* BANKING: Export-Import Bank of India has extended a line of credit of $45.27 mln to the Sri Lankan government for financing rehabilitation of Kankesanthurai Harbour. A resolution professional has filed a case against an order of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India in the National Company Law Tribunal, marking a first, people aware of the matter said.
* COAL: The Competition Commission of India has imposed fine on three companies for cartelisation, while bidding for coal liasoning work contracts issued by Maharashtra State Power Generation Co for its thermal power stations.
* CORPORATE: The Essar Group expects turnover from coal bed methane to touch 6 bln rupees in 2018-19 and double in the subsequent two years, according to Vilas Tawde, chief executive officer of Essar Oil and Gas Exploration and Production. Senior counsel Janak Dwarkadas, appearing for Cyrus Mistry, told the Mumbai bench of the National Company Law Tribunal that though the articles of association of Tata Sons were amended in 2012 and 2014 to confer various powers upon the Tata Trusts, "it was not immediately apparent that the Trusts would abuse their position to take over or exercise de facto control in the management and decision-making of respondent number one, Tata Sons, and the Tata operating companies".
* ECONOMY: The US government is planning a comprehensive free-trade agreement with India in an effort to boost two-way trade that currently stands at $115 bln. Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu held talks with his British counterpart, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox on Thursday, as the two countries look for opportunities to boost trade and investment, that includes a potential free-trade agreement, as Britain prepares to leave the European Union.
* FAST MOVING CONSUMER GOODS: The Delhi High Court has declined to give any injunction on Reckitt Benckiser's petition alleging that the packaging of Patanjali Ayurved's Green Flush toilet cleaner is "deceptively" similar to its own product--Harpic. In a fresh development in the dispute between McDonald's India and estranged partner Vikram Bakshi, the Delhi High Court declined to pass an interim order restraining their joint venture from selling products using the US restaurant chain's brand.
* INSURANCE: Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority has barred automobile dealers and insurance brokers, who sell insurance cover, from getting into a deal with original equipment manufacturers with an aim to break the anticompetitive practice which throws the market wide open for all.
* MINING: To encourage private participation in non-coal and non-fuel mineral exploration space, the government has proposed to accord exploration companies the right of first refusal at the time of auction of mines they had explored.
* OIL AND GAS: Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board will begin the process to auction gas distribution licences for 100 cities this month, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has said.
* REGULATORY: Price Waterhouse faces the prospect of a revenue hit, and rising employee and client attrition a day after the Securities and Exchange Board of India took the unprecedented step of banning the firm from auditing listed companies for two years.
* STEEL: The country's crude steel production rose nearly 6% to hit an all-time high of 101.28 mln tns last year, according to official data.
* TAXATION: Income-tax authorities have attached more than 900 benami properties, including flats, shops, jewellery and vehicles worth over 35 bln rupees, the Central Board of Direct Taxes said on Thursday. The finance ministry is likely to do away with the dividend distribution tax in the upcoming union budget.
* TELECOMMUNICATIONS: The Department of Telecommunications will, by end March, consider all pending recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India made till Dec 31, DoT Special Secretary N. Sivasailam said. The telecom ministry should be seen as a facilitator of digital and other services and not as a mere revenue generator for the government, minister Manoj Sinha said, signalling a possible shift in the mindset of the ministry and bringing it closer to the viewpoint of the industry, which has long complained about excessive levies and steep base prices for auctions.
- The telecom regulator may reduce the international termination rate—fee paid by international operators to local networks that receive calls—by almost half from the current rate of 53 paise a minute, a move that would deal a body blow to India's top telecom companies BHARTI AIRTEL, Vodafone India, and IDEA CELLULAR which receive bulk of the international calls on their network.
- Telecom operators have expressed dismay over government inaction on the industry's repeated calls for cuts in spectrum usage charge and licence fees, and said that the extension of the deferred payment tenure would mean an additional outflow of 800 bln rupees for carriers. Reliance Jio Infocomm plans to create its own cyptocurrency, JioCoin. Reliance Jio Infocomm may report a net income this month itself when it lays out its December-quarter performance. The number of telecom subscribers fell by 15.8 mln to 1.18 bln in November, even as Reliance Jio continued to lead in customer addition with over 150 mln, according to a report by Telecom Regulatory Authority of