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, Oct 15, 2015: Pharmacy stores’ protest, wholesale inflation of pulses…

~ 800,000

What is it? The estimated number of Pharmacy stores that closed their operations for a day protesting against online sale of drugs.

Why is it important? The All India Organization of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD),which represents the offline pharmacy stores, claims their business is affected 50% since online sales of drugs., Zigy and 1mg are among the several startups backed by investors like Intel Capital, Omidyar Network, and Sequoia Capital that sell drugs online.

Tell me more: The protests by AIOCD is a broad reflection of conflict between brick and mortar retailers and online portals. Last week, a traders body complained to the Commerce Ministry that online retailers like Flipkart, Snapdeal, and Amazon India are violating India’s foreign investment rules.



What is it? Price cut on soaps and detergents sold by Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL), India’s largest fast moving consumer goods firm, to boost sales in three months ended September 2015.

Why is it important? HUL’s sales is a proxy of consumer demand, especially in rural market because of its extensive network. Price deflation because of poor rural demand and lower commodity prices is a validation of the Reserve Bank of India’s outlook that inflation has moderated.

Tell me more: Soaps and detergents account for nearly half of HUL’s revenue of Rs 30,791 crore. This is a better reflector of rural demand compared to personal products or beverages.


Rs 249 crore

What is it? The amount Corporate India donated to Swachh Bharat Kosh, a fund created to get contributions from individuals and companies, towards government’s pet project, ‘Swachh Bharat’ (Clean India).

Why is it important? Swachh Bharat had set an ambitious target of building 25 lakh individual toilets in urban areas, and achieve 100% collection of solid waste in 1,000 cities and towns in current fiscal. In the first year, this report says, only 25% of targets were met in urban areas.

Tell me more: Larsen & Toubro, a conglomerate with interests in engineering, construction and financial services, donated the maximum with Rs 60 crore.



What is it? Wholesale inflation of pulses in September this year, as consecutive deficit monsoon rain has hit domestic production.

Why is it important? Pulses is a major source of protein for Indians. India consumes 22 million tonnes of pulses annually, and domestic output is not enough to meet the demand. A further fall in production will mean increased prices.

Tell me more: A fall in domestic production of pulses is a boon for Canadian farmers, who are getting 50% more prices for their red lentils and yellow peas.


8 years

What is it? The duration for which Nissan will be the global partner to cricket’s governing body. The Japanese car manufacturer will sponsor all multilateral events of the International Cricket Council, including the 2019 World Cup. The deal size was not announced.

Why is it important? While it has sponsored other sporting events, this is the first time Nissan, which is owned by French company Renault, is padding up for cricket. It’s part of its international push, especially India, where it started selling in 2010 and has managed a market share of 2% so far. It is now targeting 5% by 2020.

Tell me more: The previous global partner of ICC was South Korea’s Hyundai, one of the three global car manufacturers whose India ride has not been bumpy.


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