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Good news: Flipkart offers massive discounts on flight and bus tickets, check details

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Walmart-owned Flipkart has announced huge discounts on flight and bus tickets. With lucrative deals on hotel offerings, Flipkart has curated full package discounts for travellers.

Flipkart is offering flat Rs 1000 discount on domestic flights and flat 12% off on international flights.

Besides, it offers up to 50% off on hotel bookings.

For those who would prefer traveling by bus, Flipkart is ofering 20% off on bus tickets.

The best part is of the offer is that you don’t have to use any coupon code to avail the offers as they are available on the latest version of Flipkart android app. The offer is on all Debit card & credit card and even net banking.

Meanwhile, today is the last day of IndiGo’s new year sale.

Under the offer, IndiGo is offering international flights tickets at starting price of Rs 3,299.

Customers need to book their tickets between December 12, 2018 to December 16, 2018. Under the offer, the travel time period is from December 27, 2018 to April 15, 2019.

“As December marks the beginning of Christmas and New Year celebrations across the world, we are offering the lowest fares to our customers who wish to travel overseas with family and friends as part of their winter vacations. Through this special sale initiative, we wish our customers Merry Christmas and a great 2019,” IndiGo said.

Corporate and leisure customers willing to plan their travel under the offer can book tickets via airline’s official website- goindigo.in. This offer is available across all distribution channels, IndiGo added.

Nisha Shiwani has worked in many companies in various capacities and in her free time loves to express herself through her articles. She is based out of the pink city Jaipur.

Business

Weak LNG prices to lift city gas distribution companies margins

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Also, an increase in piped natural gas and compressed natural gas consumption should also drive up the operating profit margins of gas distribution firms, said a Crisil report
22-25% – Decline in liquefied natural gas prices since January
5-7% – Expected rise in piped natural gas consumption

Up to 7% likely increase in compressed natural gas consumption
250-300 basis points – Expected rise in profit margins of city gas distribution firms in first half of fiscal 2020
$6.5-7 per mmBtu – estimated spot LNG prices in first half of next fiscal

The margin improvement would be more pronounced for CGD entities with higher share of industrial consumers of PNG,” — Prasad Koparkar, senior director, Crisil Research

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Kumar Birla distances himself from debt-hit Kesoram Industries

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As the health of Kesoram Industries, the flagship of Basant Kumar Birla’s empire, deteriorates, his grandson Kumar Mangalam Birla is fast distancing himself from the entity.

As the cement and tyre maker veers close to default risk with mounting losses of its tyre division, K M Birla, the head of Aditya Birla Group and B K Birla’s male heir, has taken additional steps to physically move away from the company.

After resigning from the Board of Pilani Investment and Industries Corp, the holding company for several Birla group companies including Kesoram, in August last year, K M Birla has now asked the market regulator Securities Exhange Board of India to remove him from the list of promoters of Kesoram because of his miniscule holdings.

K M Birla’s move comes at a time of deteriorating financial health of Kesoram, which has just suffered a rating downgrade on Friday implying default risk.

With a debt burden of Rs 900 crore, Kesoram, despite having a profitable cement business, now has “moderate risk of default” due to mounting losses of its ailing tyre business.

“In nine months of FY19, the loss before interest and tax from the tyre division increased to Rs 71.22 crore as against expectation of improvement. The ratings remain constrained by the leveraged capital structure and continued cash losses, tyre segment exposed to risk of volatility in raw material prices & high competition and cyclicality of the cement industry,” rating agency CARE has said while downgrading long-term debt from “moderate degree of safety” of BBB to “moderate risk of default” under BB+.

The rating might get revised once the impact of proposed demerger of the tyre business pans out, CARE said.

Rapid fall in the fortunes of the company along with K M Birla, head of one of India’s largest industrial conglomerate distancing himself from the empire of his grandfather has forced B K Birla, who is 98 years of age now, to continue as the chairman of the company.

As per his grandfather’s earlier wish, K M Birla was supposed to take over as chairman which he had turned down, forcing B K Birla to elevate his daughter Manjushree to vice chairmanship.

Despite distancing himself, K M Birla wrested control over Kesoram with his group investment company Manav Investment and Trading Co now owning 23.82% stake.

On Sunday, Manav Investment disclosed to the exchanges that it has made an additional pledge of 3.03% shares of Kesoram with IndusInd Bank, raising its pledged portion to 16.64%.

Kesoram, as of December end had 21.38% of its shares held by the promoters pledged with the banks.

Rise in pledged component of shares indicates rise in indebtedness, which touched Rs 3,520.41 crore as on December end.

“The debt coverage indicators remained weak and the company met its obligations timely through infusion of funds by the promoters,” the rating agency noted.

“To support the company in view of the losses, the promoters infused equity of Rs 312 crore in March 2018 through preferential allotment and warrants and Rs.23.73 crore was infused as an unsecured loan. In the first half of FY19 also, Rs 150 crore was advanced to Kesoram through promoter group entities,” it said.

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SpiceJet may have to shell out more for leasing aircraft

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SpiceJet, which grounded 13 Boeing Max 737 planes, may have to shell out more for leasing aircraft as rentals have shot through the roof.

The grounding of over 300 of Boeing 737 Max 8 planes across the globe, following two crashes, has sent aircraft lease rentals soaring, according to airline insiders.

Two senior executives of different domestic airlines, who spoke to DNA Money anonymously, said post the decision by most carriers around the globe to not fly the Max 8 planes till the fault in its software was fixed has led to a scarcity of Boeing planes in the market.

One of them said this crunch in availability of Boeings has bloated aircraft rental costs.

Following two air crashes, which involved Boeing 737 Max 8, in less than five months aviation authorities of many countries – India, China, Australia, UK, Germany, Indonesia and others – have ordered grounding of the Max 8.

One of the airline executives DNA Money spoke to, said all the carriers, which have grounded Max 8 aircraft would be looking to lease planes to continue their flight services.

Even SpiceJet is reportedly considering hiring planes to operate the flights for which it has already sold tickets.

“SpiceJet will reach out to airlines and lessors for available capacity,” he said.

Airlines mostly do not own aircraft. They order them from an aerospace company and then sell and lease back the planes from lessors like B&B Air Acquisition, BOC Aviation and others.

According to reports, SpiceJet may wet lease planes to continue its services. Acquiring planes on wet lease means getting the aircraft along with crew (both pilots and cabin crew) and is usually from an airline. Dry lease involves only aircraft.

According to the an executive, the rentals for aircraft aged five years or more were currently “roughly” starting from “$350,000-$400,000 per month”. This, he said, was higher than the rentals for similarly aged planes before the grounding of Max 8s.

A second executive said last year the average rentals for planes above five years was around $200,000-$250,000 per month.

“Depending on the age of the aircraft, it (lease rentals) should not be more than $400,000 a month. Older aircraft of 5-6 years old would be $200,000-$250,000 per month. If it is starting from $350,000-$400,000 per month, it is on the higher side,” he said.

“One thing is certain, aircraft leasing cost has increased due to the shortage of aircraft in the market after countries have stopped flying of Max 8s in their airspaces,” said a senior official of local airline.

Executive of another airline echoed; “If you ask me, I would say there is a shortage for Boeing because around 350 Boeing 737 Max 8s have been grounded around the world. Obviously, there will be some shortage. There is no doubt about it”.

He, however, could not confirm whether aircraft leases had gone northwards due to the shortage.

Budget carrier SpiceJet has grounded 13 Max 8. As of early this month, its fleet size was 78 aircraft. Jet Airways, which has grounded around 50 aircraft, had five Boeing 737 Max 8 in service.

Globally, the Seattle-based aerospace company had more than 300 Boeing 737 Max 8 in services and several of them were to be delivered in the current year.

According to an estimate of Wall Street firms Melius Research and Jefferies, if the Max 8 were to be grounded for three months, then the cost to the manufacturer of the Boeing planes would reportedly be between $1 billion and $5 billion.

The airline executive expects Boeing to put Max 8 back in the air in a few months after addressing its software issue. The US-based aerospace firm has orders for more than 5,000 of these planes.

In a similar incident that occurred in 2013, Boeing had grounded its entire fleet of 787 Dreamliner, which was in service, till it found a solution to the problem of batteries catching fire. However, the cost borne by it was not much then as only 50 Dreamliners were in service in 2013.

“Boeing will take months to fix the problem (of Max 8). Meanwhile, all its airline customers will also demand compensation for losses due to the grounding of the aircraft,” said the airline executive.

MID-AIR SCARE

  • $400,000 per month – rental for aircraft aged five years or more
  • Over 300 – Number of grounded Boeing Max 737 planes globally

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Jet Airways grounds four more aircraft due to non-payment of amounts to lessors

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Beleaguered carrier Jet Airways said on Monday it has grounded four more aircraft due to non-payment of amounts outstanding to lessors under their respective lease agreements.

Facing the worst financial crisis of its 25-year existence, the airline has grounded about half its fleet, cancelled flights, delayed salaries and defaulted on loan and other payments.

“Further to our letter on March 13, we now write to inform you that an additional four aircraft have been grounded due to non-payment of amounts outstanding to lessors under their respective lease agreements,” Kuldeep Sharma,Jet Airways‘ Vice President for Global Compliance and Company Secretary, informed stock exchanges in regulatory filings.

The company is actively engaged with all its aircraft lessors and regularly provides them with updates on the efforts undertaken to improve its liquidity, he said adding aircraft lessors have been supportive of the company’s efforts in this regard.

Jet said it is also making all efforts to minimise disruption to its network and proactively informing and re-accommodating its passengers. The Company also continues to provide required and periodic updates to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in this regard.

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I-T department to kickstart faceless verification of returns

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In a major step towards income-tax proceedings becoming completely faceless, the Income Tax Department under the finance ministry will launch a new mechanism to verify taxpayers’ returns shortly.

A notification in this regard was issued by the finance ministry on Wednesday.

A Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has been set up by the department to carry out e-verification of the ‘red-flagged’ cases of income-tax returns. The new facility will verify income-tax returns of individuals as well as companies.

The system will red-flag returns filed by taxpayers on the basis of around 200 odd risk assessment parameters set by the department. These cases will be taken up for e-verification by taxman.

Currently, while a large number of returns may have discrepancies, only about 0.5% of the total returns filed are picked up for a random scrutiny. The manual verification of all the returns, however, is not possible.

“Now with the new e-verification system, all the income-tax returns filed by taxpayers will be matched with the financial data available with the department, which it gets from various sources. If any discrepancy is found, the system-generated e-mail notices will be sent to taxpayers seeking responses. The entire process will be faceless without involving any human interaction,” said a senior official privy to the developments.

The new system of online verification will have the system-generated questionnaires with multiple choice questions. The replies of assessees would be in the machine-readable XML format, eliminating the need for manual reading of the responses.

The department had been working on the plan to make the entire process of verification as well as scrutiny completely faceless. While presenting the Budget on February 1, interim finance minister Piyush Goyal had said that within the next two years, almost all verification and assessment of returns selected for scrutiny will be done electronically through anonymised back office, manned by tax experts and officials, without any personal interface between taxpayers and tax officers.

“With the e-verification process kicking in, the verification process will become faster, crisper, transparent and efficient. This will also help in taxpayers filing their income details correctly,” said Aditya Vikram, member (I-T), Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT). CBDT is the apex policy making body of the I-T department.

The e-verification notices will be sent under section 133C of the Income-Tax Act, 1961. The cases where the reply of the assessee is found to be satisfactory will be closed and wouldn’t be pursued by the department. The other cases where the reply is not satisfactory will be sent to the assessing officer for scrutiny, which is a long-drawn statutory process under section 143 of the I-T Act.

The CVC, located in Ghaziabad in the National Capital Region, will have powers to call for any information from banks or any other financial institution. It will be headed by an I-T commissioner.

The next step will be to make the scrutiny process fully automated and completely faceless where the assessee wouldn’t know who is the assessing officer.

This will be a part of the next generation of Central Processing Centre (CPC) to come up at Bengaluru. The centre will allow faster processing of income-tax returns. The finance ministry’s revenue department plans to put in place a mechanism in the next two years to ensure that income tax returns are processed and refunds are issued 24 hours.

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Cube Highways to acquire RInfra’s Delhi-Agra Toll Road for Rs 3,600 cr

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Singapore-based Cube Highways and Infrastructure III Pte Ltd is set to acquire Delhi-Agra Toll Road from Reliance Infrastructure (RInfra) at an enterprise value of Rs 3,609 crore and both have entered into a definitive binding agreement for the same.

Cube Highways and Infrastructure III Pte Ltd has been formed by global infrastructure fund I Squared Capital and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA).

“The total deal enterprise value is over Rs 3,600 crore. In addition, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) claims of Rs 1,200 crore to be filed by DA (Delhi-Agra) Toll Road Pvt Ltd will flow directly to Reliance Infrastructure,” RInfra said in a regulatory filing on Thursday.

The enterprise value includes equity interests of approximately Rs 1,689 crore.

This transaction of selling 100% stake in the special purpose vehicle road project is as per Anil Ambani-promoted company’s strategic plan to monetise non-core businesses. Almost a year ago, RInfra had announced its plans to focus on engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) business.

The proceeds from the sale of this 180 kilometre-long Delhi Agra Toll Road will be utilised to partially repay company’s debt. “Debt of RInfra will reduce by over 25% to only less than Rs 5,000 crore against the net worth of around Rs 23,700 crore,” RInfra’s statement said.

This is not the first business that the company has sold to pare its debt. In August 2018, Adani Transmission Ltd (ATL) acquired Mumbai power generation, transmission and distribution business from RInfra for Rs 18,800 crore. Post that transaction, RInfra reduced its debt liabilities by Rs 13,800 crore.

RInfra has eleven road projects worth Rs 11,430 crore with a cumulative length of 968 km, according to the company’s website. Seven of the projects are operational, while four (including Delhi-Agra) are under construction. Though this six-lane Delhi Agra Toll Road is still being built, the tolling operation had commenced in October 2012 and witnesses heavy traffic flow. As per the concession agreement inked with NHAI, the concession period is till 2038.

The divestment will be undertaken after the commercial operation date for the Delhi-Agra Toll Road is achieved.

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JFL’s Hong’s Kitchen to take on Mainland China, 5 Spice, others

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Jubilant FoodWorks Ltd’s (JFL) foray into the Chinese eatery space with Hong’s Kitchen is set to create a stir in the market that’s dominated by established players and start-ups. Analysts tracking JFL’s business are of the view that the company’s new eatery brand will be a strong contender in the Chinese cuisine category which is also the second most consumed cuisine in the country.

Abneesh Roy, research analyst and senior vice president- Institutional Equities, Edelweiss Securities Ltd, said that Hong’s Kitchen will potentially be a strong alternative to large organised brands such as Mainland China, Yo! China, 5 Spice. “… as well as for small-format Chinese fast food start-ups such as Wok Express, Swiggy’s The Bowl Company, Faasos’s Mandarin Oak and several others that have cropped up in the country, apart from local restaurants and street-side vendors that serve Indo-Chinese fusion food,” Roy said in the note.

A part of Jubilant Bhartia group, JFL is one of India’s largest food service company that operates the pizza chain Domino’s and quick service restaurant chain Dunkin’ Donuts. Hong’s Kitchen is JFL’s first ‘own brand’ that serves Chinese cuisine. It’s first outlet opened at Eros mall, Gurugram on Wednesday.

According to Shyam S Bhartia, chairman and Hari S Bhartia, co-chairman, JFL, the company’s first indigenous restaurant brand underlines their confidence in the growth potential of the Indian food service market in the coming years. “Hong’s Kitchen will help us venture into the Chinese cuisine space for the first time and hence together with the existing brands of Domino’s and Dunkin’ help build a stronger portfolio,” the duo said in a company statement.

Experts believe that there is a big gap between the pricing and offerings of street vendors and premium fine dining restaurants. What also works for the new brand is the restaurant’s young, international-looking and trendy design that’s inspired by the colours and the hustle of Asian street markets.

JFL’s chief executive officer and whole-time director, Pratik Pota, said, “Hong’s Kitchen, with its fast-casual format, will address the vast, unaddressed market through great-tasting and affordably priced Chinese food that’s customised for Indian tastes.”

The key thing to watch for will be pricing, new store openings, capital expenditure (capex) per store, advertising spends, delivery etc. “In the first few years, any new chain makes losses. However, Jubilant already has huge economies of scale in terms of sourcing and real estate and hopefully will try to occupy gaps between street food and fine dining offerings. This will help in keeping margin hit on the lower side,” Roy said in the note.

Going with its strategy of not relying completely on third-party online food delivery platforms, JFL has not yet made the menu items offered by Hong’s Kitchen available on Zomato, Swiggy and other food delivery applications. Instead, the company has its own app on Google Play and Apple App Store for online food ordering in addition to a hotline for phone orders. The minimum order size for online delivery has been kept at Rs 99 and the company is not charging additional delivery/ packing/ other charges.

The menu includes both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food offered at attractive price points. The pricing starts from Rs 99 to Rs 199 for momos and spring rolls going up to between Rs 199 and Rs 349 for noodles and rice, main dishes, combos and chef’s specials.

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Why only crackers, what about vehicles, asks Supreme Court

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After closing down the firecracker industry in the name of curbing pollution, the Supreme Court on Tuesday realised that its priority was misplaced as the real culprit behind the spike in pollution is the automobile industry.

Taking a relook into its order banning the existing firecrackers and introducing green crackers, a bench of Justices SA Bobde and S Abdul Nazeer asked the Centre whether it had done any comparative study by which it could be fairly stated that vehicles pollute more than firecrackers.

There was another reason too for the change of heart. So far, the matter was pending with a bench which had ordered the ban last October. On Tuesday, the case was listed before a new bench that considered the issue afresh.

The judges felt that its order had brought the entire firecracker industry to a grinding halt. This meant that scores of people lost jobs. The Court said that a ban on firecrackers cannot be indefinite as it affects the livelihood of those families living on it.

The Court’s views have given a ray of hope to the cracker manufacturers who have been at odds explaining to the Court that they are minor defaulters compared to the automobile industry. Moreover, the manufacturers claimed that firecrackers is used extensively during certain days of the year while the real contributors to pollution are vehicles, crop burning, dust from construction activity among other sources.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) ANS Nadkarni told the Court that he will take instructions on whether any comparative study exists on pollution caused by fireworks vis-a-vis vehicles. The bench said, “It seems you are running after firecrackers while the bigger contributor to pollution is perhaps vehicles.”

The bench said that the Court must be mindful of citizens’ right to life which includes right to employment, right to carry out trade as well. “We do not want to generate unemployment. This trade (firework manufacturing) is not illegal as it is a licensed business. How can it be stopped? At best, it can be regulated.”

Referring to its own orders, the SC bench said, “Nobody has tested this case in relation to Article 19(1)(g) giving citizens right to practise any profession, occupation, trade or business. We cannot leave people unemployed.”

Meanwhile, ASG Nadkarni informed the Court that the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) along with environment experts of NEERI are expected to meet this week to finalize the chemical formulation of ‘green crackers’ which are low on light and smoke emission. The product approval for improved firecrackers will be released by March 21.

The petitioners represented by advocate Gopal Shankarnaraynan told the Court that pollution caused by fireworks accounted for 2.5 per cent of Delhi’s pollution and the very idea of Court banning crackers was to replace production of polluting crackers with green and improved ones. The matter will now be heard next on April 3.

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Indians come together for CRPF bravehearts, donate Rs 47 crore via Paytm

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To express solidarity with the CRPF bravehearts, Indian Paytm users donated Rs 47 crore to CRPF Wives Welfare Association. According to Paytm, the company today handed over a cheque of Rs 47 Crores to Manu Bhatnagar, President of CRPF Wives Welfare Association. This money was collected through contributions for the CRPF Bravehearts. The fundraising efforts began on the platform following the ghastly attack on CRPF jawans on February 14.

From February 15 to March 10, more than 20 lakh Paytm users came forward and contributed to the cause to express their solidarity with the forces.

Paytm had collaborated with CRPF Wives Welfare Association (CWA) to collect the fund and allowed patrons to contribute money through the Paytm mobile app and website, that would go to the corpus fund of the CWA. The patrons were only required to enter their name and PAN card number to avail tax benefits under Section 80G. All donations made via the app were exempted from transaction fees.

Kiran Vasireddy, COO Paytm said, “Our prayers are with the jawans and the families affected by this attack. Our hearts go out to those who have suffered an unimaginable loss due to this. We, at Paytm, are committed to assist the families of our jawans in this hour of need by giving them a helping hand. We would like to thank our users who came forward and helped contribute Rs 47 Crores for this cause.”

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Was unaware of husband’s dealings with Videocon group: Chanda Kochhar to ED

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Former CEO and MD of ICICI Bank, Chanda Kochhar told the Enforcement Directorate (ED) that she was not aware of her husband Deepak Kochhar’s business dealings with Videocon Group MD Venugopal Dhoot.

Chanda Kochhar informed the ED that she was unaware when six high-value loans worth Rs 1,875 crore were approved by the private lender to her husband and Dhoot.

According to a report by ToI, Chanda mentioned that the loan worth Rs 64 crore was given by Videocon group to Deepak Kochhar’s companyNuPower Renewables a day after Rs 300 crore loan was disbursed to Videocon group company by the bank.

The high profile banker further stated that she “didn’t discuss her bank related work with her husband or vice-versa, hence there was no question of taking any favor in lieu of the bank loan.”

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has alleged that Rs 64 crore loan was used as a kickback to the Kochhar’s.

ED has reportedly also found that Venugopal Dhoot had made payment to Deepak Kochhar’s company via Mauritius.

A letter rogatory or letter of request has been sent to a tax haven to sought payment details.

Meanwhile, on February 22, the CBI had issued lookout circulars (LOCs) against Chanda, her husband Deepak Kochhar and Venugopal Dhoot.

“The LOCs were issued after the FIR was filed in the case. LOCs are mandatory in cases where such economic offences are alleged,” the official said.

“In recent times, keeping an eye on travel plans is a top concern for regulators,” the official added.

Last month, ED had registered a criminal case against the Kochhars, Dhoot, and others to investigate alleged irregularities in sanctioning of Rs 3,250 crore loan by the private lender to the corporate group.

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