India to invest $20 bn in gas fields in next 5-7 yrs: Pradhan

India will see an investment of about USD 20 billion in gas field development in the next 5-7 years and is looking to boost usage of the green fuel and double consumption, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said today.

The investment will be primarily in developing natural gas discoveries by state-owned ONGC   and Reliance Industries-BP joint venture off the east coast, the minister said at CII’s ‘Global Energy Dialogue’ event here.

“We are now expediting production of gas from domestic sources to the extent of 20 trillion cubic feet from already discovered sources through policy, fiscal and regulatory mechanism. These fields and the current auctions of Discovered Small Fields are going to add to the domestic supplies in the next 3-4 years,” he said.

ONGC is lining up USD 5.07 billion to produce over 16 million standard cubic metres per day of natural gas from a set of discoveries in its Krishna Godavari basin KG-DWN-98/2 block.

RIL-BP has several discoveries in the adjacent KG-DWN- 98/3 or KG-D6 block and NEC-25 off the Odisha coast.

“About USD 20 billion will be invested in next 5-7 years primarily in deepwater fields to augment gas production,” he said.

Natural gas makes up for 6 per cent of the primary energy basket in India as against a global average of more than 24 per cent.

“We are determined to increase the gas offtake significantly as it would serve several objectives. By switching to this cleaner fuel and diversifying our energy mix, we can augment our fight towards climate justice,” he said.

“Second, we can substitute liquid fuels with natural gas in several applications; this will help us in our objective of reducing our import dependency for crude oil by 10 per cent from the current levels by 2022.” For this, availability of natural gas is being increased by boosting domestic gas output, importing LNG and through trans-national gas pipelines.

Also, gas infrastructure, including pipeline, city gas network and LNG import infrastructure is being improved.

“We are realigning the infrastructure planning, given the role LNG is going to play in our supply mix. The northern and western regions in India consume around 80 per cent of the overall volume of gas utilised in the country. We are working to change it and make eastern and southern India as new growth centre,” he said.

An additional 34 million tonnes per annum of LNG import terminal capacity are being added while pipeline network will be doubled to about 30,000 km in the next five years.

Also, India is pursuing trans-national pipeline projects like Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline.

Also a 1,300-km undersea gas pipeline to bring natural gas from Iran to India is being studied, he said.

78 schemes covered under DBT system so far: Govt

As many as 78 schemes including Jhan Dhan and MGNREGA being implemented by 17 ministries and departments are covered under Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) system, the Parliament was informed today.

In case of food subsidy, Minister of State for Food C R Chaudhary said, “DBT for foodgrains is being implemented as per the ‘cash transfer of food subsidy rules 2015.” At present, cash transfer of food subsidy is being implemented in Chandigarh and Puducherry since September 2015 and it has also been partially implemented in Dadra and Nagar Haveli from March 2016, he said.

A high-level committee of FCI has recommended gradual introduction of cash transfer in PDS, starting with the large cities with more than 1 million population and extending it to grain surplus states and then giving option to deficit states to opt for cash or physical grain distribution, he said.

In Public Distribution System (PDS), the minister said DBT is being implemented in two ways: cash transfer of food subsidy into bank accounts of beneficiaries and DBT in-kind means automation of fair price shops.

Subsidised foodgrains are distributed via PDS after authentication, preferably taking beneficiary details using electronic point of sale machines, while cash transfer of food subsidy is done in three union territories through Aadhaar Payments Bridge (APB), he added.

To a separate query on DBT in fertilisers, Minister of State for Fertiliser Mansukh L Mandaviya said, “The government has decided to introduce DBT system for fertilizer subsidy payments. Under the proposed system, 100 per cent subsidy on various fertilizer grades shall be released to the manufacturers and importers on the basis of actual sales made by the retailer to the beneficiaries.” Initially, the modified-subsidy procedure under DBT system will be introduced on pilot basis in 16 select districts and after its due stabilization, the new payment system would be rolled out in all states in the second phase, he said.

Noting that the DBT being implemented in fertilizer subsidy payment is slightly different from the normal DBT being implemented in LPG subsidy, the minister explained, “Under the DBT in fertilizer sector, the subsidy will be released to the fertilizer companies instead of beneficiaries, after the sale is made by the retailers to the beneficiaries on submission of claims generated in the web-based online Integrated Fertilizer Monitoring System (iFMS) by fertilizer companies.” After implementation of DBT, it is expected that diversion/smuggling of fertilizers will be reduced to a large extent and the government will save subsidy to that extent.

However, no assessment has been made to calculate the savings, he added.

Accept IDS payments till 2017; don’t ask source: IBA to banks

With the last date for paying the first installament of due taxes and penalty under the one-time black money window IDS nearing, banks have been asked to ensure that such payments are accepted without any hassle and the source of funds is not sought from the declarant.

The Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) has written a letter to all its members in which it referred to a recent CBDT communication to RBI which cited a complaint from a declarant that he/she could not deposit the payment as a bank branch in Bengaluru allegedly refused to accept the tax and penalty as per plan of the Income Declaration Scheme (IDS) that ended on September 30.

CBDT, which is the I-T department’s policy-making body, noted that the scheme stipulates that a minimum amount of 25 per cent of the tax, surcharge and penalty is to be paid by November 30, 2016.

“Accordingly, all the member banks are requested to make note of the…time schedule and as directed accept payments under IDS, 2016 up to September 30, 2017 and also for such cases the banks should not seek source of funds,” it said adding, “we request you to sensitise your branches accordingly.”

It added that the recent communication from the Central Board of Direct Taxes to the RBI, subsequently sent to the IBA for action, had said that it “has been alleged that the bank authorities are refusing to accept payment stating that since IDS, 2016 has closed on September 30, the banks cannot accept the challan beyond the date”.

The CBDT has also appended the scheme of the IDS which stipulates that a minimum amount of 25 per cent of the tax, surcharge and penalty is to be paid by November 30, 2016; a further amount of 25 per cent of the tax, surcharge and penalty to be paid by March, 31 next year; and the balance amount to be paid on or before September 30, 2017.

The I-T department only yesterday issued advertisements in this regard in leading national dailies stating that non-payment of the first installment of tax and penalty by November 30 on the part of declarants will render their declaration under IDS as “invalid”.

As per official data, 64,275 declarants had disclosed an amount of Rs 65,250 crore under IDS which would yield about Rs 30,000 crore in taxes to the government.

The four-month IDS was a one-time window, beginning June, given to black money holders to declare their stash and come clean by paying 45 per cent tax and penalty.

Bank customers can continue to withdraw up to Rs 24,000/week

Public can continue to withdraw up to Rs 24,000 per week from their bank accounts, including withdrawals from ATM, the Reserve Bank said today.

“The banks are, hereby, advised that they may continue to allow their existing customers to withdraw cash from their accounts up to Rs 24,000 per week, till further instructions. The said limit include withdrawals from ATMs,” it said in a notification.

Following cancellation of legal tender character of old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes from November 9, restrictions were imposed on cash withdrawals from accounts and ATMs.

The central bank on November 13 raised the daily withdrawal limit from ATMs to Rs 2,500 from Rs 2,000 earlier.

The weekly limit of Rs 20000 for withdrawal from bank accounts was increased to Rs 24,000.

RBI today allowed exchange of banned 500 and 1,000 rupee notes for new currency at its counters even after the facility was withdrawn from all banks.

Exchange of old Rs 500/1,000 notes to continue at RBI counters

Banned 500 and 1,000 rupee notes will continue to be exchanged for new currency at RBI counters even after the facility was withdrawn from all banks.

The government had yesterday announced that the demonetised 500 and 1,000 rupee notes can no longer be exchanged at bank counters and any holdings will necessarily have to be deposited in bank accounts.

“The Reserve Bank of India advises members of public that exchange of banknotes in Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denominations, whose legal tender status has been withdrawn, will continue to be available at the counters of the Reserve Bank up to the current limits per person as hitherto,” the central bank said in a statement.

The limit to exchange old notes was recently set at Rs 2,000 per person.

The RBI said the facility of exchanging demonetised currency notes “is no longer available at other banks’ counters.

Banks, FIs sanction Rs 1.08 lakh cr for renewables: Goyal

Banks and financial institutions have sanctioned funding of Rs 1.08 lakh crore for renewable energy capacities of 42.71 GW since February 2015, Union Minister Piyush Goyal said today.

Banks and financial institutions have committed total funding of Rs 3.82 lakh crore for 76.35 GW of renewable energy capacities in the country.

“23 public sector & 7 private sector banks and 4 public sector & 2 private sector non-banking financing companies have committed for financing renewable energy projects of 76,352 MW capacity with an outlay of Rs 3,82,255 crore through Green Commitment Certificates during REINVEST 2015 held in February, 2015,” New & Renewable Energy Minister Piyush Goyal said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha today.

He further stated, “These Banks and Financial Institutions (FIs) have supported projects of 42717 MW capacity with sanctioned and released amount of Rs 108,682.20 crores and Rs 50,157.94 crores respectively, as on September 30, 2016 after giving the commitments which is about 27.57 percent of the commitment made.”

The minister told the House that the ministry has estimated an investment opportunity of about Rs 9 lakh crore both in manufacturing, project development and requisite transmission infrastructure during the next five years for achieving the enhanced capacity addition target of 175 GW in the renewable energy sector.

He also said that to achieve grid parity, long term finance at lower rates is required.

Efforts are being made to mobilise additional funds for the renewable energy sector through National Investment Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) created by Government of India and also from multilateral & bilateral banks such as – The World Bank, Asian Development Bank, National Development Bank and KfW, he added.

In another reply he told the House, “Government of India has set up NIIF in August 2015, which is an umbrella fund for development of infrastructure in the country. A dedicated sub-fund of USD two billion under this fund will be for clean energy. The funds will be used for deployment in equity and equity related products for renewable energy projects.” He further said that through NIIF, there is a plan to attract pension and insurance funds from foreign countries.

The fund will be operationalised after completion of required approvals and clearances, he added.

Risk-reward fairly favourable; like steel, cement, PSBs: Quantum

The risk-reward ratio in the market looks reasonably favourable right now, says Sanjay Dutt, Director at Quantum Securities. He feels there is no reason to panic and instead advises picking up quality stocks.

On his sectoral picks, Dutt tells CNBC-TV18 he prefers pure-play domestic cyclical companies like steel and cement. Though it is tough to put a timeline on the revival of private capex cycle, he feels steel and cement companies will continue to get good business from large infrastructure rollouts.

He has been positive on the public sector banking space for about six months now and believes there is still value in the sector. With fund inflows into banks following demonetisation and non-performing assets’ pain on the verge of easing off, PSU banks could even outperform some private sector banks after few quarters, he says.

Anuj: Will you start accumulating stocks now? Do you think this market is taking bad news in its stride or do you get a sense that momentum is firmly on the way down?

A: The risk reward looks reasonably favourable at this point of time. No one can obviously game a bottom in a market like this where the across the globe, in terms of news flow whether it is out of West or whether in India, how the currency equations are adjusting right now between emerging markets and US dollar. One really cannot game that as such. Therefore, as far as the demonetisation fact is concerned, it is more or less getting factored in. Maybe a good time to start accumulating and nibbling at good quality stocks.

Sonia: So what stocks would you buy now because the best quality stocks, this year were the consumption stocks and how that story has sort of crumbled over the last 6-7 days. Is that the pocket that you would look into now?

A: On that, I would be a little cautious right now because one does not really know as to how long would be offtake, topline, etc. and margins would be impacted and how soon would everything would get back to normal for them whether it happens end of this quarter or next quarter. But safer bet at this point of time would be pure play cyclicals which are focused on the domestic plays, probably things like steel, cement, infrastructure, those kind of things because one is really certain of that irrespective of what is happening right now in terms of consumption and of course the money supply in the system. Those companies would continue to get their orders, those companies would continue to get business from large infrastructure roll-outs and projects, etc.

Yes, private Capital expenditure (Capex) cycle, one is still now sure of as to where exactly will it turn and where it will really take off, but there is a reasonably good chance that government expenditure would support those sectors substantially. So, I would prefer banking, domestic cyclicals like cement, steel, etc which have corrected substantially, something like Tata Steel which has corrected, some of the other steel stocks, like probably UltraTech Cement or these kind of stocks which have gone through 20-40 percent corrections. I would definitely like to start buying in that.

Anuj: You have been a big fan of PSU banks from the last six months or so that the trade of course has played out beautifully. Still more gains here?

A: Oh yes, on every decline, on every 2-4 percent Bank Nifty fall, particularly, PSU index fall day, it would always make sense to buy into the PSU banks because the kind of money that is coming in, the kind of lending they will be able to do, the kind of current and savings account (CASA), the kind of adjustments that will happen in the balance sheets with this whole step, they will be way ahead of private sector banks for the next few years. I am not saying the private sector banks will not make you money, but compared to the valuation gap, PSUs still need to do a much bigger catch up. And a lot of their non-performing asset (NPA) issues will also start getting resolved in the next few quarters or so for various reasons as I was mentioning that if domestic industry starts to pick up in the next 6-12 months, those revolutions will also start.

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Rupee hits record low of 68.86; RBI intervenes

The Indian rupee has registered a record low of 68.86 in intraday trade on Thursday, crossing its earlier low of 68.85, tested on August 28, 2013.

In the morning, the rupee had opened at 9-month low of 68.74 per dollar, down 18 paise versus previous close 68.56.

The Indian currency has plunged by about by 3.6 percent from Donald Trump’s victory in the US Presidential polls earlier this month on account of capital outflows after rising US bond yields and a strong dollar.

In 2016, January, February and November are the weakest months for rupee and it has lost over 4 percent in this year.

According to Mohan Shenoi of Kotak Mahindra Bank, “Dollar rally across the board is continuing. December US Fed rate hike is now certain. While rupee has weakened sharply against dollar, it has in fact strengthened against currencies like euro and yen.”

“We expect the USD-INR to trade in a range of 68.65-69/dollar for the day,” he said.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) likely intervened after the rupee hit a record low of 68.86 per dollar on Thursday, pressured by broad strength in the US dollar, capital outflows from emerging markets, and worries about India’s demonetisation drive.

The low surpassed the rupee’s previous all-time nadir of 68.85 hit in August 2013, when the country was mired in its worst currency crisis in more than two decades.

The intervention from the RBI sparked a slight rebound in the rupee to 68.83, two traders said.

Earnings to grow at 2-3% in FY17; mkt migration to happen: Ambit

Speaking to CNBC-TV18 Saurabh Mukherjea of Ambit Capital said that we have been accused of saying a lot of things that are thought of as sensational but facts and subsequent events have borne them out. He was responding to Ambit’s report that had estimated that GDP growth will trend down from 6.4 percent in the first half of this fiscal to 0.5 percent in the second half with likelihood that growth would shrink in the third quarter of this fiscal.

He said PM Modi is clearly ringing in the changes and India will go through structural changes that will reduce black money, cost of capital and cost of land and real estate. However, he warned that such measures will entail short-term pain.

He believes the real action will begin next year as some SMEs will realise they can’t function in an environment where they have to pay full taxes. They will start winding up next year, he said.

They were expecting earnings growth to be around 6-7 percent for this fiscal year. But they have revised it down to 2-3 percent. Again, for next fiscal year, he is estimating an earnings growth of 10 percent, but he warns it will be tenuous.

In the coming months, FDs and bank deposits will give lower interest rates and hence high-networth investors will move into stock markets.

Anuj: You recently came out with your report where you were talking about a possible de-growth and you have cut down your Sensex target. A lot of your critics believe that that is headline grabbing and not enough ground work may have been done on that. What is your response on that?

A: You are often been accused over the last couple of years of saying things which a lot of people thought was sensational but usually facts and subsequent events have borne us out. So, for the last year and a half, we have been highlighting the reset that we believe Prime Minister Narendra Modi would bring about and when we first started talking about this point of view year and a half ago, very few people paid attention but subsequent events have borne us out. Prime Minister Modi clearly is bringing the changes which will result in short-term pain for long-term economic gain.

Our fundamental view has been that India will go through a set of structural changes which will result in the formalisation of the economy, reduction in black money, reduction in the black economy, big reductions in the cost of capital and reduction in the cost of land in real estate. That ultimately creates a more efficient economy for all of us to live and work in, a more efficient manufacturing sector but it does entail short-term pain.

We can’t transition from economy where 30-40 is in the informal sector into a country with lower cost of capital and lower cost of land effortlessly. Hence our point of view that you will see some short-term specifically in Q3 where the cash crunch will hit hard but next year the picture starts recovering quite appreciatively.

Latha: Which will be the earnings turning quarter then?

A: Depends on how you look at it. Relative to where consensus was say on November 8, clearly this quarter consensus and including us – it is not as if on November 8 we knew what was coming, clearly this quarter consensus will be badly disappointed compared to what the expectations where on November 8. I think as increasingly CEOs are starting to say this could well be a quarter of de-growth for several companies.

I think the companies themselves, to be fair to them, are being fairly candid that this is a quarter in which topline and bottomline could de-grow for prominent companies. Compared to this, clearly Q4 will be better. Our reckoning is growth returns in Q4 albeit in sclerotic fashion and then in the year to March 18 a degree of normality returns. Relative to the expectations that all of us had on November 8 given March 18 growth numbers will be subpar. However, that is a cost worth bearing.

Remember, what we are getting here; our view is that in the next four years, the cost of capital drops 350 basis points. That is a big drop; we haven’t seen that sort of drop in cost of capital for the last 10-15 years in our country. It is a life changing event for most of us and you have to bear some short-term pain for that sort of structural gain.

Sonia: Have you done any rural checks over the last 10 days to understand how bad things are because the sense that we get from a lot of guys we talk to is that auto companies are expecting 25-30 percent fall in the month of November, truckers are saying things have come to a standstill. In your checks, how bad are things currently?

A: We have done 100s of calls with dealers, distributors and the corporates that we cover. We will be publishing some detailed research on this in a few hours and as you would expect, as you are alluding to, the near term impact is clearly quite substantial — looking at topline hits for the quarter to December anywhere between 10 and 30 percent depending on who you talk to. However, in a way this quarter’s hit is a bit of a side show. I know it feels very important and very vivid for us because we are living through it, the big story starts from next year.

From January, February and March, the big story starts as a whole host of SMEs who realise that they really can’t function in a country where they have to pay full taxes, a whole host of SMEs will start winding up through next year and into 2018 as they realise they can’t function in a country with full tax and that is when the real drama begins because that is when market share starts shifting to listed company market leaders. So, whether it is in footwear, whether it is in sanitaryware or in electricals, we will start seeing market share migration I suspect from spring and summer next year and that process will continue for a couple of years.

It will lead to listed companies gaining market share, gaining earnings but for that to happen, the informal sector specifically will have to seed market share. I suspect the informal sector will take quite a beating over the next two to three years.

Latha: What is the earnings downgrade you are doing for FY17 and how are you changing FY18 earnings?

A: FY17, on November 8 I looked at our FY17 earnings estimate so on November 8 we were roughly expecting something like 6-7 percent earnings growth for the Sensex in the year to March 17. My reckoning is now in the year to March 17 earnings growth will be more like 2-3 percent. So, you have got a 400 basis points drop in our earnings growth expectations for the Sensex in the year to March 17.

In the year to March 18, we have penciled in 10 percent earnings growth. I have to confess that our expectation of 10 percent earnings growth in the year to March 18 at the moment is a little tenuous given how uncertain things are. If the Sensex delivers 10 percent earnings growth in the year to March 18 that will be the best earnings growth from the Sensex in the last four years. So, it has been a while since we saw double digit earnings growth in India. Each year the market begins with expectations of double digit earnings growth and each year the Sensex delivers sclerotic earnings  growth, it could well be that the tide turns in the year to March 18.

Anuj: Two part question, a) what is the feedback from investors — we have seen so much foreign institutional investor (FII) selling all through the last one month and that has only picked up and b) how do you approach the market from portfolio point of view then?

A: As you would expect, both because of events at home plus because of what Janet Yellen said last week in America and also given Trump’s whole point of view that he will spend a lot of government money, US bond yields are running up. That is making investors jittery because US bond yields running up is usually not a good story for emerging markets. So, both because of events in India and events abroad, there is a fair bit of investor jitteriness.

What accentuates the whole issue was going into November 8 or going into November rather, valuations in India were looking very full. I think we wrote about this in October, I spoke about it on your channel I remember in early November that valuations were looking very full. So, I think the result of that is that the market pullback that we have seen and my reckoning is that market pullback will last a little while, certainly up to the Fed announcement in early December the market jitteriness is likely to persist.

However, beyond that, there is a great deal of investor willingness to say we understand this is good for India, this is good for earnings, this is good for the country’s longer term future and in the context of India’s longer term future, there is a great deal of investor willingness to buy sector leading franchises. As I said whether it be in electricals, footwear, sanitaryware, kitchenware, FMCG, there is a great deal of investor willingness to say give me market leading franchises, give me blocks in the same and I am willing to buy at the moment or willing to buy through pain. That is what I think gives us a great deal of confidence that India will see this through and come out stronger on the other side of this dislocation.

Latha: Your report spoke of the famous five — Asian Paints   , Titan , Havells , Motilal , Centuryply . You may not want to take names but when will you start buying these, even for a portfolio why buy expensive, when will you buy?

A: I think all of us in this profession have this great hope that we can call the bottom on, on great stocks and make a name for ourselves and make a lot of money for our clients by calling the bottom on fabulous franchises. I don’t think we can pretend, we can do that given the scale of uncertainty we are seeing. I think it behooves us to say that I can see this is a great company and I can also see that it could well be that this great company has a couple of very rough quarters where it disappoints relative to wherever consensus was on November 8.

However, if I can’t call the bottom on the stock, all I can suggest to you is buy a great franchise, sit tight on it and you will make money. That is the whole point that I rammed home in my book ‘The Unusual Billionaires” and that is the point we have been making to investors over the last week or so. We can identify the market leaders, we are reasonably sure that the market leaders will gain a lot of market share over the next couple of years as the informal sector gradually melts away and therefore this is a good time to buy especially given that we can see that for the domestic HNI there will be very little space to go other than the Indian stock markets.

Coming into financial assets will make a great deal of sense for Indian high net worth investors. Within financial assets, your fixed deposits in banks will give lower and lower interest rates over the next couple of years because so much money will come into the banking system and hence coming into the stock market will make eminent sense for the HNIs. So, I can’t call the bottom, I can point you towards high quality franchises and my reckoning is that when we are doing our jobs, FIIs specifically are quite happy to buy and that trend will pickup especially post Christmas.

Sebi boosts start-up funding, relaxes rules for angel funds

Seeking to give a fillip to start-up funding, markets regulator Sebi today relaxed its rules for investment by angel funds in this space, including by allowing them to invest in up to five-year old entities.

Besides, the lock-in requirement has been reduced from three years to one year for angel funds and their minimum investment threshold has been slashed from Rs 50 lakh to Rs 25 lakh.

Angel funds are allowed to invest in overseas venture capital undertakings up to 25 per cent of their investible corpus in line with other AIFs.

The upper limit for number of angel investors in a scheme will be increased from 49 to 200, as per decision taken by the Sebi board here today.

The board approved amendment to Sebi (Alternative Investment Funds) Regulations, 2012, following which the definition of start-up for angel funds investments will be similar to one of DIPP as given in their start-up policy.

“Accordingly, angel funds will be allowed to invest in start-ups incorporated within five years, which was earlier 3 years,” Sebi said.

To diversify risks, Sebi has also allowed angel funds to make overseas investments up to 25 per cent of their investible corpus, in line with other Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs).

There are many start-ups that require a smaller amount of validating proposition and bringing down the limit to Rs 25 lakh from Rs 50 lakh will help such companies raise funds at the initial stage of idea generations.

In order to further develop the alternative investment industry and the startup ecosystem in India, Sebi in March 2015 constituted a committee of experts drawn from the across market participants called Alternative Investment Policy Advisory Committee under the chairmanship of N R Narayana Murthy.

AIPAC had submitted its report to Sebi with various recommendations, including certain recommendations relating to angel funds. Considering the recommendations in the report and public comments thereon, the Sebi board has now approved amendments to AIF regulations with respect to angel funds.

Angel fund, a sub-category of AIF, encourages entrepreneurship in the country by financing small startups at a stage where such firms find it difficult to obtain capital from traditional sources of finance such as banks and financial institutions.

In addition, angel funds offer mentoring to entrepreneurs as well as access to their own business networks.

Currently, 266 AIFs are registered with Sebi, of which, 84 are registered under Category I, including four angel funds.