MUMBAI (Reuters Breakingviews) - Prime Minister Narendra Modi is ready to cut his losses in banking. His government wants to privatise lenders long seen as untouchable, aiming to sell two in the next financial year. Earnings from one potential candidate, Tamil Nadu-based Indian Overseas Bank, show why he’s keen.
MUMBAI (Reuters Breakingviews) - Jeff Bezos has the patience and gritty determination it takes do business in India. The Amazon boss is locked in an ugly fight to stop a troubled big-box retailer from selling itself to his biggest rival, Mukesh Ambani’s $166 billion Reliance Industries. Any victory by the U.S. e-commerce giant could wind up costing thousands of jobs and spark a nasty political backlash, but the standoff also might deliver longer-term rewards.
MUMBAI (Reuters Breakingviews) - Indian farmers have dragged India’s “double A” tycoons into a spat over agricultural policy. Reforms passed by the government overturn antiquated rules, cut out greedy middleman and could boost incomes for 150 million or so growers. Yet protesters fear Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani will be able to take advantage of the changes.
MUMBAI (Reuters Breakingviews) - India is set to be the first to tear down the walls around global technology giants. Entrepreneurs that helped build a new standard in affordable digital payments used locally by Alphabet, Facebook, Walmart and all the big banks, are now trying to unbundle the online market for shopping, food delivery and mobility. The initiative has the backing of IT billionaire and Infosys co-founder-turned-philanthropist Nandan Nilekani who helped design the nation’s ambitious biometric identity system, and it heralds the start of a new kind of e-commerce.
MUMBAI (Reuters Breakingviews) - Singapore is a natural home for the World Economic Forum’s annual shindig. Although rubber shoe covers are more appropriate footwear than crampons, the tropical city state makes for a decent approximation of Davos, the alpine Swiss enclave that regularly hosts the event. It is clean, safe and has one of the world’s best-connected airports. The place also functions as a regional private wealth hub and is neutral enough. With a future billionaire class emerging from Asia, it might even suit as a more permanent site.
MUMBAI (Reuters Breakingviews) - Indonesia is putting its own stamp on investing. International buyout firms and Gulf nations are being wooed to invest into a new sovereign fund, which will back state assets and job-creating infrastructure projects. The structure is a mashup of Singaporean and Indian models. It’s an ambitious effort to finance President Joko Widodo’s development plans, but also faces limits on how much outside money will take the plunge.
MUMBAI (Reuters Breakingviews) - India’s stressed asset deals are starting to look cosy. Local tycoon Gautam Adani’s roads-to-mining empire narrowly outbid U.S.-based Oaktree with a $4 billion bid for a collapsed housing lender, but it was submitted after a deadline passed and cheekily expanded on its original plan. It’s the second time in just a few months that the industrialist has blindsided foreign buyers.
MUMBAI (Reuters Breakingviews) - India knows what it wants in digital payments, just not quite how to achieve it. Competition in the nascent and fast-growing industry is the aim: There’s no appetite for a China-style duopoly. As such, new rules will cap transactions facilitated by Alphabet’s Google, Walmart-owned PhonePe and others at no more than 30% of total volume. Such crude policing is part of a difficult balancing act.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Super-apps are associated with China’s internet giants and hot emerging market upstarts. As rivals like Facebook’s WhatsApp and old-world businesses like India’s Tata seek to burnish their all-in-one mobile application credentials, Breakingviews explains how some might find room to prosper.
MUMBAI (Reuters Breakingviews) - India can turn its defeat against Vodafone to its advantage. If Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government accepts Friday’s unanimous international arbitration ruling in favour of the British telecom operator, it can start to make good on its six-year-old pledge to end “tax terrorism” and recast itself as a better destination for global capital – and perhaps even woo some away from China.