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Top Business News Today: Telecom Cos Approach SC Seeking Deadline Extension For Paying AGR Dues

Professor of Financial Economics and Part-time Value Investor, Transfin.
Jan 21, 2020 12:52 PM 6 min read

Zomato acquires Uber Eats India. IMF lowers global growth projections, partly blames India's economic slowdown. Aviation industry sees weakest festive quarter in six years. Telecom operators approach SC seeking deadline extension for paying AGR dues. SpaceX's Crew Dragon safety test succeeds as it prepares to launch NASA astronauts this year. China confirms mysterious Wuhan virus can pass from person to person.




Zomato acquires Uber Eats India.

Done Deal: After been in the works for more than an year, online food delivery and restaurant discovery platform Zomato has acquired the India business of Uber Eats in a $350m deal. The all-stock transaction will give the US-based ride-hailing company about 10% shareholding in Zomato.


Uber Eats will cease to exist as a separate brand locally and users on its platform will be redirected to Zomato’s app. In addition to this, all delivery drivers, basic information about customers, including their phone numbers and order history, will be transferred to Zomato. ET Tech


Extra Crunch: We did a quick and dirty working to determine Zomato's customer acquisition cost (CAC) from the deal. View the Twitter thread here.



IMF lowers global growth projections, partly blames India's economic slowdown.

Bleeding Red: The IMF has lowered global growth projections, partly blaming India's economic slowdown for the same.


India's GDP growth forecast was lowered to 4.8% for the present fiscal, 1.3 percentage points (pps) lower than the IMF's earlier projection. Numbers for next year were also lowered by 1.2 pps to 5.8% while in 2021-22 the economy is projected to grow at 6.5% - again, lower by 0.9 pps.


World growth projections were similarly lowered to 1.9% for the current fiscal, (0.1 pps lower) and 3.3% for the current calendar year (again 0.1 pps lower). For 2022, the number was 3.4% (0.2 pps below previous estimates).


For the revised projections, the IMF partly blamed the slowdown in India. “The downward revision primarily reflects negative surprises to economic activity in a few emerging market economies, notably India, which led to a reassessment of growth prospects over the next two years,” it said. BS


Aviation industry sees weakest festive quarter in six years.

Air-Plain: India's aviation industry usually sees strong business during the Diwali festival quarter given that many Indians travel back home during this period. But a slowing economy has meant that fewer Indians are opting for air travel. This has led to air passenger growth during the festive period rising at the slowest pace in six years. More details here.



Telecom operators approach SC seeking deadline extension for paying AGR dues.

Pleading For Me: Telecom operators Vodafone Idea, Tata Teleservices and Bharti Airtel have approached the Supreme Court of India in the AGR verdict yet again, this time seeking an extension to the January 23rd deadline to pay the dues.


The telecom companies have sought permission to sit with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and negotiate a settlement plan.


In a severe blow to telecom operators, the SC had last week dismissed pleas to review its earlier judgement that had asked them to pay more than ₹1tr ($14.10bn) of dues to the Government. Bharti Airtel has to pay outstanding dues worth ₹35,586cr ($5,028m), while Vodafone Idea owes the Government ₹50,000cr ($7,064m). ToI


TikTok exploring ways to monetise its India business.

Show Me the Money: Social media platform TikTok is now exploring strategies to monetise its India business, after having amassed a significant user base in India (accounting for almost half its global downloads in the first half of last year).


As per sources, the global monetisation team of TikTok's Chinese parent, ByteDance, had flown down last month for meetings with key Indian creators and influencers on the app, as well as digital agencies and marketers.


Meanwhile...: TikTok is in the process of launching new tools and features that would make it easier for brands to get more information on influencers and their user base, and push their product placement and purchase details more visibly through pop-up formats. The app also began advertising this month for TikTok ads within the app and on rival platforms like Instagram. ET Internet


Brownie Points: As per analysts, in order to turn debt-free before March 2021, as promised by Group Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani to its shareholders in August 2019 , Reliance Industries will have to push hard for the completion of announced deals such as that with Saudi Aramco.


Analysts also added that the company will need stronger free cash flow (FCF) and more deals to meet debt reduction targets. BS



SpaceX's Crew Dragon safety test succeeds as company prepares to launch NASA astronauts this year.

Blast-Off: SpaceX just hit a major intentionally blowing up one of its rockets.


A Falcon 9 rocket with an uncrewed Crew Dragon capsule was launched from Kennedy Space Centrein Florida at 7:30 a.m. PT. The Crew Dragon capsule separated from the Falcon 9 about 80 seconds after takeoff (watch video here), got clear of the rocket, reoriented itself by firing thrusters, and then took a parachute ride down to the Atlantic Ocean. Meanwhile, the the rocket didn't survive the test intact - as planned.


The test was to demonstrate that the Crew Dragon capsule would be able to eject from the rocket and land back safely and intact in the event of any accidents during launching. A successful demonstration of the capsule's abilities puts SpaceX on track to launch NASA astronauts sometime this year. CNET


How are investors divided on Tesla's market prospects?

This is War: Tesla's market prospects have investors in two broad camps, both betting against the other with quasi-religious fervour.


The bulls, drawn to Tesla's prospects, compare it to tech leaders like Apple. In their view, Chief Executive Elon Musk is a visionary, leading a revolution in car design that is sure to leave traditional auto makers in the dust and maybe change electric products more broadly. This side is banked on Tesla for the long run.


On the other hand, the doubters shake their heads over the company's $10bn debt load, lower scale of manufacturing, lack of profit-making and Elon Musk's "behaviour". This side argues Tesla's valuation makes little sense and are banking on the bubble to burst sooner or later.


As Tesla surges towards a market cap of $100bn, here's a deep-dive into these warring camps' arguments and what it says about a company that "inspires investors to ink themselves with their insignia".



Brexit Day is almost upon us - here's an update.

Brexit Update: In case you've forgotten, Brexit Day is on January 31st.


The referendum on whether or not to leave the European Union (EU) was held in June 2016, and Article 50 - the process to initiate the exit - was triggered in March 2017. However, an exit deal - negotiated by previous Prime Minister Theresa May - was rejected by MPs several times.


Then, last year, following a snap general election, the Conservatives led by Boris Johnson won an emphatic victory. His Brexit deal was approved by MPs a few weeks ago and, as things currently stand, it is all but certain that the UK will leave the EU at the end of January.


But Johnson's Brexit plans hit a hurdle yesterday when the House of Lords - Parliament's upper chamber where the Conservatives don't have a majority - made three amendments to the Brexit bill against the government's wishes. But the Conservatives' 80-seat-strong majority in the lower house means, despite recent hiccups, Brexit itself is not likely to get delayed again, which is Johnshon's pledge (in the 2019 election, he ran on a platform to "Get Brexit Done").


China confirms mysterious Wuhan virus can pass from person to person.

This is Vir-us: In late December, a mysterious coronavirus (a highly lethal kind of virus that is known to originate from animals) was identified in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. It was initially mistaken for pneumonia, but as reported cases rose and spread - both throughout the country and elsewhere in Japan, Thailand and South Korea - scientists realised it was more than just regular fever. As of January 21st, nearly 300 cases and four deaths have been reported.


What's more, late Monday, Chinese authorities confirmed that the virus can pass from person to person. An on Tuesday, the World Health Organisation warned that more cases of coronavirus “should be expected in other parts of China and possibly other countries in the coming days.”


For more details on what's happening in Wuhan, click here. For a brief on what coronaviruses are and why they are dangerous, read our earlier cover note on the subject here.


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