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Sensex Plunges 240 Points; ITC Stock Price Crashes
Tue, 18 Jul 09:30 am

Asian equity markets are lower today after a muted session on Wall Street and a mini-crash in Chinese stocks yesterday that some have deemed a "Black Monday" on the mainland. The Shanghai Composite is off 0.31% while the Hang Seng is down 0.21%. The Nikkei 225 is trading down by 0.63%. US equities fluctuated on Monday as investors geared up for a slew of earnings reports later this week.

Back home, share markets in India have opened the day on a negative note. The BSE Sensex is trading lower by 241 points while the NSE Nifty is trading lower by 75 points. The BSE Mid Cap Index and BSE Small Cap index opened the day down by 0.4% & 0.3% respectively.

Sectoral indices have opened the day on a mixed note with information technology stocks and power stocks leading the gainers while FMCG stocks and consumer durables stocks have opened the day in red. The rupee is trading at 64.44 to the US$.

Bharti Airtel share price surged over 5% on the reports that the telecom major will be involved in a potential consolidation in Nigeria, its largest Africa market.

Reportedly, a consolidation opportunity may arise in the market amid reports that efforts are underway to find a buyer for the country's troubled fourth-largest carrier, Etisalat Nigeria.

FMCG stocks opened the day on a mixed note with Kokuyo Camlin and Lakshmi Overseas Industries leading the losses. In the latest development, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council on Monday decided to increase the cess on cigarettes to offset reduced tax revenue from the product following the 1 July rollout of the indirect tax reform.

Accordingly, the tax burden on cigarettes will go up by Rs 4.8-7.9 per 10 sticks, depending on their length and whether or not they have filters.

The hike has been necessitated as the GST rate together with cess was found to be lower than the combined incidence of central excise, state VAT and other levies put together and had resulted in a "windfall profit" for cigarette companies.

As per Finance minister Arun Jaitley, the increase in cess is expected to help the government raise around Rs 50 billion of additional tax revenue which would have been pocketed by manufacturers.

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Reportedly, the tax rate of 28% and ad valorem cess of 5% remains the same except in the case of other items falling in the cigarette category.

ITC share price plunged 14% in the opening session.

Moving on to the news from the IPO space. As per an article in Business Standard, HDFC Standard Life Insurance Co. Ltd's board has approved a proposal to sell as much as 20% of the insurer through an initial public offering (IPO) even as it reiterated its commitment to a potential merger with Max Life Insurance Ltd at a later date.

The public issuance would be an offer for sale by HDFC, the parent company, and UK-based Standard Life, which holds 35% stake.

This would make it the third major life insurer heading to stock exchanges after ICICI Prudential Life, which listed last September, and SBI Life which has filed an offer document with the markets regulator.

Notably, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai) did not give a go-ahead to an HDFC Life-Max Life merger in the form it was proposed about a year before. After that, it appears HDFC Life and Standard Life worked on an alternative structure.

With life and general insurers queuing for the IPO route, it would be interesting to see how quickly HDFC Life progresses on this.

The insurance sector in India is set to grow leaps and bounds. It is only a matter of time that this sector will witness a flurry of M&A activities which will require the regulator to act swiftly and proactively as far as matters such as approval are concerned.

Our big-picture editor, Vivek Kaul, recently penned a pertinent report on entire insurance industry. We strongly recommend you go through the full report on what's really happening in the insurance industry in India...and how it affects you. If you have not accessed Vivek Kaul's Letter yet, sign up here.

By the way, we have also prepared a guide to help you understand the valuation of insurance businesses.

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Feb 19, 2018 (Close)