India In-Focus — Indian shares rise; Serum plans African vaccine plant; Paytm expects central bank curbs to be lifted soon

India In-Focus — Indian shares rise; Serum plans African vaccine plant; Paytm expects central bank curbs to be lifted soon
The NSE Nifty 50 index was up 0.13 percent at 16,236.35 earlier, while the S&P BSE Sensex rose 0.14 percent to 54,365.34
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Updated 24 May 2022

India In-Focus — Indian shares rise; Serum plans African vaccine plant; Paytm expects central bank curbs to be lifted soon

India In-Focus — Indian shares rise; Serum plans African vaccine plant; Paytm expects central bank curbs to be lifted soon
  • Africa was the only continent that did not have its own manufacturing capacity for COVID-19 vaccines during the worst phases of the pandemic

MUMBAI: Indian shares rose slightly on Tuesday, helped by automobile and metal stocks, with investors watching the shares of newly-listed logistics firm Delhivery.

The NSE Nifty 50 index was up 0.13 percent at 16,236.35 by 0350 GMT, while the S&P BSE Sensex rose 0.14 percent to 54,365.34.

Vaccine giant Serum plans African plant in global expansion

The Serum Institute of India, the world’s biggest vaccine maker, is considering setting up its first manufacturing plant in Africa as it looks to expand globally after its success in selling COVID-19 vaccines, its CEO told Reuters on Monday.

“It’s never been a better time to be a vaccine manufacturer. I’m looking at expanding our manufacturing across the globe,” SII CEO Adar Poonawalla said during an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“There are some great countries out there: South Africa, Rwanda, you know, to name a few that we’re looking at.”

Africa was the only continent that did not have its own manufacturing capacity for COVID-19 vaccines during the worst phases of the pandemic in the last two years, leaving it at the mercy of suppliers from overseas, including the SII.

Paytm payments bank expects central bank curbs to be lifted soon

India’s Paytm Payments Bank, which facilitates transactions on mobile commerce platform Paytm, expects the central bank to allow it to resume taking on new customers in the next few months, a top executive told Reuters.

In March, the Reserve Bank of India ordered a comprehensive audit of the company’s IT systems, citing “material” supervisory concerns, without elaborating further, and barring it from taking on new customers.

The bank is working with the RBI to complete the IT audit and address the regulator’s concerns.

“The process is underway and we think it should take three to five months from where we are right now,” Madhur Deora, group chief financial officer, Paytm, told Reuters on Sunday.

SoftBank-backed logistics firm Delhivery valued at $4.9bn in India debut

Shares of Delhivery, an Indian logistics startup backed by SoftBank Group, rose as much as 7.6 percent in their market debut on Tuesday, giving the company a valuation of 379.60 billion rupees ($4.89 billion).

The Gurugram-based company’s services include parcel transportation, warehousing, cross-border and supply chain services to more than 23,000 customers, and counts popular e-commerce sites such as Amazon Inc. and Walmart Inc’s Flipkart as its clients.

Delhivery’s IPO, trimmed by nearly 30 percent to 52.35 billion rupees, was subscribed 1.63 times earlier this month at an offer price set at 487 rupees.

The offering included a fresh issue of shares worth up to 40 billion rupees and an offer for sale of shares worth 12.35 billion rupees from existing shareholders, including US private-equity firm Carlyle Group Inc. and Japanese conglomerate SoftBank.

(With input from Reuters) 


Techies in Dubai boast top-dollar salaries 

Techies in Dubai boast top-dollar salaries 
Updated 06 July 2022

Techies in Dubai boast top-dollar salaries 

Techies in Dubai boast top-dollar salaries 
  • Software engineers in Dubai earn nearly 30% more than workers in London, Amsterdam and Berlin

LONDON: Software engineers in Dubai with at least three years of experience earn the third highest salaries in the world compared to other global technology hubs, according to global consulting firm Mercer.

When compared to other global tech hubs such as London, Amsterdam, and Berlin, software engineers in Dubai earn nearly 30 percent more.

This reaffirms the UAE’s ambition to attract top digital talent and become a global tech talent magnet that fuels the digital economy’s growth.

Mercer’s Cost of Living 2022 survey also revealed that while Dubai ranked as the 31st most expensive city to live and work in for expatriates this year, its cost of living remains significantly lower than most tech hubs, including London (seventh), Singapore (eighth), New York (11th), San Francisco (19th), and Amsterdam (25th).

Almost 60 percent of UAE employers provide flexible working, reducing employees’ transportation costs. Dubai is also less expensive in terms of housing and rental costs, which accounts for a significant portion of the cost of living in a city.

“Dubai’s status as a global business hub, coupled with its income tax-free environment, world-class infrastructure, safety, and high quality of life make the emirate a very attractive market for talent,” said Vladimir Vrzhovski, workforce mobility leader at Mercer Middle East.

He added: “The demand for tech talent, in particular, will continue to grow in the UAE given the nation’s drive to be a global capital of the digital economy. Above all, a key incentive for tech talent is the opportunity for a significant uplift in salary when compared to other tech hubs, where the cost of living is higher in terms of transportation and housing.

“While inflation and rising fuel costs are a pressure on the cost of living around the globe, Dubai is building a nurturing and highly competitive tech ecosystem that pays highly competitive salaries — creating an environment that promises to attract and retain the best talent globally.

“Over the years, the UAE has also implemented several initiatives that make it easier for talent to live, work and stay in the country. The launch of the Golden Visa program in addition to Dubai’s recently announced Talent Pass aims to attract global professionals in the fields of technology amongst other key areas.

“National initiatives, such as the National Program for Coders launched last year, is designed to attract 100,000 coders from around the globe and set up 1,000 digital companies by 2026.”


Ben & Jerry’s sues parent Unilever to block sale of Israeli business

Ben & Jerry’s sues parent Unilever to block sale of Israeli business
Updated 06 July 2022

Ben & Jerry’s sues parent Unilever to block sale of Israeli business

Ben & Jerry’s sues parent Unilever to block sale of Israeli business

NEW YORK: Ben & Jerry’s on Tuesday sued its parent Unilever Plc to block the sale of its Israeli business to a local licensee, saying it was inconsistent with its values to sell its ice cream in the occupied West Bank, according to Reuters.

The complaint filed in the US District Court in Manhattan said the sale announced on June 29 threatened to undermine the integrity of the Ben & Jerry’s brand, which Ben & Jerry’s board retained independence to protect when Unilever acquired the company in 2000.

An injunction against transferring the business and related trademarks to Avi Zinger, who runs American Quality Products Ltd, was essential to “protect the brand and social integrity Ben & Jerry’s has spent decades building,” the complaint said.

Ben & Jerry’s said its board voted 5-2 to sue, with the two Unilever appointees dissenting.

Unilever, in a statement, said it does not discuss pending litigation, but that it had the right to sell the disputed business and the transaction had already closed.

“It’s a done deal,” Zinger’s lawyer Alyza Lewin said in a separate statement. The sale resolved Zinger’s own lawsuit in March against Ben & Jerry’s for refusing to renew his license.

The dispute highlights challenges facing consumer brands taking a stand on Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Most countries consider the settlements illegal. In April 2019, Airbnb Inc. reversed a five-month-old decision to stop listing properties in the settlements.

Last July, Ben & Jerry’s said it would end sales in the occupied West Bank and parts of East Jerusalem, and sever its three-decade relationship with Zinger.

Israel condemned the move, and some Jewish groups accused Ben & Jerry’s of anti-Semitism. Some investors, including at least seven US states, divested their Unilever holdings.

Unilever has more than 400 brands including Dove soap, Hellmann’s mayonnaise, Knorr soup and Vaseline skin lotion.

Ben & Jerry’s was founded in a renovated gas station in 1978 by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield.

No longer involved in Ben & Jerry’s operations, they wrote in the New York Times last July that they supported Israel but opposed its “illegal occupation” of the West Bank. 

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Kuwait Lender KFH to acquire Bahrain's Ahli United for $12bn

Kuwait Lender KFH to acquire Bahrain's Ahli United for $12bn
Updated 06 July 2022

Kuwait Lender KFH to acquire Bahrain's Ahli United for $12bn

Kuwait Lender KFH to acquire Bahrain's Ahli United for $12bn

RIYADH: Kuwait Finance House has agreed to fully acquire Ahli United Bank for $11.6 billion.

KFH plans to offer one share per 2.695 shares of Ahli United, implying a $1.04 offer price, according to Bloomberg.

Through the merger, the Gulf will have its seventh-largest lender worth $115 billion, a rare cross-border acquisition.


Saudi developer Jabal Omar plans $1.4bn capital hike through debt conversion

Saudi developer Jabal Omar plans $1.4bn capital hike through debt conversion
Updated 06 July 2022

Saudi developer Jabal Omar plans $1.4bn capital hike through debt conversion

Saudi developer Jabal Omar plans $1.4bn capital hike through debt conversion

RIYADH: Saudi developer Jabal Omar Development Co. has received approval from the Capital Market Authority to increase its capital by SR5.3 billion ($1.4 billion).

The listed company will finance the capital plan by converting debt, according to a statement by CMA.

The move is subject to approval from the company’s shareholders as well as completing the required regulatory procedures.

The Makkah-based developer’s losses narrowed by 47 percent and revenues surged 408 percent in the first quarter of 2022, due to improved post-pandemic business operations.


Microsoft's $69bn Activision deal under investigation by UK regulator

Microsoft's $69bn Activision deal under investigation by UK regulator
Updated 06 July 2022

Microsoft's $69bn Activision deal under investigation by UK regulator

Microsoft's $69bn Activision deal under investigation by UK regulator

RIYADH: Microsoft Corp.’s $68.7-billion planned purchase of American video game company Activision Blizzard Inc is under investigation by the UK's antitrust watchdog, Bloomberg reported.

The Competition and Markets Authority will decide by Sept. 1 whether the agreement between the US tech giant and the maker of the Call of Duty game series limits competition and increases prices.

The regulators will take notice of Microsoft's ownership of Activision to understand if the deal could limit rivals' access to the company's biggest games.

The US Federal Trade Commission is also reviewing the deal, chair Lina Khan told lawmakers in June.