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Appellate tribunal declines to stay penalty of Rs 1,337 crore in setback to Google
The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal has refused to stay the penalty of Rs 1,337.76 crore imposed on Google India by the Competition Commission of India. It has directed the company to deposit 10 per cent of the fine with the NCLAT registry. On October 20, the antitrust regulator had fined Google India for abusing its dominant position within the Android mobile operating system. The commission also ordered the company to stop engaging in unfair commercial practices. In response, Google had moved the NCLAT on December 20, challenging the penalty.
Why it’s important: The stage in now set for the search giant to challenge the tribunal’s ruling in the Supreme Court. The outcome of this dispute would show the way Big Tech does business in India.
 
Cabinet approves proposal to spend Rs 19,744 crore on green hydrogen mission
The Union cabinet has approved the national green hydrogen mission, allocating Rs 19,744 crore to produce 5 million tons of green hydrogen every year by 2030. The government would provide incentives worth Rs 17,490 crore to produce electrolyzers and green hydrogen for five years, Rs 1,466 crore for pilot projects, Rs 400 crore for R&D, and Rs 388 crore for other mission components. The ministry of new and renewable energy will formulate rules to implement the components of the scheme.
Why it’s important: The mission will provide a strong boost to the domestic green hydrogen industry. It also showcases India’s commitment to lead the global energy transition at a time when the country holds the presidency of the G20 group of nations.
 
Income-tax department steps up efforts to recover arrears of Rs 7.7 lakh crore
The income-tax department has stepped up enforcement efforts to recover about 40 per cent of the outstanding tax demand, or Rs 7.7 lakh crore out of total arrears worth Rs 19.35 lakh crore, in the three months to March. Taxmen will focus on cash collection from the arrears and current-year demand so that the target for 2022-23 is achieved. The target includes Rs 2.05 lakh crore in cash collectibles.
Why it’s important: The move is aimed at maximizing revenue so that the government can meet its fiscal deficit target of 6.4 per cent of GDP. To be sure, less than 10 per cent of tax arrears have been recovered annually in past years.
 
Microsoft’s Nadella says tech regulation should be in national interest
Every country is going to have regulations so that the technology that’s both been brought into the country and that’s been created in the country ultimately serves its social purpose, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in an interview. “We welcome it and also are not waiting for regulation in order to have a fundamental trust in technology and business models of technology,” he said.
Why it’s important: Regulatory regimes have not been always able to keep up with the pace of technology innovations, so a lot still depends on trust between regulators and tech innovators.
 
NARCL emerges as highest bidder for two bankrupt Srei companies
The National Asset Reconstruction Company has emerged as the leading bidder in the auction for Srei Infrastructure Finance and Srei Equipment Finance. Its bid was the highest with a net present value of Rs 5,555 crore. The other bidder in the final round of the challenge auction was Authum with an NPV of Rs 5,526 crore. NARCL’s bid includes upfront cash of over Rs 3,000 crore and issuance of non-convertible debentures worth Rs 6,000 crore.
Why it’s important: This would be the second example of resolution for a finance company under India’s bankruptcy code. The troubled mortgage lender DHFL went through a similar resolution process in 2021-22, when Piramal Enterprises acquired it by paying Rs 34,000 crore.
 
GMR Sports in discussions to purchase gaming startup Fantasy Akhada
Fantasy gaming startup Fantasy Akhada is in talks to sell a significant stake to GMR Sports at a valuation of $160-175 million. The transaction is likely to be in tranches, with GMR likely to top up in the subsequent rounds, buying out some early backers and angel investors. Fantasy Akhada, which is backed by investors including Prime Securities Team India Managers, has raised $15 million so far. The founders hold a 44.41 per cent stake in the firm, while angel investors own 35.48 per cent.
Why it’s important: India is estimated to be the world’s biggest fantasy sports market with over 130 million users. It has been valued at Rs 34,600 crore in 2021, and investor interest will be high since the sector in growing rapidly.
 
PhonePe shareholders have to pay $1 billion in taxes after shifting base to India
Walmart and other PhonePe shareholders will have to pay nearly $1 billion in tax after the digital payments company shifted its headquarters to India. The bill stems from the relocation and rise in value of PhonePe, which Walmart took majority ownership of after acquiring parent outfit Flipkart Online Services. Now separated from Flipkart and redomiciled from Singapore to India, the fintech firm is raising funds at a $12 billion pre-money valuation, triggering the hefty charge.
Why it’s important: PhonePe shifting base to Bangalore is an unusual move. It could be a precursor to the digital payments firm preparing for a listing.
 
UK-India trade body seeks diplomatic help for Vodafone Idea
the UK India Business Council has sought the help of Indian High Commissioner in Britain in speeding up conversion of Vodafone Idea’s accrued interest on the deferred adjusted gross revenue dues into equity. High commissioner Vikram K Doraiswami has written to the finance ministry, seeking guidance on how to proceed on the matter. The lobby group has said that conversion delay by the telecom department, despite a written clearance of the finance ministry and the PMO’s support, has hurt telco’s operations.
Why it’s important: The cash-strapped telco has not been able to raise funds. The government feels the promoters are not infusing adequate money to revive the firm. The stalemate continues.
 
Higher tail emissions could Indian carmakers up to Rs 5,800 crore
Carmakers in India could end up shelling out total fines in the range of Rs 3,600 crore to Rs 5,800 crore if they fail to meet the mandated fuel economy standards under the Corporate Average Fuel Economy norms by April 1, 2023. Under CAFE, penalties will be imposed on a manufacturer’s entire fleet. Except for a handful of firms like Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors and MG Motor, all others stand the risk of facing penalties.
Why it’s important: The CAFE rules encourage automakers to build lighter, fuel-efficient cars that would have a better score. Carmakers not aligned with that will change their act or face higher costs.
 
Volatile natural gas prices may upset fertilizer subsides math
Volatility in natural gas prices due to the Ukraine war is expected to add uncertainty to India’s budget estimations for 2023-24, potentially upending calculations for fertilizer subsidies. The Centre’s fertilizer subsidy has ballooned from Rs 1.05 lakh crore estimated for the year to March to Rs 2.15 lakh crore so far. It could even go up further to around Rs 2.5 lakh crore or more.
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