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Apple Inc. iPhone Sales Decline

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India is the world’s fastest-growing smartphone market, and every smart-phone maker is looking to grab a bigger piece of this pie. Smack in the centre of this battle is iPhone maker, Apple Inc. The Tim Cook led laptop to watches maker has been in news lately for all the wrong reasons. Central to all its recent problems lies its flagship product from which it generates nearly two-thirds of its revenue – The iPhone.

The recent slump in sales of its iPhones in China has prompted Apple Inc to cut its revenue outlook for the first time in almost two decades. CEO Tim Cook downgraded sales forecasts by 5 billion $, sending shares of the Tech giant tumbling 10% intraday in US stock markets just 3 days after the New Year. Fewer than expected upgrades in the iPhone, weakness in China’s economy (partly due to trade war concerns with the US) and supply constraints were cited as the main reasons for its poor performance.

Even in India, iPhone shipments are estimated to have shrunk by as much as half in 2018 compared to 2017. A prominent Hong Kong-based market research firm projected Apple India’s shipments between 1.6 to 1.7 million units in 2018, down from 3.2 million units in 2017. Apple is finding it hard to compete with rivals in India such as China’s One Plus, which offers devices with better features at half or even one-third of the price.

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Pakistan court grants bail to Nawaz Sharif for his treatment

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Islamabad | In a relief to Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Tuesday granted bail to the jailed former prime minister for six weeks in a corruption case on medical grounds.

Sharif, 69, is in jail since December last year, serving 7-year imprisonment in the Al Azizia Steel Mills graft case.

He filed appeal earlier this month against a judgment by the Islamabad High Court which on February 25 rejected his bail on medical grounds in the same case.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa in a short order granted bail to Sharif for six weeks for his treatment.

But the court ruled he cannot go out of the country during this period.

Three corruption cases – Avenfield properties, Flagship investment and Al-Azizia steel mills – were registered against the Sharif family by the anti-graft body in 2017 following a judgment by the Supreme Court that disqualified Sharif in the Panama Papers case in 2017.

He was sentenced to 10 years in prison in the Avenfiled corruption case in July 2018 which was related to his properties in London. Later he was given bail in September.

In December, the accountability court convicted him in the Al-Azizia graft case but acquitted him in the Flagship corruption case.

The Al-Azizia Steel Mill case is related to setting up steel mills in Saudi Arabia allegedly with corruption money.

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I regret not testifying at my trial: Rajat Gupta

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New York | Rajat Gupta, India-born former Managing Director of McKinsey, feels not testifying at his insider trading trial was a “bad call” and he regrets not taking the stand in his defence.

Gupta, 70, has penned his memoir Mind Without Fear’ that released Monday and tells of his dramatic rise to the top of the corporate and financial world in America and then his fall after being charged in 2012 in one of the largest insider trading cases in the US. He served a 19-month prison term and was released in 2016.

“I always believed that I should testify and I kept telling this to my lawyers. Till the very last weekend (of the trial) I was going to testify,” Gupta told PTI in an interview here.

The former director of Goldman Sachs said he had been telling his lawyers to prepare him to testify in court and he had been preparing himself for it. He, however, said that his lawyers advised him throughout the case that he should not take the stand in the courtroom.

“They kept saying don’t testify, don’t testify. It was a bad call on my part. I always regret it (not testifying in court),” he said adding that it was a very difficult circumstance for him since he did not know anything about the legal system. “Here were my lawyers, my advisers who are supposed to be in my interest. Right? They kept saying don’t testify,” he said.

Gupta said throughout his life as a consultant, he has given advice to his clients and they listened to him. “The situation was reversed. I was the client. So in the end I succumbed to their arguments. I felt it was a moment of weakness. I feel very badly about it that I didn’t testify,” he said.

In 2012, Gupta was found guilty of passing confidential boardroom information to then hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam, who is currently serving 11 years in prison for insider trading. One such information the prosecutors alleged Gupta shared with Rajaratnam in September 2008 was about Berkshire Hathaway’s five billion dollar investment in Goldman Sachs.

The prosecutors said Gupta participated in the Goldman Sachs board meeting via telephone and then 16 seconds after the Goldman call ended, he called Rajaratnam’s direct office line at the Galleon Group hedge fund.

Gupta maintains that he did not pass any inside information to Rajaratnam and said that it was routine for him to make phone calls when he got out of board meetings. “They (prosecutors) made a big thing about 16 seconds. I make calls after board meetings all the time, within 16 seconds. I get out of the board meeting, I make a call generally. I make call to my secretary saying who do I have to call, what do I have to attend to,” he said.

Gupta pointed out that Goldman chairman and chief executive Lloyd Blankfein had admitted during the trial he too used to make phone calls after getting out of board meetings. “The fact that I called him (Rajaratnam) after 16 seconds has no particular meaning. It’s just the normal procedure,” he said.

Gupta notes that “all I can remember” about the call was that he had been trying to contact Rajaratnam for information about his account related to the Voyager investment. During the trial, Gupta’s lawyers had presented evidence that Rajaratnam had cheated Gupta out of USD 10 million in the Voyager investment.

Gupta said he had called Rajaratnam on the morning of that September day and had spoken to him for several minutes because he needed some information about the Voyager account, which Rajaratnam was not giving to him.

He said he had been “exasperated” trying to get the Voyager information from Rajaratnam. Gupta’s bank needed the information and Rajaratnam said during the call that he would give Gupta the information later that day. “That I remember clearly,” he said.

“After the board meeting, I called my secretary. If I were to pass inside information to Raj, I would have called him directly. I didn’t. I called my secretary. I said ‘Did Raj send the information’. She said no. I said ‘Get me Raj’,” Gupta said, explaining the circumstances of his call to Rajaratnam after the Goldman board meeting.

He added that as his case began four years later, he didn’t even remember whether he was able to connect with Rajaratnam over phone that day. “I don’t know whether it was just his secretary or he was there or what. Because I don’t remember any conversation,” he said.

Gupta said had he testified at his trial, he would have definitely shared all the details with the jury. Gupta replied “of course” when asked if he feels he was wrongly convicted. “The fact that I appealed every step of the way should tell you that I am not an insider trader,” he said.

He pointed out that insider trading involves three things – there has to be evidence that one passed insider information, there has to be a quid pro quo and that the person giving inside information has to have a significant benefit. The prosecutors “demonstrated nothing of the second two. They had circumstantial evidence, just connecting the timing. But there is no real evidence,” he said.

In January this year, Gupta had suffered a setback when the Second Circuit Court of Appeals rejected his bid to throw out his 2012 insider-trading conviction, affirming a lower court’s ruling in the case. Gupta had been arguing that he served time in jail for conduct that is not criminal even though the government lacked evidence to show he “received even a penny” for passing confidential boardroom information to Rajaratnam.

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Pentagon authorizes USD 1 bn for Trump’s border wall

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Washington | Acting Pentagon chief Patrick Shanahan said on Monday he had authorized USD 1 billion to build part of the wall sought by President Donald Trump along the US-Mexico border.

The Department of Homeland Security asked the Pentagon to build 92 kilometers of 5.5-meter fencing, build and improve roads, and install lighting to support Trump’s emergency declaration as concerns the border.

Shanahan “authorized the commander of the US Army Corps of Engineers to begin planning and executing up to USD 1 billion in support to the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Patrol,” a Pentagon statement read.

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