Air India’s debt-laden wings ✈

Rs 30,748 crore

What is it? The annual cost of various allowances paid to central government employees and pensioners as approved by the Cabinet on Wednesday.

Why is it important? The approved sum is nearly 5% more than the estimates of the 7th Pay Commission in 2016, at Rs 29,300 crore for allowances. The total financial impact, including salaries, had been estimated at Rs 102,100 crore then.

Tell me more: It was approved after the Committee on Allowances, headed by Ashok Lavasa, submitted its report in April this year.

 

Rs 52,000 crore

What is it? The amount of debt in the books of Air India. Indian government decided yesterday to privatise the state-owned national carrier.

Why is it important? The debt ($8 billion) makes its equity valuation zero or negative, and is the biggest hurdle to its sale. Of this, around Rs 22,000 crore is a loan to purchase aircrafts. The committee is likely to hive off its assets and divest the profit-making subsidiaries.

Tell me more: Private carriers had a domestic market share of 87% in May, 2017, with Air India’s share decreasing over time.

 

6

What is it? The number of countries, with a Muslim majority, whose resident must have a close family tie to a US resident or formal ties with a US entity to be eligible for a US visa.

Why is it important? The latest guidance from the US State Department comes after the US Supreme Court on Monday said the controversial travel ban cannot be imposed on anyone who has “a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States”. The apex court allowed parts of the travel ban, earlier blocked by lower courts, while it reviews the rest of the order by the Donald Trump administration.

 Tell me more: The US Supreme Court will review the full order in autumn.

 

10 years

What is it? The age of the iPhone, Apple Inc’s flagship device, launched on June 29, 2007.

Why is it important? The smartphone, with seven versions so far, has sold more than a billion times since launch. The anniversary brings into focus the future of the gadget as in 2016, Apple saw the volumes of the iPhone take a beating, which slid further in 2017.

Tell me more: In the second quarter of 2017, despite declining volumes, the iPhone brought in more revenue: $53.25 billion from 50.76 million phones compared to the year before sales of 51.19 million phones for $32.86 billion.

 

774

What is it? The number of people invited from 57 countries to join the group choosing the annual Oscars, the most popular movie awards.

Why is it important? The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences which conducts the Oscars says the group of 2017 comprises 39% female and 30% coloured invitees. The Academy had come under fire for leaning heavily on white male membership in its awards panel, reflected in its choice of nominees and awards. The criticism of the lack of racial diversity reached a crescendo in 2016, with the #OscarsSoWhite discussion.

Tell me more: Indian actor, Priyanka Chopra, recognised for her lead turn in ‘Quantico’, a US TV show, is among the invitees.

 

In India, more births happen in the latter half of the year. Is there a reason for it? Check out our latest story for Mint at http://bit.ly/2sjjMNY

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News in Numbers, Mar 08, 2017: Billions, Season 2

5

What is it? The wickets taken by R Ashwin in India’s second test cricket match against Australia, in the on-going four part series.

Why is it important? The haul helped India to its win, after a drubbing in the first match. It added to R Ashwin’s total of 269 test wickets, India’s fifth-highest.

Tell me more: This was also Ashwin’s 25th five-wicket haul in 47 test matches, the fastest among all bowlers, beating New Zealander Richard Hadlee’s 25 fifers in 62 matches. The third and the fourth matches in the series will take place in Ranchi and Dharamsala.

 

11

What is it? The number of individuals who dropped off the billionaire list in 2016.

Why is it important? The note ban in November 2016, among others, took a toll on billionaires as it stripped some of them of substantial cash wealth – enough to reduce their total wealth below $1 billion (~Rs 6,600 crore). Flipkart’s co-founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal are among those who lost their spots.

Tell me more: India’s loss meant Germany’s gain in the Hurun India Rich List as it climbed to the third spot with an addition of 27 new billionaires.

 

Rs 275 crore

What is it? The money the Chinese Internet giant, Alibaba, paid to buy Reliance Capital’s (financial arm of the Reliance Group) nearly 1% stake in One97 Communication, Paytm’s parent.

Why is it important? Alibaba, already a major investor in Paytm’s various ventures, had recently purchased additional stake in its e-commerce arm. Tuesday’s move being seen as a not just consolidating its place in Paytm’s owners business but also as advancing its India ambitions. The sale values One97 Communication at over $4.1 billion.

Tell me more: Reliance Capital had bought the stake in 2009, for just Rs 10 crore, gaining more than 27 times the price it paid from yesterday’s sale.

 

715 million

What is it? The number of Apple iPhones in use, according to an analyst estimate.

Why is it important? Apple sold its billionth iPhone last year, nine years after its launch in 2007. The number of devices in simultaneous use is an indicator of Apple’s strength in the services part of its smartphone business – apps, music streaming, content sales etc. Apple’s app store revenue in 2016 was $28.5 billion, with the developers claiming $20 billion of the amount.

Tell me more: BMO Capital Markets analyst Tim Long also estimated that 300 million second hand iPhones will be in use by end of 2018.

 

10

What is it? The number of people injured in Ujjain train blast on Tuesday.

Why is it important? The blast is said to be the first Islamic State terror attack in the country. Islamic State first came into prominence in 2014, and a number of terror attacks in US, Europe and Asia are linked to the terror group. Police said it shot down one of the suspects who had links to Islamic State and was connected to the blast.

Tell me more: The blast took place on Bhopal-Ujjain train near Jabdi station in Shajapur district of Madhya Pradesh.

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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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