Indus Tower- Bharti Infratel Merger To Be Lead By Former’s CEO Bimal Dayal

The CEO of Indus Towers, Bimal Dayal will lead the new tower firm which is to be formed by the merger of Indus Towers and Bharti Infratel, with Hemant Ruia as the chief financial officer.

Dayal is proposed to be appointed as the CEO of the merged entity and “will be responsible for the combined business and will take forward integration of the two companies in preparation of the merger,” Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Plc, the joint owners of the proposed merged entity, said in a statement on Tuesday. “Ruia (currently CFO of Indus Towers) is proposed to be appointed as the Chief Financial Officer of the merged entity.”

The merger, in the making for about a year, will create one of the largest tower companies globally and is expected to conclude by June end, after obtaining regulatory approvals.

“Shareholder groups (Bharti and Vodafone Group) of the combined entity resulting from the merger of Indus Towers Ltd. with Bharti Infratel Ltd. today announced that the merger process is at an advanced stage of completion,” the parent companies said.

The existing leadership teams of Indus Towers and Bharti Infratel will continue to manage their respective businesses till the merger becomes effective.

The alliance will create a pan-India company with over 163,000 towers, operating in all 22 telecom service areas with an estimated valuation of $12-13 billion.

Bharti Infratel shares rose 2.4% to Rs 276 on the BSE on Tuesday, giving the company a market capitalisation of Rs 51,049 crore ($7.3 billion).

Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Group, which own 42% each in Indus Towers, are expected to hold 37.2% and 29.4%, respectively, in the merged entity.

KKR and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board will own a combined 6%, stemming from their stake of over 10% in Bharti Infratel. Vodafone Idea, currently holding over 11% in Indus, is expected to exit at the time of merger.

It was reported that Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Group are in talks with a consortium led by private equity firm KKR to slash their stakes by over half to 13% or less each in the new company.

While Airtel is expected to use the funds to pare debt and free up cash to fight Reliance Jio Infocomm, Vodafone may infuse the funds into Vodafone Idea, its Indian venture.

It was reported that US-based asset management firm Providence Equity Partners is likely to join Vodafone Idea in selling stakes in Indus Towers for about Rs 2,000 crore and Rs 5,500 crore, respectively.

Snapdeal Close To Buying Rival ShopClues

The online marketplace Snapdeal is about to buy its closest rival ShopClues in an all-stock deal, said two people known to the matter. This came after the on-again, off-again talks fell through earlier following disagreement on its financial terms.

The deal is likely to see Shop-Clues investors get one Snapdeal share for every nine they hold if the merger goes through in this planned structure, and will likely give them a 10% stake in the combined entity.

“The ask from Shopclues is to get at least a 30% stake in Snapdeal as part of the transaction,” said one of the persons.

“The management and founders, Radhika Aggarwal and Sanjay Sethi may get a small cash exit,” said another person aware of the developments.

The due diligence process is now on and a final decision is expected soon, they said.

RESURGENCE OF SNAPDEAL

The deal is expected to be a 100% buyout, with all of ShopClues’ investors, including Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC, Helion Venture Partners, Tiger Global, Nexus Venture Partners and Unilazer Ventures, rolling into Snapdeal, said a person familiar with the matter.

Nexus Venture Partners, an early backer of Snapdeal, is the common investor in both companies.

Snapdeal cofounder and CEO Kunal Bahl didn’t respond to queries, while a ShopClues spokesperson said the company would not comment on market rumours.

If the deal materializes, it will herald a big consolidation move in the long-tail ecommerce market, which has largely catered to small town customers, away from the core audience of established ecommerce companies Amazon and Flipkart. Products sold on long-tail marketplaces are low-priced, typically in Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 range.

Clues Network, which operates ShopClues, has so far raised $250 million and has seen its business shrink in the past year, relegating it to the number five position on the gross merchandise value, or GMV, chart.

Players in the ecommerce logistics space said ShopClues was hardly executing any orders presently. We could not determine ShopClues’ exact order numbers. These executives in the logistics industry also said the Gurugram-based firm had become too much of a credit risk for them to carry on doing business with the company.

Shopclues’ web and mobile web traffic has also fallen to 11 million in April from 16 million in November last year, a quick glance at SimilarWeb data revealed, while Snapdeal’s rose to 82 million from 68 million in the same period.

ShopClues has, however, reduced losses from Rs 210 crore in 2017-18 to less than Rs 45 crore in 2018-19, while maintaining its top line, its spokesperson said.

TOUGH BATTLE

After a tumultuous year, Snapdeal has been slowly increasing its order numbers, which are now in the 250,000 per day range. Snapdeal’s recent resurgence and a notable bump-up in its order numbers after a failed merger attempt with Flipkart is significant, as its order numbers had fallen to as low as 30,000-40,000 daily.

In contrast, Amazon and Flipkart typically rack up 600,000 orders daily.

Apart from pruning costs, the SoftBank-backed company has also pulled itself out of heavily discounted categories such as smartphones, where Amazon and Flipkart are known to splurge big bucks. These cash-guzzling categories do not offer high margins, but help in racking up GMV.

“Snapdeal and Shopclues are trying to make a business in the long-tail category by selling items below Rs 900-1,000 with no promise of next-day delivery. This allowed them to tap into first time online buyers in tiers II and beyond cities in the past. But things may become more competitive after Amazon and Flipkart start chasing these markers,” said Satish Meena, senior forecast analyst at research firm Forrester Research.

Paytm Mall, as reported earlier, has changed its business model with a focus on offline-toonline commerce instead of pushing its cashback-based strategy. Smaller e-tailers find it difficult to retain customers and increase their average ticket sizes, Forrester’s Meena said.

With the acquisition of Flipkart by US retailer Walmart last year, and Amazon’s focus on shifting beyond metropolitan areas and tier II cities, these players may find it difficult to grow in 2019.

DHFL Shares Slump By 18% As It Stops Accepting New Deposits, Halts Renewals

Shares of one of India’s largest housing finance companies, DHFL went high on Wednesday by 18% after the firm said that it will not accept new deposits, while halting renewals of existing ones, with immediate effect. The company also said that it will not allow premature withdrawals to “help reorganise its liability management.” This step follows the latest

revision of the credit rating of its fixed deposit programme.

Today, shares of DHFL hit a low of ₹107.15 on the BSE, falling as much as 17.51%, while India’s benchmark Sensex Index was up 0.15% to 39,027 points. At 9.25 am, the scrip traded at ₹112.80, down 13.16% from its previous close. So far this year, the stock has declined 54%

DHFL has been the subject of multiple downgrades in recent months. The most recent downgrade by Care Ratings was for borrowings including long-term bank facilities, fixed deposit programme, perpetual debt, subordinated debt and non-convertible debentures (NCDs) worth ₹1.13 trillion. Of this, the fixed deposit programme worth ₹20,000 crore was downgraded from CARE A to CARE BBB- (Credit Watch with negative implications). According to CARE Ratings, CARE A signifies ‘low’ credit risk, while CARE BBB signifies ‘moderate’ credit risk.

DHFL offers deposits to for tenors ranging from 12 months to 120 months and with interest rates ranging from 8.2% to 9.25% (on deposits of less than ₹5 crore).

“In view of the recent revision in the credit rating of our fixed deposit program, acceptance of all fresh deposits, as well as renewals, has been put on hold with immediate effect”, the company said in a statement late on Tuesday.

It is to be noted, however, that DHFL has not defaulted on any of its borrowings. “Over the last few weeks there has been several unwarranted speculation in the market about the creditworthiness of DHFL. We assure you that we stand committed to honouring all our liability payments, and have demonstrated this by repaying liabilities amounting to approximately ₹30,000 crore since September 2018, without a single day’s delay”, the company said.

Last week, ratings firm ICRA downgraded securities called pass-through certificates issued under six loan pools by Dewan Housing, citing sustained deterioration in its credit profile.

“The crisis in asset-liability mismatch is a fundamental problem faced by the NBFC sector and this distress needs to be addressed at a policy level by the new government,” an analyst said on condition of anonymity.

Since the beginning of this year, DHFL has seen its credit rating fall four notches at CARE Ratings and also at Brickwork Ratings to BBB+.

In January, Cobrapost accused the company of a financial scam worth ₹33,000 crore. However, DHFL has denied the allegations and called its disbursements in line with regulations.

Oil Prices Trade Higher Ahead Of US Stockpiles Data

Oil prices went up by 1% on Tuesday prior to retreating by the close on concerns that the US crude inventories may have risen by more than 3 million barrels last week. Concerns regarding the US- China trade war also affected the market after Monday’s brief optimism over extended OPEC production cuts.

The June contract for West Texas Intermediate Futures the benchmark for U.S. crude, settled down 11 cents, or 0.2%, at $62.99 per barrel. It rose as much as 68 cents earlier in the session.

London Brent Futures the global benchmark for oil, settled up 21 cents, or 0.3%, at $72.18 per barrel. It had risen 33 cents at the day’s high.

WTI is up 39% this year. Brent has risen 34%.

“The (Reuters) consensus is that we may have had a 3.2-million-barrel build in U.S. crude last week, and that’s more relevant to immediate market sentiment than any cut that OPEC plans to do over the longer run,” said John Kilduff, founding partner at New York energy hedge fund Again Capital.

At 4:30 PM (20:30 GMT), the American Petroleum Institute will issue a snapshot on what the Energy Information Administration will likely report on Wednesday for oil supply-demand for the week ended May 17.

If stockpiles did rise by more than 3 million barrels last week, it would be the second week in a row for such a substantial growth after the previous week’s rise of nearly 5.5 million barrels.

“The recent trend of builds in the U.S. … are counter-seasonal and (inventories) need to start drawing or people may fear that production in the U.S. is just exploding higher,” Scott Shelton, energy futures broker at ICAP (LON:NXGN) in Durham, N.C. said, referring to the upcoming peak U.S. summer driving season where gasoline processing is usually at its highest.

U.S. crude production reached 12.2 million barrels last week, slightly below the all-time high of 12.3 million registered in late April.

The growth in U.S. onshore production from the first quarter through the fourth quarter could come in at around 1.1-1.2 million barrels per day (bpd), or 16% for the full year, according to Rystad Energy, a consulting firm in Oslo, Norway.

Kilduff said one reason for the large crude builds at this time of year could be that refining margins were weaker than year-ago levels.

“It’s understandable that refiners may want to wait for better margins to ramp up gasoline making,” he said. “In that process, if they allow crude stocks to start building, it’s only going to weaken the flat price of crude and further weigh on refining margins.”

Retail gasoline prices have moderated since peaking in the first week of May, according to the American Automobile Association’s Daily Fuel Gauge report. The national average price for gasoline was $2.845 a gallon on Tuesday, off slightly from Monday and down five cents a gallon from its peak $2.895 average on May 6. The retail price is still up 25.6% this year.

Oil prices have been volatile since Monday on mixed messaging by two of the world’s biggest crude exporters. OPEC’s dominant member Saudi Arabia vowed to maintain its squeeze on production through the end of the year. But the kingdom’s main partner in the extended OPEC+ alliance, Russia, suggested that it would base its output on market conditions, meaning it could relax cuts especially if demand slackened.

Six months of disciplined output cuts by OPEC+ as rising U.S.-Iran and Iran-Saudi tensions of late have shored up oil prices by nearly 40% this year. But the U.S.-China trade war, which is dragging everything from agriculture to technology into it and could hasten the world’s slide into recession, is raising questions about demand.

Honor 20 Series To Launch Today In London

Honor 20 series is all geared up to launch today. The brand is hosting the Honor 20 launch in Battersea, London, at 2pm local time (6:30pm IST). Recent reports suggest that along with vanilla Honor 20, the company will bring the Honor 20 Pro smartphone.

The new phones are believed to be the successor to last year’s Honor 10 models and are teased to sport four rear cameras. Last week, the brand even kicked off the pre-orders for the Honor 20 through Vmall in its home market.

Honor 20 launch live stream, event timing

Honor will be live streaming the Honor 20 launch through its YouTube channel. The event will begin at 2pm local time in London (6:30pm IST). It will take place at Battersea Evolution in Battersea, London. We have embedded the launch live stream below for you to check out the event right here. 

Days ahead of the launch event, the pre- order window for the Honor 20 series went open in China — with a dedicated page available on Vmall. The brand, however, hasn’t announced any price details of the new phones.

The new lineup is expected to include the Honor 20 Pro in addition to the regular Honor 20 model. But it is worth noting here that the brand hasn’t confirmed the existence of the new smartphones. It instead teased the arrival of the Honor 20 series, which is enough to presume that there will be at least more than one phone in the new lineup.

It is worth mentioning here that earlier this month, the Honor 20 Lite debuted in Malaysia as the first model in the Honor 20 family. The smartphone sports a triple rear camera and comes with 128GB of onboard storage.

The Honor 20 series is already set to launch in India. on June 11. The range could include the regular Honor 20 model alongside the Honor 20 Lite and Honor 20 Pro. Moreover, Honor has also confirmed its partnership with Flipkart. for launching the new smartphone models in the country.

Honor 20 series specifications, features (expected)

The Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro have so far been teased to come with quad rear cameras. It is rumoured that while there would be a 48-megapixel primary sensor, the phones could also have a 16-megapixel secondary sensor with a super-wide-angle lens and a 2-megapixel tertiary sensor with a macro lens. The fourth camera might be different on the two phones — with the Honor 20 Pro featuring an 8-megapixel telephoto camera and the Honor 20 sporting a 2-megapixel depth assist camera.

Some early leaked purported renders of the Honor 20 series have also showcased the quad rear cameras. Also, the phones are speculated to have ultra-thin bezels alongside a punch-hole display panel. Some reports, however, mentioned that the phones would have a pop- up selfie camera.

In the new range, the Honor 20 is tipped to have a 6.1-inch OLED display, whereas the Honor 20 Pro would flaunt a 6.5-inch OLED display. The smartphones are also expected to come with an in-display fingerprint sensor.

The Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro both are expected to come with a HiSilicon Kirin 980 SoC. However, while the Honor 20 is expected to have 6GB of RAM, the Honor 20 Pro is rumoured to come with 8GB of RAM. The phones are also expected to run EMUI 9 based on Android 9 Pie.

Among other specifications, the Honor 20 could come with a 3,650mAh battery that might support 22.5W fast charging. The Honor 20 Pro, on the other front, may have a bigger battery pack than what would come on the Honor 20. The phones are also believed to have dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth v5.0, USB Type-C port, and Virtual 9.1 Surround Sound.

Huawei Ban Gets Delayed By 90 Days, Gets Android License Temporarily

The Huawei ban issues doesn’t seem to end soon. It was reported earlier that Google revoked the company’s Android license, forcefully made to do so by a Trump order. Meanwhile, the US Commerce Department has effectively delayed some of the consequences of that order for Huawei by 90 days beginning today.

In this period Huawei will be able to purchase American-made goods “in order to maintain existing networks and provide software updates to existing Huawei handsets”, according to a Reuters report. However, “the company is still prohibited from buying American parts and components to manufacture new products without license approvals that likely will be denied”.

The Android license revocation has thus been put on hold for 90 days too, which means that in this time Huawei can still certify OS updates with Google for existing handsets. Whether or not this time frame will be long enough to ensure such certifications are given for Android Q updates for Huawei’s existing handsets remains to be seen, but we assume the Chinese company will do its best to receive them.

It still can’t launch any new phone that isn’t already certified by Google to use its services. The Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro launching tomorrow have likely already undergone that process so they’re ‘safe’, and the foldable Mate X may be in the same situation. But for phones that are to launch later in the year, the future is looking anything but bright at this point.

The reprieve that Huawei got expires on August 19, and perhaps the US and China will smooth things over until then with further trade negotiations.

60 Senior Infosys Executives Earn More Than A Crore In FY19

Almost sixty senior executives at Infosys earned more than ₹1 crore in the fiscal year 2019. This was double the number earning that figure in the previous year, with several senior executives attaining great jumps in compensation after they exercised stock options for FY19, said the company.

Infosys reported in financial year 2018 fewer than 30 employees who were based in India and who received salaries over Rs 1.02 crore. That number, however, has since jumped to 64 for fiscal 2019.

Gross compensation increased significantly even for those not listed as key managerial personnel at the company, data published by the Bengaluru-headquartered IT services firm showed.

For instance, gross remuneration for Deepak Padaki, who heads corporate strategy and risk for the company, rose nearly 75% to Rs 3.16 crore in FY19, up from Rs 1.81 crore in FY18.

Koushik RN, EVP and group head of global immigration, received a 41% bump in gross remuneration. Gross compensation for Binod Hampapur, the head of global talent and technology, rose over 30% to Rs 5.2 crore. “A significant part of the increase in remuneration of the above-mentioned employees…is on account of the increase in perquisite value of stock incentives previously granted and exercised during the year,” Infosys said in a note, explaining the increases. The remuneration includes fixed pay, variable pay and retirement benefits, in addition to the value of stock incentives.

Among the top executives, CEO Salil Parekh received Rs 24.6 crore in compensation, including Rs 7.6 crore in restricted stock options. Chief operating office UB Pravin Rao received Rs 9.1 crore. Infosys president Mohit Joshi got Rs 15 crore, while deputy chief operating officer Ravi Kumar S received Rs 13.2 crore.

At rival TCS, CEO Rajesh Gopinathan earned Rs 16 crore last year. Interestingly, two among the top 10 highest-paid employees at Infosys came to the firm as part of the company’s acquisition of Noah Consulting. Noah directors Stewart Nelson and Shannon Tassim each earned a little over Rs 6.8 crore in FY19.

Infosys, which has seen high attrition rates, has said its salary hikes are differentiated, with high-performers getting far bigger pay increases than average performers. The company also said it was looking at its compensation and incentives structure to stem attrition.

In a separate development, Infosys said it had now invested $59 million from its $500 million innovation fund. In FY19, the company also divested stake in two investments, resulting in a net gain of $8 million.

Samsung Galaxy S11 Codenamed As ‘Picasso’

The Galaxy S11 has been codenamed as ‘Picasso’ suggests a Twitter leakster Ice universe. Picasso points to the artist of many talents, including painting and poetry but the reason why Samsung chose this name is still unclear.

Perhaps the Galaxy S11 will be a work of art as far as the design is concerned, but with Samsung usually following a two-year cycle for major design upgrades, it’s not expected that the Galaxy S11 will look much different from its predecessor.

That said, with the competition breathing down Samsung’s neck, the Korean giant might have to start introducing radical upgrades much faster than it does at the moment. We probably won’t see features like an under-display camera on the Galaxy S11, as Samsung has said that technology won’t be ready in the next year or two, but something like the keyless design the company is reportedly mulling for the Galaxy Note 10 would be a good start. In our opinion, Samsung needs to impress everyone with the Galaxy S11 cameras, but having a couple of other noteworthy features wouldn’t go amiss.

It’s worth mentioning that the Galaxy Note 10 is reportedly codenamed ‘Da Vinci’ so it’s not necessary that we would have to wait for the Galaxy S11 to see something revolutionary. Just what that revolutionary stuff will be and whether it will make an appearance later this or year or in early 2020 remains to be seen.

Why do you think Samsung may have picked Picasso as the codename for the Galaxy S11?

Samsung India Banking Big Time On A- Series

Samsung India after selling five million Galaxy A smartphones within 70 days is working largely this time on A- series. This comes as an attempt to outshine the Chinese rivals that have carved out a niche in the Indian smartphone market with competitively-priced devices.

The launch of the Galaxy A70, which comes with 6.7-inch display and a massive 4,500mAh battery for Rs 28,990, signals the South Korean giant’s intention to go aggressive in the country with a neatly laid out strategy.

The A70 comes packed with several premium features such as in-display fingerprint scanner, a triple rear camera system and the FHD+ Super AMOLED Infinity-U display.

Although facing tough fight from devices like POCO F1 from Xiaomi and Vivo V15 Pro, the Galaxy A70 is well equipped to offer users decent performance across the departments, without making them pay through their nose. (IANS)