airIndia

A Suitable Buyer

 

Air India has been bleeding money for quite some time. At the end of March’17, it had piled up debt of nearly Rs. 48,000 crore. Nontheless, it has found suiters in Tata Group and parent company of IndiGo. But, that’s not enough for the government. It wants to raise the stakes, so it may do away with the ‘foreign airlines can own 49% stake in an Indian airline but not Air India’ rule. More bidders, better pricing. Why would a buyer be interested in owning a debt laden company? You ask? Government is hiving off a part of Air India’s loan not linked to the aircraft, a 64% of its debt.

For more news in numbers, read on.

 

84

What is it? The number of seats the Left Alliance in Nepal had won as of Sunday evening in parliamentary elections, as per preliminary results.

Why is it important? With this, the CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist alliance is heading towards a majority, with Khadga Prasad Oli likely to be the country’s Prime Minister. This brings an end to the decade-old civil war in Nepal and completes its move to becoming a federal democracy. It remains to be seen if the Left Alliance’s landslide victory results in the waning of India’s influence on Nepal and China playing a dominant role in the landlocked nation.

Tell me more: The Left Alliance was leading in another 31 seats, while the incumbent Nepali Congress had won just 13 seats. The house of representatives consists of 275 members, of which 165 are to be elected directly under the first-past-the-post system and the rest through the proportional representation system.

 

49%

What is it? The maximum stake that foreign airlines can own in an Indian airline, with the exception of Air India, in which investment from foreign airlines is banned.

Why is it important? The Indian government may reportedly do away with this exception for the disinvestment of state-run Air India, provided the foreign airlines has a joint venture with a local player. This could intensify competition among bidders interested in buying Air India and, perhaps, fetch the government a better price. The parent company of IndiGo is the only airline to have made a formal expression of interest, while the Tata Group has indicated its interest in doing the same.

Tell me more: Jayant Sinha, union minister of state for civil aviation, said on Friday that the process of privatisation of Air India has begun and that it would be finalised in 6-8 months.

 

39%

What is it? Percentage of assets under management (AUMs) of Indian mutual funds in equity funds and balanced funds in November 2017.

Why is it important? This figure was 30% in November 2014. This increase in share of equity-oriented funds comes in the backdrop of consistently rising net inflows into Indian mutual funds, whose total AUMs have increased to an all-time high of Rs 21.8 trillion in November 2017, as against 16.9 trillion in October 2016. More encouragingly, it is individual investors who are driving growth, rather than institutional investors.

Tell me more: The two fund classes that have lost share during this period are both debt funds: income funds (down from 46% to 38%) and liquid funds (down from 21% to 19%).

 

67%

What is it? The rate at which Amazon India’s gross sales volume increased in the July-September quarter from a year ago. Its gross sales by value grew 67% in the same period.

Why is it important? This is more than twice the estimated broader growth rate of the online retail market. It is another indication that Amazon India continues to keep pace with India’s homegrown e-commerce firm and marked leader, Flipkart. In a recent report on customer response and perception by RedSeer Consulting, both e-tailers were tied with a score of 92, similar to the corresponding quarter in the previous year, when they had both scored 95.

Tell me more: Amazon has committed $5 billion in India, of which it has spent over $2 billion, while Flipkart raised $2.4 billion from Japan’s SoftBank Group recently, giving it enough ammunition to battle against its cash-rich rival.

 

14

What is it? Number of consecutive wins recorded by Manchester City in the English Premier League. This is joint best with Arsenal’s run over two seasons in 2002.

Why is it important? On Sunday, leaders Manchester City visited cross-town rivals and second-placed Manchester United in a game with many sub-texts and dominated them in a 2-1 victory. In a weekend when four of the top six teams in the league dropped points, City extended their lead to 11 points. They next travel to Swansea, which is languishing second from the bottom.

Tell me more: The Manchester Derby ended with a fracas in the corridor outside City’s dressing room involving players and staff from the two teams.

 

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The Infra Play

$124 billion

What is it? The amount pledged by Chinese President Xi Jinping for China’s Silk Road plan or ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ (BRI).

Why is it important? India boycotted China’s forum for the initiative last weekend. The forum where the investment was declared saw India’s neighbours such as Pakistan and Sri Lanka participate. India has an issue with the new Silk Road plan as China is approaching connectivity projects in various parts of South Asia without taking it in confidence.

Tell me more: Recent data, however, shows, China’s investment in the BRI to have gone down by 2% in 2016 and 18% in 2017 so far.

Rs 11,725 crore

What is it? The amount to be spent on roads to connect 44 Naxal-affected districts.

Why is it important? The connectivity of Naxal-stricken areas was again under the scanner following the recent attack in Sukma, Chhattisgarh, which was one of the deadliest, killing over 24 security personnel in an ambush attack. The battalion under attack was providing cover for road construction. Rs 55 crore or 5% of the expenditure would be for administrative purposes which includes deployment of security forces.

Tell me more: The states besides Chhattisgarh are Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra. The project will be implemented under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana.

>150

What is it? The number of countries which were hit by a cyber attack that affected 200,000 computers.

Why is it important? Car factories, hospitals, shops, schools were affected among others by the widespread computer worm, ‘WannaCry’ last weekend. A type of ransomware, the virus could cause more damage as offices open on Monday. It locks users out of their computers and demands a ransom to be paid for restoring access to files. Microsoft has squarely laid the blame at governments’ door for the creation of such threats.

Tell me more: The software giant whose operating system the virus exploits, blamed the governments for not sharing software weak spots that they know as part of their intelligence gathering but are kept secret. The virus was the result of one US National Security Agency’s hacking tools getting leaked online earlier this year.

9.15 km

What is it? Length of Dhola-Sadiya bridge over the Brahmaputra river in Assam.

Why is it important? India’s longest bridge. It is to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 26th. It will improve connectivity in the region, help India strengthen its defence in the border (the bridge is situated close to Indo-China border and can withstand the weight of a 60-tonne battle tank and act as a counter to China’s infrastructure geo-politics.

Tell me more: The construction of the bridge started in 2011, at a project cost of Rs 950 crore. It’s lengthier than Bombay Worli Sea Link by 3.5 kms.

50,000

What is it? The number of candidates who stood for elections in 283 local municipalities in Nepal.

Why is it important? This is the first time in 20 years that Nepal held its local body elections, and its first major step since adopting a democratic constitution in 2015.

Tell me more: The elections saw 71% turnout. There was sporadic violence, and one person lost life in police firing.

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