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Aware of YES Bank crisis since 2017, says Sitharaman; RBI announces reconstruction plan

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Amidst concerns, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday defended RBI’s decision to impose curbs on crisis-hit YES Bank stating that the Central bank has been continuously monitoring and scrutinizing the private sector lender since 2017.

On the present development, Sitharaman said the RBI had noticed that there were governance issues and weak compliance in the bank combined with a wrong asset classification and risky credit decisions.

“We had been keeping an eye on the bank since 2017,” Sitharaman said at a press briefing on Friday evening.

The minister said she has asked RBI to assess what had caused these difficulties for the bank and clearly identify the roles played by various individuals in creating the problem and not addressing it.

“I have asked RBI to act so that the due process of law takes its course with a sense of urgency,” she said.

Sitharaman further said the Government is committed to ensuring that depositors’ interests are safeguarded. She added that the RBI has also assured that the reconstruction plan will come into play within the moratorium period. SBI has expressed willingness to invest in YES Bank, the Finance Minister said.

Attempting to allay fears of the customers, Sitharaman said deposits and liabilities will not be affected with the RBI move and assured employment and salaries for at least one year.

In a major revelation, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said investigative agencies, as well as SEBI, had noticed malpractices by top executives in March 2019.

“Sebi also started investigation from September 2019 on insider trading related matter,” said the finance minister.

Detailing about the riskier lending the bank undertook, the minister said the YES Bank had lent money to some of the very stressed corporations like Anil Ambani Group, Essel, Dewan Housing Finance Corporation (DHFL), Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Limited (IL&FS), and Vodafone.

On Thursday, the Reserve Bank of India superseded the board of troubled private sector lender YES Bank and imposed a 30-day moratorium on it “in the absence of a credible revival plan” amid a “serious deterioration” in its financial health.

During the moratorium, which came into effect from 6 pm on Thursday, YES Bank will not be allowed to grant or renew any loans, and “incur any liability”, except for payment towards employees’ salaries, rent, taxes and legal expenses, among others.

Withdrawals from the bank have been capped at Rs 50,000 per depositor with few exceptions till April 3.

As panic gripped the customers of the bank, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman earlier on Friday assured the depositors that their money is “safe”.

Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank of India has announced a scheme of reconstruction for the cash-strapped private sector lender in a notification issued on Friday evening.

In a draft reconstruction plan for the crisis-ridden Yes Bank, the RBI said that SBI has expressed willingness to invest in the private lender and that it will bring in 49 per cent equity.

It also said that Yes Bank’s capital stands altered at Rs 5,000 crore.

The RBI has invited suggestions and comments from members of the public, including the banks’ shareholders, depositors and creditors on the draft scheme. The draft has also been sent to Yes Bank and the SBI for their comments. The RBI will receive suggestions up to Monday (March 9) and thereafter, take a final view.

The other points of the draft are that all deposits with Yes Bank will continue in the same manner and with the same terms and conditions, completely unaffected by the scheme. Authorised capital shall stand altered to Rs 5,000 crore and the number of equity shares will stand altered to Rs 2,400 crore of Rs 2 each. The investor bank shall agree to invest in the equity of reconstructed Yes Bank to the extent that post infusion, it holds 49 per cent shareholding in the reconstructed bank at a price not less than Rs 10 (face value of Rs 2) and premium of Rs 8.

Earlier today, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said the Central bank took the step after it found that the private sector lender’s efforts were not working out.
Das further said the RBI is ready to deal with the challenges of the move very effectively’ and added that “very swift action” will be seen from the Central bank to revive YES Bank.

The YES Bank has over 1,000 branches and 1,800-plus ATMs around the country which are under severe stress after the crisis erupted last night.

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Zepto, 10-minute grocery delivery app, raises $100 million

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Only five months subsequent to dispatching, 10-minute basic food item conveyance application Zepto on Tuesday reported it has raised $100 million driven by Y Combinator, taking its valuation to $570 million.

Other than the raise money, Zepto has been developing staggeringly rapidly and is significantly increasing its client base consistently.

In the course of recent months, Zepto has extended past Mumbai by dispatching in Bengaluru, Delhi, Gurgaon, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Pune (Kolkata to follow), the organization said in an assertion.

“Financial backers are reliably deciding to back Zepto due to our top tier execution. This is giving us extraordinary energy – we’re developing at an amazing rate, clients are adoring the item experience, our center unit financial matters are solid, and we have one of the most outstanding startup groups in India today,” said Aadit Palicha, Co-Founder and CEO.

The Series C raising money round saw support from new and existing financial backers, including Glade Brook, Nexus, Breyer Capital, Lachy Groom, Global Founders Capital, Contrary Capital, and that’s just the beginning.

The round came 45 days later the organization reported its $60 million raise money in November.

Conveying food in a short time is a game-changing encounter for clients in the nation, and a few players are presently joining the race.

“We are eager to twofold down and lead this round in Zepto. They initially dispatched with an alternate model, quickly turned to speedy trade in August 2021, and are presently adding 100,000 new clients consistently, 60% of the ladies,” said Anu Hariharan from Y Combinator.

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One stuck box of fertilizer shows the global supply chain crisis

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Somewhere in the world’s busiest port of Shanghai, a container of fertilizer sits among tens of thousands of boxes, waiting for a ride to the U.S. It’s been on the dock for months, trapped by typhoons and Covid outbreaks that have worsened major congestion in the global supply-chain network.

While the fertilizer has been stranded there since May, the port is just one stop on the long journey from central China to the U.S. Midwest. Delays have stretched a delivery that ordinarily would take weeks to more than half a year. And that time frame will keep expanding, as the goods have barely started the roughly 15,000 kilometer (9,300 mile) trek.

This is the tale of one humble shipment and its arduous journey across the world. While some of the barriers keeping it from its final destination may be specific to this particular case, the journey is emblematic of the inertia that has gripped global trade during the pandemic.

From the U.S. to Sudan to China, container boxes have been lying at ports, railyards and in warehouses as the pandemic rages on. In an industry with 25 million containers and some 6,000 ships hauling them, it’s easy to see disruptions as one big headache confined to the shipping world. But each container that’s delayed is economic activity that’s restrained, heaping costs one box at a time on consumers and making it more challenging to put corn on consumers’ tables or deliver presents for the holidays.

It’s also a lesson in the ripple effects across global supply chains, showing the limits of diversification as all networks are still closely connected with China.

“All roads lead back to China, and that has a major effect across the entire supply chain,” said Dawn Tiura, head of U.S.-based Sourcing Industry Group. “Congestion at one port or factory has far-reaching implications for neighboring facilities, which trickles out across the world.”

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Bharat Biotech’s BBV154 leads global race for intranasal COVID-19 vaccine

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Bharat Biotech’s nasal COVID-19 vaccine candidate BBV154 has become the front runner globally to likely commercialise an intranasal vaccine, following green signal from the government to conduct a combined Phase II and III final clinical trials in India. At present out of the 110 vaccines under clinical development globally, only eight are intranasal vaccines and three are oral vaccines. So far none of these vaccines have entered the final phase of trials and most are still in the first phase.

BBV154 is an intranasal replication-deficient chimpanzee adenovirus SARS-CoV-2 vectored vaccine, in-licensed from the Washington University in St Louis, USA. Nasal and oral vaccines are expected to be a game-changer second-generation COVID-19 vaccine, as they stimulate a broad immune response and prevent both infection and transmission. The non-invasive, needle-free vaccines do not require trained health care workers to administer the vaccine, have no risks of injuries and infections and is suited for children and adults. Unlike Covaxin, which is difficult to make, manufacturing can be scaled up fast and easily.  Compared to injectable vaccines, nasal and oral vaccines are expected to provide long-lasting protection.

Bharat Biotech is yet to announce its plans and timeline for the nasal vaccine’s future development.

Serum Institute of India and Codagenix have done a 48-subject Phase I clinical trial in the UK for an intranasal COVID-19 vaccine, COVI-VAC. This live attenuated candidate vaccine is expected to have potential to provide a broader immune response, in comparison to most COVID-19 vaccines that target only a portion of the virus. Codagenix has recently completed dosing for its Phase I trials and data is expected to come out in the third quarter of the year.

Nasdaq listed US biopharmaceutical company Altimmune, which was developing a three-dose intranasal vaccine candidate  AdCOVID, discontinued the project on July 29, as its first phase trials did not stimulate an adequate immune response in healthy volunteers. “The top-line Phase 1 clinical data are disappointing given the encouraging preclinical data and our substantial efforts in advancing a differentiated, intranasal vaccine candidate in the fight against COVID-19,” said Vipin K Garg, Altimmune’s India born President and Chief Executive Officer.

The University of Hong Kong, Xiamen University and Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy in China are trying a Phase II clinical trial of a two-dose influenza virus vector COVID-19 vaccine as an intranasal spray (DelNS1-2019-nCoV-RBD-OPT1). Its one year long second phase trial among 240 volunteers is going on and will conclude only by mid-December 2021.

The University of Oxford is conducting a single dose Phase I study of AstraZeneca’s ChAdOx1 nCOV-19 (Covishield in India and manufactured by the Serum Institute) to be administered intranasal among 54 volunteers in three groups. According to the trial design, the study started in April is estimated to complete the first phase only by February 2022.

Cuban government’s Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, which developed Latin America’s first COVID-19 vaccine Abdala, is undertaking a Phase I/II study of an intra-nasal three dose protein subunit vaccine candidate Mambisa (CIGB-669). According to the research agency, Mambisa is based on the formulation of the RBD (Receptor Binding Domain) protein and an immuno enhancer, Hepatitis B nucleocapsid antigen.

Canadian biotech Symvivo Corporation has ‘bacTRL-Spike’, as an oral capsule DNA vaccine candidate for the prevention of COVID-19, is undergoing Phase I trials in Australia. The trial was started only in November, last year. The global drug major Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, has taken exclusive license of Symvivo’s bacTRL platform of oral vaccines.  Symvivo has funding of about $4.57 million from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) to develop this vaccine.

US biotech Meissa Vaccines’s MV-014-212, a single dose intranasal recombinant live attenuated COVID-19 vaccine, is undergoing Phase I trials and its interim trial data will come out by the end of this year. Another small US biotech, Vaxform and the US Specialty Formulations LLC (USSF) are developing an oral COVID-19 vaccine, which is also in its first phase. Similarly, another US small biotech CyanVac LLC is also attempting an intranasal parainfluenza virus based COVID-19 vaccine (CVXGA1), now in the first phase and its results are also expected only by the end of the year.

Mexican veterinary pharmaceutical company Laboratorio Avi-Mex is testing a live influenza virus based vaccine, both as an intranasal spray as well as an injection. It is starting Phase I trials and is funded by Mexico’s foreign ministry and the National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt). The Mexican authorities hope to commercialise this vaccine by the end of the year.

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