News in Numbers, Feb 07, 2017: A season of crackdowns

Rs 14,779 crore

What is it? The principal balance the Supreme Court wants to expedite recovering from the  Sahara Group for its investors.

Why is it important? Striking down Sahara’s appeal for time till 2019, the apex court ordered attaching its star property in Pune, the Aamby Valley, as part of the recovery process. Around Rs 600 crore of its Rs-25,780-crore principal owed was paid on Monday.  SC’s order was the latest entry in a season of crackdowns on erring business houses/moguls. The property will be under the court’s custody.

Tell me more: The court has asked for a list of other Sahara properties free from litigation for recovery of its dues to investors in two of Sahara’s companies. The due totals Rs 37,000 crore, as calculated by Sebi, including interest, of which around Rs 11,000 crore has been paid so far.

97

What is it? Number of companies, 96% of them tech giants, that filed a court motion challenging US President Donald Trump’s order on immigration.

Why is it important? Companies such as Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, Intel, Netflix and Twitter, and three consumer-goods companies including fashion brand Levi Strauss, have taken a step further than just denouncing the executive order by taking legal recourse. They join federal judges who have legally rebuffed Trump’s move to restrict immigration of certain nationalities, with one even restraining it nationwide. The companies’ motion was filed in the very appeals court which rejected the government’s emergency request to resume the travel ban.

Tell me more: The motion filed in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said the travel ban “violates the immigration laws and the Constitution”.

Rs 2.5 lakh

What is it? The upper limit of deposits for which the Income Tax department will ask no questions, reiterated by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) chairman Sushil Chandra.

Why is it important? Amidst growing concern about the expanding reach of the tax officer with all the cash-scrutiny, the senior official’s statement should bring relief. The limit means the IT department will for now refrain from running analytics on deposits below it.

Tell me more: It would study larger single deposits or multiple deposits against a single PAN card that don’t match IT returns.

80%

What is it? Percentage of Tata Sons’ shareholder votes that were in favour of removing former chairman Cyrus Mistry from Tata Sons’ board of directors

Why is it important? The move is a part of the ongoing fight between Tatas and Mistry that started with the removal of Mistry from the chairmanship of Tata Sons in October, followed by similar actions in various Tata companies, including Tata Motors and Tata Consultancy Services. The latest was expected. Tata Trusts controls 66% of Tata Sons, and a simple majority is enough to oust a director. Shapoorji Pallonji family, to which Cyrus Mistry belongs, and which owns 18.4% in Tata Sons, now has no representation in the board for the first time in over ten years.

Tell me more: Cyrus Mistry did not attend the board meeting. Ratan Tata’s half brother Noel Tata, whose sister is married to Mistry, voted in favour of Mistry’s removal from the board.

9

What is it? The number of chief justices recommended by Supreme Court collegium for various high courts

Why is it important? If the government approves, this would likely be the highest number of appointments of chief justices in one go. Many high courts in the country are being served by interim chief justices. More importantly, it’s an indicator that the tension between the government and the judiciary over appointment of judges could be easing. At its height, Supreme Court had struck down National Judicial Appointments Commission in October 2015 and revived the collegium system in which a panel of judges make the judicial appointments.

Tell me more: Besides High Courts, the Supreme Court also faces vacancies as a result of the tug of war. The apex court has been functioning with 23 judges since early this year, falling short of the sanctioned strength of 31.

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News in Numbers, Feb 01, 2017: Notes-ban drag down GDP

0.25-0.5%

What is it? The effect of the notes-ban on GDP growth in FY17, as estimated in the Economic Survey presented to the Parliament on Tuesday.

Why is it important? The first official acknowledgement of demonetisation’s impact on the economy revises a baseline growth of 7% down to 6.5-6.75%. The Central Statistics Office had not figured in the cash-crunch when giving out its estimate of 7.1% earlier this month. The government took potshots at and challenged unofficial estimates, as most have factored in a larger impact of demonetisation on GDP. It included the IMF, which forecast the withdrawal of 86% of the currency value in November would result in a growth of 6.6%, down a full percentage from its October estimate.

Tell me more: GDP growth in FY18 is expected to be between 6.75 and 7.5%, still lower than FY16’s 7.6%. The government also admitted the GDP estimate would not capture the effect of the cash shortage on the informal sector, the largest employer in the country.

 

>$130,000

What is it? The salary level an H1B visa-dependent employer will have to meet if the High-Skilled Integrity and Fairness Act of 2017 in the US House of Representatives goes through.

Why is it important? It has sent shivers down stocks of Indian IT companies, who send employees for onsite work using the visa. By removing the H1B minimum wage of $60,000, constant since 1989, and more than doubling it for the employer to be exempt from non-displacement and recruitment assessment requirements, the act could strain the coffers of US-based IT clients. It would lead to not just a rethinking of how many local employees to replace with onsite Indian staff, but also see IT companies mull more expensive US hires or digital delivery from India. Major IT stocks including the big four, fell by 2-4.5% while the Sensex dropped 2.96%.

Tell me more: The act would also reserve 20% of the annual H1B visas for small and start-up employers, while removing the ‘per country’ limit for employment-based immigrant visas.

 

5%

What is it? Rise in the share price of US’ Iconix Brand Group, on news of its plans to sell majority stake in the beloved franchise Peanuts Worldwide, which includes cartoon strip characters such as Snoopy and Charlie Brown.

Why is it important? Even though the iconic characters generate around $30 million, licensed in over 100 countries, Iconix’s decision to sell could be the result of a large customer — US insurance company Metlife —  dropping them after 30 years of use as mascots. This could be a major opening into the over-$-144-billion US licenced merchandise market (the biggest in the world) for keen investors. Peanuts, created by Charles Schulz, still counts Nestle, Zara and Hallmark as its licensees.

Tell me more: The deal could ease the debt burden on Iconix which bought its 80% stake in Peanuts in 2010, while the remaining 20% is owned by Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates, controlled by the creator’s family.

 

18 lakhs

What is it? The number of people whose cash deposits after demonetization do not match their taxpayer profiles as identified by the Income Tax department

Why is it important? Indian government hopes that the exercise, a follow up on large scale currency reform in November, will result in a higher tax collection rate. Economic Survey pointed out that India is among the countries that perform poorly on this metric – just seven direct tax payers for every 100 voters. The Income Tax department has identified over 10 million accounts with deposits exceeding Rs 2 lakh, and would start by scrutinizing those who have deposited over Rs 5 lakh.

Tell me more:  The queries by income tax department can be answered via its online portal.

 

78.3 million

What is it? The number of iPhones sold by Apple in the last quarter.

Why is it important? This is the largest number of phones sold by Apple in a quarter since the launch of iPhone in 2007, and comes after three consecutive quarters of decline in sales, defying industry expectations. The sales helped push Apple’s total revenue by 3% to $78.4 billion. It will also restore some faith in its CEO Tim Cook, who has been losing sheen following the decline of iPhone sales and the absence of any other product in its stable to match iPhone’s success.

Tell me more: iPhones accounts for two-thirds of Apple’s sales. The boost comes after the launch of iPhone 7 / 7 Plus in September 2016. While the lower priced iPhone 7 is the best selling model, the bigger ‘Plus’ version performed better than the previous larger sized models launched by the company.

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The year in technology: Apple stagnates, Samsung slips, Google reboots

This piece originally appeared on Livemint.com

 

With Donald Trump’s US election sweep, the Panama leaks, the war at Tata group and the Brexit shock, 2016 has been one rollercoaster ride, topped off with a currency demonetisation that left the country staggering.

Starting today, through the coming fortnight, we tell you the tale of these and various other issues, industries and individuals through graphics.

 

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Galaxy Note 7 fiasco: Three reasons why it’s not all over for Samsung

This piece originally appeared on Livemint.com

 

Smartphone makers are on shaky ground. Recently, BlackBerry announced it will stop manufacturing phones to focus on software.

Xiaomi, once considered an Apple challenger, saw its shipments plummet, and it dropped out of the top five. So did Lenovo. There were over 500 smartphone brands in China once, but only about 100 have survived. Apple iPhone sales stagnated this year.

Even dominant players can’t take their position for granted. Where does that leave Samsung after the Note 7 fiasco, which has cost it billions and damaged its reputation?

A few more missteps could spell doom for Samsung smartphones. But it also has three things going for it. It has a healthy lead over its nearest rival (Chart 1).

Historically, the fall for big handset makers happened slowly, giving it time to set things right (Chart 2). And, it has many models in its stable to latch on to (chart 3).

 

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