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QBiz: Grant Thornton to Investigate PMC Scam; Onion Prices Drop

1. Grant Thornton Appointed to Investigate Rs 4,355-Crore PMC Bank Fraud

The government has roped in Grant Thornton to carry out forensic investigations into the fraud hit Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank, said four persons with direct knowledge of the matter. PMC appointed the forensic auditor at the behest of the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Mumbai police.

Grant Thornton is tasked to look into the allegations made by the former managing director of the bank on how the bank managed to flout Reserve Bank of India (RBI) norms.

The firm will also look into the modus operandi of the fraud and whether any employee benefited from that, said one of the persons cited earlier. EOW recently registered a first information report (FIR) on the alleged fund diversion at PMC Bank.

(Source: Economic Times)

2. Sigh of Relief: Export Ban Sends Onion Prices to Below Rs 30/kg at Maharashtra’s Lasalgaon

Wholesale onion prices have declined to Rs 2,651 per quintal, which translates to below Rs 30 per kg, at Lasalgaon — the country’s largest wholesale market for the bulb — on Thursday, 3 October following arrivals drastic decline to a mere 3,700-odd quintal at the Agriculture Produce Market Committee.

The wholesale rate at the APMC was trading at Rs 4,000-Rs 5,000 quintal a week ago. In neighbouring Pimpalgaon Baswant at Nashik, average prices also dropped to Rs 2,651 per quintal, with arrivals coming down to Rs 6,960 per quintal.

Market committee officials attributed the drop in prices and the arrivals to the recent decisions taken by the Centre to ban onion export and set stock limits to 500 quintal for wholesalers.

(Source: Financial Express)

3. Auto Sector Slowdown, Widespread Rainfall in Aug Impacted GST Mop-up, Says Centre

The Centre has blamed the cyclical slowdown in sectors such as automobile and widespread rainfall during August for the low Goods and Services Tax (GST) collections in September.

It has also denied the allegations made by Kerala’s Finance Minister Thomas Isaaac on GST compliance.

GST collections in September were Rs 91,916 crore, which was the lowest after Rs 85,962 crore collected in February 2018. Since GST is a destination-based tax, the current downtrend in consumption is said to have impacted collections. The mop-up is also below the Budget Estimate of about Rs 1-lakh crore.

(Source: The Hindu BusinessLine)

4. Ola May Have Turned Profitable, Plans to List in India in Two Years

NI Technologies Pvt Ltd, the operator of ride-hailing service Ola, plans to go public in less than two years after meeting profitability goals required for such a listing in India, two people aware of the discussions said.

Ola is expected to have turned its maiden annual profit in the year ended 31 March, the first step towards the goal of an initial public offering (IPO), as local exchanges require companies to be profitable for at least three years before they go public, the two people said on condition of anonymity. Ola has not filed its financials for FY19 with the ministry of corporate affairs (MCA).

(Source: Mint)

5. Flipkart, Swiggy-Backer Accel Eyes $700m Fund

Venture capital (VC) firm Accel, one of the top startup investors in the country, is looking to raise $600-700 million for its sixth India fund at a time when there is another boom cycle in the space, according to two sources briefed on the matter. The new fund will be much bigger than its previous one, which raised $450 million in December 2016, signalling an intent to cut larger cheques and keep investing more in portfolio companies that are doing well.

“Accel plans to get more aggressive in growth deals and writing larger cheques for both new and existing companies besides their continuing focus on seed deals,” said one of the sources mentioned earlier. Top partners from Accel were recently in the US to meet limited partners (LPs), as investors in venture funds are known.

(Source: The Times of India)

6. India's Biggest Packager Sees Profits in Plan to Cut Plastic

India’s largest manufacturer of toothpaste tubes, snack packets and other flexible packaging sees profits in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan to eliminate single-use plastic by 2022.

Uflex Ltd aims to invest about $500 million over four years to build new factories and expand existing facilities focused on greener materials, Anantshree Chaturvedi, chief executive officer at unit FlexFilms International, said in an interview in Mumbai. Only recycled plastic will be offered with no new creation of the material, he said.

“We are walking away from clients telling them that we do not want to supply them fossil-fuel generated plastic,” Chaturvedi said.

(Source: The Economic Times)

6. Natural Gas Price Cut to Hurt ONGC Earnings by Rs 1,460 Crore: Moody’s

The recent reduction of gas prices by the central government would lead to state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) lose Rs 1,460 crore revenue from its gas business, rating agency Moody’s said on Thursday, 3 October.

The decline is equal to 0.3 percent of ONGC’s expected consolidated revenue and around 2 percent of consolidated earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation for FY20.

On September 30, the government cut domestic natural gas prices by 12.5 percent to $3.23 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) — the first reduction in gas prices in the country since April 2017. Ceiling price for gas to be produced from difficult fields has also been cut 9.5 percent to $8.43/mmBtu.

(Source: Financial Express)

7. Budget 2020-21: Finance Ministry Starts Budget-Making Exercise

The Finance Ministry has kicked-off exercise for the General Budget 2020-21. The Budget is likely to be presented on February 3, which is the first working day in that month.

The Budget division of the Economic Affairs Department has issued a Budget circular which contains necessary instructions and deadline for submission of details by different Central Ministries and Departments. “The pre-Budget/RE (Revised Estimate) meetings will begin on the 14 October, 2019,” the circular said.

Even though the circular does not give an exact date of the presentation, it is expected that the Budget will be presented on 3 February, as it was first working day of that month. The Budget date has been first working day of February since 2017-18.

(Source: The Hindu BusinessLine)

8. Exposure to Indiabulls is Not a Concern, Says Yes Bank CEO

Yes Bank chief executive Ravneet Gill said he is not concerned about the bank’s exposure to Indiabulls Housing Finance Ltd despite the mortgage lender suffering back-to-back setbacks, including a court decision to examine fraud allegations and the central bank deciding to put curbs on a bank it plans to acquire.

“We feel 100% comfortable with our Indiabulls exposure,” Gill said in an interview on Thursday.

Yes Bank’s exposure to Indiabulls has come down by 30 percent through repayments made by the company, Gill said. “Last week, there was a repayment of a fairly large amount and it came on due date. So, we feel zero discomfort with our Indiabulls exposure at this point in time,” he added.

(Source: Mint)

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