerging markets surveyed — Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and Turkey — while China slipped to third place.

India’s buoyant consumer sentiment was supported by consumers’ greater confidence in their current and future finances, as well as relatively lower inflation expectations.

India saw strong improvement in personal finances expectations; a net 47 per cent of the respondents expect the state of their personal finances to improve over the next six months, up from 27 per cent in last year’s survey.

However, only 57 per cent of respondents thought it was a good time to make a major purchase, a sharp drop compared to 80 per cent last year.

“A further 10 per cent of surveyed households have succeeded in entering middle income territory in last three years. This creates a consumer base of 1.25 billion people across eight countries covered, confirming the significance of emerging consumer story and growth opportunity for investors,” said Richard Kersley Head of Global Equity Research Product and Thematic Research at Credit Suisse.

The report said combined effect of demonetisation and GST will help to drive the adoption of non-cash payment modes by consumers and will likely lead to acceleration in the switch to consumption of branded goods.

The government in November last year had announced the demonetisation of Rs 500 and 1,000 currency notes to crack down against black money and terror financing.

The survey also said, as the emerging market consumer has developed, local brands are increasingly  gaining leading market share in lucrative consumer segments previously the preserve of large global brands owned by Western multinational companies.


Modi’s Win Sends Indian Stocks to Record, Rupee to 16-Month High

– Nifty surpasses March 2015 peak, Sensex gains as much as 2.1%.
– Bigger-than-expected victory seen as endorsement of reforms

Indian equities rallied to a record and the rupee climbed the most since 2013 after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s resounding victory in state elections boosted expectations for a continuation of his reform agenda.

The NSE Nifty 50 Index climbed 1.7 percent to 9,087, crossing its March 2015 record close, as the market reopened after a holiday. The India VIX Index, a gauge of expected stock-price swings, touched an all-time low. The rupee surged 1.2 percent to 65.8175 per dollar, the strongest level since November 2015. The central bank was seen buying dollars in early trade to cap gains but moved away later, Mumbai-based traders said.

“This win will give Modi the confidence to push ahead with more reforms and not pursue populist policies,” Sampath Reddy, chief investment officer at Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance Co., said by phone. The insurer, which oversees 480 billion rupees ($7.3 billion) of assets, is bullish on financial-services companies and metal producers, he said.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party won 312 seats in the 403-member assembly of Uttar Pradesh, according to the Election Commission of India, up from 47 in 2012. The results in India’s largest state were seen as a litmus test of Modi’s popularity and reforms, including opening up the country to more foreign investment and seeking to introduce a goods and services tax, ahead of general elections in 2019.

While exit polls released last week suggested a large BJP victory was possible in Uttar Pradesh, the scale of the win was stark in a state that has long been divided along religious and caste lines. It is also a repudiation of political foes who assumed that Modi’s disruptive Nov. 8 move to junk high-value currency notes would be politically unpopular.

“Uttar Pradesh is a state where mandates have tended to be mostly divisive, so the result is a mandate for development, which has been sorely missing in the state,” Gautam Sinha Roy, a fund manager at Mumbai-based Motilal Oswal Asset Management Co., said by phone. “Markets will now start assigning higher probability to a BJP victory in the 2019 polls.”

India’s economic growth has been 7 percent or more in each of the last four quarters, which has helped lure $3.4 billion of foreign funds into local stocks and bonds this year. Mutual funds bought shares for seven months through February, including a record $2.1 billion in November. The S&P BSE Sensex has risen 11 percent in 2017, and the rupee is up 3.2 percent against the dollar.

“We expect the Reserve Bank of India to more actively cap further rupee gains given the sharp swing higher in the real effective exchange rate in recent months,” Divya Devesh, an Asia FX strategist at Standard Chartered Bank in Singapore, said by e-mail. He forecasts the rupee at 69 rupees to the dollar by year-end.

Pricey Valuations

The Nifty came off an intraday high of 9,122.75 as investor focus turned to a near-certain interest rate hike from the Federal Reserve this week and expected revival in corporate profitability. The Nifty and the Sensex are valued at about 21 times forward earnings, the highest level since April 2010.

“Valuations look stretched and investors are cautious with the Fed meeting round the corner,” said Sushant Kumar, a fund manager at RAAY Global Investments Pvt. in Mumbai. “Stocks have priced in the expected increase in rates. The focus is on Fed’s outlook.” The Nifty may reach 10,000 by March 2018, accompanied by as much as 14 percent expansion in earnings of its 50 members, he said.

Still, the scale of the BJP’s victory paves the way for further reforms and should lead to more inflows, supporting asset prices, according to Vikas Gupta, chief investment strategist at OmniScience Capital Pvt. in Mumbai.

“For international investors, India is one of the few emerging markets that has everything going for it: demographics, economics and politics,” he said. “With elections settled, it is clear that the federal government is now going to be fully in charge of the parliament.”



India, UK set to sign GBP 1 bn biz deals

India and the UK are expected to sign business deals exceeding GBP 1 billion (Rs 83,00 crore) during the three-day visit of British Prime Minister Theresa May, who is here on her first bilateral visit outside Europe since assuming office in July.

Describing her talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as good and productive, May said as leaders, they both were working to improve the livelihoods of their citizens creating jobs, developing skills, investing in infrastructure and supporting technologies of the future.Talking about Modi’s vision of smart cities, May said they have agreed on a new partnership that will bring together government, investors and experts to work together on urban development, unlocking opportunities worth GBP 2 billion for British businesses over the next five years.

This will focus on the dynamic state of Madhya Pradesh with plans for more smart cities than anywhere else and the historic city of Varanasi.

Four rupee-denominated bonds worth a total of 600 million pounds ($748 million) are expected to be listed in London in the next three months, Theresa May said.

The latest four bonds will provide financing to expand India’s highway and rail networks and meet its plans to boost energy efficiency and renewable energy, the government said.

They will be issued by Indian government-backed corporates Indian Railway Finance Corporation, Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency, Energy Efficiency Services Limited, and National Highways Authority of India by the end of January 2017. May said since July, more than 900 million pounds rupee-denominated bonds have been issued in London, equivalent of more than 70 percent of the global offshore market.

“This government will continue to work closely with both India and our financial services sector to ensure our growing rupee bond market continues to help finance India’s ambitious infrastructure investment plans,” May said in a statement. These rupee-denominated or masala bonds as they are called, unveiled in 2015, are an opportunity for Indian firms to raise money, while giving international investors access to higher yields in a zero-yield world.

They are also a way to borrow overseas, they are also an attempt to make the tightly-controlled rupee more widely available in global markets, similar to the way in which China has moved to sell more yuan debt to overseas investors. Alongside this, the UK has agreed to invest GBP 120 million in a joint fund that will leverage private sector investment from the City of London to finance Indian infrastructure.