Power companies’ shares rally as PM Modi vows to delicense distribution

NEW DELHI | MUMBAI: The government will free the electricity distribution sector from licensing, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday when shares of several power companies rallied.

Shares of Bharat Heavy Electrical Ltd closed 7.3% higher on the BSE on Thursday while Torrent Power scrip ended the day 8% up while government officials held a series of meetings with industry captains and associations on the proposed legislative amendments to delicense power distribution and other announcements made in the Union budget.

Adani Transmission,

, , , CESC and Tata Power, too, saw a surge in their share prices. So did NTPC, Power Grid Corp, and NHPC.

“Throughout the country, we are taking a look at electricity supply and the distribution network to allay the problems with them,” Modi told senior executives from the power sector on a virtual platform. “For this, a discom-related policy and regulatory framework is in the works,” he said.

The government looks keen to table the Electricity Act Amendment Bill in the Budget session of Parliament to enable electricity connection portability for consumers.

Modi addressed industry executives during a virtual consultation power and renewable energy minister R K Singh held with promoters and top executives of companies with large presence in power distribution, including Reliance Infrastructure’s Anil Ambani, Torrent Group’s Jinal Mehta, Tata Power managing director Praveer Sinha,

managing director Anil Sardana, CESC chief executive officer Debashish Banerjee and Association of Power Producers director general Ashok Khurana.

Singh, along with other senior officials, held several meetings with stakeholders on budget announcements. A senior government official said the distribution delicensing proposal has been welcomed by all the stakeholders.

The government is taking steps to ensure level-playing field for state-owned electricity distribution companies and dissuade cherry picking of supply areas by private companies when the sector is delicensed, power secretary Alok Kumar told ET during his first media interaction on Thursday.

All states have welcomed the Centre’s proposal to delicense power distribution sector for giving choice of suppliers to consumers, said Kumar who, along with other senior ministry officials, had held four zone-wise meetings with additional chief secretaries and principal energy secretaries of states on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, speaking to industry executives, Modi said the proposed performance-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for high-efficiency solar photovoltaic modules will lead to investments of more than Rs 14,000 crore to create manufacturing capacity of 10,000 MW.

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Following the money. Alexey Navalny’s boldest investigation yet describes a vast network of shell companies and frontmen working to build and sustain Vladimir Putin’s supposed seaside getaway

Before Alexey Navalny flew home to Moscow and surrendered himself to Russia’s legal system, the anti-corruption activist lit the fuse on what is perhaps his biggest, boldest investigation yet. Navalny’s 14,000-word report (also a two-hour video) about Vladimir Putin’s supposed “palace” in Gelendzhik on the Black Sea coast is packed with drone footage and colorful images, including artistic visualizations of the mansion’s interior. On social networks and in the news media, the investigation immediately attracted significant attention for its detailed descriptions of the residence’s opulence and endless renovations. Navalny says outright that Putin’s apparent obsession with luxury borders on “mental illness.” But Navalny’s investigation also painstakingly chronicles the ownership and management schemes used to disguise how Russia’s long-time president allegedly came to be in possession of the country’s most valuable private home.

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Three US-listed China tech companies seek over $6bn in Hong Kong

HONG KONG — Three Chinese technology companies — Tencent Music Entertainment Group, online retailer Vipshop Holdings and livestreaming platform Joyy — are seeking secondary listings in Hon Kong, joining a parade of U.S.-listed mainland companies establishing fallback positions amid moves by Washington to push them out.

According to four people familiar with the plans, Tencent Music, a unit of Tencent Holdings, is in talks with banks for a Hong Kong offering that could raise up to $3.5 billion while Vipshop is targeting up to $2.5 billion and Joyy is looking to raise just under half that amount.

Tencent has yet to determine a listing timetable, two of the people said. The offerings of Vipshop and Joyy could take place in the second or third quarter of this year, subject to regulatory approvals and market conditions, three of the people said.

A spokesperson for Tencent Music declined to comment while Vipshop and Joyy did not immediately respond to queries from Nikkei Asia.

The trio would join online search operator Baidu, video-sharing site Bilibili, travel portal Trip.com and online automobile sales platform Autohome in putting together plans for secondary listings in Hong Kong, as they face the possibility of forced delistings from American exchanges.

Vipshop Holdings has a market capitalization of $20 billion, while Joyy is valued at $6.7 billion. (Source photos by Getty Images and screenshot from Joyy’s website)

“Investors have been largely eager to get a slice of these Chinese companies,” one of the persons familiar with the plans said. “The companies offer a chance to partake in the fastest-growing segments of the Chinese economy — and, given they are already customers, investors are also familiar with the companies.”

Nasdaq-listed Bilibili has filed a confidential application for a secondary listing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange to raise up to $3 billion as soon as March. Baidu has started preparations for an offering of at least $3.5 billion while Trip.com and Autohome are planning share sales of $1 billion each, said the people familiar with the Chinese offerings.

A secondary listing in Hong Kong allows Chinese companies to expand their investor base and also serves as a hedge against potential delisting in New York.

President Donald Trump issued an executive order in November that bans U.S. investors from buying and selling securities issued by 35 Chinese companies. Congress last year enacted a law that will boot Chinese companies off U.S. exchanges unless American regulators are permitted to review their financial audits. Beijing forbids such reviews, citing national secrets.

Since November 2019, when Alibaba sold shares in a secondary listing in Hong Kong, 10 U.S.-listed Chinese companies have raised $30 billion in the territory, according to data compiled by Refinitiv.

As of October 2020, there were 217 Chinese companies with total market capitalization of $2.2 trillion trading on American exchanges, according to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

Tencent Music could be the first company to make use of a rule change made late last year by the Hong Kong exchange.

The new regulation allows companies from greater China which have corporate stockholders with enhanced voting rights, such as Tencent Music, and primary listings on a qualifying overseas exchange — including the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq — to pursue secondary listings in Hong Kong. Those which have listed abroad since October 2020 will not qualify.

The rule change has expanded the number of New York-listed Chinese companies that could list in Hong Kong from 20, excluding those already trading in Hong Kong, to as many as 60, according to analysts.

Tencent Music, which could offer from 5% to 10% of its shares in its Hong Kong listing, chose the NYSE for its initial public offering in December 2018 because, among other things, it allowed corporate dual class shares. It has a market valuation of $35 billion and has climbed more than 50% over the past year.

Tencent Music, which also counts Spotify as an investor, has more than 600 million monthly active users on its mobile apps and has been expanding aggressively through acquisitions. Together with Tencent Holdings, it has built a 20% stake in Universal Music Group over the past year. It also acquired a minority stake in U.S. virtual concert company Wave and a 1.6% stake in U.S. music label and publisher Warner Music Group valued at $240 million.

Vipshop, known for selling branded products at a discount, has a market capitalization of $20 billion, and Joyy is valued at $6.7 billion.

Joyy, founded in 2005, was among China’s earliest livestreaming companies. But its growth has been lackluster in recent years compared with ByteDance, the operator of TikTok, and Kuaishou Technology, which is also seeking a Hong Kong IPO.

Joyy agreed to sell YY Live’s China business to Baidu in November, but the business was hit by allegations of accounting fraud in a report published by short-seller Muddy Waters shortly afterward. Joyy denied the allegations.

Additional reporting by Nikki Sun.

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S&P Dow Jones to remove ADRs of Chinese telecom companies after NYSE decision

FILE PHOTO: 5G active antenna units with logos of China Mobile and Huawei are seen in front of a National People’s Congress (NPC) conference center in Luoyang, Henan province, China February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

January 8, 2021

By Kanishka Singh and Bhargav Acharya

(Reuters) – S&P Dow Jones Indices said on Wednesday it will remove the American Depositary Receipts of three Chinese telecom companies, China Mobile Ltd, China Telecom Corporation Ltd and China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd, from its benchmarks.

“S&P DJI’s announcement to move forward with removing the above-referenced ADRs from its indices is due to the New York Stock Exchange’s (NYSE’s) latest confirmation that the ADRs will be delisted,” it said in an emailed statement.

The NYSE said on Wednesday it will delist the three Chinese companies effective Jan. 11, confirming its latest reversal on the matter a day after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told the NYSE chief he disagreed with an earlier decision to reverse the delistings.

The flip-flopping highlights the confusion over which firms were included in an executive order issued by President Donald Trump in November barring U.S. persons from investing in publicly traded companies Washington deems to be tied to the Chinese military.

Investors had sold positions in the securities after the NYSE first announced plans last week to delist China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom. But the shares rose after NYSE said it would not do so and tumbled again after the latest about-face.

Less than 24 hours before its latest announcement, S&P Dow Jones Indices too had said it would not remove the ADRs of the firms, in line with NYSE’s decision at the time.

Hong Kong shares of China Unicom led losses among the three China telecom stocks to be delisted by NYSE at the start of trading in Asia, down as much as 9.4%.

China Mobile shares were down as much as 6.8%, and China Telecom Corp shares dropped 5.8%.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh and Bhargav Acharya in Bengaluru; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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Facebook to censor ‘stop the steal’ phrase, as social media companies boot US President Donald Trump from their platforms

Facebook will remove certain content containing the phrase “stop the steal” from its social media platforms, in response to what it says are “continued attempts to organise events against the outcome of the US presidential election that can lead to violence”.

The company, which is treating the next two weeks as a “major civic event”, says it will continue to allow “robust conversations related to the election outcome”.

“But with continued attempts to organise events against the outcome of the US presidential election that can lead to violence, and use of the term by those involved in Wednesday’s violence in DC, we’re taking this additional step in the lead up to the inauguration,” the company said in a blog post.

A Facebook spokeswoman clarified the company would allow posts that clearly share the “stop the steal” phrase to either condemn baseless claims of electoral fraud or to discuss the issue neutrally.

In November, the company removed the “Stop the Steal” group in which supporters of US President Donald Trump posted violent rhetoric.

However, it did not act against similar rhetoric in the run-up to the election and faced criticism this week for failing to remove posts spurring on the siege of Capitol Hill.

It is the latest bid to crack down on baseless claims about the presidential election in the wake of the riot.

Social media companies this week decided they had finally seen enough from the President.

Facebook and Instagram suspended Mr Trump at least until president-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20.

Twitch and Snapchat also disabled Mr Trump’s accounts.

To top it all off, Twitter ended a nearly 12-year run and closed his account, severing an instant line of communication to his 89 million followers.

Some people are crying foul.

“Free Speech Is Under Attack! Censorship is happening like NEVER before! Don’t let them silence us. Sign up at http://DONJR.COM to stay connected!” his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., tweeted on Friday (local time).

Can social media companies do this?

The short answer is yes.

As the Congressional Research Service has explained in a report for federal politicians and their staff, lawsuits predicated on a website’s decision to remove content largely fail.

That’s because the free speech protections set out in the First Amendment generally apply only when a person is harmed by an action of the government.

“The First Amendment doesn’t apply to private sector organisations. That’s not how this works,” said Chris Krebs, when asked on Sunday whether censorship by social media companies violated freedom of speech protections.

Mr Krebs oversaw election cybersecurity efforts at the Department of Homeland Security until Mr Trump fired him when he disputed election fraud claims.

Trump supporters pull a police barrier from all sides as they try to break through a police line.
In the wake of the riot at the US Capitol, Twitter banned the outgoing President over concerns two tweets he sent last week could incite violence.(AP: John Minchillo)

Speaking on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday, he explained that companies enforce their own standards and policies for users.

That’s what happened at Twitter.

What was Twitter’s reasoning?

Twitter said after reviewing Mr Trump’s account in the context of the riot at the Capitol, it was concerned about two tweets he sent on Friday that Twitter said could incite violence.

They were:

  • “The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”
  • “To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”

The first tweet, the company said, was received by some supporters as further confirmation that the November 3 election was not legitimate — but in fact, the notion of widespread voter fraud is a baseless claim.

The use of the words “American Patriots” to describe some of his supporters was also interpreted as support for those committing violent acts at the Capitol.

The company said the second tweet could serve as encouragement to those considering violent acts that the inauguration would be a “safe” target since he would not be attending.

“Our determination is that the two Tweets above are likely to inspire others to replicate the violent acts that took place on January 6, 2021, and that there are multiple indicators that they are being received and understood as encouragement to do so,” Twitter wrote.


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Prince Charles asks companies to join ‘Earth charter’

The Prince of Wales is urging firms to back a more sustainable future and do more to protect the planet, as he marks 50 years of environmental campaigning.

Prince Charles wants companies to join what he is calling “Terra Carta” – or Earth charter.

It aims to raise £7.3bn to invest in the natural world.

Terra Carta will harness the “irreplaceable power of nature”, the prince will say in his virtual address to the One Planet Summit on Monday.

He hopes the new charter will help “reunite people and planet”.

He is due to say: “I can only encourage, in particular, those in industry and finance to provide practical leadership to this common project, as only they are able to mobilise the innovation, scale and resources that are required to transform our global economy.”

In his foreword to Terra Carta, the prince writes: “If we consider the legacy of our generation, more than 800 years ago, Magna Carta inspired a belief in the fundamental rights and liberties of people.

“As we strive to imagine the next 800 years of human progress, the fundamental rights and value of nature must represent a step-change in our ‘future of industry’ and ‘future of economy’ approach.”

Charles has previously said that people thought he was “completely dotty” when he started talking about environmental issues in the 1970s.

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Terra Carta: Prince Charles asks companies to join 'Earth charter'

He wants businesses to do more to protect the planet as he marks 50 years of environmental campaigning.

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State Street to insist companies disclose diversity data

State Street’s $3.1tn investment arm will start voting against directors of big companies that fail to disclose the racial and ethnic make-up of their boards, a move that will increase the mounting pressure on corporations to diversify their leadership. 

For this year, the Boston-based asset manager is only calling on companies to report the information. But beginning in 2022, it will also vote against the chair of the nominating and governance committees of companies that do not have at least one minority board member. 

The threat applies to all companies in the S&P 500 and FTSE 100, many of which count State Street Global Advisors as a top shareholder owing to its large passive fund business. Starting in 2022, State Street will also demand that S&P 500 companies report the racial and ethnic composition of their entire workforce.

“As long as a company is in an index, we are going to hold that stock, so we need to make sure that those companies are doing the right things to drive value creation for our clients who are their shareholders over the long term,” chief executive Cyrus Taraporevala told the Financial Times.

This move builds on State Street’s announcement last year that it would vote against the boards of companies that scored poorly on its homegrown sustainability metric, known as the “responsibility factor”. It highlights the business world’s growing focus on racial equality as part of the broader environmental, social and governance movement. 

“The preponderance of evidence demonstrates clearly and unequivocally that racial and ethnic inequity is a systemic risk that threatens lives, companies, communities and our economy — and is material to long-term sustainable returns,” Mr Taraporevala wrote in a letter set to be sent to chief executives on Monday, outlining the specifics of its new policy.

State Street’s announcement follows a string of similar moves in the financial sector.

Goldman Sachs said last January it would no longer take companies public unless they had one diverse board candidate. And Nasdaq announced in December that it would require all companies listed on its exchange to have two diverse directors on their board or explain why they are not capable of doing so. 

Only about one in three companies listed on the Nasdaq exchange currently meet that criteria — so if its proposal is approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission, it could trigger a big shift in board nominations.

In 2020, State Street voted to re-elect the entire board of 26 of the 56 companies in the S&P 500 that had no directors from a racial or ethnically diverse background, according to a report from pressure group Majority Action. BlackRock and Vanguard, the two other largest passive fund managers in the world, voted to re-elect the full slate of directors at 52 and 51 of these companies, respectively, according to the report.

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3 Reasons Companies Need Intrapreneurship

4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Most of us are familiar with the concept of being an entrepreneur. It can be a challenging path, and understandably, not everyone wants to take on that responsibility. But what if we could encourage that entrepreneurial spirit in our employees? The situation is potentially win-win – for the employee and for the company.

Intrapreneurship is the system wherein the principles of entrepreneurship are practiced within the boundaries of a firm. An intrapreneur is a person who takes on the responsibility to innovate new ideas, products and processes or any new invention within the organization.

Here are three reasons why intrapreneurship is important to long-term business success.

Related Links: Big Companies the Embrace Intrapreneurship Will Thrive

1. Employee engagement

In Gallup’s 2016 Meta-Analysis Report, the results showed that employee engagement consistently affects key performance outcomes like company profitability, regardless of the company’s industry.

Jim Harter, Ph.D., Gallup’s chief scientist of employee engagement and wellbeing, says “Employee engagement continues to be an important predictor of company performance even in a tough economy. When you ask people about their intentions during a recession, it’s pretty clear that disengaged workers are just waiting around to see what happens. Engaged workers, though, have bought into what the organization is about and are trying to make a difference. This is why they’re usually the most productive workers.”

And how do we create engagement?

Intrapreneurship can be an effective strategy to keep millennials engaged at work.

If an intrapreneur sees that their idea is valued by their organization, it leads to a feeling that they can make a positive impact on the company’s future, ultimately heightening motivation. If you then, also, implement a system that rewards innovation, you have employees that are incentivized.

Related Links: Here is How Companies Can Promote Intrapreneurship

Continuous idea flow to remain competitive

If only a few people within an organization, such as the senior leaders and C-Suite, are able to come up with ideas and implement them, this severely limits the potential for innovation that a company has. In many cases, senior leadership is far removed from the end user and their wants and needs.

Intrapreneurship draws on a larger pool of ideas consistently. Innovation, rather than being a process that happens one to two times per year, needs to be a way of life in order to really reap the rewards.

Take Google for example. Its intrapreneurial successes have included: Gmail, Google News, AdSense, driverless cars and Google Glass.

In order to make it work, a focused approach to innovation needs to be taken. There needs to be a system in place to assess the ideas, and budget and time allocated to employees developing them and proving “proof of concept.” 

Related Links: 4 Ways to Build a Culture that Supports a Future-Proof Business

Crucial to long-term sustainability

According to Deloitte, 88% of Fortune 500 companies in 1955 are no longer present in 2015. To understand what needs to happen to make sure you are around in five to 10 years as a company, you can draw inspiration from highly innovative companies and observe what they are doing.

Do you remember the search engine, Ask Jeeves? I do, just about. You cannot find it anymore. Google might not have been the first search engine, but it has certainly stood the test of time.  

Companies often learn the hard way about the importance of this. Complacency or staying in your comfort zone is not something any business can afford these days. The behemoth, Blockbuster, is a good example of what happens if we don’t foresee trends. This is even more important nowadays as technology exponentially increases the pace of change.

It is time that companies really asked themselves the question of what they are doing to encourage intrapreneurship. And more importantly, what is the lost opportunity cost of not encouraging it?

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Thanks, but no thanks – Energy companies give the Arctic the cold shoulder | Business

To Donald Trump, Alaska is a promising source of oil wealth and energy security. To energy companies, it is a risk not worth taking

BusinessJan 9th 2021 edition

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