The Mint Report for 18 November 2010

The Mint Report for 18 November 2010

The Supreme Court has given Prime Minister Manmohan Singh until Saturday to reply to its observations on the second generation spectrum controversy. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court had demanded to know why the Prime Minister had not acted against former telecoms minister A Raja earlier. The growing controversy over second generation had forced Raja to resign on Sunday. He’s been accused of selling spectrum licenses cheaply.

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On SKS Microfinance, the company’s stocks fell twenty percent on the BSE to 640.70. The losses came on a day that saw both the Nifty and Sensex making modest gains. It was prompted by a statement that SKS made to the bourses saying it expected a “material impact" from an ordinance in Andhra. Last month the Andhra Pradesh government issued the controversial Financial Institutions Ordinance. Though it’s not yet law, the ordinance bans MFIs from collecting weekly repayments, giving more than one loan to the same person, and collecting repayments weekly.

And the Andhra ordinance has already impacted India’s wider micro finance industry. MFI’s operating in the state have already seen their collections fall. That’s led to worries that they’ll default on loans they’ve taken from banks. At present SKS has about Rs1,400 crore in loans outstanding in Andhra Pradesh.

Airtel has undergone an image makeover. On Thursday chairman Sunil Mittal unveiled a new look for India’s biggest telecom firm. The company’s hoping its new branding will be both youthful and global. Airtel’s revamped logo is expected to lose the capital A but retain the colour red. And it’s going to be unveiled not just in India, but also in Africa, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. And while there’s no word yet on how much the re-branding exercise will cost, it’s expected to be on the order of several hundreds of crores.

Also on Bhari Airtel, the company says it’s optimistic about third generation services. While launching the new branding, chairman Sunil Mittal reiterated the company would roll out those services as planned. He added that the new services were likely to bring back higher margins to the industry. Bharti Airtel won third generation licenses in 13 of India’s 22 telecom zones.