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Pandemic pain: Fuel prices rose over Rs 20/ltr in FY21, by Rs 10 this yr

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Petrol

You must be feeling the pain of rising fuel prices after it hit the century mark across the country last month.

But, the rise has not been sudden and the pain has been consistent throughout the last financial year and this year too, taking the pump prices of petrol and diesel to unprecedented levels not seen before, even during the big surge in global oil during 2010-14 period when crude prices remained largely above $100 a barrel.

A close look at the official data provided by Petroleum Planning and Analyses Cell reveals that petrol prices (in the national capital) rose by a whopping Rs 20.97 per litre between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021 in FY21, the highest ever levels to be recorded so far.

Petrol was priced at Rs 69.59 a litre at the beginning of FY21 on April 1 last year and it was priced at Rs 90.56 a litre on March 31 year. This is a growth of 30.13 per cent in FY21.

The story of price hike doesn’t end in the last fiscal. It has continued well into FY22, albeit at a much sharper pace. In the three and half months of current fiscal, petrol prices have already risen by Rs 10.63 paise a litre in Delhi from a level of Rs 90.56 a litre on April 1 to Rs 101.19 on July 14 in Delhi. This is already a growth of 11.73 per cent.

In comparison to petrol, diesel price rise has been less sharper. One reason for this has been VAT cuts effected by several state governments to keep the price rise of this transport fuel under some manageable levels. Also, oil marketing companies have gone soft on diesel price rise lately, reducing the quantum of hike compared to petrol and in fact cutting the price of the fuel marginally on Monday, the first time in several months.

With regard to diesel prices, in FY21 the retail price of the fuel rose by Rs 18.58 per litre from Rs 62.29 a litre on April 1, 2020 to Rs 80.87 a litre on March 31, 2021, a growth of 29.83 per cent in Delhi.

The rise of diesel has been sharper in FY21 in Mumbai where it rose by Rs 21.75 per litre from Rs 66.21 a litre last year to Rs 87.96 a litre this year March end.

In the current fiscal, diesel rates have risen by Rs 8.85 in Delhi from Rs 80.87 on April 1 to Rs 89.72 now. In Mumbai, the fuel has risen by Rs 9.33 per litre to Rs 97.29 a litre now. The fuel is most expensive in Mumbai among all the metros.

The story of fuel price hike over the last five quarters is even harsher in states such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra where local duties on petrol and diesel are the highest in the country.

“The fuel price rise in FY21 has been unprecedented as the only reason that can be cited is the high level of taxes imposed by the Centre on petrol and diesel in May last year to mobilise additional revenue for Covid relief measures. This is after global oil prices have firmed up in the last one year but is still far off from 2012-13 level of over $100 a barrel when fuel prices were just over Rs 70 a litre,” said an oil sector expert not willing to be quoted.

Global crude is priced just above $75 a barrel now to take fuel prices to historic high levels. A look at fuel price in 2012 brings out the contrast as the crude in September that year touched over $110 a barrel, still petrol prices hovered around Rs 70 a litre while diesel was close to Rs 50 a litre.

With crude expected to remain moderately firm over next few months, relief to consumers from higher fuel prices could only be expected when government decides to cut tax rates. However, senior finance ministry functionaries have indicated that tax cut is not on the table as of now and they were hoping that crude prices itself would soften as more oil is pumped by major producers. This could keep fuel over the century mark for some time to come.

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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Business

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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