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Alibaba’s Singles’ Day Brings In Moolah

 

Alibaba raked in billions with its Singles’ day shopping festival, outdoing Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. SoftBank is padding Uber with more money. Air India is borrowing yet again while it sits on a mountain of debt. Industrial output bounced a little but is still lower than August’s. 

 

$10 billion

What is it? The amount that SoftBank Group could end up committing to ride-hailing service Uber, both in fresh funding and in buying out existing investors.

Why is it important? Uber yesterday announced it had entered into an agreement with a consortium led by SoftBank and Dragoneer on a potential investment. For Uber, which is in a state of flux on several fronts, it marks its association with the weightiest investor in the Internet economy. For SoftBank, it gives it a piece of the leader of the unicorn club and a pivotal seat in the ride-hailing sector.

Tell me more: SoftBank is also an investor in other ride-hailing companies, notably Didi in China, GrabTaxi in Singapore and Ola in India.

 

$25.3 billion

What is it? The sales generated by Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce firm, from its 11.11 Global Shopping Festival in 24 hours, which celebrates single people.

Why is it important? The ninth edition of the annual sale is its highest ever, up 42% from 2016, cementing its position as the world’s largest shopping event. It is almost twice the combined sales from Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the US in 2016. Seen another way, it is higher than the GDP of Cameroon. Some experts say the massive growth is due to retailers competing with each other to grab a pie of consumer spending in the growing Chinese economy.

Tell me more: The online extravaganza broke other records too. Alibaba surpassed last year’s sales figure in 13 hours. Chinese postal and courier companies handled at least 331 million packages, over 30% higher than those in the same day a year ago.

 

Rs 1,500 crore

What is it? The value of loan reportedly received by Air India from Bank of India to meet its working capital needs.

Why is it important? It highlights the financial situation of Air India, which has a total debt of Rs 52,000 crore and recently received an in-principle nod for disinvestment. However, according to a report, the new owners are likely to take over only the aircraft debt and not working capital loans, which would be transferred to a special purpose vehicle (to be managed by it) before the sale. Of the total debt, Rs 33,000 crore is on account of working capital loans.

Tell me more: The recent working capital loan comes nearly a month after the national carrier floated a tender seeking government-backed short-term loans for the mentioned amount.

 

3.8%

What is it? The rate at which India’s industrial output grew in September on a year-on-year basis.

Why is it important? While this was lower than the 4.3% recorded in August, it was significantly higher than the depths of June and July, two months that also contained the overhang of the transition to a new goods and services tax (GST).

Tell me more: Of the 23 industries, 11 registered growth, indicating that stability was gradually returning to the industrial sector after the disruptions caused by demonetization and GST.

 

Rs 25,000-30,000

What is it? The amount Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) reportedly spends on a cricketer for DNA testing.

Why is it important? This is to understand each player’s body needs to maintain a particular fat percentage, whose limit for a senior Indian player is 23%. This test is believed to help cricketers improve their speed in fat burning, endurance, recovery and muscle building by developing a customised and comprehensive fitness programme. However, researchers are divided on the usefulness of such tests to improve athletes’ performance: one study claims these are ‘virtually meaningless‘, while another says DNA-matched training programmes improve their performance by three times than the mismatched ones.

Tell me more: Earlier, Indian cricketers took Skinfold tests and DEXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) scans to measure body fat percentage.

 

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Uber’s reality check

1,100

What is it? The number of anti-riots police sent to Mandsaur district in Madhya Pradesh on account of ongoing farmers protest.

Why is it important? The protests by MP farmers – who are demanding loan waiver, higher minimum support price among others – have spread to six other districts in the state. The protests have intensified following the killing of five protesters in firing on Tuesday.

Tell me more: As protests continue, MP chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced a Rs 1000-crore price stabilisation fund and that the state would buy tur, urad and moong from farmers starting June 10. The central and state governments might have to do more than providing sops to pull the country out of the farm crisis.

 

$11.2 billion

What is it? The net worth of Sun Pharma founder Dilip Shanghvi.

Why is it important? It’s down from $21.5 billion in 2015, which made him India’s richest person. The drop of over 50% reflects the troubles faced by India’s generic drug industry – including intense scrutiny by US Food and Drug Administration, and pricing pressure in the market.

Tell me more: Sun Pharma Stock has fallen by nearly 30% in the last one year.

 

82.67%

What is it? The percentage of currency that has been remonetised, according to the Reserve Bank of India.

Why is it important? This partly explains why some parts of the country continues to face cash shortages. In November, the government demonetised nearly 87% of currency in circulation or an estimated Rs 15.5 lakh-crore in old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. The growth in digital transactions, which saw a spike during demonetisation, is back to earlier range.

Tell me more: The percentage of remonetised currency has doubled since January.  By volume, 108% of currency is back in circulation, RBI said.

 

>20

What is it? The estimated number of employees fired by Uber Technologies, the US-based cab-hailing app company.

Why is it important? The move comes after a company-wide investigation into 215 human resources claims of harassment. Uber has been plagued by questions about its company culture and accused of doing little to fix it.

Tell me more: In addition, head of Uber’s Asia Pacific business, Eric Alexander has left the firm. According to recode, Alexander had obtained the medical records a 26 year old woman who was raped by an Uber driver in Delhi in December 2014, and shared it with Uber CEO because they suspected that she was was not raped.

 

$239 million

What is it? The amount Marissa Mayer got for her five years of work as Yahoo CEO, according to Equilar, a research firm.

Why is it important? Mayer oversaw the sale of the firm to Verizon for $4.5 billion, which is expected to complete next week, with Verizon shareholders voting on the bid on Thursday. Mayer’s $900,000 a week paycheck has become a talking point even as 1000 employees are reported to be facing pink slips after the merger.

Tell me more: Mayer took over the reins of Yahoo with much fanfare, and according to several observers, didn’t live up to the expectations (except those of the shareholders). Two big privacy breaches took place during her tenure.

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A House for Mr Biswas

30 basis points

 

What is it? The cut in home loan rates by some banks, especially for affordable housing.

Why is it important? The cuts by Housing Development Finance Corp (HDFC), ICICI Bank, and LIC Housing Finance, follow that by State Bank of India (SBI). The rate cut is for loans upto Rs 30 lakh, which is applicable for low-cost and affordable housing. The rates look to capitalise on the government’s thrust on affordable housing projects as in seen in this year’s budget measures.

Tell me more: Earlier this year, there were wider cuts in home loan rates, with a host of banks passing on the reduced cost of funds.

Rs 18,000 crore

 

What is it? The amount India’s Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) will invest in FY18 in stocks.

Why is it important? The news will boost the stock markets further, even as they rally on monsoon forecast and easing inflation. In FY16, the EPFO had invested 5% of its annual incremental corpus in the markets, and in FY17, 10%. This year it is going to be 15%.

Tell me more: Some of the equity-traded funds it has invested in so far are SBI mutual fund ETFs and UTI mutual fund ETFs.

Rs 34,000 crore

 

What is it? The amount in taxes evaded by companies, according to a fresh list drawn up by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

Why is it important? This is a follow-up investigation of January’s unearthing of 32,000 entities (companies/directors) which used stock price manipulation to avail of the long-term capital gains tax benefit, committing tax fraud. This time Sebi has 11,000 such cases, of penny-stock manipulation, on its hands. It has given the list to the Income Tax department.

Tell me more: The bogus beneficiaries involve inactive or penny stock companies, listed on the bourses. After a series of preferential share allotment, stock splits, share price manipulation, bonus issues and inflated capital base, the beneficiaries exit at jacked-up prices for their one year of LTCG. But cash settlements between such companies and false claimants are likely to scuttle legal persecution.

14,000

 

What is it? The number of confidential files pilfered by an Uber engineer from his former employer Waymo

Why is it important? This is yet another instance of Uber getting into the wrong side of the law. Earlier this year Uber was caught using a secret programme to avoid being caught by government in cities where Uber was operating without full legal clearance. In the latest case, according to a ruling made public, an Uber engineer stole documents pertaining to the Lidar technology from its former employer, the Google-owned Waymo.

Tell me more: The federal judge had ruled that all the files be returned to Waymo and Uber’s work related to lidar be opened to Waymo’s lawyers. Lidar is a laser based sensor that improves self driving cars’ vision significantly.

-3.6%

 

What is it? The percentage by which card transaction volume came down in April 2017 from a month earlier.

Why is it important? It’s an indication that cash transactions are picking up in the country, contrary to the expectations that demonetisation has given an irreversible push to digital transactions.

Tell me more: IMPS (Immediate Payments System), cards, prepaid instruments and mobile banking – all came down by both volume and value in April 2017, from March 2017.

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News in Numbers, Mar 10, 2017: What’s C in C-section?

26 weeks

What is it? The duration of paid maternity leave mandated by the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016, passed in the Lok Sabha on Thursday.

Why is it important? It had been a long-standing demand of women’s rights organisations. If passed by the President of India, the amendment would extend the current provision of 12 weeks of fully-paid leave for the mother to 26 weeks, giving her more security and time to spend with her child and recover her health. India would then be second to only a few countries in the world.

Tell me more: Norway, Estonia and Canada have government-mandated maternity (fully-paid) leaves lasting 35 weeks. Most European companies are at 18 weeks but partly-paid leaves combined with it make for stronger allowances than India’s.

 

$1 billion

What is it? The amount online room renting service, Airbnb Inc, raised in its latest round.

Why is it important? The second-most valuable startup, behind Uber Technologies, the service app will now be valued at $31 billion. But unlike the ride-booking app, Airbnb turned profitable in thesecond half of 2016, and expects EBITDA profit in 2017.

Tell me more: In September, it had raised $555 million as part of the same funding round, and closed it with the recent $447.85 million.

 

Rs 22,521 crore

What is it? The revenue the civil aviation ministry expects state-run Air India to clock in fiscal 2017.

Why is it important? The loss-making airline is expecting a 10% increase in revenue this year. Its passenger load factor, measuring revenue per seat, should increase from 75.6% to 76.4%, indicating more efficient operations, said the ministry.

Tell me more: Existing on government handouts, the airline is said to be moving towards milestones mentioned in the turnaround plan (TAP) involving an infusion of Rs 30,231 crore till 2021. It has gone in for route rationalisation, newer fleet and new routes, and ancillary charges such as preferred seat selection charge.

 

$20 million

What is it? The amount Tata Trusts plans to invest in social enterprises over the next 10 years in association with Department of Science (DST) and Technology and Lockheed Martin.

Why is it important? The decision by one of the country’s leading trusts underlines the increasing influence of social enterprises in social sector, an area traditionally dominated by non-profits funded mostly by charity.

 

Tell me more: The investments will be for the second edition of India Innovation Growth Programme. The first was launched in 2007 by DST.

 

40.9%

What is it? The percentage of cesarean deliveries in private hospitals in India in 2015-16, according to National Family Health Survey.

Why is it important? This contrasts with 11.9% in public hospitals, and raises questions about medical ethics in private hospitals. C-section deliveries cost more, and privatised medical profession has long been accused of recommending costly procedures that might not be necessary – that might even be dangerous – for patients.

Tell me more: Compared to 10 years ago, the percentage of c-section deliveries has gone up in private hospitals – from 27.7% in 2005-06, and has gone down in public hospitals from 15.2% in 2005-06.

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