Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Govt of India sanctions subsidy for 5595 electric buses in 64 cities under FAME II.

Tata Ultra Electric bus has been deployed in Lucknow, Kolkata, Guwahati, Jammu Kashmir under FAME I scheme.


The Department of Heavy Industry has approved the sanction of 5595 electric buses to 64 Cities, State Government Entities, State Transport Undertakings (STUs) for intra-city and intercity operation under FAME India scheme phase II in order to give a further push to clean mobility in public transportation.

The Department had invited the Expression of Interest (EoI) from million-plus cities, smart cities, State/UT capitals and cities from special category states for submission of proposal for deployment of electric buses on an operational cost basis.

Eight six proposals from 26 States/UTs for the deployment of 14988 e-Buses were received. After evaluation of these proposals as per EoI, on the advice of Project Implementation and Sanctioning Committee, the Government sanctioned 5095 electric buses to 64 Cities / State Transport Corporations for intra-city operation, 400 electric buses for intercity operation and 100 electric buses for last-mile connectivity to Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC).

Each selected City/STUsis required to initiate the procurement process in a time-bound manner for the deployment of sanctioned electric buses on an operational cost basis. As per EoI, buses which satisfy required localization level and technical eligibility notified under FAME India scheme phase II will be eligible for funding under FAME India scheme phase II.

Tier 1 cities like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore will receive 300 electric buses each. Surprisingly, Chennai's proposal seems to be rejected. Pune and Surat are set to get 150 electric buses each. 400 electric buses will be deployed towards intercity operations and will be handed over to State Transport Corporations. Maharashtra has received highest allocation of 775 buses followed by Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, and Tamil Nadu.

These buses will run about 4 billion kilometers during their contract period and are expected to save cumulatively about 1.2 billion liters of fuel over the contract period, which will result into avoidance of 2.6 million tonnes of CO2 emission.


Source - PIB.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

AIIB approves $100 million to Larsen Toubro Finance arm for wind and solar projects


The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank’s (AIIB) latest project will increase the supply of renewable energy in India by mobilizing private capital. The project provides a $100 million loan to L&T Infrastructure Finance Company Limited (LTIF), a subsidiary of L&T Finance Holdings Ltd and a leading non-bank financier of renewable energy in India. The financing marks AIIB’s first loan to a non-banking finance company (NBFC). 

The loan proceeds will be used to on-lend to wind and solar power infrastructure projects throughout India. The loan mobilizes private capital from sponsors, other financiers and LTIF’s own sources.

India is committed to reducing its carbon intensity by 30 to 35 percent of 2005 levels by 2030 under the Paris Agreement. The country will need to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in its energy mix if it is to achieve this target. Investment in renewable energy is an efficient way for India to reduce its carbon intensity while meeting its growing energy needs. NBFCs play a crucial role in broadening access to financial services, enhancing competition and diversity in the financial sector, and has emerged as key financiers of renewable energy. 

“AIIB’s financing will help secure the funding supply for renewable energy project development in India,” said AIIB Vice President and Chief Investment Officer D.J. Pandian. “The project supports AIIB’s commitment to sustainable energy for Asia to reduce the carbon intensity of energy supply.” 

LTIF’s collaboration with AIIB will also help the company develop its environmental and social capabilities which will in the future enable it to tap the international market for green finance.

Source - AIIB.

Monday, 15 July 2019

Tamal Bandyopadhyay’s HDFC Bank 2.0 book narrates the Puri legacy.


Tamal Bandyopadhyay book Aditya Puri


Indian banking industry is not in the pink of health now but that’s largely the story of the government-owned banks. If we look at the private sector, barring a few odd banks which are not the best examples of corporate governance, over the last three decades, the industry has witnessed phenomenal growth with consumerism. The privitisation push in 1991 was a defining moment for the financial sector in India. What we have achieved today would not have been possible without India’s private sector banks like HDFC Bank. It is a child of economic liberalisation.

In the 1990’s, talking about banks as dinosaurs, Bill Gates of Microsoft famously said, “We need banking, but we don’t need banks anymore”. Three decades later, a bank is still relevant and will continue to do so if it’s willing to reinvent itself to be in sync with the changing milieu where it operates – by embracing digitalisation.

From a nimble start-up in 1995 to India’s most valuable banking brand, HDFC Bank has a made  gigantic strides into the world of digital banking under the leadership of Mr Aditya Puri. In a sector marred by controversies, Mr Puri has not just been the longest serving chairman of any bank globally but the face of a world class bank in India. Tamal Bandyopadhyay’s latest book “HDFC Bank 2.0: From Dawn to Digital” narrates this unique story of the  transformation of India’s most valued lender from a life cycle bank to a lifestyle bank. 

For starters, let me remind you that this book is not a sponsored project. It chronicles the HDFC Bank story warts and all. While highlighting the bank’s unique features, Tamal also criticises the unforgivable mistakes done by HDFC Bank during this journey through his unparalleled  writing skills. 

One of the key reasons why Indian banks were largely unaffected  during the Global Financial Crisis of 2009 was the fact that they were truly connected with their roots. During that  period, Mr Puri had guided HDFC Bank to add branches and ATM network in tier three cities and rural areas. The expansion drive created the credit card, auto and home loan boom. The book describes how  a bank reaching out to person for a loan – and not  the other way round - creates a new sense of trust in the aspirational class of India.

The era of Digital Disruption

Mr Puri believes that digitalisation and disruption are intertwined. Whenever there’s change, people tend to panic but if handled correctly, it can open up new beginnings. HDFC Bank saw this transformation ahead of others. During his Silicon Valley trip in 2014, Mr Puri saw how the fintech companies – the new kids on the  tech block – were venturing into fund transfers, mobile banking and shopping. They could build products that could give instant loan with slick user interface on their phones. Home grown fintech innovations like the United Payments Interface (UPI) were set to transform the way we Indians bank.

“Why don’t we disrupt ourselves instead of waiting to be disrupted by fintech companies? Why can’t we give a loan in 10 seconds? Why can’t we invent something to transfer money in just a click? HDFC Bank aspires to become a financial marketplace. It wants to be India’s Alibaba or Netflix when it comes to banking”. - Mr Aditya Puri, Chairman & Managing Director, HDFC Bank.

HDFC Bank first tied up with Chillr, an app which sends money over the phone using a UPI technology. A BharatQR code-based payments service named PayZapp is popular in many stores. The bank has also used AI for many applications like chatbots and social media interactions. Indigenously developed IRA robots have been deployed at several branches to solve customer queries. 

While adopting this technological shift, there were times when the bank failed on the customer front. For instance, the HDFC bank app crash in November 2018 became a hot topic in the media and  the bank was subjected to national outrage and ridicule. The book – “HDFC Bank 2.0: From Dawn to Digital” – clinically  chronicles the journey over the years.

About the book

Tamal Bandyopadhyay’s HDFC Bank 2.0: From Dawn to Digital is published by Jaico Publishing House. The book was launched by Rajnish Kumar, Chairman, State Bank of India at Nehru Centre, Mumbai. Aditya Puri, Managing Director, HDFC Bank Ltd  and many  luminaries in the financial services industry were present there. Tamal Bandyopadhyay is an author, columnist and keen watcher of banking and finance. His Banker’s Trust column, which now appears every Monday in Business Standard, is the most popular column on banking and finance with over half a million followers on the Linkedin platform.

“Tamal combines his financial knowledge, eye for detail, and an excellent storytelling style to create a vivid portrait of India’s most valued bank and its path to future” - Nandan Nilekani, Co-foundar & Chairman, Infosys & founding chairman of UIDAI, has written in his forward to the book.

HDFC Bank 2.0: From Dawn to Digital (ISBN: 978-93-88423-35-9) are now available at Crossword, Amazon, Flipkart and other leading book stores.

Friday, 12 July 2019

TVS launches India's first Ethanol based Motorcycle - Apache RTR 200 Fi Ei100 at Rs 1.2 lakhs.

Ethanol Bike In India


A #MakeInIndia products which runs on #MakeInIndia fuel.

TVS Motor Company, a reputed manufacturer of two-wheelers and three-wheelers in the world have created a benchmark in the industry by launching India’s first Ethanol based motorcycle – TVS Apache RTR 200 Fi E100. The motorcycle was launched by Shri. Nitin Jairam Gadkari, Hon’ble Minister for Road Transport and Highways of India & Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Shri. Amitabh Kant, CEO of NITI Aayog, and Shri. Venu Srinivasan, Chairman, TVS Motor Company.

TVS Motor Company first showcased the TVS Apache RTR 200 4V Ethanol concept in Auto Expo 2018 held in Delhi. TVS Apache is the flagship brand of TVS Motor Company with over 3.5 million happy customers across the globe.

Commenting on this launch, Shri. Venu Srinivasan, Chairman, TVS Motor Company, said, “We are delighted to launch the TVS Apache RTR 200 Fi E100 in the presence of Hon’ble Minister for Road Transport & Highways of India; & Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Shri. Nitin Jairam Gadkari who has created a roadmap for the implementation of future mobility in the country.”

Shri. Srinivasan further added, “Today, the two-wheeler industry is looking at green and sustainable future mobility solutions spanning across electric, hybrid and alternate fuels. TVS Motor Company believes that Ethanol-based products are an important option for our customers. This is due to the easy compatibility in the transition to Ethanol and its sustained positive impact on the environment without compromising on performance and total cost of ownership. TVS Apache RTR 200 Fi E100 is a breakthrough in the two-wheeler space that will set the trend for a green future in India.”

Ethanol will be domestically produced by the farmers of this country. It is cost-effective, import free and environmentally sustainable fuel.

Ethanol is domestically produced from renewable plant sources. It is non-toxic, biodegradable, as well as safe to handle, store and transport. An oxygenated fuel that contains 35% oxygen, Ethanol reduces nitrogen oxide emissions from combustion. Apart from this, Ethanol also helps reduce carbon monoxide emissions, particulate matter, and sulphur-di-oxide. Use of Ethanol as a fuel will also reduce dependence on the import of petroleum and increase energy security.

The TVS Apache RTR 200 Fi E100 sports a vibrant interplay of green graphics seamlessly woven with the ‘Ethanol’ logo. It is equipped with a Twin-Spray-Twin-Port EFI technology. This ensures better drivability, faster throttle response and reduction in emission levels. It delivers better usable power under varied ambient conditions. This motorcycle boasts of impressive peak power of 21 PS @ 8500 rpm with a torque of 18.1 Nm @ 7000 rpm and has an ascending top speed of 129 kmph.

Promising consistent performance coupled with a sustainable green solution, the TVS Apache RTR 200 Fi E100 is a winner for both the rider and the environment. This special edition would be available in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and Karnataka at an attractive price of Rs. 1,20,000.

- Press Release.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Shapoorji Pallonji's renewable energy arm Sterling and Wilson Solar Ltd ranked World's Largest Solar EPC Service Provider: IHS Markit.



Sterling and Wilson Solar Limited, a Shapoorji Pallonji group company, has been ranked as the world's largest Solar EPC service provider by IHS Markit in its recently announced Solar EPC and O&M Provider Tracker Q1 2019 report. The ranking is basis the annual installations of utility-scale PV systems of more than five MWp in the year 2018. As the largest global Solar EPC solutions provider, Sterling and Wilson Solar had a global market share of 4.6% in the year 2018 - a number more than double that of the 2nd largest company globally - according to IHS Markit. The company was also ranked as the largest Solar EPC solutions provider in India with a market share of 16.6%, 3 times the size of its closest competitor.

Declining costs, advancing technology trends and favorable regulatory environments across the world are some of the factors driving the growth of solar energy globally. Sterling and Wilson Solar has built more than 6 GWp of solar plants across the globe and the recognition as the world's largest solar EPC provider is a significant milestone in its trajectory.

With a strength of 1179 employees across the world including 138 in design and engineering, Sterling and Wilson Solar has been executing projects globally. Today, it has over 6062.83 MWp of solar EPC projects as part of its portfolio in different stages of implementation (commissioned and contracted). This impressive global portfolio also includes a 1,177 MWp single location Solar PV plant in Abu Dhabi - one of the world' s largest such Solar PV plants.

Sterling and Wilson Solar is present in 26 countries today, with operations in India, South East Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, the Americas, and Australia. The company has been strategically focusing on markets that have conducive solar power policies and investing resources in geographies that have long-term solar opportunities in utility-scale solar power projects and rooftop solar projects.

In the year 2018, according to IHS Markit, the company was also the largest solar EPC solutions provider in Africa and the Middle East with a market share of 36.6% and 40.4% respectively. Today, Sterling and Wilson Solar is expanding its global presence through strategic acquisitions in its target markets. The company recently acquired a 76% equity interest in GCO Electricals Pty Limited, an electrical contracting company based in Australia with expertise in the execution of solar power projects in the region. 

The company provides EPC services primarily for utility-scale solar power projects with a focus on project design and engineering and manage all aspects of project execution from conceptualizing to commissioning. As the global solar market is likely to grow substantially in the years to come, Sterling and Wilson Solar has positioned itself well to be at the forefront of this tremendous opportunity.

Source: Press Release/PTI.

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Morocco to inaugurate Africa's Largest Seawater Desalination Plant by 2021.

Desalination Plant in Sorek, Israel.

India has a coastline of 7500km and yet it struggles to provide unlimited water to its citizens, farmers and industries. In the words of Socialist Dr. Lohia, 'India's Shakti (here women) are capable to solve innumerable problems of themselves and Bharat Bhoomi in whole but first, we need to provide them with toilets and water'. India's newly formed Jal Shakti Ministry has released the target to provide potable tap water to every household by 2024. 

Despite having such a huge coastline and massive rivers like Ganga, Godavari and Brahmaputra, we Indians suffer due to lackluster planning and low investments in Water Technology. Israel, the land with no river provides 24x7 potable water to its citizens and farmers, thanks to the adoption of scientific Sea Water Desalination technology. 

It's not that desalination tech is something new to India. Reliance Industries produces desalinated water for its Jamnagar refinery and even provides additional water to Jamnagar Municipal Corp at a fee. Chennai drinks desalinated water from one of its desalinated plants on East Coast Road. In fact, Indian companies like VA TECH WABAG, Essel Infraprojects and L&T have been awarded works to set up desalination plants in abroad and India. City nations like Singapore, Qatar, Kuwait are using Desalination for decades. Recently, Morocco has awarded a contract to a Spanish firm to build 'Africa's Largest Seawater Desalination Plant' in the city of Adagir.

In 2017, Spain's Abengoa signed contracts to develop a desalination and irrigation project in the Agadir region. The project, valued €309 million, involves the construction of a desalination plant with a 275,000 m3 total production capacity of desalinated water per day which will be the largest plant designed for drinking water and irrigation. The contract also provides for the possible capacity expansion to up to 450,000 m3/day.

The project involves increasing plant capacity to 150,000 m3/d of drinking water. And the second project calls for the additional production of 125,000 m3/d of irrigation water as well as the construction of the corresponding irrigation network for a total of 13,600 ha. Project operations can be powered on renewable power with a focus to meet the demand for water for domestic use in addition to irrigation water needs in the area of Agadir.

Farmers have also contributed MAD 10,000 (1 MAD - INR 7.24) to the financing of the station. The government has promised them desalinated water for irrigation at a low price of MAD 5 per cubic meters in exchange for the investment in construction.

As of now, the world's largest sea water desalination plant is located in Saudi Arabia. The Ras Al Khair plant has a desalination capacity of 1,036,000 m3/day.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

BSE launches 'BSE stAR MF' Android app for its mutual fund platform


BSE StAR MF, India's largest Mutual Funds Distributor platform, launched its mobile app - ‘BSE StAR MF’ at BSE International Convention Hall, Mumbai. The newly-launched app would look at enabling more participation from Mutual Fund Distributors (MFDs) by helping them process transactions on the go! The app would further ease the process of purchase and redemption of mutual fund units on behalf of their clients.

BSE StAR MF Mobile app supports real-time client registration and paperless transactions, creates and uploads mandate for SIPs, generates the basket of multiple of orders, tracks and allows the distributor to analyse his business at his fingertips.

In April 2019, the platform processed 42.6 lakh transactions. In FY2018-19, BSE StAR MF crossed 3.5 crore transactions witnessing 111% growth as compared to 1.70 crore transactions in FY2017-18.

Commenting on the launch of BSE StAR MF app, BSE MD & CEO, Ashishkumar Chauhan said, “BSE StAR MF platform has become a benchmark for the fintech industry in India by e-enabling more than 24,000 direct IFAs and 200,000 indirect IFAs to automate end to end processes in their front and back offices. The launch of the app would further provide the comfort of doing business to our 24,000 members. This app would not only increase their productivity, but would also enable IFAs to take their business anywhere, anytime. BSE StAR MF has seen more than 100% year on year growth every year for the last 10 years consistently. With the launch of the app, we look forward to help IFAs grow their business and retain the No. 1 position in the online MF distribution platform segment. This mobile application will also be provided to individual investors shortly.”

Overall, the superior support system and distribution reach of BSE StAR MF has enabled the platform to grow exponentially with the registered distributors soon to touch 24,000 in India. The launch of the StAR MF app is expected to further increase the number of distributors significantly. In the future, the app aims to support online video KYC to onboard new investors.  The BSE StAR MF app can be downloaded from the Google Play Store. Once the app is downloaded, the sign up can be done by providing the member identification number.

Source: Press Release.

Monday, 13 May 2019

Cashkrupt Pakistan receives $6 billion bailout from International Monetary Fund.

Security at China owned Port of Gwadar, Balochistan.

Failed economic policies, sponsorships for Islamic terror, high inflation and active corruption at all stages of government has taken down India's enemy neighbour, Pakistan at its knee. Pak PM Imran Khan has put the onus of degrading economic position on former PM Nawaz Shariff. The much touted economic corridor of prosperity, CPEC, has turned into an economic nightmare for taxpaying Pakistani citizens. For instance, the Chinese owned Gwadar Port in Balochistan rarely has any shipping calls. China has assured continuous economic help for the fulfillment of CPEC, as of now. After personally escorting Saudi King, Pakistan has received moratorium for deferred oil payments for one year. But this was not enough to save Pakistan's depleting economic reserves.

In April 2019, the finance minister of Pakistan requested the 13th bailout since the 80s from International Monetary Fund (IMF). In response to a request by the Pakistani authorities, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Mr. Ernesto Ramirez Rigo visited Islamabad, Pakistan from April 29 to May 11 to discuss IMF support for the authorities’ economic reform program.

The Pakistani authorities and the IMF team have reached a staff-level agreement on economic policies that could be supported by a 39-month Extended Fund Arrangement (EFF) for about US$6 billion. This agreement is subject to IMF management approval and to approval by the Executive Board, subject to the timely implementation of prior actions and confirmation of international partners’ financial commitments. The program aims to support the authorities’ strategy for stronger and more balanced growth by reducing domestic and external imbalances, improving the business environment, strengthening institutions, increasing transparency, and protecting social spending.

At the end of the visit, the IMF representative Mr. Ramirez Rigo made the following statement:

"Pakistan is facing a challenging economic environment, with lackluster growth, elevated inflation, high indebtedness, and a weak external position. This reflects the legacy of uneven and procyclical economic policies in recent years aiming to boost growth, but at the expense of rising vulnerabilities and lingering structural and institutional weaknesses. The authorities recognize the need to address these challenges, as well as to tackle the large informality in the economy, the low spending in human capital, and poverty. In this regard, the government has already initiated a difficult, but necessary, adjustment to stabilize the economy, including thorough support from the State Bank of Pakistan. These efforts need to be strengthened. Decisive policies and reforms, together with significant external financing are necessary to reduce vulnerabilities faster, increase confidence, and put the economy back on a sustainable growth path, with stronger private sector activity and job creation."

"The EFF aims to support the authorities’ ambitious macroeconomic and structural reform agenda during the next three years. This includes improving public finances and reducing public debt through tax policy and administrative reforms to strengthen revenue mobilization and ensure a more equal and transparent distribution of the tax burden. At the same time, a comprehensive plan for cost-recovery in the energy sectors and state-owned enterprises will help eliminate or reduce the quasi-fiscal deficit that drains scarce government resources. These efforts will create fiscal space for a substantial increase in social spending to strengthen social protection as well as in infrastructure and human capital development. The modernization of the public finance management framework will increase transparency and spending efficiency. Provinces are committed to contributing to these efforts by better aligning their fiscal objectives with those of the federal government."

"The forthcoming budget for FY2019/20 is a first critical step in the authorities’ fiscal strategy. The budget will aim for a primary deficit of 0.6 percent of GDP supported by tax policy revenue mobilization measures to eliminate exemptions, curtail special treatments, and improve tax administration."

What Next?

The State Bank of Pakistan has assured the IMF that it will focus on reducing inflation, which disproportionately affects the poor, and safeguarding financial stability. A market-determined exchange rate will help the functioning of the financial sector and contribute to better resource allocation in the economy.

While a $6 billion bailout comes as a breather for tumbling Pakistan. The question arises that till when will this $6 billion help last. Will Pakistan stop the financing of Jihad for the moment at least to avoid the hanging sword of Paris based FATF? Any adventure with the world's fastest growing economy, India could spell doomsday for Pakistan at this very moment.

- Chaitanya Kulkarni

Source: IMF.

Friday, 10 May 2019

Reliance Industries acquires 100% stake in global toy retailer Hamleys.

Hamleys Store in Singapore.


Reliance Brands Limited, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited, and Hong Kong-based C Banner International Holdings have signed a definitive agreement for Reliance Brands to acquire 100% shares of Hamleys Global Holdings Limited, which owns and operatives Hamleys brand worldwide, from C Banner International. The acquisition is valued at approx Rs 620 crores in an all-cash deal.

Founded in 1760 by Williams Hamley in London, Hamleys has over 250 years of celebrated history of being the oldest and largest toy shop in the world and bringing smiles to children all over the world. From soft toys to dolls and GenX remote control cars, Hamleys truly represent a unique model leveraging the quality and wide range of toys.

Globally, Hamleys has 167 stores across 18 countries. In India, Reliance has the master franchise for Hamleys and currently operates 88 stores across 29 cities. Hamleys started with the India journey by opening a 22,000 sq feet store at Phoenix Malls in Lower Parel, Mumbai. The first Hamleys store in London is as huge as 7 floors and covers 54,000 sq feet store area with over 50,000 lines of toys at the sale. The London Hamleys store is UK's prominent tourist attraction with 5 million visitors every year. In early 2018, Hamleys opened its largest ever store of 1,15,000 sq feet in Beijing, China. This acquisition will catapult Reliance Brands to be a dominant player in the global toy industry.

While kids dream to have every single toy on display at Hamleys, Mukesh Bhai has fulfilled RIL's long cherished dream by acquiring the World's largest toy store chain in an all-cash deal altogether. The worldwide acquisition of the iconic Hamleys brand and business, places Reliance into the frontline of global retail.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Piramal and CPPIB to launch India's maiden Renewable Energy focused InvIT.



CPPIB has committed $360 million while Piramal will provide $90 million

Piramal Enterprises Limited (“PEL”) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (“CPPIB”), a Canadian pension fund, to co-sponsor a renewable energy-focused Infrastructure Investment Trust (“InvIT”). With an initial corpus of US$ 600 million, and the option to scale further, the InvIT would seek to acquire up to 1.5-2GW of stable and cash generating renewables assets on a hold-to-maturity basis, with a firm focus on diversification of both asset type as well as off-taker profile.

"Piramal is pleased to partner with CPPIB on the launch of the first ever InvIT in India, focused on renewables. The foundation of this partnership is based on a shared ethos and values that leverage CPPIB’s global track record of value creation in the infrastructure space with PEL’s long term strategy and goodwill in India. We are enthusiastic about the opportunity as it is truly scalable and continue to remain committed to creating value for our shareholders." - Ajay Piramal, Chairman, Piramal Group.

Mumbai based Piramal Enterprises Limited (PEL) is one of India’s large diversified companies, with a presence in Financial Services, Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare Insights & Analytics with a consolidated revenue of over US$1.9 billion in FY2019, with ~40% of revenues generated from outside India.

Headquartered in Toronto, with offices in Hong Kong, London, Luxembourg, Mumbai, New York City, São Paulo, and Sydney, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board is governed and managed independently of the Canada Pension Plan and at arm's length from governments. In mid-2018, CPPIB announced that it would foray in Green Bonds.

Both PEL and CPPIB will act as Co-Sponsors of the proposed InvIT and hold up to 75% of the units (with CPPIB committing US$360m and holding up to 60%; PEL committing US$90m and holding 15% ) and seek to raise capital from other like-minded investors for the remaining 25%. In the interim and prior to its launch, PEL and CPPIB will jointly warehouse seed assets for the proposed InvIT. PEL would act as the sole Investment Manager as well as Project Manager for the proposed InvIT.

The renewable energy sector is at an inflection point and is witnessing significant consolidation, the pace of which is likely to increase in the near future.  The timing of the issue is therefore opportune for aggregating assets in this sector given that the existing players are willing sellers in light of a constrained capital market environment - both debt and equity. This is the first truly neutral ‘white-label’ InvIT – led by a fiduciary and supported by patient capital with a strong record of corporate governance. Renewable InvITs can serve as a strong catalyst for the Green Energy sector as a whole.

Friday, 3 May 2019

BHEL and LIBCOIN to Build India’s First Lithium Ion Giga Factory.


Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) and Libcoin are in dialogue to form a world class consortium to initially build 1GWh lithium ion battery plant in India. Its capacity will be scaled up to 30GWh in due course. With this, India has finally taken steps into its energy security and clean energy commitment to the world.

BHEL will be sending a team of senior officers for the study of the facilities, R&D infrastructure and other techno-commercial issues soon. Based upon the evaluation and recommendations of the team, further process towards the formation of Joint Venture will be carried forward.

This project will bring energy independence by replacing oil imports with abundant renewable. This project also includes “Made by India, for India”, with focus on core-cost components manufactured domestically. It will also create an integrated manufacturing ecosystem resulting in self-reliance and lower cost.

A holistic view of the supply chain in combination with cutting edge digital technologies to replace high CAPEX and high OPEX processes will be the highlight of this project in India. 

Various Indian cities including Delhi have been struggling to cut down their pollution level for the last several years and electric transportation has been considered as one of the viable approaches to cut down emission. The number of electric cars in the world already hit million-mark last year and the International Energy Agency has projected almost 140 million electric cars globally by 2030, if countries meet Paris climate accord targets, in which India has already committed to actively participate.

Source: PIB.

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Amazon Pay launches P2P payments through UPI in India.


NPCI's United Payments Interface is widening in footprints in India through Indian and International apps and services. In its continuous effort make payments more convenient and foster everyday habits, Amazon Pay today announced the launch of person-to-person (P2P) payments for Android users. 

Amazon customers can now make instant bank-to-bank transfers using UPI platform on the Amazon app. Customers can use this functionality to settle bills/expenses with friends, lend/return money to family, pay rents, pay for services like house-help, newspaper bills, milk subscription and more. Customers can also make payments from their bank account to local stores nearby or to Amazon delivery associate at doorstep by scanning UPI QR codes using the Amazon app. Built on the Govt. of India backed UPI platform, customers can send or receive P2P payments by simply selecting a contact from their phone contact book or entering UPI ID or Bank Account of the recipient. Money transfers have never been more easy and convenient.

Customers can now send or request money instantly directly from the Amazon Mshop app. Further, Amazon Pay has made it easier for customers to make repeat payments by displaying recent transactions. The customers can easily access their phone contact book and initiate payments by simply tapping on the contact. Amazon auto-detects if the contact is a registered Amazon Pay UPI customer and enables instant bank to bank transfer. If the contact is not registered for Amazon Pay UPI, the customer has the option to pay using any another BHIM UPI ID or contact’s bank account. After selecting contact, the customer inputs the amount and enters UPI PIN to confirm payment. All P2P payments are secured through multi factor authentication involving customer’s phone, SIM details, and UPI PIN. The money is transferred instantly and both customer and receiver are notified through SMS alerts and in-app notifications.

Amazon customers can make instant bank to bank transfers through the ‘Send Money’ or ‘Request Money’ link on through their Amazon Android app. As a launch offer customers can get up to Rs 120 cashback on Sending Money through UPI.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

TCS will digitally transform India Post's 1,50,000 post offices with ERP solutions.


Indian MNC Tata Consultancy Services has received an order to digitally transform India Post's 1,50,000 e-postal network with next-gen ERP solutions. TCS has partnered with the Department of Posts in its multi-year transformational journey to become a multi-service digital hub, modernize the delivery of mail and packages, enhance customer experience, and launch innovative services that will drive new revenues.

At the heart of this transformation is the Core System Integration (CSI) program designed and implemented by TCS. This involved deploying an integrated ERP solution that caters to mail operations, finance and accounting, and HR functions, and connects its vast network of more than 150,000 post offices, making this the largest distributed ePostal network in the world.

The integrated solution is built to cater to the Department’s immense scale, and future needs. It supports the HR needs of over 500,000 employees, services over 40,000 concurrent users, and processes over 3 million postal transactions a day, making this one of the largest SAP implementations in the world.

On the front-end, TCS has implemented its Point of Sale (PoS) solution across 24,000 post offices with over 80,000 PoS terminals, making this amongst the largest such implementations in the world. Additionally, TCS has built a web portal with consignment tracking capabilities, and set up a multi-lingual call center for customer support.

To enable India Post to benefit from the burgeoning ecommerce opportunity, while fulfilling a vital social obligation, the web portal has an e-marketplace to help rural artisans, self-help groups, and women entrepreneurs reach out to buyers throughout the country.

An important objective of the transformation is to use the Department’s nation-wide reach to drive financial inclusion and accessibility of citizen services in remote areas. This is being accomplished through over 130,000 DARPAN hand-held devices that Gramin Dak Sevaks use to provide postal, banking, insurance, and cash management services in remote villages, even those without network connectivity.

Salim Haque, Member, Postal Services Board, said, “A program of this scale, spread and complexity, required meticulous planning and adroit execution. The TCS team has shown sheer rigor, passion, dedication and attention to detail, which have been commendable. Their maturity in understanding the requirements of India Post has been par excellence, yielding a robust design, which makes the solution state-of-the-art and adaptable to future needs.”

Department of Posts is pioneering in an initiative to build a world class, future-ready digital platform that the nation can be proud of. With the implementation of Enterprise Resource Planning solutions, the department can offer smart postal services, enriched customer experiences, and innovative value-added services to the citizens of India.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Philippines based Atlantic Gulf and Pacific company bags 9 licenses in 10th City Gas Distribution bidding.


Atlantic Gulf & Pacific Company of Manila (AG&P), a leading global gas logistics company, has emerged as a dominant LNG player in South India, securing nine licenses in the 10th round auction of City Gas Distribution (CGD) concessions by the Petroleum & Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB). AGP will provide piped gas in 9 districts of South India and will establish more than 1000 CNG stations.

AG&P is only one of two foreign companies to secure the coveted agreements to deliver natural gas directly to the residential, commercial, industrial and transport sectors in some of India’s most densely populated states. AG&P’s 25-year exclusive rights cover natural gas pipelines to residential users, supply for commercial establishments and CNG stations for cars, buses and trucks in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Rajasthan.

The districts are home to the automobile, chemical, fertilizer, glass, steel, ceramics, food and pharmaceutical industries as well as major commercial centres. AG&P will build compressed natural gas stations, supported by steel pipelines and delivery of LNG by truck. Through its CGD networks, AG&P will bring significant foreign direct investment and generate direct and indirect employment across the country. The construction and operation of AG&P’s CGD networks will create thousands of local jobs. Like all AG&P employees, these workers will be trained to the highest international standards of safety and technical excellence.

The cheaper supplies of natural gas will be made available by the Honourable Government of India for domestic and vehicular needs. The commercial and industrial sector needs will be secured through uninterrupted imported LNG supplies, channelled through commissioned and upcoming LNG terminals.

“AG&P Group, a 119-year young multinational, with operation headquarters in Manila, Philippines has arrived in the Indian sub-continent with a vision of supporting the growth and development of India’s ever-growing energy needs and to touch the lives of millions of people. As a global player, we understand and value the responsibility and commitment entrusted to us for shouldering the infrastructure development to meet these energy needs with international best practices in safety, technology, conserving the environment, efficient and cost-effective energy solutions,” - Mr. PPG Sarma, Managing Director, City Gas Distribution & Logistics.

List of cities/districts

Andhra Pradesh: Anantapur, Cuddapah, Nellore, Chittoor.

Karnataka: Kolar, Bagalkot, Kopal, Raichur, Chikmaggaluru, Hassan, Kodagu, Gulbarga, Vijaypura, Mysure, Mandya, Chamarajnagar, Uttara Kannada, Haveri, Shivamogga.

Tamil Nadu: Vellore, Ramanathapuram, Kanchipuram.

Kerala: Alapuzzha, Trivandrum, Kollam

Rajasthan (North West India): Barmer, Jaisalmer and Jodhpur.

Once operational, AG&P’s CGD networks will accelerate industrialization, drive further economic development and overall, improve the quality of life of millions of Indians, while helping lay the foundations for the delivery of India’s goal of a clean energy future. 10th CGD bidding will bring clean cooking fuel and cheap CNG in 50 districts of India which would further enhance safe cooking and viable transportation.

- Press Release.

Friday, 5 April 2019

BRICS funding agency New Development Bank plans to double its loan book to $16 billion


The New Development Bank (NDB), a multilateral finance institution established by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) in 2014, plans to almost double its loan book to USD 16 billion this year and increase its impact, as the Bank seeks to broaden its global development partnerships and mobilise more institutional and private capital. These announcements were made at the 4th Annual Meeting of the NDB in Cape Town, South Africa which brought together senior government officials from BRICS countries, leaders of multilateral and national development institutions, distinguished scholars, prominent commercial bankers, captains of industry and representatives of civil society organizations.

NDB is headed by renowned Indian banker Shri KV Kamath. In his keynote speech, he mentioned that in the year 2019 New Development Bank will build on the strong momentum in its operations with an aims to double its loan approval book to about USD 16 billion. The Bank will ramp up its hard currency financing from the international capital markets.

The NDB was established to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in member states as well as other emerging economies, and the Bank is strongly committed to supporting the sustainable development agenda of its member countries.

In 2018, the NDB approved 17 loans totaling about USD 4.6 billion, building on its base of 13 loans worth USD 3.4 billion as of the end of 2017. That brought the total loan book of the bank to 30 projects worth approximately USD 8 billion by the end of last year.

The NDB has approved five additional projects with loans aggregating to approximately USD 1.2 billion, two in China and three in South Africa, taking its total loan book to USD 9.2 billion as of today. These five new projects include RMB 825 million (USD 123 million) for the Shengzhou Urban and Rural Integrated Water Supply and Sanitation Project (Phase II); USD 300 million for the Guangxi Chongzuo Urban Water System Ecological Restoration Project; USD 480 million to Eskom for the Environmental Protection Project at Medupi Thermal Power Plant; ZAR 1.15 billion (USD 80 million) to the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) for its Renewable Energy Sector Development Project; and ZAR 3.2 billion (USD 220 million) to South Africa's Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA) for work on the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (Phase II).

In India, the New Development Bank has financed an ambitious Mumbai Metro Line 2B (DN Nagar - Mankhurd) prItst. It's loan book to India include Rural Road, Bridges and Water Supply projects in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan. NDB has also approved a Renewable Energy Financing Scheme of USD 250 million with Canara Bank.

New Development Bank has principally approved a loan to Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority for the financing of Mumbai Metro Line 8 (Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport - Navi Mumbai International Airport), Line 10 (Gaimukh - Shivaji Chowk) and Line 11 (Wadala - GPO). Other proposed loans to India include USD 224 million for 8km Brahmaputra bridge in Guwahati, Assam.

"The share of the BRICS countries in world GDP in PPP terms has grown from 30% to 36% since 2010. This growth has put increased pressures on natural resources and the environment. Fortunately, however, our members have explicitly recognized these pressures and are increasingly investing in undoing some of the past damage. Our members are also focusing on implementing development strategies aimed at minimizing adverse impacts in the future. In both these endeavours, the Bank is being called upon to assist," said Mr. Kamath in his keynote speech.

The NDB now plans to open additional regional offices in Brazil and Russia and is considering opening an Indian regional office in due course.

- Chaitanya Kulkarni.

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

India will remain one of the fastest-growing major economies in the world - Asian Development Bank

Gurugram, India.
Global lender, Asian Development Bank has predicted 7.2% GDP Growth for India in the fiscal year 2019. Strong domestic demand would ensure that India will be the fastest growing economy in the world.

Recent policy measures by the Modi government will improve the investment climate and boost private consumption and investment will help India to lift economic growth in the next two fiscal years, according to a new report from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

In its Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2019, ADB projects gross domestic product (GDP) growth in India to rise to 7.2% in fiscal year (FY) 2019 and reach 7.3% in FY2020, reversing two years of declining growth as reforms to improve the business and investment climate take effect.

“India will remain one of the fastest-growing major economies in the world this year given strong household spending and corporate fundamentals,” said ADB Chief Economist Mr. Yasuyuki Sawada. “India has a golden opportunity to cement recent economic gains by becoming more integrated in global value chains. The country’s young workforce, an improving business climate, and a renewed focus on export expansion all support this.”

Income support to farmers, hikes in procurement prices for food grains, and tax relief to tax payers earning less than Rs 500,000 will boost household income. Declining fuel and food prices are also expected to provide an impetus for consumption. An increase in utilization of production capacity by firms, along with falling levels of stressed assets held by banks and easing of credit restrictions on certain banks, is expected to help investment grow at a healthy rate.

Downside risks to growth include a higher-than-expected moderation in global demand and a potential escalation of trade tensions. Lower-than-targeted tax revenues or a delay in strengthening bank and corporate balance sheets could also undermine economic expansion.

Consumer price inflation is expected to rise to 4.3% in FY2019 and 4.6% in FY2020 as food costs increase slightly and domestic demand strengthens. Given that inflation is expected to average around 4.0% in the first half of FY2019, the central bank would have some room for lowering policy rates.

Imports are expected to rise mainly due to stronger domestic demand while a growth slowdown in India’s key export destinations would dent export growth. The current account deficit is expected to widen a bit to 2.4% of GDP in FY2019 and 2.5% of GDP in FY2019. The deficit is expected to be financed comfortably by capital flows, given that India has emerged as an attractive destination for foreign investment.

A key factor driving India’s persistent current account deficit is its tepid export performance compared to other East and Southeast Asian economies. India’s export performance could benefit from greater participation in global value chains (GVCs). Lower trade costs, improved infrastructure quality, and enhanced worker skills could help India integrate more with GVCs. Global experience suggests that enhanced GVC participation is also associated with other development goals that India strives to achieve such as higher economic growth, an increase in the share of manufacturing in GDP, and faster job creation.

Popular schemes like PM Kisan Yojana may enhance domestic consumption further. India is today a bright spot in the world economy and it would continue to remain so with a high GDP growth rate.

Monday, 1 April 2019

GAIL, BHEL sign pact for development of Solar based power projects.


State-owned Gas utility GAIL India Limited has signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Bharat Heavy Industries Limited in New Delhi for cooperation in the development of solar-based power projects.

GAIL shall be the project developer and BHEL shall act as an Engineering, Procurement, Construction and Project Management Contractor. BHEL shall also provide Operation and Maintenance services during the initial period upon becoming successful bidder. This development will help both the companies to leverage their competitive strengths to build a substantial portfolio in solar power projects in line with INDC targets of Government of India. The MOU aims at building a closer strategic partnership between the two Maharatna PSUs for jointly pursuing commercial solar power projects through participation in Tariff / Viability Gap Funding (VGF) based competitive bidding process.

Speaking on the occasion, Shri Manoj Jain, Director (Business Development) stated “GAIL is a proud member of India’s clean energy infrastructure and is always committed to incorporate initiatives for sustainable development of the nation. We are happy to enter into this strategic relationship with BHEL, a pioneer in India’s Engineering sector. The skills and strengths of both the companies would create a synergy for achieving the objective of MoU."

GAIL (India) Limited is India’s leading natural gas company with diversified interests across the natural gas value chain of trading, transmission, LPG production & transmission, LNG regasification, petrochemicals, city gas, E&P, etc. It owns and operates a network of around 11,400 km of high pressure trunk pipelines. It is working concurrently on multiple pipeline projects, aggregating over 5400 kms at an investment of about Rs. 24,000 crores, to operate over 16,000 kms by 2021. GAIL commands 75% market share in gas transmission and has a Gas trading share of over 50% in India. 

GAIL also has a formidable market share in City Gas Distribution and is currently operating in 38 cities/Geographical Areas directly and through its eight Joint ventures/ subsidiaries. In the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) market, GAIL has one of the largest portfolios in the world. GAIL has hired its first LNG vessel “Meridian Spirit" on time charter basis to transport US volumes to India. GAIL is also expanding its presence in renewable energy like solar and wind. In fact, it has India‘s second-largest rooftop solar PV power plant at its Petrochemical Complex at Pata, Uttar Pradesh. It has an overseas presence through offices and subsidiaries in the US, Singapore and Myanmar.

BHEL is one of the few companies in the world, and only company in India, having capability to manufacture the entire range of Power plant equipment and has proven turnkey abilities for executing Power projects from concept to commissioning in the field of Thermal, Gas, Hydro and Nuclear. BHEL has also been in the field of design, engineering, manufacturing, installation and commissioning of solar power plants over three decades and has a portfolio of more than 700 MW. BHEL is the only company in India having manufacturing capability of almost entire range for Solar equipment i.e. Solar Cells, Solar Modules, SCADA, Inverters, Power Transformers, Switchgear and Modules Mounting Structures with tracking system. BHEL has a dedicated R&D centre for Solar PV at ASSCP, Gurgaon to develop high-efficiency Solar Cells and process optimization.

Source - Press Release.

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Indian Oil and Bharat Petroleum consortium wins ADNOC deal.


The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) signed agreements awarding the exploration rights for Abu Dhabi Onshore Block 1 to a consortium of two Indian oil companies, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited and Indian Oil Corporation Limited. The award has been endorsed by Abu Dhabi’s Supreme Petroleum Council (SPC) and represents a further deepening of the fast-growing UAE-India energy relationship as well as the continued expansion of ADNOC’s strategic partnerships with those who can provide access to key growth markets for the company’s crude oil and products.

The consortium will hold a 100 percent stake in the exploration phase, investing up to AED 626 million (US 170 million), including a participation fee, to explore for and appraise oil and gas opportunities in the Block. Following successful exploration activities and appraisal of the existing discoveries, the Indian consortium will be granted the opportunity to develop and produce any discoveries. ADNOC has the option to hold a 60 percent stake in the production phase.

H.E. Dr. Al Jaber of ADNOC said: “This award highlights the important role of energy cooperation in strengthening the strategic relationship between the UAE and India. It also underlines ADNOC’s 2030 smart growth strategy and our targeted approach to engage with value-add partners who can contribute the right combination of market-access, capital and technology, as we reinforce our position as an essential energy provider to the world. 

“The consortium of Bharat Petroleum Corporation and Indian Oil Corporation, both of whom ADNOC already partners with offshore, was selected after a very competitive bid round. The open bidding process represents a major advance in how ADNOC is accelerating the exploration and development of Abu Dhabi’s substantial untapped hydrocarbon resources as we continue to maximize value, in line with the UAE leadership’s directives.”

The exploration phase will see the Indian consortium leverage, and contribute financially and technically to, ADNOC’s mega seismic survey, announced last year. The survey is deploying industry-leading technologies to capture high-resolution 3D images of the complex geology up to 25,000 feet below the surface and will be used to identify potential hydrocarbon reservoirs.

The award of Onshore Block 1 concludes Abu Dhabi’s first-ever competitive block bid round, which saw very competitive proposals submitted for the geographical areas initially offered in April 2018. ADNOC has awarded Offshore Blocks 1 and 2 to a consortium comprised of Eni and PTT Exploration and Production Public Company Limited; Onshore Block 3 to Occidental Petroleum; and Onshore Block 4 to INPEX CORPORATION.

Indian Oil Corporation, India’s largest commercial enterprise, caters to nearly half of India’s petroleum consumption with 11 of India’s 23 refineries and a 13,000-km pipelines network. Bharat Petroleum Corporation also has a number of major refineries in India. Both companies operate across the full hydrocarbon value chain.

- Press Release.