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PayU acquires BillDesk for $4.7 billion

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NEW DELHI: In one of the biggest deals in the Indian consumer internet space, global player Prosus NV on Tuesday said its fintech business PayU will buy digital payments provider BillDesk for USD 4.7 billion (about Rs 34,376.2 crore).

With the deal, the Netherlands-incorporated Prosus NV”s investment in India will jump to more than USD 10 billion.

The PayU-BillDesk transaction, which is subject to approval from the Competition Commission of India (CCI), is expected to close by early 2022, Prosus Group CEO Bob van Dijk told reporters during a briefing.

“The combination will create a leading digital payments company in India and globally, and it is exceptionally well-positioned to expand deeper into the Indian fintech ecosystem as more and more Indian customers move from cash to digital transactions,” he added.

Dijk noted that Prosus has been a long term investor in India and has invested close to USD 6 billion in India in tech companies since 2005. With the latest transaction, its investment in India will be more than USD 10 billion.

“That underlines our commitment to our presence in India, our future in India and scaling in India… The country has been the core focus of our investment over the past decade, and I believe it will be a very significant driver of our growth over the next decade as well,” he said.

Prosus has invested in companies like Byju”s, Meesho, Swiggy, Urban Company and others in India.

The latest transaction builds on previous acquisitions by PayU in India, including CitrusPay, Paysense and Wibmo.

It will help PayU — the payments and fintech business of Prosus that operates in more than 20 high-growth markets — become one of the leading online payment providers globally, handling Total Payment Volume (TPV) of USD 147 billion.

BillDesk was founded in 2000 and is backed by investors like General Atlantic, Visa, TA Associates, Clearstone Venture and Temasek. It has about 600 employees.

Dijk said along with classifieds, food delivery, and education technology, payments and fintech is a core segment for Prosus.

He noted that over the next few years, more than 200 million new users are expected to adopt digital payments and the average the number of annual transactions per person is expected to rise ten-fold in the next three years from 22 to 220 — which presents a massive growth opportunity.

Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant termed the transaction as a “big move”.

“Deal brings Prosus”s cumulative investment in Indian tech to more than US$10bn. Acquisition will see PayU, become the leading online payment providers globally, handling a payment volume of US$147 billion,” he tweeted.

For the financial year ended March 2021, PayU reported a strong performance, increasing TPV by 51 per cent year-on-year to USD 55 billion across India, Latin America and EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa).

PayU offers credit solutions for consumers and small businesses, and has strategic investments in fintech companies.

“By bringing together these two complementary businesses, we expect to create a fintech ecosystem handling 4 billion transactions annually,” Anirban Mukherjee, CEO of PayU India, said.

He said the combination will help grow India”s digital payments industry, propel the Digital India vision, and allow PayU to service the key audiences of consumers, merchants and banks and utilise that scale — both in India and internationally and innovate further.

BillDesk”s network is used by some of the biggest banks in the country and a large number of merchants across utilities, telecom, insurance and other verticals.

“The combination will allow us to gain scale, build market leadership across all payments verticals and establish a strong presence in the payment value chain, serving merchants across all segments,” he added.

Asked if BillDesk will operate as a separate entity, Mukherjee said the transaction is expected to close in a few months and “even post close, we will take our time to figure out how to bring the platforms together”.

“… Anything we do, will be in consultation with the RBI because these are platforms that both serve millions of merchants, so we need to be very thoughtful about it, that”s what we intend to do. Having said that, we are also committed to cross-pollinating and using each other”s solutions on our client bases such that we can offer best of the breed solutions to all merchants,” he added.

M N Srinivasu, Co-Founder of BillDesk, said the company has been a pioneer in driving digital payments in India for well over a decade.

“This investment by Prosus validates the significant opportunity in India for digital payments that is being propelled by innovation and the progressive regulatory framework put into place by the Reserve Bank of India,” Srinivasu said.

Source: Press Trust of India

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Tata Consultancy Services to invest Rs 690 crore in Innovation Park in Kochi

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NEW DELHI: In a big boost to the Kerala government’s bid to attract investment, leading IT services provider Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has agreed to invest Rs 690 crore to set up an Innovation Park in Kochi.

The state government has allotted 36.84 acres of land to TCS Ltd for setting up a unit for Electronics Hardware & IT/ITES in KINFRA Electronics Manufacturing Cluster, Kakkanad, Kochi.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in this regard was signed here on Friday in the presence of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Industries Minister P Rajeev, an official statement said.

KINFRA Managing Director Santhosh Koshy Thomas and TCS Kerala Vice President Dinesh P Thampi signed the MoU.

TCS Ltd intends to operate a campus for Electronics Hardware & IT / ITES in an area of ??36.84 acres of land in KINFRA Electronics Manufacturing Cluster, Kakkanad, with an investment of Rs 698 crore and would accommodate nearly 10,000 employees in a phased manner, the release said.

The proposed project will be named as the TCS Innovation Park, it said.

The first phase is expected to commence operations in the financial year 2023-24, the statement said.

Once the campus becomes fully operational, it would have a capacity to cater 10,000 employees to be achieved in a phased manner, it said.

While Rs 440 crore will be invested for building the IT complex, Rs 250 crore will be allocated for related developments, official sources said.

The park will be set up in a total built up area of ??16 lakh square feet, they said. The second phase of campus development will be planned later, sources said.

Source: Press Trust of India

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Apple to bring iPhone 13 lineup to India from September 24 with prices starting at Rs 69,900

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NEW DELHI: Apple enthusiasts will be able to get their hands on the latest line-up of iPhones — iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max — with prices starting at Rs 69,900 onwards later this month.

“Customers in Australia, Canada, China, Germany, India, Japan, the UK, the US, and more than 30 other countries and regions will be able to pre-order iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max…availability beginning Friday, September 24,” Apple said in a statement.

Customers can get iPhone 13 Pro for Rs 1,19,900 (onwards) and iPhone 13 Pro Max for Rs 1,29,900 (onwards) from Apple’s online store, it added.

The iPhone 13 will be available for Rs 79,900, while iPhone 13 mini will be priced at Rs 69,900.

The phones will also be available through Apple Authorised Resellers and select carriers, the statement said.

“Our Pro lineup pushes the limits with our most advanced technologies for users who want the very best iPhone. Best in class performance, best in class camera experience, great durability, larger displays and incredible design. This year, we build on that in a major way,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said during the launch event on late Tuesday night.

The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max also include 5G with more bands for better coverage.

According to Counterpoint Research Director Tarun Pathak, Apple now has a very aggressive entry point, starting with iPhone SE 2020, going till iPhone 13 Pro Max.

“However, we believe that it’s the iPhone 12 series that is likely to gain traction in India and take on the baton from iPhone 11, that until last quarter captured around 60 per cent of the overall iPhone sales. Apple is likely to capture a 2.4 per cent share in the coming Q4 2021 and will end the year as its highest ever crossing 4 million shipments,” he added.

Pathak noted that the share of the new iPhone within overall Apple sales during the launch quarter increases year-on-year and this year too, it will be the same – driven by iPhone 13.

Apple continues to go aggressive on trade-ins as well, he added.

“We think that iPhone 12 too will benefit from the price cut the most, even better than iPhone 11, and is likely to be the best seller for the festive season. This will also help the premium to reach a record share of the overall smartphone market in India with Apple likely to lead in the launch quarter,” Pathak said.

India is among the key growth drivers for Apple. Strong double-digit growth in markets like India and Latin America had helped the iPhone maker report double-digit revenue growth at USD 81.4 billion – a new record for the June quarter.

The company does not provide country-specific numbers.

Apple, which competes with players like Samsung and OnePlus in the premium smartphone segment, has been aggressively ramping up its presence in the Indian market.

In the past, Apple has talked about plans of setting up brick-and-mortar outlets in India in addition to its online store.

India is among the biggest smartphone markets globally and logging strong growth rates. Smartphone shipment in India grew by 82 per cent in the June 2021 quarter from the year-ago period to over 33 million units. The premium segment – although small – has been growing at a strong pace.

Devices priced under Rs 15,000 account for a significant volume share of the Indian market. Xiaomi (including POCO) accounted for a 28.4 per cent share of June quarter shipments, followed by Samsung (17.7 per cent), Vivo (15.1 per cent), Realme (14.6 per cent) and Oppo (10.4 per cent), as per data from research firm Counterpoint.

According to Apple India’s website, iPhone 13 Pro (128GB) will be priced at Rs 1,19,900; 256GB at Rs 1,29,900; 512 GB at Rs 1,49,900; and 1TB at Rs 1,69,900.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max (128GB) will be priced at Rs 1,29,900; 256GB at Rs 1,39,900; 512 GB at Rs 1,59,900; and 1TB at Rs 1,79,900.

The iPhone 13 mini will be priced between Rs 69,900 to Rs 99,900 for 128GB, 256GB and 512GB variants, while iPhone 13 will be available at Rs 79,900-1,09,900 for 128GB, 256GB and 512GB models.

iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max make up our most pro-iPhone lineup ever with the biggest advancement for our camera system, the best battery life ever in an iPhone, and the fastest performance of any smartphone, setting a new standard for iPhone and enabling incredible experiences never before possible, Apple senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing Greg Joswiak said.

The new pro camera system offers even more pro photography capabilities like improved telephoto zoom, macro photography, photographic styles, cinematic mode, as well as ProRes and Dolby vision video, he added.

“The Super Retina XDR display with ProMotion is our best display ever; it intelligently responds to the content on your screen, offers fantastic graphics performance, and is perfect for any viewing experience, he said.

Apple has also introduced the new iPad (9th generation), featuring an A13 Bionic chip that packs even more performance and capability into the most popular iPad, all while retaining its all-day battery life.

The new iPad features a 10.2-inch Retina display with True Tone, a 12MP Ultra Wide front camera with centre stage, support for Apple Pencil (1st generation) and Smart Keyboard, iPad OS 15, and twice the storage of the previous generation (starts with 64GB of storage).

The new iPad, priced at Rs 30,900 onwards, is available to order from Apple’s website and will be available in stores from September 24.

iPad has never been more essential for working, learning, and communicating, and we’re excited to bring one of the biggest updates ever to our most popular iPad.

With the powerful A13 Bionic, more engaging video calls with Centre Stage, and double the storage, the new iPad delivers advanced capabilities, versatility, and simplicity at an incredible value, Joswiak said.

A new iPad mini – with an 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display – will be available from September 24 and priced at Rs 46,900 onwards.

Apple Watch Series 7, featuring a re-engineered Always-On Retina display – will be available later this year.

Source: Press Trust of India

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India allows 100 per cent FDI through automatic route in telecom reforms

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NEW DELHI: In big bang reforms, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a relief package for the telecom sector that includes a four-year moratorium on payment of statutory dues by telecom companies as well as allowing 100 per cent foreign investment through the automatic route.

Briefing reporters on the decisions taken by the Cabinet, Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnav said nine structural reforms for the telecom sector were approved.

The definition of AGR, which had been a major reason for the stress in the sector, has been rationalised by excluding non-telecom revenue of telecom companies.

AGR refers to revenues that are considered for payment of statutory dues.

The minister said that 100 per cent FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) in telecom via the automatic route was approved by the Cabinet.

Among the measures approved were a four-year moratorium on unpaid dues, AGR and spectrum dues, he said.

These measures are expected to ease the cash flow issues being faced by some players in the industry.

“The package announced by the Government aims to usher in structural reforms by infusing investor confidence and provide flexibility to telecom operators with respect to spectrum sharing, surrendering spectrum usage rights etc. One of the key announcements is allowing 100% FDI in the sector which was limited only to 49% from the automatic route. The other significant announcement is to have certainty for auctions in the sector which are slated to be conducted mostly in the last quarter of a financial year. These measure will certainly provide better planning by operators,” Akshat Jain, Partner, J Sagar Associates,

He further added that however, the liability to pay AGR dues continues. The deferment for AGR dues cannot be construed as waiver since the package only envisages a moratorium of four years on such AGR dues from 1st October 2021 (appointed date) with the interest and penalties accruing for such deferral. On other issues such as spectrum payments, bank guarantees etc., the relief appears to be prospective in nature. While this will temporarily provide some relief, it does not essentially alleviate the already bleeding balance sheets of the telecom operators since the dues will ultimately have to be paid with interest. It will be interesting to see whether these measures promote competition in the sector and achieve the desired objectives.

 

With Press Trust of India

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