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Microsoft to acquire Activision Blizzard

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NEW DELHI: With three billion people actively playing games today, and fueled by a new generation steeped in the joys of interactive entertainment, gaming is now the largest and fastest-growing form of entertainment. Microsoft Corp. has announced plans to acquire Activision Blizzard Inc., a leader in game development and interactive entertainment content publisher. This acquisition will accelerate the growth in Microsoft’s gaming business across mobile, PC, console and cloud and will provide building blocks for the metaverse.

Microsoft will acquire Activision Blizzard for $95.00 per share, in an all-cash transaction valued at $68.7 billion, inclusive of Activision Blizzard’s net cash. When the transaction closes, Microsoft will become the world’s third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony. The planned acquisition includes iconic franchises from the Activision, Blizzard and King studios like “Warcraft,” “Diablo,” “Overwatch,” “Call of Duty” and “Candy Crush,” in addition to global eSports activities through Major League Gaming. The company has studios around the world with nearly 10,000 employees.

Bobby Kotick will continue to serve as CEO of Activision Blizzard, and he and his team will maintain their focus on driving efforts to further strengthen the company’s culture and accelerate business growth. Once the deal closes, the Activision Blizzard business will report to Phil Spencer, CEO, Microsoft Gaming.

“Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms,” said Satya Nadella, chairman and CEO, Microsoft. “We’re investing deeply in world-class content, community and the cloud to usher in a new era of gaming that puts players and creators first and makes gaming safe, inclusive and accessible to all.”

“Players everywhere love Activision Blizzard games, and we believe the creative teams have their best work in front of them,” said Phil Spencer, CEO, Microsoft Gaming. “Together we will build a future where people can play the games they want, virtually anywhere they want.”

“For more than 30 years our incredibly talented teams have created some of the most successful games,” said Bobby Kotick, CEO, Activision Blizzard. “The combination of Activision Blizzard’s world-class talent and extraordinary franchises with Microsoft’s technology, distribution, access to talent, ambitious vision and shared commitment to gaming and inclusion will help ensure our continued success in an increasingly competitive industry.”

Mobile is the largest segment in gaming, with nearly 95% of all players globally enjoying games on mobile. Through great teams and great technology, Microsoft and Activision Blizzard will empower players to enjoy the most-immersive franchises, like “Halo” and “Warcraft,” virtually anywhere they want. And with games like “Candy Crush,” Activision Blizzard´s mobile business represents a significant presence and opportunity for Microsoft in this fast-growing segment.

The acquisition also bolsters Microsoft’s Game Pass portfolio with plans to launch Activision Blizzard games into Game Pass, which has reached a new milestone of over 25 million subscribers. With Activision Blizzard’s nearly 400 million monthly active players in 190 countries and three billion-dollar franchises, this acquisition will make Game Pass one of the most compelling and diverse lineups of gaming content in the industry. Upon close, Microsoft will have 30 internal game development studios, along with additional publishing and esports production capabilities.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and completion of regulatory review and Activision Blizzard’s shareholder approval. The deal is expected to close in fiscal year 2023 and will be accretive to non-GAAP earnings per share upon close. The transaction has been approved by the boards of directors of both Microsoft and Activision Blizzard.

 

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Mobile tariff hike:Congress blames NDA government for Rs 34,824 crore burden on public

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NEW DELHI: Hitting out at the NDA-led Narendra Modi government over three private firms increasing mobile service tariffs, the Congress on Friday accused it of “fleecing” 109 crore cell phone users and asked how can the firms be permitted to unilaterally increase rates without any oversight and regulation.

Congress general secretary Randeep Surjewala said it may be Modi 3.0 but the thriving of “crony capitalism” continues.

The Narendra Modi government is fleecing 109 crore cell phone users by sanctioning profiteering by private cell companies, he said at a press conference at the AICC headquarters here.

“Effective July 3, the three private cell phone companies, i.e. Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, have increased their tariffs by an average of 15 per cent. The three private cell phone companies have a market share of 91.6 per cent, or 109 crore cell phone users out of a total of 119 crore cell phone users as on December 31, 2023,” Surjewala said.

The total additional yearly payment from the pockets of the common man and woman of India seeking connectivity is Rs 34,824 crore, he said, citing TRAI.

Cell phone market in India is an ‘oligopoly’ – Reliance Jio (48 crore cell phone users), Airtel (39 crore cell phone users), Vodafone Idea (22.37 crore cell phone users), Surjewala said.

Out of these, Jio and Airtel have a customer base of 87 crore making them a virtual duopoly, he said.

Effective July 3, 2024, Reliance Jio has increased its cell phone user’s charges from 12 per cent to 27 per cent and the average increase is 20 per cent, Surjewala said.

Effective July 3, 2024, Airtel has increased its cell phone user’s charges from 11 per cent to 21 per cent with the average increase being 15 per cent, he said.

Effective July 4, 2024, Vodafone Idea has increased its cell phone user’s charges from 10 per cent to 24 per cent with the average increase being 16 per cent, Surjewala said.

“Two things stand out ‘“ Firstly, the date of announcement of increase of tariffs, appears to be clearly in consultation with each other by the three private cell phone companies. Secondly, the date of effective implementation of increased tariffs is the same,” he said.

Surjewala claimed that the additional per year burden of tariff increase is Rs. 34,824 crore for 109 crore cell phone users of these three private cell phone companies.

How can private cell phone companies be permitted to unilaterally increase cell phone tariffs by Rs 34,824 crore annually without any oversight and regulation by the Modi government, he asked.

Surjewala also asked why have the Modi government and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) abdicated their duty and responsibility towards 109 cell phone users.

“Wasn’t the increase in cell phone prices withheld till the conclusion of the Parliament elections as the Modi government would have been questioned on the justification for burdening 109 crore cell phone users and fleecing them of an extra Rs 34,824 crore?” Surjewala said.

Did the Modi government or TRAI conduct any study on need of CAPEX or impact on profitability by purchase of spectrum through auction after taking into account the previous set of concessions on AGR payable under Telecom Policy, 1999 or deferring of “Spectrum Auction Installments” by Modi 2.0 on November 20, 2019 or other related factors, he asked.

“How can all Private Cellphone Companies increase their average tariffs by the same range of 15per cent-16per cent, despite the fact that their profitability, investment and CAPEX requirements are completely different? Why is the Modi government is then turning a blind eye to the same?” Surjewala said.

“Isn’t it correct that the Supreme Court of India, in “Delhi Science Forum versus Union of India” clearly stated that ‘the central government and the Telecom Regulatory Authority have not to behave like sleeping trustees, but have to function as active trustees for the public good’?” he said.

Surjewala asserted that the prime minister must answer to the people of India, including the 109 crore affected cell phone users.

Bharti Airtel last month announced a 10-21 per cent hike in prepaid and postpaid mobile tariffs from July 3, a day after larger rival Reliance Jio announced an increase in rates.

Later that day, loss-making telecom operator Vodafone Idea (Vi) also announced its plan to raise mobile tariffs by 11-24 per cent from July 4.

Source: Press Trust of India

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Indian Tech Startups Surge Ahead with $4.1 Billion in Funding for H1 2024

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NEW DELHI: Indian tech startups have secured an impressive total of $4.1 billion in funding during the first half of 2024, reflecting a 4% increase from the latter half of 2023, according to Tracxn’s latest report. Although this figure represents a notable decline from the $4.8 billion raised in H1 2023, India continues to hold its position as the fourth-highest funded country globally.

The United States remains the leader in overall funding volumes, followed closely by the UK and China. Tracxn’s India Tech Semi-Annual Funding Report H1 2024 offers insights into funding trends, sectoral performances, and major developments within the Indian technology sector for the specified period.

Notable increases were observed in seed-stage funding, which climbed to $455 million, marking a 6.5% rise from H2 2023 but a 17.3% decline from H1 2023. Late-stage funding also saw a modest increase of 3.8%, amounting to $2.4 billion. The period also witnessed eight significant funding rounds exceeding $100 million each, including Flipkart’s $350 million and Meesho’s $275 million rounds.

 

Source: Press Trust of India

 

 

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Ericsson has been ranked as the leader in the Frost Radar 5G Network Infrastructure Market 2024

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For the fourth consecutive year, Ericsson has been ranked as the leader in the Frost
Radar™ 5G Network Infrastructure Market 2024 analysis, highlighting the impact of the
company’s strategy to meet the evolving needs of communications service providers (CSPs).
Maintaining top ranking in the Frost Radar™ report over the past years has shown that
Ericsson’s investments in R&D and across a wide product portfolio – which includes all areas
of 5G network infrastructure as well as previous generations of network infrastructure – is
valued in a market where technology is constantly evolving.
The report has also acknowledged Ericsson’s sustained focus on offering the latest and
lightest energy-saving products and solutions. It also touched on the company’s Open RAN
plans.
Fredrik Jejdling, Executive Vice President and Head of Networks at Ericsson, says: “The
latest Frost Radar report highlights our unwavering commitment to innovation and technology
leadership through the most competitive portfolio. In a challenging market, we remain
focused on our customers and move forward with even greater determination.”

Commenting on Ericsson’s top ranking, Troy Morley, Industry Principal, at Frost & Sullivan’s
Information & Communication Technology group, says: “Ericsson has done an excellent job
keeping its current customers and adding new customers, including significant replacement wins over competitors. Ericsson has a significant pipeline of customers that have yet to move
to 5G but will over the coming years.”


Ericsson currently powers *160 live 5G networks in 68 countries, which is the highest level
that Frost & Sullivan has seen publicly reported.
“Ericsson’s strategy continues to center on CSPs’ evolving needs in all areas of the world,”
Morley says. “However, with its 2020 acquisition of Cradlepoint, Ericsson also is expanding
its role with enterprise customers.”

The report has also discussed the importance of the open and virtual RAN movement and
the belief that eventually open and virtual RAN will be the norm. “Ericsson’s step into offering
Open RAN solutions in 2024 will help make this movement a reality,” Morley says. “The
company plans to offer O-RAN-compliant solutions in 2024; Frost & Sullivan believes this will
result in significant growth in open and virtual RAN revenue.”

Commenting further on the report, Morley says: “Energy efficiency has been a buzzword for
a few years and Ericsson continues to tout solutions that are smaller and lighter and that
save energy, answering its customers’ needs. This will continue with its traditional RAN
solutions and accelerate with its new Open RAN offerings.”

The Frost Radar report measures growth rates in addition to absolute revenue and combines
them with several other factors to measure companies’ performance along the Growth Index.
The report also measures innovation for each company by assessing its product portfolio, the
scalability of its innovations, the efficacy of its R&D strategy, and several other factors.
The latest report from business consulting firm Frost & Sullivan reaffirms Ericsson’s
leadership in the 5G network infrastructure market, which spans radio access networks
(RAN), transport networks, and core networks.

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