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Irdai asks insurers to share status of claims with policyholders from July 1

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New Delhi: Insurance companies will have to inform about claim settlement status to policyholders at various stages of processing from July, Irdai said.

Insurers need to adopt a clear and transparent communication policy to protect the interest of policyholders, it said in a circular.

When it comes to claims, there is a need to make available a tracking mechanism for policyholders so as to enable them to know the status of their claims, it added.

 

“In order to ensure fair and transparent claim settlement procedures, all insurers shall notify about the status of the claim at various stages of its processing.

“In case of health insurance, where third party administrators (TPAs) are engaged for rendering claims services, it is the responsibility of insurers to ensure that status of claim shall be notified to the claimant at every stage of claim,” the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai) said.

Clear and transparent communication play a vital role in servicing of insurance policies and in ensuring that the benefits of insurance policies flow to the beneficiaries in a timely manner, it added.

Irdai also asked insurers — life, health and general — to send all communication about issuance and servicing of policies through letter, e-mail, SMS or any other electronic form approved by it.

“In case of health insurance, where TPAs are engaged for rendering health services, insurers shall ensure that all related communications such as issuance of ID card are sent either by the TPA or shall be carried out by insurers on their own,” the circular said.

The companies will also have to send brief messages to customers to enhance awareness apart from sending necessary caution messages like not falling prey to spurious calls/offers.

Insurers may use simple, easy to read and understand language. And wherever feasible, the communication should be in regional or local language of the place of residence of the claimants, besides English/Hindi, the authority said.

“This shall be implemented by insurers with effect from July 1, 2019,” Irdai said.


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Sebi reduces minimum subscription requirement for REITs, InvITs

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New Delhi: Markets regulator Sebi has reduced the minimum subscription requirement as well as defined trading lots for Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvITs).
REITs have to offer their units in lots worth at least Rs 50,000 in initial and follow on public offers.
The minimum value of a single lot should be Rs 1 lakh in the case of InvITs.
Markets regulator Sebi on Tuesday came out with guidelines for determination of allotment and trading lot size for REITs and InvITs.
Sebi norms pertaining to REITs and InvITs were amended on April 22.
“The said amendments have, inter-alia, for publicly offered InvITs and REITs, reduced the minimum subscription requirement and has defined the trading lot in terms of number of units.
“Further, limits for aggregate consolidated borrowings and deferred payments, net of cash and cash equivalents, have been increased to seventy percent of the value of the InvIT assets,” the regulator said in a circular.
The amendments are aimed at providing flexibility to the issuers in terms of fundraising and increasing the access of these investment vehicles to investors.
Moreover, the trading lot has been defined in terms of number of units.
Further, leverage limit for InvITs has been increased to 70 percent from current 49 percent.
Such InvITs which are increasing their leverage beyond 49 percent will have to make additional financial disclosures along with specific details of available asset cover, debt-equity ratio, debt service coverage ratios, interest service coverage ratios and net worth.
While making an initial public offer and follow-on offer, the minimum subscription shall not be less than Rs 1 lakh for InvITs and Rs 50,000 for REITs. Allotment to any investor shall be made in the multiples of a lot.
For initial listing, a trading lot should be of 100 units and during follow-on offer each lot shall consist of such number of units in its trading lot as it had at the time of initial offer.
Currently, in the case of an REIT issue, the minimum subscription from any investor in an initial offer and follow-on public offer is not less than Rs 2 lakh, while the same is Rs 10 lakh in case of InvIT.
The exchanges shall in consultation with the publicly offered InvITs/REITs need to determine the number of units in the trading lot for such REITs/InvITs, within a period of 6 months from date of the circular, Sebi said.

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SoftBank eyes $2-3 billion investment in Ambani’s Reliance Jio

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Mumbai : Japan’s SoftBank is looking at buying a $2-3 billion stake in Reliance Jio, Reliance Industries’ telecom subsidiary and the country’s fastest-growing telco.
“For the past two years, our conversations with investors have highlighted the expectations of SoftBank investing in Jio and hence the news flow is not surprising,” wrote Pinakin Parekh, analyst, JP Morgan, in a report to investors.
Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) is interested in deleveraging its balance sheet, and reports of SoftBank’s Jio investment follow last week’s news that Saudi Aramco is in talks with RIL to pick up to 25 per cent in the latter’s refining and petchem business for $10-15 billion.
According to reports, SoftBank is conducting due diligence for its investment through SoftBank Vision Fund.
Spokespersons of both Reliance Jio and SoftBank declined to comment on the matter.
“What would be important from a stock price perspective is how much SoftBank puts in, what is the implied equity valuation of Jio, and whether the e-commerce venture is included in the Jio entity,” said Parekh.
The retail and telecom arms together contributed around 25 per cent of RIL’s 2018-19 revenue.
SoftBank has a mobile telecom business in Japan and also owns Sprint in the US. It also has a 30 per cent stake in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.
Jio had a debt of Rs 76,212 crore at the end of the March 2019 quarter, and RIL may want to reduce that. It had begun the exercise by transferring its tower and fibre assets to two infrastructure investment trusts, which resulted in a reduction in liability of Rs 1.07 trillion, and issuing preference shares of Rs 78,100 crore to RIL (through the revaluation of fibre assets), according to analysts.
Jio invested Rs 21,500 crore as capital expenditure in the March 2019 quarter, and the cumulative investment so far has been around Rs 2.9 trillion.
“With most of tower and fibre (except last-mile) capex being done by InvITs, we think Jio’s capex should decline in FY20,” noted Anil Sharma, analyst, Nomura.
An analyst who did not want to be named said, “RIL may be looking at an equity investor in Jio to continue investments as it continues to keep offering services at low tariffs.”
RIL Chairman Mukesh Ambani last year announced a plan to integrate the telecom and retail entities through a consumer platform called New Commerce. However, despite analyst speculation that it would be launched this year, the management has not indicated any timeline for the rollout.
RIL has, however, continued to add a number of ancillary tech platforms like Haptik, EasyGov, Saavn and Reverie over the year to create platforms similar to Baidu or Alibaba, which offers e-commerce, entertainment, finance and many other facilities to consumers.

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India TikTok ban causing $500,000 daily loss, risks jobs: China’s Bytedance

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New Delhi : India’s ban on popular Chinese video app TikTok is resulting in “financial losses” of up to $500,000 a day for its developer, Beijing Bytedance Technology Co, and has put more than 250 jobs at risk, the company said in a court filing seen by Reuters.
TikTok allows users to create and share short videos with special effects and is one of the world’s most popular apps. It has been downloaded by nearly 300 million users so far in India, out of more than 1 billion downloads globally, according to analytics firm Sensor Tower.
Earlier this month, an Indian state court ordered the federal government to prohibit its downloads, saying the app was encouraging pornography. Acting upon instructions from the federal IT ministry, Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google last week removed TikTok from their India app stores.
The developments have dealt a blow to the India growth plans of Bytedance, which is backed by Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp and by private equity. Bytedance, one of the world’s most valuable startups potentially worth around $75 billion, was considering a public listing in Hong Kong this year, sources told Reuters in August.
The ban has also worried the social media industry in India as it sees legal worries mounting if courts increasingly regulate content on their platforms.
In the filing made to India’s Supreme Court on Saturday, Bytedance urged the court to quash the ban and direct the federal IT ministry to tell companies such as Google and Apple to make the app available again on their platforms.
The court filing is not publicly available and its contents have not been previously reported.
Bytedance pegged financial losses at $500,000 each day, which it said includes destruction in the value of its investments and loss of commercial revenue. It added the ban would result in its reputation and goodwill taking a hit with both advertisers and investors.
“Banning has had adverse impact on the user base of this app, losing close to 1 million new users per day … It is estimated that approximately six million requests for downloads could not be effected since the ban came into effect,” the company said in the filing.
A spokesman for TikTok and the federal IT ministry did not respond to requests for comment.
The Supreme Court has so far not provided any interim relief on repeated pleas by Bytedance and referred the case back to the court in southern Tamil Nadu state, where the case will next be heard on Wednesday.
Memes and music videos thrive on TikTok, although some clips show youngsters, some scantily clad, lip-syncing and dancing to popular tunes.
Its growing popularity has drawn criticism from some Indian politicians and parents who say its content is inappropriate.
The Tamil Nadu court, which ruled against TikTok after an individual filed a public interest litigation, has said the app could also expose children to sexual predators.
The Supreme Court filing included a table in which Bytedance compared TikTok to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter by listing 13 of its implemented safety features, including parental controls.
A “very minuscule” proportion of TikTok’s videos were considered inappropriate or obscene, the company has said.
“The constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights of free speech and expression … of numerous Indian citizens have been severely impacted,” the company said in its latest filing.

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