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The ‘Tower’ing Burden Of Telecom

 

Vodafone and Idea are trying to save costs by shedding their tower businesses. Retail inflation has hit a 7-month-high, dimming hopes of a rate cut. The government may be scrambling to meet the fiscal deficit target. Italy, the football nation, failed to qualify for the FIFA world cup, the second time since 1958 edition. And, in tech world, chipmaker Qualcomm rejected Broadcom’s takeover bid.

 

3.58%

What is it? The rate at which retail inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, rose in October from the same period a year ago.

Why is it important? This is the fastest pace in seven months, dimming hopes of an interest rate cut on December 6, when the central bank’s next monetary policy review is scheduled. This was driven by an increase in food prices—combined food inflation was 1.9% in October, against 1.25% in September, while vegetable prices increased from 3.92% to 7.47%–and fuel inflation of 6.36% last month as against 5.56% in September.

Tell me more: Retail inflation in June was the lowest (at 1.46%) since India started publishing these datasets in January 2012 and has been steadily climbing since then. Last month, it was higher in the urban areas (3.81%) than the rural ones (3.36%).

 

12

What is it? The number of state-run companies from which the government is reportedly seeking dividend amounts of 30% to 100% of their 2016-17 and 2017-18 net profit.

Why is it important? This indicates the government is scrambling to make up for the shortfall in tax revenue to meet its fiscal deficit target of 3.2% of GDP (gross domestic product) for 2017-18. It raises questions on how these public-sector firms would be able to shoulder the twin responsibility of handing out dividend payouts to the government as well as stepping up investments in an economic environment where the private sector remains hesitant.

Tell me more: India’s fiscal deficit stood at Rs 499,000 crore at the end of September, which translates to 91% of its full-year target.

 

Rs 7,850 crore

What is it? The total amount for which Vodafone India (Rs 3,850 crore) and Idea Cellular (Rs 4,000 crore) are looking to sell their standalone towers businesses to ATC Telecom Infrastructure.

Why is it important? This would help these telecom firms reduce their debt levels, which are currently straining under a five-year borrowing spree to acquire spectrum and a fierce price war introduced by Reliance Jio in a highly competitive market since 2016. Idea and Vodafone have a cumulative debt of Rs 108,000 crore. This sale is likely to generate property revenue of Rs 2,100 crore and around Rs 800 crore in gross margin for ATC in the first year.

Tell me more: Idea and Vodafone had announced a $23 billion-merger (excluding the latter’s 42% stake in Indus Towers) in March to create the world’s second largest and India’s largest telecom firm by subscribers, which the competition regulator approved about four months ago.

 

0

What is it?  The number of goals scored by Italy in the two legs of its elimination tie against Sweden to decide who will go to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Why is it important? Italy’s 1-0 loss on aggregate to Sweden means this high-profile footballing nation failed to qualify for the football World Cup for the first time since it missed the 1958 edition. Italy, along with Germany has the second-highest number of World Cup tournament participations (18), after Brazil (20).

Tell me more: Italy also has won four World Cup titles, the last one coming in 2006. Here, too, it is at par with Germany and ranked second only to Brazil, which has five titles.

 

78%

What is it?  The percentage of shares of chipmaker Qualcomm that are held by institutions, as of June 2017, according to Nasdaq.

Why is it important? Yesterday, Qualcomm formally rejected an unsolicited $103 billion acquisition bid from Broadcom, in what would have been the largest merger in the technology space. This shifts the attention to institutional shareholders as Broadcom CEO Hock Tan, while announcing the bid last week, said he was open to exploring more aggressive options to acquire Qualcomm.

Tell me more: The 78% institutional shareholding in Qualcomm is fragmented and spread across 1,512 shareholders. Blackrock and Vanguard have the largest holdings, of 7.2% and 7%, respectively.

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News in Numbers – September 7

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Rs 249

What is it? The monthly price at which state-owned BSNL is offering unlimited usage broadband connection on a landline.

Why is it important? BSNL’s offer comes in the wake of Reliance Jio shaking up the Internet access segment, offering 4G wireless services free till December and subsequently at an effective cost of Rs 50 per GB. As of April, BSNL was number one in broadband in the landline segment (9.9 million subscribers) and number five in mobile broadband (10.6 million).

Tell me more: BSNL will offer a speed of 2Mbps for 1 GB of data and 1 Mbps subsequently. This offer is for six months, after which subscribers will move to a BSNL plan with less generous terms.

8

What is it? Number of additional teams that Gianni Infantino, president of the world soccer governing body, is pitching for in the 2026 FIFA World Cup—from the current 32 to 40.

Why is it important? More teams means greater viewer interest—and commercial value—in the event around the world. But it can also entail a format rejig, potentially translating into a longer tournament and even fewer matchups between top teams.

Tell me more: After staying constant at 16 for nearly five decades, the number of teams in the World Cup increased to 24 in 1982 and then to 32 in 1998.

15,000 cusecs 

What is it? The amount of water to be released by Karnataka per day for the next 10 days to Tamil Nadu, per Supreme Court order on Tuesday.

Why is it important? Violent protests erupted in Karnataka almost immediately after the Supreme Court delivered its verdict. This adversely impacted the inter-state movement of people as Tamil Nadu registered buses were stopped from crossing the border fearing safety of passengers and buses.

Tell me more: As per the final verdict of Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal, Karnataka has to release 192 thousands million cubic feet of water to Tamil Nadu. It specified how much should be released each month. The problem arises when monsoon is deficit like this year so far. The tribunal only stated water share should be proportionately reduced, but did not spell out a formula.

6

What is it? The number of Karnataka-based schools that lost their CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) affiliation because they produced fake minority certificates to circumvent Right to Education Act provisions.

Why is it important? RTE Act stipulates that 25% of the seats be reserved for economically backward and disadvantaged sections of the society. While it highlights CBSE’s tough stance, the incident also reflects the extent to which educational institutions flout rules. It comes a day after an UNESCO report warned that India will be late by 50 years in achieving its education goals.

Tell me more: The six schools – five based in Bangalore and one in Mysore – belong to National Public Schools group.

$65 billion

What is it? German pharma and crop chemical giant Bayer’s bid for agro-biotech major Monsanto

Why is it important? If it goes through, it will be the biggest ever corporate takeover in cash. The deal would also reflect the consolidation taking place in farm supplies sector. Bloomberg points out  China National Chemical Corp agreed to buy Swiss seed company Syngenta, and  DuPont and Dow Chemical plan a crop-science unit post merger. Monsanto tried buying Syngenta earlier, and was in talks with BASF, world’s largest chemical producer to buy its agro chemicals unit.

Tell me more: Bayer offered to pay $122 a share in May, increased it to $125/share in July. Now it stands at $127.50/share (i.e $65 billion overall) and some analysts expect it to go even higher.

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