India economic update
Milind S. KothariManaging Partner
M & A tracker
Rajesh ThakkarPartner /Transaction Tax
Tax & Regulatory Services
Sivaraman ParthasarathyPartner - Management Consulting and
Robotic Process Automation
As announced by the Election Commission in March, the Indian general elections are scheduled to take place through April- May 2019. As the Code of Conduct becomes binding on the ruling party led by Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, the reforms and policy announcements have come to a trickle. However, it is a season of electoral promises, with the single most important task of every political party to win votes. Their myopic view encourages them to promise various subsidies and transfers, making unviable promises that could potentially bind future generations in indebtedness.
The past few weeks saw turmoil in the Indian aviation sector, with one of the leading airlines coming close to bankruptcy, compounded by the grounding of 737 Max 8 aircraft by some airlines, creating havoc for passengers. Amidst this chaos, a facet of regulatory policy that drew attention was the exchange control laws governing foreign investment in aviation. The current regulations do not allow a foreign airline to hold more than 49% in an Indian airline. Contrary to this law, is a mandate under the Securities law (Takeover regulations) that mandates for any acquisition of 25% or more in a listed company requiring the acquirer to make an open offer to buy at least another 26% from other shareholders. In other words, one law would require a foreign airline to stay below 50% ownership while another would force a foreign airline to potentially go over 50%. Being unable to meet conditions of either of the laws would render a potential acquisition illegal. Only if such a policy impasse is resolved, will the ailing airline be able to meet a resolution that could involve a foreign airline as a savior.
The Indian currency did a volte phase in its performance, becoming one of the best performing emerging market currencies this year. Led by increasing crude oil prices and rapid foreign portfolio outflows, the Indian rupee lost 8.9% in 2018 only to reverse the trend with a sharply higher gain of 1.9% in the first quarter of 2019. Interestingly, an appreciating rupee is greeted with a far less tolerant attitude as exporters believe that the Indian rupee needs to keep depreciating in order to make their goods competitive in the overseas market.
GDP growth has been falling for a few quarters now and the Q3 FY 2019 (Oct-December 2018) number was a mere 6.6% yoy. Investment has shown nascent sign of revival but much of it is driven by public sector while the private sector’s long cycle capex recovery still seems far off. Further, during this period, the current account deficit stood at 2.5% of GDP. A lower price of crude oil flattered the balance of payments, allowing the current account deficit to come down from a dangerously high 2.9% of GDP but a big step up from the 1.8% of GDP recorded in the same period in the previous year.
India’s long-term vulnerability to fluctuations in the price of oil continues to haunt the economy. In contrast, Indian exports continue to be relatively stagnant meaning that the current account deficit is dependent almost entirely on global commodity prices. Additionally, net Foreign Direct Investment(FDI) has not shown an appreciable increase. FDI during the period April to December 2018 hovered under USD $ 25 bn with a comparable amount in the preceding year being just under USD $ 24 billion. The inflows from Non-Resident Indians have also largely stagnated and thus India is largely dependent on hot money flows i.e. portfolio investment which is subject to the vagaries of international finance.
Faced with severe financial stress and inability of banks to bank-roll in the wake of stiff new NPA guidelines, growing number of promoters are either diluting their stakes in their companies or simply cashing out. In the last year, foreign strategic buyers put in over USD $ 23.45 billion in buying out controlling stakes in Indian companies. The reason for this huge upsurge of buying out controlling stakes from Indian Promoters is because the latter have built valuable assets and businesses.
In the last leg of the current regime led by the Prime Minister, one of the key success stories has been India’s pace of digital adoption which has been amongst the best in the world. It is expected that IT and IT-enable services, electronic manufacturing, e-commerce, telecom services and e-payments would contribute half of the trillion dollar and the other half would be made up of new and emergent digital eco-systems, that is, digital product and services creation and delivery, smart grids and digital power distribution, e-market places for private and government services and longer participation of shared economy players.
As the elections commence this month, the focus has shifted to politics from economics. With the result scheduled to be announced in the last week of May 2019, the new innings with a new government would only begin by the 2nd week of June. Till then, let’s wait with fingers crossed and brace the scorching summer heat!
M&A in India
Between January 2019 to March 2019, around 135 M&A deals were announced / completed aggregating to approx. USD 4,291.08 mn; dominated by domestic deals (79) followed by cross border deals (56)
In terms of sectors, Information Technology sector (Software & Services) saw the maximum deal value, with deals worth USD 1,555 mn followed by Consumer Discretionary sector (Customer Durables and Apparel) with deals worth USD 718.05 mn and Industrials sector (Transportation) USD 305.18 mn
(Deals mentioned in the M&A Tracker do not include those with undisclosed deal values as well as those which have been announced but not closed)
Target Company: Skechers South Asia Private Limited
Acquiring Company: Skechers USA Inc.
Deal Value (in mn USD): 81.40
- In February 2019, Skechers USA Inc. acquired another 49% stake (51% being existing stake) in Skechers South Asia Private Limited from Weavette Business Ventures Private Limited, a subsidiary of Future Corporate Resources Limited, for a total consideration of USD 81.40 mn (INR 5.8 bn) in an all-stock deal.
- Post transaction, Skechers South Asia Private Limited became the wholly owned subsidiary of Skechers USA Inc.
Target Company: KPR Industries (India) Limited
Acquiring Company: Grasim Industries Limited
Deal Value (in mn USD): 35.40
- In February 2019, Grasim Industries Limited, a part of the Aditya Birla Group, acquired Chlor-Alkali business of KPR Industries (India) Limited for a total cash consideration of USD 35.4 mn (INR 2.53 bn).
- The proceeds will be used by KPR Industries (India) Limited for a full and final settlement of lenders' dues.
- The said acquisition by Grasim Industries Limited is in line with its strategy to strengthen its operations in eastern India.
Target Company: Nielsen+Partner Unternehmensberater GmbH
Acquiring Company: LTI GmbH
Deal Value (in mn USD): 31.63
- In February 2019, Larsen and Toubro Infotech Limited., through its subsidiary LTI GmbH, acquired Nielsen+Partner Unternehmensberater GmbH for a total consideration of USD 31.63 million (INR 2.24 bn) on a cash-free, debt-free basis, which includes upfront consideration and a performance-based earn-out.
- The acquisition would strengthen Larsen and Toubro Infotech Limited’s Temenos capability making the company one of the leading end-to-end Temenos players. Temenos' data products provide banks with a unified data platform, helping them deal with the massive data volumes of the digital banking era by efficiently managing their data, unlocking and better accessing their data, and extracting value from their data.
- Post transaction, Nielsen+Partner Unternehmensberater GmbH operates as a step down subsidiary of Larsen and Toubro Infotech Limited.
Target Company: Guerrilla Infra Solutions Private Limited
Acquiring Company: Oravel Stays Private Limited
Deal Value (in mn USD): 31.59
- In March 2019, Oravel Stays Private Limited acquired Guerrilla Infra Solutions Private Limited for a total consideration of USD 31.59 mn (INR 2.2 bn).
- Guerrilla Infra Solutions Private Limited provides customised co-working space and center for work under the brand name Innov8 Coworking.
- Post transaction, Guerrilla Infra Solutions would operate as a subsidiary of Oravel Stays Private Limited.
Target Company: Lamba Food Products
Acquiring Company: Haldiram Snacks Private Limited
Deal Value (in mn USD): 21.22
- In March 2019, Haldiram Snacks Private Limited acquired Lamba Food Products for a total consideration of USD 21.22 mn (INR 1.5 bn).
- Haldiram Snacks Private Limited is a food production company and Lamba Food Products is engaged in manufacturing and exporting of snacks foods under the name of Babaji Namkeens.
- Post transaction, Lamba Food Products operates as a subsidiary of Haldiram Snacks Private Limited.
Virtual Reality advancing into the future
Virtual Reality (VR) gave the gaming industry the perfect platform to bring imagination to life. However, it comes with a price that is affecting social balance, leading to repercussions like insensitivity towards crime, health hazards, pornography, user privacy etc. While the gaming industry should focus on addressing these challenges, it is noted that the VR headset sales have been soaring; with Sony, HTC & Oculus seeing increased sales of their VR head gears.
Entertainment today is at its peak and will continue to see an increase in profitability over years; however, at what expense to the thin fabric of society will this come, still remains to be seen. The key question that stems, therefore is, rather than focusing on profitability or user adoption, should VR developers be spending more time navigating these all-too-important ethical dilemmas?
As Industry 4.0 gains momentum and recognition, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are playing a significant role in enhancing sectors like healthcare, manufacturing, security and aviation amongst others.
In 2018, an elderly lady on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, a city in the state of Gujarat, India, underwent a heart surgery in the worlds first Robotic heart surgery. This was possible because of VR and advanced robotics. VR enabled robotic surgeries are no more science fiction but a reality now. Using VR in simulated environments, surgeons can be trained effectively to perform complex surgeries. The dawn of the application of VR in healthcare has opened huge possibilities for skilling doctors/ surgeons.
Complex manufacturing and paint manufacturing companies use AR effectively for myriad functions. Lockheed Martin uses AR via Microsoft HoloLens to assemble F-35 fighter jets, while Porsche uses AR at their V8 plant for quality control. Paint manufacturers have adopted the technology to enhance customer experience by allowing customers to choose colour and texture using AR/VR.
Remember the movie ‘Sully’? It revolved around the case of an emergency landing over the river Hudson and how the pilot Chesley Sullenberger defends his case using flight simulation. To enhance training and simulation, VR can provide a complete synthetic space enabling pilots to navigate extreme cases, including emergency scenarios - equipping them with possible counteractions for dangerous situations. AR can assist aviation technicians by showing them a plane’s maintenance history and presents the easiest way to complete a task.
Augmented reality can provide valuable experience of dangerous, life threating scenarios for military personnel as well. These applications don’t just make it cost effective to run useful training drills but can also be used to gather data on performance; highlighting areas of improvement for individuals and improving performance by providing them personalised training.
To conclude, let’s THINK!! of a VR platform where users can create, experience, and monetize content and applications. Although in its embryonic stages, it’s a concept where people can explore a virtual world with a range of activities and sights including buying property or land through the Ethereum blockchain, where an immutable record of ownership is created, while smart contracts track all modifications. What makes it really interesting is the monetization, where, the buying and selling of parcels of land allows speculators to wager on the value of the plots or once you build some useful service, like a concert hall, art gallery, then people might pay for access or buy virtual goods once inside.
With the increasing application of VR and AR across industries, the future of this evolving technology is bright. It is no more a distant future but a reality that is more prevalent than we realise.
Leading practices, practical and risk-managed transformation plans and an ecosystem of advisers and solutions providers to help embed AR/VR into supply chain and operations, promise some exciting times ahead to see what the next transformation making history, is.
Bringing reality to healthcare through virtual reality
The healthcare industry is one of the biggest adopters of Virtual Reality. Through simulation, healthcare professionals are able to understand and replicate complex procedures seamlessly. The use of VR lends an enhanced view of organs, fissures, tumours etc., thus revealing better insights than conventional MRI or CT scans ever could. This is huge advancement in surgery in terms of preparing the surgeon to operate even before the actual procedure. For the healthcare industry, this is a quantum leap into digital that is enabling and giving them the much-needed ammunition to ensure 100% success. With this advancement, the surgical process, changes from the ‘unknown’ to the ‘known’, increasing success rates significantly.
Whether in larger economies or developing ones like India, an increasing number of hospitals, medical colleges and universities are adopting VR technology. The demand for doctors, surgeons and technical experts is on the increase within India as well as world over. However, it is impossible to reach every corner of the world to equip doctors and students, with up to date procedures. Virtual Reality could be the answer to this challenge. The advancement in technology and cheaper access to new generation tech has enabled faster training of doctors and surgeons. Mass scale and quicker learning is enabled when virtual reality is used. A medical expert/ doctor/ professor could be sitting across the globe and yet be able to teach/ train students using VR, without compromising on the benefits of physical presence. Research has also indicated that the learning duration for a student using traditional methods vs using VR based technology has halved.
Healthcare and especially medicine adopted Virtual reality early on and through many years of feedback and transformations it is in the shape we see today. Virtual Reality in combination with the adoption of robotics has changed the paradigm of treatment of severe conditions.
Surgeons using VR technology can understand as well as demonstrate the cancer cell accumulations in the affected part of the body. Physiotherapists have their patients play games that encourage movement of the affected part of the body, arms, legs etc. and map these movements to the ideal / acceptable norms. It is however in neurosurgery where the greatest potential lies.
In addition to assisting doctors and medical student VR is significantly impacting patient education, engagement and experience. Approximately 400 neurosurgery patients have viewed their surgeries in virtual reality before their actual procedure. The technology allows patients to immerse themselves in their own brain and shows them exactly how the doctors will be performing the operation. It helps patients and their families gain a better understanding of their health and reduces fear before complex procedures.
At Apollo Hospitals we have always been at the forefront of adopting new technologies and have already begun the adoption of AR and VR. Apart from using VRT and robot-assisted therapy in our Neurorehabilitation Centre at Chennai the hospital in a first of its kind initiative, Apollo Telemedicine Networking Foundation Chennai has introduced virtual visits to the ICU from anywhere in the world called I-SEE-U to enable visits from anywhere to individual ICU cubicles, both by consultants, relatives and friends using internet, through a PC, laptop and even a smart phone. Health checks are now being powered by clinically profound prescriptive analytics, enabling personalised healthcare to meet specific patient needs. We at Apollo, stand for the future of healthcare.