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Airtel International begins cash purchase of its USD 1.5 bn bonds to reduce debt

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New Delhi: Bharti Airtel on Saturday said it will pre-pay USD 1.5 billion debt with its subsidiary Bharti Airtel International (Netherlands), using the proceeds it got from six global entities investing in its Africa unit.

Bharti Airtel International (Netherlands) B V commenced cash purchase of USD 1.5 billion, 5.125 per cent Guaranteed Senior Notes which were due in 2023, Bharti Airtel said in a regulatory filing.

This offer, it said, has been made with a view to “proactively manage its capital structure, reduce gross debt and leverage by acquiring the Notes funded out of equity proceeds and also provide liquidity to Noteholders at a premium to the market.” Bharti Airtel group continues to deleverage and pursue its strategies towards that end, it added.

 

“In line with this, it has been actively exploring various equity driven initiatives, including those previously announced regarding its Africa business, so as to proactively manage its balance sheet and capital structure to align them to the group’s core conservative philosophy,” it said.

Bharti Airtel International’s (Netherlands) parent Airtel Africa Ltd, a UK incorporated subsidiary of Bharti ?Airtel Limited, recently made a successful primary equity issuance of USD 1.25 billion to six leading global investors, including Warburg Pincus, Temasek, Singtel, SoftBank Group and others.

“The proceeds of this equity issuance are intended to be used to reduce Airtel Africa’s existing debt of approximately USD 5 billion on the date of the announcement,” it said.

The proceeds of this equity issuance are now fully realised and available as cash. The company also carries organic cash on its balance sheet.

“The company wishes to utilize the proceeds of this equity issuance and the cash available to it to reduce its existing debt by offering to purchase ‘any and all’ of the Notes pursuant to the Tender Offer.

“Via the Tender Offer, the company is also providing liquidity to the Noteholders at a specified premium over the market price at launch,” the filing said.

This offer is in addition to the previously announced tender offer cum repayment of EUR 1 billion 4 per cent notes maturing December 2018, for which funding has been drawn and available as cash with the company.

Earlier this week, Moody’s Investors Service had placed Bharti Airtel’s rating on review for downgrade on low levels of profitability and expectation of weak cash flow.

Moody’s had placed on review for downgrade the ‘Baa3’ issuer and senior unsecured rating of Bharti Airtel and the ratings on the backed senior unsecured notes issued by Bharti Airtel International (Netherlands) B V.


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Business

Income Tax return processing time to reduce from 63 days to just 1 day

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Mumbai:The Union Cabinet approved an integrated income-tax e-filing and centralised processing centre (CPC) portal, which will reduce the return processing time from 63 days to just one day. The new portal is also expected to process the refunds within one day of filing of tax returns, in huge relief for taxpayers. However, one will have to wait for 18 months to see its launch.

“Earlier, taxpayers would face troubles because of delay in refund processing and the CBDT used to spend a lot of money every year as interest on pending refunds, which will be history now,” Union minister Piyush Goyal told reporters after the Cabinet meeting here.

Last month, Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) Chairman Sushil Chandra had said a simplified return form and process would be put in place soon in which the department would process the self-declaration made by the taxpayer. The new Rs 4,241-crore project will incorporate these changes.

 

“This is a laudable initiative and will go a long way to ease tax compliance, and enhanced experience for taxpayers. However, the real success of this will be measured when it brings ease to a common man and is accompanied by changes in the culture of the tax authorities at the operational level,” said Neeru Ahuja, partner, Deloitte India.

Currently, the e-filing portal and the CPC work separately. While e-filing is being managed by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), the CPC is run by Infosys.

In the bids invited by the government, Infosys emerged as the lowest bidder and it would develop the ITR-CPC 2.0 project in 18 months from now, Goyal said.

Under the new system, Infosys will handle end-to-end solution — from e-filing to return assessment to refund processing. The CBDT and Infosys would work in a revenue-sharing model, sources in the know said.

Goyal said ramping up scrutiny was not the mandate of the new portal. Currently, about 0.3 per cent of the I-T returns are scrutinised, he said. The system intends to resolve taxpayer grievances as well as tax demands from the CBDT faster and equitably, he said.

“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,” a government release said.

But even under the new ecosystem, only those applications which are clean would have the chance of getting processed in a day, sources said.

About 23 crore I-T returns have been processed, along with Rs 2.62 trillion worth of refunds, till September 2018 cumulatively. Of this, refunds worth Rs 1.83 trillion have been processed in 2018-19, said Goyal.

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Lenders considering resolution plan for Jet Airways: SBI

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Mumbai: State Bank of India (SBI) on Thursday said lenders are considering a resolution plan for Jet Airways to ensure long-term viability of the debt-laden company.

The SBI statement comes a day after the crisis-hit airline said discussions were “progressing well” with stakeholders on a comprehensive resolution plan that also contemplates equity infusion and consequent changes in its board of directors.

There are rising concerns over financial health of Jet Airways, whose shares have also taken a beating at stock exchanges.

 

“We would like to state that lenders are considering a restructuring plan under the RBI framework for resolution of stressed assets that would ensure a long-term viability of the company,” SBI said in a statement.

It said the restructuring plan for the cash-strapped airline would need approval from boards of lenders.

“Any such plan would be subject to approval of boards of the lenders and subject to adherence and clearance, if required, from the RBI and/or Sebi (takeover code, ICDR regulations.) and Ministry of Civil Aviation and in compliance with all regulatory prescriptions,” the statement said.

Shares of the airline are trading 4.24 per cent lower at Rs 259.50 apiece on BSE.

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NGT slams Volkswagen for not depositing Rs 100 crore as per its 2018 order

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New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) slammed German auto major Volkswagen for not depositing Rs 100 crore in accordance with its November 16, 2018 order and directed it to submit the amount within 24 hours.

A bench headed by NGT chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel took strong exception to the non-compliance of its order by the automobile giant and asked it to give an undertaking that it will submit the amount by 5 PM Friday.

“Why have you not complied with our order when there is no stay. We will not give you any further time,” the bench, also comprising Justice S P Wangdi, said while asking Volkswagen to submit an affidavit of compliance after deposit.

 

The tribunal deferred the matter for hearing after it was informed that the Supreme Court is also seized of the issue.

On November 16 last year, the tribunal had said that the use of ”cheat device” by Volkswagen in diesel cars in India leads to inference of environmental damage and had asked the German auto major to deposit an interim amount of Rs 100 crore with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

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