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Adani Green in advanced talks for SoftBank-backed SB Energy: Report

Baiju Kalesh and Anto Antony | Bloomberg | 16/05/2021 | 3 hours ago thanks business standard


Adani Green Energy Ltd., majority-owned by Indian billionaire Gautam Adani, is in advanced talks to acquire privately-held SB Energy Holdings Ltd., according to people familiar with the matter.


A deal could value SB Energy, owned by SoftBank Group Corp. and Bharti Enterprises Ltd., at more than $650 million, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private. Adani Green is exploring a buyout of the renewable energy company through an all-stock deal, another person said.


An announcement could come in coming weeks, the people said. Discussions could still be delayed or fall apart, they added. A representative for SoftBank declined to comment, while representatives for Adani Green and Bharti Enterprises didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.


A deal could help Adani Green to reach its planned generation capacity of 25 gigawatts by 2025. Shares in Adani Green have risen more than 370% in the past year, giving the company a market value of about $23 billion.

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Isro team at Sterlite Copper plant to fix snag affecting oxygen production

Press Trust of India | 16/05/2021 | 3 hours ago


Vedanta Ltd owned Sterlite Copper plant has roped in experts from ISRO to help rectify the technical glitch developed in the cold box of its oxygen plant, leading to a suspension in production of the life- saving gas.

The company formally commenced production of medical oxygen on Thursday and the very next day, the facility in Tuticorin, about 600kms from here, suffered a jolt in operations after developing a 'technical snag'.

In a statement shared on the micro-blogging site on Sunday, Sterlite Copper said, "efforts to resume production at our oxygen plant are progressing".

"Today, an expert team from the Indian Space Research Organisation arrived at the premises to support our ongoing efforts and collaborate with our technical team." The expert team has suggested some measures to fix the snag and resume production of oxygen.

"This has helped fastrack the repair process for which we are thankful to the local administration, which was instrumental in facilitating this cooperative effort to recommence our oxygen production," Vedanta said.

The facility, on May 13, began producing medical oxygen to meet the demand for the life-saving gas following a surge in COVID cases in the state. The first set of oxygen tankers have been dispatched to the beneficiaries.

The Sterlite copper smelter plant was accorded approval by the then AIADMK government on April 26 at an all-party meeting to produce medical oxygen at its facility for a period of four months at the facility in Tuticorin.

The unit was sealed by the state government in May 2018, days after 13 agitators who were part of a protest against the company over environmental concerns, were killed in police firing during a violent anti-Sterlite stir in the southern district.

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India's 'never seen before' Budget may fall flat as virus strikes back

Reuters | 16/05/2021 | 5 hours ago


India's annual Budget in February was lauded by many and raised hopes it would drive a sharp economic revival, but there are now fears that its promise may fall flat as it did not account for a crippling second wave of Covid-19 infections.

The Budget aimed to revive Asia's third-largest economy via investing in infrastructure and health care, while relying on an aggressive privatisation strategy and robust tax collections - on the back of projected growth of 10.5 per cent - to fund its spending in the fiscal year.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said India would not see such a Budget in "100 years". At the time, a massive Covid-19 vaccination drive and a rebound in consumer demand and investments had put the economy on track to recover from its deepest recorded slump.

The South Asian country is battling the world's second highest coronavirus case load after the United States, recording some 300,000 cases and about 4,000 deaths a day. With many parts of the country under varying degrees of lockdown, most of the growth projections that the Budget was built around are now mired in uncertainty.

The extent of the crisis is even making investors question whether after years of debt accumulation, India once expected to become an economic superpower, still deserves to cling on to its 'investment grade' status.

Earlier this week, Moody's said India's severe second wave will slow the near-term economic recovery and it could weigh on longer-term growth dynamics. It cut its GDP forecast to 9.3 per cent from 13.7 per cent.

While the government maintains it is too early to revise its own numbers, officials privately concede growth will be much more muted that previously anticipated if social distancing measures continue.

Besides providing 350 billion rupees ($4.78 billion) in the Budget for vaccination costs, the government did not specifically dedicate any funds toward contingencies arising from a second wave and now may have to cut back on some expenses, officials said.

India's finance ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

Delays in Privatisation

The health crisis has also hit the Indian bureaucracy badly with many key officials infected by the coronavirus, slowing decisions on privatisations, among other proposed reforms.

Two senior officials said the privatisation of assets such as oil refiner Bharat Petroleum Corp and national carrier Air India, where processes are well advanced, may now be pushed into early 2022 - some three months later than previously planned.

"The virtual data room for BPCL has been opened for initial bidders but given the lockdown, physical verification of assets is unlikely right now," one of the officials said.

The delays will affect a series of other privatisation plans including two banks, insurance and energy companies, that are at the centre of reforms proposed by the Budget and that are key to achieving the roughly $24 billion target from privatisations and asset sales, the officials said.

The crisis is also likely to delay the listing of India's largest insurer Life Insurance Corp, which was expected to raise $8-$10 billion, they said.

Another official said the lockdowns will start affecting tax collections by June, potentially lowering revenues 15%-20% from what was estimated for the quarter.

With the projected fiscal deficit target pegged at 6.8% of gross domestic product and a soaring borrowing programme, delays in the privatisation plan and the anticipated shortfalls in tax revenues are already prompting cuts to some of the government's previously earmarked expenses, two officials said.

"We are looking to press a pause button on some of our non-priority spending," one of the officials said.

The government is renewing its focus on relief measures and higher spending toward immediate health care needs like oxygen plants, and temporary Covid-19 centres, one of the officials said, adding that the government's plans to provide relief on fuel prices by cutting some taxes have also been deferred.


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