We all say Vi & More

Good morning! India finally has a silver medal and is steadily progress on the path to getting a gold medal. No, Tokyo 2020 Olympics are still happening next year only. But, India has now got it’s claws on the second spot when it comes to the total number of Coronavirus cases, globally. Ironically, the IPO that came to market this week was called Happiest Minds. A wise person once said, fact is truly stranger than fiction!

MAIN STORIES

 Does this call for a Hi-Fi or a Vi-Fi?

Who knew a few words could have three meanings to them. Instead of belaboring just the first instance of wit in today’s edition, let’s move on to the details here. From Max Touch to Orange to Hutch to Vodafone to Vodafone-Idea and now to Vi, this brand has changed colors faster than a chameleon. Yet, it remains as deceptive.

Dark clouds yet to clear: The one thing that struck us about the logo was the honest depiction of mess from which the company is attempting to emerge (see image above). With AGR dues of more than Rs. 50,000 Crores to be paid over a period of 10 years, the company now intends to raise Rs 25,000 Crores by liquidating some piece of the equity. Murmurs of a tariff hike may not help to arrest the growing exodus of customers on account of poor network and a more attractive option in Jio.

Although… While the embattled company tries to claw it’s way back to the competitive market, they are cutting costs in a very surprising area. CEO Ravinder Takkar will get “nil remuneration” for his three year contract, starting August 2019. Since he has spent the last 22 years in Vodafone across Romania and UK, we are guessing it is a burning, befuddling sense of passion driving this admirable commitment.

New framework post moratorium

August 31st was a keenly watched date by borrowers and bankers alike as it spelled out the end of a 6-month moratorium or EMI payment relief granted by RBI. That date turned out to be a damp squab as barely got anything resolved. However, last week, the KV Kamath committee came up with and got a framework approved.

What should I know? The committee identified 26 key sectors which have borne the maximum brunt of this crisis. Borrowings by these industries comprised 37% of the total banking credit. On the basis of 5 pre-defined financial ratios, applicable companies can go in for a debt restructuring plan. The maximum extension in the loan tenure was limited to two years. For 5-6 of the most critically hit sectors with total loans worth Rs. 10 lakh crore more flexibility around restructuring has been accorded to the lending banks.

Can a borrower use covid to hide pre-existing condition? To negate this possibility, only borrowers who were tagged as standard and not default for atleast 30 days as on March 1, 2020 get to be eligible.  

Not a very pretty haiku

One thing coronavirus has done is to accentuate what might otherwise have been more disguised cracks in varied countries. Japan is undergoing it’s own challenges and period of change. For some time now, it has been the poster boy for stagnant growth as their stock market index Nikkei remains 40% below it’s last height seen in December 1989.

What’s their contraction size? The Japanese economy fell by 7.9% in the April-June quarter as compared to the preceding one. Before you say, that ain’t too bad, know that on an annualized basis, it fell by a massive 28.1%. Considering Japan has been fairly successful in limiting the spread of coronavirus, this wasn’t much on expected lines. Despite a $2.2 trillion stimulus package, there’s not been much of an uptick.

Change of guard: At this crucial juncture, the country’s longest serving Prime Minister Shinzo Abe resigned due to health issues. It’s going to be one rocky path for his successor. Of the contenders, Time magazine seems to be betting their money on Abe’s chief aid Yoshihide Suga. The decision might be sealed next week.

IN SNIPPETS

The GDP number game: As India’s strikingly disastrous quarterly GDP numbers rolled in, global rating firms are tripping over themselves for a downward revision of their annual estimates. Fitch dropped it to -10.8% while Goldman Sachs went a few notches further to stick their neck out to -14.8%. Maybe in the dearth of sporting events, this will be the new area in the betting arenas.

Reliance looking to separate oil: The much awaited announcement was finally made this week. Reliance announced separation of their Oil to Chemicals or O2C business from other businesses. The O2C business is purported to be up for a stake sale to Saudi Aramco and this hiving off should smoothen that path.  

CEO Kevin Mayers’ stint short as a Tik Tok video: Ever felt so dissatisfied and suffocated in a job your first few months that you often think of quitting? Maybe the job just did not turn out the way you thought it would. You are not alone. Moving from Disney’s DTC business to becoming Tik Tok’s global CEO in an attempt to give it a more westernized image and management, Kevin Mayer got blind sided by Trump and his executive order. And he called it quits. The story of Tik Tok is keeping us as hooked as videos on the platform used to.

Yellow light on the vaccine: The world is collectively holding it’s breath as Astra Zeneca hit pause on it’s final stages of human trial. The trial was stalled as a participant displayed neurological symptoms, the causation of which would have to be determined before resuming with the process. In July too the trial had been paused due to neurological symptoms which were then concluded to be unrelated to the vaccine. However, CEO Pascal Soriot calmed the world down expressing hope that the vaccine may still be approved by year end!

The tension that keeps economies going: There is a strange kind of friction in the economic world. When you look at the micro level, ideally households should save more to show prudence. If the savings rates go up, consumption goes down and economists start losing sleep. Australia is a turning out to be a text book example where savings rates have shot up to approximately 20% in April, May and June. Coronavirus may have deprived us of many things. Economics lesson is not one of them.

MARKET PULSE

Most news was hogged by the tech sell-off personified by the action seen at Nasdaq. In that scenario, it’s a miracle that this week too saw the bigger indices happy to play in a pretty narrow range. On the other hand, the liquidity that sloshed and over flowed into Mid Caps lost some steam. Probably, because it found an avenue by over subscribing 150 times to Happiest Minds IPO.

Rupee saw another week of narrow appreciation (if at all it can be called that) while G-sec yields jumped forward from last month. Gold tried to recover a bit but is still miles away from the earlier highs it had raced up to.

WILD CARD

If you thought the tennis Grand Slam US Open 2020 is one weirdo with being conducted in a bubble, frentic contact tracing and random quarantine rules, we are pretty sure the cake topper is something no one ever imagined. Novak Djokovic, yes the same player who recently unapologetically organized a full-fledged tournament in Croatia, has been ruled out of the US Open. Frustrated after missing a point, he flung a ball behind him accidently catching a line judge in her throat. If you thought 2020 has been a bit miserable for you, think of Djokovic and you may agree that it’s still not that bad!

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