NEWS IN BRIEF - Year 2014 -2015
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Sebi may ease listing rules for start-ups - SEBI in a discussion paper on 30th March 2015 has proposed reducing the lock-in period for initial public offerings to six months to local start-ups such as software product development firms and e-commerce ventures. Earlier, the lock-in period varied from one to three years depending on the category of investor. However Only two types of investors—qualified institutional buyers (QIBs) and non-institutional investors (NIIs)—will be allowed to invest in shares of start-ups that opt for listing, Sebi has suggested.

PSU Banks to lend Rs 1.71 lakh crore to finance green power projects - This will help generate 34,000 megawatts of nonconventional power like wind and solar energy in this period. State Bank of Indiahas taken the lead with a Rs 75,000-crore commitment. Banking exposure to the power sector is 9% of the total industry loans, or about Rs 5.5 lakh crore, data from RBI show. According a market estimates, renewable energy capacity installed makes up for 15% of the total capacity installed in India.

Greece: Country reaches deal with Eurozone finance ministers to extend financial aid by 4 months. The deal hinges on Greece proposing reform measures and the country's creditors accepting the plan. Until then, Greece, beset by 25% unemployment and a shrinking economy, won't receive the next installment of its 240 billion euro ($273 billion) rescue package.

Bank Unions meet State for Finance Jayant Sinha to press for early wage revision. National Organisation of Bank Workers and National Organisation of Bank Officers, under the leadership of Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), met Sinha and requested him to kindly intervene and advise IBA to keep above at least the level of last wage revision. Unions mentioned that If our demand of 19.5 per cent on pay slip component is considered, it may cost (Rs 6,143 crore) but IBA has offered only Rs 3,937 crore and gap is Rs 2,206 crore.

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Raghuram Rajan has been awarded with Governor of the Year award for 2015 for his disciplined and focused approach to tackling macroeconomic instability by Central Banking Magazine. “This award is a recognition of the part the RBI and its staff have been playing in bringing macro economic stability to the Indian economy, in creating more competition and new growth opportunities in the banking and financial markets, as well as in expanding financial inclusion,” said Rajan.

RBI extends last date of receipt of applications for Licensing of Small Finance Banks and Payments Banks. It has been decided to extend the last date of receipt of applications to February 2, 2015 from 16th January 2015

Emerging markets are vulnerable to global developments - The likelihood of a rate increase by the US Fed has resulted in foreign investors (FIIs) reducing their investments in India. As against the $2.3 billion average monthly investments during March-July period, the average monthly inflows in the last two months (August-September) was just around $865 million. (Source - IMF)

Foreign banks in India are looking at large-scale hiring of mid-to-senior-level professionals in functions such as risk, audit, compliance and legal over the next 12 to 18 months. Large global banks are targeting to increase their teams by 20% to 30% in legal and compliance and 30% to 40% in audit and control, according to a study. According to the survey, there are currently over 240 legal and compliance professionals and 225 plus audit professionals in across 36 global banks in India.

Back-to-back bank holidays in October 2014 - The prolonged holiday will start on October 02 - Gandhi Jayanti, October 03 - Dusshera, October 05 - Sunday. Meanwhile Bakri Eid falls on Sunday due to which the holiday for the festival would be extended to Monday October 06. Customer will get a half working day saturday in between. There is also half-year bank closing on September 30.

The Supreme Court's ruling scrapping 214 of the coal blocks allocated between 1993 and 2010 will impact the banking sector. This could affect the borrowers' ability to repay loans and they may turn into non-performing assets (NPAs). Indian Banks Association (IBA), has convened an urgent meeting of its management committee to chalk out steps to safeguard exposure of banks in coal block projects . According to Credit Suisse SC decision will put Rs 60,000-72,000 crore of bank loans at risk.

State Bank of India has shortlisted nine banks to sell its shares as part of its capital-raising for the year. The bank has, however, not yet decided on whether it will opt for a qualified institutional placement or a follow-on public issue of shares. The nine merchant bankers shortlisted include Citibank, Goldman Sachs, Axis Bank, Bank of America, Barclays, ICICI Securities, JM Financial, Kotak Mahindra Capital and Standard Chartered. Banks are empanelled for a year so that SBI can go the market when the environment is conducive. The government currently holds over 58% which gives SBI flexibility to raise close to Rs 15000 crore.

The Reserve Bank of India has proposed segregation of chairman and managing director (CMD) posts and a separate committee for appointment of directors on the board of PSU banks. RBI feels that CMDs of Public Sector banks enjoy absolute power and often dominate the board during their tenure.

Government drive to expand banking services in India is giving a boost to home-grown card payment network RuPay, which expects to quadruple the number of users by March and make debit cards more acceptable in a nation where cash is still king. RuPay users has now almost doubled. By March next year, numbers are expected to rise to 160 million, with more than 60 percent of the increase coming from the government scheme Jan Dhan Yojana.

ICICI Bank has introduced a cardless cash withdrawal facility which allows customers to transfer money from their account to anyone in India with a mobile number. The recipient, even if he does not have a bank account, can withdraw money round the clock without using a debit card. The recipient will get a six digit reference code. The recipient can withdraw cash from almost all ICICI Bank ATMs by entering the mobile number, cash amount along with the verification and reference code.

In his first year as India’s central bank chief, Raghuram Rajan oversaw a recovery in the rupee from a record low, a revival in growth to the fastest in two years and a cut of almost 2 percentage points in the inflation rate. Raghuram Rajan, RBI Governor is now in the second year of his three-year term. He is seeking to focus the Reserve Bank of India’s mission on price stability, diversify its management and encourage staff to specialize their skill-sets.

Life insurers are seeing policyholder funds pile up unclaimed due to regulator’s guidelines that all maturity benefits should be directly transferred to a bank account. Presently Rs 5,848 crore is lying unclaimed with insurance companies. Of this, the Life Insurance Corporation accounts for Rs 1,548 crore while Reliance Life Insurance has Rs 1,502 crore.

Bank wage revision negotiations are at standstill - It’s been almost two years since the start of the bank wage revision negotiations, but no significant progress has been made in arriving at a settlement, according to bank union sources. At the last round held in June 2013, the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) relented to a one per cent increase to 11 per cent. Thereafter, negotiations across the table have come to a standstill.

The Bank of England has issued tougher rules for foreign bank branches operating in UK which may lead to closure of some of them. The five Indian banks who operate ‘branches’ in the UK are Bank of Baroda, Bank of India, Export-Import Bank of India, Syndicate Bank and State Bank of India.

Union Bank of India aims to raise Rs 1,386 crore through a qualified institutional placement (QIP) issue. The QIP may be floated after the second quarter. Yje bank has already got the shareholder approvals and necessary clearances from RBI. The bank is also to upgrading its representative office in Sydney (Australia) to a full-fledged branch office by the end of this fiscal.


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