17804671253_92abdc73da_b

The ‘Tower’ing Burden Of Telecom

 

Vodafone and Idea are trying to save costs by shedding their tower businesses. Retail inflation has hit a 7-month-high, dimming hopes of a rate cut. The government may be scrambling to meet the fiscal deficit target. Italy, the football nation, failed to qualify for the FIFA world cup, the second time since 1958 edition. And, in tech world, chipmaker Qualcomm rejected Broadcom’s takeover bid.

 

3.58%

What is it? The rate at which retail inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, rose in October from the same period a year ago.

Why is it important? This is the fastest pace in seven months, dimming hopes of an interest rate cut on December 6, when the central bank’s next monetary policy review is scheduled. This was driven by an increase in food prices—combined food inflation was 1.9% in October, against 1.25% in September, while vegetable prices increased from 3.92% to 7.47%–and fuel inflation of 6.36% last month as against 5.56% in September.

Tell me more: Retail inflation in June was the lowest (at 1.46%) since India started publishing these datasets in January 2012 and has been steadily climbing since then. Last month, it was higher in the urban areas (3.81%) than the rural ones (3.36%).

 

12

What is it? The number of state-run companies from which the government is reportedly seeking dividend amounts of 30% to 100% of their 2016-17 and 2017-18 net profit.

Why is it important? This indicates the government is scrambling to make up for the shortfall in tax revenue to meet its fiscal deficit target of 3.2% of GDP (gross domestic product) for 2017-18. It raises questions on how these public-sector firms would be able to shoulder the twin responsibility of handing out dividend payouts to the government as well as stepping up investments in an economic environment where the private sector remains hesitant.

Tell me more: India’s fiscal deficit stood at Rs 499,000 crore at the end of September, which translates to 91% of its full-year target.

 

Rs 7,850 crore

What is it? The total amount for which Vodafone India (Rs 3,850 crore) and Idea Cellular (Rs 4,000 crore) are looking to sell their standalone towers businesses to ATC Telecom Infrastructure.

Why is it important? This would help these telecom firms reduce their debt levels, which are currently straining under a five-year borrowing spree to acquire spectrum and a fierce price war introduced by Reliance Jio in a highly competitive market since 2016. Idea and Vodafone have a cumulative debt of Rs 108,000 crore. This sale is likely to generate property revenue of Rs 2,100 crore and around Rs 800 crore in gross margin for ATC in the first year.

Tell me more: Idea and Vodafone had announced a $23 billion-merger (excluding the latter’s 42% stake in Indus Towers) in March to create the world’s second largest and India’s largest telecom firm by subscribers, which the competition regulator approved about four months ago.

 

0

What is it?  The number of goals scored by Italy in the two legs of its elimination tie against Sweden to decide who will go to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Why is it important? Italy’s 1-0 loss on aggregate to Sweden means this high-profile footballing nation failed to qualify for the football World Cup for the first time since it missed the 1958 edition. Italy, along with Germany has the second-highest number of World Cup tournament participations (18), after Brazil (20).

Tell me more: Italy also has won four World Cup titles, the last one coming in 2006. Here, too, it is at par with Germany and ranked second only to Brazil, which has five titles.

 

78%

What is it?  The percentage of shares of chipmaker Qualcomm that are held by institutions, as of June 2017, according to Nasdaq.

Why is it important? Yesterday, Qualcomm formally rejected an unsolicited $103 billion acquisition bid from Broadcom, in what would have been the largest merger in the technology space. This shifts the attention to institutional shareholders as Broadcom CEO Hock Tan, while announcing the bid last week, said he was open to exploring more aggressive options to acquire Qualcomm.

Tell me more: The 78% institutional shareholding in Qualcomm is fragmented and spread across 1,512 shareholders. Blackrock and Vanguard have the largest holdings, of 7.2% and 7%, respectively.

Read More

News in Numbers, Mar 20, 2017: The Wall (not Trump’s)

$130,000

What is it? Minimum wage for a H1B visa holder, as proposed in High Skilled Integrity and Fairness Act, introduced by Congressperson Zoe Lofgren of California earlier this year.

Why is it important? It’s one of the visa reforms being sought by some United States politicians, concerned about foreign nationals taking away American jobs. This bill was expected to impact the way Indian IT companies operate. One of the first signs of change on ground is a decision reported to have taken by Infosys not to apply for H1B visas for junior staff.

Tell me more: The introduction of the bill is potentially acting as a catalyst for IT companies even as they tweak their operating models so they are less dependent on H1B visas (and human resources in general).

 

139 days

What is it? The number of days Manipur was under economic blockade.

Why is it important? United Naga Council, which had imposed the blockade on the north eastern state to protest against the creation of Sadar Hills and Jiribam into full fledged districts, has called it off effective Sunday midnight.

Tell me more: It’s a win for the BJP-led coalition, which is awaiting a floor test in the State Assembly. In the recent elections, Indian National Congress emerged as the single largest party. BJP joined hands with smaller parties to claim the right to form the government.

 

47

What is it? The number of people who were sworn in as ministers in Uttar Pradesh government under chief minister Yogi Adityanath and deputy chief ministers Keshav Prasad Maurya and  Dinesh Sharma.

Why is it important? The focus of everyone’s attention was Yogi Adityanath himself, who is known for provocative and often divisive speeches, and controversial statements. His selection as the country’s largest state came as a surprise to many who thought of recent election results as a mandate for development.

Tell me more: The newly formed government has 21 ministers in cabinet rank. BJP won 312 of the 384 seats it contested (and of 403 available) in the recently held assembly elections. Samajwadi Party won 47 seats and Bahujan Samaj Party won 19.

 

~ 400 million

What is it? The number of customers that telecom players Vodafone and Idea will have as a merged group.

Why is it important? That would mean a 35% market share by number of users. While there were talks about Vodafone – Idea merger for some months now (especially after the launch of Reliance Jio), the companies acknowledged they were in talks last month, and formally announced it after Idea board approved the merger on Monday.  The merged entity will control over 40% of revenue market share, and a quarter of all the spectrum available in the country.

Tell me more: Vodafone will own 45.1%, and Idea promoters will own 26% in the new company.

 

525

What is it? The number of balls faced by Cheteshwar Pujara against Australian cricket team at Ranchi in the ongoing test series.

Why is it important? It is the longest innings ever played by an Indian, and beats Rahul Dravid’s record of 495 balls against Pakistan, in which Dravid scored 270 runs. Pujara scored 202. This is the third test in India – Australia series. The match ends on Monday.

Tell me more: The others in the top five list (of Indian players) who stayed longest on crease by number of balls faced) are Navjot Sidhu, Ravi Shastri and Sunil Gavaskar.

Read More

News in Numbers, Feb 13, 2017: Nothing to kill or to die for

7

What is it? Number of people killed in a gun-battle in Kashmir on Sunday.

Why is it important? The violence in the state, rekindled in 2016, continues with four terrorists killed in the fight. With two Indian soldiers dead, J&K security forces’ death toll increased. Avalanches had claimed lives earlier this year, which succeeds a year with the highest death count of 82 among the forces since 2008.

Tell me more: A civilian was also killed and three soldiers injured in the incident. In civilian deaths, three road-workers had been killed by militants last month.

 

Rs 385.6 crore

What is it? The first-ever loss reported by India’s third-largest telecom player, Idea Cellular in the third quarter financial year 2017 (Q3 FY17).

Why is it important? While it was expected Idea would report a loss, the amount was more than the forecast. A quarter of free voice and data promotional offers by Reliance Jio has dented financial performance of all the three (including Airtel and Vodafone) major players, with the smallest, Idea, being hit the hardest.

Tell me more: Idea says the sector can hope to recover only when Jio starts charging for its pan-India mobile services. Idea’s income fell from a profit of Rs 764.2 crore in Q3 FY16 and Rs 90 crore in Q2 FY17. The operator waited for the official confirmation of a merger with Vodafone India before sharing its financial results this quarter.

 

~$200 million

What is it? The amount Oil and Natural Gas Corporation’s (ONGC) overseas arm, ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL), is said to have overpaid in acquiring Videocon Group’s 10% stake for $2.5 billion, in a large natural gas-field in Africa’s Mozambique in 2013.

Why is it important? If proved, this could mean a big lapse in judgement for the public sector company and India’s largest oil and gas explorer by revenue. What was allegedly on the market for $2.3 billion, was acquired for $2.475 billion by it, and since has faced a write-down in asset value as crude energy prices fell. The payment to Videocon is now being investigated by the oil ministry.

Tell me more: OVL later bought stake in the same area from another energy player, the US Anadarko Corp, for $2.64 billion in 2014 that the latter calculated was a gain of over 62% of the purchase price.

 

310 miles

What is it? The distance travelled by a North Korean intermediate-range ballistic missile before it landed in the Sea of Japan on Sunday.

Why is it important? By testing the missile, North Korea has violated United Nation’s restrictions, even as many observers commented that it was to provoke Donald Trump, the newly elected president of United States, a long time ally of Japan. Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe, who is on a visit to US, and was with Trump, called it “absolutely intolerable.”

Tell me more: Just a day before the launch, Trump and Abe had urged North Korea not to test ballistic missiles and to drop its nuclear programme. It comes about two weeks ahead of the largest ever joint military exercise between the U.S. and South Korea.

 

43,512

What is it? The number of housing units sold in the quarter ended December 2016 in top nine cities in India, according to a report by PropTiger.

Why is it important? The sales are down 20% from the previous quarter, one of the expected impacts of demonetisation, which took away 96% of currency in circulation. The monthly average sales during November and December when demonetisation was in full flow, dropped by 40% and 49% respectively, PropTiger said in a report.

Tell me more: Gurgaon, Noida and Ahmedabad saw 30-40% decline in sales, while Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai saw 20% drop in sales.

Read More

News in Numbers, Oct 24, 2016: The power of Five

Ink_marking_after_Vote_(India)

This February is likely to see a lot of action: the Union Budget is expected to be announced and five states likely to go for polls. The situation in each of the five states seems interesting: in Punjab, the ruling BJP-SAD alliance is looking to retain power even as Congress and new entrant AAP are looking to dethrone the alliance after two successive terms. Goa has a similar situation: BJP wanting to be back in power and up against the same two parties. In Uttarakhand, the Congress, which reclaimed power after a brief President’s rule, is all set to battle it out with the BJP. In Manipur, BJP is looking to strengthen its northeastern presence while the Congress is trying to hold on to its authority. The battle in Uttar Pradesh is getting more and more interesting by the day: the BJP is trying to re-create the magic it weaved during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections (it won 71 of the 80 seats), SP is dealing with its own set of problems while BSP is trying to get the better of both. Here’s to interesting times ahead.

 

 

5

What is it? The number of states – Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Punjab – likely to go on polls simultaneously in February-March.

Why is it important? The results in the five states would be an indicator of BJP’s popularity (which swept the 2014 Lok Sabha elections) and how people perceive its performance at the Centre whereas for the Congress, it would be a way to gauge if the party can see a revival as just 6% of India’s population live in Congress-ruled states – the lowest since Independence. For Aam Aadmi Party, it would indicate the progress it has made outside Delhi even as it nurtures ambitions to grow into a national party.

Tell me more: The Indian government has reportedly approached the Election Commission to seek its permission to present the General Budget in the Lok Sabha on February 1 in order to avoid violating themodel code of conduct that would kick in from the day the election schedule is announced until the results are declared.

 

Rs 1.25-1.5 lakh crore

What is it? The quantum of stressed assets Indian banks are reportedly looking to recover in the next few months.

Why is it important? After having identified the extent of bad loans and having provided capital for them, banks are now progressing to the next step of recovery. Last week, Essar Group sold 98% stake in its oil unit and other assets (largest debt reduction exercise by an Indian business) and three banks – ICICI Bank, Axis Bank and StanChart – got back an estimated $2.5 billion (around Rs 16,750 crore) as part of the first payment for their loans to the group. This is expected to give a boost to the recovery process initiated by the banks.

Tell me more: The lenders are hoping to recover the loans through resolution methods such as sale of assets, transfer to asset reconstruction companies and strategic debt restructuring (allows creditors to convert debt into equity and take over the management of defaulting companies).

 

Rs 3,050 crore

What is it? The penalty recommended to be imposed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular for not providing sufficient interconnect points to Reliance Jio.

Why is it important? This brings an end to the three-month long dispute between the three incumbents and the new entrant Reliance Jio. The telecom regulator ruled that the three firms deliberately blocked the calls made from Reliance Jio’s network, a move considered to have been done with the intention of stifling competition. This was in response to Reliance Jio’s complaint that 75% of the calls made on its network were failing as the incumbents were not providing it with adequate points of interconnection necessary to complete the calls.

Tell me more: For Airtel and Vodafone, the regulator has recommended a penalty of Rs 50 crore per circle for 21 service areas while for Idea Cellular, it is Rs 50 crore for 19 service areas. The regulator has floated a consultation paper that aims to review the existing provisions for interconnection. Interconnection is thearrangement under which telecom firms connect their networks, equipment and services to enable their subscribers to get access to the subscribers, services and networks of other telecom firms

 

$85.4 billion

What is it? The deal size of US telecom giant AT&T buying out entertainment group Time Warner.

Why is it important? If approved by the regulators, this would be the biggest deal in the world this year. The deal would help the third largest cable TV provider in the US (owns mobile phone, broadband and cable TV networks) to transform itself into a full service media provider – owning content would help provide a competitive advantage over the others. This is likely to spark industry consolidation and bring in changes in the way people consume content.

Tell me more: However, it remains to be seen if the deal is allowed to happen as US lawmakers and both the presidential candidates have raised questions about it – the acquisition is considered to be anti-competitive by some. A Senate sub-committee, which is responsible for competition, will hold a hearing in November.

 

$1.7 billion

What is it? The amount Chinese consumers spent on Apple-sanctioned apps in the July-September quarter this year, according to a report.

Why is it important? With this, they have exceeded the spend by Americans (nearly $1.45 billion) by 15% in this period. Chinese consumers spent five times more on Apple apps in the third quarter of 2016 than what they spent two years ago. The report noted that China is likely to drive the largest absolute revenue growth for any country by 2020. Apple recently announced the opening of its research and development centre in China even as it saw its year-on-year revenues fall by 33% in Greater China in its fiscal third quarter.

Tell me more: In terms of market share, domestic firms – Huawei, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi – command a 56% market share in China, pushing Apple to the fifth position (8% market share), according to research firm IDC.

Read More