News in Numbers, Feb 16, 2017: 💸 Investment bankers get an idea

$9,840.91 million

What is it? The trade deficit in January, 2017.

Why is it important? The trade deficit, or the difference in value of exports and imports, shrank to its lowest in four months. It was brought about by growth in exports for the fifth straight month, buoyed by petroleum products and engineering goods. The shrinking trade deficit also showed the impact of decreasing gold imports which shrank by 30%.

Tell me more: Demand in US, Europe and Japan led to the 4.32% increase in exports.

 

3

What is it? The number of Taiwanese parliamentarians in the delegation that visited India this week

Why is it important? It drew a diplomatic protest from China which objected to India hosting anyone from self-ruled Taiwan. China blocks Taiwan’s right to diplomatic relations with others as it considers it to be one of its own provinces. It also resists attempts of other countries with ties to it from acknowledging official institutions of Taiwan, encouraging, instead, the ‘one China’ principle. The complaint marks another entry in the uneasy Indo-China relations, plagued by border disputes and conflicting stands on the fight against terrorism.

Tell me more: India has termed the visit as informal and nothing unusual, for purposes of business, religion and tourism.

 

$40 million

What is it? The estimated fee for investment banks advising on the Vodafone India and Idea Cellular merger.

Why is it important? A deal that would create India’s largest telecom operator with around Rs 78,000 crore ($12 billion) sales would generate almost 10% of last year’s total investment fees earned by investment banks in India. Hence, quite a few banks are vying for a slice of the pie.

Tell me more: Banks in the fray reportedly include BofA Merrill Lynch, UBS, Standard Chartered and Rothschild, while Morgan Stanley has already been appointed.

 

Rs 37 trillion

What is it? Asset base of State Bank of India (SBI) post merger with five of its subsidiaries.

Why is it important? The cabinet approved the merger on Wednesday. State Bank of India is already the largest bank in the country, and the merger will push the bank into the top global 50 list in terms of assets (It’s at number 52 now). The merger is also expected to create operational efficiency, saving the bank Rs 10 billion in the first year.

Tell me more: The banks to be merged with SBI are State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Mysore , State Bank of Patiala and State Bank of Travancore. All put together, SBI will have 22,500 branches, 58,000 ATMs and over 50 crore customers.

 

$300 million

What is it? The amount Yahoo and Verizon have reportedly decided to lop off from the $4.8 billion acquisition deal

Why is it important? The reduction in the value comes after Yahoo disclosed two security breaches in the second half of 2016. The hack had compromised millions of Yahoo Users, and occurred in 2013 and 2014. The disclosure came after Verizon agreed to acquire Yahoo for $4.8 billion in July 2016 – and raised concerns about digital security, and the responsibility of tech firms that handle user data when a breach happens to various stakeholders including users and investors.

Tell me more: The first breach, in August 2013, affected over a billion accounts, and the second, in late 2014, affected over 500 million accounts.

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News in Numbers, Feb 13, 2017: Nothing to kill or to die for

7

What is it? Number of people killed in a gun-battle in Kashmir on Sunday.

Why is it important? The violence in the state, rekindled in 2016, continues with four terrorists killed in the fight. With two Indian soldiers dead, J&K security forces’ death toll increased. Avalanches had claimed lives earlier this year, which succeeds a year with the highest death count of 82 among the forces since 2008.

Tell me more: A civilian was also killed and three soldiers injured in the incident. In civilian deaths, three road-workers had been killed by militants last month.

 

Rs 385.6 crore

What is it? The first-ever loss reported by India’s third-largest telecom player, Idea Cellular in the third quarter financial year 2017 (Q3 FY17).

Why is it important? While it was expected Idea would report a loss, the amount was more than the forecast. A quarter of free voice and data promotional offers by Reliance Jio has dented financial performance of all the three (including Airtel and Vodafone) major players, with the smallest, Idea, being hit the hardest.

Tell me more: Idea says the sector can hope to recover only when Jio starts charging for its pan-India mobile services. Idea’s income fell from a profit of Rs 764.2 crore in Q3 FY16 and Rs 90 crore in Q2 FY17. The operator waited for the official confirmation of a merger with Vodafone India before sharing its financial results this quarter.

 

~$200 million

What is it? The amount Oil and Natural Gas Corporation’s (ONGC) overseas arm, ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL), is said to have overpaid in acquiring Videocon Group’s 10% stake for $2.5 billion, in a large natural gas-field in Africa’s Mozambique in 2013.

Why is it important? If proved, this could mean a big lapse in judgement for the public sector company and India’s largest oil and gas explorer by revenue. What was allegedly on the market for $2.3 billion, was acquired for $2.475 billion by it, and since has faced a write-down in asset value as crude energy prices fell. The payment to Videocon is now being investigated by the oil ministry.

Tell me more: OVL later bought stake in the same area from another energy player, the US Anadarko Corp, for $2.64 billion in 2014 that the latter calculated was a gain of over 62% of the purchase price.

 

310 miles

What is it? The distance travelled by a North Korean intermediate-range ballistic missile before it landed in the Sea of Japan on Sunday.

Why is it important? By testing the missile, North Korea has violated United Nation’s restrictions, even as many observers commented that it was to provoke Donald Trump, the newly elected president of United States, a long time ally of Japan. Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe, who is on a visit to US, and was with Trump, called it “absolutely intolerable.”

Tell me more: Just a day before the launch, Trump and Abe had urged North Korea not to test ballistic missiles and to drop its nuclear programme. It comes about two weeks ahead of the largest ever joint military exercise between the U.S. and South Korea.

 

43,512

What is it? The number of housing units sold in the quarter ended December 2016 in top nine cities in India, according to a report by PropTiger.

Why is it important? The sales are down 20% from the previous quarter, one of the expected impacts of demonetisation, which took away 96% of currency in circulation. The monthly average sales during November and December when demonetisation was in full flow, dropped by 40% and 49% respectively, PropTiger said in a report.

Tell me more: Gurgaon, Noida and Ahmedabad saw 30-40% decline in sales, while Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai saw 20% drop in sales.

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News in Numbers, Jan 31, 2017: Merger on the airwaves

Rs 78,000 crore

What is it? The estimated combined revenue of a proposed merger of Vodafone India and Idea Cellular.

Why is it important? The all-share merger will create India’s largest telecom company, larger than the Rs-50,008-crore-earning Bharti Airtel. Debt on both the companies’ books and likely losses incurred from the tariff-reduction race started by Reliance Jio are being seen as triggers for the move. It looks like a much needed consolidation boost in the 22-circle Indian telecom market, as seen from the stock gains of Indian telecom operators yesterday ranging 8-10% with Idea gaining a record 26%.

Tell me more: The merged entry would still have to address, in many markets, the telecom regulator’s anti-monopoly restrictions of owning no more than 50% of spectrum in a band and 25% of available spectrum in a circle (or geographic market).

 

1 day

What is it? Number of days to go before the RBI-mandated daily ATM withdrawal limit of Rs 10,000 is removed, from February 1.

Why is it important? The first sign of reverting to pre-demonetisation days of cash management was made with RBI’s circular removing the ATM limit. Two weeks ago, RBI signalled its ease in handling cash by expanding the limit to Rs 10,000 from Rs 4,500. The Rs 24,000-weekly limit on savings-bank withdrawal, however, stays put, but restrictions on  current account, cash credit and overdraft accounts will be removed.

Tell me more: RBI mentions the savings-bank limit is under consideration for withdrawal in the “near future”. Banks can use their discretion to set their own operating limits at ATMs as was the practice before old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes were withdrawn.

 

42

What is it? The number of cases the Income Tax (IT) departmentregistered nationwide under the recently-enforced Benami Transactions Act.

Why is it important? Warnings in public advertisements by the IT department against depositing unaccounted old currency in someone else’s bank account anonymously are materialising now. The BenamiAct’s section 24 has been invoked for 87 notices, for attaching bank accounts with crores of rupees of such dubious deposits and an immovable property.

Tell me more: These cases, if proven true, would attract a heavy penalty and a rigorous jail-term of a maximum of seven years.

 

4

What is it? The number of new administrators appointed by the Supreme Court to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

Why is it important? The neutral committee headed by former Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), and the current Chairman of Banks Board Bureau, Vinod Rai, will pave the path to reform the embattled BCCI, richest sporting body in India and the most profitable cricket board in the world. The team, with a mix of financial acumen, social perspective and cricketing enthusiasm, is tasked with bringing in accounting rigour and good governance to a body mired in controversies, the latest being its earlier president and secretary sacked on January 3. It would also finalise the Indian Premier League’s 10th edition besides reporting on the Lodha panel recommendations to the court.

Tell me more: The other members are Vikram Limaye, managing director and CEO of IDBI Bank; former Indian women’s cricket captain Diana Edulji; and historian and writer Ramchandra Guha. Limaye will represent BCCI in an ICC meeting in February. The committee has no term limit.

 

650

What is it? The number of branches of the India Post Payments Bank(IPPB) to be set up by September, 2017.

Why is it important? The IPPB will locate these branches in postal district headquarters which would enable all the post office branches under those head offices to be served by the payments bank. With India Post’s envious branch network of no less than 155,000 post offices, expanding its reach should be one of IPPB’s easiest tasks.  It would let enabled post offices accept limited deposits at a maximum interest of 5.5% and offer payment services but not offer loans, unlike commercial banks.

Tell me more: The IPPB joins Airtel Payments Bank, offering 7.25% on savings, in a new financial services category, with more players to come.

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News in Numbers, Oct 25, 2016: The mysterious coup…

66%

What is it? The collective stake held by two trusts – Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and Sir Ratan Tata Trust – (both chaired by Ratan Tata) in Tata Sons, the holding company of the $100-billion Tata Group.

Why is it important? These two trusts have the powers to appoint or remove the chairman and it was their decision that led to the sudden sacking of Cyrus Mistry, who was at the helm of the Tata Group for nearly four years. Ratan Tata has taken over the reins of the group temporarily even as a selection committee has been tasked to find a successor in four months. While the reasons for this abrupt decision is unclear, in a statement, the group has said it was on the “recommendation of the principal shareholder (Tata Sons)”.

Tell me more: Of the nine board members, six voted to remove Mistry as chairman while two abstained. He is Pallonji Mistry’s son, who heads Shapoorji and Palonji Group, which owns 18.5% in Tata Sons. The Shapoorji and Palonji Group has said it would contest the move.

 

Rs 91.46 crore

What is it? The net profit of Idea Cellular, India’s third largest telecom player, in the quarter ended September 30.

Why is it important? This is around 88% lower than that posted in the comparable period a year ago (Rs 757.8 crore). This is an effect of intensifying competition due to Reliance Jio’s entry – Idea Cellular showed a decline in voice minutes and fall in mobile voice and data segment. Along with other incumbents, the company reduced data tariffs by as much as 67% and it spent Rs 12,798 crore in the recently-concluded spectrum auction to retain customers.

Tell me more: The company plans to expand its 4G services to 20 service areas from the current 11 and 3G services to 15 service areas from the present 13 by March 2017.

 

4

What is it? The number of weeks the trust governing Haji Ali Dargah, a famous mosque in Mumbai, in which it would implement the Supreme Court’s order of allowing women into the sanctum sanctorum.

Why is it important? This is being considered as a step towards equality and justice by the petitioners (who fought against the ban against women’s entry into the sanctum sanctorum) and their supporters though women won’t be allowed to touch the grave as it is that of a man (a saint). This would also help Muslim women in their fight against triple ‘talaaq’ (divorce), according to the petitioners. It remains to be seen the impact of this event on other religious placesthat have gender restrictions.

Tell me more: The Haji Ali trust had challenged the Bombay High Court’s order lifting the ban that restricted women’s entry into the dargah’s sanctum sanctorum. Two women, Zakia Soman and Noorjehan Niaz from a non-governmental organisation called Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan had filed a public interest litigation in the High Court challenging the trust’s restrictions on women.

 

Rs 35,000-40,000 crore

What is it? The estimated amount that can be saved annually by 2025 under the Indian government’s Sagarmala project, which aims at promote port-led development, according to a study.

Why is it important? The project would reduce the cost of domestic and export-import cargo as the movement of the goods via coastal shipping and inland waterways is expected to be 60-80% cheaper than road and rail transport. Under this project, the government aims to increase the share of inland waterways and coastal shipping in the modal mix from 6% to 12%. It is looking to increase coal movement through the coastal route by nearly five times to 129 million tonnes per annum by 2025 and also, reduce the cost of power generation by 50 paise per unit.

Tell me more: In India, logistics cost as a percentage of gross domestic product is 19% (compared to 12.5% in China, 15.72% in Indonesia and 13.43% in the UK), is among the highest in the world.

 

150 million

What is it? The number of Indians aged 18 years and above that suffer from mental health issues, according to the National Mental Health Survey.

Why is it important? Just one of every five of those suffering from mental health issues gets treatment, reflecting the fact that it’s a less-talked about problem and one that has the burden of social stigma attached to it. One in every 20 people in India suffer from depression and one in 40 has dealt with this problem in the past. Substance use disorder was found to be prevalent in 22.4% of the population aged 18 years and above.

Tell me more: The survey, commissioned by the Indian government and implemented/coordinated by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, covered 34,802 people (18 years and above) in 12 states.

 

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