Business in bitesizes
End of the steel dream

The steel business is looking grimmer. Angad Paul, owner of Caparo Plc, jumped to his death last year as his company was on the brink of collapse. Now, almost a dec­ade after its expensive acquisition of European steel-maker Corus, the Tata Group is putting Corus’s UK business on the block. The UK business has been doing rather badly for several months and the decision was pushed by a resolve to stem heavy losses. Though the Tatas are selling only the UK business at the moment, their European functions have not been doing great either. This may force the Tatas to take a call on that business as well.

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Hot under the digital collar

Is it getting too hot in the disruption business? First, Uber took rival taxi firm Ola to court over alleged foul play. But, as observers asked, weren’t there reports in the US about Uber’s similar games with rivals like Lyft? Then there was Flipkart’s Sachin Bansal taking a jibe at Snapdeal and Paytm over Alibaba’s supposed decision to directly enter India’s e-commerce space. These hostilities aren’t anything new, though start-ups in Silicon Valley are known to go after each other more aggressively than here. Earlier this month, a top Alibaba Group executive said in Delhi that the Chinese firm was eyeing an e-commerce entry in India this year. What’s cooking?

Adani in the driver’s seat

Adani Group has set its eyes on India’s east coast for its next mega project—the Rs 5,000 crore Dhamra LNG project in Orissa, for which it is hoping to rope in public sector majors GAIL and Indian Oil Corporation as minority partners. Gautam Adani’s logic is that PSUs are slow in taking decisions! While there is no resolution as yet on whether the PSUs will allow Adani 51 per cent contr­­olling stake in the five-million-tonne project, the state-run energy majors see considerable advantage in joining the project, given its future access to a proposed Ranchi-Talcher pipeline. A sim­ilar pipeline from Paradip to Surat is also in the works.

Yet another delay in Jio launch?

It seems Reliance Jio has postponed the launch of its 4G services yet again—this time, most likely to December. While there is no official word on this, the March deadline has gone by. We live in hope.

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Water crisis

Lack of water in reservoirs (in % departure from norm)

  • Gujarat -39%
  • Tamil Nadu -42%
  • Uttarakhand -46%
  • Maharashtra -57%
  • Andhra Pradesh -81%

Source: Central Water Commission; Indiaspend

War market

Top exporters of weapons (in % share)

  • USA 33
  • Russia 25
  • China 5.9
  • France 5.9
  • Germany 4.7

India’s share in arms import market: 14%

This is a 90% increase in five years

Source: SIPRI

Three things we learnt about Sundar Pichai

Google top man’s long Buzzfeed profile

  • He can still move about incognito, most recently in CES, Las Vegas
  • Launched Google Cardboard but had not even seen the final version of it
  • Climbed to the top of his house in Chennai and jumped rooftops to escape barking dogs

This week we Re-Learnt…E-tailing

The ‘euphoria’ over the government allowing 100 per cent FDI in e-commerce with a marketplace model in India is a bit of old wine, new bottle. There’s one condition that companies cannot have more than 25 per cent of their sales from one vendor. This will affect both Amazon and Flipkart, in particular, as both have a majority of business from a single vendor that is controlled by them. What would also affect them is the new provision that bars e-commerce companies from deep discounting of products that made them more attractive than brick-and-mortar retailers. The real loser in all this is Walmart, which has stuck to its inven­tory model.



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