India In-Focus — Indian shares climb; General Atlantic plans huge investment; Steel firms may be forced to cancel European orders

Update India In-Focus — Indian shares climb; General Atlantic plans huge investment; Steel firms may be forced to cancel European orders
The NSE Nifty 50 index was up 0.44 percent at 16,338.45 by 0520 GMT, while the S&P BSE Sensex rose 0.53 percent to 54,616.53. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 23 May 2022

India In-Focus — Indian shares climb; General Atlantic plans huge investment; Steel firms may be forced to cancel European orders

India In-Focus — Indian shares climb; General Atlantic plans huge investment; Steel firms may be forced to cancel European orders

MUMBAI: Indian shares rose for a second straight day on Monday, driven by the automobile sector, although the gains were capped by a sharp sell-off in metal stocks after the government announced changes to the tax structure on commodities to fight inflation.

The NSE Nifty 50 index was up 0.44 percent at 16,338.45 by 0520 GMT, while the S&P BSE Sensex rose 0.53 percent to 54,616.53. Both the indexes closed nearly 3 percent higher on Friday to mark their first weekly gain in six.

General Atlantic plans $2bn investment in India, Southeast Asia

Global private equity firm General Atlantic plans to plow $2 billion into India and Southeast Asia over the next two years after falling valuations made the region’s startups more attractive, a senior executive told Reuters.

General Atlantic is in early-stage investment talks with about 15 companies in sectors including technology, financial services, retail and consumer, Sandeep Naik, the head of its business in India and Southeast Asia, said in an interview.

The market for startups, especially in India, is going through a rough patch. After raising a record $35 billion in 2021, founders are struggling to attract cash, sparking fears of lower valuations and forcing some to cut jobs.

After investing just $190 million in Indian startups in 2021, its lowest ever annual figure, General Atlantic is now ready to loosen its purse strings, Naik said in an interview at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.

“The realism is setting in. We were waiting for the value creation to happen. We are now ready,” Naik said of General Atlantic’s plans for India and Southeast Asia, it has investments of more than $4.5 billion, mostly in India.

“We are very bullish on India, Indonesia and Vietnam,” Naik added, while declining to name any companies it is looking at.

Indian steelmakers face hit on Europe deals over export tax

Indian steel firms could be forced to cancel European orders and suffer losses after an overnight decision to impose export taxes on steel products, V R Sharma, managing director at Jindal Steel and Power told Reuters.

India imposed an export tax of 15 percent on eight steel products late on Saturday, at a time steelmakers are looking to make up for tepid local demand by increasing market share in Europe, whose supplies have been hit by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“They should have given us at least two-three months of time, we did not know about such a substantial policy,” Sharma told Reuters in an interview.

Sharma said Indian steelmakers have about 2 million tons in pending export orders, mostly to Europe, which are stuck in ports or in various stages of production.

“This could possibly lead to force majeure. And the customer has done no wrong here and he doesn’t deserve to be treated that way,” he said.

Investcorp targets $400 million at Indian school infrastructure, warehousing

Investcorp will deploy $400 million into Indian school infrastructure and warehousing, as it seeks to expand investments in the South Asian nation, its Co-Chief Executive told Reuters on Monday.

Bahrain-based Investcorp has already invested $500 million in 13 companies in India, including online retailer FreshToHome and ASG Eye Hospitals. It also has a $400 million fund for private equity investments in India, which says it has the world’s fastest-growing startup ecosystem.

Investcorp now has plans to deploy $400 million over four years on real estate in India, Rishi Kapoor said in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The two segments it will focus on will be school infrastructure and a warehousing sector which is booming thanks to a rapid expansion of e-commerce in the country with a population of 1.4 billion people, Kapoor said.

“We have created a new investment thesis around investing in school, education infrastructure,” he said.

“The middle income Indian parent will tighten their belt in every area other than education for their kids. So that underlying space is very attractive.”

India is seeing unprecedented growth in e-commerce and logistics, with companies such as Amazon and Walmart’s Flipkart committing billions of dollars in investment.

Another sector booming in India is clean mobility, and Investcorp said it will target investments in clean energy and climate tech, although its plans are yet to be firmed up.

The separate $400 million fund for private equity investments in India which Investcorp has previously announced will be used to target sectors including health and wellness and consumer technology, Kapoor added.

“It’s actually a good time to deploy capital, we are looking at a few opportunities now,” he said, while declining to name any specific companies.

Global private equity firm General Atlantic told Reuters on Sunday it plans to plow $2 billion into India and Southeast Asia over the next two years, after falling valuations made the region’s startups more attractive.

(With input from Reuters)


-Oil prices ease on recession fears, headed for 3rd weekly loss

-Oil prices ease on recession fears, headed for 3rd weekly loss
Updated 19 sec ago

-Oil prices ease on recession fears, headed for 3rd weekly loss

-Oil prices ease on recession fears, headed for 3rd weekly loss
  • OPEC+ sticks to oil output policy, avoids debate on September
  • Traders prepare for long Fourth of July holiday weekend
  • Some Norway oil workers to strike from July 5

TOKYO: Oil prices eased on Friday as lingering fears of a recession demand weighed on sentiment, putting the benchmarks on track for their third straight weekly losses, according to Reuters.

Brent crude futures were down 20 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $108.83 a barrel by 0428 GMT, giving up earlier gains of over $1.

WTI crude futures for August delivery slid 37 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $105.39 a barrel, also surrendering an early gain of nearly $1.

Both contracts fell around 3 percent on Thursday.

“Earlier in the session, the market took a breather from Thursday’s sell-off as the OPEC+ gave no surprise, saying it would stick to its planned oil output hikes in August,” said Tsuyoshi Ueno, senior economist at NLI Research Institute.

“But uncertainty over OPEC+ policy in and after September and fears that the aggressive rate hikes by the Federal Reserve would lead to a US recession and hamper fuel demand dampened sentiment,” he said.

On Thursday, the OPEC+ group of producers, including Russia, agreed to stick to its output strategy after two days of meetings. However, the producer club avoided discussing policy from September onwards.

Previously, OPEC+ decided to increase output each month by 648,000 barrels per day (bpd) in July and August, up from a previous plan to add 432,000 bpd per month.

US President Joe Biden will make a three-stop trip to the Middle East in mid-July that includes a visit to Saudi Arabia, pushing energy policy into the spotlight as the United States and other countries face soaring fuel prices that are driving up inflation.

Biden said on Thursday he would not directly press Saudi Arabia to increase oil output to curb soaring prices when he sees the Saudi king and crown prince during a visit this month.

“All eyes are on whether or not Saudi Arabia or any other Middle Eastern oil producers would bolster output to respond the US request,” NLI’s Ueno said.

Elsewhere, 74 Norwegian offshore oil workers at Equinor’s Gudrun, Oseberg South and Oseberg East platforms will go on strike from July 5, the Lederne trade union said on Thursday, likely shutting about 4 percent of Norway’s oil production.

Oil prices are expected to stay above $100 a barrel this year as Europe and other regions struggle to wean themselves off Russian supply, a Reuters poll showed on Thursday, though economic risks could slow the climb. (Reporting by Stephanie Kelly and Yuka Obayashi; editing by Richard Pullin and Kim Coghill)


Google to pay $90 million to settle legal fight with app developers

Google to pay $90 million to settle legal fight with app developers
Updated 01 July 2022

Google to pay $90 million to settle legal fight with app developers

Google to pay $90 million to settle legal fight with app developers
  • Some 48,000 app developers are eligible to apply for the $90 million fund, if the court approves the proposed settlement

WASHINGTON: Alphabet Inc’s Google has agreed to pay $90 million to settle a legal fight with app developers over the money they earned creating apps for Android smartphones and for enticing users to make in-app purchases, according to a court filing.
The app developers, in a lawsuit filed in federal court in San Francisco, had accused Google of using agreements with smartphone makers, technical barriers and revenue sharing agreements to effectively close the app ecosystem and shunt most payments through its Google Play billing system with a default service fee of 30 percent.
As part of the proposed settlement, Google said in a blog post it would put $90 million in a fund to support app developers who made $2 million or less in annual revenue from 2016-2021.
“A vast majority of US developers who earned revenue through Google Play will be eligible to receive money from this fund, if they choose,” Google said in the blog post.
Google said it would also continue to charge a 15 percent commission to developers who make $1 million or less annually from the Google Play Store. It started doing this in 2021.
The court must approve the proposed settlement.
There were likely 48,000 app developers eligible to apply for the $90 million fund, and the minimum payout is $250, according to Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, who represented the plaintiffs.
Apple Inc. agreed last year to loosen App Store restrictions on small developers, striking a deal in a class action. It also agreed to pay $100 million.
In Washington, Congress is considering legislation that would require Google and Apple to allow sideloading, or the practice of downloading apps without using an app store. It would also bar them from requiring that app providers use Google and Apple’s payment systems. 


 


SpaceX’s Starlink Internet gets US regulator’s nod for use with ships, boats, planes

SpaceX’s Starlink Internet gets US regulator’s nod for use with ships, boats, planes
Updated 01 July 2022

SpaceX’s Starlink Internet gets US regulator’s nod for use with ships, boats, planes

SpaceX’s Starlink Internet gets US regulator’s nod for use with ships, boats, planes
  • SpaceX has steadily launched some 2,700 Starlink satellites to low-Earth orbit since 2019
  • It has amassed hundreds of thousands of subscribers, including many who pay $110 a month for broadband Internet

WASHINGTON: The US Federal Communications Commission on Thursday authorized Elon Musk’s SpaceX to use its Starlink satellite Internet network with moving vehicles, green-lighting the company’s plan to expand broadband offerings to commercial airlines, shipping vessels and trucks.
Starlink, a fast-growing constellation of Internet-beaming satellites in orbit, has long sought to grow its customer base from individual broadband users in rural, Internet-poor locations to enterprise customers in the potentially lucrative automotive, shipping and airline sectors.
“Authorizing a new class of terminals for SpaceX’s satellite system will expand the range of broadband capabilities to meet the growing user demands that now require connectivity while on the move,” the FCC said in its authorization published Thursday, echoing plans outlined in SpaceX’s request for the approval early last year.
SpaceX has steadily launched some 2,700 Starlink satellites to low-Earth orbit since 2019 and has amassed hundreds of thousands of subscribers, including many who pay $110 a month for broadband Internet using $599 self-install terminal kits.
The Hawthorne, California-based space company has focused heavily in recent years on courting airlines around Starlink for in-flight WiFi, having inked its first such deals in recent months with Hawaiian Airlines and semi-private jet service JSX.
“We’re obsessive about the passenger experience,” Jonathan Hofeller, Starlink’s commercial sales chief, said at an aviation conference earlier this month. “We’re going to be on planes here very shortly, so hopefully passengers are wowed by the experience.”
SpaceX, under an earlier experimental FCC license, has been testing aircraft-tailored Starlink terminals on Gulfstream jets and US military aircraft.
Musk, the founder and CEO of SpaceX, has previously said that the types of vehicles Starlink was expected to be used with pursuant to Thursday’s authorization were aircraft, ships, large trucks and RVs. Musk, also the CEO of electric car maker Tesla Inc, had said he didn’t see “connecting Tesla cars to Starlink, as our terminal is much too big.”
Competition in the low-Earth orbiting satellite Internet sector is fierce between SpaceX, satellite operator OneWeb, and Jeff Bezos’s Kuiper project, a unit of e-commerce giant Amazon.com which is planning to launch the first prototype satellites of its own broadband network later this year. 

 


Bitcoin falls below $19,000, further shaking crypto markets

Bitcoin falls below $19,000, further shaking crypto markets
Updated 01 July 2022

Bitcoin falls below $19,000, further shaking crypto markets

Bitcoin falls below $19,000, further shaking crypto markets

Bitcoin dropped 6.1% to $18,866.77 at 2004 GMT on Thursday, putting the biggest and best-known cryptocurrency down $1,226.41 from its previous close and down 60.9% from the year's high of $48,234 on March 28.
Several big players in the cryptocurrency markets have had difficulties, and further declines could force other crypto investors to sell holdings to meet margin calls and cover losses.
Ether, the coin linked to the ethereum blockchain network, dropped 7.5% to $1,016.08 on Thursday, losing $82.38 from its previous close.
Both digital assets have struggled since U.S. based lender Celsius Network this month said it would suspend withdrawals. Bitcoin and ether were further rattled by the apparent insolvency of crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital, which a person familiar with the matter told Reuters has entered liquidation.
Many of the industry's recent problems can be traced back to the spectacular collapse of so-called stablecoin TerraUSD in May, which saw the stablecoin lose almost all its value, along with its paired token. (Reporting by Mrinmay Dey in Bengaluru and Hannah Lang in Washington; Editing by David Gregorio)


Crypto rules to make Europe global leader as prices plunge

Crypto rules to make Europe global leader as prices plunge
Updated 01 July 2022

Crypto rules to make Europe global leader as prices plunge

Crypto rules to make Europe global leader as prices plunge
  • EU to subject cryptocurrency transfers to money laundering rules

RIYADH: Europe prepares to lead the world in regulating the cryptocurrency industry at a time when prices have plunged, wiping out fortunes, fueling skepticism and sparking calls for tighter scrutiny.

The EU took a first step late Wednesday by agreeing on new rules subjecting cryptocurrency transfers to the same money laundering rules as traditional banking transfers.

A much bigger move was expected as EU negotiators hammer out the final details late Thursday on a separate deal for a sweeping package of crypto regulations for the bloc’s 27 nations, known as Markets in Crypto Assets, or MiCA.

Like the EU’s trendsetting data privacy policy, which became the de facto global standard, the crypto regulations are expected to be highly influential worldwide.

The EU rules are “really the first comprehensive piece of crypto regulation in the world,” said Patrick Hansen, crypto venture adviser at Presight Capital, a venture capital firm.

Patrick Hansen, analyst

“I think there will be a lot of jurisdictions that will look closely into how the EU has dealt with it since the EU is first here,” Hansen said.

He expected authorities in other places, especially smaller countries that don’t have the resources to draw up their own rules from scratch, to adopt ones similar to the EU’s, though “they might change a few details.”

Companies issuing or trading crypto assets such as stablecoins face tough transparency requirements requiring them to provide detailed information on the risks, costs and charges that consumers face.

Providers of bitcoin-related services would fall under the regulations, but not bitcoin itself, the world’s most popular cryptocurrency that has lost more than 70 percent of its value from its November peak.

Russia probes 400 cases

The Federal Financial Monitoring Service of the Russian Federation is trying to detect around 400 cases in which cryptocurrencies are involved, the agency’s director, Yury Chikhanchin, revealed the number during a meeting with President Vladimir Putin.

Russian law enforcement authorities have already initiated 20 criminal cases related to digital assets, Bitcoin.com reported.

Chikhanchin acknowledged that Russians continue to actively use cryptocurrency platforms located outside the country.

“This phenomenon continues to exist. And only on two foreign sites, two exchanges, several hundred thousand Russian citizens participate in transactions worth tens of billions,” he said.

According to official data released earlier this year, the number of lawsuits related to cryptocurrency mining in Russia exceeded 1,500 in 2021.

$100 million crypto hack

Digital investigative firms have concluded that North Korean hackers are most likely responsible for an attack last week that took as much as $100 million in cryptocurrency from a US company, according to Reuters.

Cryptocurrency assets were stolen on June 23 from Horizon Bridge, a service provided by Harmony blockchain that transfers assets between blockchains. The hackers’ activity since then suggests they may be affiliated with North Korea, which experts say is among the most prolific cyberattackers.

The UN sanctions monitors say Pyongyang uses the stolen funds to finance its nuclear and missile programs.