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How Indian fintech startups raise $1.2 bn in Q1 2023, down 55% YoY



Fintech startups in the country attracted investments worth $1.2 billion in Q1 2023, 55 per cent lower (year-on-year) than $2.6 billion they raised in the same period last year, a report showed on Thursday.

It was an uneventful quarter in terms of IPOs and unicorns for the sector.ANo companies from the fintech space went public in Q1 2023, and there were no new entrants in the unicorn club.

However, this was a sharp jump of 126 per cent when compared with $523 million raised in Q4 of 2022, according to data provided by global SaaS-based market intelligence platform Tracxn.

he sector recorded late-stage investments of $977 million in the first three months of 2023, a spike of 325 per cent when compared to Q4 2022 but a drop of 44 per cent from Q1 2022.

Early-stage funding during the quarter was $177 million, down 30 per cent and 76 per cent from Q4 2022 and Q1 2022, respectively.

Seed-stage funding of $30.2 million was observed during this quarter, a fall of 21 per cent and 74 per cent from Q4 2022 and Q1 2022, respectively, the report mentioned.

In the fintech space, India is the second-highest funded geography after the US in the first quarter, and occupies a spot in the top five geographies in terms of total funding activities.

“However, the funding is still on a declining trend when compared with previous years, although there has been an uptick in funding over the past few quarters,” the report added.

Sequoia Capital, AngelList and Y Combinator are the most active investors in the country’s fintech space.

Y Combinator, 100X.VC, and LetsVenture were the top seed-stage investors. Xceedance, Telama Family Office, and CourtsideVC were the top early-stage investors, while Premji Invest, General Atlantic, and TVS Capital Funds were the top late-stage investors.

The sector observed six $100 million funding rounds in the first three months. Companies such as PhonePe, Mintify, Insurance Dekho and KreditBee raised funds above $100 million during this period.

Fintech companies in Bengaluru took the lead, raising $796 million, followed by Mumbai and Gurugram, which raised $222 million and $151 million respectively, during the quarter.

There was a slight uptick in acquisitions. The sector witnessed 11 acquisitions in Q1 2023, as against six acquisitions in Q4 of 2022, said the report.

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Fitch Ratings affirms India’s Long Term Foreign Currency Issuer Default Rating



Fitch Ratings affirms India’s Long Term Foreign Currency Issuer Default Rating

India’s robust growth outlook, resilient external finances, higher gross domestic product (GDP) growth, improving financial sector and other factors enabled Fitch Ratings to affirm the country’s Long Term Foreign Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at ‘BBB-‘ with a Stable Outlook.

According to Fitch, India’s rating reflects strengths from a robust growth outlook compared with peers and resilient external finances, which have supported India in navigating the large external shocks over the past year.

These are offset by India’s weak public finances, illustrated by high deficits and debt relative to peers, as well as lagging structural indicators, including World Bank governance indicators and GDP per capita.

The credit rating agency said it forecast India to be one of the fastest-growing sovereigns globally at 6% in the fiscal year ending March 2024 (FY24), supported by resilient investment prospects.

Still, headwinds from elevated inflation, high interest rates and subdued global demand, along with fading pandemic-induced pent-up demand, will slow growth from our FY23 estimate of 7.0 per cent before rebounding to 6.7 per cent by FY25.

“Strong growth potential is a key supporting factor for the sovereign rating. Growth prospects have brightened as the private sector appears poised for stronger investment growth following the improvement of corporate and bank balance sheets in the past few years, supported by the government’s infrastructure drive. Still, risks remain given low labour force participation rates and an uneven reform implementation record,” Fitch Ratings said.

Pointing at India’s large domestic market as an attractive destination for foreign firms Fitch said, it is unclear whether the country will be able to realise sufficient reforms to allow the economy to benefit substantially from opportunities offered by the deeper integration in global manufacturing supply chains, including China+1 corporate strategies that encourage diversification in investment destinations.

Service sector exports, however, are likely to remain a bright spot.

On inflation Fitch forecasts the headline inflation to decline, but remain near the upper end of the Reserve Bank of India’s 2 per cent-6 per cent target band, averaging 5.8 per cent in FY24 from 6.7 per cent last year.

Core inflation pressure appears to be abating, falling to 5.7 per cent in March, its lowest since July 2021.

Fitch expects the general government deficit (excluding divestments) to narrow to a still-high 8.8 per cent of the GDP in FY24 (2023 BBB median: 3.6 per cent) from 9.2 per cent in FY23.

“We expect the central government (CG) to meet its budget’s planned reduction in the CG deficit to 5.9 per cent of GDP in FY24 from 6.4 per cent in FY23. The budget proposal boosts capex to 3.3 per cent of GDP from 2.7 per cent in FY23, offset by a cut in subsidy spending, notably in the year before the 2024 national election. Aggregate state deficits are forecast to rise slightly to 2.8 per cent of the GDP in FY24 from our 2.7 per cent estimate in FY23, as they also raise capex,” Fitch said.

Fitch said India’s debt to remain broadly stable at around 83 per cent of GDP in FY28, with an assumption of robust nominal growth of around 10.5 per cent and continued gradual consolidation.

The lack of sustained debt reduction is likely to increase risks to the rating if India faces a future economic and fiscal shock.

A high government interest payment/revenue ratio of around 27 per cent in FY23 (BBB median: 7 per cent) is a growing structural fiscal weakness.

On the other hand, India’s public finance risks are mitigated in part by limited reliance on external financing, Fitch said.

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Possibility of rival bids for Go Airlines? It is a hypothetical question: Kaushik Khona



Possibility of rival bids for Go Airlines? It is a hypothetical question: Kaushik Khona

Even though the Wadia group has approached the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) voluntarily to protect their leased planes from being repossessed, there exists the risk of other interested groups bidding for Go Airlines (India) Ltd, said Supreme Court advocate.

“The risk of some other interested group making a bid for Go Airlines that may be attractive for the creditors is always there. Go Airlines might have gone to NCLT voluntarily with an intention to retain its assets, but the risk of facing rival bids does hang over the promoters heads like the Damocles sword,” D. Varadarajan, Supreme Court advocate specialising in corporate laws, told IANS.

The purpose of NCLT is to resolve the issues fast, he added.

Queried about the firewall that the promoters have built around Rs 7,100 crore-turnover Go Airlines against rival bids before landing in NCLT, Kaushik Khona, Chief Executive Officer told IANS in an interview: “The process of NCLT and the IBC (The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code) will be followed once the application is admitted. The question (takeover bids) is hypothetical to be addressed.”

Khona said the airline promoters — the Wadia group — are interested to be in the business and the purpose of approaching the NCLT is to retain the aircraft as the lessors are taking action to repossess them.

He also said the idea of promoters rebidding for the airlines was not thought of while approaching the NCLT. The insolvency petition is not a ruse to get loan write offs.

“We have not asked the banks to take a haircut (write off a portion of their loan,” Khona said.

According to reports, the airline has a total liability — dues to banks, other creditors, vendors etc. — of about Rs 11,463 crore.

The Indian government owned Central Bank of India said its outstanding exposure to Go Airlines as on March 31, 2023 is Rs 1,305 crore and an additional amount of Rs 682 crore sanctioned under the Emergency line of credit guaranteed by the Government of India.

The airlines have defaulted on its payment dues to aircraft lessors and others but not to the banks and the account has not been classified as a non-performing asset (NPA) by the bankers.

With nearly 50 per cent of its A320neo fleet grounded, India’s third largest airline Go Airline has approached NCLT for resolution under Section 10 of the IBC.

The airline said it has approached the NCLT, “…due to the ever-increasing number of failing engines supplied by Pratt & Whitney’s International Aero Engines, LLC, which has resulted in GO FIRST (airline brand) having to ground 25 aircraft (equivalent to approximately 50 per cent of its Airbus A320neo aircraft fleet) as of May 1, 2023.”

The petition is being heard by NCLT for admission.

According to Khona, if the petition is admitted by the NCLT then there will be a moratorium and the appointment of an Interim Resolution Professional (IRP) will be automatic.

In its petition, Go Airlines has suggested the name of a person to be appointed as the IRP and Khona said it is for the NCLT to decide on that.

Khona also said the airline had got enquiries for leasing for more aircrafts.

He said the aircrafts will be up in the air in 7/8 days once the petition is admitted.

Citing FY23 revenue of about Rs 7,100 crore Khona said even with a reduced fleet size the airline was able log such a revenue.

“We want more aircrafts on wet lease or dry lease,” he said.

In its petition, Go Airlines has suggested the name of a person to be appointed as the IRP and Khona said it is for the NCLT to decide on that.

As to the funds to restart operations, Khona said the airline is yet to draw the balance of Rs 208 crore of the Rs 1,500 crore sanctioned under the Emergency Line Credit Guarantee Scheme (ELCGS).

According to Khona, the airlines need about Rs 17-18 crore per day for its operations as the trade partners may provide the needed items — fuel and others — on cash and carry basis.

On the availability of pilots to fly the aircraft as many have started attending interviews held by rivals Khona said: “I have the pilots to fly all the 54 aircrafts. We have a huge fleet of pilots.”

Khona said the majority of the pilots have not left the company even during the Covid-19 period and added that it takes about six months for a pilot to fly an aircraft after joining a rival.

He did agree that the salaries for the ground staff have been paid while the April salary for the professional and others is pending.

Khona does not want to think about the chance of NCLT not admitting the insolvency petition as IBC wants every business to be up and running and in the case of airlines up and flying.

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Overall connected vehicle tech grows 60% in India in Q1



Overall connected vehicle tech grows 60% in India in Q1

India’s overall connected vehicle (CV) technology grew more than 60 per cent (on-year) in the first quarter of this year, with the electric vehicle (EV) market showing stupendous growth by 48 per cent YoY, a report showed on Tuesday.

The connected 2-wheeler (C2W) vehicles grew around 92 per cent YoY, with its market share increasing to nearly 60 per cent, according to data from market research firm CMR.

The electric 2-wheeler (E2W) market grew by 44 per cent YoY. The electric 3-wheeler (E3W) market grew steadily covering around 50 per cent share within the segment.

“There is growing consumer awareness around connected vehicle technologies. For instance, connected vehicle tech has consistently increased its footprint in the industry,” said John Martin, senior analyst, smart mobility practice, CMR.

The advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) adoption grew around 50 per cent YoY in Q1 2023.

“With safety becoming a top consumer priority, ADAS feature tech has witnessed gradual adoption, with 70 per cent YoY 2023 growth market share of vehicles featuring Level 2 autonomy,” Martin added.

The electric passenger vehicle (EPV) segment grew over 114 per cent YoY in Q1 in India.

Connected features in the passenger vehicle (PV) segment have been grabbing the market fast with 56 per cent growth, of which, around 58 per cent of the connected passenger vehicle (CPV) market share is driven by conventional powertrains.

By Q1 2025, the EV market share in India is expected to surpass 24 per cent, while connected vehicles are projected to account for over 30 per cent of the market.

“By 2025-26, connected and software-driven vehicles will be key revenue drivers for the automotive industries,” said Martin.

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Hiring in startups up in April, despite 6% annual drop in e-recruitment: Report



Hiring in startups up in April, despite 6% annual drop in e-recruitment: Report

Despite economic uncertainties, the hiring activity among startups has significantly increased in April this year, while there has been a 6 per cent decline in e-recruitment for white-collar compared to the same period in 2022, a new report said on Tuesday.

According to the report by foundit (previously Monster India & APAC), there has been a 4 per cent monthly dip, indicating cautious hiring sentiments among Indian recruiters.

Although some sectors like BFSI (+3 per cent), Travel & Tourism (+2 per cent), and Import/Export (+13 per cent) experienced a boost on a month-on-month (MOM) basis, other sectors, such as Logistics, Home appliances, and Oil and gas, saw a significant decline.

“Although hiring has declined, there are still a plethora of job opportunities in emerging industries for job seekers. Remarkably, the Indian startup ecosystem has taken a turn, exhibiting resilience in hiring intent despite the prevailing job market challenges,” said Sekhar Garisa, CEO, foundit.

Moreover, the report showed that the Retail (22 per cent), Travel & Tourism (19 per cent) are among the top industries exhibiting positive growth year-on-year basis, while BFSI (-4 per cent) and BPO (-13 per cent) sectors continue to be apprehensive.

The overall hiring demand among startups has noted a strong 19 per cent (year-on-year) growth this April 2023 compared to the previous year.

In addition, while most cities showed an overall decline in hiring, startups in Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi hosted maximum demand for professionals.

However, in the first quarter (Q1) of 2023, Indian startups raised a total of $2.8 billion in funds, a massive 75 per cent decrease compared to the same period in the previous year ($11.9 billion), as rising inflation and interest rates continue to impact investments significantly amid a deepening funding winter.

There were no new unicorns created in the January-March period, compared with 14 unicorns in Q1 2022, according to a recent report by Tracxn, a leading global market intelligence platform.

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Brand Storii by ITC Hotels continues to grow as it signs three more properties pan-India



Brand Storii by ITC Hotels continues to grow as it signs three more properties pan-India

ITC Hotels continue to expand and strengthen its presence across India with the signing of three more properties under brand Storii in Goa, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

on Brand Storii’s expansion in India, Anil Chadha, Divisional Chief Executive, ITC Hotels said: “We are happy to announce the addition of three new properties under Storii by ITC Hotels at some of the most sought-after destinations in the country. The new properties at Goa, Manali, and Prayagraj highlight our focus on growth and expansion in the boutique hotel space. Storii by ITC Hotels is fast becoming a preferred brand in the experiential segment, welcoming travelers seeking local experiences. Every property under this brand tells its own unique Storii.”

Soon to open, Storii Moira Riviera, is located in Moira, a pretty village in North Goa known for its beautiful rivulet views, winding lanes and serene sunsets. This 15 keys boutique property follows the Mediterranean style design & architecture. Most rooms offer a plunge pool, fascinating scenic sights and various recreational facilities including the K by Kayakalp spa.

Adding to their strength in Himachal Pradesh, ITC Hotels has signed the 23 keys Urvashi’s Retreat, Manali for brand Storii. Enhancing the boutique experience, every aspect of the property will be further personaliSed to offer a unique blend of local rusticity and splendor. With around one thousand square feet-large playroom, Urvashi’s Retreat is popular with kids.

Located in the heart of the city, Storii Prayagraj is rooted in heritage and just 10 km away from the popular pilgrim spot – Triveni Sangam. Built in traditional architecture with sprawling lawns, the property will be extensively refurbished to accommodate a new wing even as the current heritage wing stands a reminder to the eras gone by. The new offering shall offer the K by Kayakalp spa and exciting food and beverage options including a bar, an all-day dining and a speciality restaurant.

Storii is a collection of hand-picked boutique properties, designed to satiate the ever-evolving needs of the global traveller. Consisting of intimate-sized properties in the premium segment, Storii by ITC Hotels can be found at both expected and unexpected destinations, breath-taking locales or sites steeped in history, golden untouched beaches or jungles thriving with adventure, quiet scenic valleys or deserts buzzing with folklore. Each property offers a distinct experience, and these unique stays will ensure that the brand tells a story like no one else.

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