Sat, 25th March 2017

Anirudh Sethi Report


Archives of “Corporation” Tag

Hit by rating downgrades, India Inc’s debt profile plunges

At ten a day since April last year it’s been raining downgrades for India Inc. Downgrades have now outnumbered upgrades every month for the past 18 months, save in January this year. Moreover, at 112, the number of companies that saw their ratings rise in February is the lowest since May 2016. After Lodha Developers, Reliance Comm and Tata Steel in January, IFCI and IDBI Bank saw their ratings drop last month.

Corporate India’s debt profile isn’t getting better and, in fact, maybe worsening. Sample this: More than R7 lakh crore of debt is with companies that have had an interest cover (PBIT/interest) of less than one for 12 straight quarters.

That’s roughly a fifth of all bank loans to the industry. For instance, Punj Lloyd and Kesoram Industries together owe lenders over R12,000 crore — the interest cover (PBIT/interest) at both companies has been less than one for 12 straight quarters now.

As Credit Suisse points out, more than a third of corporate loans remain on the books of chronically stressed companies. And at the end of the December 2016 quarter, 41% of the total borrowings belonged to companies with an interest coverage ratio of less than one. Unfortunately, these firms aren’t doing too well — their ebitda, or earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, fell 10% in Q3FY17.

Again, as Credit Suisse points out, three ADAG Group companies — RPower, RInfra and RCom — have a gross debt of close to R80,000 crore but each of them reported an ebit (earnings before interest and tax) loss in the December 2016 quarter.

Prosecutors seek arrest warrant for Samsung chief Lee Jae-yong

Special prosecutors in Seoul on Monday requested an arrest warrant for the de facto head of Samsung, the country’s largest company, as a corruption scandal that toppled president Park Geun-hye ensnared another powerful South Korean figure.

Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics and heir to the company, is wanted on charges of bribery, according to prosecutors who grilled the country’s top executive during a marathon 22-hour interrogation late last week.

Samsung were unable to comment immediately. However, the development will likely be a stunning blow to the company as its attempts to solidify the succession of Mr Lee as chief and to reform its corporate governance structure.

Enforcement Directorate to probe Mistry’s allegations against Tata Sons

The Enforcement Directorate will look into Tata Sons’ ousted chairman’s allegations related to the mismanagement of the group’s aviation ventures, India Today reported on Saturday citing a source.

Cyrus Mistry was removed as chairman of the 148-year-old Tata group this week in a move that stunned corporate India. Mistry has since accused his predecessor Ratan Tata of thwarting his attempts to restructure the $104 billion Indian conglomerate.

In a leaked letter to the Tata board, Mistry said he was opposed to Tata’s aviation partnerships with Malaysia’s AirAsia Bhd and Singapore Airlines.

In the case of Air Asia, a forensic investigation had found “fraudulent transactions” of 220 million rupees ($3.29 million) involving “non-existent parties”, Mistry alleged in his letter.

That allegation had prepared the ground for an “examination” of the case, the India Today report said, citing an unnamed official at the Enforcement Directorate.

Officials at the agency were not immediately available to comment. Tata Sons said it was unaware of any such probe. An AirAsia India spokeswoman said she did not have an immediate comment.

An investigation by the agency, if confirmed, would come at a time when India’s capital markets regulator has already started looking into Mistry’s allegations related to violations of corporate governance rules at Tata.

Cyrus Mistry not cut out for the job; did not display leadership expected of chairman: Tata Group insiders

Was Cyrus Mistry removed from the post of Tata group chairman because of his inability to display the leadership expected of him? If a report on ET Now is to be believed, then Cyrus Mistry was not “cut out for the job”. Sources in Tata Group have told the channel that Cyrus Mistry was sacked because he was unable to make the cut as a leader. “Mistry did not display the leadership expected from the Chairman of Tata Sons. He was decent and hardworking, but was not cut out for the job,” sources have told the channel.

It appears that Mistry was given the ‘opportunity’ to resign, but he chose not to. “There is no particular reason for the decision to remove Mistry, the accretion of things led to it. There is no gentle way of removing a Chairman, it had to be done,” sources said, adding that the Tata Sons Board felt that Mistry was not what the group needs as a leader. Now, Mistry is expected to resign from the post of Chairman of several group companies as well.

Cyrus Mistry says he was reduced to a “lame-duck” chairman: Full text of his letter to the Tata Sons Board

In a sharp letter, Cyrus Mistry, the ousted chairman of Tata Group, has blamed the directors of the conglomerate of not giving him a chance to defend himself and wrongly dismissing him. Mistry has also warned that the group may face $18 billion in write downs. Mistry has blamed five unprofitable businesses that he inherited, for the possible write downs. “I was shocked beyond words at the happenings at the board meeting of October 24, 2016. Apart from the invalidity and illegality of the business that was conducted, I have to say that the Board of Directors has not covered itself with glory. To “replace” your Chairman without so much as a word of explanation and without affording him an opportunity of defending himself in a summary manner must be unique in the annals of corporate history. The suddenness of the action, and the lack of explanation has led to all manner of speculation and has done my reputation and the reputation of the Tata Group immeasurable harm,” Mistry writes.

Mistry has said that as the group chairman, he tried to turn things around – be it from a Nano to an ultra-mega-power plant. Mistry has hit out at Ratan Tata, his predecessor, for interference. In an e-mail letter Mistry has lamented that Ratan Tata’s interference had increased to the extent that he (Mistry) was reduced to being a ‘lame-duck’ chairman.

Cyrus Mistry removed as chairman of Tata group

India’s powerful salt-to-steel conglomerate, the Tata Group, said Monday it had replaced its chairman, Cyrus Mistry, amid growing investor concern about the uninspiring financial performance since he took over less than four years ago.

In a brief statement that sent shockwaves through India’s business circles, the normally staid conglomerate said the board was temporarily reinstating former chairman Ratan Tata, to serve as interim chairman

The company also said it has already established a search committee to identify a long-term successor for Mr Mistry, a process it said would be completed within the next four months.

Chinese firms are moving rapidly to announce debt restructuring plans

Reuters with a piece on new government guidelines released Monday and the response from firms to restructure debt

  • Policymakers want to rein in corporate debt (Chinese companies sit on $18 trillion in debt, equivalent to about 169 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), according to the most recent figures from the Bank for International Settlements. )
  • China Construction Bank Corp (CCB), the nations’ second-largest lender by assets, has been reported in two deals to help big, debt-laden state companies in as many days, and other Big Four banks are expected to follow soon.

Toyota-Suzuki alliance may help both ride out changes

An alliance between Toyota Motor and Suzuki Motor could be a boon to both sides, helping the former gain ground in emerging markets such as India and giving the latter the engineering needed to compete in an increasingly high-tech industry.

Can’t go it alone

 The two automakers said Wednesday they were discussing collaboration on environmental, safety and information technology. 

Although Toyota President Akio Toyoda told a new conference that the idea of an alliance came together in just two business days after Suzuki Chairman Osamu Suzuki got the ball rolling, there is more to the story. Suzuki’s next partner had been the subject of speculation since August 2015, when the Japanese maker of economy cars ended a capital and business relationship with Germany’s Volkswagen over management conflicts.

Though Chairman Suzuki had said publicly that his company would look to remain independent going forward, another senior executive had acknowledged that collaboration was “necessary” in some fields. Even in India, a successful market for Suzuki, environmental regulations are growing tougher, making investment in technology like hybrid drive systems essential. Rising incomes have also stoked demand for higher-end vehicles in such countries.

Finding a big automaker ally was seen as essential for Suzuki to ensure a presence in self-driving cars. While a Toyota or a Volkswagen has the financial strength to counter the challenge posed by Google and other tech giants in this field — Toyota’s annual research and development budget comes to around 1 trillion yen ($9.59 billion) — Suzuki, which spent just 130 billion yen on R&D in the year ended March 31, hardly stands a chance alone.

Making connections

Clueless: IMF Wonders Why the World Is Resisting Globalization

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde arrives for the IMFC Plenary Session during the IMF and World Bank Group 2016 Spring Meetings on April 16, 2016 in Washington, DCSpeaking during the October 6 opening ceremony, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde referred to the global economy as “weak and fragile.”

Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear producer Walter Smolarek noted that, on one hand, the economy of the West has not completely recovered from the recession of 2008-2009, despite significant measures taken by financial regulators. These measures have resulted in only temporary fixes that have failed to return the global economy to where it was prior to the recession.

Those countries, such as BRICS members, that could count as real engines of post-crisis world economic growth have had a “very rough few years,” Smolarek says, due, in part, to low commodity prices. A dramatic oil-price drop caused a cascade of other negative economic effects in those countries.

Smolarek notes, however, that when Lagarde speaks about a “weak and fragile” economy, she is speaking about the top of the economic food chain, primarily the largest financial institutions and multinational corporations. But these entities, when faced with challenges, simply divert the negative economic impact down the chain, where the working class suffers the effects. For the working class, however, the IMF offers no solutions and, indeed, hardly addresses the issue as relevant to their message.

Bayer, Monsanto near finish line in $66bn takeover

Bayer and Monsanto are on the verge of agreeing the largest takeover deal of 2016 to date, after the German company sweetened its offer for the US seed maker to just under $130 per share, people informed about the negotiations said.

The deal, valuing Monsanto’s equity at about $57bn and worth around $66bn including debt, is likely to be announced as early as Wednesday morning in New York soon after Bayer’s board meets to sign off on the deal, several people close to the aspirin-to-crop chemicals conglomerate said

Monsanto directors are expected to support a deal, which also includes a $3bn break-up fee payable by Bayer, at a board meeting Tuesday evening, people working with the US company said.

An announcement could be delayed by last minute technicalities, some of these people warned, but virtually all the remaining sticking points have been sorted out.

One person said the break-up fee had been increased to $3bn at the high end of the range these fees are usually priced, indicating that Monsanto pushed hard to have enough protection in the eventually competition watchdogs in the US, Europe or Asia try to thwart the deal.

The two companies do not have enormous overlap of products and customers, however, antitrust regulators in Washington and Brussels have been very aggressive in recent years at enforcing competition rules.

The deal, when completed, will be the largest foreign acquisition by a German group.