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Qatar, India review bilateral relations

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Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Qatar, Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani received Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu at Amiri Diwan in Doha on Sunday. “PM & Minister of Interior of Qatar, Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani received VP @ MVenkaiahNaidu at Amiri Diwan in Doha,” tweeted MEA spox Arindam Bagchi while he informed about the congregation. Continuing the thread, he said that both sides held delegation-level talks and reviewed bilateral relations including trade, investment, and economic and security cooperation. Vice President Venkaiah Naidu received a warm welcome from the Indian community as he arrived in Doha during his last leg of the three-country visit. Naidu wrapped up his Senegal visit yesterday. During his visit to these two countries, India signed two MoUs in Gabon and three MoUs in Senegal in different sectors which underlined the warm and friendly relations between the two countries. Vice President Naidu, during his visit to Senegal also described India as the largest democracy in the world, and Senegal, as one of the most stable and model democracies in Africa. On his three-country visit, Naidu is accompanied by Dr. Bharati Pravin Pawar, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Sushil Kumar Modi, Member of Parliament, Vijay Pal Singh Tomar, Member of Parliament, P. Raveendranath, Member of Parliament, and senior officials from the Vice President’s Secretariat and the Ministry of External Affairs.

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Apple plans to hire 500,000+ employees in India by 2027

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According to government sources, Apple, the manufacturer of iPhones, is anticipated to create employment opportunities for over 500,000 individuals in India through its vendors within the next three years. Presently, Apple’s vendors and suppliers provide jobs for 150,000 people in India. Tata Electronics, operating two plants for Apple, stands out as the largest contributor to job creation. “Apple’s recruitment efforts in India are gaining momentum. By conservative estimates, it is projected to hire half a million individuals in the next three years through its vendors and component suppliers,” stated a senior government official. When contacted, Apple declined to comment on the projection.

Apple has plans to scale up production in India by over five-fold to around $40 billion (about 3.32 lakh crore) in the next 4-5 years. According to market research firm Counterpoint Research, Apple led the India market with the highest revenue in 2023 for the first time, while Samsung topped the chart in terms of volume sales. The firm in its recent report said Apple surpassed the 10-million-unit mark in shipments and captured the top position in revenue in a calendar year for the first time.

Apple’s iPhone exports from India rose sharply to $12.1 billion in 2023-24 from $6.27 billion in 2022-23, representing a massive surge of nearly 100 per cent, according to trade intelligence platform The Trade Vision.

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Metal price surge boosts Hindustan copper shares to 13-year high: up over 8%

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The bank anticipates prices to average $10,000 per metric ton by the year’s end and to rise to $12,000 by 2026.

Hindustan Copper, a state-owned mining firm specializing in extracting copper ore in India, experienced a notable surge in its stock prices. During today’s intraday session, shares climbed by 8.25% to reach Rs 394 each, marking its highest level since November 2010. The company’s shares have consistently ascended in tandem with copper price fluctuations, positioning it to leverage the global surge in copper prices. As India’s sole copper ore mining company with fully established infrastructure, Hindustan Copper is strategically positioned to capitalize on this trend.

During today’s intraday trade, 3-month copper prices on the London Metal Exchange (LME) approached the $10,000 per tonne mark, reaching $9993.30 per tonne, a 2-year high. The copper market experienced a notable resurgence in 2024 following a lackluster performance in 2023, driven by optimism surrounding the global economic recovery and increased demand for industrial materials.

While signs of improvement in manufacturing activity from the US to China have lifted metals, geopolitical risks and renewed uncertainty over monetary policy present clear challenges.

Last week, the US and UK jointly imposed a ban on Russian supplies of aluminum, nickel, and copper to the London Metal Exchange, raising concerns about potential disruptions in global supply chains. The significant role Russia plays as a major supplier of these metals has heightened worries about supply disruptions on a global scale.

In addition to the surge in copper prices, nickel prices also reached multi-month highs on Monday. Market discussions regarding China’s government intentions to purchase nickel for state stockpiles have sparked concerns about tightened supply conditions. Furthermore, a bullish sentiment prevailing in base metals has provided additional support to the upward trend in prices.

Meanwhile, the growing demand for Copper is often viewed as a barometer of economic vitality. This essential base metal plays a pivotal role in the energy transition ecosystem, serving as a key component in manufacturing electric vehicles, power grids, and wind turbines.

Earlier this month, Citi, a global investment bank, forecasted an upward trend in copper prices in the coming months. The bank anticipates prices to average $10,000 per metric ton by the year’s end and to rise to $12,000 by 2026, based on its base-case scenario.

Looking ahead, the demand for copper is projected to experience significant growth as countries transition towards the green revolution. With many nations aiming to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, analysts anticipate a substantial increase in the need for copper.

It is forecasted that the quantity of copper required in the next 20 years may need to triple compared to the total amount produced throughout history. This projection underscores the remarkable scale of copper demand anticipated in the coming years.

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RIL net profit falls1.8% to Rs 18,951 cr yoy, revenue up 10.8 % on O2C, consumer biz

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Reliance Industries on Monday posted a net profit of Rs 18,951 crore in the March quarter (Q4) of FY24, a 1.8 per cent decrease in its net profit compared to the previous year but revenue at Rs 264,834 crore grew 10.8 per cent year-on-year, supported by double-digit growth in oil to chemical and consumer business. Furthermore, EBITDA saw a yoy growth of 16.1 per cent, reaching Rs 178,677 crore with positive contribution from all key operating segments. The conglomerate also announced an interim dividend Rs 10 per equity share for the financial year ended 31 March, 2024.

On an annual basis, RIL’s gross revenue at Rs 1,000,122 crore (USD 119.9 billion), was up 2.6 per cent yoy, supported by continued growth momentum in consumer businesses and upstream business. Revenue for JPL increased by 11.7 per cent yoy, led by robust subscriber growth of 42.4 million across mobility and homes and benefit of mix improvement in ARPU. Revenue for RRVL grew by 17.8 per cent yoy with strong growth across all consumption baskets, gross area addition of 15.6 million square feet and record footfalls of over a one billion.

Mukesh D. Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director, RIL, attributed “remarkable contribution” of initiatives across RIL’s businesses towards fostering growth of various sectors of the Indian economy with all segments posting robust financial and operating performance. “This has helped the company achieve multiple milestones. I am happy to share that this year, Reliance became the first Indian company to cross the Rs 100,000-crore threshold in pre-tax profits,” said Ambani.

The March quarter financial results on 22 April show that while JIO platforms (JPL) EBITDA increased 12.8 per cent with higher revenue and margin improvement, Reliance retail (RRVL) EBITDA increased sharply by 28.5 per cent with margin expansion of 60 bps to 8.4 per cent. Oil and gas EBITDA increased sharply by 48.6 per cent, led by higher gas and condensate production with the commissioning of the MJ field during the year. Revenue for O2C decreased by 5.0 per cent primarily on account of lower product price realization following a 13.5 per cent yoy decline in average Brent crude oil prices. This was partially offset by higher volumes. Revenue from oil and gas segment increased significantly by 48.0 per cent mainly on account of higher volumes from KG D6 block (which was up 56.8 per cent, despite lower gas price realization from KG D6 field.

Strong demand for fuels globally, and limited flexibility in refining system worldwide, supported margins and profitability of the O2C segment. Downstream chemical industry experienced increasingly challenging market conditions through the year but maintaining leading product positions and feedstock flexibility through the operating model that prioritizes cost management, we delivered a resilient performance. The KG-D6 block has achieved 30 MMSCMD of production and now accounts for 30 per cent of India’s domestic gas production.

Finance costs of RIL increased by 18.1 per cent yoy to ₹ 23,118 crore (USD 2.8 billion) due to higher liability balances and higher market interest rates. Tax Expenses increased by 26.2 per cent yoy to ₹ 25,707 crore on account of utilization of tax credits in the previous financial year. Profit after tax increased by 7.3 per cent yoy to ₹ 79,020 crore.

Performance of the digital services segment has been boosted by accelerated expansion of the subscriber base, supported by both mobility and fixed wireless services. With over 108 million True 5G customers, Jio truly leads the 5G transformation in India.

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Byju’s Pays Partial March Salaries Ahead of Investor Dispute Hearing

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Amidst an impending NCLT hearing spurred by investor discontent, Byju’s disburses partial salaries, paying teachers and lower-level staff in full while others receive 50 to 100 percent of their March dues.

As the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) hearing looms on Tuesday, edtech giant Byju’s has reportedly disbursed partial salaries to its employees for the month of March. Sources revealed that Byju’s founder and CEO, Raveendran, has personally raised debt to fulfill part of the March payroll obligations.

According to sources, teachers and staff at lower levels have received their full salaries, while others have been paid between 100 to 50 percent of their dues for March. This development comes just before the NCLT hearing scheduled for April 23, concerning an oppression and mismanagement plea filed by four investors of Byju’s.

The plea, filed by Peak XV Partners, Prosus NV, General Atlantic, and Sofina SA, contests Byju’s decision to raise a USD 200 million rights issue. In response, Raveendran reportedly resorted to personal debt to meet payroll requirements amidst the ongoing legal proceedings.

The funds raised from the recent rights issue are currently held in an escrow account per NCLT orders until the resolution of the aforementioned case. Byju’s aims to ensure salary payments for all employees, prioritizing teachers and teaching support staff, who are deemed essential to the company’s operations.

However, some staff members’ salaries for the second half of February remain outstanding. Byju’s had previously disbursed a portion of pending salaries for all employees for February in mid-March, with a promise to settle the balance once access to funds from the rights issue is permitted.

Over the past 12 months, Byju’s has faced significant challenges, resulting in layoffs of over 10,000 employees. These challenges include a slowdown in demand for online learning services and a downturn in venture capital funding. Consequently, several investors have departed, citing disagreements with Raveendran.

In an attempt to address these issues, Byju’s has taken steps to rectify its course. Early investor Ranjan Pai injected additional capital into the company and established an advisory council featuring industry veterans such as Mohandas Pai and Rajnish Kumar.

Despite these efforts, the company continues to grapple with financial constraints and legal challenges, reflecting the broader uncertainties facing India’s edtech sector. Byju’s, once hailed as a unicorn success story, now finds itself navigating turbulent waters as it seeks to restore investor confidence and stabilize its operations.

The outcome of the NCLT hearing and Byju’s ability to address its financial and managerial challenges will likely have far-reaching implications for the company’s future trajectory and the broader landscape of India’s burgeoning edtech industry. As stakeholders await the tribunal’s decision, the edtech giant faces a pivotal moment in its journey towards sustainability and growth.

The saga surrounding Byju’s financial woes and legal battles underscores the volatility and complexity of India’s edtech landscape. With mounting pressure from investors and regulatory scrutiny, the company faces a critical juncture in its journey. As it navigates through these challenges, Byju’s must prioritize transparency, accountability, and strategic decision-making to regain trust and chart a sustainable path forward. The outcome of the NCLT hearing will undoubtedly shape the company’s trajectory and influence the broader edtech ecosystem in India.

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Tesla slashes prices by $2,000 on 3 EVs amid 39% YTD share drop due to falling sales

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Tesla slashed $2,000 off the prices of three out of its five models in the United States, reflecting the challenges faced by the electric vehicle manufacturer led by billionaire Elon Musk. The price reductions applied to the Model Y, Tesla’s bestselling electric vehicle in the US, along with the Models X and S, its older and pricier models. However, prices for the Model 3 sedan and the Cybertruck remained unchanged. Consequently, the starting price for a Model Y dropped to $42,990, while the Model S and Model X now start at $72,990 and $77,990, respectively.

The move came the day after Tesla’s stock tumbled below USD 150 per share, eliminating all gains made over the past year. The Austin, Texas, company’s stock price has dropped about 40 per cent so far this year amid falling sales and increased competition. Discounted sticker prices are a way to try to entice more car buyers. Musk posted early Saturday on X, the social media platform known as Twitter before he acquired and renamed it, that the cost of an entry-level Tesla was as low as USD 29,490 once a federal tax credit and gas savings were factored in.

Industry analysts have been waiting for Tesla to introduce a small electric vehicle that would cost around USD 25,000, the Model 2. Media reports this month that Musk planned to scrap the project created more uncertainty over the company’s direction, although Musk called them untrue.

The price cuts ended a long workweek at Tesla, which announced Monday that it was cutting 10 per cent of its staff globally, about 14,000 jobs. The company also said it was recalling nearly 4,000 of its 2024 Cybertrucks after discovering the accelerator pedal can get stuck, potentially causing the vehicle to accelerate unintentionally and increase the risk of a crash.

On Saturday, Musk confirmed he had postponed a planned weekend trip to India to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, citing “very heavy Tesla obligations.” He said on X that he looked forward to rescheduling the visit for later this year.

Tesla is scheduled to announce its first-quarter earnings on Tuesday. The company reported earlier this month that its worldwide sales fell sharply from January through March as competition increased worldwide, electric vehicle sales growth slowed, and earlier price cuts failed to lure more buyers. It was Tesla’s first year-over-year quarterly sales decline in nearly four years.

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Musk delays India visit due to ‘Heavy Tesla obligations

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The highly anticipated visit of Elon Musk, the CEO of electric vehicle giant Tesla, to India has been temporarily put on hold. “Unfortunately, very heavy Tesla obligations require that the visit to India be delayed, but I do very much look forward to visiting later this year,” Musk said in a post on social media platform X, on April 20.

Earlier this month, Elon Musk on the X platform wrote, “Looking forward to meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India,” on April 10, 2024. Elon Musk was scheduled to meet PM Modi on April 22 in New Delhi. Musk and PM Modi last met in New York in June, and Tesla has continued for months lobbying India to lower import taxes on electric vehicles while it weighed up a factory in the country.

According to the Hindu Businessline report, Tesla has been on the hunt for a local partner to establish an EV unit in India. Citing sources, the English daily said Tesla is in talks with Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries (RIL) to form a joint venture to set up an EV facility in the country. Additionally, the Financial Times earlier this month reported that Elon Musk had sent a team to India in April to scout for sites for a proposed $2 billion to $3 billion electric car plant.

Musk was reportedly poised to disclose plans for injecting nearly ₹3 billion into the Indian market, primarily earmarked for the establishment of a new manufacturing facility. Meanwhile, the license application of Musk’s satellite venture Starlink is under process, and the government is examining the security aspects, news agency PTI reported citing sources. The FDI and financial aspects are in sync with the requirements and conditions, the report said, adding that the ownership ‘declaration’ has also been received from Starlink.

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