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India to be most packed next year
Also in today’s edition: Tiger Global courts Pakistan; Desis open up to the good life; Service charge ban angers hospitality biz; ICC goes postal
Good morning! South Korea's music agencies are scouting for talent beyond the country. Six-member girl group Blackswan has only two Koreans. Why? Everybody's watching, and agencies want to recruit new fans to the K-pop bandwagon. ICYW, BTS has teamed up with Disney+ Hotstar. The deal currently consists of five projects, including two exclusive titles with the band.
The Market Signal*
Stocks: The Euro is equal in value to the US dollar for the first time in 20 years. The rupee hit a new low. Oil prices fell sharply on Tuesday because of continuing Covid-19 curbs in China. Soft drink maker PepsiCo rose up to 1% in pre-market trading due to a positive revenue forecast. Domestic benchmarks slid for the second session in a row due to a selloff in global markets.
Early Asia: The SGX Nifty was trading marginally higher than its previous close at 7:30 am India time. Nikkei 225: +0.26%, Hang Seng: +0.46%.
India Is The Latest Luxury Turf
Scotland-based distillery The Glenmorangie Co—known for single malts—is betting on India’s love for whisky. CEO Thomas Moradpour says India is among Glenmorangie’s top 10 targets.
India is the world’s largest consumer of whisky. Recently, a private collector snapped up a cask (approx. 440 bottles) of exquisite scotch produced at the Glenmorangie-owned Ardbeg distillery for £16 million ($19 million). French spirits giant Pernod Ricard may have deferred new Indian investments citing tax disputes, but India’s bridge-to-luxury and luxury markets are growing like never before—to the point where luxury car sales are booming in the country.
In the frame: The luxury hospitality industry is eyeing India too. Geneva-headquartered Kempinski Hotels, which previously partnered with The Leela Hotels and the Ambience Group, is looking to re-enter India, starting with Delhi and Mumbai.
Hospitality In A Huff Over Service Charge Ban
The hospitality industry isn't too chuffed about the government’s decision to scrap the 10% service charge from restaurant bills.
High and dry: The government encouraged raising wages and increasing menu prices to meet costs. Restaurateurs are mulling the latter, but even so, a significant chunk will go to the establishment itself. While service charges are evenly distributed, including amongst kitchen staff, tips are pocketed by frontend staff such as waiters and floor managers.
Extorted: NYC restaurateurs are being blackmailed by online scammers demanding $75 Google Play gift cards, failing which there’ll be a blitzkrieg of one-star reviews on the restaurants’ Google pages. Law enforcement is encouraging establishments to report these cybercrimes to the FBI and the FTC.
🎧The no-service charge move will hurt the ones working behind the kitchen counter.
The Long and Short Of India’s Demographic Dividend
The UN’s ‘World Population Prospects 2022’ report (pdf) says India will be the world’s most populous country in 2023. It also projects that over half of the increase in global population by 2050 will be concentrated in India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Egypt, and Congo.
Slowdowns: The UN report observes that China—whose vast labour supply spurred its economic growth—will experience an absolute population decline next year. This validates Beijing’s findings about its declining growth rate, prompting the Politburo to encourage three-child families even as fertility rates fall below the 2.1 threshold required for population stability. Growth rates in Europe and North America, which have been <1% since the ‘60s, were near-zero in 2020-21.
Declining fertility rates means more elderly people; more seniors equals more pensions, more healthcare, and slower economic growth. Economists are already calling for production to move to fast-growing African countries to avoid political instability (read: emigration to countries with slowing growth rates).
India has a demographic dividend until 2100, which is when 30% of its population will be aged 65+. But less than 30% of Indian women have gainful employment today, in a context where southern states are already experiencing declining fertility.
Experts suggest increasing the retirement age, improving social security, and giving women more control over property and finances. Because if there’s anything our ongoing labour crisis has shown, it’s that a massive working age-population doesn’t guarantee job security and economic prosperity.
Tiger At The Frontier
The world’s most prolific VC firm is prowling in Pakistan. The country, many believe, holds much unrealised potential as an investment destination.
Small bites: Tiger Global began with a pre-Series A round in CreditBook, a Karachi digital ledger startup. It has since invested in Bazaar and Zaraye. Venture investment in Pakistan is a drop compared to neighbour India. While startups in that country received $366 million in 2021, Tiger alone invested $2.25 billion in Indian companies in the same year.
No debt: Equity investments may be the only way to make money in Pakistan in the future. The Federal Shariat Court has declared charging interest in any form unIslamic and ordered it to be completely eliminated from the country by 2027. The State Bank of Pakistan has gone to the Supreme Court in appeal.
It's All Happening In The Biz of Sport
Having watched the $6 billion IPL media rights unfold, the International Cricket Council rushed in to cash in on its own rights cycle of 711 matches. Except, Indian broadcasters aren’t too happy with the process, which involves submitting bids via a sealed envelope (instead of the e-auction). Their grouse? Lack of transparency.
Highly competitive: However, there has been a huge surge of interest in football in the U.S. over the past few years. Bids for the Champion League’s US streaming rights are expected to top $2 billion for a six-year contract—double the existing deal held by Paramount and Univision.
Antitrust: The US Justice Department is investigating whether the PGA Tour’s actions regarding Saudi-backed rival tour, LIV Golf, were “anti-competitive.”
Fraud: Former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone will be charged with fraud following an investigation into overseas assets of more than £400 million ($476 million).
🎧 Indian broadcasters have cast their doubts over ICC media rights auction. There are more developments in the big money biz of sport.
Final hours: Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has reportedly fled to the Maldives in a military aircraft prior to his resignation.
Spin doctor: Pandemic darling-turned-dud Peloton will stop manufacturing bikes and treadmills and rely on third-party manufacturing for exercise equipment.
Evaluation: Still in the early stages, Amazon is working on vaccines that can treat breast cancer and melanoma.
Pow wow: Twitter has sued Elon Musk for abandoning the $44 billion deal.
Pattern: A Dubai-Madurai bound SpiceJet flight was delayed because of a malfunctioning nose wheel. This is the airline’s 9th incident in 24 days.
Press pause: The RBI slapped a penalty of ₹1.7 crore on Ola Financial Services for non-compliance with KYC guidelines.
War chest: Lightspeed Venture Partners has raised $500 million to invest in startups across India and Southeast Asia.
Out of line: Don't be alarmed if you find a lion chilling by the beach in Gujarat. Their natural habitat of Gir is teeming with so many lions that the protected area is virtually bursting at the seams. About 104 of the big cats have moved along Gujarat's coastlines. The locals are learning to live and let live.
Up and running: Iconic YouTube account Lofi Girl, which has 10.7 million subscribers, went offline because of a bogus copyright claim. As a result, two livestreams were unavailable. Naturally, fans were distraught. Youtube has since then apologised and reversed the ban.
Starry night: NASA's James Webb Space Telescope—the largest space telescope ever built—delivered its deepest and sharpest infrared image of a distant universe to date. The image is of the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723.
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