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Jottings: A Date With India

One no longer needs to travel to London, Singapore, Hong Kong or Beijing to take a selfie with the wax statue of a famous Hollywood or Bollywood icon

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One no longer needs to travel to London, Singapore, Hong Kong or Beijing to take a selfie with the wax statue of a famous Hollywood or Bollywood icon. Madam Tussauds is set to open its 22nd branch in Delhi’s Regal Cinema complex in less than nine months. It is expected to put on display the life-like wax statues of well-known faces from India including that of Sachin Tendulkar, Narendra Modi, Kareena Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan, among others. Some of these are already on display in London. UK-based Merlin Entertainments that owns and operates Madame Tussauds said the Delhi branch will pay homage to A-list celebrities from Bollywood through to Hollywood, in addition to featuring icons from diverse fields such as sport, music, history and others. “Ever since we introduced Amitabh Bachchan as the first Bollywood figure in Madame Tussauds London in 2000, we have seen how Madame Tussauds appeals to the Indian consumer,” says John Jakobsen, Chief New Openings Officer.
— Ashish Sinha

Zee Tunes Into FM
Subhash Chandra-owned Zee Media Corporation (ZMC) has acquired a 49 per cent stake in 92.7 Big FM, the radio broadcasting business of Reliance Broadcast Network (RBNL), a Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group company. This marks the foray of Zee Group into the growing private FM radio business. With this acquisition, ZMC will be adding to its existing bouquet of 11 news and current affair channels, the 59 radio licenses of Big FM to further widen its reach. As part of the deal, RBNL will be transferring the 45 operational and 14 new licences into two special purpose vehicles (SPVs) along with the assets and liabilities. ZMCL shall acquire a 49 per cent stake in each of these two SPVs. Both parties will also have a call/put option to acquire/sell the balance 51 per cent after the lock-in provisions on the permission holder of these licences expire – which will be 31 March 2018 for 45 licences and March 2020 for the new licences. Well done Zee!
— Ashish Sinha

Ride And Play
App-based ride hailing company Ola has thought of an innovative way to get around the competition from global rival Uber. It is now entertaining passengers during the ride. Powered by proprietary technologies, the company has launched Ola Play, a connected car platform to transform the in-car experience for users on the go. With Ola Play, passengers can experience music and videos while on the move either from their own devices or from the large screen devices mounted in the cabin. “Ola Play transfers the control of the in-car experience to users from the driver console, which enables seamless interfacing with the consumer’s device, once a ride begins,” Ola said in a statement. If differentiation is the key to win the battle, this is surely a right move at the right time.
— Ayushman Baruah

Routine By-elections?
THE LATEST by-elections to Lok Sabha and assembly seats delivered predictable verdicts. Ruling parties won all the seats on offer — the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu and Mamata Banerjee’s TMC in West Bengal. The BJP retained its vicelike grip over Madhya Pradesh. Nothing surprising, you could say. But the shocks came from the north-east. In Tripura, ruling party CPM won the assembly seats on offer. But the astounding fact was that the BJP emerged as a serious player in the state, relegating the Congress to the sidelines. Even more astonishing is that the BJP, with 21 per cent of the votes, relegated the Left to the third place in West Bengal. The Left managed only 14 per cent of the votes. But poll pundits, it seems, would like to wait for results from Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa and Uttarakhand elections to assess how popular Modi and his opponents are. Fair enough.
— Sutanu Guru

When Everyone’s An Expert
Forecasting is a hazardous business. Just look back and see how many — whether godmen or analysts — have been correct. Nothing proves this better than the prognosis on the economy of the currency exchange programme. Analysts are furiously grappling with re-calibrating economic growth and the effects that the massive scrapping of currency notes would have on GDP estimates. The cuts are all over the place. Forecasts are pegging a loss of from 330 basis points (Ambit Capital) through 110 (Goldman Sachs) to 50 basis points (Care Ratings). CMIE estimates losses at Rs 1.2 lakh crore. Even former PM Manmohan Singh pegs a 200 basis points compression.

The well-known reasons are: lack of demand (after all, some of the black money in circulation was being used for consumption) to a disruption in the supply chain. But the truth in these is between. For the final impact will not be known till it is known. Until then, forecasts are just that — forecasts.
— Clifford Alvares

That’s Not Cricket
The Lodha committee appointed by the Supreme Court to reform the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has fired yet another salvo. It now wants most of the BCCI brass to be removed and replaced by ‘independent’ people. Former home secretary G.K. Pillai has been recommended as an observer who will oversee the transition. Even though the controversy over demonetisation has hogged all the headlines, the BCCI imbroglio continues to be a riveting one. BCCI is the richest cricket body in the world and is trying its best to stall attempts to make it more transparent. Match-fixing allegations have haunted the Board since the late 1990s and many people think that a lot of dirt has been swept under the carpet. Some analysts think that the best way forward is to completely demolish the existing BCCI structure of patronage with a more transparent system where all stakeholders get a genuine say. Watch this space for more on this.
— Sutanu Guru