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Saturday, February 29, 2020
Paytm founder reveals road to profitability; may take 2 years to come out of red

Airtel, Vodafone Idea, Tata Tele likely to pay AGR dues on Monday: DoT source Digitial payment giant Paytm expects to turn profitable after two years as it is monetising the existing customer base and eyes financial services as its next major frontier for growth, its founder CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma said.

Noida-based firm, which had an astonishing rise after infamous demonetisation in 2016, is betting on financial services, commerce and payments as three key focus areas.

In an interview with PTI, Sharma said Paytm’s growth is divided into three phases - first three years of finding the right product-market fit; the next was revenue and monetisation; and the last phase will be about profitability and free cash flows.

“We are in the second phase of that journey,” he said.

In 2015, Paytm started deploying QR codes and by 2018-19 completed its product-market fit. From 2019-20 onwards, it is monetising.

“I would say at least 2 years because we are also a large dominant market share company and we wouldn’t want to lose market share while becoming profitable next quarter,” Sharma said when asked about the timelines for hitting profits.

In the last 12 months, Paytm has seen pre-tax losses cut - thanks to monetisation, and not reckless cost-cutting, he said, adding business like Paytm Payments Bank, commerce and cloud were already profitable, while Paytm FirstGames and Paytm Mall is “close to profitability“.

Paytm - which competes with Google Pay, Flipkart-owned PhonePe and others in the digital payments space - had late last year raised USD 1 billion (over Rs 7,000 crore) in funding from US-based asset management firm T Rowe Price and existing investors, including SoftBank and Alibaba, to fund expansion plans.

Paytm had also said it plans to invest around Rs 10,000 crore (USD 1.4 billion) over the next three years to expand financial services. The last round of fund raising had valued the company at about USD 16 billion.

Asked about the businesses under OCL that were draining profitability, Sharma said that investments were focused on expanding offline merchant base.

“Overall, offline merchant expansion and technology is where the investment is happening,” he said. Earlier this month, the company said it aims to add close to 10 million merchants to its platform over the next 12-18 months as it brings new features to its payments platform.

The company, which has introduced a new all-in-one payment gateway and business solutions as well as an Android-based point of sale (POS) machine, currently has over 16 million merchants across unorganised and organised sectors. (Source: The Hindu Businessline)

$70m Funding may take Khatabook Valuation to $300m

HealthifyMe Fintech is garnering more investor attention as digital payments rise Accounting firm in talks with B Capital, Sequoia and Tencent

Accounting services provider Khatabook, which helps merchants record and track business transactions, is in the final stages of closing a $70-million (about ₹503-crore) funding round led by new investor B Capital Group, according to three people directly aware of the development. Existing backers Sequoia Capital and Tencent are also expected to participate in the financing round, the people said. The round more than triples the valuation of the Bengaluru-based startup to between $275 million and $300 million in less than four months, indicating continued bullishness among investors to back highgrowth financial services startups.

Emails to Khatabook, B Capital Group and Tencent did not elicit responses at the time of going to press.

Khatabook’s features include sending periodic reminders to creditors through messages and report generation, which in turn helps small merchants recover payments on time and efficiently.

“While incumbents in the space have gained market share by creating an offline presence, Khatabook is the first to do it at scale, digitally,” an investor aware of the deal said.

If the deal goes through, it will be the latest investment by B Capital Group, the US and Singapore-based investment firm launched by Eduardo Saverin, cofounder of social media giant Facebook, and Raj Ganguly, who was formerly with Bain Capital. In January, the firm co-led a $105 million round in mobility startup Bounce, while also participating in B2B packaging materials marketplace Bizongo’s $30 million Series C funding round. (Source: Economic Times)

HealthifyMe revenues top Rs 100-cr level, active user base doubles to 16 million

HealthifyMe Health and fitness app HealthifyMe has witnessed 3X growth, surpassing Rs 100 crore in revenue, fuelled by the extensive adoption of its AI-enabled Smart Plans and international expansion.

The start-up launched in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei in the fourth quarter of calendar year 2018, launched its AI-powered Smart Plans in January 2019. In the last 12 months, the start-up’s subscriptions have quadrupled and its active user base has doubled from 8 million to 16 million, of which 13 million are from India and three million from the international markets. Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei contributed to a turnover of over $1 million in the last 12 months.

“We have a total free user base of 16 million, of which two million are monthly active users. We have 100,000 paid users, 75 per cent of whom are users of our AI-enabled Healthify Smart Plan priced at Rs 300 per month and 25 per cent are users of our Healthify Coach plan, priced at Rs 1,500 per month, where users engage with one of our 500 coaches.” Tushar Vashisht, co-founder and CEO, HealthifyMe, told BusinessLine, on the sidelines of its sixth annual tech product event ‘Ignite.’

Co-founded in 2012 by Tushar Vashisht and Sachin Shenoy and incubated by Microsoft Accelerator, HealthifyMe caters to 16 million users in 300 cities with 500 coaches. Its app is rated 4.6/5 and has been featured by Google and Apple multiple times for its quality benchmarks. The start-up delivers measurable results on eating habits, fitness, and weight by tracking a person’s lifestyle, providing access to human coaches and AI nutritionist ‘Ria’.

“We are launching a new line of business today – the ‘HealthifySmart Legends Edition’ in collaboration with Mahesh Bhupathi as the first legend, as well as strategic advisor for this initiative. We plan to give consumers access to a host of sports and fitness legends’ diet and workout recommendations, jointly designed by HealthifyMe coaches and the Legends,” said Vashisht.

The Legends plan is priced at Rs 500 per month, which will have diet plans recommended by the legend, customised to the user’s needs; the legends’s workout routine, personalised to cater to the user’s goal; periodic interactions with the legend through Ask-Me-Anything sessions and weekly/monthly contests. HealthifyMe’s virtual assistant Ria, will customise the user’s experience, while sticking to the legend’s philosophies and views on diet and workouts.

For those users who are on the move and are worried about sticking to their diet and workout plans, HealthifyMe has partnered with various players in the ecosystem, leveraging their strengths in offline delivery of products and services. Users can now order as per their diet plans and find a healthy curated collection of restaurants powered by HealthifyMe on Swiggy. Similarly, they can order groceries via partner apps such as Milkbasket, in select locations. For workouts, HealthifyMe is piloting with Fitternity, the fitness discovery and booking app, giving its users access to 12,000-plus gyms and fitness studios across India.

Also on the anvil is Mental Wellness vertical ‘HealthifySense’ to provide access to qualified counsellors on the platform, enabling the start-up to evolve from a weight-loss destination to a complete health and wellness platform. “We are a digital AI advisory company in the areas of fitness, nutrition, weight and lifestyle and are on a par with LinkedIn and Amazon Prime Video in terms of usage (sessions per month) by consumers,” said Vashisht.(Source: The Hindu Businessline)

Telecom gear maker ITI to invest ₹150 cr to boost solar panel capacity

Public sector electronics and telecom gear maker ITI Limited plans around ₹150 crore investment to scale up its solar panel manufacturing capacity to 90 MW in the next fiscal, a top company official said.

The company, which plans to raise ₹1,600 crore through a follow-on public offer (FPO), has a solar panel capacity of 18 MW currently.

“Given the kind of demand we are witnessing in the solar space, especially in the rooftop segment, from corporates and commercial establishments as well as the state governments, we want to be ready to tap that opportunity,” the company’s Chairman and Managing Director R M Agarwal told PTI. He said the company would be investing ₹150 crore for scaling up the capacity, which it hopes to get from the budget allocated to the Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications.

The company is expecting at least ₹500 crore from the government in the next fiscal for meeting its various capital expenditure (capex) requirements.

The company has a solar panel manufacturing facility at Naini in Uttar Pradesh.

When asked if the company would utilise the funds raised through the FPO for the capacity enhancement in case the funds from the government do not come, he said, “The FPO proceeds will have to be used towards partial repayment of loans, funding our working capital requirements and general purpose. For our capex, we will have to wait for the ministry to release the funds.”

Agarwal further said the company is banking on capacities tendered by discoms in various states to supply its panels as well as to set up rooftop projects on a turnkey basis, along with the expected projects under the national solar mission.

The company has executed various turnkey orders for Bharatnet, telecom towers, and Uttar Pradesh police headquarters. ITI has also deployed 15 MW solar power project for the Solar Energy Corporation of India.

According to industry estimates, as of September 2019, cumulative installed solar capacity in India stood at 33.8 GW, of which rooftop solar installations crossed 4 GW.

Apart from solar panels, the company is also focusing on the manufacturing of LED-based products like an LED solar lantern and LED street lights for rural use and LED tube lights and decorative indoor lights for grid-connected applications. (Source: The Hindu Business Line)


Anritsu Introduces Industry’s First 43.5 GHz 1-port VNA Family

- New ShockLine™ Modular USB VNAs Bring Cost and Operational Efficiencies to Verifying Performance of 1-port 5G Devices Operating in Sub-6 GHz and mmWave Bands

Anritsu Company introduces the ShockLine™ MS46131A USB vector network analyzer (VNA), the industry’s first modular 1-port VNA that supports measurement frequencies up to 43.5 GHz. With 8 GHz and 20 GHz models also available in the series, the MS46131A brings cost and efficiency advantages to measuring antennas and other 1-port 5G devices at sub-6 GHz, as well as in the 28 GHz and 39 GHz millimeter wave (mmWave) bands.

Very lightweight and compact, the MS46131A can be directly connected to the device under test (DUT), eliminating the need for interconnect cables. The result is reduced test costs and improved measurement stability.

The MS46131A is a modular VNA that can be configured for each user session on a port-by-port basis. A single PC can control up to two 1-port instruments for convenient dual site testing. Units can be easily moved between test setups, depending on the required port count. Production uptime is also enhanced, as 1-port VNAs can be easily replaced, if needed, to keep test stations operational.

Beyond the USB connection to the external control PC running ShockLine software, the MS46131A also requires a 12V power supply. An advantage of the external PC is that it makes test data more secure, as all the measurement results are stored on the PC, rather than the VNA. The MS46131A is well suited for confidential testing environments due to this level of security. Analysis and documentation are also simplified, as there is no need to transfer data off the onboard instrument memory.

Flipkart may take over Walmart’s cash and carry business in India, reports say

It is likely to reverse acquire in Walmart’s B2B cash and carry stores. Flipkart group may acquire stake in its parent company Walmart to take over its Best Price cash and carry stores, according to news reports.

The Bengaluru-based startup is looking to expand its footprint in the B2B supply chain by reverse-acquiring stake in the US retail giant, the report said.

Walmart had acquired a 77 per cent stake in the Flipkart group y for $16 billion in 2018.

Flipkart group which currently manages Flipkart and Myntra will, however, fulfil all regulatory requirements of its Walmart deal and serve as a subsidiary group to the company.

Walmart’s currently loss-making business consists of 28 cash and carry stores across the country. Walmart India had previously laid off 56 employees across various levels including eight senior-level and 48 middle and lower-level employees as part of its strategic corporate restructuring according to previous reports.

Flipkart’s partnerships and acquisitions

According to an Inc42 report, Flipkart is currently piloting FarmerMart in Hyderabad, partnering up with WayCool products to ensure delivery of fresh fruits and vegetables from farm to local shops and modern retail stores.

Flipkart and Walmart had also recently made a strategic investment in the agri-tech start-up Ninjacart to strengthen its farm to stores delivery chain. Flipkart’s acquisitions also include the last mile delivery platform Shadowfax. Flipkart, in its official statement regarding the acquisition, had said that it would leverage the platform to reach out to the organised kirana stores and small shops to build its supply chain, Inc42 reported.

Flipkart may utilise Walmart’s warehouses to scale up the business according to the report. It is also in the process to pilot a B2B business similar to Amazon Prime’s grocery delivery platform and Reliance’s recently launched JioMart.

Amazon had also recently partnered up with Future Group to strengthen its hold in the e-commerce retail segment against JioMart. (Source: Hindu Businessline)

Mphasis says No Changes in Contract with DXC till 2027

Software services provider Mphasis has said the terms of its contract with top revenue contributor DXC Technology is intact and that there were “no changes from a contractual perspective” until 2027.

This comes amid a move by some brokerages to scale down the stock’s target price and lower expectations following its second quarter results, citing risks around the dependency on DXC, which accounts for up to 28% of Mphasis’ revenue.

“I can say there are no changes from a contractual perspective. There are some mechanisms that governs over or under-achievement of contract,” Nitin Rakesh, CEO of Mphasis said.

Rakesh, who did not disclose particulars of the deal with DXC, said there were mechanisms to govern what would happen in the case of over-achievement of the contract. “There are annual thresholds (in the contract). We predicted that this could be the case when we did the contract; what if you are running ahead of consumption or what if you are running below consumption,” he said.

When private equity firm Blackstone acquired majority stake in Mphasis from HP Enterprise in 2016, HPE agreed to provide a minimum revenue commitment of $990 million to Mphasis for five years.

Mphasis had said in a recent note to the stock exchanges that the $990 million Minimum Revenue Commitment with DXC, which began September 2016, was not a cumulative calculation.

Any revenue in excess of the MRC for a particular year “cannot be reckoned against the MRC for subsequent years,” it had said. (Source: Economic Times)

Mphasis says No Changes in Contract with DXC till 2027

Software services provider Mphasis has said the terms of its contract with top revenue contributor DXC Technology is intact and that there were “no changes from a contractual perspective” until 2027.

This comes amid a move by some brokerages to scale down the stock’s target price and lower expectations following its second quarter results, citing risks around the dependency on DXC, which accounts for up to 28% of Mphasis’ revenue.

“I can say there are no changes from a contractual perspective. There are some mechanisms that governs over or under-achievement of contract,” Nitin Rakesh, CEO of Mphasis said.

Rakesh, who did not disclose particulars of the deal with DXC, said there were mechanisms to govern what would happen in the case of over-achievement of the contract. “There are annual thresholds (in the contract). We predicted that this could be the case when we did the contract; what if you are running ahead of consumption or what if you are running below consumption,” he said.

When private equity firm Blackstone acquired majority stake in Mphasis from HP Enterprise in 2016, HPE agreed to provide a minimum revenue commitment of $990 million to Mphasis for five years.

Mphasis had said in a recent note to the stock exchanges that the $990 million Minimum Revenue Commitment with DXC, which began September 2016, was not a cumulative calculation.

Any revenue in excess of the MRC for a particular year “cannot be reckoned against the MRC for subsequent years,” it had said. (Source: Economic Times)

Mphasis says No Changes in Contract with DXC till 2027

Software services provider Mphasis has said the terms of its contract with top revenue contributor DXC Technology is intact and that there were “no changes from a contractual perspective” until 2027.

This comes amid a move by some brokerages to scale down the stock’s target price and lower expectations following its second quarter results, citing risks around the dependency on DXC, which accounts for up to 28% of Mphasis’ revenue.

“I can say there are no changes from a contractual perspective. There are some mechanisms that governs over or under-achievement of contract,” Nitin Rakesh, CEO of Mphasis said.

Rakesh, who did not disclose particulars of the deal with DXC, said there were mechanisms to govern what would happen in the case of over-achievement of the contract. “There are annual thresholds (in the contract). We predicted that this could be the case when we did the contract; what if you are running ahead of consumption or what if you are running below consumption,” he said.

When private equity firm Blackstone acquired majority stake in Mphasis from HP Enterprise in 2016, HPE agreed to provide a minimum revenue commitment of $990 million to Mphasis for five years.

Mphasis had said in a recent note to the stock exchanges that the $990 million Minimum Revenue Commitment with DXC, which began September 2016, was not a cumulative calculation.

Any revenue in excess of the MRC for a particular year “cannot be reckoned against the MRC for subsequent years,” it had said. (Source: Economic Times)

Mphasis says No Changes in Contract with DXC till 2027

Software services provider Mphasis has said the terms of its contract with top revenue contributor DXC Technology is intact and that there were “no changes from a contractual perspective” until 2027.

This comes amid a move by some brokerages to scale down the stock’s target price and lower expectations following its second quarter results, citing risks around the dependency on DXC, which accounts for up to 28% of Mphasis’ revenue.

“I can say there are no changes from a contractual perspective. There are some mechanisms that governs over or under-achievement of contract,” Nitin Rakesh, CEO of Mphasis said.

Rakesh, who did not disclose particulars of the deal with DXC, said there were mechanisms to govern what would happen in the case of over-achievement of the contract. “There are annual thresholds (in the contract). We predicted that this could be the case when we did the contract; what if you are running ahead of consumption or what if you are running below consumption,” he said.

When private equity firm Blackstone acquired majority stake in Mphasis from HP Enterprise in 2016, HPE agreed to provide a minimum revenue commitment of $990 million to Mphasis for five years.

Mphasis had said in a recent note to the stock exchanges that the $990 million Minimum Revenue Commitment with DXC, which began September 2016, was not a cumulative calculation.

Any revenue in excess of the MRC for a particular year “cannot be reckoned against the MRC for subsequent years,” it had said. (Source: Economic Times)

Battered by Competition, Intex Plans to Make Products for Chinese Firms

This may be a classic case of ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’. Bowing down to the Chinese handset brands which has almost wiped away the domestic mobile phone industry, the second largest home-grown maker Intex Technologies is now planning to contract manufacture for the Chinese to make a turnaround.

Intex promoter and director Keshav Bansal said in the light of tariff war between the US and China, few Chinese companies are in final talks with Intex for manufacturing and export of products to USA from India. This, he expects, will be one of the key strategy to revive the company. Intex has been badly hit by Chinese brigade of Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo, Itel and Realme.

In 2018-19, Intex Technologies has become a third of what it was in FY17 as per its latest filings with Registrar of Companies sourced from Veratech Intelligence. Revenue from operations plunged by 52% to ₹1,387.3 crore in FY19 as compared to the previous fiscal.

Intex sales has been declining yearon-year after touching a peak of ₹6,233 crore in FY16 due to the entry of Chinese brands. The company, which was profitable all this while, also plunged into losses last fiscal posting net loss of ₹281.3 crore as compared to a net profit of ₹13.8 crore in 2017-18.

The senior executive of another erstwhile leading Indian brand, who requested anonymity, said the company is also working with a Chinese contract manufacturer. He said Chinese companies are only looking at partnership with Indian firms who have their own manufacturing plant to utilise it.

“It is difficult to match China in scale and speed. We cannot compete with the Chinese in the cost of assembling which goes to a low of Rs 30-35 per unit for feature phones and Rs 100-Rs 250 per unit for smartphones without SMT assembling,” he said.

Veratech’s founder Mohit Yadav said one-third of Intex’s turnover comes from cellphones where it is facing stiff competition from Chinese brands. “This has led to a sharp decline in the company’s revenue and net profit. Company’s USP is value for money where Chinese have an upper hand, and it will need a completely new strategy to revitalize growth,” he said.

Bansal said the entry of Jio, Chinese players and predatory pricing by ecommerce players have triggered this decline of revenues of all Indian handset companies. He said Intex has planned new products for launch in 2020 such as those with artificial intelligence, smart home and office solutions, security surveillance products, personal care, smart watches and fitness bands.

As per market trackers, Indian handset brands share in the smartphone market has come down to less than 3% in July to September as compared to 8% same period last year with five brands – Xiaomi, Samsung, Vivo, Realme and Oppo – together controlling over 87% of the market.

The Indian brands have less than 1% share in smartphones, while in feature phones Lava and Karbonn have managed to stay in the league of top five.

Future’s Amazon Deal Set to Close Soon, says Biyani

Future Group founder Kishore Biyani said his deal to sell minority stake to Amazon has moved a step forward even as the Competition Commission of India (CCI) sought more information from the US ecommerce firm.

“It is a process to comply with information sought by the commission and to satisfy them in all aspects of the transaction which is being done and we expect a closure of the transaction soon,” said Biyani.

Amazon had sought CCI approval last month for its proposed ₹1,500 crore deal to acquire 49% of Future Coupons through its investment arm, Amazon.com NV Investment Holdings LLC, which in turn will give them 3.5% stake in Future Retail, Biyani’s flagship company. In its CCI filing, it said it would acquire “voting and non-voting equity shares” of FCL in the proposed deal.

Amazon has the option to become the largest shareholder in Future Retail and can exercise this call option anytime between the third and the 10th year. However, details haven’t yet been announced or notified in the CCI filing. “It is submitted that each of the constituent steps of the proposed combination, including the acquisition of shares of FCL by the investor, on a standalone basis, are exempt transactions, and need not be notified to the Hon’ble commission,” Amazon said in its application.

Last week, Reuters reported that CCI had approached Amazon to explain the contours of the deal as well as questioned the US retailer on its procedure to seek approval, which in turn could delay the clearance.

“They wanted general information on Future Group's operations including products and store locations which was submitted a fortnight ago. There was also a personal hearing last week and the transaction should be cleared by December,” said an official involved in the deal.

This is similar to CCI’s earlier stance when they sought details from Samara Capital last year on the role of Amazon and how the proposed deal by them to buy the More chain of supermarkets from Aditya Birla Retail was in line with the government’s revised FDI policy in ecommerce issued in December last year.

The competition watchdog's queries to Samara Capital-owned Witzig Advisory Services was also specific to whether Amazon will be involved in day-to-day operations of More, its representation on the board and whether More will be integrated into the Amazon India marketplace. The deal was subsequently cleared by CCI in January this year. (Source: Economic Times)

Ericsson Acquires Niche AI Workforce for India Centre

Swedish telecom gear maker Ericsson has acquired workforce of Niche AI for its Bengaluru-based artificial intelligence centre, and looking for more buyouts to build a team of 150 high-tech engineers for India operations this year, a senior company official said. The company started India wing of Global Artificial Intelligence Accelerator (GAIA) last year to develop open source solution to modernise telecom network, using AI and machine learning.

“We are looking at both organic hiring, one by one through recruitment off the market, as well as what you might call as inorganic, which is more through acquisitions and acquihires (acquiring only talents). One such company that we have acquired is Niche AI,” Sanjeev Tyagi, Head of Ericsson R&D Bengaluru told PTI.

Ericsson has plans to have a team of around 300 highly qualified engineers in GAIA by end of 2019 of which half are expected to be located in India.

“We continue to be on our target and towards our objective we have hired more than 75 engineers between Bangalore and Chennai and with a couple of dozen more expected to join in the coming months and we continue to recruit actively,” Tyagi said.

The company is acquiring talents from companies for GAIA and not their assets like patents, clients etc.

Tyagi said that as 5G technology will start spreading, there will be huge proliferation of internet of things devices and large number of different elements in the network, which can be efficiently managed only through AI and ML like technologies and for which GAIA is developing solutions.

“The exponential growth in IoT devices will mean that the traditional methods of managing networks are no longer going to scale and that is an area where we are going to need self-organizing, self-healing, self-governing networks using AI and ML,” Tyagi said.(Source: Economic Times) “We are looking at both organic hiring, one by one through recruitment off the market, as well as what you might call as inorganic, which is more through acquisitions and acquihires (acquiring only talents). One such company that we have acquired is Niche AI,” Sanjeev Tyagi, Head of Ericsson R&D Bengaluru told PTI.

Ericsson has plans to have a team of around 300 highly qualified engineers in GAIA by end of 2019 of which half are expected to be located in India.

“We continue to be on our target and towards our objective we have hired more than 75 engineers between Bangalore and Chennai and with a couple of dozen more expected to join in the coming months and we continue to recruit actively,” Tyagi said.

The company is acquiring talents from companies for GAIA and not their assets like patents, clients etc.

Tyagi said that as 5G technology will start spreading, there will be huge proliferation of internet of things devices and large number of different elements in the network, which can be efficiently managed only through AI and ML like technologies and for which GAIA is developing solutions.

“The exponential growth in IoT devices will mean that the traditional methods of managing networks are no longer going to scale and that is an area where we are going to need self-organizing, self-healing, self-governing networks using AI and ML,” Tyagi said. (Source: Economic Times)


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