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Facebook to shut group stories feature

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San Francisco, Sep 21 Facebook has announced it will soon shut down its group stories feature which allows administrators and members of the social media’s groups to post videos and photos that disappear within 24 hours, media reported on Saturday.

The company is shutting down this feature on September 26. Soon, the existing group stories will be deleted and users will not be able to post any new stories, CNET reported.

“We’re sunsetting group stories because we want to make sure that features in groups enable people to connect in fun and useful ways, and we are always looking at ways to improve the overall experience for communities on Facebook,” a Facebook spokesman said.

Facebook groups are an online space where the users come together and chat about common interests. As per report, more than 1.4 billion people on Facebook use groups every month.

Business

Vodafone writes off book value of Indian operation, CEO flags liquidation risk

In the financial results released on Tuesday, most of Vodafone’s bad news came from India. This included write-downs, losses, reduced cash flows and provisions for the Supreme Court judgement.

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New Delhi, Nov 12 : The price wars in the Indian telecom market have pushed the value of Vodafone’s local joint venture to zero or nil as Vodafone CEO Nick Read indicated that the Indian operation is headed for liquidation unless the Indian government provides relief on mobile spectrum fees.

The parent company, Vodafone, has written off the book value of the Indian business. As per financial results released by Vodafone Group on Tuesday, the book value of Vodafone’s 45 per cent stake in joint venture, Vodafone Idea, has slumped to zero in November 2019. Contrast this with the fact that the book value was more than 2 billion euros in June 2018, but in May of this year, the book value had been reduced to 1.5 billion euros.

In the financial results released on Tuesday, most of Vodafone’s bad news came from India. This included write-downs, losses, reduced cash flows and provisions for the Supreme Court judgement.

Vodafone said the remaining carrying value has been redued to nil. “As the Group has no obligation to fund VIL losses, the Group has recognised its share of estimated Vodafone Idea Limited (‘VIL’) losses arising from both its operating activities and those in relation to the AGR judgement to an amount that is limited to the remaining carrying value of VIL, which is therefore reduced to nil,” Vodafone said. It has recognized the losses and the carrying value is reduced to nil.

“If the carrying value had been high enough not to have restricted the Group’s share of losses, then the recognised share of losses would have been substantially higher,” it said.

“The Group’s recorded share of VIL’s resulting losses has been restricted to the amount that reduces the Group’s carrying value in VIL to nil at 30 September 2019. The Group’s carrying value was 1,392 million euros at 31 March 2019 and in May 2019 the Group invested 1,410 million euros via a rights issue,” it said.

As per media reports, Read said in London after the financial results that Vodafone Group Plc’s Indian venture could be headed for liquidation unless the government gives relief. One of the largest foreign investors in India, Vodafone has decided not to invest any more into the business.

“If you don’t get the remedies being suggested, the situation is critical,” Read said at a press round-table in London, the reports said. “If you’re not a going concern, you’re moving into a liquidation scenario — can’t get any clearer than that.”

Vodafone wrote off the carrying value of its share in the loss-making joint venture in the half-year results after analysts indicated further impairments.

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Vodafone half yearly results hit by Indian operations

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New Delhi, Nov 12 : Vodafone announced its financial results for the six months ended September 30 with several adverse comments from its Indian operations including losses.

Vodafone announced that loss for the financial period of €1.9 billion primarily reflects losses in relation to Vodafone Idea post an adverse judgement against the industry by the Supreme Court.

It also announced a lower free cash flow of around €5.4 billion, previously “at least €5.4 billion”, as lower cashflows from India and the sale of New Zealand offset the initial accretion from the Liberty Global acquisitions.

The group made a loss for the period of €1.9 billion, primarily reflecting a loss at Vodafone Idea following an adverse legal judgement against the industry by the Supreme Court, partially offset by a profit on the disposal of Vodafone New Zealand.

“We have extended the long stop date on our agreement to merge Indus Towers and Bharti Infratel, which is still awaiting regulatory approval from the Department of Telecommunications, having received all other required approvals,” Vodafone said.

The six months ended September 30 includes impairment charges of €3.5 billion in respect of the Group’s investments in Spain, Vodafone Idea and Romania.

On the Supreme Court judgement, Vodafone results said that in October, the Supreme Court in India ruled against the industry in a dispute over the calculation of licence and other regulatory fees, and Vodafone Idea is now liable for very substantial demands made by the Department of Telecommunications in relation to these fees.

“We are actively engaging with the government to seek financial relief for Vodafone Idea. Given the ruling our guidance now excludes recharges from India (a drag of €0.1 billion on our free cash flow) and Indus Towers dividends (a drag of €0.15 billion on our free cash flow),” it said.

On the operations of Vodafone Idea, Vodafone said in October 2019, the Indian Supreme Court gave its judgement in the “Union of India v Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India” case regarding the interpretation of adjusted gross revenue (‘AGR’), a concept used in the calculation of certain regulatory fees.

“As the Group has no obligation to fund VIL losses, the Group has recognised its share of estimated Vodafone Idea Limited (‘VIL’) losses arising from both its operating activities and those in relation to the AGR judgement to an amount that is limited to the remaining carrying value of VIL, which is therefore reduced to € nil,” Vodafone said. It has recognized the losses and the carrying value is reduced to nil.

“If the carrying value had been high enough not to have restricted the Group’s share of losses, then the recognised share of losses would have been substantially higher,” it said.

The adjusted other income and expense was a €0.9 billion charge (September 30, 2018: €0.3 billion charge), primarily due to losses incurred in Vodafone Idea Limited , offset by the profit recognised on the disposal of Vodafone New Zealand of €1.1 billion.

In the notes on investment in associates and joint arrangements, Vodafone said the equity accounted results for Vodafone Idea Limited (‘VIL’) for the period included an estimate for a material charge for amounts due following the recent Supreme Court of India judgement in the case Union of India v Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India and others regarding the definition of adjusted gross revenue (“AGR”) used to calculate regulatory fees.

“The Group’s recorded share of VIL’s resulting losses has been restricted to the amount that reduces the Group’s carrying value in VIL to €nil at 30 September 2019. The Group’s carrying value was €1,392 million at 31 March 2019 and in May 2019 the Group invested €1,410 million via a rights issue,” it said.

“Significant uncertainties exist in relation to VIL’s ability to generate the cash flow that it needs to settle, or refinance its liabilities and guarantees as they fall due, including those relating to the AGR judgement. VIL is seeking relief from the Indian government, including, but not limited to, granting a waiver of interest and penalties relating to the AGR judgement. The value of the Group’s 42 per cent shareholding in Indus Towers Limited (‘Indus’) is, in part, dependent on the income generated by Indus from tower rentals to major customers, including VIL. Any inability of these major customers to pay such amounts in the future may result in an impairment in the carrying value of the Group’s investment in Indus (30 September 2019: €0.6 billion),” it said.

On the discontinued operations and assets and liabilities held for sale, Vodafone said in the comparative period, Vodafone combined its subsidiary, Vodafone India (excluding its 42 per cent stake in Indus Towers), with Idea Cellular in India.

Consequently, Vodafone India was accounted for as a discontinued operation for all periods up to August 31 2018, the date the transaction completed.

“For the five months ended August 31, 2018, the group recorded a loss on disposal of Vodafone India of €3,420 million. This loss is presented within discontinued operations,” it said.

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Lifestyle

Want good grades? Quit Facebook now

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Sydney, Nov 12 : Parents, take note. If you want your children to score good grades in exams, tell them to quit social media as researchers have found that students whose grades were below average could boost their results if they devoted less time on social networking sites, especially Facebook.

The study, published in the journal Computers & Education, looked at the amount of time first-year university students spent on Facebook, and the impact it had on their grades.

More than 500 students enrolled in the first year subject ‘Introductory Accounting’ at an Australian university took part in the study, with an average age of 19.

The research from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) showed that while high achieving students were not affected by the amount of time on Facebook, below average students had significantly lower grades with greater Facebook use.

“Our research shows time spent on social networking platforms puts lower academic achievers at higher risk of failing their course,” said study researcher James Wakefield from the UTS.

Students taking part in the study spent on average nearly two hours a day on Facebook, however some were on the social networking site in excess of eight hours a day.

“Lower achieving students may already be grappling with self-regulation and focus, so it seems time spent on Facebook provides a further distraction from studies,” Wakefield said.

Researchers found that if the students used Facebook for three hours a day – not substantially higher than the average of just under two hours – the difference was around six marks in a 60 mark exam or 10 per cent.

While the research applies to university students studying STEM and business degrees, it is likely to also be relevant to high school students who use social media.

For the findings, researchers assessed the students’ general academic achievement using their weighted average mark (WAM) across all of their studies, and surveyed them about their Facebook use.

They also controlled for other factors that might influence their achievement, such as whether they were planning to major in accounting, as well as their age and gender.

“It appears that for students with lower academic achievement, the use of social networking sites replaces study time, whereas high achieving students are able to juggle both,” he said.

According to the researchers, students with below average grades would benefit from switching off notifications on their phones, and either quitting or reducing time spent on Facebook.

The research also looked at why students were using Facebook – whether to keep in touch with family and friends, for entertainment or for study purposes.

However, even when students used Facebook primarily for educational purposes, it was still a problem for lower performing students.

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