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Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Announces Measures to Provide Relief Amid the Coronavirus Outbreak in India

Professor of Financial Economics and Part-time Value Investor, Transfin.
Mar 25, 2020 4:38 AM 6 min read

FM announces measures to provide relief amid the coronavirus outbreak. Infosys share price rises as SEC clears whistleblower case. WhatsApp working on new 'Search Messages' feature to fight fake news. raises ₹832cr ($110m) in financing round led by Temasek. 




FM announces measures to provide relief amid the coronavirus outbreak.

...Things Fall Apart

In the backdrop of the coronavirus outbreak, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in a press conference held today announced a slew of measures to provide relief amid the coronavirus outbreak. Here's a quick overview:

  • Wealth Tax Act, Income Tax Act, Benami Transaction Act, Black Money Act, have been extended to June 30th
  • Aadhar-PAN linking date to be extended to June 30th
  • Vivaad Se Vishwas scheme also extended to June 30th
  • There shall not be any minimum balance requirement fee for bank account
  • Debit card withdrawals from ATMs won't be charged for the next three months; these withdrawals can be made from any ATMs
  • Insolvency proceedings threshold limit extended to ₹1cr ($133,677) from existing ₹1L ($13,367)

View in full here. [CNBC TV18]


With the COVID-19 Outbreak, Governments Should Think Like Parents…

 The COVID-19 pandemic has caught nations across the globe rather unprepared. It is forcing governments to revise precedents and get paternalistic (liberals won’t object, for a change).


With that in mind, here are six things the Government of India and the RBI can consider.


And Investors Should Think Like Lenders…


Equity markets have also witnessed a bloodbath in the past couple of weeks.


But as Professor Aswath Damodaran rightly puts it, "A market in crisis is a pricing game, driven by mood & momentum, not fundamentals." Here's a possible action framework in this time of crisis from the man himself.



Infosys share price rises as SEC clears whistleblower case.


Shares of Infosys today soared around 14% before closing at ₹600 (+13.97%) as the US Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) concluded its investigation and gave the IT giant a clean chit in the whistleblower case. 



In September last year, a whistleblower had alleged that the company's top officials, including CEO Salil Parekh and CFO Nilanjan Roy, were using questionable practices to boost the company’s revenue and profit. [Moneycontrol]


Shares of HUL, Glenmark Pharma surge up to 10% on VWash deal.

A Symbiotic Deal

Shares of Hindustan Unilever (HUL) and Glenmark rose 10% and 8.9% respectively as HUL announced the acquisition of female intimate hygiene wash brand VWash from Glenmark Pharmaceuticals for an undisclosed sum. 


The deal would include an upfront cash payment and a deferred consideration over the next three years. 


The acquisition of VWash would help HUL have a larger play in the chemist channels as it is already getting brands like Horlicks, Boost, Sensodyne and Crocin from the acquisition of GSK Consumer and Healthcare Business, HUL Chief Financial Officer Srinivas Phatak said. [ET Markets]


WhatsApp working on new 'Search Messages' feature to fight fake news. 

In "Search" of Truth  

Facebook-owned messaging platform WhatsApp is reportedly working on new 'Search Messages' feature to check text authenticity, which would enable users search messages on the web directly from their app.


When a forwarded message is received by a user, the app displays a tiny search icon next to it. The user can then tap on the search icon and lookup on the Web - checking for its authenticity. [TechCrunch]


Extra Crunch

The digital drive in India has gotten an added push with the coronavirus outbreak as many resort to digital payments. Unfortunately, the increasing adoption of digital payment systems has also witnessed a rise in the cases of digital fraud. Here’s an easy primer on how you can avoid frauds. [Livemint]



China to lift restrictions in Wuhan, where the coronavirus originated.

Beginning of the End?

Two months after it was put on lockdown, Chinese authorities are reportedly considering easing restrictions in Hubei province and Wuhan, the city where COVID-19 first emerged.


Hubei authorities will end restrictions on outbound traffic on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Wuhan’s 11m residents will see restrictions begin to be eased from April 8th. [WSJ]


Ecommerce firms face severe disruptions, temporarily suspend services in many parts of India. 

Disruptions, Ahoy!

Ecommerce firms in India are facing severe disruptions affecting supply of goods as authorities crack down by closing warehouses and stores amidst lockdowns imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.


Flipkart and Amazon temporarily suspended logistics services for sellers across regions and over 25,000 supermarkets have reportedly been affected by orders to close warehouses.


The development comes despite the operations of ecommerce firms and their vendors being exempt from Section 144 restrictions as per a notification from the Consumer Affairs Ministry last week. [ET Tech]


Netflix is reducing its traffic on network providers by 25%. 


Netflix has said it will lower its traffic on network providers by 25% in India for 30 days in order to reduce congestion on internet pipelines. It will still “maintain the quality” of its service, it added.


“Given the crisis, we’ve developed a way to reduce Netflix’s traffic on telecommunications networks by 25% while also maintaining the quality of our service. So consumers should continue to get the quality that comes with their plan – whether it’s Ultra-High, High or Standard Definition. We believe that this will provide significant relief to congested networks and will be deploying it in India for the next 30 days,” Ken Florance, VP Content Delivery of Netflix, said in a statement. [TechCrunch]


Extra Crunch

Educational technology companies are taking online education to the next level, as schools, colleges and coaching centres close down following the spread of the COVID-19 virus. As a result, a clutch of ed-tech players, such as UpGrad, Vedantu, CL Educate, Imarticus Learning, Simplilearn and Toppr, have seen a sharp rise in new users. Read this article for a deep-dive into the matter. [ET Tech]



BigBasket acquires micro delivery startup DailyNinja.

We'll Do it All

Online grocery delivery startup BigBasket has acquired 100% stake in Bengaluru-based milk delivery app DailyNinja.


BigBasket has paid c. $15-20m for the acquisition, a person aware of the deal said.


The acquisiton is expected to help BigBasket’s milk delivery service  - BB Daily - grow its daily business by 150-200% over the next 12 months. DailyNinja currently has around 110,000 customers transacting daily which will now help BB Daily augment its user base.


BigBasket had earlier acquired Pune-based RainCan and Bengaluru-based MorningCart for its morning delivery service, BBDaily. [ET Tech] raises ₹832cr ($110m) in financing round led by Temasek. 

Fitness is a Lifestyle

Health and wellness startup has raised ₹832cr ($110m) in the latest financing round led by Temasek. The round also saw participation from GableHorn Investments as well as from existing investors Accel Partners, Chiratae Ventures and the VC arm of consumer goods giant Unilever. [Tech in Asia]




In an unprecedented move, the Federal Reserve announces unlimited bond purchases to avoid financial crisis as coronavirus spreads in the US.

Desperate Times, Desperate Measures

The Federal Reserve on Monday announced a series of measures to help markets function more efficiently amidst the coronavirus crisis.


Among the initiatives is a commitment to continue its asset purchasing program “in the amounts needed to support smooth market functioning and effective transmission of monetary policy to broader financial conditions and the economy.” Other measures include purchasing investment-grade securities and a lending programme for businesses. [The Washington Post]


Taken together, the Fed said the new programmes will provide up to $300bn in new financing to an economy getting crushed by the crippling health restrictions aimed at fighting the pandemic. The Fed is going all out to prevent the health crisis from turning into a full-blown financial crisis, and to avoid a recession. [CNN Business]


Congress close to deal on $2trn aid package. 

Fighting for Consensus

Meanwhile, the US Congress is hammering out a $2trn coronavirus aid package. The deal was blocked before it could advance for a full vote in the Senate as Democrats said the Bill didn’t do enough to protect American workers while Republicans criticised their colleagues across the aisle for being obstructionist and holding an important legislation hostage.


A deal, however, is expected to be reached soon and a vote could be held as early as tomorrow. [Time]


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