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Walmart To Nix Fancy NYC Shopping Service And Lay Off Nearly 300 Workers

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Walmart’s New York City-based, members-only shopping service Jet Black will shut down on February 21.
However, Business Insider reports Walmart may still be able to use technology developed through Jet Black.
A Walmart spokesperson says the company will “focus on how to leverage Walmart’s infrastructure to make conversational commerce scalable.”
Over 350 Walmart employees work on the Jet Black service. 293 jobs will be cut, while 58 employees will be retained.
The spokesperson said that the company is moving Jet Black “from incubation to join our broader business.”

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Central Bank of India plans to exit housing finance subsidiary

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MUMBAI: State-run Central Bank of India is looking to sell its entire 64.40 per cent stake in its housing finance subsidiary – Cent Bank Home Finance (CBHFL), a top bank official said. The lender has floated a request for proposal (RFP) for appointing merchant bankers. The shortlisted bankers will help the lender scout for a potential investor to buy its stake in the mortgage financier.

“We plan to exit from Cent Bank Home Finance. The bank already provides housing loans, and so, we feel that there is no need to have a housing finance subsidiary,” Central Bank of India managing director and chief executive officer, Pallav Mohapatra, told .

The bank holds 64.40 per cent in the unlisted housing finance company, while the remaining stake is held by Housing & Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO), Unit Trust of India (UTI) and National Housing Bank (NHB).

The bank is facing operational curbs under the Reserve Bank’s (RBI) prompt corrective action (PCA) framework.

Mohapatra said the process of determining the valuation of the Bhopal-headquartered home finance company will begin as soon as the merchant bankers are appointed.

“Right now, it is difficult to say how much we will be able to realise through this disinvestment. Once the valuation is done, we will be in a better position to assess the amount we can raise. But, we expect a better valuation for CBHFL than its peers as it is a deposit-taking NBFC,” he said.

In 2016, the bank had tried to sell its entire stake in CBHFL, but the deal could not be concluded.

It had then reported that another state-run Bank of Baroda had shown interest in buying a majority stake in the mortgage lender. In 2016, the 64 per cent stake sale by the bank in its housing finance subsidiary could have fetched nearly Rs 250 crore, experts had said.

CBHFL’s net owned fund stood at Rs 111.57 crore as on March 31, 2019. Its advances stood at Rs 1270.9 crore while deposits were at Rs 482.33 crore as of end March 2019.

During FY19, it reported a net profit of Rs 16.28 crore, with earning per share of Rs 6.51.

In the April-December 2019, it had reported a net profit of Rs 8.92 crore as against Rs 9.87 crore in the first nine months of FY19. Its total assets stood at Rs 1,390.90 crore in the first nine months of FY20.

CBHFL was incorporated as ‘Apna Ghar Vitta Nigam Ltd’ and was subsequently renamed as ‘Cent Bank Home Finance Ltd’. It commenced operation in June 1991.

The home loan financier has presence in nine states through 18 branches.

Besides the sale of this strategic investment, the city-based lender is also in the talks to sell its 20 per cent stake in Indo Zambia Bank from where it is looking to garner around Rs 60 crore.

The other stakeholders in the bank include Bank of India (BoI) and Bank of Baroda (BoB) with 20 per cent stake each, and the Zambian government owning the balance.

“We are in talks with BoB and BoI to buy our stake in the bank,” Mohapatra had told reporters after the announcement of Q3 FY20 results.

The bank is also targeting to raise Rs 200 crore in the current quarter by monetising its real estate properties.

In the quarter ended December, the lender reported a net profit of Rs 155 crore as against a net loss of Rs 718 crore in the year-ago period.

The profitability was achieved due to better recoveries, higher income and reduction in cost, Mohapatra had said.

The bank’s recovery, including sale to asset reconstruction companies stood at Rs 1,273 crore. Recovery in written off accounts was Rs 520 crore during Q3 of FY20.

It is expecting a good recovery in some of the stressed accounts such as Religare Finvest, Coastal Energen Ltd and Flexi Tuff in the present quarter.

Gross non-performing assets (NPAs) in the quarter ended December reduced to 19.99 per cent from 20.64 per cent, while net NPAs improved to 9.26 per cent from 10.32 per cent in the year-ago period.

Mohapatra had said he expects net NPAs to come below 6 per cent by end this fiscal which will help the bank to come out of PCA.



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Fears about virus hit Asian American businesses

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NEW YORK — In Arizona, a burgeoning Asian American community fields xenophobic calls about a planned night market featuring Asian street foods. In New York, a dim sum restaurant owner worries he won’t make rent. In the San Francisco Bay Area, a local Asian American-owned restaurant chain is mulling temporarily shuttering one of its properties because of the downturn in trade.

In major U.S. cities, Asian American businesses are seeing a remarkable decline in customers as fear about the viral outbreak from China spreads. City and health officials are trying to stanch the financial bleeding through information campaigns and personal visits to shops and restaurants, emphasizing that, with just 15 cases diagnosed in the entire country, there is no reason to avoid them.

Business owners, some of whom have seen their customer traffic cut by more than half, are anxiously waiting for things to return to normal.

The freshly crowned Asian District in Mesa, Ariz.,was deep into organizing its night market when news broke that a case of the illness known as Covid-19 was confirmed at nearby Arizona State University.

Xenophobic comments on social media and phone calls started almost immediately, according to Arizona Asian Chamber of Commerce CEO Vicente Reid.

“I probably should stop picking up my phone altogether,” Reid said. “One lady was like, ‘Well, aren’t people coming to your event that are the cause of it?'”

The Feb. 29 food festival, modeled after popular outdoor Taiwanese markets, was designed to get the public acquainted with the district.

Mesa Mayor John Giles called the xenophobia directed at the event “ridiculous.”

“We certainly take any health crisis seriously but to make those kinds of connections is just offensive,” he said.

Organizers will be handing out specially made masks with playful Asian-food theme slogans like “Bao to me” and “Insert lumpia here.”

The virus has sickened tens of thousands of people, mostly in China. Fifteen people have been diagnosed with the virus in the U.S., all but two who recently traveled from China. U.S. citizens have also been diagnosed abroad, including 14 who were on a cruise ship quarantined off Japan and have been taken to hospitals in the U.S.

ALARM IN NYC

Vegetarian Dim Sum House has been a fixture in Manhattan’s Chinatown for 23 years, but suddenly owner Frankie Chu said he will not be able to make his rent this month.

Chu said sales have plunged 70% over the past two weeks at his no-frills restaurant. Three couples trickled in for lunch on a recent weekday. Normally, Chu said he gets up to 30 customers for lunch. At dinnertime, his narrow restaurant is usually packed with about 70 diners. These days, he gets about four.

Chu has sent some of his staff on vacation to cut costs. Under the circumstances, he will ask his landlord to forgive a 5% late fee normally charged.

“I don’t know how long I can stay here,” Chu said. “After 9/11, it wasn’t this bad.”

The crisis has alarmed New York City officials and business leaders, who have launched a campaign to lure people back to hard-hit communities in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn.

“Chinatown is bleeding,” said Wellington Chen, executive chairman of the Chinatown Partnership, a local business and community group. “This thing is thousands of miles away. This fear is really out of proportion.”

Small businesses in Manhattan’s Chinatown have reported sales drops of between 40% and 80% the past month as the viral outbreak in China spread, Chen said. In Flushing, business is down an estimated 40%, according to the Flushing Chinese Business Association.

For some businesses, it’s much higher. Derek Law, senior vice chairman of the America China Hotel Association, said business has dropped about 70% at a spa he owns in Flushing.

New York City is home to more than half a million Chinese Americans, the biggest population of any U.S. city. Some New Yorkers of Chinese descent are frustrated at being made to feel like foreigners because of a disease outbreak that feels as far away to them as any other resident.

“I’m probably more American than a lot of the people asking me about coronavirus. It’s a little annoying, to be honest,” said Christina Seid, owner of the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, a neighborhood fixture that her father founded four decades ago with flavor offerings like mango and green tea.

Seid, whose great-grandparents immigrated to New York from China, said business has been slower than usual but added that the winter months are never good for ice cream shops. She said she feels optimistic that things will soon return to normal, relying on New Yorkers’ determination to get on with life.

ACROSS THE U.S.

With no confirmed cases of the virus in New York City, officials and politicians are trying to drive home the point that there is no reason to avoid any neighborhood, with many eating at Chinese restaurants and tweeting out photos under the hashtags #supportchinatown.

In Boston, Mayor Marty Walsh has launched a similar social media campaign, encouraging people to share photos of themselves supporting small businesses in the neighborhood with the hashtag #LoveBostonChinatown.

Allison Arwady, the Chicago Department of Public Health commissioner, said she and her colleagues “continue to field rumors” about threats to public health. She said the health risk is low and urged people to not fear visiting and spending time at restaurants or stores in Chicago’s Chinatown.

“Please do not allow stigma, xenophobia or fear to control your decisions,” Arwady said.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, the situation is dire enough that Sunny Wong’s family is considering temporarily closing one of the four restaurants it owns in Oakland’s Chinatown. Even some of his friends and patrons have told him about hearing of untrue rumors of people getting sick at one of his restaurants.

“People just are clueless. They hear stories and rumors and they just don’t really look for the facts in a situation,” said Wong, adding that he has had to cut back hours for his workers.

Carl Chan, president of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, said business owners have reported a drop of roughly 50% to 75% in business. The chamber is planning a Chinese New Year celebration, with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf encouraging residents to patronize Chinatown restaurants.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio recently visited Nom Wah Tea Parlor, the oldest restaurant in Manhattan’s Chinatown.

The restaurant has seen a 40% drop in business over the past three weeks, said manager Vincent Tang, whose cousin Wilson Tang took over the restaurant from his father. Normally, the restaurant fills up at lunchtime. But during a recent weekday, nearly half the tables were empty, although it was at least busier than many of its lesser-known neighbors.

“We’re lucky to have loyal customers,” said Tang, sitting near a row of green stools that he used to swing around in as a child. “Usually at this time we are packed and there is a line outside.”

Customers at Nom Wah said they were perplexed that others were staying away.

“It didn’t cross my mind at all,” said Kate Masterson, an artist digging into dumplings with her uncle at a booth beneath signed framed photographs of celebrities such as Kirsten Dunst.

“It’s not happening here,” she said of the outbreak.

Information for this article was contributed by Noreen Nasir and Terry Chea of the Associated Press.

SundayMonday Business on 02/23/2020

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Daily Financial News Analysis in Hindi – 22 February 2020 – Financial Current Affairs for All Exams

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