Is Vodafone India headed for liquidation? Facebook launches new payment system - Facebook Pay. Google's "Project Nightingale" comes under regulatory scanner for accessing and gathering records of over 50 million patients. Alibaba's secondary listing in Hong Kong gets approval. Instagram prepares to take on TikTok with TikTok-like video clip Stories feature.
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Dire Straits: Vodafone's India venture is at a crossroad. Its CEO has said that unless the government eases off on some of the demands on mobile spectrum fees, the company risks liquidation. He said unless there's a reduction in spectrum fees and more leeway regarding repayment of debts, the situation would turn critical.
The company - which is based out of the UK - also faces the predicament of AGR licensing fees to the tune of $4bn, which the Supreme Court recently directed telcos to pay to the government. Vodafone Idea - of which Vodafone owns 45% - already has $14bn in debt and a market presence threatened by Reliance Jio, whose arrival in the Indian telecom scene set of a period of crippling price wars. BBG
Meanwhile: Reliance Communications, Vodafone's rival, has reason to worry too. It has secured a total debt of about INR33,000cr and is going through insolvency proceedings. And its assets up for sale have received bids from three firms - including Bharti Airtel and Bharti Infratel. Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Jio Infocomm itself has not placed its bid and has sought a 10-day extension. Hindu BusinessLine
Money Makes the World Go Round: Sunil Munjal, Chairman of Hero Corporate Services, and Hemendra Kothari, Founder of DSP Group, have reportedly held separate talks with Yes Bank to purchase 5-10% stake each in the private lender. The deals, if they good through, could secure Yes Bank investments worth INR3,500cr.
Other than this, US-based private equity giant Carlyle Group has also expressed interest in investing up to $400mn in Yes Bank through a fresh equity issuance. Livemint
Forward and Onward: Chinese online retailer, Alibaba's secondary listing has received Hong Kong stock exchange's approval. Alibaba is planning to raise up to $15bn in a secondary listing in Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, Alibaba will retain its 2014 US listing in New York through which it had raised a record $25bn owing to New York's deep capital markets. Alongside, it is trying to tap into a growing pool of funds in Asia with its latest plan. South China Morning Post
In It For the Long Term: Tata Consultancy Services has announced the expansion of its long-term partnership with Europe's largest life and pensions consolidator, Phoenix Group, to drive the growth and transformation of the Standard Life business and meet the future needs of its customers, workplace clients and their advisers.
The expanded partnership will result in the digital transformation of Standard Life's pensions and savings operations, which is expected to expand the overall scope by a further 4.2 million policies, taking the total number of policies managed by Diligenta, TCS' regulated subsidiary in the UK, on behalf of Phoenix Group, to nearly 10 million. ToI
Food Calling: Food delivery and restaurant recommendation company Zomato has more than halved its cash burn, while also focusing on improving margins and lowering its cost of delivery, reported its biggest shareholder, Info Edge.
The monthly cash burn was c. $20mn in October vs $45mn in March. ET Rise
Bonus Read: As per this fascinating report, the parallels between hotel aggregator Oyo and office-sharing platform WeWork are rather uncanny. Other than the fact that SoftBank Group, directly and through its Vision Fund, is heavily invested in both the startups, both of them raise very similar questions. Three of these stand out - questions around Oyo's dubious business model, its shockingly small revenue and a heady valuation propped up by a financial maneuver previously used by SoftBank family members. Click here for a deep dive into the matter.
Google's "Project Nightingale", which reportedly accessed and gathered records of over 50 million patients of St. Louis-based Ascension is now facing scrutiny and a federal inquiry from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office. As per a WSJ report, neither the doctors nor patients were aware of the data collection. This has raised serious privacy questions given the sensitive nature of medical information.
The program saw Google employees accessing data that included lab results, doctor diagnoses, records, and complete health history of patients, including names and birth dates. As many as 150 Google employees likely had access to the sensitive data, which was not anonymised to remove the personal identifiers. The Indian Express
“Project Nightingale” was initially conceived as a project aimed at crunching data to produce better health care, among other goals.
Meanwhile, a Google spokeswoman in a statement said: “We are happy to cooperate with any questions about the project. We believe Google’s work with Ascension adheres to industry-wide regulations (including HIPAA) regarding patient data, and comes with strict guidance on data privacy, security, and usage.” WSJ
Facebook Pay: Facebook has announced a deeper foray into fintech and one more step towards integrating the platforms it owns. The social media giant will roll out a payments service called Facebook Pay that will allow users to securely send payments to others. It accepts most major credit cards and debit cards - in addition to PayPal. And by enabling users to send money through Facebook's other apps - Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram - it seeks to integrate its many services. CNBC
Video War: Instagram is preparing to take on TikTok by introducing a TikTok-like feature. Instagram Reels lets users make 15-second video clips set to music and share them as Instagram Stories. Reels has been launched in Brazil - where it's called Cenas - and could be released in other markets soon. TechCrunch
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