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CII pushes for Digital Infra Fund with more Govt investment, for inclusive growth and employment

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Digital-tax

In the run-up to the upcoming Union Budget, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has sought creation of ‘Broadband Infrastructure Fund’ towards building digital infrastructure.

The industry body has suggested that the Government make a token budgetary allocation of Rs 5,000 crore in the upcoming Budget 2021-22 towards building the Broadband Infrastructure Fund.

It has highlighted that a rapid acceleration in the creation of digital infrastructure will be an effective tool for inclusive digitalisation which will help add to economic growth and employment.

CII had constituted a Task Force on Digital Infra, chaired by J.S. Deepak, Former Telecom Secretary. The task force consists of leaders from network & passive infrastructure providers, telecom service providers, tech equipment manufacturers, academic institutions and think tanks.

Regarding the pre-budget recommendations for the digital infrastructure sector, Deepak said, “To achieve the dream of Digital India and the goals of NDCP-2018, major investments are required. Considering the financial stress that the sector is going through and the growing digital divide in urban and rural areas, it is important for the Government to allocate specific funds towards building nationwide digital infrastructure”.

The industry body said that in line with some of the global peers, the Government should consider increasing government funding for broadband infrastructure, especially where private investment is not adequate.

Further, CII proposed to the government to allow access to alternative and cheap sources of capital for the digital communications sector to scale up the necessary infrastructure for the rapid data demand and 5G rollout. The Task Force suggested to include Hi-Tech in Priority Sector Lending for public sector banks and permit digital communications sector to access long-term low-cost capital through issuing infrastructure debt bonds.

Additionally, in order to ensure financial stability for the sector, the Task Force suggested to reduce the spectrum Usage Charge (SUC) to 1 per cent. The recommendations also included extension of investment linked incentives under Section 35AD of the Income Tax Act to telecom infrastructure service providers for equipment manufactured in India.

In order to boost domestic manufacturing, CII suggested to extend Export Credit scheme for another one year and provide the higher rate benefit of 5 per cent. CII recommended various measures for indigenisation of digital infrastructure and encouraging domestic manufacturers as key for Atmanirbhar and Surakshit Bharat.

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Tesla, Ford only carmakers not gone bankrupt: Elon Musk

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Elon Musk. (Photo: Twitter/@elonmusk)

As several carmakers bleed in the US and beyond, Tesla is profitable and according to Elon Musk, his electric car company and Ford are the only two carmakers in the US which have not gone bankrupt.

Tesla reported another profitable quarter as revenue hit $10.74 billion in the fourth quarter of 2020. In last year, Tesla achieved free cash flow of nearly $2.8 billion after spending more than $3 billion on building new factories and other expenditures.

US automaker Ford last month announced to more than double its investment in electric and autonomous vehicles to $29 billion. The automaker had previously committed to spend $11.5 billion on electrifying its vehicle lineup through 2022.

“Tesla & Ford are the only American carmakers not to have gone bankrupt out of 1000’s of car startups. Prototypes are easy, production is hard & being cash flow positive is excruciating,” Musk said in a tweet on Friday.

Ford CEO Jim Farley responded to his tweet, saying: “Respect”.

In 2020, Tesla produced and delivered half a million vehicles. In addition, Model Y production in Shanghai has begun.

Tesla this year also registered its Indian subsidiary with the Registrar of Companies (RoC) in Bengaluru, on January 8.

“2020 was a defining year for us on many levels. Despite a challenging environment, we’ve reached an important milestone of producing and delivering 0.5 million cars,” Musk had said.

On the other hand, Ford’s increased investment is aimed at catching up with the EV market leader Tesla and keep pace with other automakers like GM and Volkswagen.

“We are accelerating our plans right now, breaking constraints, increasing battery capacity, improving our costs and getting more battery electrics into our cycle plan,” Ford CEO Farley said last month.

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Adidas provides 100% support through its Formotion collection for all women making moves

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ADIDAS

In its commitment to creating an inclusive space in society for women, global sportswear giant — adidas, has launched Watch Us Move — a campaign to celebrate womanhood and their freedom of movement.

Through this campaign, adidas reaffirms its belief that just like in sport where body types don’t matter, our society is rising above caring for beauty standards.

As per adidas, what is important is that we unbiasedly care about our ambitions, hard work, stamina, willpower, and everything that comes from within. Sport is beyond caste, socio-economic status, physical and psychological barriers. Through ‘Watch Us Move’, the brand celebrates the positive movement of women who are spreading an infectious aura of rebellious optimism.

The launch of the campaign saw Manushi Chhillar, Dipika Pallikal & Nikhat Zareen coming together to narrate how they have broken unrealistic stereotypes of perfection through their incredible journey and positioned themselves as role models for young girls across the country.

Present at the launch, Sunil Gupta, Senior Director, brand adidas, India said: “Watch Us Move” is all about encouraging women to express themselves through movement. Every woman has her own definition of movement, of what progress looks like. They’re already taking action, creating in their own way. Yet many tell her what to do, how to look and who to be. With the launch of “Watch Us Move”, adidas aims to unshackle these expectations and provide 100% support for all women making moves as they move the world.

Speaking at the launch, Manushi Chhillar, Miss World 2017, said, “I am delighted to be a part of adidas’ powerful roster of women athletes who are super inspirational. ‘Watch Us Move’ celebrates women, their achievements and inspires us to keep a positive approach to life. It celebrates the fact that being feminine is powerful in every way, shape and form. Through this platform, I’d like to say we are ready to MOVE and now, more so than ever, it’s time for the world to ‘WATCH US MOVE’.”

Adding to this, Deepika Pallikal, Indian Squash Player, said, “Watch Us Move is a rallying call for all women to be the drivers of change for one another with their inspiring rebellious optimism. Through this campaign, I urge women to express themselves more freely and also to move & enjoy and see how this movement can do wonders to their bodies and minds for overall wellbeing.”

As part of the campaign, adidas is pushing boundaries to release product innovations that reflect women’s needs to access possibilities in sport and herself throughout the year. The campaign is timed with the arrival of adidas’ most supportive activewear range — Formotion — a collection that has been developed by an all-female design team to deliver maximum support, whilst offering a comfortable fit that works seamlessly with the body in motion. Formotion is a celebration of freedom and expression through movement and inclusivity for all women.

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IndiGrid inks largest transmission deal with Sterlite Power

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Power-demand

India Grid Trust, India’s first power infrastructure investment trust (InvIT), on Saturday signed a share purchase agreement to acquire NER-II Transmission Limited from Sterlite Power as part of the Framework Agreement.

The indicative value of the acquisition is Rs 4,625 crore and would boost IndiGrid’s AUM (asset under management) by 34 per cent to over Rs 20,000 crore ($2.8 billion).

Post completion, the platform’s asset portfolio would consist of 13 power transmission projects, with a total network of 38 power transmission lines and 11 substations extending over 7,570 circuit kilometers and 13,350 MVA in 17 Indian states and 1 Union Territory.

NER-II is part of Inter State Transmission Scheme (ISTS) network, and was awarded on a Build, Own, Operate, Maintain (“BOOM”) basis with a contractual period of 35 years. The project has 11 elements including two substations of 1,260 MVA capacity and four transmission lines extending over 830 circuit kilometres. The asset spans across Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura and is of strategic importance for the delivery of power in one of the toughest regions in the country. This project will strengthen the power transmission network in the North Eastern States and address the of transmission, sub-transmission, and distribution system needs of the region.

IndiGrid had signed a framework agreement in April 2019 with Sterlite Power for acquisition of NER-II upon commissioning. This transaction is expected to be consummated during Q4 FY21, subject to unitholders’ approval, regulatory approvals, and other customary closing adjustments. The acquisition will be funded through a combination of internal accruals, debt, equity proceeds from the preference issue done in May 2019 and forthcoming rights issue. Post this acquisition, the net debt/AUM would stand at 64 per cent.

Commenting on the acquisition, Harsh Shah, Chief Executive Officer of IndiGrid, said: “We are excited with acquisition of NER-II which is one of the largest acquisitions in Indian power transmission sector in India. NER-II fits well with our strategy of focusing on operating assets with long term cash flows and minimal counter party risk. This acquisition would be DPU accretive and augment our recent increase of DPU to Rs 12.40 per annum for a considerable period.”

Commenting on the transaction, Pratik Agarwal, Managing Director, Sterlite Power said, “This mega transmission project will help deliver reliable power for 5.3 crore people in India’s north eastern region.”

IndiGrid has acquired Rs 8,300 crore assets since the last capital raise including Rs 7,100 crore of Framework/ROFO projects from Sterlite Power and first cost-plus transmission asset from Reliance Ifrastructure. It has also announced its foray into the renewables sector with the planned acquisition of 138 MW solar asset. Separately, in FY21, KKR was inducted as a sponsor following the Rs 2,510 crore preferential issue in 2019 which was subscribed by KKR and GIC amongst other marquee investors. KKR has also acquired majority interest in the Investment Manager

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