India In-Focus — HDFC Bank’s Q2 Earnings Soar; Plantings intensify in India; Israel sells Haifa port to Adani Ports and Gadot for $1.2 billion

RIYADH: HDFC Bank Ltd., India’s largest private lender, said on Saturday its net profit for the three months to June was up 19% from the same period a year earlier, provisions for bad debts having fallen and loan growth having resumed.

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 beef up its home loan portfolio with a $40 billion deal to buy mortgage lender HDFC Ltd., said its net income jumped 20% to $271.8 billion. rupees during the quarter.

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

Planting of summer crops picks up speed in India as monsoon season resumes

Heavy monsoon rains in the first half of July accelerated the planting of major summer crops such as soybeans, cotton and pulses in India. However, rice plantings are still lagging due to low rainfall in northern states.

Farmers planted summer crops on 59.2 million hectares, as of July 15, slightly more than 59.1 million hectares a year ago, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Welfare farmers. However, plantings were down 9.3% until last week.

Planting of summer-sown crops takes place during the monsoon months of June and July, while harvesting begins in October.

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

India has received 13% above normal rainfall since the start of the monsoon season on June 1. Still, data from the meteorological service showed that some rice-growing states such as West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar received below normal monsoons.

The ministry said about 12.85 million hectares had been planted with rice, down 17 percent from the previous year.

He said cotton planting increased by 6.4 percent to 10.28 million hectares, while soybean acreage jumped 10 percent to 9.9 million hectares.

Maize was planted on 5 million hectares, down 12% year-on-year.

Israel sells Haifa port to Indian ports of Adani and Israel’s Gadot for $1.2 billion

Israel announced on Thursday that it would sell the port of Haifa, a major commercial hub on its Mediterranean coast, to successful bidders Adani Ports of India and local chemicals and logistics group Gadot for $1.18 billion.

Gadot and Adani have come to the end of a two-year bidding process that Israel hopes will lower import prices and help shorten notoriously long wait times at Israeli ports.

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

Adani will hold a controlling 70% stake and Gadot will hold the remaining 30%, according to an industry official.

(Contributed by Reuters)