SoftBank writes down India investment by Rs 3,735 crore

New Delhi: Japan’s SoftBank Corp has booked an investment loss of 58.14 billion yen ($ 560 million or Rs 3,735 crore) on its investments in India including cab-hailing firm Ola and e-commerce company Snapdeal.

In the earning statement for six months ended September 30, SoftBank wrote off 58.14 billion yen in the value of shares in its investments in India, which include ANI Technologies, owns country’s largest cab aggregator Ola, and Jasper Infotech, which runs e-commerce marketplace Snapdeal.

Of that, 29.62 billion yen (around Rs 189 crore) was due to a currency impairment.

“Gain or loss arising from financial instruments at FVTPL (fair value through profit or loss) comprises mainly changes in fair value of preferred stock investment including embedded derivatives, such as ANI Technologies Pvt Ltd and Jasper Infotech Private Limited in India, designated as financial assets at FVTPL,” SoftBank said in the earnings statement.

The Japanese firm had led a $ 210-million (around Rs 1,400 crore) investment in Ola and $ 627 million (around Rs 4,182 crore) in Snapdeal in October 2014. It made follow-on investments in both firms.

Both Ola and Snapdeal are looking at raising fresh funds to sustain operations amid growing competition from rivals.

Bengaluru-based Ola has so far raised about $ 1.2 billion (around Rs 8,004 crore) from a clutch of investors including Tiger Global Management, Matrix Partners, SoftBank Group and Didi Chuxing.

Last year, raised $ 500 million (around Rs 3,335 crore) from Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba Group, Foxconn Technology Group and existing investor SoftBank Group, which then valued the Delhi-based firm at about $ 4.8 billion (around Rs 32,019 crore) post money.

SoftBank has so far invested close to $ 2 billion (around Rs 13,341 crore) in India and earlier this year it stated that it is looking to scale up the investment to $ 10 billion (around Rs 66,707 crore) in next 5-10 years.

Last month, it said it will form a new fund with Saudi Arabia’s public investment fund to invest as much as $ 100 billion in the global technology industry in the next five years.

“My goal is to become the Warren Buffett of the tech industry. We’re aiming to be the Berkshire Hathaway of tech,” SoftBank Group Corp Chief Executive Masayoshi Son said after the earnings announcement.

For the July-September quarter, SoftBank posted a net profit of 512 billion yen, compared with 213 billion yen the year before, boosted by gains from the sale of stakes in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Finnish game maker Supercell Oy.


Sensex closes 132 points up on US election optimism

Mumbai: BSE Sensex on Tuesday closed over 132 points higher and NSE Nifty reclaimed the crucial 8,500-level, enthused by revived global sentiments following improved prospects of Hillary Clinton’s win in today’s US election.

The sentiment-driven rally also got support from stock specific earning results and finance minister Arun Jaitley’s statement that the Centre will step up reforms to attract more investment and fill up infrastructure deficit.

However, the momentum turned range-bound with investors being cautiously optimistic about the US poll outcome, while a fag-end buying saw key indices recovering from the day’s low.

The 30-share Sensex after shuttling between 27,646.84 and 27,406.76, settled 132.15 points, or 0.48 per cent higher, at 27,591.14. The gauge had gained 184.84 points yesterday.

The NSE Nifty ended 46.50 points, or 0.55 per cent, higher at 8,543.55 after moving between 8,559.40 and 8,480.10.

In the broader markets, mid-cap index also rose by 0.36 per cent while small-cap index gained 0.16 per cent.

Buying was led by auto, industrials, oil & gas, banks, financials and utilities — supported by second-line shares of mid-cap and small-cap industries. While selling was seen in healthcare, FMCG and realty counters.

Globally, most Asian markets extended gains on hopes Hillary Clinton will beat Donald Trump in Tuesday’s presidential election but traders are cautious, with many opinion polls saying the race is too close to call.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.47 per cent, while Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.46 per cent. Japan’s Nikkei, however, ended almost flat.

European markets were cautious in their opening deals with London’s FTSE edging higher by 0.10 per cent, while Frankfurt’s DAX 30 up 0.05 per cent. Paris CAC 40 up 0.15 per cent.

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Rivigo raises $75 million funding from Warburg Pincus 

New Delhi: Private equity firm Warburg Pincus has invested $75 million (about Rs 500 crore) in surface transport logistics provider Rivigo Services for a minority stake, in one of the largest equity financing rounds raised by an Indian startup this year.

The investment, is the third transaction by the global PE firm in the country’s logistics sector, having already backed ecommerce-focused logistics solutions provider Ecom Express and third-party logistics company Stellar Value Chain Solutions over the past two years.

“This (funding) is going to be primarily utilized towards technology and hiring. We have to scale up our tech talent, investments in IoT, automation and data sciences a lot more. We also have to build our next level of leadership cadre, given the growth we’re seeing,” Deepak Garg, chief executive, Rivigo, told ET.

According to Garg, who co-founded the Gurgaon-based truck fleet operator with fellow McKinsey alumnus Gazal Kalra in 2014, the company is also poised to reap benefits of the recently-passed Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill, which is expected to lead to faster turnaround times, create pull-based supply chains and help in the re-configuration of warehousing and distribution networks.

“The company is delivering a fundamentally superior proposition for customers and truck drivers by deploying a unique operating model, enabled by technology and analytics. The prospects are likely to be further enhanced upon implementation of GST,” said Viraj Sawhney, managing director, Warburg Pincus.

The investment is believed to have valued Rivigo, which competes with the likes of legacy operators such as GATI and Blue Dart, declined to share the specifics of the transaction.

The company, which serves sectors including ecommerce, frozen food, dairy, automotive and pharmaceuticals among others, has also developed algorithms and filed patents in the USA that deal with managing fuel efficiency and pilferage, availability of drivers in the relay system, and loading plans to help reduce damages to products carried by its trucks.

“We believe we can drive a lot of global innovation in trucking and logistics sector through what we are building at Rivigo,” Garg said, adding that the problems that Rivigo is solving are globally unsolved and a $2.5 to 3 trillion revenue market.

Sawhney will also join the Rivigo board, which also counts Myntra founder Mukesh Bansal as an independent director.

The company will continue to further build out its network of processing centres and pit stops across the country, as well as enhance its track fleet size to about 5,000 over the next 12 months. It currently operates currently about 1,500 vehicles, and employs about 3,000 drivers.



Big Shopping Days Sale in Flipkart

Bengaluru: Flipkart has announced its ‘Big Shopping Days’ sale from March 7 to 9, with the online marketplace offering discounts on smartphones, tablets, and other gadgets.

In addition to the offers, consumers shopping on Flipkart can also get an additional 10 percent extra discount on every purchase made via State Bank of India (SBI) debit and credit cards during the Big Shopping Days sale.

Some of the smartphones available under the new Flipkart offer are the Lenovo K3 Note which can be grabbed at Rs. 8,999 and it comes with an exchange offer that offers up to Rs. 6,000 discount for functional and display-intact devices; Motorola Moto X Play is currently available at Rs. 15,999 for the 16GB model after a flat Rs. 1,000 off and with an additional exchange offer of up to Rs. 9,000; the Asus ZenFone 2 Laser ZE550KL is priced at Rs. 8,999 after a flat Rs. 1,000 discount and has an additional exchange offer up to Rs. 6,000; the Motorola Moto G (Gen 3) 16GB model is available at Rs. 9,999 after a flat Rs. 1,000 off and also has an exchange offer of up to Rs. 6,000 off; the Nexus 6P is available at Rs. 34,999 after a flat Rs. 5,000 off and also comes with an exchange offer of up to 20,000; the iPhone 6s16GB model is available at Rs. 41,999 and comes with an exchange offer of up to Rs. 21,000; the Motorola Moto G Turbo Edition is priced at Rs. 11,299 after a flat Rs. 1,200 off and also has an exchange offer of up to Rs. 7,000; the Samsung Galaxy On7 is available at Rs. 10,190 and comes with an exchange offer of up to Rs. 6,000.

Some of the other handsets available under the Big Shopping Days sale include the Asus ZenFone 2(4GB of RAM) available at Rs. 12,999 after an extra Rs. 4,000 off and also has an exchange offer of up to Rs. 8,000; Xiaomi Mi 4 is available at Rs. 12,999 after a flat Rs. 2,000 off and an additional exchange offer of up to Rs. 8,000; the LG G4 is priced at Rs. 32,800 after a flat Rs. 2,000;

Consumers can also get discounts on smartwatches, tablets, laptops, cameras, televisions and headphones. The offers available on smartphones and other products are valid till stock lasts, according to Flipkart.



Nike stops sponsoring Indian cricket team 

New Delhi: Nearly half the Indian cricket team has been left in the lurch without a bat advertiser, as the world’s largest sportswear firm Nike has pulled out of sponsorship for them.

It has been learnt that the Oregon-based sportswear firm has not renewed contracts with Indian cricketers such as Ajinkya Rahane, R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.

Most of its other bat assets — including Manish Pandey, Axar Patel and Umesh Yadav — were seen using plain bats during the ODI series against New Zealand. The bat of Kedar Jadhav, another Nike protege, was sporting the manufacturer’s label.

Sponsoring cricket bats is an expensive marketing exercise in India.

Companies cough up Rs 7-10 crore per year to put their logos on willows of top players, such as Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni. And, Nike India has been struggling with losses that have accumulated to over Rs 500 crore in 2014-15.

A Nike India spokesperson did not reply to an e-mailed questionnaire sent by TOI, while sources in the cricket equipment manufacturing fraternity said it has been around two years since any of the top bat makers in Meerut have got orders from Nike for new bats.

While Nike remains one of the biggest spenders in cricket, paying around Rs 60 crore a year to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to sponsor the Indian cricket team’s official kit, it has shut around 30% of its stores in the country to cut cost.


Ford to invest Rs 1,300 cr in Chennai for R&D

Chennai: US auto major Ford on Tuesday announced the setting up of its new research and development centre at a cost of Rs 1,300 crore.

Ford’s Executive Chairman Bill Ford made an official announcement regarding the investment plan in Chennai.

The automaker will invest $195 million (around Rs 1300 crore) and hire 3,000 skilled people for the new centre over the next 5 years.

It will serve as a hub for product development, mobility solutions and business services in India and other markets across the world.

Ford will also consolidate 9000 employees from its six existing facilities, spread over a campus area of 28 acres, in Chennai.



Scientific study develops new strategies to prevent Alzheimer’s

Washington: According to a recent study, scientists suggest that taking a certain kind of pill may prevent the accumulation of toxic molecules in brain which would help prevent or delay Alzheimer’s disease.

The study took a three-pronged approach to help subdue early events that occur in the brain long before symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are evident.

The scientists were able to prevent those early events and the subsequent development of brain pathology in experimental animal models in the lab.

Senior author of the study Huda Zoghbi said, “Common diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia are caused in part by abnormal accumulation of certain proteins in the brain. Some proteins become toxic when they accumulate; they make the brain vulnerable to degeneration. Tau is one of those proteins involved in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.”

Cristian Lasagna-Reeves, the first author of the study said,”Scientists in the field have been focusing mostly on the final stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Here we tried to find clues about what is happening at the very early stages of the illness, before clinical irreversible symptoms appear, with the intention of preventing or reducing those early events that lead to devastating changes in the brain decades later.”

The scientists reasoned that if they could find ways to prevent or reduce tau accumulation in the brain, new possibilities for developing drug treatments for these diseases could be uncovered.

Cells control the amount of their proteins with other proteins called enzymes. To find which enzymes affect tau accumulation, the scientists systematically inhibited enzymes called kinases.

“We inhibited about 600 kinases one by one and found one, called Nuak1, whose inhibition resulted in reduced levels of tau,” said Zoghbi.

The scientists screened the enzymes in two different systems, cultured human cells and the laboratory fruit fly.

Screening in the fruit fly allowed the scientists to assess the effects of inhibiting the enzymes in a functional nervous system in a living organism.

“Screening hundreds of kinases in the fruit fly animal model was critical because we could assess degeneration caused by tau in the fly’s nervous system and measure neuronal dysfunction. Screening such a large number cannot be done with other animal models like the mouse, and cultured cells cannot model complex nervous system functions,” said co-senior author Juan Botas.

Brain section from mouse carrying the dementia-causing P301S mutation in human tau shows accumulation of tau neurofibrillary tangles.When Nuak1 levels are decreased by 50 percent, fewer tau tangles accumulate.

“We found one enzyme, Nuak1, whose inhibition consistently resulted in lower levels of tau in both human cells and fruit flies. Then we took this result to a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease and hoped that the results would hold, and they did. Inhibiting Nuak1 improved the behaviour of the mice and prevented brain degeneration,” said Zoghbi.

“Confirming in three independent systems – human cells, the fruit fly and the mouse – that Nuak1 inhibition results in reduced levels of tau and prevents brain abnormalities induced by tau accumulation, has convinced us that Nuak1 is a reliable potential target for drugs to prevent diseases such as Alzheimer’s,” Zoghbi added.

He further said, “The next step is to develop drugs that will inhibit Nuak1 in hope that one day would be able to lower tau levels with low toxicity in individuals at risk for dementia due to tau accumulation.”

Scientific studies like this one make it possible to develop new strategies to prevent or treat diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or dementia.

In the future it might be possible to treat people at risk for Alzheimer’s disease by keeping tau low.

Think of how taking drugs that lower cholesterol has helped control the accumulation of cholesterol in blood vessels that leads to atherosclerosis and heart disease.

“When people started taking drugs that lower cholesterol, they lived longer and healthier lives rather than dying earlier of heart disease,” said Zoghbi.

“Nobody has thought about Alzheimer’s disease in that light. Tau in Alzheimer’s can be compared to cholesterol in heart disease. Tau is a protein that when it accumulates as the person ages, increases the vulnerability of the brain to developing Alzheimer’s. So maybe if we can find drugs that can keep tau at levels that are not toxic for the brain, then we would be able to prevent or delay the development of Alzheimer’s and other diseases caused in part by toxic tau accumulation,” he concluded.

The study was published in the Cell Press journal Neuron.