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Walmart To Take Control Of Flipkart, SoftBank CEO Confirms

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Walmart Inc. will take control of India’s largest e-commerce company Flipkart Ltd. in its biggest acquisition, joining the three-way fight for online supremacy in the country.

SoftBank’s 20 percent stake in India’s largest e-retailer is worth about $4 billion in the deal, Chief Executive Officer Masayoshi Son said in an earnings webcast. The Japanese company had earlier bought this stake, through its Vision Fund, for $2.5 billion, he said.

Son didn’t elaborate on other terms of the Walmart takeover.

The deal will fortify Flipkart’s war chest as the fierce competition has already wiped out about half of the $6.1 billion it has raised from investors since inception. The opportunity is huge with Alibaba Group-backed Paytm also in the race. Online sales account for less than a tenth of the $672-billion retail share in world’s second-most populous nation. But it’s among the fastest growing e-commerce markets, driven by rising smartphone sales and cheaper data.

The acquisition also brings the world’s biggest retail battle to India as Amazon.com Inc is already challenging Walmart while the Seattle-based online retailer lost out to Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group in China. So, India is the next big potential market for both. Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos has already committed $5.5 billion investments.

Walmart’s has had a tough run in Asia’s third-largest economy. India hasn’t opened multi-brand retail to foreign companies and the Bentonville, Arkansas-based giant set up a joint venture with Bharti Enterprises Ltd. for cash-and-carry wholesale stores. Bharti pulled out of the joint venture after six years following an internal anti-corruption probe.

Walmart had been on acquisition spree to build up its online play. It made a big splash in 2016 by buying Jet.com for $3.3 billion. It has since acquired two other online retailers, Bonobos and ShoeBuy, as well as Parcel Inc., an e-commerce logistics provider.

The deal with Flipkart is Walmart’s biggest acquisition, after its $10.8 billion purchase in 1999 of British retail chain Asda which it has now agreed to sell to British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s.

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Rupee extends slide, down 7 paise to 71.23 vs USD

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Rupee

Mumbai  The rupee slipped by 7 paise to close at 71.23 against the US dollar on Friday, pressured by heavy foreign capital outflows and firming oil prices.

This is the third straight session of loss for the domestic currency, during which it has depreciated by 53 paise.

On a weekly basis, the rupee registered a loss of 8 paise.

At the Interbank Foreign Exchange (forex) market, the rupee opened lower at 71.22 and fell further to touch the day’s low of 71.44.

The local unit covered some lost ground, before finally ending at 71.23 per dollar, down by 7 paise against its previous close.

On Thursday, the rupee had tumbled 36 paise to close at 71.16 per US dollar.

Forex traders said heavy selling in domestic equities coupled with foreign capital outflows affected the movement of the rupee.

Foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) sold shares worth a net Rs 966.43 crore, while domestic institutional investors (DIIs) bought equities to the tune of Rs 853.25 crore Friday, provisional data showed.

“India’s rupee and sovereign bonds declined owing to the continuous rise in crude prices and sustainable foreign outflow. Domestic equity markets also closed on weak wicket, which also weighed on the rupee,” HDFC Securities’ Head, PCG and Capital Markets Strategy, V K Sharma said.

Sharma further said the rising dollar index also weighed on the local unit.

The dollar index, which gauges the greenback’s strength against a basket of six currencies, rose 0.11 per cent to 97.08.

Meanwhile, brent crude, the global oil benchmark, was trading higher at USD 65.01 per barrel, up by 0.68 per cent.

Benchmark equity indices reeled under selling pressure for the seventh straight session Friday. The 30-share BSE Sensex declined 67.27 points, or 0.19 per cent, to end at 35,808.95. The broader NSE Nifty settled at 10,724.40, down by 21.65 points, or 0.20 per cent.

The Financial Benchmark India Private Ltd (FBIL) set the reference rate for the rupee/dollar at 71.2515 and for rupee/euro at 80.4168. The reference rate for rupee/British pound was fixed at 91.2261 and for rupee/100 Japanese yen at 64.55.

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Indian cities among top 5 fastest growing office rental markets globally?

Ali Azar

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One of the world’s biggest real estate consultants – Knight Frank, has just released their Global Outlook 2019 report, which evaluates 33 cities across the globe and gives an insight on expected office rental growth for 2019 among other things.

Leading the pack for growth of prime office rental markets in the world are Australian heavyweights Melbourne and Sydney, with growth in office rentals expected to touch 10.1% and 8.6% in 2019 on the back of tight supply due to employment growth and relatively low levels of real estate development in recent years.

Indian cities took up two out of top five spots for the fastest growing office markets globally. Bengaluru and New Delhi have emerged among the top five in the world taking up position 3 and 4 respectively, thereby beating Asian giants such as Hong Kong and Singapore as per the report by Knight Frank.

Bengaluru, which saw a prime rental value of ₹ 125 per square foot per month in 2018, is expected to see a growth in rents in the range of 6.6% in 2019, due to the buoyant Information Technology and Start-up sector and lack of quality Grade A space supply. Mirroring the same trend, New Delhi with prime rental values of ₹ 326 per square foot per month is expected to see a rise of approximately 6.5% in 2019 on the back of constricted fresh supply.

In comparison, Mumbai’s prime office rentals, which stands at around ₹ 300  per square foot per month will experience a subdued growth of just 0.3% in 2019 and features nowhere in the list. Rounding up the top 7 globally after Melbourne, Sydney, Bengaluru and New Delhi are Boston, Amsterdam and Berlin.

Across the globe, uncertainty surrounding trade tensions and political events has led to a pause in developments, thereby causing vacancy rates and driving rental growth up worldwide.

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Rupee gains 26 paise against US dollar in opening trade

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Mumbai | The rupee appreciated by another 26 paise to 70.44 against the US dollar in opening trade on Wednesday after retail inflation fell to a 19-month low of 2.05 percent in January.

The weakness in the dollar against some currencies overseas as investors shifted their focus to riskier asset amid the US-China trade truce hopes, also supported the rupee’s upmove.

Besides, retail inflation falling to a 19-month low of 2.05 percent in January over the previous month, and selling of the American currency by exporters supported the rupee, forex dealers said.

Industrial output growth remained subdued at 2.4 percent in December 2018 on account of contraction in the mining segment and poor show by the manufacturing sector.

The rupee had gained 48 paise to end at a one-month high of 70.70 against the US dollar Tuesday, registering its sixth straight session of gain. In the last six trading sessions, the rupee has gained 110 paise. The benchmark BSE Sensex rose 184.68 points, or 0.51 percent, to trade at 36,338.30.

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