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After Freshworks, we have more listing news. This time, on the Indian exchanges. Hospitality unicorn Oyo Hotels & Homes has appointed bankers eyeing a domestic public listing—the firm is looking to raise $1.2 billion. Oyo, obviously, wants to capitalise around the positive IPO wave for new age companies but experts advise caution. What’s for Oyo is its brand, much like Zomato. What’s against it? Well, the company continues to be plagued by hotel owners complaining about lost deposits. That might not ring well with public market investors.
Scroll down for our top stories of the day. The stock markets are on fire, Zee and Sony have a plan, Google has an issue with the Competition Commission, and Bollywood got to reimagine its scripts. Also, don’t miss a piece on the campaign to preserve vanishing food.
*As of 6 PM 23 September; MCX, CoinDCX
The main stuff
Investors shrug off Fed taper signals, Sensex nears 60,000
India’s benchmark Sensex came within sniffing distance of the 60,000 milestone on Thursday as stocks rallied to fresh highs after concerns about payment defaults by China’s Evergrande eased. Investors reacted calmly to the US Federal Reserve’s commentary that it will start reversing its stimulus programme in November, throwing none of the tantrums that were visible when the Fed decided to taper its bond-buying programme in 2013. Nasrin Sultana reports. Read more.
Zee-Sony will eye aggressive bid for IPL tournament rights
While the proposed merger of Zee and Sony still need to gain approvals from courts, shareholders and competition regulators, the business plan that got the thumbs up from the boards of Sony and Zee envisages the combined entity making an aggressive bid for the rights of the Indian Premier League cricket tournament. IPL auctions are coming up in December. The cash that will be available to what will be a zero-debt business, including the $1.5 billion that Sony will be investing, will be leveraged so that the combined unit’s bid will be competitive. Lata Jha and Anirudh Lashkar report. Read more.
Google files writ in Delhi HC against competition panel
The Indian unit of Google on Thursday filed a writ petition in the Delhi high court against the Competition Commission of India (CCI) after the contents of an adverse investigation report by the country’s competition regulator found their way to the media. The report by CCI’s director-general, part of a probe ordered by the CCI in a 2019 case against Google, was reported by multiple publications last week. Prasid Banerjee reports. Read more.
Why B-town is back at the drawing board (premium)
Indian movie viewers have discovered a plethora of new content via over-the-top (OTT) platforms during the interminable months when cinema theatres were shut. The taste, preferences, and viewing patterns may have changed massively. As a result of this fog of uncertainty, many Bollywood producers are still unsure about the wisdom of relying on star power and big budgets. They are reviewing costs, putting high-risk, big-budget projects on the back burner. Filmmakers are also reviewing scripts to ensure there’s enough appeal to bring audiences back to the theatres, writes Lata Jha. Read more.
There’s déjà vu in Goa over an open season for tourism
A distinct pall of dread gripped Goa this week, after its state government abruptly threw open casinos, spas and massage parlours that had been closed since April. It may be politically convenient to re-open Goa for tourist gaiety and talk up the Goan mood ahead of polls but laxity on covid protocols has revived memories of the second wave’s horrors—India’s smallest state went rapidly downhill from being hailed the country’s first covid-free “green zone” to a full-blown pandemic emergency, with some of the highest positivity numbers, writes Vivek Menezes. Read more.
A campaign to preserve Indian foods in the danger of vanishing
Have you heard of Kumatiya? Unlikely. It is a shiny flat seed of the small, thorny deciduous tree Acacia Senegal and is used in Rajasthani panchkuta, a mixed vegetable preparation. Many such ingredients and food are vanishing fast with commercial agriculture and monoculture gaining ground. Various movements around the world are now making efforts to reverse this. Kumatiya and seeraga samba rice from Tamil Nadu will be in the spotlight during one such upcoming campaign in October, writes Prachi Joshi. Read more.
Global business news from WSJ
The Federal Reserve signaled it could start reversing its pandemic stimulus programs in November and could raise interest rates next year. The Fed’s rate-setting committee revised its post-meeting statement to say that it could start to reduce, or taper, its $120 billion in monthly asset purchases as soon as its next scheduled meeting.
Chinese authorities are asking local governments to prepare for the potential downfall of China Evergrande Group, according to officials familiar with the discussions, signalling a reluctance to bail out the debt-saddled property developer while bracing for any economic and social fallout from the company’s travails.
Europe’s successful vaccination campaigns now face their toughest test: winter. The coming months will test whether high vaccination rates and a patchwork of low-intensity public health measures can keep the highly contagious Delta variant in check as temperatures drop and people huddle indoors.
Covid-19 isn’t likely to disappear any time soon, even as the public health emergency abates. As a result, new antiviral drugs under development might be the pharmaceutical industry’s next big opportunity. Pfizer, Merck & Co. and Roche Holding are all conducting late-stage clinical trials for experimental oral antiviral treatments.
Events over the past week would suggest Microsoft is of two minds about its hardware business. However, the company announced several new devices from its Surface lineup on Wednesday. In other words, the software giant that is also the world’s second-most-valued enterprise after Apple, retains its ambitions in high-end computing hardware.
News in numbers
The value of merchandise that Indian e-commerce platforms are projected to sell in the coming festive season, up 23% from last year, according to consulting firm RedSeer.
The number of IT returns that have been filed on the new income tax e-filing portal so far, as the bugs get progressively fixed by Infosys, its developer.
4.36 million bpd
The volume of crude oil, measured in barrels per day (bpd), processed by Indian refiners in August. This is the lowest in 10 months due to ongoing maintenance in several refineries.
The net cash infused by China’s central bank on Thursday. It is the largest addition through open-market operations since January, when a funding squeeze sent interbank rates soaring.
The percentage of children aged 6-23 months in South Asia who are fed a minimally diverse diet. The pandemic is affecting how families feed their children, a new report found.
India’s much-improved covid-19 vaccination effort rests on a boost in the supply of jabs. That wouldn’t be enough—India needs the right infrastructure, too. That’s improving. India, on an average, had 65,780 functional vaccination centres this past week, almost double the figure two months ago, data analysed by Rashmi Kundu shows. Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Telangana, Gujarat and Haryana saw the biggest ramp-up.
In Plain Sight
A police procedural with a twist, In Plain Sight is set in India’s business capital, Mumbai, also famous as the hotbed of the underworld, where author Mohamed Thaver works as a crime reporter. Apart from his insider’s knowledge of the beat, his insights into the working methods of the police play a role in shaping the plot—especially those cruxes that make or break a crime thriller. Read more.
What the fact
The earliest tattoo
Tattoos on the Predynastic female mummy from Gebelein. (British Museum)
The word ‘tattoo’ has more than one origin and multiple usages—it has a military connotation, for instance. Most of us know it as a permanent mark on the skin. In this context, tattoo comes from the Tahitian word tatau, meaning to hit or strike. The word first appeared in English around 1769, following British explorer Captain James Cook’s expedition. However, the practice of making permanent, figurative designs in the skin dates back thousands of years. One of the earliest has been traced to two mummies from Egypt, between 3351 to 3017 BC. The designs discovered were that of a wild bull, a sheep and S-shaped motifs on the upper-arms of the mummies.