Tata wants a sip of Bisleri
Also in today’s edition: Roblox for grownups; Everyone wants satellite tech; Global property blues; How Fairplay hedged its Asia Cup bets
Good morning! Lipstick has become a pick-me-up in this economy, Bloomberg reports. As a result, the lipstick index has made a comeback, and so have the skincare and fragrance indexes. All thanks to people stepping out of their homes. Brands such as Estee Lauder and L’Oreal SA are raking in the moolah. The Dyson Airwrap still remains aspirational.
The Market Signal*
Stocks: DB Realty shares were on fire on reports that Adani Realty is buying the cash-strapped company which owns prime real estate in Mumbai. PVR and Inox shares got a Brahmastra bump. The movie collected ₹125 crore over the weekend. The Economic Times reported that Sebi was looking into how venture capital and private equity funds valued startups. That may not be good news for IPO-bound firms.
Early Asia: The SGX Nifty inched slightly upwards (0.52%) from its previous close at 7.30 am India time. The Hang Seng Index (0.48%) and Nikkei 225 (0.26%) also gained ground.
Tata’s Tall Drink Of Water
The consumer arm of India’s salt-to-steel conglomerate is gunning for India’s biggest bottled water brand. Tata Consumer has offered to buy a stake in Parle-owned Bisleri. The news comes months after reports that the unit was looking to acquire up to five brands.
Tell me more: Nestle, Danone, and Reliance Retail once expressed interest in acquiring stakes in Bisleri, but talks didn’t materialise. Tata owns Tata Water Plus, Tata Copper+, and Himalayan Water– which competes with Bisleri’s own higher-end label, Vedica Himalayan.
If the Tata-Bisleri deal goes through, it’ll be a coup for the former: Bisleri accounts for 32% of India’s organised bottled water market and has an unparalleled distribution network ranging from chemist shops to airports. A market share boost aside, Tata will also get a brand that is almost synonymous with bottled water in India.
Apple Bets On Satellite Connectivity
Apple's finally making satellite phones mainstream. The upcoming iPhones will allow users to send SOS and location data when they go off-grid.
In the works: Apple was the first to approach satellite companies in 2019. It eventually partnered with Globalstar for an exclusive deal that’ll give the tech giant 85% of network capacity. Chinese electronics manufacturer Huawei, Elon Musk’s SpaceX, and Google (Android 14) are also working on satellite tech integration.
What now?: Satellite tech won’t replace internet and cellular internet. Rather, it’ll fill the connectivity gap in remote places and situations. Precisely why it should have become popular. Satellite phones as a whole, however, are illegal in India after they were found to have been used by terrorists in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
🎧 iPhone maker Apple has entered the satellite phone market. One of the biggest upgrades in the history of cryptocurrencies, the Ethereum Merge is finally happening. The Signal Daily is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, and Google Podcasts, or wherever you listen to your podcasts.
‘Fairplay’ In The Asia Cup?
The Sri Lankan men’s cricket team might have taken home the Asia Cup, but a sports news portal hit the jackpot. Fairplay News had prominent real estate on the front and back of Sri Lanka’s jersey as the team’s official sponsor during the tournament.
Sri Lanka’s triumph was also a win for surrogate advertising and, in effect, sports betting—both of which are banned in India. Because Fairplay’s main business isn’t sports news, but online betting. The news portal is just a means to bypass the law in India.
Legal sports betting is an ~$80 billion industry globally. Despite being illegal in most parts of India, sports betting companies—all registered in overseas tax havens such as Malta and Curacao—have been operating since at least the beginning of 2021. They all follow the same business model to skirt Indian law: set up a sports news portal and practise surrogate advertising. You may have seen ads by companies such as Betway, 1xBet, Dafabet, Parimatch, and Fairplay during sports broadcasts in India over the last 18 months. Some of these companies also sponsor teams in Indian sports leagues such as Pro Kabaddi, Ultimate Kho Kho, and the Tamil Nadu Premier League.
Earlier this year, the Indian government advised the media to refrain from running online betting advertisements and banned surrogate advertising. How, then, are these betting companies allowed to do what they’re doing so openly? No one seems to have the answers. The authorities have done nothing but issue advisories and pass the buck.
High Costs Cool Global Property Market
The dream is an effective device that advertisers use to sell homes. But for homebuyers the world over, owning a home is literally becoming a dream. A distant one to boot.
Heading down: Property markets in cities in the US, Europe and Australia, which were buzzing until a few months ago, are going quiet as central banks raise rates to combat inflation. A chill in the real estate market will not take long to become a full-blown affliction in these economies. If the previous crash in 2008-09 which triggered the Global Financial Crisis is not reminder enough, China is a current example.
Indian companies are blowing on embers to keep the markets going. While some are offering discounts to offset high interest rates, others are deferring payments on new homes.
We wonder if a16z was counting on the cool-off when it pumped in $350 million in Adam Neumann’s home-renting venture, Flow.
Roblox Is Growing Up
The gaming company catapulted to fame by preteens is becoming the adult in the room. Protocol reports that Roblox is making several changes to cater to an older demographic. These include immersive ads, proximity voice chat, and facial capture for realistic avatars. Roblox will also enforce age verification, content filtering, and granular parental controls for under-13 users.
Why this matters: Roblox started life as a platform where kids built virtual experiences. Two-thirds of American children aged between 9-12 years used Roblox in 2020. Thanks to the metaverse hoopla, however, it went from being a mere sandbox game to a platform hosting interconnected worlds. Much of this came at a price. Its policies attracted ire after reports surfaced about grooming, recreations of mass shootings, and the financial exploitation of minors. No wonder Roblox is splitting its app in two parts: one for preteens, and the other for older users.
India-bound: After Apple, Google is looking to move between 10%-20% of the annual production of its Pixel smartphones to India, amid strict Covid lockdowns in China, according to The Information.
Fresh dough: EV maker Yulu raised $82 million in a round led by Magna International. The Bengaluru-based company will create a new entity Yulu Energy for battery swapping and charging infrastructure.
Green signal: Indian cryptocurrency exchange WazirX will resume operations after the Enforcement Directorate unfroze its bank accounts.
Cryptoccino: Starbucks is brewing its web3 ambitions with Odyssey, a blockchain-based loyalty programme and NFT community.
Unsavoury: The rise in food prices has strengthened India's retail inflation (CPI) to 7% in August from 6.71% in July. The country's industrial growth, IIP, shrunk 2.4% in July, the lowest level since April.
Going west: Gujarat will be home to Vedanta’s proposed $20 billion semiconductor joint venture with Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn.
Falling short: Instagram’s short-video offering Reels struggling to catch up with TikTok, the Wall Street Journal reported. Instagram users spend one-tenth of the time watching Reels every day, compared to TikTok users.
No alcohol, please: Japanese alcobev companies are caving in and giving the youth what they want: drinks without spirit (make of that what you will). Japan’s breweries are swapping beer and cocktails for mocktails and non-alcoholic wine in order to attract more Gen Z footfalls. Sales are up.
Pocketful of colour: Roads in France are now sporting colour patches. A street artist who goes by Ememem is going around Lyon filling potholes with multicoloured mosaic tiles. He's gotten so popular that there are walking tours dedicated to the artist's handiwork. That’s some validation right there.
Rush for memorabilia: Queen Elizabeth’s death has driven up sales of souvenirs all over the world. From tea bags to gold coins, retailers are busy making money out of the royal memorabilia they’ve been collecting over the years. They are also clearing out items in order to make a room for the new king, Charles III.
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