Newsmaker Tata Sons & More

Good morning, folks! 2020 is a strange, strange year. Not only is it rife with a raging pandemic but it also comes with the loss of such stalwarts like Indian classical vocalist Pandit Jasraj.

MAIN STORIES

Newsmaker sans par, Tata Sons

Tata Sons has been all over the news in the last few days. The good part is that they seem to have taken the lead in bidding for the IPL 2020 title sponsorship. Size and clean image gives them the gravitas that BCCI might be looking towards especially in times like this.

Use your deep pockets: Talks with the UK government for bailout of the steel and JLR business have fallen through the cracks. As per this report by Mint, JLR had sought 1 billion GBP and Tata Steel 500 million GBP in aid The UK government seemed to imply they are in a strong enough position to not need the over-stretched taxpayer support. The discussions are continuing in the hope for more middle path solutions like tax breaks or state loans.

The pull of Air India: Having ticked all bad boy boxes of non-payment of salaries, tragic crashes, unsurmountable debt and little buyer interest, Air India could well become part of the Indian corporate first family. If this report from Zee Business is to be believed Tatas could reunite with the prodigal son Air India as early as Jan 2021 by being the sole bidders before the last date of 31st August, 2020.

Bubbling up, up and away

Of all the new terminologies that coronavirus has brought in it’s wake, the one used quite often in the last few weeks has been air bubble or travel bubble. This refers to bilateral agreements signed between countries to allow each other’s carriers ferrying people across with elaborate T&C. The T&C is obviously very corona – quarantine or no quarantine, seven days or two weeks, home or institutional.

Who came first? Adopting the idea from Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, India started with the practice late last month. The first flight operating under such air bubble agreement for India was to Washington on 22nd July with Air France and United Airlines being the trend setters. Now, the air bubbles have expanded to additionally include Germany, Canada, UK, UAE and Maldives.

Easing it out: While earlier the passenger exchange was restrictive on the visa type, recently the restriction has been mostly lifted. Indians with any visa type (except tourist) of more than a month validity, can brave it out in a plane to go to countries air bubbling with India. If anything, this is a gradual crawl back to business for the beleaguered aviation sector.

All aboard on digital gunboat diplomacy

The gloves are off and the knives are out in this relationship. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said despite Tik Tok doing everything to placate American fears it had been “unable to escape the robbery through trickery undertaken by some people in the US based on bandit logic and political self-interest”.

Then there’s Huawei: The Chinese telecom infrastructure provider is widely seen as the leader helming development in 5G. However, for more than a year US government under Donald Trump has been attempting to stifle them by imposing restrictions on American manufacturers to supply them with equipment including semi conductor chips, on the allegation that Huawei is used for Chinese state surveillance. Trump has also managed to rally other countries on this issue with UK announcing a similar ban and India mulling one. In the latest salvo on this front, their TGL or Temporary General Licence may not be renewed which could lead to glitches on Huawei phones running android.   

Coming full circle: Although US China tensions really started with bettering each other in mutual trade agreements, postponement of trade deal discussions notwithstanding, it looks like trade is all they have now. The US China relationship is getting messier, complicated and more intriguing by the day. However, as argued by Zachary Karabell, Cold War is not the right analogy as the economics are far more entrenched between these two countries.

IN SNIPPETS

Facebook faces content supervision heat in India also: The debate on some controls over content published on social media networks gains ground in India. This can of worms was opened by a Wall Street Journal article showing how Facebook wilfully ignored internal flagging of hate speech on the platform. The employee in question Ankhi Das, who reportedly stayed the hate speech rules on the content is now facing security threats.   

Chinese is where the action is: Feeling intense FOMO of not having enough representation in Indian scams, the Chinese have begun efforts to rectify the situation. Chinese national Charlie Peng aka Lou Sang has been booked by the ED as the kingpin of an underground hawala network worth thousands of crores.  

Hiring see-saw on Linkedin: There is good news and bad news. Good news is that as per LinkedIn India Inc has started hiring again. Dust off that CV and get clicking. Bad news is that the number of applicants per job has doubled from an average of 90 in January to 180 in July. So, you might want to invest double the time and effort on that document representing you.

Will the phoenix rise? As the aviation industry bleeds, two parties fight on their rights over Virgin Australia.  While Bain Capital swooped in with a plan to resurrect the airline, now bond holders have come together demanding their rights of the $800 million AUD owed to them. This battle is bound to get messier before any sort of resolution sees the light.

Controversial elections have another victim: The tiny country of Belarus is burning up on the contentious issue of allegedly rigged elections in favour of long-time leader Alexander Lukashenko. Amid large scale protests, as Lukashenko sent an SOS to Putin asking for military support EU plans to urge Moscow to not interfere.

MARKET PULSE

Indices moved in a way to reflect the almost balanced up and down pull from the constituting stocks. NTPC, Maruti, L&T and HUL pulled the see-saw up while Bharti Airtel and RIL dragged it down. In the case of RIL, investors didn’t seem happy with the idea of Mukesh Bhai toying with buying companies from his newly fattened wallet.

Glenmark investors made the stock jump 7% in joy of consolidated profits more than doubling in FY21 Q1 at Rs. 254 Crores. By market end, rationality returned and the price ended a mere 1% up. 

As for gold, it refuses to be boxed in one direction, breaking out of red back to bright green of upward swing.

WILD CARD

Now you can have a bite of history, literally. Mother Dairy announced plans to launch a “heritage cookie” called Goras Pak. With ingredients like cow ghee, honey and wheat flour baked in a wood fired oven, the recipe is supposed to have been a brainchild of Mahatma Gandhi, Jamnalal Bajaj and Acharya Vinobha Bhave.

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