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India facing a cash crunch as bank credit growth slows down in September

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Mumbai :India’s tight money conditions and fears of a contagion following a debt crisis at a local lender dented demand and put a muzzle on animal spirits in the world’s fastest-growing major economy.

Economic growth in the July-September quarter may have retreated from the 8 per cent plus expansion in the three months ended June as consumption cooled, a slew of high-frequency data show. The overall activity reading moved a notch lower in September to sit in the middle, for the first time since Bloomberg News started tracking the indicators to measure animal spirits — a term coined by British economist John Maynard Keynes to refer to investors’ confidence in taking action.

Signs that consumption, a key driver of growth, is weakening is bad news given the absence of private investments. Here are the full details of the dashboard:

 

The main services index rose at the slowest pace in four months in September amid near stagnation of new business. Companies reported that market conditions were underwhelming with growth activity slowing in finance and insurance sectors and business services. The Nikkei India Composite PMI Index also fell, as weaker services activity eclipsed a slight improvement in the manufacturing gauge. The services sector accounts for about 55 per cent of the nation’s gross domestic product.

Nevertheless, price pressures intensified, with higher fuel costs and a stronger dollar making imported goods pricier. Still, with headline inflation expected to hover close to, or even undershoot, the central bank’s 4 per cent target in coming months, the central bank is likely to be on hold, having resorted to back-to-back interest rate increases in June and August.

Exports contracted both in year-on-year terms and sequentially, despite the sharp depreciation in the rupee — which has lost more than 12 percent against the dollar so far this year. More worryingly, imports also moderated despite high oil prices and belying expectations of a festival season demand for gold. Analysts at Nomura Holdings Inc. say these point toward a potential moderation in domestic growth and a faster-than-expected adjustment to the weaker currency. Overall, external trade is expected to be a drag on growth in the July-September quarter, unlike the previous quarter when exports helped.

The Reserve Bank of India’s latest consumer confidence survey serves as a grim reminder that conditions are softening. The current situation index waned in the September survey, reflecting a worsening consumer perception on the general economic situation and the employment scenario, the central bank said. That’s in addition to reduced optimism on spending by consumers.

Data from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers show that private vehicle sales fell in September as rising cost of loans and a sharp spike in domestic fuel prices likely put off buyers. Higher insurance costs are expected to hurt sales of two-wheelers in the coming months, analysts said, although commercial vehicles sales are holding up for now — primarily driven by a healthy demand for trucks.

Meanwhile, bank credit growth slowed to 12.5 per cent in September from a year ago and compared to August’s 13.5 per cent rise.

Bloomberg Economics’ Abhishek Gupta said this was likely due to the increase in lending rates over the past few months.

“Tight liquidity conditions in the banking system have been driving up bank deposit and lending rates since March. This is likely to further crimp bank credit growth,” he said.

The Citi India Financial Conditions Index shows a considerable tightening as advance tax outflows, the central bank’s intervention in the foreign exchange market and banks refusing to lend to non-banking counterparts after a default by Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd., combined to drive up money market rates. The index incorporates among other indicators, short-term money market rates, government bond yields, the yield curve, credit and credit default spreads.

 


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India should aspire for double digit growth: EAC member Shamika Ravi

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New Delhi: India needs to make all efforts to reach ‘double digit’ growth and should not treat 7 per cent expansion as the ‘new normal’, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM) member Shamika Ravi said.
Ravi also refuted the contention of her EAC-PM colleague Rathin Roy that India could fall into the middle income trap — a term used by the World Bank to refer to nations that get stuck at a middle level of economic development as they attempt to grow rich.
“But emphasis now needs to be on how do we get back with the vision to that double digit growth,” Ravi said at event organised by Brookings India.
“The new normal of 7 per cent or perhaps weakening further because of the global trends cannot be the new normal for a country with per capita income that we do have,” she added
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) had in February revised downwards the growth estimate for 2018-19 fiscal from 7.2 per cent to 7 per cent — the lowest in five years.
Ravi also asserted that there needs to be reinforcement of mechanisms through which India can continue to aspire for double digit growth.
She maintained that India is unlikely to fall into the middle income trap.
“I don’t think India can afford that (middle income trap). I don’t think India is going to fall into the middle income trap like Brazil or South Africa,” the EAC-PM member opined.
Recently, EAC-PM member Rathin Roy had said the Indian economy is heading for a structural slowdown.
“The economy since 1991 has been growing not on the basis of exports… but on the basis of what the top 100 million of the Indian population wants to consume. Those 100 million or 10 crore Indian consumers who were powering India’s growth story have started to plateau out.
“It means in short we will not be South Korea. We will not be China. We will be Brazil. We will be South Africa. We will be a middle-income country with large numbers of people in poverty seeing rising crimes,” Roy had said.
The concept of the middle income trap was first put forward by the World Bank in a 2006 report on the development of East Asian economies.
The theory states that in many middle-income economies, growth slows and nations are unable to generate further economic momentum and grow rich.
Ravi also noted that India should not lose fiscal discipline which it maintained during the last five years of the Narendra Modi government.
The eminent economist also pointed out that states which are ranked high in ease of doing business have low unemployment rate compared to the all-India average.
“It’s important to realise that the recipe for job creation will also eventually come through entrepreneurship. Government cannot be final provider of jobs,” she said.
Shamika Ravi also stressed on the need to improve improve fundamental quality of India’s data systems.

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IHCL, GIC strike Rs 4,000-crore deal to acquire premium hotels in India

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Mumbai :One of India’s largest hotel chains, Indian Hotels Company (IHCL), has tied up with Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC to jointly acquire premium hotels in the country. The initial outlay of deal is pegged at Rs 4,000 crore for a period of three years with GIC contributing 70 per cent and IHCL pitching in with the rest.
Each acquisition will be housed under a separate special purpose vehicle (SPV) and will be branded and managed by IHCL. The SPVs will acquire fully operational hotels which will also include distressed or underperforming hotels that can be turned around.
Puneet Chhatwal, managing director and CEO of IHCL, said: “The investment platform will acquire strategic and marquee assets that need new ownership branding and positioning.”
The new partnership is in line with IHCL’s asset light business model with about 40 per cent of the current rooms it operates falling under this model. The company has been increasing the management contract pie consistently over the past few years.
For GIC, the investment offers an opportunity to create a hospitality portfolio in major destinations across India. Kok Sun Lee, chief investment officer of GIC Real Estate, is confident of the outlook for India’s hospitality sector. “The partnership will offer GIC attractive opportunities and capture the sector’s growth potential,” he said.
chart Analysts believe the partnership is a win-win for both, especially given the long gestation period for the sector. “An investor with deep pockets such as GIC will help share the investment risk and will add to IHCL’s revenues both from management fees as well as branding,” says an analyst at a domestic brokerage. Given the increasing delays in execution for greenfield projects and poor returns from the same, major hotel chains, including IHCL, are now preferring to acquire or run hotels under the management contract model.
The total inventory in the premium category (luxury, upper upscale and upscale segments which will be acquired under this partnership) is pegged at 118,000 rooms and the segment is growing at 3-4 per cent a year. While there are opportunities, analysts believe that the initial capital may not suffice, as 500 rooms in this category would cost upwards of Rs 1,500 crore, considering that the cost per room of Rs 3-4 crore. The positive for the partnership, however, is that conditions are conducive given the uptick in the demand cycle and muted supply.

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Aircel lenders agree to take 99% haircut on dues worth Rs 20,000 crore

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Mumbai : In an unprecedented move, lenders to bankrupt telecom operator Aircel have agreed to take a massive 99 per cent haircut on their outstanding dues worth Rs 20,000 crore by agreeing to a Rs 150-crore upfront offer by UV Asset Reconstruction Company (ARC).


The move may lead to litigation as some of the operational creditors are planning to challenge the committee of creditors’ (CoC’s) decision in both local and US courts.


A source said the resolution plan was approved by 73.88 per cent (in voting share) of lenders and was rejected by Canara Bank and China Development Bank. State Bank of India, Syndicate Bank, Bank of Baroda, L&T Finance, Jammu & Kashmir Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Punjab National Bank, Exim Bank, and Nordic Bank voted for the offer.

 


Aircel admitted itself to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) in February 2018 even as all its directors resigned just before the bankruptcy filing.


According to the plan, the ARC will try to sell fibre, spectrum and telecom assets of the company to recover the bank dues. Aircel had shut its wireless services long ago and forfeited its customer base.


The company is currently conducting only part of its enterprise business and its employee strength stands reduced to just 200.


Like several telcos, Aircel lost its India business after the Supreme Court cancelled its pan-India wireless telephony licence in 2012.


A spokesperson of UV ARC declined to comment. The insolvency professional Vijay Iyer was not available for comment. In a related development, creditors who haven’t been paid are contemplating action in US courts against its earlier promoter Maxis, which has given indemnities to local operational creditors.


GTL Infrastructure, which has made a claim of Rs 13,000 crore over the termination of its contract, is also likely to take appropriate legal action if this plan gets implemented, said a person with knowledge of the matter.

GTL Infrastructure has already moved the NCLT as an operational creditor.
Aircel’s fibre business of around 15,000 km is not that sizeable, though it has presence in Jammu & Kashmir and the North East. Aircel also has under 2,000 towers (current valuations are at Rs 25 lakh a tower) and a total of around 85 MHz of spectrum, most of which is in the 2,100 band.

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