Forbes magazine calculates Trump’s fortune at $3.7 billion

Sep 28, 2016 0

New York– The fortune of Republican presidential nominee and real estate magnate Donald Trump currently is estimated at some $3.7 billion, while his debts exceed $1.13 billion, Forbes magazine said on Wednesday.

According to the magazine, Trump, who to date has refused to make public his tax returns claiming that he cannot do so because he is under audit by the Internal Revenue Service, has seen his fortune decline by some $800 million over the past year, EFE news reported.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

“Forbes has been scouring Trump’s fortune for 34 years. Sometimes he’s up, sometimes he down — and for much of the 1990s he was out of the three-comma club,” with a net worth of less than $1 billion, the magazine said.

Forbes said that of the 28 assets or asset classes the mogul owns, most of them in real estate, 18 lost value over the past 12 months due, among other things, to the “softening” of the New York real estate market.

The jewel in the crown of his empire, Trump Tower on Manhattan’s 5th Avenue, is valued at some $471 million, some $159 million less than a year ago, while the debt on the iconic property rose to $100 million.

Forbes also provided estimated valuations of other properties owned by Trump such as the 40 Wall Street building, valued at $501 million with a debt of $156 million, and his private Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, valued at $150 million, some $50 million less than a year ago, EEF news added.

The magazine also said that seven of Trump’s investments have increased in value over the past year, including San Francisco’s second-tallest building — 555 California Street — in which he owns a 30 per cent share, valued at $317 million, up $32 million from last year.

In addition, the magazine said that the only real estate deal that the billionaire closed this past year was to buy an industrial park in Charleston, South Carolina, valued at some $3.5 million.

Forbes also said that Trump has given some $7 million of his money to his election campaign and loaned it another $48 million, although the magazine expressed certainty that he would not recover those expenditures.

And Trump’s 10 golf courses in six US states plus the District of Columbia were valued at $225 million, including estimated debt of $18.5 million.

Meanwhile, the mogul has some $230 million in cash, $97 million less than a year ago, and also owns three helicopters and two private jets valued at some $35 million in total, the magazine said. (IANS)

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Book Review: Making of a media empire and how hubris and miscalculations lost it

Sep 18, 2016 0

By Vikas Datta

Title: Network18 – The Audacious Story of a Start-up that Became a Media Empire; Author: Indira Kannan; Publisher: Portfolio Penguin; Pages: 352; Price: Rs 699

It was a start-up, even before the word was coined, and perhaps the best example of the creative achievements spurred by India’s path-breaking economic reforms since 1991. But the journey of Raghav Bahl from heading a small production company to a media conglomerate also demonstrates the moral and economic choices necessary in such a venture, which may not always mean a happy ending.

The story of TV18’s transformation into Network 18, before it changed hands, is also a tale of inspired vision, of audacious risk-taking, of alternating crises and opportunities, of last-minute negotiations reversing agreed outcomes, struggles with obdurate bureaucrats, which could not envisage or ignored the media’s special circumstances, and above all, the inexorable laws of the market. And Indira Kannan, who was on board for most of the journey, tells it like a cliff-hanger it perhaps would have been.

network18Kannan, who joined TV18 in 1995 when it was still a production company — known for its slick shows for existing cable networks — saw it become a channel itself in 1999, diversify immensely through the first decade of the new millennium and was with it till 2011. She starts her story in May 1995 with one of the first major controversies it faced.

There would be few now who would remember the bold and sassy “The Nikki Show” hosted by British-Indian actress and Kabir Bedi’s then wife on Star Plus, as it went off air after a few episodes. However one notorious edition was enough to threaten to land the host, guest and prominent gay rights activist Ashok Row Kavi, as well as Bahl and his partner Sanjay Ray Chaudhri, (or RayC as he was known) and Star TV owner Rupert Murdoch behind bars for denigrating the Mahatma.

And from this — possibly the first but unfortunately not the last time the electronic media figured in an unsavoury controversy that became politicised — starts the account of a venture that would utterly change the face of media, and the business of media, in India in the decades to come.

From there, Kannan takes us back to the circumstances in which TV18 was started in 1991. With short but pertinent biographies of the main protagonists and a string of telling anecdotes, she writes of the full advantage they took of opportunities offered by the advent of cable TV and the arrival of BBC, Murdoch’s Star, and later Zee, to slowly become a well-recognised brand. There are also the forays with Business TV and its television arm, and later with ABN in association with the Hindujas, both of which had less than the desired outcomes, and ended on a messy note.

The book takes up TV18’s transformation into a business channel, the broadening into news and general programming — where the two developments that most stand out are the way that CNN, which had come to an agreement with NDTV, was convinced to tie up with them instead, and how bureaucratic opposition to its telecast was sort of short-circuited with the “accidental” transmission of a message by then Information and Broadcasting Minister, Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi.

Another key episode is the background of the “sting” of the alleged bribery of MPs ahead of the 2008 trust vote in the Manmohan Singh government — where Bahl’s usual hands-off approach proved costly — and the consequences that ensued.

On the other hand, Kannan makes no attempt to hide the miscalculations and the mistakes, in particular, a point of hubris, which began the road towards eventual change of ownership. Though best related in the foreword contributed by Bahl himself, it is also moot that it is easier to be wise after the incident, and many consequences of decisions are not apparent till much later.

But while telling the story of Bahl and his ambitious venture, the account also offers an incisive look at the development of TV programming and the media business over the last three decades and more, particularly in the post-liberalisation phase. Kannan has written a racy, well-written book, though without critical appraisal of the man who was her boss for a long time. Perhaps she was too close to the man or the events to be too critical. Nevertheless, it serves as a valuable read for both businessmen and media persons.

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Hinduja Foundries to be amalgamated with Ashok Leyland

Sep 14, 2016 0

Chennai– The Board of Directors of Ashok Leyland Ltd on Wednesday approved the amalgamation Hinduja Foundries with itself, a company statement said.

Hinduja Foundries (formerly Ennore Foundries) is in the business of grey iron castings and supply of automotive components.

The swap ratio approved by the board is that 100 equity shares of Rs.10 each fully paid of Hinduja Foundries will get 40 equity shares of Re.1 each fully paid of Ashok Leyland; a thousand, 2008 series GDRs of Hinduja Foundries will get 133 equity shares of Re.1 each fully paid of Ashok Leyland’ and one 2016 series GDRs of Hinduja Foundries will get 4,800 equity shares of Re.1 each fully paid of Ashok Leyland.

The appointed date for the proposed amalgamation is October 1.

“The amalgamation will result in operational efficiencies and help realise significant cost synergies,” the statement quoted Ashok Leyland’s CEO and MD Vinod Dasari as saying. (IANS)

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Vedanta shareholders approve merger with Cairn India

Sep 6, 2016 0

London– Mining major Vedanta Resources said on Tuesday that its shareholders have approved the merger of group companies Vedanta Ltd. and Cairn India.

“Vedanta Resources announces that at its general meeting held today (Tuesday), September 6, the resolution put to shareholders in relation to the proposed merger of Vedanta Ltd and Cairn India was duly passed on a poll,” the London-listed Vedanta Resources said in a stock exchange filing here.

Vedanta Ltd. will also hold a meeting of its shareholders, secured and unsecured creditors on Thursday to seek approval for the merger with Cairn India.

Cairn India has called a shareholders’ meeting on September 12, to seek approval for the company’s takeover by its parent under a revised all-share deal.

In the revised offer, the Anil Agarwal-led Vedanta group will give Cairn India minority shareholders one equity share and four redeemable-preference shares with a face value of Rs 10 each. The preference shares will carry a coupon of 7.5 per cent and a tenure of 18 months.

In July, Vedanta offered three additional preference shares towards winning over minority shareholders like state-run Life Insurance Corp (LIC).

Energy firm Cairn India announced in July it was working to merge with its parent, Vedanta Resources at a time when key shareholder LIC is yet to give its assent to the merger.

“Your company continues to work towards completion of merger with Vedanta,” Cairn India chairman Navin Agarwal told shareholders at the company’s 10th annual general meeting in Mumbai.

“Your company will get access to Vedanta’s tier-one metal and mining assets, which are well-invested, low cost and have a long life,” he said.

Under the proposed merger, a Cairn India shareholder will get one Vedanta equity share and 7.5 preference shares for every Cairn India share.

LIC, as the single largest domestic minority shareholder, owns 9.06 per cent in Cairn India and 3.9 per cent stake in Vedanta.

Vedanta Ltd. received approvals last September from both the Bombay Stock Exchange and the NSE on the company’s proposal to merge with its hydrocarbons subsidiary Cairn India.

Merging Cairn India with itself would provide Vedanta access to the oil explorer’s cash and help reduce its debt burden. Vedanta took majority control of Cairn India for $8.67 billion in 2011 and holds 59.9 percent in the latter through its various units. (IANS)

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Face-to-face interactions still score over video conferencing

Sep 5, 2016 0

London– Although video conferencing has become an irreplaceable technology but technology-savvy entrepreneurs should not overlook the importance of traditional, face-to-face interactions, suggests new research.

Video conferencing is helping people overcome the barrier of physical distance and saving them time and money but richer forms of communication, such as face-to-face meetings, should be preferred when trying to convey particularly complex information or completing a business deal, said Jialin Hardwick, researcher from the University of Lincoln in Britain.

“Networking activities at conferences or trade events provide good opportunities to meet other professionals in the industry, helping to reduce the feeling of inter-personal distance brought up by the technology and enabling future virtual interactions,” Hardwick added in a university statement.

Building on previous research on video conferencing in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the study suggested that entrepreneurs should recognise the benefits and limitations of different communication tools, including video conferencing at different points in the networking process.

“Investing in collaborative relationships by following up on virtual interactions with richer face-to-face meetings could be effective in developing and maintaining a valuable relationship from a long-term perspective, even though it may be costly at the time,” Hardwick added.

The findings were presented at the 2016 High Technology Small Firms (HTSF) Conference on Technology-based Entrepreneurship at the British Academy of Management recently.

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Mobile handset shipments in India to cross 75 million in Q3: Report

Aug 24, 2016 0

New Delhi– Riding on the upcoming festive season and new product launches, mobile handset shipments are likely to surpass the 75-million-a-quarter mark for the first time in the third quarter of 2016, a report said on Wednesday.

According to market research firm CyberMedia Research (CMR), a total of 65.9 million handsets were shipped during the second quarter, of which 56.5 per cent where feature phones.

Samsung, Micromax and Intex, respectively, lead the market in overall feature phones and smartphones segments. While Karbonn is at fourth spot, Reliance’s LYF brand is now at fifth spot within smartphones.

“Now onwards, we are going to see a clear demarcation between new customer acquisition and the refresh among existing users of the phones,” said Faisal Kawoosa, Lead Analyst, Telecoms, CMR, in a statement.

Transsion Holding’s brand, itel, garnered close to two per cent market share in the feature phones category in its first quarter of operations, holding sixth rank. (IANS)

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Indian films make $2 billion but lose $2.7 billion to piracy

Aug 21, 2016 0

By Aparajita Gupta

New Delhi–India’s film industry, said to be the largest globally with some 1,000 movies produced each year, earns around $2 billion from legitimate sources such as screening at theatres, home videos and TV rights. But with $2.7 billion, piracy earns 35 per cent more, and a way out has proved elusive.

Red Chillies Entertainment, a production house promoted by actor Shah Rukh Khan, was a victim of film piracy with ‘Dilwale’ last year. It grossed Rs 148 crore at the box office, but its pirated version, circulated a day before its release, grossed a much higher amount, stakeholders said.

Recent films like ‘Kabali’, ‘Great Grand Masti’ and ‘Udta Punjab’ have all faced similar music.

Uday Singh

Uday Singh

“Content theft or piracy in the film industry originates from ‘camcording’ in cinema halls. Over 90 per cent of new release titles originate from cinemas,” said Uday Singh, Managing Director, Motion Picture Distributors’ Association (India).

“The infringing copies appear online within few hours of a film release,” Singh told IANS, and added: “The Indian film industry loses around Rs 18,000 crore ($2.7 billion) and over 60,000 jobs every year because of piracy.”

This figure is also what the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) brandishes in its magazine, quoting noted filmmaker Anurag Basu. While the Indian film industry is, indeed, flourishing, piracy points toward how much more its stakeholders can make, he said.

According to the latest KPMG-Ficci report on the Indian media and entertainment sector, the film industry here is projected to grow from Rs 138.2 billion ($2.09 billion) in 2015 to Rs 226.3 billion ($3.43 billion) by 2020 at an annual growth rate of 10.5 per cent. But piracy could also grow exponentially unless checked.

“Currently, the government is focused on inclusive society initiatives, aimed at connecting villages via broadband. This has the potential to incentivise piracy, as people would find it much easier to watch a movie on their laptop than travel to far off theatres,” the report said.

“Hence, there is need for a collective, structured, scientific, multi-pronged and proactive approach to combat piracy.”

umrao jaan posterAdding another dimension, Patrick Kilbride, Executive Director for International IP with Global Intellectual Property Center of the US Chamber of Commerce, said piracy also limits the economic contribution which creativity can make in India.

“Issues such as copyright infringement, film piracy, camcording and content leakage weaken the industry by hampering the deserved revenue production,” said Kilbride.

Stakeholders said some sophisticated technologies like the watermarking of prints, which allow producers or rights holders to monitor the usage and movement of each print across the globe, have also not been able to stop piracy.

“New technologies, including digitisation of film prints, have cut the cost of recording, storing and copying of films for distribution. Risks involved in leaking and piracy have also increased manifold,” said Lavin Hirani, Head of Legal Affairs, Red Chillies Entertainment.

“Unfortunately, these technologies are not enough to protect the clandestine recording of pirated versions — done 90 per cent of the times with a camcorder or high-quality mobile camera in a low-light setting of a cinema theatre, or from the projector room,” Hirani said.

Sholay-posterThere is also the recent prevalence of pirated versions of Indian films swarming the market and the Internet a day or two before their actual release, since distributors opt for a simultaneous global screening, which requires the dispatch of prints some 10-12 days in advance.

“Some territories like in the UAE, they release films a day prior to the Indian release date — which is typically a Friday. This is one of the reasons why a film is leaked before its actual release,” he added.

Rajkumar Akella, Chairman of the Anti Video Piracy Cell, Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce, echoed a similar line of thought.

“Earlier, one odd film would get accidentally leaked before release date. But these days, pre-release piracy leaks have become a recurring feature, which is very alarming for the industry,” Akella told IANS.

What then is the solution?

Anurag Basu told WIPO that people need to understand piracy is a crime. The state blocks Web sites that allow downloads of pirated films, which is good. This apart, DVD versions must be available within a week or two after the formal release, as a wait of three-four months is a bit long.

“Piracy is working because people can buy a (pirated) DVD for Rs 100 and a whole family can watch it. We have to offer that kind of entertainment at that price. It has to be as easy to get an original DVD as it is to get a pirated one,” he said.

Hirani said there’s no single method or step. “Possible measures would require concerted efforts by all stakeholders, including the state and central governments which lose tremendous amount of money in taxes from the sale, distribution and exhibition of films.” (IANS)

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Indian smartphone market grew 17.1 percent in Q2

Aug 19, 2016 0

New Delhi–The Indian smartphone market registered a healthy 17.1 per cent growth over the previous quarter this year and a marginal 3.7 per cent growth over the second quarter of 2015, market research firm International Data Corporation(IDC) said on Friday.

According to the IDC’s “Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker”, smartphone market revived after declining for two successive quarters by registering 27.5 million units of smartphones shipments in Q2 2016.

Karthik J

Karthik J

Both global and Indian vendor’s shipments declined year-on-year, while China-based vendors’ shipments grew at 75 per cent.

Online share of smartphones dipped to 28 per cent in from 35 per cent in the previous quarter.

“Healthy growth in the offline channel, online-focused vendors expanding their footprint into retail channel followed by stringent norms to restrain excessive discounting on online platform are some of the reasons that could be attributed for online share decline this quarter”, said Karthik J, Senior Market Analyst, Client Devices, IDC, India in a statement.

Apple’s iPhone SE failed to make any significant impact in the premium segment while its previous generation iPhone 5S continued to contribute majority volume.

Samsung continued to lead the Indian smartphone market with 25.1 per cent share, registering 10.9 per cent sequential growth over previous quarter and 15 per cent growth from the same period last year.

Micromax retained second position with 19.9 per cent growth over the previous quarter.

Lenovo Group (including Motorola) with 10.3 per cent growth over the last quarter regained the third position in smartphone market.

Intex slipped to fourth position as its shipments dropped 9.8 per cent sequentially and 30.1 per cent over last year.

Reliance Jio maintained its position as the fifth largest smartphone vendor with 12.3 per cent sequential growth in Q2 2016, the report said.

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US stocks close at record highs

Aug 15, 2016 0

New York–US stocks rallied on Monday, with all three major indices setting new closing records, as investors focused on a rebound in oil prices while awaiting the minutes of the US Federal Reserve.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 59.58 points, or 0.32 per cent, to 18,636.05, Xinhua news agency reported.

The S&P 500 increased 6.10 points, or 0.28 per cent, to 2,190.15. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 29.12 points, or 0.56 per cent, to 5,262.02.

Oil prices kept rising on Monday, with both US oil and Brent crude jumping nearly 3 per cent, as speculation intensified about potential producer action to support prices in an oversupplied market.

Investors were also awaiting the minutes of the Fed’s July policy meeting scheduled for release on Wednesday, for more indications on the timing of the next interest rate hike.

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Japanese company Sanyo enters India with affordable TV sets

Aug 11, 2016 0

New Delhi–With an aim to bring luxury viewing experience at an affordable price for the Indian customers, Japan-based Sanyo has unveiled a new range of budget LED TVs.

The new Sanyo’s LED IPS TV range with four models — 49-inch XT-49S7100F full-HD TV priced at Rs 34,990; 43-inch XT-43S7100F full-HD TV for Rs 24,990; 32-inch XT-32S7100F full-HD TV at Rs 17,990; and 32-inch XT-32S7000H HD TV for Rs 14,990 — are now available for purchase in the country, company sources told IANS on Thursday.

SanyoThe 49-inch XT-49S7100F full-HD LED IPS TV comes with A+ grade panel and is packed with features like reduced motion blur and noise reduction.

In terms of connectivity, the TV offers two HDMI, two USB, one VGA, 3.5mm audio jack and produces 8W audio output.

A plain-looking TV with thin black bezels all round, it provides a seamless transition from one scene to another without any blurring thanks to the “Reduced Motion” feature.

With the HDMI Sound Out feature, you can connect an external home theatre system to your Sanyo TV and control it with the TV remote.

The sound is best suited for dialogues, vocals, less complicated tracks.

“Considering the price, the Sanyo models offers decent combination of picture quality and audio on a larger canvas,” the company added. (IANS)

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