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HDFC announces merger with HDFC Bank, shares surge

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 Housing loan major Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC) on Monday said its Board has approved merger of its wholly owned subsidiaries HDFC Investments and HDFC Holdings with HDFC Bank.

Upon the merger scheme becoming effective, the subsidiaries or associates of HDFC will become subsidiaries or associates of HDFC Bank, it said in a regulatory filing to the exchanges.

The proposed transaction is to create a large balance sheet and net-worth that would allow greater flow of credit into the economy.

It will also enable underwriting of larger ticket loans, including infrastructure loans, an urgent need of the country, said the filing.

The merger of India’s largest housing finance company (HFC) HDFC with the largest private sector bank in India HDFC Bank will enable seamless delivery of home loans and leverage on the large base of over 68 million customers of HDFC Bank and inter alia improve the pace of credit growth, the filing added.

“Post the combination, HDFC Bank’s customers will be offered mortgages as a core product in a seamless manner. HDFC Bank will also leverage the long tenor mortgage relationship to offer varied credit and deposit products enabled through better insights through-out the customer life-cycle,” it said.

The Boards of the two entities believe that the merger will create long term value for all stakeholders, including customers, employees and shareholders.

The amalgamation of the two entities will provide further impetus to the Government’s vision of “Housing for All”, it said.

HDFC Bank has a presence in more than 3,000 cities/towns through its 6,342 branches, with about 50 per cent of these branches in semi-urban/rural geographies in the country.

Leveraging this distribution might, the proposed transaction would broaden the home loan offering, synonymous with the national objective of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana that intends to provide housing for all.

“This is a merger of equals. We believe that the housing finance business is poised to grow in leaps and bounds due to the implementation of RERA, infrastructure status to the housing sector, government initiatives like affordable housing for all, amongst others,” said Deepak Parekh, Chairman of HDFC.

“Over the last few years, various regulations for banks and NBFCs have been harmonised, thereby enabling the potential merger. Further, the resulting larger balance sheet would allow underwriting of large ticket infrastructure loans, accelerate the pace of credit growth in the economy, boost affordable housing and increase the quantum of credit to the priority sector, including credit to the agriculture sector.”

Reacting to the merger news, shares of HDFC and HDFC Bank rose as high as 14 per cent and 11 per cent, respectively, during the opening session.

Business

Adani Group hits back with detailed responses to Hindenburg’s unsubstantiated accusations

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 On Sunday, Adani Group responded to unsubstantiated allegations and misleading narrative peddled by Hindenburg Research at length in an over 400-page response backed by relevant documents.

Adani Group’s response also raises the questions against the ulterior motives and modus operandi of Hindenburg that has conveniently ignored the Indian judiciary and regulatory framework.

The detailed response from Adani Group covered its governance standards, credentials, creditworthiness, best practices, transparent conduct, financial and operational performance and excellence.

The Hindenburg report has been made with a clear intent to profiteer at the cost of our shareholders and public investors. Its report is neither “independent” nor “objective”. It is a manipulative document that is rife with conflict of interest and intended only for creating a false market in securities to book wrongful gain, which clearly constitutes securities fraud under Indian law.

Of the 88 questions posed by Hindenburg, it is pertinent to note that 68 refers to the matters that have already been duly disclosed by Adani Group companies in their respective annual reports, offering memorandums, financial statements and stock exchange disclosures from time to time. Sixteen out of 20 questions are pertaining to public shareholders and their sources of funds, while the balance four are simply baseless allegations.

Needless to say that Hindenburg has created these questions to divert the attention of its target audience while managing its short trades to benefit at the cost of investors. The report claims to have undertaken a “2-year investigation” and “uncover evidence”, but comprises nothing other than selective and incomplete extracts of disclosed information which has been in the public domain for years.

“We take serious objection to Hindenburg that chose to mislead the investors, watchdogs and policy makers at a time when Adani Group has launched country’s largest FPO. Adani Group is deeply committed to its stakeholders, and it is thankful to them for standing with us over the past 30 years. Shockingly, Hindenburg Research’s attack on the trust of Adani Group’s stakeholders undermines its commitment for the ‘Growth with Goodness’,” Adani Group said.

Hindenburg Research has come up with a document covering selective and twisted extracts of already disclosed information to raise questions in the minds of Indian and global investors to mislead them about Indian growth story. It is an attack on the trust of Adani Group’s stakeholders undermines its commitment for the ‘Growth with Goodness’.

Adani Portfolio companies have successfully and repeatedly executed an industry beating expansion plan over the past decade. While doing so, the companies have consistently de-levered with portfolio net debt to EBITDA ratio coming down from 7.6x to 3.2x, EBITDA has grown 22 per cent CAGR in the last 9 years and debt has only grown by 11 per cent CAGR during the same period.

Equity Injection in the Adani Portfolio Adani Portfolio has raised $16 billion equity under a systematic capital management plan for all the Portfolio companies over the last 3 years as a combination of primary, secondary and committed equity from marquee investors like TotalEnergies, IHC, QIA, Warburg Pincus etc.

The portfolio has developed deep bank relationships with institutions such as JP Morgan, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citi, CreditSuisse, UBS, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, Barclays, Standard Chartered, MUFG, DBS and Emirates NBD among others. This has strengthened access to diverse funding sources and structures.

Adani Portfolio companies have demonstrated successful syndication of the banking transactions, resulting in de-risking of the banks in volatile markets. Case in point being Holcim’s Indian cement business acquisition with international banks, and Navi Mumbai Airport and Kutch Copper refinery with domestic banks Adani Group companies also have a very strong audit process in order to prevent any deviations from the regulatory obligations and highest legal standards.

The Audit Committee of each of the listed verticals is composed of 100 per cent of Independent Directors and chaired by Independent Director.

The Statutory Auditors are appointed only upon recommendation by the Audit Committee to the Board of Directors. Adani Portfolio company’s follow a stated policy of having global big 6 or regional leaders as Statutory Auditors.

Hindenburg has deliberately and repeatedly trivialised the change of CFOs to twist this into a narrative.

The fact is that many of the CFOs are still part of the organisation in other capacities to take on larger responsibilities as part of our growth stories.

Others have left post retirement or to pursue their own entrepreneurial endeavours and continue to work in our association.

None of the resignations have ever been made pursuant to any alleged concerns and Hindenburg’s baseless narrative.

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Premium segment at highest spot, 5G phones at 32% market share in India

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 Premium segment (Rs 30,000 and above) contributed 11 per cent to India’s smartphone shipments and 35 per cent to overall market revenue in 2022, the highest ever.

Samsung led the market in 2022 in terms of shipment value share with a 22 per cent share, followed by Apple, in the country, according to Counterpoint Research.

However, in terms of shipment volume, Xiaomi led the market in 2022 with a 20 per cent share, closely followed by Samsung.

Xiaomi slipped to third position in Q4 2022 with Samsung and vivo capturing first and second spots respectively.

5G smartphones captured a 32 per cent share in 2022. Samsung became the top-selling 5G brand in 2022 with a 21 per cent share.

Apple continued to lead the premium smartphone segment, with the iPhone 13 emerging as the top-selling model. Apple also led the market in Q4 2022 in terms of shipment value.

“Consumer demand started declining from the second quarter when the global economy was crippled by multiple macroeconomic issues like all-time high inflation, rising unemployment and geopolitical conflicts, affecting India’s economy as well,” said senior research analyst Prachir Singh.

Inventory build-up across channels after the second quarter led to lower-than-expected shipments throughout the second half of the year.

“We believe that the inventory and demand situation will continue to affect the market in the first half of 2023 before improving in the latter half driven by the festive season and upgrades to 5G devices,” Singh added.

India’s smartphone shipments declined 9 per cent YoY to reach over 152 million units in 2022, according to the report.

The decline, which is the second ever in India’s smartphone market, can be attributed to the decline in entry-level and budget segments which faced supply constraints at the beginning of the year and then witnessed lower demand throughout the year.

“While entry-tier and budget segments were most affected, the premium segment remained immune and showed double-digit growth. OEMs’ increased focus, consumers upgrading for premium features and, most importantly, availability of various financing schemes,” said research analyst Shilpi Jain.

Overall, India smartphone market revenue remained flat despite a 9 per cent YoY decline in shipments.

OnePlus grew 50 per cent YoY in 2022 driven by the OnePlus Nord CE 2 series.

It focused on diversifying and expanding its product portfolio across different price points and increasing its offline presence to drive sales, the report mentioned.

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WhatsApp working on new software that uses Apple Mac Catalyst

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 Meta-owned WhatsApp is working on a new Mac app that uses the Apple Mac Catalyst development environment to make better use of system resources.

According to AppleInsider, WhatsApp currently provides a web-based Electron app for Mac users in addition to its web app via browsers.

Electron and Catalyst are software development frameworks that help developers create desktop apps.

The new app has been in a closed beta for a few months, but now anyone can download the file on macOS Big Sur or later on the WhatsApp website, according to the report.

Following installation, it will display a QR code that users can scan with their iPhone to link their accounts using the WhatsApp iOS app.

The Mac app’s three-panel interface provides access to archived chats, starred messages, phone calls, and settings.

The Catalyst app includes features not available in the Electron version, such as file drag-and-drop and a spell-checker, the report mentioned.

Meanwhile, WhatsApp has reportedly rolled out some new shortcuts for group admins to quickly and easily perform actions for a certain group participant, on iOS.

The new shortcuts simplify interactions with group members as now the platform supports large groups of up to 1,024 participants, reports WABetainfo.

The new update will help group admins quickly manage and communicate with such a large number of participants in private.

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