News in Numbers, June 14, 2016: Microsoft acquires LinkedIn, air ambulances in India…

$26.2 billion

What is it? The size of Microsoft – LinkedIn deal.

Why is it important? This is Microsoft’s biggest acquisition ever. It’s expected to help Microsoft in its path to become a business services company, and strengthen its suite of products – with Linkedin’s networking platform complementing Microsoft’s work tools including Office (which has 1.2 billion users).

Tell me more: Microsoft is buying Linkedin at $196 per share, a 50% premium to the closing price on Friday. “Essentially, we’re both trying to do the same thing but coming at it from two different places: For LinkedIn, it’s the professional network, and for Microsoft, the professional cloud,” according to Jeff Weiner, chief executive officer of LinkedIn.

 

210-220 million

What is it? Overall estimated iPhone shipments in 2016, 8.6% lower than those in 2015.

Why is it important? This would the first fall in Apple’s flagship smartphone since its launch in 2007. Apple still relies on iPhones for two-thirds of its total sales and reported its first quarterly revenue decline since 2003 in the January-March 2016 period.

Tell me more: In a May report, Yuanta Investment Consulting had estimated that iPhone shipments would see a year-on-year decline of 12% to 207 million units this year. Apple is expected to launch its new model (iPhone 7) in September and new versions tend to boost sales, if they are significantly better than the previous ones.

 

Rs 2,250

What is it? The amount passengers of Spicejet, Indigo and GoAir need to pay (in addition to fare difference) for changing the name on tickets now. In 2010, this was Rs 1,500 plus fare difference, according to a study.

Why is it important? An example of how Indian airlines have increased the prices for almost all the different services including seat cancellation and infants or minors travelling unaccompanied, except for the tickets. While this may be viewed as an additional burden on unsuspecting passengers, experts say such a move would encourage first-time customers and expand the market.

Tell me more: Last weekend, the Civil Aviation Ministry proposed some new norms for services/charges including excess baggage, denied boarding and cancellation, and has given two weeks to its stakeholders to submit their suggestions and comments on the same.

 

21

What is it? The number of MLAs whose fate hangs in the balance after the President rejected a Bill of the Delhi government that seeks to amend the law on ‘Office of Profit’.

Why is it important? The Delhi government passed a bill that seeks to retrospectively exempt these MLAs, appointed as Parliamentary Secretaries last March, from the list of ‘Office of Profit’ and validate their posts. An elected member cannot hold an office of profit or hold positions that give them more financial and executive powers. There is a possibility that the 21 seats may now face by-elections.

Tell me more: The President has referred the issue to the Election Commission, which has sought the replies of the legislators and will fix a date for hearing to decide the fate of the legislators.

 

Rs 17,999

What is it? The annual subscription for a family for helicopter ambulance services to be launched by Bengaluru-based Aviators Air Rescue in the five southern states – Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana – in three months.

Why is it important? The company would be the first one in India to offer services under the recently notified Helicopter Emergency Medical Services guidelines. Besides being airlifted to a healthcare facility in case of an emergency, the subscription would also cover last-mile ambulance charges of Rs 15,000 and preliminary hospital charges of Rs 85,000.

Tell me more: The air ambulances would land on pre-approved helipads and has partnered with 2,000 hospitals and ambulance services for the last-mile connectivity. The company, which will launch its services with three helicopters, plans to add seven more to its fleet to extend its coverage to the entire country by April 2017. For an individual, the annual subscription is Rs 8,999.

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News in Numbers, May 23, 2016: Distressed asset sale deals, ISRO’s latest milestone…

29

What is it? The number of 10 million-people-plus megacities in 2015 compared with 14 in 1995.

Why is it important? Four out of five of them are in developing countries (Asia, Africa and Latin America), indicating that these regions would contribute increasingly to the global economy and attract global businesses. However, this also highlights the challenges these countries would face in tackling urban migration, pressure on infrastructure and the availability of resources.

Tell me more: As many as 49 metropolitan clusters are likely to account for 77% of incremental GDP from 2010 and 2015 in India. The country, which is implementing an ambitious programme to create 100 smart cities by 2022, has just 0.23 urban planners per 100,000 population and the municipal expenditure as a percentage of GDP is just 1.1% (compares very poorly with the other BRICS nations, and OECD countries).

 

0.41%

What is it? The average percentage of tickets Jet Airways sold in the highest fare bucket across the 20 busiest domestic routes in April, according to Directorate-General of Civil Aviation’s (DGCA) first monthly report aimed at checking soaring airfare prices.

Why is it important? Its competitors – Indigo, Spicejet and GoAir – did not sell a single ticket in the highest fare bucket in many of the 20 domestic routes. Some Parliamentarians had raised the issue of high airfares despite low fuel prices, and also the surge in prices during certain events (such as the Jat agitation in Haryana) and natural calamities. The first set of data do not support the lawmakers’ concerns on this issue, though it would be monitored every month to see if it justifies to impose a cap on airfares.

Tell me more: The DGCA will hold consultation talks with the airlines to discuss a cap on airfares. The Ministry of Civil Aviation has proposed the levying of a 2% fee on all domestic and international commercial flights in order to cross-subsidise air tickets on non-metro routes and bring it down to around Rs 2,500 per flying hour.

 

33

What is it? The number of asset sale deals announced by the top 10 most indebted business houses (as profiled by Credit Suisse last year) since April 2015.

Why is it important? Of these, only six deals have been completed. Of these six, the total value of four deals (for which information is available) is Rs 2,546 crore,  a mere 3% of the total value (Rs 82,343 crore) of the 33 deals. Indicates that companies are struggling to find buyers for their assets. Some may not be willing to mark down the value of their assets to reflect the actual market value, betting that the market may improve, prompting them to either delay the sale of assets or not sell at all.

Tell me more: As many as 14 deals are pending, nine of which account for Rs 48,910 crore. Another 12 are in the proposal stage, of which seven are worth Rs 28,810 crore and one has been withdrawn.

 

4

What is it? The number of months the poor families in drought-hit Bundelkhand region will get free rice, wheat and coarse grain starting June 1.

Why is it important? Last week, Uttar Pradesh declared eight districts (seven of them in Bundelkhand) drought-hit – a much-delayed move, according to ruling Samajwadi Party’s political rivals. The region has seen at least 3,000 farmer suicides over the last five years. It also suffered continuous drought between 2003 and 2010, floods in 2011, late and deficit rainfall in 2012 and 2013 and drought in 2014.

Tell me more: The Uttar Pradesh government has sanctioned Rs 145 crore for rejuvenating 100 extinct ponds in the region. The farmers are being encouraged to cultivate oilseeds, especially sesame, and the government has increased subsidy on these crops.

 

70 km

What is it? The distance India’s indigenous version of a space shuttle travelled today, after which it descended into the Bay of Bengal.

Why is it important? This is the country’s first reusable space shuttle and its first step towards creating a full–fledged reusable rocket, which might take another 10-15 years. The use of a reusable launch vehicle would reduce the cost of space exploration and utilisation, besides providing on-demand space access.

Tell me more: The Indian Space Research Organisation declared the mission a success. It took about 10 minutes from lift-off to splash-down. The 6.5-metre long ‘aeroplane’-like structure weighs 1.75 tonnes and is almost six times smaller than the final version.

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News in Numbers – September 16, 2015

News In Numbers: September 16, 2015

 

37.4%

The combined wealth of India’s 198,000 high-net-worth-individual (HNWI) population as a percentage of India’s GDP (in 2014-15). The world’s second most populous nation is home to the 11th largest population of millionaires. India recorded the highest growth rates in the world for HNWI population (26.3%) and wealth (28.2%), due to falling oil prices and “constructive” election results. India and China led the growth of rich individuals and wealth in Asia Pacific, which surpassed North America’s HNWI population by a slim margin and is expected to overtake it in terms of wealth too, by the end of 2015. China’s HNWI population in 2014 stood at 890,000 whose wealth rose 19.3% to $4.5 trillion, which is more than twice of India’s GDP in 2014-15.

 

20.7%

The drop in India’s merchandise exports in August, the steepest decline in five months and contracting for the ninth consecutive month. The two main reasons for this are lower commodity prices and a weak global demand. Exports stood at $21.2 billion while imports declined 9.95% to $33.7 billion in August. India’s trade deficit marginally narrowed to $12.5 billion in August from $12.8 billion in July. The decline in exports was mainly due to a 48% year-on-year fall in shipments of petroleum products to $2.8 billion. Reviving exports is critical as it accounts for nearly a fourth of India’s GDP. S C Ralhan, president of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations has called for the intervention of the Prime Minister and the Commerce and Industry Minister to immediately consult with the export bodies and draw up a roadmap to tackle the situation where reaching last financial year’s export target was looking difficult.

 

Rs 1 lakh crore

The amount Indian Railways is planning to seek from the Finance Ministry for safety upgrade, after a spate of recent railway accidents across India including Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, which has brought the spotlight once again on the safety aspects of the railways. Chairman of the Railway Board, A K Mital, has said the Indian railways is preparing a “comprehensive safety plan” that includes elimination of all level crossings and strengthening of tracks and bridges. Japanese railways and companies have agreed to help the Indian government in achieving its ‘zero accident mission’. In 2014, 27,581 people died in railway related accidents, of which 9.3% were railway crossing accidents.

 

7

The number of days within which private airlines would have to present their plans to reduce “excessive” fares on certain routes to the Indian government. Junior aviation minister Mahesh Sharma said the government is open to imposing price caps if the responses of the private carriers are inadequate. He also said that the last minute fares are on the higher side and that these are giving the airlines “a bad name”. However, he added that the government prefers to settle this issue without introducing any caps or other rules. The Indian aviation is struggling with $11.3 billion in debt and just two airlines- Indigo and GoAir – made a profit in 2014-15. GoEuro, a European travel website, ranked India as the most inexpensive country in terms of air travel where it costs about $10.36 per 100 km. Recently, chairman of Competition Commission of India, Ashok Chawla, said that there is no need to put a cap on airfares and that market forces would be able to fix the right fares in an unregulated environment.

 

Rs 20,000 crore

The estimated revenue that the festival of ‘Ganeshotsav’ generates across India, according to a report by industry body Assocham. ‘Ganeshotsav’ or ‘Ganesh Chathurti’ is an important Hindu festival celebrated to honour the elephant-headed God, Ganesha. Terming the festival as ‘recession-proof’, Assocham said expenditure on the festival is growing at an annual rate of 30% and the number of ‘mandals’ (elaborate, artificial structures erected with idols of Ganesha) is increasing at 5-10% per year. The report says the setting up of these ‘mandals’ attract “generous contribution by people from all walks of life” and generate employment for thousands of people. A proxy of how the big the festival: organisers of ‘mandals’ across Mumbai had taken a combined insurance cover worth Rs 450 crore last year.

 

 

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The truth about airline discount sales: smaller pool of tickets on offer and higher visibility

This piece originally appeared on Livemint.com

 

Last week, AirAsia India and GoAir became the latest domestic airlines to offer discounted tickets for the coming lean season, following SpiceJet, which launched four such offers in July and August. An analysis of such discount sales, where the number of tickets on offer was mentioned by the airline, shows that for all the visibility they generate, most of the time, the pool of tickets on offer is small. From a passenger’s perspective, it turns the proposition into a luck of the draw. From the airline’s perspective, in most cases, it’s about positioning itself as a price player without conceding too much from its profits.

Slim pickings for passengers

In seven out of 10 offers, the number of discounted seats on offer was less than 10% of the total seats the airline sold during the same period; four were under 5%. There was one offer in which SpiceJet put up about one-third of its ticket block on discount. That same year, SpiceJet posted its largest-ever loss of Rs.1,003 crore and, six months later, its existence was in question. Even after revival, SpiceJet remains the most active on the discounting front, though with a significantly lower percentage of seats.

 

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Slim giveaways from airlines

The airline discount strategy is to stoke interest of flyers. In most cases, the travel period is long, thus catching the potential interest of a large percentage of the airline’s passengers. But since the number of discounted seats is a fraction, the net effect of discount offers on profits, in most cases, is marginal.

 

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