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Saudis are coming for IPL
Also in today’s edition: BYJU’S gets a minus D; Sony’s had enough of Punit; No India in this list; Look who’s still developing
Good morning! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s your Amazon delivery via a drone. That’s the future Jeff Bezos promised the world back in 2014. Almost a decade later, The New York Times reports that the future is here… but only for residents of College Station, Texas. People there are getting deliveries dropped from the sky, but with major terms and conditions attached: one delivery per drone, the item can’t be too big or heavy, and there can’t be anything breakable, among others. A classic case of much ado about nothing.
Dinesh Narayanan, Roshni Nair, and Adarsh Singh also contributed to today’s edition.
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The Market Signal
Stocks & Economy: The US Treasury announcing less long-term borrowing than what the markets expected and the Fed hinting the rate-hike cycle may have come to an end, buoyed stocks on Friday.
The positive sentiment carried forward to Asian equities, which started the week on a soaring note. Japan’s Nikkei 225 was up more than 2.5% in morning trade. A South Korean financial regulator saying that it will ban short-selling until June next year fuelled a stocks rally there.
In more positive news, Chinese Premier Li Qiang said the country would continue to open up its market to foreign players and welcome imports.
Morning trade in GIFT Nifty indicated a bullish opening for Indian shares. US rates sliding lower from peaks might rekindle foreign portfolio investors’ interest in Indian equities. They have sold stocks worth ₹3,400 crore (~$409 million) in three sessions in November.
Byju’s Gets A Year-Back
It’s never good news when students refuse to show you their report card. No wonder BYJU’S delayed releasing its FY22 financials until last week, when it posted a truncated version. It’s a poor report: the edtech firm made nearly $430 million from its core and largest business. It will likely miss its $1.25 billion revenue target for the group.
Little improvement: The good news isn’t so good either. BYJU’S posted operational losses of ₹2,250 crore (~$271 million) in FY22, only a marginal drop from the previous year’s ₹2,400 crore.
Teacher’s remarks: If this was BYJU’S FY22 performance, the edtech company is unlikely to have scripted a turnaround in FY23. Meanwhile, other problems are piling up: it’s seen a spate of high-profile exits, including the CFO, and its acquisition of Aakash, meant to boost BYJU’S valuation, is collapsing.
Yes, mergers can have twists, but the twists in this one are worthy of a Zee TV serial. The Sony India-Zee merger, already heavily delayed, may now see a change of cast. Sony Corp reportedly wants its India unit’s head, NP Singh, to lead the merged entity instead of Zee’s beleaguered chief executive, Punit Goenka.
Problems: An order banning Goenka from top positions in listed firms has been lifted, but his endless legal troubles have pushed Sony to the edge. A probe into Goenka’s role in a case of bank funds misappropriation is still on. And markets regulator Sebi is also investigating the Goenka family's role in another funds diversion case.
Too bad: Sony had already indicated a couple of months ago that it might replace Goenka if needed. It’s racing against time after all; it must be ready to counter Reliance were it to pick up Disney-Star.
BUSINESS OF SPORT
An IPL In Riyadh?
It just might happen soon. After football, golf, Formula 1, boxing, MMA, and esports, Saudi Arabia is coming for cricket (and tennis).
Bloomberg reported that the Saudi and Indian governments have discussed the possibility of the former taking a minority stake in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Saudi Arabia has proposed moving the IPL into a holding company and investing up to $5 billion in it, valuing the league at $30 billion. Saudi Arabia also plans to expand the IPL to other countries. Any decision on the matter will only be taken after the 2024 general elections.
And: Despite repeatedly saying it’s not interested in live sports, Netflix is considering streaming a single boxing match to test the waters, reports The Wall Street Journal.
Saudi Arabia’s interest in the IPL isn’t new. Reports first emerged in April that the Saudi government had held talks with IPL officials regarding setting up the world’s richest Twenty20 tournament in the Gulf state. While the Indian cricket board doesn’t allow its players to participate in foreign leagues, a multi-billion-dollar investment could change that.
The Saudis already have hooks sunk deep in Indian cricket and its stakeholders. Oil major Aramco and the Saudi tourism authority are IPL sponsors. Aramco chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan is an independent director of Reliance Industries, whose subsidiaries own an IPL franchise and streaming rights of the tournament. Saudi’s sovereign wealth fund, again headed by Al-Rumayyan, has stakes in two Reliance companies.
🎧 Saudi Arabia wants a piece of the IPL pie. Also in today’s edition: the market for secondhand luxe watches is booming. Listen to The Signal Daily on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.
PS: For more insight and analysis into the business of sports, subscribe to our weekly newsletter, The Playbook:
Amid growing talk of de-globalisation, Bloomberg has served up a list of five nations that it calls “connectors”.
These countries—Vietnam, Poland, Indonesia, Mexico, and Morocco—act as the links that are helping connect supply chains snapped by a host of factors, including the pandemic, geopolitical rivalry, and war. Invariably, China is at one end of the broken chains, and Europe or the US is at the other. These five nations are investment magnets, have deep linkages with China, and their trade with the rest of the world is rising.
Interestingly, three—Poland, Indonesia, and Mexico—of the five were also on a list of nations Ruchir Sharma, the then head of emerging market equities at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, identified in his 2012 book Breakout Nations: In Pursuit of the next Economic Miracles. They are occupying the sweet spot now, per Bloomberg, albeit for different reasons.
Banking On The Bare Minimum
Funnelling (more) funds to the Global South is something that’s been on World Bank chief Ajay Banga’s agenda. The developed world has taken its first step toward that goal, though not without criticism.
What’s the story?: Negotiators have finally agreed to a framework to aid climate-vulnerable countries. This is a major development in the run-up to COP28, which kicks off on November 30. Western nations are pressuring Saudi Arabia and China—both major economies, to the point where a western official quipped that Riyadh can afford to chip in with climate aid if it can afford to pay millions to Cristiano Ronaldo—to pay up. But Saudi and China argue they’re still developing economies.
Lip service: The framework has no specifics on scale and immediate capitalisation commitments. Developing countries are also wary of the fund being instituted at the World Bank, which is perceived as largely serving US and EU interests.
Any buyers? The Adani Group is looking to exit its edible oil and retail joint venture with Singapore’s Wilmar Group. It is expecting to sell its ~44% stake for $2.5 billion-$3billion.
Don’t bet on it: The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has issued an order to ban 22 illegal betting apps in India including Mahadev Book Online, which is being probed by the Enforcement Directorate.
Rest those weary eyes: Reuters reports that India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation has proposed more rest and reduced night work hours for pilots following concerns about, and incidents of pilot fatigue.
💯: Swedish weapons maker Saab will set up a unit in India to make its Carl-Gustaf M4 rocket system. The ~₹500 crore ($60 million) project will be India’s first 100% foreign direct investment in defence.
Gas chamber: Delhi has ordered primary schools to stay shut until November 10, banned construction work, and prohibited trucks and commercial vehicles from entering the National Capital Region as the area chokes in smog.
Tragedy: At least 157 people have died as a result of the 6.4 magnitude earthquake that hit Nepal on Friday; the country was hit by a spate of aftershocks over the weekend.
Between a Grok and a hard place: X (Twitter) owner Elon Musk announced that he will integrate his AI startup xAI, which operates the Grok bot, into the social media platform.
THE DAILY DIGIT
The peak concurrency (number of viewers watching simultaneously) recorded by Disney+ Hotstar during the India-South Africa World Cup match on Sunday, when Virat Kohli equalled Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 49 ODI tons. It’s a global streaming record for a cricket match, beating Disney+ Hotstar’s past record of 43 million set during the India-New Zealand World Cup clash. (The Economic Times)
Richie Rich: A diver has stumbled upon a literal treasure trove in Italy. Being a goodie-two-shoes, the diver notified authorities, who have assigned the matter to Italy’s Art Protection Squad (yup, that’s an actual thing). Found off the coast of Sardinia, the bronze coins date back to the first half of the fourth century and are likely from an ancient shipwreck. While the exact number of coins hasn’t been determined yet, the government estimates there are anywhere between 30,000 and 50,000.
Haldi not healthy: Turmeric, the ubiquitous spice, is heavily adulterated with lead chromate to heighten its colour. The result is that South Asia has the highest number of lead poisoning in the world. Not only that, the poisoning is estimated to have lowered South Asian productivity by roughly 9% of GDP. India, which produces 75% of all turmeric, is particularly susceptible and can look east for solutions, particularly Bangladesh. Our friendly neighbour launched a nationwide campaign against turmeric adulteration in 2019, with sting operations and a PR blitzkrieg following suit, culminating in much applause and celebration.
TIL: In 1923, the League of Nations attempted the ambitious task of introducing a new calendar, the International Fixed Calendar (IFC). The IFC aimed to reorganise the year into 13 months, each consisting of 28 days, with every month starting on a Saturday and concluding on a Sunday. This proposed calendar promised secularism and enhanced business efficiency, simplifying profit tracking and trend analysis. However, it faced religious opposition. Jews resisted due to Sabbath conflicts, while Christians found Easter timing confusing. Additionally, the logistical challenges involved led to the eventual abandonment of the proposal.