Bigbasket Enters the Unicorn Club, Coffee Board of India Launches Pilot of Blockchain-Based Marketplace Platform, Reliance Jio to Acquire Haptik for INR200cr, WOW Air Shuts Operations et al.

Essar Steel creditors may get more funds. Bigbasket enters the unicorn club with the completion of latest funding round. Coca Cola reveals plans for ethnic drinks market in India. Jet investors look for bidding partners. WOW Air shuts operations. Coffee Board of India launches pilot of blockchain-based marketplace platform.

 

Moving on to the top Business stories of the day. 

 

COMPANIES 

Essar Steel creditors may get more funds. PNB to sell partial stake in PNB Housing Finance. Infosys to buy ABN AMRO Bank's mortgage unit Stater.

Bonus: Operational creditors of Essar Steel may get an additional INR1,000cr, on top of the INR214cr that  was promised by the debt resolution plan submitted by ArcelorMittal.

Left Out: However, unsecured lender Standard Charter has been excluded from this offer. Standard Charter, which made the highest claim of INR3,400cr will receive just 1.7% of its dues which amounts to INR60cr, as per the ArcelorMittal resolution plan.

Take It: Punjab National Bank (PNB) has announced its decision to sell its partial stake in PNB Housing Finance to global private equity firm General Atlantic Group and alternative investment firm Varde Partners for INR1,851.6cr.

Huge Sale: PNB will sell 1,08,91,733 equity shares held in PNB Housing Finance (PNBHF) at a price of INR850 per share to General Atlantic Group, aggregating to about INR926cr. The Bank has also entered into a similar agreement with Varde Partners.

Post these transactions, PNB would a still hold 19.78% of the paid-up capital of PNBHF and shall continue as a promoter and strategic shareholder of PNBHF.

Next One: Infosys is set to buy a 75% controlling stake in Stater, the mortgage service unit of ABN AMRO Bank for INR1,000cr, providing it with access to clients in key markets. Following the completion of the deal, the Dutch bank will retain 25% in Stater.

 

STARTUP 

Bigbasket enters the unicorn club with the completion of latest funding round. Shuttl raising  $7.3m in Series B funding. Ola expands operations in the UK.

New Record: Grocery delivery platform Bigbasket has completed its Series F funding at an estimated valuation of $2.3bn, marking its entry into the unicorn club.

The company has raised a total of $150m from new and existing backers in this round, including Mirae who put in around $60m. Alibaba injected around $50m, and $40m came from CDC.
 

First There: Earlier this week, another startup Delhivery entered the unicorn club with a $2bn valuation, following a $413bn investment round by SoftBank Vision Fund.

Luv All: Bus shuttle service startup Shuttl is set to close its Series B funding round worth $7.23m with the backing of investors including Sequoia, Lightspeed and Times Internet.

Ola for Bus: Shuttl was launched in 2015 and offers an app-based office shuttle service across major cities in India. The company allows users to book bus seats by choosing the pickup and drop point through its app.

Lucky 7: Ola has expanded its services to three more cities across the UK. These include Liverpool, Reading, and Birmingham. With this, Ola has now solidified its presence across 7 large metropolitan cities in the UK.

Ola had started operations in the UK in 2018 when it set shop in Cardiff. It has since then branched out to other cities like Bristol, Bath, and Exeter.

 

TECH 

Microsoft, Adobe and SAP prepare to expand Open Data Initiative. Coffee Board of India launches pilot of blockchain-based marketplace platform. Reliance Jio to acquire Haptik for INR200cr.

Group Decision: Microsoft, Adobe and SAP have announced their plans to expand their Open Data Initiative by bringing in more partners for testing its services.

The first 12 partners that are joining this new council include Accenture, Amadeus, Capgemini, Change Healthcare, Cognizant, EY, Finastra, Genesys, Hootsuite, Inmobi, Sprinklr and WPP.

Happy Anniversary: The announcement comes a year after the three companies announced the launch of the service in Microsoft's Ignite conference.

Tech Stuff: The service aims to make transfer of data across platforms more seamless.

Online Coffee: The Coffee Board of India has launched a pilot of the country’s first blockchain-based marketplace app for trading coffee. The blockchain platform will allow a coffee producer to directly transact with multiple buyers without the involvement of middlemen.

The “Coffee Blockchain” initiative consists of more than 20 stakeholders from different countries. 

Buying Bots: Reliance Jio set to acquire Haptik for over INR200cr in a bid to build its own conversational platform along the lines of Amazon’s Alexa.

AI Assistant: Haptik lets users chat with their voice assistants to complete daily tasks such as online shopping, travel bookings, food delivery among others.

 

CONSUMER 

Coca Cola reveals plans for ethnic drinks market in India. AstraZeneca strikes $6.9bn deal with Daiichi Sankyo.
 

Desi Plan: Coca Cola has revealed its strategy to tap into the ethnic drinks market in India with offerings like cumin-flavored sparkling water and buttermilk.

The move comes as the company tries to outrun the global decline in consumption of sugary sodas.

Dairy Products: The Company is also planning on entering the dairy products market by 2020 with offerings like spiced buttermilk and lassi.

Anti-Cancer Deal: British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has signed a $6.9bn deal with Japanese pharmaceutical company Daiichi Sankyo, to develop and sell Daiichi’s cancer drug trastuzumab deruxtecan.
 

AstraZeneca is expected to make an upfront payment of $1.35bn to Daiichi under the deal.

Second Innings: Earlier the two companies had collaborated in 2015 to jointly commercialize constipation drug Movantik in the United States.

FAQ: The treatment, called antibody-drug conjugate (ADC), is designed to attack only cancer cells while sparing the healthy cells that are usually damaged during typical chemotherapy treatments.

 

AVIATION 
 

Jet investors look for bidding partners; defaults on loan repayment. WOW Air shuts operations.

Looking Out: Potential strategic investors of Jet Airways have sought the backing of several sovereign and government-backed funds for a joint bid for the beleaguered airline.

Quite a Few: These include the likes of Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), Temasek, Blackstone, and TPG Capital among others.

Also Included: The list also includes Founder Naresh Goyal, who still holds 25% in Jet.

Another possibility is an alliance between the Saudi government-owned AIDA and Etihad Airways which holds a 12% stake in Jet.

Late Again: Jet Airways has defaulted on a $109m loan repayment to HSBC bank. 

The payment which was due this Thursday was part of a two-tranche facility totaling $140m that the airline borrowed as an External Commercial Borrowing from HSBC in 2014.

Strike Two: Jet had also missed an earlier payment of the $31m tranche that was due on March 11.

Bye Bye: Iceland-based Airline operator WOW Air announced ceasing of operations and grounding of all its flights on Thursday.

The move comes after buyout talks with rival airline Icelandair collapsed earlier in the week.

The airline had undergone major restructuring after posting a pre-tax loss of almost $42m for the first nine months of 2018.

 

(Don't want to miss out on these End Of Day Wrap Ups? Subscribe Now to our No Nonsense Email Digest and get the day's Top 6 Business stories straight to your mailbox.)