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Wednesday,16-June-2021

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Steel industry will see shift in market share: JSW Steel

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JSW Steel sees an opportunity as a market share shift takes place in the steel industry with the MSME and secondary producers not being able to ramp up in these challenging times.

In an interview with IANS, Seshagiri Rao, Joint Managing Director, JSW Steel and Group CFO, said the company has given a guidance for 16 million tons of steel production and 15 million tons of sales.

“Whatever we are down in quarter one, we will be able to make up in the remaining three quarters,” he said.

Rao added that JSW has a history of delivering 4 million tons every quarter, repeatedly quarter after quarter. “Notwithstanding slow recovery in domestic demand, we are geared to deliver what we committed in the guidance,” he said. He said April was a washout for the company due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

JSW Steel Ltd is the flagship company of the diversified $12 billion JSW Group which has a leading presence in sectors such as steel, energy, infrastructure, cement, sports, among others.

Rao said that demand has been recovering month after month and while in April, it was 9 per cent of normal, it went up to 35 per cent in May and 55 per cent in June. “There is a steady improvement in demand and gradual recovery in demand will happen. If there is a shortfall in domestic demand, then it will be exported.”

Flagging an important dynamic in steel production, he said that in the first quarter, crude steel production was down by 43 per cent but six major players delivered 74 per cent of production.

“MSMEs, secondary players, in these challenging times are not able to ramp up capacity like they used to,” he said. In the steel sector, 60 per cent production is with primary, or big, players, and 40 per cent is with secondary players.

However, now, 60 per cent of the players are producing 75 per cent of the steel. “So because of this change, there will be a shift in the market share of the industry. While some gradual recovery will happen, big players will take the market share. This is where the opportunity lies for JSW,” Rao said.

JSW will close the proposed acquisitions of Asian Colour and Bhushan Power and Steel in the current financial year, Rao said. In the case of BPSL, three litigations are in the Supreme Court, which are crucial for the company’s plan.

On the domestic steel demand trends, he said that forecasts for Indian steel demand vary from a fall of 8 per cent to 18 per cent, which is a very wide range.

“My view is a 9 per cent fall in steel demand. Last year, the demand was 100 million tons and this year, it will be 90-95 million tons. I don’t think a fall of 18-20 per cent will happen,” Rao said.

On the Covid-19 incident in the JSW site in Vijaynagar, Rao said the recovery rate is 80 per cent and other staff are also healthy and active. Around 700 cases were detected and the company took all preventive measures to ensure that the employees are safe and the
plant also functions normally.

The number of employees critical for operating the plant were moved to the township and the factory was sealed and that’s how the spread of the infection was controlled, he added.

JSW has forecast an improvement in overseas operations in US and Italy from the next quarter.

On the trend of Indian companies buying overseas assets, Rao said that whichever companies have ventured outside India, there are very few examples that are successful.

He added that given the trend happening globally of supply chain realignment, it will give a huge scope for a quantum jump of the Indian growth story. He said there is opportunity in India itself and a lot of groups will refocus on India.

Rao added that the JSW is working hard to deliver the guidance for the fiscal. It expects to become profitable in the next nine months. The target is to complete the balance projects and acquisitions.

“This year is a year of consolidation. We see a lot of hope next year. JSW will add capacity to 25 million tons next year from 18 million tons currently. Backward integration of iron ore is planned next year. Next year, we will see growth. There are a lot of positives in next nine months and (we are) getting ready for the growth next year,” Rao said.

The company reported crude steel production of 2.96 million tonnes, with average capacity utilisation of 66 per cent for the quarter – as compared to an average utilisation of 46 per cent for the Indian steel industry.

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IT Minister blasts Twitter, says it failed to comply with new guidelines

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Ravi-Shankar-Prasad

A day after micro-blogging platform Twitter said that it has appointed a Chief Compliance Officer, Union Electronics and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Wednesday said that the US-based company has failed to comply to the new intermediary guidelines.

In a series of tweets, the minister came down hard on the platform over its reluctance to comply with the new norms.

“There are numerous queries arising as to whether Twitter is entitled to safe harbour provision. However, the simple fact of the matter is that Twitter has failed to comply with the Intermediary Guidelines that came into effect from the 26th of May,” Prasad said.

He also said that Twitter was given multiple opportunities to comply with the same, however it has “deliberately chosen” the path of non-compliance.

Observing that the culture of India varies like its large geography, he said in another tweet: “In certain scenarios, with the amplification of social media, even a small spark can cause a fire, especially with the menace of fake news. This was one of the objectives of bringing the Intermediary Guidelines.”

“What happened in UP was illustrative of Twitter’s arbitrariness in fighting fake news. While Twitter has been over enthusiastic about its fact checking mechanism, it’s failure to act in multiple cases like UP is perplexing & indicates its inconsistency in fighting misinformation,” he said.

Prasad said that it is astounding that Twitter which portrays itself as the flag bearer of free speech, chooses the path of deliberate defiance when it comes to the intermediary guidelines.

“Further, what is perplexing is that Twitter fails to address the grievances of users by refusing to set up process as mandated by the law of the land. Additionally, it chooses a policy of flagging manipulates media, only when it suits, its likes and dislikes,” he said.

Further, in another development, official sources have said that Twitter has lost its status as intermediary platform in India as it has not complied with new guidelines.

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ICICI Bank launches ‘ICICI STACK for Corporates’

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ICICI Bank.

The ICICI Bank on Wednesday announced the launch of ‘ICICI STACK for Corporates’, a comprehensive set of digital banking solutions for corporates and their entire ecosystem including promoters, group companies, employees, dealers, vendors and all other stakeholders.

The wide range of 360-degree solutions enables corporates to seamlessly meet all banking requirements of their ecosystem in an expeditious and frictionless manner. With this launch, ICICI Bank aims to be the preferred banking partner for companies and their entire ecosystem.

The environment in which corporate customers operate is becoming increasingly dynamic and competitive with accelerated digital adoption transforming every business. In this ever-changing environment, a banking partner, which can serve not only the corporates but also the entire ecosystems where they operate in, adds significant value to corporate customers, the bank said in a statement.

With this backdrop, the Bank has created ‘ICICI STACK for Corporates’ to serve the companies and their ecosystem by bringing the full bank to the customers, it added.

A first-of-its kind initiative, the ‘ICICI STACK for Corporates’ provides customised digital banking services to companies in over 15 leading industries– such as financial services, IT/ITES, pharmaceuticals, steel to name a few– and their entire ecosystem. Armed with the Bank’s digital platforms, these services can further be tailor-made for companies within an industry.

The four main pillars of the ‘ICICI STACK for Corporates’ are: digital banking solutions for companies; digital banking services for channel partners, dealers and vendors; digital banking services for employees and curated services for promoters, directors and signatories.

In order to supplement these digital efforts, ICICI Bank has opened eight ecosystem branches — five in Mumbai and three in the National Capital Region (NCR). It plans to launch another four in this financial year.

Vishakha Mulye, Executive Director, ICICI Bank said, “In an increasingly competitive and dynamic environment with rapid digital transformation impacting every industry, corporates look towards a banking partner, which can offer the breadth and depth of solutions for the entire ecosystem. With an objective to cater to the ecosystem of every corporate, we have launched a digital ‘ICICI Stack for Corporates’ with many industry first features. It offers banking solutions to corporates with backward and forward integration for their entire network of employees, dealers, vendors and all other stakeholders. We look forward to partnering with our customers for the banking needs of their entire ecosystem and unlock the full potential.”

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Brent may test $78-$80 levels, support at $68-$70 levels: Emkay

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Petrol. (File Photo: IANS)

Brent crude oil prices may test higher levels of $78-$80, and the support may be at USD 68-70 level, according to a study by Emkay Wealth Management.

But the rise may be, to a certain extent, limited by the strength in the US Dollar against other currency majors, the study added.

One major factor that dominated oil markets is the possibility of a nuclear deal between the US and Iran, and also better relations between the two countries, based on the reported talks between the two parties. This would mean that the supply from Iran will be in the markets as soon as such a pact is reached. Therefore, the prices should naturally come down.

But there is a strong view that oil prices may start going up, anticipating this supply in the near future, Emkay said.

One of the seasonal factors is that during and immediately after the summer in the northern hemisphere the number of people who would take to the highways moving to holiday destinations is quite large, and this keeps the prices high. This is one reason that may support prices to remain high.

It is also worth noting that the recovery in economic activity in the US and Europe is on course, and the same may be true of the leading Asian countries too. This may also support higher oil prices though demand in Asia is yet to go back to the pre-pandemic levels, the company’s study said.

The production in the US which was at 13 million barrels per day just before the pandemic has touched almost 11 million barrels per day recently. Therefore, restoration of supply as well as demand is happening.

Overall economic conditions warrant higher consumption and therefore, higher prices. Again, much would depend on the stance taken by OPEC+ which may be meeting soon. Russia is now in sync with OPEC in achieving the production cuts which the OPEC had envisioned earlier.

A related matter is the enhanced climate activism seen in the recent past and the likely attempts at containment of carbon emissions by oil companies and producers. It is gathering pace and it is good for the environment and posterity. It also means higher prices for oil as we start implementing the governance standards on climate. The extent to which renewable energy or electricity could replace the traditional sources is limited in the initial stages, and in fact, many believe that the common man may not be able to afford the costs associated with electric vehicles.

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