Amazon challenges Future-Reliance deal, India picks iPhone makers for manufacturing plan

Amazon served a legal notice on the Future Group for signing a deal with Reliance Industries, citing a non-compete agreement with the Kishore Biyani-led chain. India's drug regulator refused a proposal from Dr Reddy's Laboratories Ltd to conduct a large study in the country to evaluate Russia's Covid-19 vaccine. As many as 16 companies won approval to manufacture products in India under a plan aimed at attracting investment of more than Rs 10.5 trillion for mobile-phone production. Tata Sons will invest in AirAsia India as AirAsia Berhad, its Malaysian partner in the low-cost aviation venture, seeks to exist. Here is more on what happened this week.

Business Standard
10th October

  • American e-commerce major Amazon sent a legal notice to a promoter of Future Group, alleging the Indian retailer breached the terms of its contract by signing a deal with Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries. Amazon had invested in Future last year. Amazon's notice says it had received certain rights under the contractual agreements. Non-compete restrictive clause was one such.
  • Major iPhone assemblers for Apple Inc. were among 16 companies that won approval to manufacture products in India under a plan aimed at attracting investment of more than Rs 10.5 trillion for mobile-phone production over the next five years. India is attempting to lure the world’s biggest smartphone brands to make their products locally for global export with its Production Linked Incentive plan.
  • India's drug regulator has refused a proposal from Dr Reddy's Laboratories Ltd to conduct a large study in the country to evaluate Russia's Sputnik-V Covid-19 vaccine and has asked it to first test the vaccine in a smaller trial. India’s move comes as a setback for Russia’s plan to roll out the vaccine even before full trials show how well it works.
  • Tata Sons will pump money into its low-cost aviation venture AirAsia India against the inability of Malaysian airline AirAsia Berhad, the joint venture partner, to fund the company. Tata Sons owns 51 per cent in the airline and AirAsia Berhad the rest. Tatas' investment will reduce the stake of AirAsia Berhad, which wants to exit the venture.
  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India is barring individual investors from buying a riskier type of bank bond, citing the need to protect non-professional buyers. Starting October 12, only qualified institutional buyers can purchase banks’ Additional Tier 1 notes. This type of bond was introduced by regulators after the global financial crisis to limit taxpayer bailouts of lenders by sharing the burden with investors.
  • London’s public transport regulator cancelled Indian cab aggregator Ola’s operating licence over alleged breaches in passenger safety norms, including more than 1,000 trips made by unlicensed drivers. Ola said it would appeal against the ban. Last week, Uber secured its right to continue operating in London after a judge upheld its appeal against the regulator.
  • The government named Shashanka Bhide, Ashima Goyal and Jayanth Varma as its nominees on the central bank’s monetary policy committee (MPC). The Reserve Bank of India had to delay the bi-monthly committee meeting set to take place from September 29 to October 1, as it required at least four MPC members to proceed and the government had failed to name replacements for three previous appointees whose tenure ended in September.

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A few links for further reading

Hard path to growth

The signals for the economy are not positive: overall demand is yet to pick up; the share of total exports in India’s GDP is declining, and industrial output pattern remains worrying.

Small savings scheme

Investors breathed a sigh of relief when the government announced that interest rates on these instruments would not be revised for the fourth quarter of the calendar year.

Invest and emigrate

The great Indian dream of settling abroad is achievable if one has a few crores to invest. Rich nations offer a variety of investment options in a quid pro quo arrangement: immigrants get a better quality of life and revenue from them helps these countries’ finances. Wealthy Indians, troubled by polluted cities and the red tape holding up entrepreneurship, may want a quick ticket out of the country. Sanjay Kumar Singh lists a range of options: from a Canadian province’s investor programme to America’s US EB-5 plan.

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