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Niti Aayog to draw up list of non-core assets of CPSEs for possible monetisation

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Niti Aayog has been tasked with drawing up a list of non-core assets of various CPSEs, both healthy and sick ones, as a first step towards finance ministry’s plan to monetise such assets and unlock value to shareholders.

This is part of the overall plans of the government to lay down procedure and mechanism for monetisation of non-core assets of central public sector undertakings (CPSEs), which include mainly land and building.

“Niti Aayog will draw up the list of non-core assets owned by CPSEs which can be sold separately after discussion with a consultative group comprising officials from administrative ministries, Department of Economic Affairs, Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM),” an official told PTI.

The process would take about six months’ time, the official added. The report of Niti Aayog will be taken up by the alternative mechanism on disinvestment, headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, following which the CPSE and the respective administrative ministry will further proceed with the monetisation process, the official added.

“So far the disinvestment process was confined to corporate level. Now, it will go one step down and monetise non-core assets of CPSEs to unlock wealth and generate value on equity for shareholders,” the official added.

It is pertinent to mention here that in 2016 Niti Aayog was also asked to draw up a list of CPSEs which could go in for strategic sale. It has already identified about 35 CPSEs which could go in for outright sale.

The Union Cabinet had last week approved laying down of institutional framework for monetisation of identified non-core assets of the CPSEs under strategic disinvestment and assets relating to immovable enemy property under the custody of Custodian of Enemy Property for India (CEPI).

Explaining the process, the official said the Cabinet approval for asset management framework would be applicable in four cases — sale of non-core assets of CPSEs identified for strategic disinvestment, sale of immovable enemy property land which are not under litigation. Enemy property refers to the assets which were left behind by people who migrated to Pakistan or China and are no longer citizens of India.

It includes sale of non-core assets of any other CPSE after approval of competetent authority or the administrative ministry, and sale of such assets of sick or loss making CPSE.

With regard to those CPSEs which are candidates for strategic disinvestment, the official said such companies would have to first list out the non-core assets which are to be hived off separately before the strategic disinvestment process starts.

“The enlistment of the land assets would have to happen first before the strategic disinvestment process starts. Once the non-core assets are carved out, the sale of such assets and strategic disinvestment process can go on simultaneously,” the official said. DIPAM, after consulting ministries and CPSEs, has already identified huge tract of land and other assets of nine state-owned companies which will be hived off before they are put on the block for strategic sale.

The nine CPSEs whose non-core assets have been identified for hiving off are Pawan Hans, Scooters India, Air India, Bharat Pumps & Compressors, Project & Development India Ltd (PDIL), Hindustan Prefab, Hindustan Newsprint, Bridge and Roof Co and Hindustan Fluorocarbons.

In the current financial year, the government has set a disinvestment target of Rs 80,000 crore, which includes strategic and minority stake sale in CPSEs.

The government already had already given in-principle approval for strategic sale of 24 state-owned companies.

These include Dredging Corporation of India, HLL Lifecare, Bharat Earth Movers Ltd, Units/JVs of ITDC, Bhadrawati, Salem and Durgapur units of SAIL, Nagarnar Steel Plant of NMDC, Central Electronics and Ferro Scrap Nigam.

The independent external monitor set up for strategic disinvestment shall oversee the process of asset monetisation.

The approved framework shall be reviewed after two years for instituting any change including delegations on financial limits.

So far this fiscal, the government has raised over Rs 56,064 crore by divesting stakes in state-owned companies.

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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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