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AGR ruling: COAI ignores Jio’s protest; seeks full waiver of telcos’ dues

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NEW DELHI: Ignoring its member Reliance Jio’s contentions, telecom industry association COAI has shot off an ‘addendum’ to its earlier demands and has now sought a complete waiver of statutory dues that its other members such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone-Idea owe to the government following the Supreme Court ruling.

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) director-general Rajan S Mathews on October 31 shot of a second letter in as many as days to Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad seeking waiver of the “entire” amount of Rs 1.42 lakh crore due to its principal members Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea Ltd and other telecom operators “given the poor financial state of the sector.”

The Supreme Court on October 24 upheld the government’s position on including revenue from non-telecommunication businesses in calculating the annual gross revenues of telecom companies, a share of which is paid as licence and spectrum fee to the exchequer. It directed the telcos to pay the principal due together with interest and penalties within three months.

“However, if such a step (complete waiver of all dues) is not possible, we request that the government waive off the interest, penalty and interest on penalty. Since the disputed payments go back to accumulation over the past 14 years, we request that the principal repayment of past dues be done over a period of 10 years, with a two-year moratorium,” he wrote.

The demand made by COAI is exactly the same as the one made in an unsigned paper submitted to the Telecom Ministry on the day Bharti Airtel chief Sunil Bharti Mittal and his brother Rajan Mittal met Prasad and Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash.

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Jio, which is also a member of COAI, has been contesting claims of the inability of telcos to pay the statutory dues, for which they ideally should have provisioned in accounts in view of a legal dispute.

Jio says COAI shot off the first representation to the government on October 30 without waiting for its comments. It feels COAI for the benefit of some of its members is using a “threatening and blackmailing” tone in its communication to the government on the non-existent crisis in the sector following the Supreme Court ruling on payment of statutory dues.

Jio has separately written to Prasad opposing any bailout to telecom companies at taxpayer’s expense and asserted the COAI should not be considered an association representing the industry.

It has accused COAI of writing to government “under the influence of two of its members in furtherance of their vested interests” and accused the association of acting as a “mouthpiece of two service providers” and harboring a negative bias towards Jio.

There was no case for seeking any financial support from the government after the industry exhausted all its legal recourse, it feels.

Mathews in the October 31 letter stated that the support “will go a long way to ensure that the sector can start the path of recovery from the current situation over time and serve the cause of Digital India.”

With the telecom sector staring at a massive Rs 1.4 lakh crore payout following a Supreme Court order, the unsigned memorandum to the government had asked it not to press for adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dispute payment in its entirety, sources said adding the note argues that it could not be the intent of the government to enrich itself by charging licence fee and SUC on non-licensed revenue or income.

In the worst-case scenario, it has requested the government to levy only the principal amount (without any interest or penalty) pertaining to only license fee (not spectrum usage charges) that should be allowed to be paid over a period of 10 years without interest.

It sought a two-year moratorium on spectrum payments beyond April 2020 till March 2022, to ease the cash flow pressures on the industry without compromising the net present value of spectrum dues to the government. This will allow continuity of business investment in critical network deployment and purchase of additional spectrum, it said.

It further sought a reduction in licence fee from 8 per cent of annual revenues to 3 per cent, and said that the balance 5 per cent representing USO contribution be waived or suspended till the current unutilised fund of Rs 50,000 crore is used.

Source: Press Trust of India

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63 moons to provide next-gen tech to Italian firm; eyes pan-European markets

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NEW DELHI: 63 moons technologies, formerly known as Financial Technologies, on Tuesday said it will provide next-generation technology solutions to Italy-based Spuma SRL as it targets pan-European markets.

In addition, 63 moons said it will evaluate global giants in cloud computing services like Amazon’s AWS, Microsoft’s Azure and Google cloud for deploying the technology, the provider of technology solutions to financial markets said in a regulatory filing to the BSE.

63 moons provides next-generation technology ventures and solutions for creating digital markets and marketplaces that enable price discovery and transaction efficiencies across industry segments.

The announcement comes a day after 63 moons said that it will not provide technology support to Multi Commodity Exchange (MCX) after September 30.

As per the filing, Spuma SRL will leverage 63 moons’ expertise on real-time mission critical solutions, using the latest technology suite.

The company will be offering a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) model with earnings by way of share in revenue by transaction charges and services earned by the digital ecosystem, which is its innovative model for high-growth IP monetization similar to Indian exchanges.

The company said it “would back and boost Italy-based Spuma SRL, with its next generation technology capabilities and solutions to create a digital market ecosystem for revitalised goods in the pan-Europe multi-million euro project and offering efficient and high value procurement and exchange proficiencies of revitalised goods”.

Spuma SRL will be offering these services initially from Italy, followed by extending to all the European Union countries and users of the platform.

63 moons would be offering technology support for the production, installation, and maintenance of the software application for the entire project, while the remaining operational functions will be carried out by Spuma SRL.

Source: Press Trust of India

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Realme DIZO partners OEL to make smartwatches, audio wearables in India

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NEW DELHI: Smart devices maker Realme DIZO has partnered with electronic manufacturing services company Optiemus Electronics Limited to manufacture smartwatches and audio wearables in India.

DIZO is a global technology brand and already has its presence in several other countries. However, India is the most important market for the brand, the company said in a statement.

“We have been talking about local manufacturing since the beginning and today, this dream is realised too and we are very excited about the future. Our alliance with Optiemus Electronics Limited (OEL) only supports our commitment towards India and Indian consumers.

“We are positive that through this partnership, we will be able to bridge the gap of making more futuristic AIoT (Artificial intelligence of things) and lifestyle products for the growing consumer needs,” DIZO India CEO Abhilash Panda said.

The brand has already started manufacturing some of its products, including DIZO Watch D, here in India and will eventually move to production of the other DIZO products – existing and upcoming ones in phases.

“From selling out products within minutes of the first sale to touching 1 million consumer base in just 5 months of inception to being rated as one of the top five smartwatch brands and fastest growing brands in audio wearables, our journey has been nothing less than a dream come true,” Panda said.

Since its inception, DIZO has launched over 30 products, including smartwatches, earbuds, neckbands, beard trimmers, hair dryers, feature phones and smartphone accessories.

In terms of product categories, DIZO will focus on entering into smart entertainment, smart home, smart care, and accessories for its consumers, the statement said.

Source: Press Trust of India

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Singtel arm sells 1.59% stake in Bharti Airtel for Rs 7,261 crore

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NEW DELHI: Pastel Ltd, an entity of Singtel, on Thursday divested 1.59 per cent stake in Bharti Airtel for Rs 7,261 crore through an open market transaction.

The stake has been picked by Bharti Airtel’s promoter Bharti Telecom Ltd, as per block deal data with the National Stock Exchange (NSE).

According to the data, Pastel offloaded 9,40,00,000 shares, amounting to 1.59 per cent stake in the company.

The shares were disposed of at an average price of Rs 772.5 apiece, taking the transaction value to Rs 7,261.50 crore.

Pastel Ltd is a unit of Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (Singtel).

Post this transaction, Pastel’s shareholding in Bharti Airtel will decrease to 10.62 per cent from 12.21 per cent.

At the end of the June quarter, Pastel held 13.84 per cent stake in the firm, shareholding data with the bourse showed.

Bharti Group Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal’s family and Singtel are co-investors in Bharti Telecom Ltd (BTL).

In early September, Singtel entities had jointly sold a 1.76 per cent stake in Bharti Airtel for about Rs 7,128 crore, while its co-promoter Bharti Telecom Ltd bought 1.63 per cent stake from Pastel for Rs 6,602 crore.

Last month, Singtel announced that its affiliates have entered into an agreement to transfer approximately 3.33 per cent stake to BTL for an aggregate amount of approximately 2.25 billion Singapore dollars (SGD), leaving direct shareholding of Singtel and Bharti in Airtel at around 10 per cent and 6 per cent, respectively.

Bharti Telecom at present holds 35.85 per cent stake in the country’s second-largest telecom service provider Bharti Airtel.

Source: Press Trust of India

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