Ola given a thumbs up

Rs 670 crore

What is it? The amount Indian cab-hailing app Ola has raised in its latest round of funding, the fifth-largest investment in the firm. US hedge fund Falcon Edge led the latest round, along with new investor Ratan Tata’s RNT Capital Advisors.

Why is it important? The company is locked in fierce competition with US-based Uber Technologies over the Indian market, and the latest investment will give it more firepower. In 2015-16, Ola posted a net loss of Rs 2,313 crore, which was thrice the loss it posted in 2014-15.

Tell me more: Ola’s latest valuation could not be ascertained, but media reports placed it at $3.5 billion, which would be a drop from $4.8 billion in August 2015.

 

Rs 697,409 crore

What is it? The value of non-performing assets in the Indian banking system, which an ordinance passed yesterday by the Union cabinet is looking to address.

Why is it important? The ordinance, awaiting the President’s approval, aims to give the central bank more teeth. It can, for example, give specific directions to banks regarding NPAs. Till December, 2016, bad loans amounted to Rs 697,409 crore, according to an estimate, with state-owned banks accounting for 88% of this.

Tell me more: The ordinance, amending the Banking Regulation Act, will let the RBI also set up committees to oversee cases of bankers being investigated for restructured loans.

 

308,000

What is it? The number of new digital news subscriptions added by New York Times in the first quarter of 2017.

Why is it important? Like several print publications in the US, NYT too has been pushing its digital subscriptions to stay relevant and drive up sales among an audience increasingly getting their news from electronic modes. The latest subscriber additions enabled a 5% year-on-year growth in revenues to $398.8 million, which was higher than analyst expectations.

Tell me more: NYT’s digital-only subscriptions to its news and crossword products brought in $75.82 million of revenues in the quarter, a year-on-year growth of about 40%.

 

50.76 million

What is it? The number of iPhones sold by Apple in the second quarter (ended April 1, 2017) of FY17.

Why is it important? Despite the launch of a signature red iPhone 7 to sustain buyer interest, Apple’s star product, the iPhone, saw an unexpected dip in volume sales: down 0.8% over the 51.2 million units sold in Q2 of FY16 and 35% over the preceding festive quarter.

Tell me more: Apple’s shares lost 1.9% on Wednesday. Its net income (profit) in the quarter rose 4.9% to $11.03 billion.

 

5

What is it? The number of appearances made by Italian side Juventus in the finals of the UEFA Champions League, Europe’s premier club competition in football since 1992-93.

Why is it important? Juventus is looking good for a sixth appearance after turning in a clinical performance to beat French side Monaco 2-0, that too away, on Wednesday night.

Tell me more: With 5 final appearances, Juventus is joint second with Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid. But it has also lost more finals than any other club—4 in all—and will be looking to break a hoodoo this year.

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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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News in numbers, Apr 29, 2016: Peer-to-peer lending platforms, India’s gets its own GPS…

30

What is it? The number of peer lending startups in India.

Why is it important? Reserve Bank of India has proposed that such platforms register as non-banking financial companies. If accepted, it would bring them under regulatory framework, lending more credibility to peerlending (or P2P, peer to peer) business in India. It would interests of the borrowers and lenders, even as these businesses fill gaps due to lack of formal credit.

Tell me more: As per the recommendations, P2P platforms are to have a minimum capital of Rs 2 crore, can act only as intermediaries and not seek deposits, should transfer funds directly from the lender’s account to the borrower’s, report regularly to the RBI and register themselves as companies.

7

What is it? The number of navigation system satellites the Indian Space Research Organisation has launched.

Why is it important? This reduces India’s dependence on the foreign navigation systems such as the US Global Positioning System (GPS). The navigation system – called Navic – will be useful especially during war-like times when it becomes a strategic asset.

Tell me more: The applications of this system, (called Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System or IRNSS) include terrestrial, aerial and marine navigation, mapping, disaster management and vehicle tracking, which can also be made use of by the neighbouring countries. India now joins the list of a few countries that have their own navigation satellite systems – US, the European Union, Russia and China.

Rs 100 crore

What is it? The amount Mahindra Intertrade in partnership with state-owned MSTC would invest in equipment to set up India’s first automobile shredding plant.

Why is it important? The Indian government plans to scrap older vehicles and introduce stricter vehicular emission rules, which would provide an opportunity for Mahindra’s latest business venture. The shredding plant could help in providing scrap to steelmakers and other industries, which depend on imported scrap for their operations. India was the third largest importer of steel scrap in 2013-14.

Tell me more: Currently, independent workshops deal with dismantling of cars and there is no organised market in India. The plant, which would begin operations in about a year, would need to handle 100,000 units a year to be financially viable. The company is willing to extend its services to scrapping ships and other machines too.

6.68 lakh

What is it? The number of candidates appearing for the All India Pre-medical/Pre-dental Entrance Test scheduled for May 1.

Why is it important? This replaces all other entrance examinations by government colleges, deemed universities and private colleges, and promises to make it more convenient and less expensive for aspiring medical doctors and dentists. Some states including Tamil Nadu and Karnataka had opposed this move for different reasons. It also raises questions about infringement on states’ right to conduct exams as per their own procedures.

Tell me more: The students who have not applied for the test to be conducted on May 1 (now, considered to be Phase I of the common entrance exam) would be allowed to appear for the second phase of the common entrance exam on July 24. The combined results will be declared on August 17 and the admission process to be completed before September 30.

62%

What is it? Samsung’s market share in Rs 30,000-plus smartphone segment in India in January-March 2016 quarter.

Why is it important? With this, Samsung has overtaken Apple as the market leader in this segment, a reversal of positions from October-December 2015. Samsung’s rise was helped by launch of Galaxy S7 launched last month and price cuts for previous models such as Galaxy S6 and Note 5. Apple, which is betting big on India, lost out to Samsung despite an increase of 56% in iPhone sales during the three months to March 2016.

Tell me more: In September-December 2015, Apple’s market share in the segment was 55%, which slid to 37% in the first three months of 2016. Samsung’s market share jumped from 35% to 62% in the same time periods.

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News in numbers, Jan 28, 2016: Apple turns to India for growth, global corruption index…

 

800,000

What is it? The number of iPhones sold by Apple in India in the last three months of 2015, according to Counterpoint Technology Research.

Why is it important? This is the highest ever sales recorded in the country, a 76% growth from a year ago. However, this is less than 3% of total smartphones sold in India during the period. Globally, Apple reported flat sales of its flagship smartphone, which accounts forover two-thirds of its revenue, in this period, a reason it’s turning its attention on India. The company said it is “increasingly putting more energy” into the country’s youth and their rising disposable income. Recently, it had sought the government’s approval to open its own retail stores in India.

Tell me more: Analysts are worried that China’s economic slowdown (it reported the lowest numbers in 25 years) might impact Apple’s growth. Greater China accounted for nearly a fourth of Apple’s fourth quarter revenue.

 

76

What is it? India’s ranking in 2015’s global corruption index (out of 168 countries) by Transparency International.

Why is it important? It has moved up nine positions from the previous year’s 85th ranking. Its grade index score of 38 out of 100 (100 is the least corrupt) compares poorly with the Denmark’s 91, the top country in the index. Shows India has a long way to go in weeding out corruption. One of the key promises by the NDA government has been to improve India’s ranking in the ease of doing business index and position it among the top 50 countries. To do so, India would have to tackle corruption quickly, which has been cited as the main obstacle in doing business in the country by a 2014 KPMG report.

Tell me more: Brazil reported the worst decline in rankings, down seven positions to the 76th position, as a massive scandal erupted at state-run companies.

 

Rs 6 lakh crore

What is it? The amount the Indian government could earn based on the telecom regulator’s recommendations on the reserve price for spectrum in the  700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz and 2500 MHz bands.

Why is it important? This would be the highest ever earned by the government from spectrum auction, if it accepts the regulator’s recommendations. The 700 MHz band, which is known to be the best for offering mobile broadband and 4G services and is being offered under the auction for the first time, could alone contribute to around Rs 4 lakh crore. The telecom companies are reeling under massive debts (Rs 3.5 lakh crore as of April 2015) and it remains to be seen how far they are willing to stretch their balance sheets to participate in the next round of auction.

Tell me more: Telecom operators including Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular have opposed the sale of spectrum in the 700 MHz band, saying it should be done only when the operators are ready with the devices and equipment to operate the airwaves.

 

$3 billion

What is it? India’s arms export target by 2025.

Why is it important? The Indian government is seeking to not only become self-sufficient in the defence sector but also, one of the world’s biggest arms exporters. If India achieves the $3-billion target, then it would then transform the country from an arms importer to a major seller. In 2014-15, it sold defence equipment worth around $150 million to other countries, a mere 0.25% of the $64-billion global defence trade. In contrast, India’s arms imports totalled to $5.57 billion in 2014.

Tell me more: According to Anurag Garg, a director of defense at Strategy&, a consulting group of PwC, state companies account for 80% of defence production and that there is heavy reliance on the private sector to design military hardware, which is “no easy task”.

 

10.23 million tonnes

What is it? India’s rice exports in 2015, according to a Thai rice exporters organisation.

Why is it important? This makes India the world’s largest rice exporter, beating Thailand. India’s top position comes not from its scaling up, but by Thailand’s decline. Thailand’s rice exports were down by 10.8% to 9.8 million tonnes on a year-on-year basis. The Southeast Asian country attributed this to global economic slowdown, particularly in countries with high rice demand and decrease in purchasing power of nations due to falling oil prices. India’s total rice shipments have seen a 7.3% decline in volumes and an 18% fall in value in the April-November period of the current fiscal. It is likely to post lower export figures in 2015-16 than the 11.92 million tonnes shipped in 2014-15.

Tell me more: Fall in shipments of the basmati rice variety to Iran, one of the largest buyers from India and tepid demand from African countries (mainly Nigeria) are the main reasons for the fall in India’s rice exports.

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