Asia

At the turn of the millennium, a group of entrepreneurs in their twenties banded together in a cramped office near a New Delhi bus terminal to start what they hoped would be India’s answer to Charles Schwab, the Financial Times reported. Almost two decades later, founder Sameer Gehlaut — the son of a politician and army officer, once dubbed India’s youngest billionaire — and longtime executive Gagan Banga have more than achieved their dream, turning their company Indiabulls into one of the country’s most prominent financial groups.

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China Minsheng Investment Group will cut compensation of its top and mid-level executives from this month to support strategic restructuring, it said in an announcement, Bloomberg News reported. The Shanghai-based company that aspired to become China’s answer to JPMorgan Chase & Co. said on Tuesday it will reduce salaries for senior and mid-level management by as much as 83% to lower costs. Average cuts for senior and mid-level management will be 53% while ordinary employee pay will remain unchanged, it said.

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The state-run International Bank of Azerbaijan (IBA) has completed its recovery, plans to set up its own investment company and is preparing for its planned privatisation, the bank’s management board chairman told Reuters. Azeri President Ilham Aliyev ordered in 2015 the privatisation of the oil-rich country’s biggest bank after a clean-up to get rid of distressed assets resulting from poor management, Reuters reported. Two years later IBA proposed a plan to restructure $3.3 billion of its debt, later receiving approval from creditors holding 93.9 percent of the affected debt.

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The NCLAT has dismissed a plea to initiate insolvency proceedings against smartphone and mobile accessories maker Intex Technologies India Ltd by one of its creditors, Business Standard reported. A three-member NCLAT bench headed by Chairperson Justice S J Mukhopadhaya upheld the order of the NCLT Delhi, which had dismissed the plea of the operational creditor after observing a pre-existence of dispute over the claims.

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In the bond world, a plain-vanilla default isn’t the scariest thing. What can be worse is a back-room deal to avoid or obscure one, a Bloomberg View reported. China needs to be on guard. No doubt, China’s economy is slowing. In September, industrial profits fell 5.3% from a year ago, the deepest slump since 2015. Yet China Inc.’s credit profile seems to be improving. So far, only $8.6 billion in bonds outstanding have negated on their obligations, versus $15.3 billion in 2018, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

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The number of insolvency cases admitted by the bankruptcy court continued to stay elevated, with 369 companies alone admitted in the September quarter, Business Standard reported. The March quarter of FY19 had seen the highest number (374) taken by the Benches of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), revealed data by the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI). The number of firms to go for liquidation in Q2FY20 stood at 96.

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India can take more steps to be competitive in the global market, such as enforcing contracts, World Bank President David Malpass said. “There can be more progress in land permits and in enforcement of contracts,” Malpass said at a press conference in New Delhi on Saturday, Bloomberg News reported. “Other countries in Asia have done pretty well.” India jumped 14 places to 63rd in the World Bank’s annual rankings for ease of doing business released Thursday, helped by a new insolvency law.

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China’s Jingye Group has fuelled hopes of a rescue deal for British Steel with plans to send a delegation to the second-biggest UK steelmaker’s main plant in Scunthorpe, the Financial Times reported. Hebei-based Jingye, which also owns hotels and a medicines business alongside its main steelmaking operations, is due to visit the Lincolnshire steelworks next week.

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ICICI Bank Ltd., India’s second-largest private lender, posted a lower than expected profit due to a one-time income tax adjustment, Bloomberg News reported. Net income fell 28% to 6.55 billion rupees ($98 million) for the three months ended Sept. 30 from 9.1 billion rupees a year earlier, the lender said Saturday. The profit compared with analysts expectation of 13.8 billion rupees on average, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

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India’s top court ordered several telecom carriers, including Bharti Airtel Ltd., Vodafone Idea Ltd. and many defunct ones, to pay the government as much as 920 billion rupees ($13 billion) in past dues, dealing a blow to the businesses already struggling to make profits and pare debt, Bloomberg News reported. The Supreme Court, in a ruling read out by a two-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra, said it will decide on the timeline for payments. Thursday’s decision possibly puts an end to the two-decades-old legal dispute over airwaves fees owed to the government.

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