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Friday, June 23, 2017

Chinese mobile makers to invest up to $3 bn in ‘Make in India’

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In a fillip to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious ‘Make in India’ initiative, over 100 top Chinese handset and component manufacturers gathered in New Delhi on Wednesday in what could bring $2-$3 billion investment in Indian mobile manufacturing operations in the next two years.

Top officials from Chinese companies such as Techno, Gionee, Coolpad, Holitech, Wingtech, Camera King, Galaxy Core, Poxiao, Vivo and Sprocomm participated in the first-ever summit titled “China-India Mobile Phone & Component Manufacturing Summit,” in the Capital to explore avenues to tap the existing and emerging opportunities.

Leading Indian mobile companies such as Micromax, Lava, Karbonn, Spice, Vodafone and Intex also participated in the day-long event, the organisers said in a statement.

“Going by the encouraging response of Chinese companies and definitive joint collaboration talks between the Indian and Chinese mobile and handset manufacturers, Chinese investment of $2-3 billion over the next two years looks like a real possibility along with employment for one-two lakh people,” said Pankaj Mohindroo, national president, Indian Cellular Association (ICA).

The first-of-its-kind summit has been jointly organised by the ICA, the apex body representing the mobile handset and components industry in India, and Mobile World (Shoujibao), China’s leading mobile industry service platform.

According to Mohindroo, Chinese companies are usually reluctant to set up a manufacturing base in other countries as their own eco-system is highly efficient and supremely productive.

“But they are still seeing India as the hottest next destination to set up manufacturing base. This is a huge endorsement of Modi’s ‘Make in India’ vision,” he added.

The summit is the result of the high-level visit of Modi to China in May last year. During his visit, Modi hard-sold his “Make in India’ vision and invited Chinese companies to leverage the changing business climate in India and set up manufacturing base here.

“We are wholeheartedly responding to Modi’s invitation to Chinese companies to be part of ‘Make in India’ mission and would contribute to making India a global manufacturing hub for mobile handsets and components,” said Wu, founder and CEO, Mobile World (Shoujibao), Shenzhen.

In an earlier interview to IANS, Wu had said that the three things that drew us to India are its population, the vastness of the market and the ‘Make in India’ drive by its government.

“We are quite impressed that the progressive policies of the Modi government and the new manufacturing eco-system are very encouraging developments for investment and business in India,” he said on Wednesday.

According to Zhong Qi, vice president of Tecno, a Chinese mobile handset manufacturing major, India today is the fastest growing mobile phone market globally and presents the biggest manufacturing platform for Chinese industry.

“We are very keen to tap the potential,” he said.

The summit saw presentations on various aspects of the Indian mobile manufacturing eco-system including policy framework, incentives and market potential.

The representatives of the Chinese companies also plan to visit offices and factories of Indian mobile brands like Micromax and Lava to understand their operations.

Bharti Airtel to sell Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone operations to Orange

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New Delhi: Bharti Airtel Ltd on Wednesday said it will sell its operations in Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone to France-based telecom operator Orange.

The company did not disclose the size of the transaction, but analysts Mint spoke to estimated it at around $900 million.

The announcement comes six months after the two companies announced they were in talks on the sale of Bharti’s operations in these two countries, besides Chad and Congo Brazzaville.

“The agreements regarding potential transactions in the remaining two countries have lapsed,” Bharti said in a statement.

According to the agreement, the outlay for Orange for these transactions will be based on the financials of Bharti Airtel’s two subsidiaries for the last fiscal year and will represent the equivalent of 7.9 times Airtel’s EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation) in these two countries at this time.

Orange will acquire 100% of the two companies’ share capital from Bharti Airtel International (Netherlands) BV, Bharti’s holding company for the Africa operations, acquired from Kuwait’s Zain in 2010.

“The consolidated revenue of the two companies is around €275 million. These acquisitions will be implemented in partnership with Orange’s subsidiaries in the Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal,” Bharti said, adding completion of the transactions remains subject to approval by the competent authorities. With the deal, Orange gets almost 5.5 million new customers and reaches a total of 20 countries in Africa.

“It’s a good deal. The fact they have been able to get this valuation in the current environment is a welcome news. They may have bought the operations at nine times, and sold it at a discount (7.9x), and the operations (of the countries Bharti has sold) are among the profitable ones in Africa; you have to remember that for Bharti’s Africa operations, it is no more about profit and more about exit,” said a Mumbai-based telecom analyst with a multinational brokerage firm.

As reported by Mint in July, Bharti is the market leader in these countries, which come under the francophone, or French speaking part of Bharti’s operations. Bharti had a net debt of $8.4 billion as on 31st March. The telco raised as much as $9 billion in debt for the Africa purchase in 2010.

Bharti Airtel’s Africa operations have missed internal targets of 100 million subscribers, up from 42 million at the time of acquisition, $5 billion in revenue, up from $3.6 billion, and $2 billion of Ebitda by March 2013, in less than three years after the acquisition. Two years after the targeted date, things are not much better. At the end of March, according to the latest earnings data available, Bharti Africa had a net loss of $585 million on revenue of $4.2 billion from its African operations.

Shares of Bharti Airtel fell 2.3% to Rs308.15 on BSE at 2:15pm, while the exchange’s benchmark Sensex gained 0.34% to 24,767.05 points.

Lazard and Société Générale were advisers to Orange for this transaction. Bharti Airtel was advised by Arma Partners LLP.

Oppo F1 selfie-focused phone now available for pre-order

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Chinese company Oppo’s selfie-focused phone, aka F1 is expected to make its way to India on January 28. The phone in question has however landed first in Vietnam where it is now available for pre-order. The Oppo F1 has been priced at roughly around $290 which roughly translates to Rs 19,377. The phone will start shipping from January 21.

The Oppo F1 which was first announced during the recently concluded CES 2016 trade show focuses a great deal on premium design and top-notch camera capabilities. The F1 comes with a 13-megapixel camera on the rear with f/2.2 lens and LED flash. There’s also an 8-megapixel camera on the front with f/2.0 lens (1/4″ sensor). The phone uses the screen (that lights up) as a flash in low-light environments.

The phone comes with full metal unibody and packs in a 5-inch HD IPS display protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 4 (2.5D). It is powered by a 1.7GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 processor coupled with Adreno 405 GPU and 3GB of RAM. It come with 16GB of internal memory which is expandable by up to 128GB via microSD card. The dualSIM phone runs Android 5.1 Lollipop-based ColorOS 2.1 which is Oppo’s custom skin. The phone is backed by a 2,500mAh battery.

Oppo will celebrate its second anniversary in India this year. Only recently it announced a new after sales-service policy under which “all handsets purchased starting from December 15, 2015 will have a two years’ service warranty applicable across all Oppo service centres in India.” The company also plans to open 200 new service centres across India.

Indiahacks 2016, World’s Largest Developer Confluence Attracts Over 50,000 Developers

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016 2:00PM IST (8:30AM GMT)
HackerEarth in association with Altimetrik are hosting the month-long code fest with 25% participants from outside India
Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

IndiaHacks 2016, one of the world’s largest developer confluence hosted by HackerEarth in association with Altimetrik, has attracted over fifty thousand developers till date. The massive event commenced on January 8, 2016 with an Artificial Intelligence programming contest and Fintech hackathon – two out of the nine technology tracks scheduled for the month-long code fest. The event has seen over one lakh registrations for the various tracks. On an average every developer is participating in more than two of these contests. More than 25% of developers are from outside India with the event continuing to attract more participants from the coding community.

As one the fastest growing community for developers in the world, HackerEarth is conducting Indiahacks to encourage programming and celebrate the spirit of hacking among coders. The month long code fest will see a combination of online hackathons and programming contests. There are three programming tracks around Algorithms Programming, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning. These tracks will have developers solving complex programming problems by using concepts of algorithms, data structures, data science, artificial intelligence etc. Additionally, there will be six online hackathons in the domains of FinTech, IoT, Gaming, Open Source, Online Commerce, Travel and Transport. These hackathons will see developers build unique and interesting products according to the themes in less than 48 hours.

Hacks will be evaluated based on parameters like uniqueness of the idea, usability of the hack, code quality, design etc. The top 20 shortlists from each of the tracks will be invited to an offline conference, where they will get another 24 hours to build on their hacks and pitch to a panel of judges. The winners of IndiaHacks will be decided at the offline developer conference on March 19th & 20th, 2016 in Bangalore. The winning team will be rewarded with a fully paid trip to San Francisco. Other exciting prizes include X-box, GoPro Hero 4, and HackerEarth goodies.

Altimetrik is a business transformation and technology solutions company, part of the $100 million Vattikuti ventures. Through their ‘new methodology’ that is based on the fundamentals of Design-Thinking and Design-led Engineering, Altimetrik is at the epicenter of powering the next wave of  IT and business transformation. It is this outlook that led Altimetrik to sponsor HackerEarth’s IndiaHacks 2016, as a major hiring and outreach opportunity to nurture young talent and give programmers and coders the opportunity to transform themselves into ‘Design Engineers’.

Maharashtra to get 174 Wi-Fi hotspots soon: Ravi Shankar Prasad

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Soon high-speed broadband will be made available in Mumbai through Mumbai Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) as laying of optical fibre cable is underway. Moreover, 174 Wi-Fi hotspots will be installed across Maharashtra, announced Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union minister for communication and information technology on Sunday, but stops short on net neutrality subject.

Prasad said, “MTNL aims to provide high speed broadband to one lakh households in Mumbai. As many as 6,000 surveillance cameras will be installed at 1,800 locations in collaboration with the Mumbai police.”

About the plans of his ministry for Maharashtra, he added that four lakh connections under the next-generation network (NGN) will be made available in the state during the next financial year. This service will be available in Pune, Nagpur, Nashik, Aurangabad, Kolhapur, Kalyan and Nanded in Maharashtra and Goa circle of telecom. NGN is a packet based network which provides voice, data and other media services at high speed.

“As many as 174 Wi-Fi hotspots will be installed in 58 cities across state. A new mobile intelligence network will be set up in Pune, which will facilitate pre-paid mobile service customers,” announced the minister.

On India Post and India Post payment bank, Prasad informed that India Post payment bank would become operational by March 2017 to extend access to formal banking in rural areas. India post is getting attention from across the world. Already 40 national and international consortia have evinced their interest to partner with the postal department for insurance delivery and other financial products.

Speaking on net neutrality, he stopped short on the plans of the government and said, “Telecom Regulatory Authority of India is considering the entire nuances of net neutrality, we have to await their report. Thereafter, the government will take a structured view.” He, however, asserted that Internet, being one of the finest creations of human mind, should not remain the monopoly of few.

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