Air India: Welcome Aboard, MNCs


The new tweak in India’s FDI policy would allow foreign airlines to have a stake in India’s bleeding domestic airline- Air India. Though government would keep the controlling stake, rest of it, 49%, is up for sale. Under the new changes, government has opened up all doors for foreign direct investment in single-brand retail trade.

That and there’s more in news in numbers today. Take a look



What is it? The day-on-day increase in the share price of Eastman Kodak Company on Wednesday, which comes on the back of a 119% increase on Tuesday.

Why is it important? On Tuesday, the company—that was once synonymous with photos and whose fortunes fell with the rise of digital cameras and smartphones—announced plans to develop a new blockchain-based digital rights management platform for photographers. The platform, KodakOne, would let photographers publicly register their rights in digital photographs on an immutable blockchain. KodakCoin will be the currency used on that platform.

Tell me more: Even as analysts tried to place Kodak’s latest plans in context, the price of cryptocurrency Ripple fell 37% in two days and famed investor Warren Buffett said he was near-certain that cryptocurrencies will “come to a bad ending”.



What is it? The foreign direct investment (FDI) in single-brand retail that can now be made under the automatic route, against 49% previously.

Why is it important? On Wednesday, the government tweaked the FDI policy to do away with prior government approval for a 100% investment. It also liberalized local sourcing norms, in a move that is seen to benefit the likes of Ikea and H&M. The relaxation in FDI norms days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi travels to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, later this month—the first by an Indian PM after 1997.

Tell me more: The government yesterday also allowed foreign airlines to buy up to 49% in Air India, which is proposed to be privatized, with prior government approval. Existing rules allow foreign airlines to own up to 49% in private Indian airlines, but not in Air India.


$1 billion

What is it? The amount the world’s biggest automotive alliance of Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi plans to invest in automotive start-ups over the next five years.

Why is it important? There are several big shifts underway in the transportation sector, and traditional automobile powerhouses are not at the helm of many of these. But they are increasingly looking to participate in, and shape, these changes through ventures like these. The trio’s venture capital fund, Alliance Ventures, is looking to invest in new developments in electrification, autonomy, connectivity and artificial intelligence.

Tell me more: Renault and Nissan are funding Alliance Ventures to the tune of 40% each and Mitsubishi 20%. Alliance has already made its first investment: Ionic Materials, a US-based company that is developing cobalt-free battery materials.



What is it? The number of additions to the board of directors of Warren Buffett-controlled Berkshire Hathaway, taking its board size to 14. The two new appointees are Gregory E Abel and Ajit Jain.

Why is it important? Both have also been promoted in executive operations. Both Abel and Jain are long-standing Berkshire executives who have been seen as potential successors to Buffett and the latest move adds credence to that thought by handing them greater responsibility in the Berkshire empire.

Tell me more: In the aftermath of the announcement, Buffett said that this is “part of a movement to succession over time”. Buffett is 87 and his trusted lieutenant Charlie Munger 94.



What is it? The government stake in National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) sold to investors in the company’s two-day offer for sale, which concluded on Wednesday.

Why is it important? The government had initially planned to sell 1.5%, with an option to sell 1.5% more, depending on demand. The NMDC offer for sale was oversubscribed three times, indicating an investor appetite for better-run state businesses, and the government decided to divest 2.52%. It raised about Rs 1,200 crore, which will add to its disinvestment kitty and provide a much-needed boost to revenues.

Tell me more: Against the issue price of Rs 153.50, shares of NMDC closed the day at Rs 155. With this transaction, the government shareholding in NMDC has come down from 74.9% to 72.4%.


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News in Numbers, Apr 27, 2016: Mitsubishi scandal, Apple’s first quarterly fall in 13 years…

Rs 2,800 crore

What is it? The amount the Indian government wants to raise by selling a 11.36% in hydropower producer NHPC today.

Why is it important? The first disinvestment in the current financial year. The government hopes to raise Rs 56,500 crore in 2016-17 by selling its stake in state-owned companies. It remains to be seen if it can achieve that, given that it missed its disinvestment target for the sixth year in a row in 2015-16.

Tell me more: The government, which holds 85.96% in NHPC, will also be able to comply with the market regulator’s rules to increase minimum public shareholding in listed state-owned firms to 25%. The issue price has been set at Rs 21.75 a share, a 5.6% discount to NHPC’s closing price of Rs 23.05 on Tuesday.


What is it? The number of years Japanese automaker Mitsubishi Motors has been falsifying fuel emission tests for the cars it sold in its home country.

Why is it important? The Mitsubishi scandal is much bigger than previously thought. Last week, Japan’s sixth-largest automaker admitted that it had manipulated test data for four domestic mini-van vehicles (including two made for Nissan Motor) and had said the non-compliance was from 2002. This follows German automaker Volkswagen’s admission last year where it admitted to cheating on fuel emission tests that has cost the company €16 billion so far.

Tell me more: The Mitsubishi scandal has affected over 600,000 cars, 157,000 Mitsubishi models and 468,000 Nissan models. It’s share prices have fallen by nearly 50% since its first admission last week and has lost around $3.9 billion in market value.

$50.6 billion

What is it? Apple’s revenue in the three months ended to March 2016, down 12.8% from same period last year.

Why is it important? This is Apple’s first quarterly decline since 2003. iPhone sales, which contribute to around two-thirds of its total sales, declined by 10 million to 51.2 million from a year ago. The company is still best known for its iPhone and given the absence of any major product launch, it remains to be seen if Apple’s growth has already peaked. It expects to earn $41-43 billion in the next quarter.

Tell me more: The company earned $2.1 billion from its ‘Other Products’ category (includes Apple watches, Apple TV and Beats) during the quarter, a 30% increase from the year-ago quarter.


What is it? The number of farmers who have committed suicide so far this year, according to the Indian government.

Why is it important? Impact of a back-to-back drought, which is being made worse by the soaring temperatures in different parts of the country and dipping water reserves in India’s main reservoirs. The government said it has approved a Rs 12,773.3 crore relief package to 10 drought-hit states during the summer season of the crop year of 2015-16.

Tell me more: 57 farmer suicides were reported in Maharashtra (as on February 29), one of the worst-drought affected states while 56 farm labourers have ended their lives in Punjab. Three farmer suicides have been recorded in Telangana.

Rs 333-467

What is it? The likely increase in the cost of basic mobile handsets after the global positioning system (GPS) feature is enabled and the emergency/panic button is introduced.

Why is it important? The Indian Cellular Association fears that this would make it unaffordable for people at the bottom of the pyramid to buy mobile phones. The least expensive phone retails at Rs 500 apiece. However, it is likely that entry-level mobile phones would mirror smartphone pricing trends – with increasing volumes, prices would come down even further.

Tell me more: The government notified on Tuesday that all phones rolled out from January 2018 must have the GPS feature and those sold after January 2017 must have a panic button. India crossed the 1-billion mark in mobile phone subscribers in January this year.

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