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Meltdown at Yes Bank has payment cos running for cover

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Mumbai: Curbs on Yes Bank's operations have hit digital payments, with nearly all payment platforms of National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) reporting disruptions on Friday.A giant exercise is currently underway where payment companies are migrating from the Yes Bank application programming interface (API), or channel used for instant settlement of payments, to the APIs of other partner banks, people in the know said.Several merchant acquirers and service providers — most notably PhonePe and BharatPe — have also undertaken an exercise to replace small-store QR stickers powered by Yes Bank, replacing them with stickers from other banks. Current accounts of merchants opened with Yes Bank for point of sale deployment companies would also be required to be shifted to banking accounts of other channels."The entire process will likely take weeks," said an industry insider on condition of anonymity. "The priority of the ecosystem is to ensure that core systems are up and running as soon as possible and to provide the customers and merchants, whose funds have been stuck due to freezing of Yes Bank accounts and servers on Thursday, with an adequate redressal mechanism."The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Thursday night superseded the Yes Bank board and imposed a moratorium for a month as its financials deteriorated. The regulatory action follows an extended period of inability of the bank management to raise funds that would have helped provide against loan losses.After the central bank announcement, several banks and payment gateways stopped processing transactions routed through the channels of the stressed lender. Cards issued by Yes Bank have also been reportedly become dysfunctional whereas merchants with Yes Bank current accounts have also been frozen out of accepting payments.The bank has deployed more than 90,000 point of sale machines, 8.27 lakh credit cards and 28.5 lakh debit cards, as per latest RBI data. 74521615 Concerns emanated on other fronts as well. NPCI's popular payments interface UPI was the worst hit due to the RBI restrictions. Yes Bank, at more than 40% of all transactions on the platforms, not only processes the most volumes on UPI but also has the highest number of tie-ups with third-party players on the platform.Several leading UPI players saw their operations crippled due to the withdrawal restrictions placed on Yes Bank by the regulators. Most notably, services of Walmart backed PhonePe was down temporarily as CEO and founder Sameer Nigam took to Twitter to explain the cause of outage as moratorium placed "on our partner bank (Yes Bank)" by the RBI. Partial services were restored on the application later in the day."Yes Bank has one of the best API networks in the country which explains the large dependence of ecosystem players on the bank," Harshil Mathur, CEO of Razorpay, told ET. "While our services have not been directly impacted, the broader ecosystem will be hit due to the interconnectedness of the participants. Currently, every payment company is working together to ensure normalcy is restored soon."The formerly Rana Kapoor-owned lender is the sole banking partner for 14 of the 38 third-party players on the UPI network including PhonePe, BharatPe, Flipkart, Udaan and Angel Broking among others; the most by any bank on the NPCI operated platform.Other companies across the fintech ecosystem where Yes Bank is the sole banking partner such as discount brokerage company 5Paisa capital, merchant platform BharatPe, AePS leader PayNearby all experienced temporary outages of services on Thursday and Friday.Letters written to RBI remained unanswered. An NPCI spokesperson said that all efforts to restore the systems are underway."We are a little worried about our members on UPI network and we expect RBI to come up with a speedy solution," Vishwas Patel, chairman of Payment Council of India told ET. "The panic and distrust could have easily been avoided. The overall impact from many fronts has created some systemic risks. However, we expect RBI to give out clarity that all payment networks and settlement which were on Yes Bank will go on as usual."Industry sources told ET that there were concerns in the payments industry that failure to pay merchant partners due to money stuck at nodal settlement accounts of Yes Bank may cause reputational risks to the overall payments system.About 350 such intermediary accounts used for daily settlements, with average balances between Rs 50 crore and Rs 100 crore, have also been stuck, a source told ET.

Your paracetamol supply depends on China

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By Lionel LaurentYou would expect the coronavirus outbreak to have focused the minds of Europe's politicians and drugmakers on finding a vaccine. But it's the continent's fragile dependence on Asia for raw generic drug ingredients like paracetamol that's proving a more immediate headache.European Union health ministers are due to discuss the security of medical supplies on Friday, after warnings that the bloc faces potentially significant shortages of crucial components imported from China as the country attempts to get back to work after virus-related shutdowns. France has openly called for more manufacturing "sovereignty" from foreign suppliers, as it scrambles to guarantee the supply of masks and control the price of hand-gel to try to reassure the public.It may seem pretty insensitive to point the finger at China and politicize medical-supply issues, given the country's own tally of infections and deaths from the Covid-19 disease. Yet the scale of pharmaceutical dependence on Asia clearly deserves more attention than, say, textiles. The data is patchy but France's National Pharmaceutical Academy estimates the EU imports 80% of its "active pharmaceutical ingredients," mostly from China and India. The U.K. medicines regulator estimates Chinese manufacturers make around 40% of all APIs used worldwide.What makes Covid-19 so dangerous for imports is that it combines Chinese factory shutdowns with domestic political pressure to act aggressively. India, itself very reliant on China for pharmaceutical ingredients, spooked the world this week by announcing curbs on exports of common drugs including paracetamol. French laboratories have warned of possible medicine shortages later this year, according to Les Echos. Over in the U.S., which has similar supply issues when it comes to China, the Food and Drug Administration has said one drug is in short supply because of the coronavirus outbreak without naming it.Short-term ideas such as stockpiling or resource sharing will probably be examined today in Brussels. But supply risks have been known for a long time and will require deeper fixes, according to Philippe Luscan, an executive who oversees French drugmaker Sanofi's industrial footprint. In an interview in his Paris office — where handshakes are now discouraged, obviously — he outlines Sanofi's own push to get pharmaceutical production re-shored back in Europe.The company aims to spin off six European factories (in the U.K., France, Germany, Italy and Hungary) into a new listed entity by 2022, representing 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) of revenue. That entity will strike deals with firms that want to expand EU production. The Covid-19 crisis serves as one "salutary" incentive to do so, says Luscan. There are others, he adds: Quality issues that have forced products off the shelves, rising labor costs in China, and a pollution crackdown that's temporarily shuttered factories.This alone is probably unlikely to reverse the forces of globalization. If so many generic ingredients are manufactured in Asia, it's because the plunging price of off-patent drugs using them and the rising cost of building lucrative new drug pipelines have pushed drugmakers to seek out cheap bases abroad. The head of Swiss company Novartis AG's generics business, Richard Saynor, said last month that some antibiotics were being sold in Europe for "less than the price of chewing gum." Even Sanofi's own initiative looks like an elegant way to free up capital from a low-margin business.But Luscan's initiative should also prod policy makers into doing their part to boost production. Viewing medicines as a strategic asset rather than a cheap commodity — one of the recommendations of Rosemary Gibson's 2018 book "China Rx" — would be a good start, as would thinking up financial incentives to encourage local production. EU initiatives designed to boost new medical research are a good thing, but the security of generics shouldn't be ignored.The big unknown is how bad the current crisis could get. Bloomberg Intelligence pharma analyst Sam Fazeli warns that if Chinese factory production bounces back while the virus spreads in the EU, it's possible that European manufacturing will become a bigger source of disruption. Officials in Brussels should bear that in mind when mapping out emergency scenarios.Still, it's a good thing overall that the EU is finally waking up to drug supply risks. It shouldn't miss the opportunity to do something about it — or seed the makings of an even bigger headache when the next pandemic threat strikes.

Vodafone Idea may buy itself some more time

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New Delhi: Vodafone Idea is exploring options to try and pay another Rs 3,500 crore in the next few days toward adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues. This comes as senior officials told Vodafone Group CEO Nick Read that the government was working on a relief package for the telecom sector, said people with knowledge of the matter."The company is exploring its options and is likely to make the payment sometime next week and it could be as early as Monday," a person familiar with the company's plans told ET.The telecom company submitted details of its self-assessment of AGR dues, which according the telco amount to Rs 21,533 crore, on Friday. Out of this, the principal amount is pegged at Rs 6,854 crore. The company has paid Rs 3,500 crore already. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) though has pegged Vodafone Idea's dues at more than Rs 53,000 crore.Read met finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to discuss the crisis in the telecom sector. The telco has warned it will have to shut unless it gets relief on AGR dues. That would reduce the number of private telecom players to two — Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio Infocomm.The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear modification pleas by the phone companies, seeking to negotiate payment timelines with the DoT, on March 17.Senior officials said they informed the company that the government wants three viable private sector companies in the telecom sector and Vodafone Idea to survive and remain invested in India."However, the company must walk the extra mile and at least pay up its entire principal dues towards AGR to the government before the next court hearing," an official cited Prasad as telling Read. The CEO is said to have told him that the company was exploring the options available to it. Vodafone wanted to make a new beginning in India, Read told the minister, according to people aware of the matter.The government wanted to be sure of Vodafone's commitment before looking to provide relief, said a senior official privy to the meeting."However, it was still not clear as to how the company would cough up the money given the bleak cash flow balance," one of the persons said.Prasad is believed to have conveyed India's economic clout and its attractiveness to foreign investors, as also the size of its market. The minister pointed out that the company has 300 million subscribers in India.India wants fair competition, the minister is learnt to have told the Vodafone CEO Read. 74521097 Sources said Read acknowledged that the AGR issue should have been addressed long back by the company and it should have accounted for it in its books.Read's meetings come a few weeks after Vodafone Idea chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla met senior government officials on the same issue."It was a good meeting," Prasad said when asked about his discussions with Read. The latter didn't comment.Read was accompanied by India operations chief executive Ravinder Takkar. The meeting with Prasad ahead of the next court hearing is considered to be a crucial one and seen as an effort to help rescue Vodafone Idea."The company has today filed its self-assessment of the AGR liabilities with the Department of Telecommunications," the telco in a regulatory filing on Friday. "The self-assessment discloses the company's AGR liabilities to aggregate ₹21,533 crore including a principal amount of Rs 6,854 crore for the period from FY2006-07 to FY2018-19 and interest up to February 2020."The telco's board met on March 4 to discuss the AGR issue.The company paid Rs 2,500 crore on February 17 and Rs 1,000 crore on February 20, it said.

Small hotels take virus blow on their chin

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For India's hospitality industry, the fat is in the middle.As aspirational India travels far and wide, mid-market hospitality providers are smelling an opportunity to cash in on their wanderlust. Players such as Lemon Tree, Accor, ITC Fortune, Royal Orchid, Fern and others are in fact going back to the drawing board to bulk up plans to address this growing demand."We have not been able to scale-up like the way low-cost carriers have done. They had the planes and just added the routes. We have had to build hotels. While this may take another 2-3 years, ultimately, customers will understand the difference between a 5 star, and a mid-market hotel and that they are paying a lower price to get a different product and service," argues Patu Keswani, chairman and managing director of Lemon Tree Hotels, the largest midscale player.The value-driven volume customer, seeking a full-service hotel, is driving growth, leaving far behind the branded economy segment, which is yet to fully find its footing in the Indian market, feels Mandeep Lamba, president (South Asia), HVS Anarock.Mid-scale hotels – that command pricing from $50-$70 which can go upto $100 a night --have also clocked the highest RevPAR growth of 4.6% between 2013 and 2018. Increasing demand for midscale hotels allowed them to narrow the RevPAR gap with Upscale and Upper Upscale hotels between 2013 and 2018.For the immediate quarter and probably the next, growth numbers are likely to get impacted as most see a dip in occupancies and revenues this month following the coronavirus outbreak in China.But the impact has been far more acute for the luxury segment, where a large percentage of clients are foreigners. The Indian Hotels Company, owners of the Taj brand, said there was an impact from coronavirus on the business but was difficult to quantify as yet and will wait till March for a clearer picture to emerge.In last decade and a half, there has been a gradual shift in the way hotels catering to the mid-market (or the 3-4 star category) segment have come up. In 2005, of the 25,000 branded hotel rooms, almost 80% were five-star and above. The explosion of the middle-income group is setting this inverted pyramid right and now approximately 43% of the total supply in the country (around 130,000 keys in 2019) is mid-scale.Almost half of the upcoming supply till 2024 is also expected to be in the midscale segment, exceeding 150,000 keys, as per HVS Anarock data.Industry watchers say there has been an overall transformation in the hospitality industry with respect to this category. Earlier, travellers had limited options to select from predominantly luxury or non-branded budget hotels. With the availability of branded, mid-scale hotels of both international and domestic hotel operators, guests have more options available in terms of full-service hotels, both in terms of locations and products, said Lokesh Sabharwal, vice president - development & special projects, South Asia, Accor, which follows a 'densification' strategy from a development perspective --expanding in a key city with multiple hotels across its brand portfolio."We have 20 Novotel and 3 Mercure branded hotels across 15 cities in India, and this is testimony to the consistent and growing demand for this segment," said Sabharwal of Accor.Lemon Tree, which controls 15% of the segment, is adding another 3000 rooms in the next two years taking the total inventory to approximately 11000 rooms.Typically, mid-market hotels are the most resilient to recession or slow downs. So, when cost control becomes important, the mid-market segment is the usual beneficiary."There will be major inventory coming in from mid-market hotels, as they are a much better investment during slowdown," said Chender Baljee, founder, RoyalOrchid Hotels. "Many business travellers have moved from five-star to mid-price hotels.""I expect there will be a shortage of mid-market hotel rooms vis-a-vis demand from 2022 to 2025 when all the current supply gets absorbed and demand continues to grow," adds Keswani.With the rising number of business travellers and millennials emphasising work-life balance, there is huge scope in the mid-scale segment. Micro-breaks from work is a growing trend where the new age traveller is looking at squeezing in curated travel in shorter time, aided by improved transport, cheaper flights, on-demand car rentals and accommodation choices, says Samir MC, managing director, Fortune Park Hotels. Currently, Fortune has 52 signed alliances of which 45 are operational.The demand drivers are majorly in the business and leisure segment, so the potential here is big. The growth in domestic tourist arrivals is due to the emergence of the value-driven customer, popularisation of the weekend culture, the evolving choices of millennials, government campaigns, introduction of lowcost airline services, increased trade and a booming service sector."Out of the total 750 district capitals, only 100 districts have branded hotels. The balance 650 districts can take at least 70-100 keys. There is a huge scope for growth here , says Suhail Kannampilly, CEO, The Fern Hotels and Resorts.The mid-market is an important supply segment in India, particularly as domestic travel gains momentum. Around 67% of capacity expansion in the next five years is expected to be outside the luxury and Upper Upscale segments.This has enabled domestic brands to strongly penetrate the mid-market segment, aided by the fact that international hotel needs a minimum size to become practically feasible, says Vijay Thacker, director at Crowe Horwath.International hotel companies currently dominate the luxury space and have not, so far, managed the same thrust in the mid-market/economy space. Accor, Marriott, Radisson, Hilton are fast pacing expansion plans in the mid-scale space.Hotel operators say the next big opportunity for brands, both domestic and international, is to manage the unbranded stand-alone hotels nationwide of which there are about a million rooms. This is excluding the semi legal or illegal guest houses in India which are anywhere between 1.5-2 million rooms.

RBI plan may see SBI put ₹2,450 crore into Yes Bank

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Mumbai: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has proposed a restructuring plan aimed at rescuing Yes Bank that will entail equity investment by the State Bank of India (SBI) that would keep the entities separate, leaving scope for the state-run lender to exit the lender when it turns profitable. While deposits and jobs will be protected, the plan also involves wiping out about ₹8,400 crore invested by bond holders.The state-run lender will invest as much as ₹2,450 crore for a 49% stake and could explore the possibility of issuing more shares sooner than later to make Yes Bank financially stronger, said people familiar with the matter."SBI can reach out to other institutions to either issue new shares, or in the future could sell a part of its holding and plan an exit," said a person who worked on the rescue package. "This structure provides scope to nurture the bank back to health, but at the same time avoids the problems associated with mergers."The government said the central bank will investigate the reasons behind Yes Bank's decline. "I have… asked RBI now to go into assessing what went wrong with Yes Bank," finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said at a briefing in New Delhi. 74521742 Suggestions Sought till March 9"In the process, I have also asked them to clearly identify the role of the individuals in the creation of the problem and also the role of those in not so comprehensively addressing these problems." The central bank had on Thursday superseded the Yes Bank board and imposed a month-long moratorium on Yes Bank that capped deposit withdrawals at Rs 50,000 per person, pending a recast."The rescue package is a smart move in a way that it did not jeopardise the SBI," said a former central banker who did not want to be identified. "This avoids the culture clash and associated problems if they had gone for a merger of the two.''SBI won't be allowed to reduce its stake below 26% in the first three years after the investment, RBI said on Friday in a press release announcing the plan. It entails the appointment of a new CEO and board with two SBI-nominated directors apart from RBI representatives. They will take over from Prashant Kumar, former SBI chief financial officer, who was appointed as administrator on Thursday by the RBI."The scheme… shall come into force on such date as the central government may, by notification in the official gazette, specify," the RBI said.The central bank said it's seeking "suggestions and comments" on the proposal up to March 9 and will take a final view thereafter."It's high time the banking regulator looks at increasing the amount of securities for banks which have a higher proportion of corporate loans from where these risks emerged," said Piyush Singh, senior managing director, financial services, Accenture. "Perhaps the regulator could ask banks with a higher corporate exposure to have a greater amount of Tier I ratio, otherwise these bailouts which we are seeing will continue." Finance minister Sitharaman expressed confidence that the restructuring scheme will be implemented within 30 days.Mutual funds, insurance companies and pension funds holding Yes Bank debt will lose out under the proposed scheme. "The instruments qualifying as additional tier 1 capital, issued by the Yes Bank Ltd under Basel III framework, shall stand written down permanently, in full, with effect from the appointed date," the RBI said. "This is in conformity with the extant regulations issued by RBI based on the Basel framework."BIG BLOW Deposits and liabilities won't be affected, according to the central bank."All the deposits with and liabilities of the reconstructed bank, except as provided in the scheme, and the rights, liabilities and obligations of its creditors, will continue in the same manner and with the same terms and conditions, completely unaffected by the scheme," the RBI said.However, the RBI statement also said that "no accountholder shall be entitled to get any compensation from the reconstructed bank on account of the changes occurred in the reconstructed bank by virtue of the scheme."The scheme proposes to increase the authorised share capital of the bank to Rs 5,000 crore from Rs 1,100 crore, enhanced from Rs 800 crore as recently as last month. The new board can appoint more directors subject to the maximum permitted under the bank's articles of association (AoA). However, the initial tenure of the new board has been kept at one year or until an alternate board is constituted by the bank.The restructuring scheme will involve amending some AoAs, including those pertaining to the nomination of the chairman, CEO and directors by the promoters of the bank. Jobs will be protected, the central bank said."The board of directors… will however, have the freedom to discontinue the services of the Key Managerial Personnel (KMPs) at any point of time after following the due procedure," RBI said. There will also be no change in the offices or branch network of the restructured bank. The new management has also been given the freedom to open new branches or close down existing ones.

Covid-19 outbreak: Pharma companies airlift inputs to deal with supply disruptions

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New Delhi: Pharmaceutical companies are trying to ensure that there are no supply disruptions due to prolonged lockdown in production activity in China following the Covid-19 outbreak. Many companies have started to airlift raw material and are placing "irregular orders" with vendors as several companies run close to exhausting their inventories."We have invested Rs 100 crore in placing irregular orders with vendors as we don't want to face any supply shortage in days to come," said Mankind's CMD RC Juneja.Considering the criticality in respect of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) and Key Starting Material (KSMs), the companies have started to airlift material from China too. Mankind has also airlifted material recently for making antibiotics and vitamins from China, Juneja confirmed.Granules India Ltd, an API focussed pharma company, said that they it was airlifting anti-inflammatory Ibuprofen from Hubei province whose capital Wuhan is the epicentre of Covid-19. "We are airlifting some stock of Ibuprofen from Hubei. The factory is not running but there is some stock. The Chinese government has permitted us to airlift," said Krishna Prasad Chigurupati, chairman and managing director, Granules India Ltd.The company has an "inventory left for the next 10 days," he further said, adding that "Ibuprofen is the only product which will be affected," he said.The company is awaiting supplies from other provinces of China. Granules India also imports Para-aminophenol, an intermediate for making paracetamol from other provinces of China. Chigurupati said the other material and APIs are coming by sea. "Things are not as bad people are talking about. Last month there was a restriction on land movement from province to province, travel was not allowed. Once that was cleared all the trucks started moving and as far as sea shipments are concerned that is not a problem."To avoid any shortages, Granules India which is one of the major manufacturers of paracetamol, is getting APIs from other sources in US and India. India's drug regulatory authority has also proposed to provide logistics support to the importers for airlifting the drug materials (API / KSM) from China.

Nifty forms indecisive 'Spinning Top,' next key support at 10,900

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NEW DELHI: NSE Nifty on Friday broke below the immediate support of 11,000 and formed an indecisive 'Spinning Top' on the daily chart. The index is in the oversold zone and zone around 10,800-900 could offer some support to the index. On the upside, the index should face resistance in the 11,100-11,200 range, said analysts. In terms of price pattern, Nifty has broken down from a multi-month Ending Diagonal pattern, which suggests the index is in a downtrend not only for the short term, but also for the medium term. "The pattern breakdown of such a scale has significantly bearish implication, which pegs the medium-term target at 10,000. From the short term perspective, 10,637 and 10,482 will be the key targets to watch out for. On the flip side, 11,100-11,200 will now act as a near term resistance zone," Gaurav Ratnaparkhi of Sharekhan. Amit Shah, Technical Research Analyst at Indiabulls Securities said the market looks weak even as the index is in the oversold territory. "The support at 10,900 level will be interesting to watch. Only a close above 11,350 could initiate the process of recovery. Till then, the index will continue to remain in weak territory. A fresh positional shorts should be avoided as the index is quite oversold and near the important support zone," Shah said. Jimeet Modi, Founder & CEO, SAMCO Securities said that after witnessing heavy selloff, the index is trading at the lower end of the rising channel, which has supported multiple selloffs in the past. Strong support is seen at 10,800-850," he said.

Icra downgrades YES Bank’s Rs 52,600 crore bonds to ‘default’

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NEW DELHI: Rating agency Icra on Friday downgraded YES Bank's debt instruments worth Rs 52,611.70 crore to 'default' after the cash-strapped lender was placed under a 30-day moratorium by the Reserve Bank of India. "The ratings downgrade factors in the moratorium placed on the bank by the central government, whereby the bank's payments to its depositors and creditors is now restricted," Icra said. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in consultation with the central government has also superseded the board of the bank due to deterioration in the bank's financial position. The bank had not paid the coupon on the Basel II Tier I bond due on March 5, which was subject to the bank meeting the regulatory capital adequacy ratio (CAR). The coupon payment on these bonds also required prior approval of RBI in case such payment of coupon results in an increase in net loss. 74514248 The bank in its last results for H1FY20 had declared a CAR of 16.30 per cent and loss of Rs 486 crore, however, it deferred its Q3FY20 results. In Icra's view, restricted payments during the moratorium period severely constrains the ability of the bank to service its liabilities in a timely manner. The terms of proposed reconstitution or amalgamation of the bank will remain the key determinants of the future rating actions on the above instruments. "The worsening in credit profile of its large borrowers led to sharp increase in its level of stressed assets in relation to its core capital. Further, the limited resolution on these stressed assets till date and the bank's inability to raise sufficient capital in a timely manner has further weakened its financial profile," the rating agency said.

Govt approves TCS, DLF proposals to set up SEZs

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New Delhi: The government has approved the proposals of software firm TCS and realty major DLF to set up special economic zones (SEZs) for IT sector in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. The approval was given by the Board of Approval, the highest decision-making body for SEZs, in its meeting on February 26 here. The inter-ministerial body is chaired by the commerce secretary. TCS has proposed to set up an IT/ITeS SEZ in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, on 19.9 hectares land. The total proposed investment for the project is Rs 2,433.72 crore. "The board, after deliberations, approved the proposal for setting up of sector specific SEZ for IT/ITeS at Noida over an area of 19.9 hectare," according to the minutes of the board meeting. Similarly, the two proposals of DLF also received nod from the board. DLF has proposed to set up two SEZs in Haryana. The proposed investments for these projects are Rs 793.95 crore and Rs 761.54 crore. However, the board said that the approval for DLF is "subject to the condition that the letter of approval for setting up of units would be issued only after the requirement of contiguity of the SEZ is fulfilled by the developer as per the relevant rules and instructions" SEZs are major export hubs in the country as the government provides several incentives and single-window clearance system. As on November 14, 2019, the government has approved 417 such zones in the country. Out of this, 238 zones are operational. Exports from these zones grew by about 14.5 per cent to Rs 3.82 lakh crore in April-September 2019-20. It was Rs 7.02 lakh crore in entire 2018-19 financial year.

Wipfli to hire 500 people amid talent war in US

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BENGALURU: Wipfli, a US-based accounting and consulting firm, plans to hire 500 employees including a large number of techies over the next three years. The company, which had set up its first office in 2004, has nearly 250 employees in the country and looks to hire more technology professionals here as they see a talent war at their headquarters in the US, said Kurt Gresens, managing partner, Wipfli. The consulting firm said it would expand its offices here at a bigger facility at a technology park in the southwestern part of Bengaluru.Wipfli said out of 500 employees, it would recruit roughly 150 technology professionals including coders for software development. "Wipfli first started its India operations in 2004 through its SpiderLogic subsidiary in Pune. Wipfli's India team currently consists of technology, accounting and finance specialists and we are aggressively looking to add highly skilled talent that provides support to a full spectrum of Wipfli US clients," said Sumanth Padival, head of India operations. Gresens said 'India is an integral part of Wipfli's future plans and growth strategy'. "Across the US there is a war for talent and hiring remains a significant challenge, especially for professional services firms. With a highly skilled talent pool, our employees in India are critical in helping to deliver both advanced technology solutions as well as finance, accounting, and tax services."

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