Business Briefs: BMW India, Airtel, Vodafine, Australia, LG, Apple

Jan 4, 2018 0

BMW India’s 2017 sales up 25%

New Delhi– BMW India on Thursday reported a growth of 25 per cent in its annual sales for 2017.

According to the company, its annual sales increased to 9,379 cars in 2017.

The BMW Group delivered 9,800 cars including those sold under BMW India and its Mini brand.

Airtel, Vodafone offer cashback on Samsung smartphones

New Delhi–  In a bid to make 4G smartphones affordable to consumers, telecom services provider Bharti Airtel and Vodafone on Thursday announced cashback offers worth up to Rs 1,500 on Samsung’s J series devices.

“Four models from Samsung’s Galaxy J-series including J2 (2017), J5 Prime, J7 Prime and J7 Pro will be available with cashback offers, bringing down their effective prices,” Airtel said in a statement.

Samsung Galaxy J2 (2017) will now be available for Rs 5,490 (earlier price Rs 6,990), J5 Prime will cost Rs 10,490 (earlier price Rs 11,990), J7 Prime will cost Rs 12,400 (earlier price Rs 13,900) while J7 Pro will be available at Rs 18,400 (earlier price Rs 19,900).

The cashback amount will be given to users over a period of 24 months.

“Users who make recharges worth Rs 2,500 over a period of 12 months, will be eligible for the first cashback of Rs 300,” Airtel added.

These devices will come bundled with Airtel’s recharge pack worth Rs 199 that offers 1GB data per day and unlimited calling.

Meanwhile, Vodafone also tied up with Samsung and announced a cashback offer worth Rs 1,500 on Galaxy J2 Pro, Galaxy J7 Nxt and Galaxy J7 Max smartphones.

“Prepaid customers have to simply recharge with Rs 198 per month for a period of 24 months. Postpaid users can opt for any Vodafone “Red Plan” to become eligible for a cashback of Rs 600 after first 12 months. After another 12 months, they will get a cashback of Rs 900 in their Vodafone M-Pesa wallets,” Vodafone said in a statement.

Australia aims to become top cannabis exporter

Canberra– The Australian government on Thursday said it aspires to be the world’s leading exporter of medicinal cannabis.

The country plans to change its regulations to join Canada and the Netherlands in selling products beyond a domestic market. Uruguay and Israel have announced similar plans, the BBC reported.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the move would also help local patients.

“Our goal is very clear: to give Australian farmers and manufacturers the best shot at being the world’s number one exporter of medicinal cannabis,” Hunt said.

Australia legalised the use of medicinal cannabis in 2016. Using the drug for recreation remains illegal.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that the changes would extend to products including oils, patches, sprays, lozenges and tablets.

Hunt said the change would stimulate the local industry, benefiting Australian patients as much as businesses, the BBC reported.

Earlier this week, California became the largest US state to legalise the use of recreational cannabis.

LG may supply OLED display for next Apple iPhone

Seoul– Samsung may soon not be the only supplier of OLED displays for Apple. The iPhone maker is reportedly finalising talks with LG on an OLED supply deal which could see the latter provide its panels for this year’s iPhone with edge-to-edge display.

“LG is likely to ship a relatively small number of panels — 15 to 16 million — in the second half of the year,” AppleInsider reported late on Wednesday.

“Apple is said to have pumped $2.7 billion into LG as an advance payment for OLED panels. At the time it was thought that the order was for panels shipping in 2019,” the report added.

This year’s iPhone is expected to be a mega-sized version of the iPhone X and could be purportedly named “iPhone X Plus”.

The Cupertino-based giant is expected to launch a 5.8-inch device alongside a 6.5-inch iPhone with OLED displays.

LG Display will supply Apple with the 6.5-inch OLED panels while Samsung will supply the 5.8-inch or 6-inch OLED panels, according to MacRumors.

The LCD panels which are currently being used in the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are supplied by LG.

However, its South Korean rival Samsung dominates supply of OLED displays for Apple’s flagship iPhone X.

It is believed that Apple will switch to OLED displays for all of its iPhone releases in 2019.

This is the reason Apple roped in LG to be its OLED display supplier when it already had Samsung — that owns 95 per cent market share of mobile OLED panels — in its league.

It is not just Apple that is investing in LG OLED display. Google has also realised LG’s potential and invested $900 million in OLED production for its first OLED smartphone, an earlier Investor report said. (IANS)

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BlackBerry joins Baidu to rev up autonomous vehicle technology

Jan 4, 2018 0

Ontario– Software major BlackBerry and leading Chinese Internet search provider Baidu on Thursday announced a collaboration to accelerate the deployment of connected and autonomous vehicle technology for automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and suppliers worldwide.

As part of the deal, BlackBerry QNX’s industry-leading safety operating system (OS) will become the foundation for Baidu’s Apollo autonomous driving open platform.

“By integrating the BlackBerry QNX OS with the Apollo platform, we will enable carmakers to leap from prototype to production systems. Together, we will work toward a technological and commercial ecosystem for autonomous driving, intelligent connectivity and intelligent traffic systems,” Li Zhenyu, General Manager of Intelligent Driving Group, Baidu, said in a statement.

BlackBerry and Baidu will also work together to integrate Baidu’s “CarLife”, the leading smartphone integration software for connected cars in China, as well as its conversational AI system “DuerOS” and high-definition maps to run on the BlackBerry “QNX Car (Infotainment) Platform”.

“Joining forces with Baidu will enable us to explore integration opportunities for multiple vehicle subsystems including ADAS, infotainment, gateways and Cloud services,” added John Wall, Senior Vice President and GM of BlackBerry QNX.

Baidu has made tremendous strides in Artificial Intelligence and deep learning.

“These advancements, paired with their high-definition maps and BlackBerry’s safety-critical embedded software and expertise in security, will be crucial ingredients for autonomous vehicles,” Wall added.

Baidu’s Apollo open platform provides a comprehensive, secure and reliable solution that consists of cloud services, an open software stack and reference hardware and vehicle platforms.

Apollo has now attracted over 70 global partners, including OEMs, Tier 1 suppliers, developer platforms and technology start-ups.

BlackBerry currently provides OEMs around the world with state-of-the-art cybersecurity technology to protect and mitigate, hardware, software, applications and end-to-end systems from cyber attacks. (IANS)

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Audi India’s 2017 sales up 2%

Jan 3, 2018 0

Mumbai– Luxury car manufacturer Audi India on Wednesday reported a rise of two per cent in its 2017 sales in India.

According to the company, its sales in the Indian market for 2017 increased to 7,876 units.

“Audi completed ten years in India in 2017 and we are delighted that within this short span, it has become one of the most preferred luxury car brands for enthusiasts in the country,” Rahil Ansari, Head, Audi India was quoted as saying in a statement.

“With 7,876 deliveries to customers in 2017, we have increased our sales by 2 per cent while earning a profitable growth for our dealer partners.”

“We are now looking forward to the launch of our trendsetting and immensely popular Audi Q5 in its new generation in January 2018.” (IANS)

 

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Samsung to lead premium TV shipments in 2018

Jan 2, 2018 0

Seoul– The global market for premium televisions sized 75-inches and above is set to rise sharply in 2018, led by South Korean tech major Samsung Electronics Co, industry data showed on Tuesday.

According to the data compiled by industry tracker IHS Markit, the global sales of such televisions was anticipated to reach 1.69 million units in 2018, rising sharply from 1.15 million units estimated for 2017, Yonhap New Agency reported.

“While the global TV market’s growth remains sluggish due to the expanding penetration of smartphones, the sales of premium TVs are still gradually increasing,” an industry insider said.

“Samsung Electronics’ strategy to focus on products 75-inches and larger seems to be effective,” the industry insider added.

Samsung is estimated to have sold 151,800 units of TVs (75-inches and larger) in the third quarter, followed by Japan-based Sony Corp. with 79,700 units and Samsung’s smaller South Korean rival LG Electronics Inc. with 34,900 units, IHS Markit data showed.

Industry data showed products sized 75 inches and over accounted for 8.1 per cent of Samsung’s combined TV sales in the third quarter of 2017, up from 3.2 per cent posted in the first quarter. (IANS)

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India’s Forex reserves rise by $488 mn

Dec 22, 2017 0

Mumbai– India’s foreign exchange (Forex) reserves rose by $488.2 million as on December 15, 2017, official data showed on Friday.

The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) weekly statistical supplement showed that the overall Forex reserves rose to $401.38 billion from $400.89 billion reported for the week ended December 8.

India’s Forex reserves comprise of foreign currency assets (FCAs), gold reserves, special drawing rights (SDRs) and the RBI’s position with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Segment-wise, FCAs — the largest component of the Forex reserves — increased by $478.3 million to $376.90 billion during the week under review.

Besides the US dollar, FCAs consist of nearly 20-30 per cent of major global currencies. It also includes investments in US Treasury bonds, bonds of other selected governments and deposits with foreign central and commercial banks.

The country’s gold reserves value remained stagnant at $20.70 billion, whereas SDRs inched up by $3.8 million to $1.50 billion.

Similarly, the country’s reserve position with the IMF rose by $6.1 million to $2.27 billion. (IANS)

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Airtel to acquire Millicom’s operations in Rwanda

Dec 19, 2017 0

New Delhi– Bharti Airtel through its subsidiaries has entered into a definitive agreement with Millicom International Cellular under which Airtel Rwanda will acquire 100 per cent equity interest in Tigo Rwanda, a company statement said here on Tuesday.

“Airtel has taken proactive steps in Africa to consolidate and realign the market structure in the last few remaining countries where its operations are lagging on account of lower market share and presence of too many operators.

“Airtel and Tigo have already merged their operations to create a strong viable entity in Ghana. Today, it has taken yet another important step to acquire Tigo Rwanda to become a profitable and a strong challenger in a two-player market,” said Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman, Bharti Airtel.

“We are also committed to the long term viability of our operations in two other countries i.e. Kenya and Tanzania, to ensure that in 2018 all our 15 operations in Africa start contributing positive margins and cash flows towards a healthy and profitable Airtel Africa,” he added.

The statement said the acquisition will consolidate the Rwandan telecom market and position Airtel as a strong number two operator in Rwanda.

“The consideration for the transaction is based on approximately six times Ebitda (Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) multiple, payable over two years.”

The agreement was subject to regulatory and statutory approvals.

The statement said the agreement aims to bring together the strengths of Airtel and Millicom in Rwanda and offer benefits to customers in the form of a wider network, affordable voice and data services, and superior customer care.

The existing customers of Tigo Rwanda will join Airtel’s global network, which currently serves over 370 million customers across 17 countries.

They can avail amongst other things, benefits of the ‘One Airtel’ network with lower roaming rates across Africa and South Asia, and Airtel Money.

“The acquisition reinforces our commitment to the Rwanda market and is a significant step towards creating a stronger presence in the country.

“It will create synergies with our existing business and help boost operational efficiencies in the market. The Rwandan telecom market will significantly benefit from this acquisition, further reiterating our stand that in-market consolidations do not just help achieve better market positions but benefit customers and the industry as a whole,” said Raghunath Mandava, AMD and CEO, Airtel Africa. (IANS)

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Ola acquires Foodpanda India for $200 mn, Pranay Jivrajka to head

Dec 19, 2017 0

Bengaluru/Berlin– Cab aggregator Ola on Tuesday said it will acquire Foodpanda India business from Germany-based global online food ordering and delivery marketplace Delivery Hero Group for $200 million.

“Our commitment to invest $200 mn in Foodpanda India will help the business be focused on growth by creating value for customers and partners. With Delivery Hero’s global leadership and Ola’s platform capabilities with unique local insights, this partnership is born out of strength,” said Bhavish Aggarwal, Co-founder and CEO at Ola.

According to the cab aggregator platform’s statement, the deal includes the transfer of Foodpanda’s India business to Ola in an acquisition deal in exchange for Ola stock.

The company also said Founding Partner at Ola, Pranay Jivrajka has been appointed as interim CEO of this business unit, supported by the existing leadership team at Foodpanda India.

“Saurabh Kochhar, who was the CEO of Foodpanda India until recently, has decided to move on to pursue other opportunities,” Ola said in a statement.

The statement said Foodpanda India will benefit from Ola’s scale and efficiencies as a platform, also having leveraged learnings from Delivery Hero’s global best practices.

“The partnership with Ola will allow us to further consolidate markets where it strategically makes sense to collaborate with leading local players. At the same time, we consider our stake in Ola as a very valuable asset, while Ola’s investment commitment in Foodpanda India is a clear and confident signal to the Indian market,” said Niklas Ostberg, CEO and Co-founder of Delivery Hero AG. (IANS)

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Tata, GE join hands to manufacture jet engine components

Dec 14, 2017 0

Mumbai– Industrial conglomerates GE and the Tata Group have entered into a pact to manufacture “CFM International LEAP” engine components in India, for the global supply chain, a company statement said here on Thursday.

According to the statement, the two companies also evinced their intention to jointly pursue military engine and aircraft system opportunities for the India market.

“We look forward to working with GE to build more expertise and strengthen India’s defence manufacturing capabilities,” said N. Chandrasekaran, Chairman of Tata Sons.

“Tata group’s partnership with GE will help drive synergies in defence manufacturing and focus on innovation to support our armed forces,” he added.

The strategic partnership envisages GE Aviation and Tata Sons’ subsidiary, Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL), to join forces for “manufacturing, assembling, integration and testing of aircraft components”.

Accordingly, a new Centre of Excellence (COE) will be established to help develop a robust ecosystem for aircraft engine manufacturing in India and build related capabilities.

“Tata Group is a leader in the Indian defence and aerospace sector, and we look forward to working together to meet the growing demand for LEAP engines. Our collaboration in building innovative technologies will support the ‘Make in India’ vision of the Indian government,” said John L. Flannery, Chairman and CEO of GE.

The “LEAP” is one of the world’s leading jet engines known for its technological superiority, efficient fuel consumption and performance for powering single-aisle commercial jets.

Traditionally, GE military engines have had a strong history in India. The company currently provides jet engines and marine gas turbines for many Indian military applications including the Light Combat Aircraft-Tejas Mk 1, Indian Navy P-8I aircraft and the P-17 Shivalik class frigates.

On the other hand, TASL is focused on providing integrated solutions for aerospace, defence and homeland security. (IANS)

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Uber refused renewal of licence in British city

Dec 13, 2017 0

London– Councillors from the British city of York have refused to renew Uber’s licence to operate in the area after they received several complaints from hackney carriage and private hire drivers about the company.

According to a report on yorkpress.co.uk, several Hackney carriage and private hire drivers hailed the decision of City of York Council’s Gambling, Licensing and Regulatory Committee to refuse Uber a new licence to operate in the city after a 12-month certificate was granted last year.

The report said the decision was taken after councillors heard from nine objectors to the company and decided not to give the ride-hailing company licence to ply on the streets of the city.

The authority had received a number of complaints about the company and questioned the way Uber handled a cyber attack in October 2016 when the data of 57 million users and drivers was hacked and it was not disclosed for 13 months.

“I always consider York taxi drivers to be the foremost ambassadors for our city and they are the first people visitors will meet,” Cllr Dave Taylor, who was one of seven councillors to refuse the company a licence, was quoted as saying.

“I think we expect a high standard from all taxi drivers and it’s difficult if these standards can be undermined and under cut by out of town drivers,” Taylor added.

Meanwhile, Uber said it was disappointing for both the company’s drivers and users and it would review the details of the decision.

“This is a disappointing vote for the riders and drivers who use our app in the city,” Neil McGonigle, General Manager for Uber in York, was quoted as saying.

“More choice and competition is a good thing for both consumers and licensed drivers in the area. Passengers tell us they love being able to track their car on a live map, pay without cash and get a receipt with their fare and the route taken,” he added.

“Licensed drivers partner with us because with Uber they can choose if, when and where they drive. We will review the details of the decision once we receive the formal notice from the council,” he said. (IANS)

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Warburg Pincus to acquire 20% stake in Airtel’s DTH arm for $350 million

Dec 12, 2017 0

New Delhi– Bharti Airtel and Warburg Pincus, a global private equity firm, on Tuesday announced that an affiliate of Warburg Pincus will acquire up to a 20 per cent equity stake in Bharti Telemedia Limited, the DTH arm of Airtel, for approximately $350 million.

In this deal 15 per cent stake will be sold by Bharti Airtel and the balance by another Bharti entity which holds 5 per cent stake, a company statement said here.

“Airtel has enjoyed a very successful partnership with Warburg Pincus in the past and we are excited to partner with them once again in an attractive and fast growing space. Airtel TV is very well positioned in the DTH space, and we are committed to grow our share of the market through a combination of innovation, value engineering, customer service and distribution initiatives,” said Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO (India & South Asia), Bharti Airtel.

Bharti Telemedia offers services under the Airtel TV brand. It had approximately 14 million subscribers and approximately $550 million in revenues during the 12-month period ended September 30, 2017.

“The Indian Digital TV market is expanding rapidly and we believe that Airtel DTH is well positioned to capitalize on incremental growth in digitization and new TV penetration in Tier 3 and 4 towns and rural areas,” said Vishal Mahadevia, Managing Director and Co-Head, Warburg Pincus India.

Upon closing of the transaction, Airtel will own an 80 per cent equity stake in Bharti Telemedia Limited.

The Airtel board has approved the transaction, which is subject to regulatory approvals. As part of the transaction, Viraj Sawhney, Managing Director, Warburg Pincus India, will join the board of Bharti Telemedia Limited. (IANS)

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