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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has flagged significant financial risks over allowing the use of cryptocurrencies. The concerns are nothing new but is worth pondering over. IMF’s mission chief for India Nada Choueiri said that crypto-assets can be misused for money laundering, terrorist financing, and other illegal activities. Unless effective regulatory measures are in place, there could be consumer protection challenges. Meanwhile, according to one Indian government official, the finance ministry has ruled out the use of crypto currency as an asset.
Scroll down for our top reports. On IPO-bound EbixCash, Citibank’s India business, courier firm DTDC, and electric two-wheeler makers. Also, check out our primer on lithium supplies.
*As of 7.30 PM 30 March; MCX, CoinDCX
The main stuff
Inside the confounding world of EbixCash (premium)
EbixCash reported shiny revenues in FY21. Its foreign promoter is now ready to sell stake worth ₹6,000 crore to the public. What lies beneath Ebix's impressive numbers? In FY21, subsidiary Ebix Payment's revenue shot up nearly 8X. While expenses should have normally gone up due to acquisitions and employee benefit, expenses halved; the company's contribution to PF also halved. Moreover, the DRHP lists over 20 outstanding litigation proceedings involving Ebix, its subsidiaries, directors and promoters, writes Arti Singh. Read more.
Axis to buy Citibank’s India business for ₹12,325 cr
Axis Bank on Wednesday agreed to buy Citibank’s consumer business in India for ₹12,325 crore ($1.6 billion) in cash, a move that will boost the Indian lender’s presence in the retail segment. Axis would pay Citi an additional ₹1,500 crore over the next two years to help the transition process. The transaction would give Axis Bank ₹18,500 crore in consumer loans like mortgages, asset-backed finance and personal loans, but more importantly, access to 2.55 million high-spending credit card customers, writes Shayan Ghosh. Read more.
Courier firm DTDC Express plans to go public
DTDC Express, one of India’s largest courier service providers, has begun work on its initial public offering to raise as much as ₹1,000 crore and plans to go public later this year, three people aware of the development said. The courier firm plans to use some of the proceeds from the IPO to strengthen its technology platform to compete with younger tech-enabled delivery companies that have helped fuel the rapid growth of e-commerce in India. Swaraj Singh Dhanjal reports. Read more.
Sebi digs its heels in on related-party rules
India Inc has been lobbying to tweak the new related party rules. However, they were in for disappointment—the market regulator on Wednesday issued a circular making the rules more stringent. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) clarified all the so-called material related party transactions would need an approval from shareholders post 1 April. Jayshree P Upadhyay has the details. Read more.
Electric two-wheeler makers may raise prices on higher costs
Electric two-and three-wheeler makers in India may raise their product prices to offset higher costs of imported battery cells amid supply disruptions fuelled by the Ukraine crisis. The average cost of battery cells in 2021 was approximately $101 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), or about ₹7,670/kWh, according to data sourced from Bloomberg NEF. Currently, the cost is around $130/kWh or higher, a figure that could increase going forward. Shouvik Das reports. Read more.
How India plans to solve lithium supply problems
Lithium has been among the most sought-after mineral during the past few years, largely on the back of its usage in battery manufacturing. India is at odds with a major import source for the mineral, China. So, what are the country’s options? India is searching for domestic reserves and looking for newer countries to source the mineral. On Tuesday, India committed to jointly invest $6 million with the Australian government to explore lithium and cobalt mines there, writes Rituraj Baruah. Read more.
Moscow dampened hope that a breakthrough in the latest peace talks had been achieved and followed through on its advertised shift in war plans in Ukraine by redoubling its ground and air assaults in eastern portions of the country. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Wednesday dispelled the idea that Tuesday’s talks in Turkey between Ukrainian and Russian delegates had represented a turning point.
The number of people fleeing the war in Ukraine has exceeded four million, the United Nations said Wednesday, surpassing the refugee count the organization predicted for the entire war in just under five weeks. Though the scale of humanitarian flight has slowed in recent days, UNHCR also said many millions have been displaced within Ukraine.
The covid-19 wave that is tearing through South Korea is the largest that any developed country has experienced, reaching three times the number of new daily cases per capita than previous peaks in the US and the UK. Yet, South Korea has all but given up on trying to stop the spread of the virus. Health officials recently called such a mass outbreak necessary.
A cryptocurrency startup that operates a popular online game called “Axie Infinity" said that hackers stole more than $500 million worth of cryptocurrency. The infiltrators got access to accounts holding cryptocurrencies and drained 173,600 ether and 25.5 million of the stablecoin USDC.
Three lessons Uday Kotak learnt at IL&FS
Uday Kotak has decided to call time on one of his pro bono efforts. He is stepping down as chairman of the debt-ridden and beleaguered IL&FS Ltd, having recovered part of the money owed to creditors and expressed satisfaction at the extent of recoveries made so far. Kotak perhaps has three reasons to look back at his tenure as the government-appointed chairman at IL&FS with some degree of pride. Read more.
News in numbers
The number of weddings expected across India between mid-April and early July, generating business of about ₹5 trillion.
The impact of the 3% increase in Dearness Allowance, to be paid to over 50 lakh central government employees and over 60 lakh pensioners, on the exchequer every year.
The increase in global covid-19 deaths in the week ended 27 March, mainly due to changes in the definition of ‘death’ and retrospective adjustments, according to WHO.
The number of light combat helicopters India will procure at the cost of ₹3,887 crore. These helicopters are indigenously designed and manufactured with 45% local supply.
The amount Apple plans to spend in training the employees of its manufacturing partners, covering over 100,000 people in topics such as leadership and robotics.
India has pledged to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2070. Such a goal requires action, mitigation, and adaptation to fight the already-occurring climate changes, as suggested by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). India is one among handful of countries in the world which doesn't have a concrete climate adaptation plan. An adaptation plan would integrate adaptive measures to new and existing climate policies, according to the IMF.
The Parisian Agency (Netflix)
Season 2 of the French reality show on the Kretz family which deals in luxury real estate is here. The properties, with tropospheric prices and picture-postcard views, have gotten bigger as the agency is looking to expand. But what makes the show endearing is the family itself: Olivier Kretz and his wife Sandrine, and their three sons, Martin, Valentin, Louis, run the business—commissions are split evenly. This season ended with the agency seeking an exclusive partnership with the world’s leading real estate agent, Daniel Daggers.
WHAT THE FACT
Children’s play and dad’s science
On the Origin of Species, 2nd edition, National Museum of Scotland. (Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
Biologist Charles Darwin, often, handed over his draft manuscripts to his children for them to doodle and draw on. They painted and wrote stories on the back of these papers. The Darwin family preserved these manuscripts—much of what survives of the original Origin of Species manuscript also has some of the best of his children’s drawings. “So it was thanks to the fortunate meeting of the children’s play with their father’s science that these extremely rare manuscripts of the Origin of Species (4 pages), Origin Portfolios type notes (2 notes), Cirripedia (9 pages), Orchids (1 page) were preserved,” the American Museum of Natural History states.