Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Bamboo to Bio-Fuel: Finland's Fortum to invest Euro 13.5 million in 2nd generation Bio-Refinery at Numaligarh, Assam.

PradhanMantri Modi has laid the foundation stone for Assam Bio-Refinery project. Fortum brings in biggest FDI to the North East, in a single greenfield project.

Fortum 3 BV, 100% subsidiary of Fortum Oyj, Finland with Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL), an Indian state-owned oil refinery company, and Chempolis, a Finnish technology company, had signed a joint venture for building and operating a bio-refinery in Assam, India. PM Modi along with key officials from Numaligarh Refinery Ltd, Fortum and Chempolis performed the Bhoomipoojan ceremony for the upcoming bio-refinery. The construction of the refinery is expected to be completed by June 2021. 

As part of this venture, Fortum and Chempolis will invest in 50% equity stake, while Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) holds a majority 50%. The first-of-its-kind bio-refinery will be based on formico-technology developed by Chempolis. The key raw material of the bio-refinery is bamboo. The main product bio-ethanol will be sold to NRL who will blend it to petrol. In addition, bio-refinery produces other biochemical and biocoal. Biocoal will be used in CHP plant to produce heat and power to the bio-refinery. Excess power will be sold to NRL's oil refinery where it will replace fossil electricity production. Fortum commits to invest Euro 13.5 Million in a Project of Euro 160 Million.

Bio fuel generated from biomass will save approximately 60 Million US Dollars annually.

The usage of bio fuels aims to solve many critical issues like saving foreign exchange, waste management and providing domestic & clean energy sources. We are living in a world with diminishing natural resources, and we aspire to be one of the forerunners in resource efficiency. For the world's future, biomass is a valuable raw material that can be used to produce many more products of value than today. India has decided to set-up 12 bio-refineries across India which will produce ethanol from bamboo, sugarcane and rice bran. The move towards sustainable development will also help farmers to increase their income. Years to come, the farmer of this country will become an oil producer.

Fortum's Bio2X programme investigates new business opportunities with fractioning-based technologies and end-products of the process. Fortum is currently testing several different fractioning methods. The company has also co-operation projects with different companies to test the end products of different methods.

- Chaitanya Kulkarni.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Saab and Airport Authority of India sign MoU for improved air traffic management system for airports under UDAN scheme

Saab and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to research a pan-Indian Air Traffic Management Automation System for airports under the UDAN Regional Connectivity Scheme.

The MoU was signed by Vineet Gulati, Member (ANS) from AAI and Peter Engberg, Head of Traffic Management, Saab Business Area Industrial Products and Services.

Saab’s Digital Air Traffic Management Solutions has a robust portfolio ranging from Advanced-Surface Movement Guidance & Control System (A-SMGCS) and Surface Movement Radar (SR- 3), to Remote Towers which can be deployed at all types of airports. ATM solutions from Saab can support both single and multiple runway airfields, as well as remote operations and deployable systems.

The MoU with Saab will support AAI’s need for ATM solutions and training of its personnel in ATM services. The MoU highlights the efforts of AAI to build infrastructure for the Indian government’s UDAN-RCS regional airport development and regional connectivity plan, helping to make air travel more affordable and widespread.

Saab’s Head of Traffic Management, Peter Engberg says, “India has an ambitious target to develop and operate regular scheduled flights from over 100 airports. We look forward to working with AAI to enable the creation of a nationwide airport infrastructure using Saab’s robust portfolio of ATM services. Through this new agreement, we bring together the strengths of AAI and Saab. The implementation of safe, leading-edge and cost-efficient technologies will bring the benefits of ‘flying for all’ to Indian travellers all across the nation.”

Over the last 10 years, Saab has been addressing the need for robust, modern ATM and supplying crucial equipment to the Airports Authority of India. Saab is present today at 11 airports in India and Saab wants to partner with India to build a pan-India A-SMGCS network.

Saab ATM solutions are now deployed in Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Guwahati, Jaipur, Lucknow, Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi, Cochin and Bhubaneshwar. All of these airports have Saab’s A-SMGCS software and a combination of other products such as SR-3 and our Multilateration (MLATS) solutions.

In addition, Saab is offering its Remote Tower technology to provide Air Traffic Management solutions in far-flung areas. The Remote Tower product suite includes high-definition and pan-tilt-zoom cameras, surveillance and meteorological sensors, microphones, signal lights and other devices for the safe and efficient management of airport operations.

Source - Press Release.

Friday, 1 February 2019

ICICI Bank: Hard Lined Corporate governance yields positive results in third quarter.

There is increasing awareness among Indian investors to invest in companies that follow practices of good corporate governance. And so, the fact that leading private sector bank like ICICI Bank had the fortitude to appoint someone of Justice Srikrishna’s stature to given an unbiased decision speaks volumes about the credibility of its Board.
ICICI Bank Board took a bold decision not only to dismiss her but also clawback of all her bonuses paid from April 2009 until March 2018 - a first in Corporate India and the Bank is showing the way to other boards/corporate Inc. The ICICI Bank has shown great composure following results of the Srikrishna panel and is once again taking the lead in setting a fine example for good corporate governance and safeguarding its investors. Perhaps, Investors have held on the right reasons and their faith has paid dividends considering the positive outcome of the Q3 results.
Some of the highlights from ICICI Bank’s third quarter results are that its Net interest income has increased by 21% year-on-year and its core operating profit has grown by 14% year-on-year to ₹ 5,667 crore. With a banking network of 4867 branches, Current Account and Saving Account (CASA) deposits increased by 15% year-on-year to ₹ 2,99,374 crores. In addition to this, retail loans have grown by 22% year-on-year and the Bank's total income rose to ₹ 20,163.25 crore over the third quarter as compared to ₹ 16,832.22 crore in the same period a year ago, ICICI Bank said in a statement.
Future forecast for ICICI Bank also looks bright according to multinational financial services company Morgan Stanley that sees ongoing improvement in ICICI Bank’s asset quality trends over the next few quarters and expects stronger performance from the bank’s stock in 2019.
Looks like the ICICI Bank has moved on and whatever has happened is good for the shareholders as it has bought renewed optimism within the institution.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Infosys to implement Rs 4242 crores Integrated E-filing system to bring Income Tax Return processing time under 24 hours.

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the PM Modi, has given its approval to expenditure sanction of Rs.4,241.97crore for Integrated E-filing &Centralized Processing Center 2.0 Project of the Income Tax Department.

The Union Cabinet also approved the expenditure sanction for the consolidated cost of Rs.1,482.44crore of the existing CPC-ITR 1.0 project up to FY 2018-19.

The broad objectives of this project are listed as under:
  • Faster and accurate outcomes for the taxpayer.
  • First time right approach,
  • Enhancing user experience at all stages.
  • Improving taxpayer awareness and education through continuous engagement.
  • Promoting voluntary tax compliance.
  • Managing outstanding demand.
This approval has significant benefits for the Department and taxpayers through various functionalities such as pre-filling of ITR and acceptance by taxpayer as a means to improve accuracy and to reduce refund/processing turnaround time drastically, facilitation to taxpayers in resolving outstanding tax demands; integrated contact centers for taxpayer assistance and tax payer outreach program through digital media and employer/partner accreditation program to bring significant enhancement in services to taxpayers.

The decision will ensure horizontal equity by processing returns filed by all categories of taxpayers across the country in a consistent, uniform, rule driven, identity blind manner. This will assure fairness in tax treatment to every taxpayer irrespective of their status.

Infosys has bagged the contract to implement e-filing system after a competitive bidding process. Infosys is expected to launch the project in 18 months after 3 months of testing on real-time data.

The processing time at present for Income Tax Return (ITR) is 63 days and it will come down to under 24 hours after implementation of the Integrated E-filing and Centralized Processing Centre 2.0 Project.

By faster processing of returns and issue of refunds to the taxpayer's bank account directly without any interface with the Department, by adhering to international best practices and standards (ISO certification) and by providing processing status updates and speedy communication using mobile app, email, SMS and on the Department website, the decision will ensure transparency and accountability.

The proposal ensures the continuation of the Department's goal towards business transformation through technology. The E-filing and CPC projects have enabled end to end automation of all processes within the Department using various innovative methods to provide taxpayer services and to promote voluntary compliance.

Source - PIB.

5 GigaWatts of clean power: SECI invites global bid for World's Largest Solar Plant in Ladakh region

The vast wasteland of Ladakh has attracted travellers from far away for its sizzling winters and summer bike rides. Often, referred to as the 'roof of the world',  the scenic Ladakh region of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir could soon host the world’s largest single-location PV plant.

All I see turns to brown
As the sun burns the ground
And my eyes fill with sand
As I scan this wasted land.

- Kashmir by Led Zeppelin.

The race to build World's largest solar plant between China, Saudi Arabia and India has heated up. According to the industry reports, China’s Datong Solar Power Project, with a projected capacity of 3 GW has the potential to become the world’s biggest single-location solar PV project, once completed. Similarly, Saudi Arabia's massive 200GW solar plant in its deserts has been currently put on hold by the King. India has taken a giant leap in Solar power generation after 2014 under the leadership of PM Modi. Solar Energy Corporation of India has invited Request for Selection bid for the 7500MW solar plant in Kargil and Leh region has heated up the race for building World's largest Solar Power Plant.

SECI, a Government of India enterprise under the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is promoting the projects in Jammu and Kashmir state on a scale matching the grandeur of their locations. A 5,000 MW (megawatt) for the Ladakh unit and a 2,500 MW Kargil unit is planned to be completed by 2023 at an estimated investment of Rs 45,000 crore. 

This matches India's commitment at COP21 and as a lead founder of the International Solar Alliance. The World's Largest Solar Plant at Ladakh will save 12,750 tonnes of carbon emission a year, remove dependence on diesel generators and create a livelihood for the local population that remains cut off for 6-8 months.

The Ladakh project will be located at Hanle-Khaldo in Nyoma, a strategically important area 254km from Leh. The Kargil project will be built at Suru in Zanskar, 254km from the district HQ. Power from the Ladakh project will flow to Kaithal in Haryana, for which a900-km line will be laid mostly along Leh-Manali road. The Kargil project will hook up with the grid at New Wanpoh near Srinagar.

The Times of India quoted SK Mishra, Director of Power Systems, Solar Electrification Corporation of India, "The Leh and Kargil administration have designated 25,000 and 12,500 acres of non-grazing land, respectively, at prices remunerative for the hill councils, which will also earn rental of around Rs1,200 per hectare, per annum, with 3% annual escalation".

Tender Details as on SECI website - 

- Chaitanya Kulkarni.

Monday, 7 January 2019

Fight against Bad Loans: Merger of Bank of Baroda, Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank to come into force from 1st April 2019.

The much-awaited amalgamation of Bank of Baroda, Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank is set to be India's first ever three-way consolidation of banks.

The Union Cabinet chaired by PM Narendra Modi has approved the scheme of amalgamation for amalgamating Bank of Baroda, Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank, with Bank of Baroda as the transferee bank and Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank as transferor banks.

The amalgamated entity, which is likely to retain the brand name of Bank of Baroda will become India's second largest bank after State Bank of India. The amalgamation will help create a strong globally competitive bank with economies of scale and enable realisation of wide-ranging synergies. Leveraging of networks, low-cost deposits and subsidiaries of the three banks has the potential of yielding significant synergies for positioning the consolidated entity for substantial rise in customer base, market reach, operational efficiency, wider bouquet of products and services, and improved access for customers.

Key points of the Scheme of amalgamation:
  1. Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank are transferor banks and BoB is transferee bank.
  2. The scheme shall come into force on 1.4.2019.
  3. Upon commencement of the scheme, the undertakings of the transferor banks as a going concern shall be transferred to and shall vest in the transferee bank, including, inter alia, all business, assets, rights, titles, claims, licenses, approvals and other privileges and all property, all bor­rowings, liabilities and obligations.
  4. Every permanent and regular officer or employee of the transferor banks shall become an officer or employee and shall hold his office or service therein in the transferee bank such that the pay and allowance offered to the employees/officers of transferor banks shall not be less favourable as compared to what they would have drawn in the respective transferor bank.
  5. The Board of the transferee bank shall ensure that the interests of all transferring employees and officers of the transferor bank are protected.
  6. The transferee bank shall issue shares to the shareholders of transferor banks as per share exchange ratio. Shareholders of the transferee bank and transferor banks shall be entitled to raise their grievances, if any, in relation to the share exchange ratio, through an expert committee.

 Some of the strengths of the envisaged amalgamated entity are-
  • The amalgamated bank will be better equipped in the changing environment to meet the credit needs of a growing economy, absorb shocks and capacity to raise resources. Economies of scale and wider scope would position it for improved profitability, wider product offerings, and adoption of technology and best practices across amalgamating entities for cost efficiency and improved risk management, and financial inclusion through wider reach.
  • It would also enable creation of a bank with scale comparable to global banks and capable of competing effectively in India and globally.
  • Strengths of individual banks - such as Dena Bank's relatively higher access to low-cost CASA deposits, Vijaya Bank's profitability and availability of capital for growth, and the extensive and global network and offerings of BoB will translate into advantages in terms of market reach, operational efficiencies and the ability to support a wider offering of product and services.
  • The amalgamated banks will have access to a wider talent pool, and a large database that may be leveraged through analytics for competitive advantage in a rapidly digitalising banking context. Benefits would also flow as a result of wider reach and distribution network and reduction in distribution costs for the products and services through subsidiaries.
  • The public at large shall benefit in terms of enhanced access to banking services through a stronger network, the ability to support a wider offering of product and services, and easy access to credit.
It would be herculean task to amalgamate banking services and IT set-up of these banks into a merged entity in just 3 months. The previous experience of SBI would help the Ministry of Finance to chart out the merger plan. The merger would create a behemoth banking company on the lines of SBI in these states: Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka. While the 85,000+ employees of these banks are curious about the way forward, the stocks of Bank of Baroda, Vijaya Bank were seen at day high since the announcement of the merger.

Source - Press Information Bureau.

Sunday, 30 December 2018

YES BANK Datathon unites professionals and academia to co-create next-gen data driven products.

Datathon Yes Bank Data Analytics Fintech

Technology and Banking are no longer poles apart. Over the last few years, innovation in the fintech industry has taken the world by storm, becoming a global phenomena not limited to one region. The Asian fintech space was dominated by innovations from Indian and Chinese firms, especially from the new-age startups. Being a software superpower, Indian startups and MNCs are contributed immensely towards the development of innovative products and models.

This year, we all have witnessed the growth of game-changing technologies like UPI, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence and Open Banking. Global technology giants like Google, WhatsApp were wooed by the United Payments Interface, making India a top destination of digital payment adoption. Blockchain, which is also the underlying technology for all cryptocurrencies is implemented by banks to secure financial transactions.

Experts who have closely followed these trends believe that the next wave of fintech would be in the field of data science. YES BANK, India’s fourth largest private bank has been at the forefront for adopting next-gen technologies to service its customers better. YES BANK believes that the best of outcomes in the field of technology is received from the engineers and data scientists of tomorrow – the students. The idea generation from aspiring data scientist and its execution under the mentorship of CIOs and CTOs would be key in building scalable models in the data science ecosystem.

Data scientists, engineers, students from Top colleges, all compete at the Datathon.

Datathon, India’s first bank led Datathon collaborated aspiring data scientists and professionals from IT field to augment YES BANK’s 600 TB anonymized and embedded data stack to create new Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML) prototypes in a period of just 100 days. In its inaugural season, more than 6000 aspiring data scientists/ engineers and developers joined this competitive initiative. The top teams include not only students from top technology institutes like the IITs, BITS, ISI Kolkata and University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka but also 150 plus professionals from top IT organisations.

Participants at Datathon got an opportunity to access unstructured and anonymised data on Cloudera and AWS dashboards. YES BANK had also onboarded a pool of 20+ data science experts and leaders across industries, to support the data science teams as well as to help the bank identify relevant use cases for product development using Big Data Analytics, AI and ML. After the detailed scrutiny of models, top 15 teams were invited to Bengaluru to present their models in front of esteemed panelists at Datathon Finale.

Data models developed during the Datathon were aimed at addressing the current business and service requirements. For instance, team Django Unchained has created an AI based application for sales representatives of the bank which enables them to measure share of wallet reserved for every retail customer, predict customer attrition and provide customized products to different classes of customer. Team Prayaas, a mix student team from NMIMS Mumbai and ISI Kolkata worked on a proactive model which predicts individual customer deliveries like cards, cheque books, statements by reducing human interference and service requests. Majority of models presented at Yes Datathon pointed towards improving customer satisfaction and reducing overheads; a facet of fintech.

And the winners are...

Oracle, a team of professionals from IBM and two students from IIM Bangalore bagged the top spot of Yes Datathon challenge. Team Oracle presented a ‘master product’ which creates a single 360 degree view of every retail customer. Upon analysis, the model provides customised product and service recommendations for every individual retail customer along with the resolution of pending service requests. Team Data Pros and Data Acers from the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka were honoured with runners-up and Best Student Team (position) at Yes Datathon challenge.

YES BANK plans to deploy the selected data models in the real-time banking ecosystem by March 2019. YES BANK believes in the ideology of consistently adopting next-gen technologies to deliver superior products and services. Datathon is also actively partnering with top technology institutes, and has partnered with top IITs and BITS Pilani, and will also host AI/ML challenges and data engineering workshops to deepen practical and technical knowhow of future technology leaders and widen the data science ecosystem. Yes Datathon is a part of a long-term strategy of YES BANK of ‘becoming a technology company in the banking business’.

- Chaitanya Kulkarni.