Mumbai :The government has said it intends to retain a 24 per cent stake in Air India (AI) after the divestment despite suggestions from prospective buyers it should exit the carrier completely. This stake would be owned directly by it.
Interested parties for the bankrupt airline are worrying that the government, although a minority shareholder, would interfere in its operations.
The government has also clarified not more than 49 per cent of the 76 per cent up for grabs can be held directly or indirectly by a foreign entity. Refuting that a three-year time frame had been specified for an initial public offering, it said additional details would be provided in the request for proposals (RFP).
Prospective buyers have also sought many more details on the financial liabilities of the carrier, especially relating to the large quantum of debt.
Moreover, they are concerned they may not be in a position to extract synergies from the acquisition of Air India if the business is to be run at “arm’s length” and as a going concern as the government insists it should be.
The ministry said in a corrigendum on Tuesday: “Provided that confirmed selected bidder shall be allowed to realise operational synergies to applicable laws with further details being defined in the RFP.” This concern had been raised by the Tata Group, which questioned why a business group with an existing airline needed to run AI at arm’s length and not derive operational synergies.
In a somewhat curious response, the government has said arm’s length being “a widely used concept”, bidders are advised to take their own legal view on this.
A reading of the 160 queries received by the government by interested parties following the release of the preliminary information memorandum suggests employee benefits are also of some concern. The government said that the conditions to safeguard employees’ interests will be included in the FRP.
Those interested have asked for a description of the provident fund/ pension contributions made by AI on behalf of its employees. “Details on retirement benefits will be provided at RFP stage,” is the government response. However, it has clarified that there are no pension costs/liability on AI as pension payments are under defined contribution by employees.
The government allowed changes in the consortium formation and provided the fresh bid is submitted after the expression of interest (EOI) deadline of May 31 withdrawing the previous one and allowed changes in partners provided it applies for an approval transaction adviser, in this case EY, no later than 15 days before the RFP.
The deadline for submission of expression of interest and intimation of qualified bidders has been extended to May 31 and June 15, respectively.
Indian billionaires’ wealth rose by Rs 2,200 crore a day in 2018: report
New Delhi: Indian billionaires saw their fortunes swell by Rs 2,200 crore a day last year, with the top 1 per cent of the country’s richest getting richer by 39 per cent as against just 3 per cent increase in wealth for the bottom-half of the population, an Oxfam study said .Globally, billionaires’ fortunes rose by 12 per cent or USD 2.5 billion a day in 2018, whereas the poorest half of the world’s population saw their wealth decline by 11 per cent, the international rights group said in its annual study released before the start of the five-day World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting in this Swiss ski resort town.
Oxfam further said that 13.6 crore Indians, who make up the poorest 10 per cent of the country, continued to remain in debt since 2004.
Asking the political and business leaders who have gathered in Davos for the annual gathering of the rich and powerful of the world to take urgent steps to tackle the growing rich-poor divide, Oxfam said this increasing inequality is undermining the fight against poverty, damaging economies and fuelling public anger across the globe.
Oxfam International Executive Director Winnie Byanyima, one of the key participants at the WEF summit, said it is “morally outrageous” that a few wealthy individuals are amassing a growing share of India’s wealth, while the poor are struggling to eat their next meal or pay for their child’s medicines.
“If this obscene inequality between the top 1 per cent and the rest of India continues then it will lead to a complete collapse of the social and democratic structure of this country,” she added.
Noting that wealth is becoming even more concentrated, Oxfam said 26 people now own the same as the 3.8 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity, down from 44 people last year.
The world’s richest man Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, saw his fortune increase to USD 112 billion and just 1 per cent of his fortune is equivalent to the whole health budget for Ethiopia, a country of 115 million people.
“India’s top 10 per cent of the population holds 77.4 per cent of the total national wealth. The contrast is even sharper for the top 1 per cent that holds 51.53 per cent of the national wealth. The bottom 60 per cent, the majority of the population, own merely 4.8 per cent of the national wealth. Wealth of top 9 billionaires is equivalent to the wealth of the bottom 50 per cent of the population,” Oxfam said while noting that high level of wealth disparity subverts democracy.
Between 2018 and 2022, India is estimated to produce 70 new dollar millionaires every day, Oxfam said.
“It (the survey) reveals how governments are exacerbating inequality by underfunding public services, such as healthcare and education, on the one hand, while under taxing corporations and the wealthy, and failing to clamp down on tax dodging on the other,” Oxfam India CEO Amitabh Behar said.
The survey also shows that women and girls are hardest hit by rising economic inequality, he added.
“The size of one’s bank account should not dictate how many years your children spend in school, or how long you live — yet this is the reality in too many countries across the globe. While corporations and the super-rich enjoy low tax bills, millions of girls are denied a decent education and women are dying for lack of maternity care,” Byanyima said.
Fugitive Choksi surrenders Indian passport in Antigua to ‘avoid extradition’
Chandigarh:Fugitive tycoon Mehul Choksi has given up his Indian citizenship and surrendered his passport to Antigua, as per media reports.
This move by Choksi’s is being seen as an attempt to avoid his extradition to India. Antigua and India do not have an extradition treaty.
India had earlier handed over a request to Antigua for extradition of Mehul Choksi who is charged in connection with India’s biggest banking fraud, and now living in the Caribbean nation after taking its citizenship.
Official sources said a team comprising officials from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and other agencies was sent to Antigua a couple of days ago to request the Antiguan authorities to extradite Choksi, wanted in India in the US$ 2 billion Punjab National bank scam.
As per reports, Antiguan authorities cleared Choksi’s citizenship in November 2017 after India did not give any adverse report to stall his application for it.
Choksi had fled India on January 4 this year and took oath of allegiance in Antigua on January 15. His citizenship was cleared in November 2017.
Choksi’s application for citizenship in Antigua in May 2017 was accompanied with clearance from the local police as required by norms, Antiguan newspaper the Daily Observer reported, citing a statement from the Citizenship by Investment Unit of Antigua and Barbuda (CIU).
FPI outflow crosses Rs 4,000 crore in Jan so far
New Delhi: Foreign investors have pulled out more than Rs 4,000 crore from the Indian capital markets so far in January, highlighting their cautious stance towards the country.
This comes following a collective net inflow of over Rs 17,000 crore in the capital markets both equity and debt by Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) during November and December.
Prior to that, they had pulled out a massive Rs 38,905 crore in October.
According to data available with the depositories, FPIs withdrew a net amount of Rs 3,987 crore from equities and a net sum of Rs 53 crore from the debt market, taking the total outflow to Rs 4,040 crore during January 1-18.
Market experts believe that FPIs are continuing with their ‘wait and watch’ approach towards India.
Going ahead, the focus would be on the budget, progress on the economic growth front and general elections, they added.
Other factors such as movement in crude prices and currency as well as US-China trade relations will also play a role in FPI flows, they added.
Harsh Jain, COO at Groww, an online MF investment platform, said 2019 is likely to see a lot of volatility because of the rate hikes and dollar instability, but the Indian markets may be able to weather the storm.
“India offers better investment opportunities due to consistent growth, supportive global factors and attract valuations. We should expect positive inflow in coming months,” he added.