More Countries Ground Boeing 737 MAX, US Releases Budget Proposal, Theresa May Secures Concessions Ahead of Brexit Vote et al.

Etihad sets conditions before investing in Jet. More countries ground Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. US releases budget proposal. Theresa May secures concessions ahead of Brexit vote.

 

Moving on to the top Business stories of the week. 

 

RESTRUCTURING


Bharti Airtel to transfer a majority of its stake in Infratel to Nettle. NTPC and Power Grid to form a pan-India power distribution firm.


Changing Hands: Bharti Airtel to slash its stake in the telecom tower company Infratel by more than half. Airtel will own an 18.3% stake in Infratel after the transfer, down from its current stake of 50.33%.


Airtel's shares closed at INR350.50 (+5%).


More Say: Airtel’s unit Nettle Infrastructure Investments plans on buying up to 32% in Bharti Infratel. The company will buy Infratel shares for up to INR362.45 each, a premium of up to 13.4% to the stock's closing price as of March 11.
 

Together: State-run NTPC and Power Grid Corp in talks to set up the National Electricity Distribution Company (NCDC), a pan-India power distribution firm in an equal joint venture.


The new public sector unit will focus on aggregating electricity demand in the country and cater to it. The unit may also take over weak electricity distribution utilities.


Perfect Timing: Being set up at a time when the state-owned distribution companies are struggling with their finances on account of losses and borrowings, a national electricity distribution company can procure electricity at competitive rates and help address the issue of stressed assets in power generation.

 

AVIATION


Etihad sets conditions before investing in Jet. More countries ground Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.

T&C Applied: Etihad Airways has set several conditions before its next round of proposed investment in Jet Airways.

Demands for the Jet-Etihad deal:

  • 15% of the total share capital of Jet Airways loyalty programme, Jet Privilege, pledged by Jet Airways to HSBC as security for a $150m loan, will have to be made available to Jet Airways
  • Completion of the INR4,000cr interim financing as per terms agreed upon by Etihad, Naresh Goyal and a group of lenders led by the SBI
  • Goyal and lenders to forego and renounce their pro-rata entitlement of participation in the rights issue, and Goyal to limit his shareholding to 22%

 

Grounding: Countries including Australia, China, Singapore, Indonesia, South Korea and Mongolia, have decided to ground Boeing 737 MAX aircraft models on back of the recent Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 149 people onboard.

 

Mixed Reactions: Airline operators around the world have mixed feelings on the matter:

  • Aeromexico, Brazil’s Gol Airlines and South Africa’s Comair have decided to ground their 737 MAX aircrafts
  • Air Italy, Turkish Airlines, Russia Airlines S7, Southwest Airlines and IcelandAir will continue operating the aircraft

 

GLOBAL

US budget released. Theresa May secures concessions ahead of Brexit vote.

More On Safety: The White House released a $4.7tr budget on Monday that proposed sharply reducing spending on safety-net and many discretionary government programs while boosting defense and border-protection funding.

Losers: The proposed budget would cut nondefense discretionary spending next year, including emergency disaster aid, more than 9% from the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. That includes sharp reductions for budgets at the Departments of Health and Human Services, Transportation and Education and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Forecast: Compared with its budget two years ago, the administration expects to collect $2tr less in revenue through 2024 than it had previously forecasted, while spending is expected to be $1.9tr more than previously projected.

However, spending bills generally require bipartisan support, and with Democrats now in control of the House, the latest budget blueprint is likely to have limited influence.

Read the full copy of the budget here.

Final Rush: UK PM Theresa May has secured legally binding changes to the Brexit deal, a day ahead of MPs voting on it.

Insurance: These changes are aimed to reassure British lawmakers that the UK will have the power to break away from EU’s economic orbit if a trade deal isn’t quickly agreed after Brexit.

  • A "joint legally binding instrument" on the withdrawal agreement which the UK could use to start a "formal dispute" against the EU if it tried to keep the UK tied into the backstop indefinitely.
  • A joint statement about the UK and EU's future relationship which commits to replacing the backstop with an alternative by December 2020.
  • A "unilateral declaration". stating there is nothing to stop the UK from leaving the backstop if discussions on a future relationship with the EU break down and there is no prospect of an agreement.

 

Earlier: May will renegotiate the deal after MPs overwhelmingly rejected her deal by a margin of 230 last January.

 

M&A

Ebix offers to acquire Yatra for $336mn. Nvidia to acquire networking firm Mellanox.

Good Deal: US software firm Ebix has announced its offer to buy online travel portal Yatra for $336m in a cash-and-stock deal in a bid to boost its portfolio of Indian travel ventures.

Long Run: The company plans on merging Yatra with its Indian EbixCash subsidiary, which offers remittance services in an attempt to create India’s largest and most profitable travel company.
 

Ebix’s offer price of $7 per share represents a premium of 84% to Yatra Online’s trading price of $3.80 as of March 8.

Acquisition: Chip manufacturer Nvidia to acquire networking firm Mellanox Technologies for c. $6.9bn. This is the company’s largest deal to date and marks its entry into the cloud computing business.

Too Much: The company will pay $125 a share in cash for Mellanox, a 14% premium to the company’s closing price of $109.38 as of March 8.

 

SPACE

Trump's budget proposal for NASA slashes programs, targets SLS megarocket.

Stay Here: Last year, the Trump administration proposed cutting a number of Earth Science missions, ending several of NASA’s flagship missions for the 2020s. However, eventually Congress overturned these cuts and restored funding for these programs. This year, the assault is even worse, and has a better chance of succeeding. Read Why

More Rockets: The White House’s fiscal year 2020 budget request for NASA proposes to delay work on an upgraded version of the Space Launch System (SLS) and would transfer some of that vehicle’s payloads to other rockets.

Not Enough: The budget proposal offers a total of $21bn for the space agency, a decrease of $500m from last year.

A major element of the proposal is to defer work on the Block 1B version of the SLS, which would increase the rocket’s performance by replacing its existing Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage with the more powerful Exploration Upper Stage. The budget instead focuses the program on the completion of the initial version of the SLS and supporting a reliable SLS and Orion annual flight cadence.

 

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