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Top 10 biz headlines: Faster GST refunds, million auto jobs at risk & more

From a single-authority mechanism for processing GST refunds to exporters coming soon to NCLT approving JSW Steel's Rs 19,700-cr bid for Bhushan Power & Steel, here are today's top business news

GST

1) Single authority mechanism for processing GST refunds to exporters soon 

The upcoming Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council meeting on September 20 is likely to approve the mechanism to allow a single authority — state or Central — to sanction and process GST refunds for exporters in a faster and simpler manner. Refunds of around Rs 10,000 crore have piled up.

The move is expected to give a fillip to the struggling exports sector, which contracted 0.37 per cent to $107.41 billion in April-July 2019-20. Outbound shipments are facing headwinds due to weak global demand and liquidity constraints. (Read more here)

2) NCLT approves JSW Steel's Rs 19,700-crore bid for Bhushan Power & Steel 

The Principal Bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) on Thursday approved JSW Steel's Rs 19,700-crore bid for debt-laden Bhushan Power & Steel.

In a 138-page judgment, the NCLT Bench, while approving the resolution plan submitted by JSW Steel, said the committee of creditors (CoC) and the resolution professional (RP) of the corporate debtor shall continue to function as monitoring agency for now. (Read more here

3) A million jobs are at risk, automakers warn govt 

Automakers on Thursday sought the government's intervention through a cut in the goods and services tax (GST) to stem a deepening slump in vehicle sales and warned that any further delay will place a million jobs at risk, the LiveMint reported on Friday. 

According to the report, which cited news agency IANS, Rajan Wadhera, president of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam), said at the group's annual convention in New Delhi: "Till now, 15,000 contractual manufacturing jobs have been lost and another million are at risk if the slowdown is not reversed." 

4) GST rate cut must to revive auto demand, says M&M MD Pawan Goenka 

Mahindra & Mahindra’s Managing Director (MD) Pawan Goenka said on Thursday automakers had taken every step to revive consumer sentiment, but only a goods and services tax (GST) rate cut would boost demand. “I think the industry has done whatever it could. An intervention from the government can only revive the demand,” he said, adding: “It’s not good to ask for a cut in GST rate, but we are now in a situation where only that can help us.”

M&M has decided to defer capacity expenditure by at least 15-20 per cent in light of the slowdown. A lending crisis among the country’s shadow banks, which fund nearly 55-60 per cent of commercial vehicles and 30 per cent of passenger cars, has led to automakers, including M&M, Maruti Suzuki India, and Tata Motors, to either cut production or temporarily close plants. (Read more here

5) Finance ministry asks departments, PSUs to expedite capital expenditure

As part of the Modi government’s bid to boost economic activity and pump in liquidity into the infrastructure sector, senior finance ministry officials are meeting officials from other departments, as well as state-owned firms. The PSUs are being told to boost capital expenditure (capex), while the departments, especially those related to infrastructure sectors, are being told to expedite spending of allocated sums and release outstanding payments to contractors.

Economic Affairs Secretary Atanu Chakraborty and Expenditure Secretary Girish Chandra Murmu on Thursday met officials from the ministries of road transport & highways, railways, telecom, and housing & urban affairs to review their capex programme. (Read more here

6) Govt launches updated Credit linked Capital Subsidy Scheme for MSMEs

The government on Thursday launched the updated Credit linked Capital Subsidy Scheme (CLCSS) to allow micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) access to capital.

MSME Minister Nitin Gadkari announced the government would prepare a final report on the recommendations of the U K Sinha committee, which had been set up by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to suggest expeditious ways to strengthen MSMEs, within the next eight days. (Read more here

7) Novelis firm on Aleris Corp acquisition as US files antitrust suit

Aditya Birla Group company Hindalco Industries on Thursday faced a regulatory hurdle from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) on the Novelis-Aleris deal even as the European Union’s (EU’s) approval on this has almost been secured.

The American department has filed a civil antitrust lawsuit to block the purchase by Novelis, Hindalco’s US subsidiary. The case cited the need to preserve competition in the North American market for rolled aluminum sheet for automotive applications.

In response, Novelis said it was committed to closing its acquisition of Aleris Corporation, notwithstanding the DOJ lawsuit. (Read more here

8) Tech Mahindra secures large multi-year AT&T deal to accelerate IT network

Mumbai-based software services large-cap Tech Mahindra (TechM) on Thursday announced a strategic and possibly largest-ever deal with leading American network operator AT&T. This deal will accelerate AT&T’s information technology (IT) network application, shared systems modernisation, and movement to the cloud. TechM will assume management of many of the applications which support AT&T’s network and shared systems.

Sources close to the company have confirmed this is the largest deal the company has won to date although deal financials have not been disclosed. The management had earlier confirmed that they expected large communication deals, especially in 5G, to be announced in the second quarter of 2019-20 (FY20). Communication is TechM’s strongest vertical and the company has been extremely positive about a turnaround from the global 5G boom. (Read more here

9) Reliance launches JioFiber, sets up new battle with Airtel Xstream

Reliance Industries’ telecom arm, Reliance Jio, announced the commercial launch of JioFiber, its fiber-to-the-home (FTH) service, across 1,600 cities and towns, targeting 20 million homes over the next 12 months. Analysts, however, feel the plans are not as disruptive as the telco's wireless ones, which it launched three years ago. JioFiber has been running trials of the service since the past two years, for almost 500,000 customers. The plans range from Rs 699 to Rs 8,499 a month. Earlier this week, rival Bharti Airtel launched a new hardware —Xstream box and Xstream smart stick — and revamped the Airtel TV app, calling it Airtel Xstream. (Read more here

10) Advent, Birlas to pump Rs 1,000 cr each into Aditya Birla Capital  

Aditya Birla Capital Limited (ABCL) has raised Rs 1,000 crore from private equity fund Advent International, as part of a larger Rs 2,100-crore capitalisation exercise that will also see an equal contribution from promoter entities, the Economic Times reported on Friday. Further, the report said that existing investor PremjiInvest will put in Rs 100 crore.