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After Jio, Mukesh Ambani bets big on Internet, video streaming market

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Reliance Industries Chairman and Managing Director 'Mukesh Ambani' (File Photo)

New Delhi, Jan 24: Reliance Industries Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani who has disrupted the mobile telephony market with Reliance Jio, is set to take on Internet and video streaming giants like Google, Netflix, Amazon Prime and Spotify.

According to an article in the winter 2019 issue of Foreign Policy magazine, “the second stage of Ambani’s plan is more ambitious” after creating a mega base of 28 crore Jio subscribers with ultra-cheap data plans and sending rival telecom operators into a tizzy.

“Jio’s real competitors aren’t local cellular providers, such as Airtel or Vodafone India; instead, insiders say Ambani has long had his eyes set on competing with Google, Netflix, Spotify, and Facebook,” read the article.

Jio services now include attractive lifestyle products — a streaming TV service with hundreds of channels, a digital payments system, a music library, a health care app, a connected home system, a messaging platform.

“Each of these could reach Jio’s growing customer base in a multitude of Indian languages,” the article added.

Reliance Jio Infocomm last week reported a 65 per cent increase in its standalone net profit for the October-December 2018 period.

Its standalone net profit stood at Rs 831 crore in the third quarter of the financial year 2018-19, against Rs 504 crore reported in October-December 2017-18.

“The journey of Jio has been truly remarkable and has surpassed all expectations.

“The Jio family is now 280 million strong and growing on one of the world’s largest mobile data networks, in line with our vision of connecting everyone and everything, everywhere — always at the highest quality and the most affordable price,” said Ambani.

For Jio, average data consumption per user per month was 10.8GB and average voice consumption was recorded at 794 minutes per user per month.

Video consumption drove most of the usage, increasing to 460 crore hours per month and this is the next growth area Ambani has firmly set his eyes on.

According to a latest survey by global digital content delivery platform Limelight Networks, Indian viewers are now watching online video content for an average of eight hours 28 minutes each week, more than the time they spend viewing TV every week.

The amount of time Indian viewers spend watching online videos is far higher than the global average of six hours and 45 minutes each week in 2018 which itself marks a 58 per cent rise from the 2016 figure.

Through online channels, Indian viewers largely watch movies, followed by news, TV shows and sports.

Asserting that the data is the “new oil and wealth” in the new world, Ambani in his speech at the India Mobile Congress last October said that Reliance Jio’s broadband offering can place the country among the top three nations in fixed broadband from a low rank of 135 currently.

Ambani said that India can be transformed when people get “Pehla TV, pehla camera, pehla Internet and pehla Artificial Intelligence (AI) — at just Rs 100 per month”.

“Every phone in India will be a 4G-enabled phone and every customer will have access to 4G connectivity,” he added.

IANS

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Markets open on positive note

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Sensex Nifty Equity

Mumbai, Feb 20: The 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) on Wednesday opened on a positive note during the morning session of the trade.

The BSE Sensex opened at 35,564.93 before touching a high of 35,581.14 and a low of 35,520.21.

It was trading at 35,528.69 up by 176.08 points or 0.50 per cent from its Tuesday’s close at 35,352.61.

On the other hand, the broader 50-scrip Nifty at the National Stock Exchange (NSE) opened at 10,655.45 after closing at 10,604.35.

The Nifty is trading at 10,656.25 in the morning.

IANS

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PF funds’ investment in IL&FS bonds have no government guarantee: Finance Ministry

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IL&FS Financial Service

New Delhi, Feb 19 (IANS) The provident and pension fund trusts that invested in the IL&FS bonds now fear loss of money as the debt-ridden company’s bonds are unsecured debt, and the Finance Ministry says superannuated bonds do not carry any government guarantee and all such instruments have to face all market-related risks.

“Since these are investments in bonds, the government does not ensure any guarantee on them as such and if these are invested in stock markets, they carry the market risks as applicable. It is between the bond issuer and bond holders…,” the Finance Ministry said in response to IANS queries.

Thousands of crores of money of more than 15 lakh employees of both public and private sector companies have exposure to IL&FS bonds.

However, queries sent to the EPFO Commissioner and Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar remained unanswered.

Over 50 funds that manage retirement benefits of over 15 lakh employees have exposure to IL&FS. PF trusts of state electricity boards, public sector undertakings (PSUs) and banks are among them. The provident and pension fund trusts have filed intervening applications in the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) stating that they stand to lose all the money since the bonds are under unsecured debt.

Usually, retirement funds have a low-risk appetite and invest in “AAA” rated bonds (which IL&FS bonds used to be once upon a time) and get assured returns with low interest rates.

The worries of pension and provident fund trusts come from the classification of IL&FS profiling its companies as to which can meet the dues obligations. Many important trust managing funds of PSUs like MMTC, IOC, Hudco, SBI and IDBI are among those filing petitions. From private sector, HUL and Asian Paints are among the petitioners.

IL&FS is currently under resolution process at the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT). The process will decide under Section 53 of the IBC the order of priority for distribution of proceeds of the process.

The beleaguered company has informed the NCLT that of the 302 entities in the group, 169 are Indian companies, out of which only 22 are emerging as those which can meet all obligations (green), while 10 firms can pay to only secured creditors (Amber). There are 38 companies of IL&FS (red) which cannot meet any obligations of payment, and 120 entities are still being assessed.

These PF and provident funds trusts are worried that if payment is limited to secured creditors, then only financial creditors like banks will receive the dues while unsecured bond-holders will be get any payments.

IL&FS bonds attracted investments by PF trusts as it had the shareholding of SBI and LIC giving its bonds the comfort factor.

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Sachin Bansal invests Rs 650 crore in Ola

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Sachin-Bansal

Bengaluru, Feb 19 (IANS) Internet entrepreneur and Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal has invested Rs 650 crore, or about $92 million, in ride-hailing platform Ola in his personal capacity as investor, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

This investment is part of Ola’s larger Series J funding round. It is also the largest investment by an individual in Ola to date, it said.

“Ola is one of India’s most promising consumer businesses that is creating deep impact and lasting value for the ecosystem. On one hand, they have emerged as a global force in the mobility space and on the other, they continue to build deeper for various needs of a billion Indians through their platform, becoming a trusted household name today,” Bansal said.

He further said he has known Ola founder Bhavish Aggarwal as entrepreneur and friend over the years and that he has great respect for what he and the team at Ola have built in 8 years.

“We are extremely thrilled to have Sachin onboard Ola as an investor. Sachin is an icon of entrepreneurship and his experience of building one of India’s most respected businesses ground up, is unparalleled,” Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal said.

Ola integrates city transportation for customers and drivers onto a mobile technology platform ensuring convenient, transparent, safe and quick service fulfilment, the statement added.

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