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Steelmakers to slash Rs 35K crore debt through this and next fiscals

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Steel Industry

Steel Industry.

Primary steel producers are expected to reduce debt by 15%, or Rs 35,000 crore, between fiscals 2021 and 2022, using the higher operating profits generated for prepayment, ratings agency Crisil said on Tuesday.

According to a report based on sectoral analysis, a partial deferral of capex this fiscal will strengthen the balance sheets and credit metrics of five primary steel producers, which account for 55 per cent of domestic production.

Domestic demand recovered strongly in the second half of this fiscal, growing 10 per cent between October and January versus a 30% on-year fall in the first half.

Consequently, demand contraction will be less than 10 per cent for the whole of this fiscal, Crisil said.

Higher infrastructure spending by government, and recovery in residential real estate are expected to improve steel demand by 10-12% next fiscal, it added.

Domestic hot-rolled coil (HRC) prices rallied to a multi-year high of Rs 56,000 per tonne in February from Rs 39,200 per tonne in March 2020 as demand improved amid iron-ore supply constraints and high global prices.

Since last month, however, prices have moderated with iron-ore supplies improving, and also because of the reduction in customs duty announced in the Union Budget.

Says Manish Gupta, Senior Director, CRISIL Ratings, “…while the tailwinds to realisations from higher input costs and global prices could abate going forward, domestic demand growth would provide an offset. Consequently, realisation next fiscal may still be 15% higher than the average of the past five years. That, along with rising volumes and moderate coking coal prices would mean healthy operating margins of 23% next fiscal, compared with 25% likely this fiscal.”

Operating margins had plunged to 9% in the previous steel downcycle of fiscal 2016. Since then, what has helped are improved raw material linkages, and better operating efficiencies of stressed assets (following consolidation with stronger peers).

Cash accruals could surge over 40% on-year to Rs 40,000 crore this fiscal, and rise another 10% next fiscal, the ratings agency said. That, and a reduction in capex this fiscal (to conserve cash and pare debt) will fortify financials amid the pandemic uncertainties.

Says Naveen Vaidyanathan, Associate Director, CRISIL Ratings, “The five steel makers could cut Rs 25,000 crore of debt this fiscal. Next fiscal, despite capex rising 15%, they can slice debt by another Rs 10,000 crore. That would drive a sharp improvement in credit metrics with financial leverage (ratio of debt to Ebitda) declining below 2.5 times next fiscal compared with above 4.0 times in fiscal 2020.”

Any fall in steel prices due to weaker global demand and higher supplies, especially from China, and the second wave of Covid-19 afflictions impacting domestic demand will bear watching, Crisil said.

Business

India’s forex reserves rise by over $3 bn

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Reserve-Bank-of-India

India’s foreign exchange reserves rose by $3.074 billion during the week ended June 11.

According to the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) weekly statistical supplement, the reserves increased to $608.081 billion from $605.008 billion reported for the week ended June 4.

India’s forex reserves comprise foreign currency assets (FCAs), gold reserves, special drawing rights (SDRs), and the country’s reserve position with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

On a weekly basis, FCAs, the largest component of the forex reserves, edged higher by $2.567 billion to $563.457 billion.

Similarly, the value of the country’s gold reserves rose by $496 million to $38.101 billion.

However, the SDR value slipped by $1 million at $1.512 billion.

But, the country’s reserve position with the IMF inched higher by $11 million to $5.011 billion.

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Business

BharatPe in talks to raise $250M led by Tiger Capital: Report

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BharatPe

Fintech major BharatPe, that hit a new high with 106 million monthly transactions in UPI in March this year, is reportedly raising nearly $250 million in its next funding round led by Tiger Global.

TechCrunch on Friday reported, citing sources, that the fresh funding will take the company’s valuation to about $2.5 billion.

When reached, the company declined to comment at the moment.

The financial services company last month raised Rs 50 crore in debt from Northern Arc Capital, one of the leading digital debt finance platforms. This was the sixth round of debt financing in 2021.

In January, the company had raised Rs 200 crore from three top debt companies in the country — Alteria Capital, InnoVen Capital and Trifecta Capital, having later raised additional capital from ICICI Bank and Axis Bank.

“We have considerably ramped up our lending business in the last year and have set an ambitious target of facilitating disbursals to the tune of $1 billion to more than 10 lakh merchants by the end of current fiscal (FY22),” Suhail Sameer, Group President, BharatPe, had said.

The fintech company has already facilitated disbursals of over Rs 1,600 crore to more than 2 lakh merchants since the launch of the lending vertical.

As per a recent report by ACI Worldwide and Global Data, India has outpaced the US and China to become the world’s biggest real-time digital payments market, driven by P2P as well as merchant payments.

BharatPe said it is committed to help small merchants and kirana store owners grow their business with a range of fintech products for them.

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Finance Ministry refutes reports of alleged black money held by Indians in Switzerland

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Finance-Ministry

The Union Finance Ministry on Saturday said that increase in deposits of Indians in Swiss Banks could be on account of increase in business of Swiss bank branches located in India and raised Inter-bank transactions, rather than due to an increase in alleged black money held by Indians in Switzerland.

It, however said that Swiss Authorities have been requested to provide the relevant facts along with their view on possible reasons for increase or decrease in deposits so that facts could be presented in correct perspective.

Certain reports suggested that that funds of Indians in Swiss Banks have risen to over Rs 20,700 crore (CHF 2.55 billion) at the end of 2020 from Rs 6,625 crore (CHF 899 million) at the end of 2019, reversing a 2 year declining trend. It has also been stated that this is also the highest figure of deposits in the last 13 years.

“Reports allude to the fact that the figures reported are official figures reported by banks to Swiss National Bank (SNB) and do not indicate the quantum of much debated alleged black money held by Indians in Switzerland. Further, these statistics do not include the money that Indians, NRIs or others might have in Swiss banks in the names of third-country entities,” the Ministry statement said.

The statement added that the customer deposits have actually fallen from the end of 2019 in a Swiss Banks. The funds held through fiduciaries has also more than halved from end of 2019. The biggest increase is in “Other amounts due from customers”. These are in form of bonds, securities and various other financial instruments, the finance min statement said.

The ministry also ascribed various other reasons for increase in deposits and not possibly on account of the increase of deposits in the Swiss banks out of undeclared incomes of Indian residents. It said that that increase in deposits may be on account if increase in deposits owing to the business of Swiss Bank branches located in India or Increase in Inter- bank transactions between Swiss and Indian Banks. Also, it could be due to capital increase for a subsidiary of a Swiss Company in India or increase in the liabilities connected with the outstanding derivative financial instruments.

The government has issued clarifications in wake of widely held position that it has curbed generation of black money in the economy or unaccounted funds of Indians stashed abroad. The fresh tax agreements reached between India and certain perceived tax havens has introduced certain instruments to prevent round tripping of funds and generation of black money.

It is pertinent to point out that India and Switzerland are signatories to the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters (MAAC) and both countries have also signed the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (MCAA) pursuant to which, the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) is activated between the two countries for sharing of financial account information annually for calendar year 2018 onwards.

Exchanges of Financial Account information in respect of residents of each country have taken place between both countries in 2019 as well as 2020. In view of the existing legal arrangement for exchange of information of financial accounts (which has a significant deterrent effect on tax evasion through undisclosed assets abroad), there does not appear to be any significant possibility of the increase of deposits in the Swiss banks which is out of undeclared incomes of Indian residents, the finance ministry said.

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