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India In-Focus — HDFC Bank’s Q2 profit soars; Crop planting ramps up in India; Israel sells Haifa Port to Adani Ports and Gadot for $1.2bn

RIYADH: India’s largest private lender HDFC Bank Ltd. said on Saturday its net profit for the three months to June rose 19 percent from the same period a year earlier, as provisions for bad loans dropped and loan growth picked up.

Net profit for the fiscal first quarter rose to 91.96 billion rupees ($1.15 billion) from 77.3 billion rupees a year earlier, the lender said in a regulatory filing.

HDFC Bank, which is set to bulk up its home loan portfolio with a $40 billion deal to buy mortgage lender HDFC Ltd., said its net revenue jumped 20 percent to 271.8 billion rupees in the quarter.

The bank’s gross non-performing loan ratio, a measure of asset quality, improved to 1.28 percent in the quarter from 1.47 percent during the same period a year ago.

Planting of summer crops ramps up in India as monsoon revives

Ample monsoon rain in the first half of July accelerated the planting of main summer-sown crops such as soybean, cotton and pulses in India. However, rice planting is still lagging due to scant rainfall in northern states.

Farmers planted summer-sown crops on 59.2 million hectares, as of July 15, slightly higher than 59.1 million hectares a year ago, according to the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare. However, crop sowing was down 9.3 percent until last week.

The planting of summer-sown crops takes place in the monsoon months of June and July, while harvesting starts in October.

Except for North India, most parts of the country have received above-normal rainfall so far this month, and that has accelerated planting, said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading house.

India has received 13 percent more rainfall than normal since the start of the monsoon season on June 1. Still, the weather department data showed that some rice-growing states such as West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar had received below-normal monsoons.

The ministry said about 12.85 million hectares had been planted with rice, down 17 percent from a year-ago period.

It said cotton planting rose 6.4 percent to 10.28 million hectares, while soybean area jumped 10 percent to 9.9 million hectares.

Corn was planted in 5 million hectares, down 12 percent year-on-year.

Israel sells Haifa Port to India’s Adani Ports, Israel’s Gadot for $1.2 bn

Israel on Thursday said it would sell Haifa Port, a major trade hub on its Mediterranean coast, to winning bidders Adani Ports of India and local chemicals and logistics group Gadot for $1.18 billion.

Gadot and Adani made it to the end of a two-year tender process that Israel hopes will lower import prices and help shorten notoriously long wait times at Israeli harbors.

“The privatization of the port of Haifa will increase competition at the ports and lower the cost of living,” Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman said.

Adani will have a majority 70 percent stake, and Gadot will hold the remaining 30 percent, according to an industry official.

(With input from Reuters)

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