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CAIT asks Piyush Goyal to direct CCI probe into Amazon, Flipkart

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Amazon-and-Flipkart

A day after the Karnataka High Court judgement dismissing the petition of Amazon & Flipkart, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) on Saturday sent a communication to Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal urging him to direct the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to immediately initiate investigation proceedings against Amazon and Flipkart without any further ado.

The CAIT has also urged Goyal to immediately issue a fresh Press Note replacing Press Note 2 of the FDI policy with a Monitoring mechanism to ensure that law of the land prevails and no one should dare to violate the policy, law or the rules. The CAIT has also proposed that to bring greater transparency in e-commerce business, every company indulging into any e-commerce activity through any type of electronic mode should have to take a Registration Number from the DPIIT.

CAIT declared that traders across the Country will observe forthcoming week beginning 14th June to 21st June as ” E-Commerce Purification Week” under which thousands of trade associations of the Country , on forthcoming 16th June, will handover a memorandum in the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to their respective District Collectors urging the Union Government to take immediate steps to stop continued violations of the policy and the rules by Amazon, Flipkart and other similar foreign funded e-commerce companies.

The traders delegation will meet Chief Minister and Finance Minister of their respective State and will call upon that small traders must not face any backlash from e-commerce companies. The trade associations across the Country will send memorandums to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal to protect the business community from the onslaught of e-commerce companies.

CAIT said these e-commerce companies have left no stone unturned in passing deaf ears to the repeated statements made by Goyal several times and have indulged in unethical & illegal activities by flouting the mandatory provisions of the FDI Policy in both letter & spirit. This fact has been corroborated by Delhi High Court in January 2021 in the matter of Amazon v/s Future Retail that Amazon is indulging into mal-practices and yesterday when Karnataka High Court stated in its order that “It is expected that an order directing investigation be supported by ‘some reasoning’, which the commission has fulfilled”. This observation of the Court has substantiated the fact that everything is not going well and therefore, the investigation should continue. Both the trade leaders complimented CCI for arguing the case well and stood firmly with its observations and actions.

CAIT said that the misunderstanding of the e-commerce Companies that India’s laws are weak and can be manipulated either way as per the convenience must be washed away with immediate credible actions.

Traders across the country have been taken on a ride by these companies and slowly and gradually are losing the confidence in the administrative system and to regain such confidence, strict steps are needed to ensure that whosoever, small or big, should not even think of violating the law or the policy.

CAIT said inspite of these daylight blatant violations, so far the officials and the Departments concerned have not taken any significant step to curb the mal-practices of these e-commerce companies. It is requested that stern directions may be issued to the concerned officials to take immediate steps to maintain an even level playing field as elaborated by you number of times-said the trade leaders.

CAIT said that the game of capital dumping by these so called marketplaces has dumped the entrepreneurial skills and human capital of the country which is a cognizable offence. Making the human capital of any Country to sit idle, displacing them from their businesses and encroaching upon their livelihood by these capital behemoths is certainly never the ” Bharat” which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has dreamed of. This policy is killing the “Atmnirbhar Bharat” spirit of the people of India.

“These companies are trying to establish themselves as the second edition of East India Company to fulfill their aspirations and ulterior motives to control & dominate not only the e-commerce but the entire landscape of the retail trade of India which is being run by more than 8 crore traders providing employment to nearly 40 crore people and generating an annual turnover of about Rs.115 lakh crores of rupees,” CAIT added.

The traders body added that both Amazon & Flipkart have claimed from time to time that they are the most law compliant bodies and if it is so then why they are afraid of any investigation into their business model and business practices and have tried their level best to stall the investigation ordered by the CCI.

“Let there be a thorough probe by the CCI and these Companies should emerge victorious amidst various complaints made against them from time to time. The CCI investigation into their business model is in fact a credible opportunity for them to become a role model for the trade and industry of India, as claimed by them that they are the real engine of growth of small businesses and also to establish that they are the saviors. All attempts to stall the investigation proceedings by Amazon & Flipkart certainly reinforce the allegations that these Companies are indulged in law violating business model to the thick and thin,” it added.

Amazon and Flipkart claim that they are the true marketplace for e-commerce activities in India and helping small traders to grow their businesses and in fact substantial numbers of small traders have grown big under their business model, as per their claims. Their claims sends a message that these companies are in fact charitable organizations and they took pity on vulnerable conditions of small businesses and therefore providing them bigger opportunities to grow their businesses under the pious and holy umbrella of these Companies and they are the only alternative in India for the small traders to grow, CAIT said.

“However, we are of the considered opinion that such claims are absolutely unfounded and have no legs to stand. If they are true to their version and claim, they should provide a list of only top 10 sellers on their portal in the last 5 years which will reveal the fact that names of the same set of sellers will exist during these 5 years as the top sellers which are prominently related to them in one way or the other thereby consolidating the sales into few hands only. These foreign e-commerce entities are habituated to make tall claims about helping and assisting small and medium retailers while ruthlessly destroying the very fabric of our traditional Kirana and small merchants,” the body said.

“The business community of India is self dependent and does not require mercy of any foreign entity. We are absolutely not orphan Childs as perceived by these Companies and are quite competent to ensure our growth within the parameters of the policies defined for the domestic trade of India by the Government and it is not a fallacy but an admitted fact that whatever turnover is generated by the domestic trade in India, is the proven result of hard labour that traders of India have put into their businesses and the level of CSR activities being conducted by the traders in India is much larger than any of the Corporate house including Amazon, Flipkart and others,” the body said.

Traders across the Country are in pain and anguish at a recent remark made by Amit Agarwal, Country Head, Amazon India, where he said that for India to be a global destination for investments, it must assert the validity of contracts and legal agreements.

“We have never come across a more paradoxical statement by an industry head because if there is one business group that needs to regard and follow the law of the land, it is Amazon India. It will be better for Mr. Aggarwal not to make mockery of the Indian legal system that Amazon is resorting to in addition to the wide-scale and ever-subsisting violations of the FEMA/FDI Policy, lockdown guidelines and other laws and better put absolute focus in complying the policy and the law spelled out in FDI policy of the Government,” CAIT said.

Business

Adani Group hits back with detailed responses to Hindenburg’s unsubstantiated accusations

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 On Sunday, Adani Group responded to unsubstantiated allegations and misleading narrative peddled by Hindenburg Research at length in an over 400-page response backed by relevant documents.

Adani Group’s response also raises the questions against the ulterior motives and modus operandi of Hindenburg that has conveniently ignored the Indian judiciary and regulatory framework.

The detailed response from Adani Group covered its governance standards, credentials, creditworthiness, best practices, transparent conduct, financial and operational performance and excellence.

The Hindenburg report has been made with a clear intent to profiteer at the cost of our shareholders and public investors. Its report is neither “independent” nor “objective”. It is a manipulative document that is rife with conflict of interest and intended only for creating a false market in securities to book wrongful gain, which clearly constitutes securities fraud under Indian law.

Of the 88 questions posed by Hindenburg, it is pertinent to note that 68 refers to the matters that have already been duly disclosed by Adani Group companies in their respective annual reports, offering memorandums, financial statements and stock exchange disclosures from time to time. Sixteen out of 20 questions are pertaining to public shareholders and their sources of funds, while the balance four are simply baseless allegations.

Needless to say that Hindenburg has created these questions to divert the attention of its target audience while managing its short trades to benefit at the cost of investors. The report claims to have undertaken a “2-year investigation” and “uncover evidence”, but comprises nothing other than selective and incomplete extracts of disclosed information which has been in the public domain for years.

“We take serious objection to Hindenburg that chose to mislead the investors, watchdogs and policy makers at a time when Adani Group has launched country’s largest FPO. Adani Group is deeply committed to its stakeholders, and it is thankful to them for standing with us over the past 30 years. Shockingly, Hindenburg Research’s attack on the trust of Adani Group’s stakeholders undermines its commitment for the ‘Growth with Goodness’,” Adani Group said.

Hindenburg Research has come up with a document covering selective and twisted extracts of already disclosed information to raise questions in the minds of Indian and global investors to mislead them about Indian growth story. It is an attack on the trust of Adani Group’s stakeholders undermines its commitment for the ‘Growth with Goodness’.

Adani Portfolio companies have successfully and repeatedly executed an industry beating expansion plan over the past decade. While doing so, the companies have consistently de-levered with portfolio net debt to EBITDA ratio coming down from 7.6x to 3.2x, EBITDA has grown 22 per cent CAGR in the last 9 years and debt has only grown by 11 per cent CAGR during the same period.

Equity Injection in the Adani Portfolio Adani Portfolio has raised $16 billion equity under a systematic capital management plan for all the Portfolio companies over the last 3 years as a combination of primary, secondary and committed equity from marquee investors like TotalEnergies, IHC, QIA, Warburg Pincus etc.

The portfolio has developed deep bank relationships with institutions such as JP Morgan, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citi, CreditSuisse, UBS, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, Barclays, Standard Chartered, MUFG, DBS and Emirates NBD among others. This has strengthened access to diverse funding sources and structures.

Adani Portfolio companies have demonstrated successful syndication of the banking transactions, resulting in de-risking of the banks in volatile markets. Case in point being Holcim’s Indian cement business acquisition with international banks, and Navi Mumbai Airport and Kutch Copper refinery with domestic banks Adani Group companies also have a very strong audit process in order to prevent any deviations from the regulatory obligations and highest legal standards.

The Audit Committee of each of the listed verticals is composed of 100 per cent of Independent Directors and chaired by Independent Director.

The Statutory Auditors are appointed only upon recommendation by the Audit Committee to the Board of Directors. Adani Portfolio company’s follow a stated policy of having global big 6 or regional leaders as Statutory Auditors.

Hindenburg has deliberately and repeatedly trivialised the change of CFOs to twist this into a narrative.

The fact is that many of the CFOs are still part of the organisation in other capacities to take on larger responsibilities as part of our growth stories.

Others have left post retirement or to pursue their own entrepreneurial endeavours and continue to work in our association.

None of the resignations have ever been made pursuant to any alleged concerns and Hindenburg’s baseless narrative.

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Business

Premium segment at highest spot, 5G phones at 32% market share in India

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 Premium segment (Rs 30,000 and above) contributed 11 per cent to India’s smartphone shipments and 35 per cent to overall market revenue in 2022, the highest ever.

Samsung led the market in 2022 in terms of shipment value share with a 22 per cent share, followed by Apple, in the country, according to Counterpoint Research.

However, in terms of shipment volume, Xiaomi led the market in 2022 with a 20 per cent share, closely followed by Samsung.

Xiaomi slipped to third position in Q4 2022 with Samsung and vivo capturing first and second spots respectively.

5G smartphones captured a 32 per cent share in 2022. Samsung became the top-selling 5G brand in 2022 with a 21 per cent share.

Apple continued to lead the premium smartphone segment, with the iPhone 13 emerging as the top-selling model. Apple also led the market in Q4 2022 in terms of shipment value.

“Consumer demand started declining from the second quarter when the global economy was crippled by multiple macroeconomic issues like all-time high inflation, rising unemployment and geopolitical conflicts, affecting India’s economy as well,” said senior research analyst Prachir Singh.

Inventory build-up across channels after the second quarter led to lower-than-expected shipments throughout the second half of the year.

“We believe that the inventory and demand situation will continue to affect the market in the first half of 2023 before improving in the latter half driven by the festive season and upgrades to 5G devices,” Singh added.

India’s smartphone shipments declined 9 per cent YoY to reach over 152 million units in 2022, according to the report.

The decline, which is the second ever in India’s smartphone market, can be attributed to the decline in entry-level and budget segments which faced supply constraints at the beginning of the year and then witnessed lower demand throughout the year.

“While entry-tier and budget segments were most affected, the premium segment remained immune and showed double-digit growth. OEMs’ increased focus, consumers upgrading for premium features and, most importantly, availability of various financing schemes,” said research analyst Shilpi Jain.

Overall, India smartphone market revenue remained flat despite a 9 per cent YoY decline in shipments.

OnePlus grew 50 per cent YoY in 2022 driven by the OnePlus Nord CE 2 series.

It focused on diversifying and expanding its product portfolio across different price points and increasing its offline presence to drive sales, the report mentioned.

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WhatsApp working on new software that uses Apple Mac Catalyst

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 Meta-owned WhatsApp is working on a new Mac app that uses the Apple Mac Catalyst development environment to make better use of system resources.

According to AppleInsider, WhatsApp currently provides a web-based Electron app for Mac users in addition to its web app via browsers.

Electron and Catalyst are software development frameworks that help developers create desktop apps.

The new app has been in a closed beta for a few months, but now anyone can download the file on macOS Big Sur or later on the WhatsApp website, according to the report.

Following installation, it will display a QR code that users can scan with their iPhone to link their accounts using the WhatsApp iOS app.

The Mac app’s three-panel interface provides access to archived chats, starred messages, phone calls, and settings.

The Catalyst app includes features not available in the Electron version, such as file drag-and-drop and a spell-checker, the report mentioned.

Meanwhile, WhatsApp has reportedly rolled out some new shortcuts for group admins to quickly and easily perform actions for a certain group participant, on iOS.

The new shortcuts simplify interactions with group members as now the platform supports large groups of up to 1,024 participants, reports WABetainfo.

The new update will help group admins quickly manage and communicate with such a large number of participants in private.

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