Adani gets $250 mn for airport management - Business Guardian
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Adani gets $250 mn for airport management

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Adani Airport Holdings Ltd (AAHL), a wholly owned subsidiary of Adani Enterprises Ltd, has announced a successful closure of funding of $250 million senior secured three-year ECB facility from consortium of Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) and Barclays Bank PLC. The facility has an option to raise additional $200 million. The financing structure enables a scalable capital solution with flexibility to tap global capital markets in line with AAHL’s vision of providing a transformational airport infrastructure platform. AAHL is leading the Adani portfolio’s foray into B2C infrastructure assets. AAHL business is centred around convenience to consumer both via physical and digital channels. “We are focussed on delivering high quality infrastructure access to our consumers both through physical and digital channels,” said an AAHL spokesperson. “The first phase of our capital management plan is now set in motion with the funding of AAHL, MIAL and NMIAL, and we will now focus on scaling up the airports business into one of the largest airport platforms globally. We are grateful to our stakeholders and consumers for their continued support and their confidence in us.” This issuance by AAHL, marks the first milestone in its capital management plan. Earlier this week, MIAL placed $750 million private placement to Apollo, and $1.74 billion financial closure for NMIAL from the domestic banking system. With this, AAHL has tapped three different pools of capital cumulating to $2.74 billion. AAHL is now geared for the next phase of its capital management plan which includes tapping the public capital markets and further construction facilities to enable access to long term capital sources for infrastructure development. AAHL is an integrated airport network consisting of eight airports located around city centres controlling 50 per cent of top 10 domestic routes, 23 per cent of the total Indian air traffic, and 30 per cent of India’s air cargo.

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AIMRA accuses Apple India of retail favoritism, iPhone 15 Pro cashback sparks outrage

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As the iPhone 15 series from Apple continues to be one of the best-selling premium smartphones, Apple India is now facing criticism from the All India Mobile Retailers Association (AIMRA) over its “discriminatory” cashback offers between larger and small retail stores. AIMRA, which reportedly represents over 1,50,000 mobile phone retailers in India, has accused Apple of engaging in anti-competitive practices with its iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max cashback offers.

The association alleges that Apple has allowed its own stores and large retailers to offer cashback of up to Rs 10,000 on these models, while smaller retail channels are only allowed to offer Rs3,000 cashback, as per a Financial Express report. In a letter to Ashish Chowdhary, the Managing Director of Apple India, Navneet Pathak, the national joint secretary of AIMRA, highlighted the issue. The letter stated that this discrepancy poses a significant risk of loss in sales for the retail channels and raises concerns about unfair competition, further emphasizing that such actions would make customers lose trust in small retailers.

“This is purely an anti-competitive move favouring few…This discrepancy not only poses a significant risk of loss in sales for the retail channels but also raises concerns of unfair competition. Such actions undermine the trust and confidence we have diligently built with our customers over time,”. AIMRA has urged the iPhone maker to resolve the cashback offer quickly in order to ensure that all the retailers are treated equally and to prevent the rise of unhealthy competition in the market.

The association has stressed the need for fair competition and trust in the retail ecosystem, the report further added. The iPhone 15 series was launched in September last year, with the iPhone 15 priced at Rs79,900, the iPhone 15 Plus at Rs 89,900, the iPhone 15 Pro at Rs 1,34,900, and the iPhone 15 Pro Max at Rs 1,59,900.

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Vistara CEO: Operations stable, worst behind us

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The worst is behind us and we have stabilised our operations,” said Vinod Kannan, CEO of Vistara on Thursday which at the start of this month.

Following recent significant flight disruptions, Vistara CEO Vinod Kannan assured airline staff on Thursday that the worst has passed, and operations are now stable. Pilot challenges have led the Tata Group airline to temporarily reduce capacity by 10%, equivalent to 25-30 flights daily. While acknowledging that things should have been planned better, Kannan said it has been a “learning experience”. He also said it has been a challenging start to the new financial year and the airline faced significant operational disruption from March 31 to April 2.

“The anxiety and frustration felt by our customers was matched in even measure to the pain that all of us felt in seeing our much-loved brand drawing negative commentary from various quarters… I assure you that the worst is behind us, and we have already stabilised our operations, with our on-time performance (OTP) increasing to 89 per cent on 9 April 2024 (second highest among all Indian airlines),” he said in a message to the staff. The full-service carrier has around 6,500 people, including about 1,000 pilots. In the wake of the disruptions, the top management of the airline had held a virtual meeting with the pilots. One of the reasons for the disruptions was also that some section of pilots reporting sick to protest against the new contract that will result in pay revision.

According to Kannan, there were a multitude of reasons for the disruptions, including ATC delays, bird hits, and maintenance activities early last month. “We were stretched in our pilot rosters and there was not enough resilience to withstand injects that we would otherwise have weathered. We could and should have planned better, and this has been a learning experience for us which we will review thoroughly,” the Vistara chief said. Most of the cancellations were in the domestic network and the carrier is working on plans for May and beyond.

“While the events of the last week may seem like a setback, the hallmark of our organisation has always been that we have bounced back from tough situations ‘ and emerged stronger. “… I trust each of you to continue to put in all efforts to ensure that we do not let our brand, and our customer, down,” Kannan said. As we emerge from this difficult phase, he said it is this commitment to being a customer-oriented airline that will help it bounce back stronger. The airline has also reached out to customers impacted by the cancellations and delays over the affected period.

“We have provided the necessary compensation as per the regulatory mandate, and have also offered additional service recovery vouchers for passengers whose flights were significantly delayed,” the Vistara chief said.

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Tobacco firms’ mthly returns accepted till May 15 via spl registration

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The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), through a notification, extended the date of implementation of this special procedure by 45 days till May 15.

On Thursday, the government has extended the deadline for implementation of special procedure for registration and monthly return filing for manufacturers of pan masala, gutkha, and similar tobacco products to May 15th. Earlier, in January 2024, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) announced the rollout of a new registration and monthly return filing process, effective April 1, 2024. The decision to revamp the registration, record-keeping, and monthly filing procedures for such businesses was aimed at improving GST compliance for manufacturers of pan masala and tobacco products.

The GST law was also amended via Finance 2024, to say that manufacturers of pan masala, gutka and similar tobacco products will have to pay a penalty of up to Rs 1 lakh, if they fail to register their packing machinery with the GST authorities with effect from 1 April. However, this penalty provision is yet to be notified. The procedure was to be applicable for manufacturers of pan-masala, unmanufactured tobacco (without lime tube) with or without brand name, ‘Hookah’ or ‘gudaku’ tobacco, smoking mixtures for pipes and cigarettes, chewing tobacco (without lime tube), filter khaini, jarda scented tobacco, snuff and branded or unbranded ‘Gutkha’, etc.

The CBIC, through a notification, extended the date of implementation of this special procedure by 45 days till May 15. The manufacturers of such tobacco products were required to furnish the details of packing machines being used for filling and packing of packages in Form GST SRM-I, electronically within 30 days of the notification coming into effect i.e., April 1, 2024. Also a special statement of return filing GST SRM-II was to be filed by the 10th of the succeeding month. Moore Singhi Executive Director Rajat Mohan said neither the GST Network has issued any advisory on the new procedure nor released new filing utilities.

As a result, the government has decided to defer the implementation of the new procedure by 45 days to 15 May. “This delay by the GST ecosystem has led to challenges for the industry in implementing the new scheme mid-year. Ideally, any new scheme should be implemented at the start of a new financial year to allow for smoother transitions and better compliance,” Mohan added. In February last year, the GST Council, chaired by the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and comprising state counterparts, had approved the report of a panel of state finance ministers on plugging tax evasion in pan masala and gutkha businesses. The GoM had recommended that the mechanism for levy of compensation cess on pan masala and chewing tobacco be changed from ad valorem to a specific rate-based levy to boost the first stage collection of the revenue.

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Apple warns users of 92 countries about possible ‘mercenary spyware’ attack

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Apple has warned its users in India and 91 other countries that they may have been the victims of a “mercenary spyware” attack, according to multiple media reports. Apple has warned users that they are being attacked by mercenary spyware that is trying to gain remote access to their iPhones. Mercenary spyware attacks like NSO Group’s Peagusus are ‘exceptionally rare’ and ‘vastly more sophisticated’ than a regular cybercriminal activity or consumer malware, Apple stated in the threat notification.

The Cuperino-based company also explained that these attacks cost millions of dollars and are individually deployed against a very small number of people. “Apple detected that you are being targeted by a mercenary spyware attack that is trying to remotely compromise the iPhone associated with your Apple ID -xxx-. This attack is likely targeting you specifically because of who you are or what you do. Although it’s never possible to achieve absolute certainty when detecting such attacks, Apple has high confidence in this warning — please take it seriously,” the threat notification by Apple was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.

Apple also advised users not to open links or attachments from unknown senders and to be cautious about any links they receive. However, the company declined to provide further information about the spyware, saying that this could help attackers adapt their behaviour and avoid detection in the future. Notably, Apple also updated its support page on Wednesday, adding tips for users who have been victims of a possible mercenary spyware attack.

“Such attacks are vastly more complex than regular cybercriminal activity and consumer malware, as mercenary spyware attackers apply exceptional resources to target a very small number of specific individuals and their devices. Mercenary spyware attacks cost millions of dollars and often have a short shelf life, making them much harder to detect and prevent. The vast majority of users will never be targeted by such attacks,” the updated Apple support page reads.

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Cola, Beverage, Ice Cream makers expect Sales Skyrocket as temperature soars

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As temperatures rise and a heatwave settles in, FMCG (Fast-Moving Consumer Goods) and dairy companies are gearing up for increased sales of cola-based fizz drinks, juices, mineral water, ice creams, and milk-based beverages. They have ramped up production and stocked up to meet the expected surge in consumer demand.

Executives from beverage and ice cream companies are launching new products to align with changing consumer preferences. Additionally, they are heavily investing in promotions and expanding distribution channels for the upcoming season.

The firm which owns brands as — Pepsi, 7up, Mirinda, Mountain Dew, Slice, Gatorade & Tropicana, has launched campaigns taking on board leading stars such as Ranbir Kapoor, Rashmika Mandanna, Hrithik Roshan, Mahesh Babu, Kiara Adani and Nayanthara to woo consumers.

PepsiCo, a major player in the beverage industry, is optimistic about its brand portfolio’s performance during the summer months. They have launched campaigns featuring popular celebrities like Ranbir Kapoor and Hrithik Roshan to attract consumers.

Dabur India expects a robust summer season, particularly for its beverage and glucose product lines. They are strengthening inventory and expanding production capacity at their plants to meet the anticipated demand surge.

Coca-Cola India is also increasing production and distribution as summer approaches, aiming to stay connected with consumers during this critical period.

The India Meteorological Department predicts prolonged heatwaves between April and June, further reinforcing companies’ preparations for increased demand.

Havmor Ice Cream, now under LOTTE Wellfood Co, anticipates continued momentum in the ice cream category due to the expected warm weather. They are expanding production capacity and introducing new flavors to meet growing demand.

Meanwhile, Mother Dairy Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd plans to launch 30 new products, focusing on ice cream and yogurt categories, to meet the anticipated 25-30% surge in consumer demand.

Baskin Robbins India, through its master franchise Graviss Foods, is prepared to meet consumer expectations with strategic innovations and new plant capabilities. They are introducing new flavors and formats to cater to the increasing demand for high-quality ice cream products in the market.

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India to grow 7 % in FY24, 7.2 % in FY25, driven by robust investment, services exports

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The 2024-25 growth estimate is, however, lower than 7.6 per cent projected for the 2022-23 fiscal. The ADB’s growth forecast for FY25 is in line with projections made by the RBI.

After a slew of upgrades in growth projection , the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Thursday raised India’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast for fiscal year (FY) 2024 from 6.7 per cent to 7 per cent and 7.2 per cent in FY2025, attributing the robust growth to public and private sector investment demand, gradual improvement in consumer demand and strong services sector.

The 2024-25 growth estimate is, however, lower than 7.6 per cent projected for the 2022-23 fiscal. The ADB’s growth forecast for FY25 is in line with projections made by the RBI. Strong investment drove GDP growth in the 2022-23 fiscal as consumption was muted, the ADB said and expects India to affirm its position as a major growth engine within Asia, driven by strong investment, recovering consumption, and gains in electronics and services exports.

While in the rest of developing Asia, faster growth will be driven by domestic demand and some improvement in semiconductor and services exports, including tourism. Stronger growth in South Asia and Southeast Asia will offset lower growth in other subregions. “Notwithstanding global headwinds, India remains the fastest growing major economy on the strength of its strong domestic demand and supportive policies,” said ADB Country Director for India Mio Oka. “The Government of India’s efforts to boost infrastructure development while undertaking fiscal consolidation and provide an enabling business environment will help in increased manufacturing competitiveness to augment exports and drive future growth,” said Oka.

With inflation moderating to 4.6 per cent in FY2024 and easing further to 4.5 per cent in FY2025, the ADB suggests monetary policy may become less restrictive, which will facilitate rapid offtake of bank credit. Demand for financial, real estate and professional services will grow while manufacturing will benefit from muted input cost pressures that will boost industry sentiment. Expectations of a normal monsoon will help boost growth of the agriculture sector. The report lauds the government’s focus on fiscal consolidation, with a targeted deficit of 5.1 per cent of GDP for FY2024 and 4.5 per cent for FY2025, which will enable the government to reduce its gross marketing borrowing by 0.9 per cent of GDP in FY2024 and create further room for private sector credit.

India’s current account deficit will widen moderately to 1.7 per cent of GDP on rising imports for meeting domestic demand. Foreign direct investment will be affected in the near term due to tight global financial conditions but will pick up in FY2025 with higher industry and infrastructure investment. Goods exports will also be affected by lower growth in advanced economies but pick up in FY2025 as global growth improves.

On the regional front, growth in developing Asia will remain healthy at 4.9 per cent in 2024 and 2025, despite a slowdown in China. In fact, while growth in the PRC will decline from 5.2 per cent in 2023 to 4.8 per cent this year and 4.5 per cent next year, it will accelerate in the rest of developing Asia—from 4.8 per cent in 2023 to 5.0 per cent this year and 5.3 per cent in 2025. The slowdown in the PRC will be driven by the weak property market and amplified by fading domestic consumption growth after last year’s reopening.

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