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News in Brief

  Post merger Vodafone, Idea may face network issues

As the Vodafone India-Idea Cellular merger process gathers pace, experts have said that maintaining quality network coverage and consumer experience could emerge as a huge challenge for the combined entity.


Vodafone India and Idea Cellular, the country’s second and third-largest telcos that are merging their businesses to form India’s largest phone company with more than 400 million customers, together have nearly 2.73 lakh sites.

Relief for PE, pension funds from multiple taxation
The Indian government has decided to provide a significant relief to private equity and pension funds from being taxed under indirect transfer provisions.

Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), country’s apex direct taxes body, has said these rules will not apply to investment made by non-residents through the multilayer structure if the fund’s income is already chargeable to tax in India. This will address concerns raised by investment funds, including PE and venture capital funds, that their income from India could be subject to multiple taxation under indirect transfer provisions.

Lotte Confectionery to acquire Havmor Ice Cream for `1,020 cr
South Korean food and beverage major Lotte Confectionery is all set to acquire Gujarat-based Havmor Ice Cream Ltd. (HIL) for `1,020 crore.
Lotte Confectionery has decided to acquire 100% of shares of HIL, the ice-cream maker said in a statement.
Pradeep Chona, chairman, Havmor Ice Cream said, “This decision was a very difficult one to make. It’s a brand that we have nurtured with our team for over 73 years. But we believe that Lotte Confectionery is the right brand to take the company to the next level.”

Founded in 1944, Havmor Ice Cream has been one of India’s fastest growing ice cream brands over the last 5 years, according to the company.

A further `5000 crore investment in Paytm in coming 3 years
Paytm, which is India’s largest online payments and mobile wallet company, is all set to invest another `5,000 crore in the business over the coming three years, said founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma.
“The biggest threat for us will be us, not anybody else,” Sharma said in an interview.
Paytm owner One97 Communications announced a $1.4-billion, or `9,000-crore, equity financing round from SoftBank in May.

The Noida-based firm, which is backed by China’s Ant Financial as well, also plans to become the largest issuer for the government-backed Unified Payments Interface (UPI) although competitors including Flipkart-owned PhonePe and Google Tez have a significant lead.

Retail inflation at seven-month high

Retail inflation has quickened to 3.58% in October, the fastest pace in seven months. This has been spurred by rising food and fuel prices lately. This development will also rule out the possibility of an interest rate cut by the Reserve Bank of India in its December 6 monetary policy review. Measured by the Consumer Price Index of CPI, retail inflation rose by 3.28% in September. Combined food inflation in October was 1.9%, compared with 1.25% a month ago as vegetable prices increased by 7.47% from 3.92% in the previous month. Prices of milk and egg increased modestly and fruit and fish prices came down marginally. Data released by Central Statistics Office showed that inflation in urban India, at 3.81%, was higher than that in rural India, at 3.36%.

More than 450 dead in Iraq and Iran in the world’s deadliest earthquake this year

A powerful earthquake struck near the Iraqi border, killing more than 450 people and injuring thousands of others in the world’s deadliest earthquake so far this year. The quake, recorded at 9:18 p.m., was felt as far away as Turkey and Pakistan. The damage was mostly in Iraq and Iran. The epicenter was near Ezgeleh, Iran, about 135 miles northeast of Baghdad, and had a preliminary magnitude of 7.3, according to the United States Geological Survey. Seismologists in the country said it was the biggest quake to hit the western part of Iran.

Comprehensive overhaul in the GST rates till date
In a bid to overhaul the four-month-old goods and services tax (GST) in the most comprehensive manner till date, the Centre and states have been reviewing nearly half of the items in the top bracket of 28% and in that regard allowing even larger firms to file returns once a quarter instead of every month.

A senior official has said that the fitment committee, which decides on product-specific rates, is looking at proposals to pare the rates on 150-200 items with a majority of them being from the top bracket. The list includes several products of daily use as well as sanitary and electrical fittings, construction material, furniture and goods, which are manufactured by the small scale sector.

NASA-Uber deal to build flying taxi air control software
Uber is all set to take part in a joint industry and government push with NASA to develop a particular software that the company is planning to use for managing “flying taxi” routes that could work like ride-hailing services it has popularised on the ground.
Uber has said that it was the first formal services contract by the US National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) covering low-altitude airspace rather than outer space.
NASA has been using such contracts to develop rockets since the late 1950s.

Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden also said Uber would begin testing proposed four-passenger, 200-miles-per-hour (322-km-per-hour) flying taxi services across Los Angeles in 2020, its second planned test market after Dallas/Fort Worth.

Search on for Infosys’s CEO’s post: Srinivas, Vemuri are the front runners
Former Infosys executives BG Srinivas and Ashok Vemuri are the front runners to be the IT company’s chief executive, even as the firm explores creating a deputy CEO role to ensure management continuity, said people with knowledge of the matter.

The Bengaluru-headquartered company is not having an easy time picking a new leader after former CEO Vishal Sikka resigned in August following a bruising battle with founder NR Narayana Murthy over corporate governance issues. Cofounder Nandan Nilekani returned to the company as non-executive chairman to steady operations. Infosys has interviewed a slew of candidates, including some executives from Oracle and Google, a top company executive said.

Over 50% cut in stent prices, but treatment costs still not lowered
The move by the Indian drug pricing regulator to cut stent prices by over 50% earlier this year has not lowered the treatment cost as a leading hospital says it has “restructured procedure costs” to compensate for revenue erosion.
A coronary stent is a wire mesh tube used to clear blockages in the arteries that pump blood to the heart and prevent heart attacks.

In February 2017, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) had slashed prices of drug eluting stents (DES) and bioresorable vascular scaffolds (BVS) as it found companies were making nearly 400% profits on these stents in India.

India to get its first ever Cartoon Network based themed park
A park that’s themed on Cartoon Network, well that’s what coming up in India soon. Turner International India, which owns the Cartoon Network brand, has entered into a brand partnership with Gujarat based real estate, entertainment and hospitality group Rajgreen for the launch of a 61,000 square meter property Amaazia, in Surat.
To be launched in the first quarter of 2019 on a budget of `450 crore, the amusement park will be located at Surat, in Gujarat.
Amaazia will be Cartoon Network’s first brand association for an amusement park in India.

In Asia, it already has two such partnerships, Cartoon Network Amazon Water Park in Pattaya, Thailand and in IMG Worlds of Adventure in Dubai it has an entire Cartoon Network Zone.

Salaries in India are projected to rise 10% in 2018
Salaries in India are projected to rise 10% in 2018, same as the actual increase in 2017, according to the Q3 2017 Salary Budget Planning Report released by Willis Towers Watson an advisory, broking and solutions company.
Indian employees could very well see a single digit salary increase in 2018 for the first time since 2011, says the company.

The recently released report looks at a range of job grades across various industry sectors and is designed to provide companies with guidance for their annual salary forecasting for the year ahead.

India gets 131st ranking in an Index of countries for women’s security
In a new Women, Peace and Security Index for the year 2017/18, Iceland has been given the top rank followed by Norway and Switzerland. This ranking lists the best and the worst countries for women in the world. India has got position number 131.

As with other indicators, European countries lead in this ranking while the strife-torn nations fare the worst. This Index brings out a list of 153 nations on three basic dimensions of well-being – inclusion, justice and security. The worst five countries in this list are Central African Republic, Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan and Syria.

Apple to recruit from IIT Bombay this year
Tech giant Apple will pick talent from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay this year. While it has been in discussions with several other tech campuses across India, it has confirmed its presence at the Powai campus for the 2017 placement season.
The company has floated its application forms for prospective interested graduates. Applications to take the preliminary short-listing exam were circulated on November 12 and that test would be held before the semester exams take place in the last week of November.

While many other IITs are also speaking to Apple Inc, there is little clarity on which other IIT the tech giant would be visiting. In all likelihood, Apple may pick students for their India facility.

Skype gets blacklisted in China
Skype has joined the list of internet communication tools that have been blacklisted in China.
Skype is no longer available for download on the China Apple Store or Android sites, with Chinese web-users saying it had been gone for weeks. The company did not specify which laws such apps were found to have violated.

But China has tightened its already stringent online policing this year, including enacting new rules that require tech companies to store user data inside the country as well as imposing new restrictions on what is permissible content.

Coca-Cola India expects Thums Up to be a $1 billion brand in 2 years
Coca-Cola India is looking forward to making its softdrink Thums Up to be a $1 billion brand in the coming two years and is adding variants to the home-grown product.
With the introduction of ‘Thums Up Charged’, the company has added the first ever variant to the 40-year-old brand.

“We expect Thums Up to become a $ 1 billion brand in next two years. The launch of Thums Up Charge will help accelerate the journey of becoming the first home-grown billion dollar beverage brand,” Vijay Parasuraman, Vice President, Marketing, Coca-Cola India and South West Asia, said.

IIT-Bombay breaks into the 9th position in the BRICS list of top universities
For the first time, IIT-Bombay broke into the Top 10 list of latest Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) ranking of BRICS universities for 2018 by bagging the ninth position. IIT-B improved its rank by four positions from last year among institutes in BRICS nations. It was also the best-ranked among Indian universities.
However, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, lost the sixth position it had secured in 2016; it now ranks 10. Four Indian universities, IIT-Bombay, IISc-Bangalore, IIT-Delhi at 15 and IIT-Madras at 18, remained unchanged from their 2016 ranking and continued to feature among the Top 20.

IIT Bombay’s overall score is 83.6 out of 100. The institute has a score of 98.1 in academic reputation, 99.7 in employer reputation, 47.8 in faculty student ratio, 96.9 in staff with PhD, 53.6 in citations per paper, 95.4 in papers per faculty, 15.4 in international faculty and 7.6 in international students, all scores out of a maximum of 100.