Amazon : A late bid for FreeCharge, offers $70-$80 million
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Amazon : A late bid for FreeCharge, offers $70-$80 million

Online ecommerce giant Amazon has made a late bid for FreeCharge, the digital payments platform owned by troubled ecommerce marketplace Snapdeal, a development that comes at a time when the Gurgaon-based company is also in discussions to sell its payments unit to Axis Bank and telecom operator Bharti Airtel's mobile wallet Airtel Money. According to two sources aware of the development, Amazon's bid is in the range of $70-$80 million (Rs 466 crore- Rs 532 crore), with a term sheet signed by the Seattle-headquartered ecommerce behemoth and Jasper Infotech, which owns and operates both Snapdeal and Free-Charge, last week. The latest set of developments comes a little over two weeks after Axis Bank, the country's third-largest private sector lender, emerged as one of the frontrunners to acquire FreeCharge for about $60-$65 million. Rival Paytm has also held talks to acquire Free-Charge, and has made a bid of $10 million. However, the sources cited above also said that not-withstanding Amazon's late, but higher bid for FreeCharge, Axis Bank remained the favourite to acquire the digital payments platform that also competes with the likes of MobiKwik. An Amazon spokesperson said: "We don't comment on rumours and speculations". A successful sale of FreeCharge will provide much-needed cash to the Snapdeal coffers, giving it critical runway of a few more months and allowing it to survive as a potentially standalone business. According to the sources, if successful in its endeavour to acquire FreeCharge, Amazon will most likely roll FreeCharge into its existing payments entity, Amazon Pay. The online retail giant, which has committed to invest $5 billion in its local operations, recently pumped Rs 130 crore more into Amazon Pay India, as reported by Times of India earlier this month, citing regulatory filings submitted to the Registrar of Companies.
Amazon India had been granted license by the Reserve Bank of India to operate a pre-paid payment instrument or wallet. The central bank issued the wallet licence in the name of Amazon Online Distribution Services, which also operates Amazon Pay that allows users to transact with offline partners of Amazon and online for Amazon's marketplace services on Amazon.in and Amazon Now.
FreeCharge was acquired by Jasper in 2015 in a cash-and-stock deal estimated at $400-450 million, in what was then the largest acquisition in the Indian startup space. However, the payments unit has been seeking a buyer for several months now, even as its parent negotiates the terms for its own sale. At one point, Jasper was eyeing a valuation of close to $1 billion for FreeCharge, as it tried to raise cash for unit, a process that began in late 2015. However, the reversal in the fortunes of Snapdeal had a drastic effect on FreeCharge, which saw the volume and value of transactions fall sharply. The company is estimated to have recorded Rs 300 crore in transaction revenue on about 12 million transactions in April. In its heyday, the payments company had forecast 7 million daily transactions and gross merchandise transactions of Rs 20,000 crore by the end of fiscal 2017.
Will 12% GST be charged for 4G handsets offered for free ?
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Will 12% GST be charged for 4G handsets offered for free ?

India's top telecom operators are likely to seek clarification from the finance ministry on whether bundled 4G handsets offered effectively for free would attract the 12% goods and services tax applicable on mobile phones. "Ideally, the government must determine the GST implications of selling a handset at zero price and provide guidance to telcos about the pros and cons of structuring similar handset bundling deals," Rajan Mathews, director general of the Cellular Operators' Association of India. Reliance Industries unveiled a 4G feature phone last week that may further disrupt an already stressed telecom market. The Jio Phone comes with free voice service for life and can be obtained for Rs 1,500, which is refundable after three years if the handset is returned. Apart from the tax treatment, telcos may seek clarity on whether such financing schemes will enable operators to skip payment of licence fees and spectrum usage charges. Although telcos Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular have not subsidised handsets so far, they could offer 'a scheme similar to what is being offered by JIo,' HSBC Global Research said in a note to clients. These telcos would have, at best, 4-5 months to come up with matching bundling offers. Mobile operators, Mathews said, would definitely "look for clarity" from the finance ministry as any "potential imposition of GST on a technically free phone would increase the cost of similarly structured handset bundling offers in future." The COAI represents the country's biggest phone companies, including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Idea Cellular and Reliance Jio Infocomm. "Someone can choose to offer anything for free, be it a handset or even a plot of land. But that doesn't mean the asset being offered is devoid of an imputed value, in that, the government can always go back to the company, determine a fair value of the asset and levy a tax," said a top mobile industry executive.
MiG corporation chief : India showed interest in the most advanced 4++ generation MiG-35 fighter jet
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MiG corporation chief : India showed interest in the most advanced 4++ generation MiG-35 fighter jet

Russia is keen on selling its new fighter jet MiG-35 to India with the MiG corporation’s chief saying the country has evinced interest in the aircraft and talks were on to understand its requirements. Chief Executive Officer of the MiG Aircraft Corporation Ilya Tarasenko said that after having presented MiG-35 in January, the MiG corporation began to actively promote the aircraft in India and in other parts of the world. “We are proposing supply of the aircraft for tenders in India and we actively work with its Air Force in order to win the tender,” he said while talking to reporters on the sidelines of the MAKS 2017 air show here. The MiG-35 is Russia’s most advanced 4++ generation multipurpose fighter jet developed on the basis of the serial-produced MiG-29K/KUB and MiG-29M/M2 combat aircraft. Asked if India has expressed any interest in the MiG-35, Tarasenko said, “Of course they have.” MiG aircraft have been used by India for almost 50 years and MiG corporation proposes its new products to India among the first countries and intends to continue supplying India with its most modern aircraft, the MiG chief said. Asked about the current status of the proposal of the aircraft to India, he said, “We are in the negotiation stage where talks on technical and technological specifications that MiG can present to India and the requirements that India has for this aircraft were taking place.” “Since this is a very new plane, it will still take some time to negotiate on exactly what India needs and adjust the product to it,” he added. Talking about the cost of the plane, Tarasenko said it was economical due to the after-sales services being offered along with the aircraft. “We propose not just the aircraft, but also training for its use, as well as after-sales servicing where we take upon the responsibility to service it for 40 years,” he added. He stressed that in comparison to its competitors, the prices offered by MiG were 20-25 per cent cheaper, making it an attractive option for those who wish to purchase this aircraft. Highlighting the main features of the MiG-35, Tarasenko said its technical specifications were close to a fifth generation aircraft, namely its flight capabilities, its new weapon range and defence systems, including stealth. “I would like to note the demand for this aircraft for our own air force, as well as our foreign partners. The plane is light, multi-functional and has high manoeuvrability,” Tarasenko said, adding that the MiG was also offering special commercial terms to its partners. He also stressed that the plane was fully Russian-made with Rostec companies like United Engine Corporation (UEC), KRET and Technodinamika participating in the project. At MAKS 2017, the MiG-35 grabbed all the limelight as it took to the skies and enthralled the audience with breathtaking manoeuvres like the tail slide, barrel roll and the nesterov loop. Belyaev Mikhail, the Lead Test Pilot of MiG-35, told reporters that the main feature of this aircraft was the new on board equipment and the new quality of weapons — air-to- air, air-to-ground and air-to-sea. “Compared with the basic version of the MiG-29, it is a new aircraft, new airframe, fly-by-wire, glass cockpit, adapted for night vision goggles…new engines, more power, more fuel, new on board equipment and new weapons,” said Mikhail, who was earlier this year presented the star of the ‘Hero of Russia’ by President Vladimir Putin for bravery in piloting and testing of aviation equipment. Asked if it was easier to fly MiG-35, Mikhail said new tasks were required for such an aircraft so one needs to learn these. “On the basic level it is not that difficult to switch from MIG 29 to 35 as the plane remains the same. It is still a light simple plane. The combat tasks that can be achieved from this plane are much more serious and much more complex,” he said. “More combat tasks can be achieved from this plane than with the MiG-29. So it will take time to learn new tasks and to adapt,” he added. An overhauled MiG-35 multi-role fighter completed a successful demonstration flight at the MAKS 2017 air show, with Russian officials saying the first combat-ready plane will be delivered to the Air Force next year. Tarasenko also noted that around 30 countries are using various modifications of MiG-35’s predecessor, the MiG-29, and that “talks are already ongoing with potential buyers.” The fighter jet features improved flight and technical characteristics, the most advanced on board radio-electronic equipment and a wide arsenal of air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles. The flight tests of MiG-35 fighter aircraft began on January 26 and the plane’s international presentation was held in the Moscow Region on the following day.
Launch Update : Mercedes launches AMG GLC 43 Coupe in India at Rs 74.8 lakh
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Launch Update : Mercedes launches AMG GLC 43 Coupe in India at Rs 74.8 lakh

German luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz launched AMG GLC 43 Coupe in India priced at Rs 74.8 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). "This new SUV Coupe is going to be a key addition to our 43 AMG line and will be instrumental in further popularising the 43 AMG range to a new customer base," Mercedes-Benz India Managing Director and CEO Roland Folger said. The model combines elegance of a coupe with dynamics of a sports car and versatility of the Mercedes-Benz GLC, he added. "We are confident that this brand will be well received by our elite Indian customers," Folger said. The petrol-powered vehicle produces 367 HP and can sprint from 0-100 km/h in mere 4.9 seconds. The new model is the 8th product launch by the company in India during the year. The vehicle comes with various features including all wheel drive, electric sunroof and LED light system. Commenting on the sales performance during the current year, Folger said: "It has turned out to be a golden year for us". In the first half of the year, the automaker has sold 7,171 units in India, its best performance till date. "We are confident that we will lead the luxury car segment this year as well," Folger said. In order to further push AMG brand in India, the company plans to add two new AMG performance centres at Chennai and Kochi, he added. The company currently has AMG performance centres at Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune and Hyderabad.
Apple will help take Indian railways to the next level. Trains speed to be increased to 600 km per hour
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Apple will help take Indian railways to the next level. Trains speed to be increased to 600 km per hour

Eyeing trains speeds of 600 km per hour, the government is working with global technology firms like Apple to help take Indian railways to the next level, Union minister Suresh Prabhu said on Friday. The railway minister also said the government's premier think tank NITI Aayog had approved the ministry's Rs18,000 crore proposal to increase speeds of the Gatiman Express on the two busiest corridors, Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Kolkata. With this approval, the speed of the Gatiman Express would increase to 200 km per hour, the minister said at an event organised by industry chamber ASSOCHAM. "You can yourself imagine how much travelling time this will save." Sharing plans for the future, Prabhu said the government had six-eight months ago called major technology developers working on increasing train speeds to more than 600 km per hour. "We are already working with companies like Apple... technology will not only be imported in India but will be co- developed in India," Prabhu said. Safety was also an important concern and Indian railways was planning to use self-propelled coaches that can detect rail fractures through ultrasonic technology, the minister added.
JioPhone: Priced at Rs 0 ‘India ka Smartphone’ offers unlimited 4G data in just Rs 153
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JioPhone: Priced at Rs 0 ‘India ka Smartphone’ offers unlimited 4G data in just Rs 153

Reliance Industries Limited chairman Mukesh Ambani on Friday announced the 4G VoLTE feature JioPhone at an effective price of Rs Zero. However, customers first have to pay a security of Rs 1500, which would be fully refundable after three years. Unveiling the 'India ka Smartphone', Ambani said that the launch of JioPhone is a critical element in bridging the divide between digital India. The 4G enabled phone includes, a distress call system, Jio Music, Jio Cinema and Jio TV. The phone also supports 22 major Indian languages. Here are the data plans the newly launched smartphone will offer:
  • "Voice will always be free" on a JioPhone, said Ambani. He went on to announce "digital freedom" on JioPhones since August 15 with unlimited data.
  • The phone will come with unlimited 4G data. Jio customers can avail Reliance Jio's Dhan Dhana Dhan offer on their JioPhone in just Rs 153 for a month.
  • Jio Customers can also avail the same offer weekly in just Rs 53 and for two days in just Rs 23.
  • Jio has also introduced a new Rs 309 per month plan for those who want to mirror content from JioPhone screen to the TV.
Jio will cover over 99 per cent of the country's population in the next one year, said Mukesh Ambani. Data consumption in India has grown from 20 crore GB per month to 120 crore GB after Jio's entry, and has been multiplying ever since, he said. He further added, the country has now taken over China and US when it comes to data consumption.
Air travellers can soon browse internet and use satellite phones on board
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Air travellers can soon browse internet and use satellite phones on board

In a year’s time, Indian flyers can browse the Internet and log on to sites like Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram. This inflight connectivity, which was hitherto available only for defence personnel, will be offered by State-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) and International Mobile Satellite Organization (Inmarsat).  “In about a year’s time, we will open satellite phone services to private companies and persons, as well as offer Internet facility on flights and ships,” said BSNL chairman Anupam Shrivastava .
Air travellers would get data via a Wi-Fi router. This will be facilitated through antennas which will link it to the nearest satellite. The bandwidth would be provided as per the tariff rolled out after necessary regulatory approvals, Shrivastava said. BSNL has already received the go ahead from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).
Satellite-based phone services in India were, till recently, offered by Tata Communications (TCL) after it acquired state-run Videsh Sanchar Nigam (VSNL) in February 2008. The Tata Group company has been offering limited satellite services. But this is now being transitioned to BSNL which is now the only player to have the licence to provide satellite phone services in India.
“We are the sole licensee to provide satellite services. Inmarsat has tied up with BSNL and has already installed their equipment on our premises after being tested for law enforcement,” a top BSNL executive said. The company has also already applied for the International Maritime Organisation licence.
The state-owned telco has already asked existing Inmarsat satellite phone users to migrate to the new network by July 31. The ongoing transition of network and subscribers from Tata Communications to the new network will be completed by August, Shrivastava said.
The satellite phones, as part of this shift, would come to the telco soon and have new SIM numbers. The first phase would involve the transition, which is expected to conclude by August end, followed by the stepping up of the network’s broadband capacity and finally extending this capacity to aircraft and ships, Shrivastava said.
US-based aerospace systems provider Honeywell, in a recent finding, estimated that ‘connected aircraft’ would be a $7-billion opportunity with as many as 25,000 airplanes expected to offer Internet connectivity by 2025. INMARSAT was set up under the United Nations in 1979 and India was one of its founding members.
Jet Airways : Accept 30-50 percent pay cuts, or quit ! Pilots pay will be cut to trim cost.
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Jet Airways : Accept 30-50 percent pay cuts, or quit ! Pilots pay will be cut to trim cost.

Jet Airways, India's second-largest airline by market share, has asked dozens of its junior-ranking pilots to accept 30-50 percent pay cuts, or quit, as it moves to bring down its costs, according to two sources and letters seen by Reuters. Jet Airways has proposed salary and stipend cuts in letters sent to pilots earlier this month, saying it was forced to take such steps as it was "intensely focused on fleet and network rationalization". The move, to be implemented from Aug. 1, is likely to impact up to 400 pilots, said the two sources, who asked not to be named. A third source close to the development said Jet had to make some work adjustments with pilots, as it has rationalized its network given weakness in the Gulf region and improved fleet utilization. Jet Airways, which has the highest cost structure among all the major private-sector carriers in India, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Jet Airways has struggled to keep a lid on costs in one of the world's fastest-growing aviation markets where competition from low-cost carriers such as InterGlobe Aviation's (INGL.NS) IndiGo and SpiceJet (SPJT.BO) is on the rise and is putting it under pressure. The Indian airline, partly-owned by Etihad Airways of the United Arab Emirates, is also facing headwinds in the international market due to uncertainty in the oil-rich Gulf region which is hurting its revenues.
Various suggestions on Air India disinvestment will be considered by the Government : Jayant Sinha
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Various suggestions on Air India disinvestment will be considered by the Government : Jayant Sinha

The government today said it would take into consideration suggestions and views received from time to time before deciding on the contours of Air India disinvestment. Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha told the Lok Sabha that IndiGo has submitted an expression of interest with respect to disinvestment of Air India. "Suggestions and views are received from time to time, including the articles published in media, regarding disinvestment of Air India. These would be kept in mind while arriving at the final decision regarding contours of the disinvestment," Sinha said in a written reply. On June 28, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) gave its in-principle approval for considering strategic disinvestment of Air India and its five subsidiaries.  An Air India Specific Alternative Mechanism (AISAM) has been constituted to guide the process on the strategic disinvestment and its meeting is "yet to commence", Sinha said. Noting that IndiGo has submitted an expression of interest, the minister said the "disinvestment of any CPSE (Central Public Sector Enterprise) is done in accordance with the laid down procedure and no response needs to be communicated at this stage to IndiGo". While replying to questions from various members on Air India disinvestment, Sinha said the airline has been facing losses for the past many years not only on account of merger with Indian Airlines but also due to multitude of other factors.  These include high fuel prices, interest burden, debt- equity ratio, airport user charges and increasing competition, especially from low-cost carriers, he added. Citing per provisional estimates, the minister said Air India is expected to post a net loss of Rs 3,643 crore in 2016-17 period. At the end of March this year, the airline's total debt stood at Rs 48,876.81 crore as per provisional figures, he noted. According to Sinha, in comparison to the total insurance premium paid, the premium paid on grounded aircraft by Air India is negligible and is reducing year by year. "Also, in the case of grounded aircraft, Air India is required to pay only 30 per cent of the flying premium rate," he added.
Bajaj Auto Q1 : 19.51 per cent decline in consolidated net profit to Rs 836.79 crore
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Bajaj Auto Q1 : 19.51 per cent decline in consolidated net profit to Rs 836.79 crore

Bajaj Auto on Thursday reported 19.51 per cent decline in consolidated net profit to Rs 836.79 crore for the June quarter of current fiscal, on account of lower sales. It had posted net profit of Rs 1,039.70 crore in the April-June quarter of last fiscal. Bajaj Auto said in a BSE filing that its total income from operations during the quarter under review stood at Rs 6,177.66 crore as against Rs 6,355.84 crore in the April-June quarter of 2016-17. The domestic industry, it said, was impacted during the June quarter of 2017-18 due to changeover from BS-III to BS-IV vehicles and transition to the new Goods and Services Tax. Total vehicles sales during the quarter declined 10.68 per cent to 8,88,434 units as against 9,94,733 units in the corresponding period of last fiscal. The company said its total exports, however, went up by 10.48 per cent to 4,09,525 units as against 3,70,649 units in the same quarter last fiscal. With regard to GST, Bajaj Auto said: "For dealers holding stocks as on June 30, estimated loss per motorcycle was around Rs 1,400 as CST, auto cess, entry tax in certain states and LBT would not be eligible for set-off under rules for transition to GST." The company said it provided for Rs 32 crore towards compensation to the dealers for transition to GST. Competition continued to build stocks at the dealerships and hence in June, performance measured on wholesale numbers was negative for the company and reflected a lower market share, it added. Shares of Bajaj Auto were trading 0.38 per cent down at Rs 2,814.15 on BSE in the afternoon.