Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Bengaluru First Indian City to Feature in Top-Ten Destinations for Cross-Border Investors Across APAC in 2019



CBRE South Asia Pvt. Ltd, India’s leading real estate consulting firm’s Asia Pacific Investor Intensions Survey 2019 findings revealed that Bengaluru – the capital city of Karnataka- for the first time has featured in the list of top ten destinations for cross-border investment across Asia Pacific. The survey revealed that India was among the top five preferred markets in APAC on the back of the launch of the first REIT (Embassy-Blackstone) and the resulting improved market transparency. The drivers for this trend were new infrastructure and potential growth opportunities in the market.

The first REIT by Embassy Group and Blackstone Group LP was launched in India in March this year and it is expected to catalyse investments in the country. Improved investor sentiment in office assets is likely to expose potential quality buildings as a fundraising avenue for developers and also propel major corporations to lease / purchase space in these developments.

Commenting on the findings of the survey Anshuman Magazine, Chairman and CEO, India, South East Asia, Middle East and Africa, CBRE said, “Bengaluru featured as the first Indian city in the list of preferred investment destination on the basis of its growing reputation across the globe as the home base to several international corporates. The city with a significant talent base and world-class infrastructure is also popular for offering several investment grade options in office, retail as well as residential segments.”

On the overall positioning of the Indian real estate market in APAC, he added, “A stronger interest in office properties followed by industrial & logistics, multifamily, hotels and retail were the preferred sectors of investment in APAC. There is significant scope for investment in India and the rising consumption and growing demand in the logistics sector, particularly, will continue to stimulate investors to seek opportunities in this market.”

Other key findings of the survey:

-      In almost all the geographies across APAC, the lack of investible stock for sale remains a major challenge for investors. The acquisition of numerous institutional-grade properties by long term buyers in recent years has constrained the availability of assets in developed markets, particularly Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan.
-      Despite the risk factors at the forefront of investors’ concerns, buyers continue to seek higher returns and are focused on value-added and opportunistic deals in the emerging markets such as India. This rising interest has propelled Bengaluru into the top ten destinations for cross-border investors for the first time since the survey began in 2014.
-      More investors in APAC are considering lending against assets rather than taking equity
-      positions as loan to value ratios tighten and banks adopt a more conservative attitude towards real estate financing. Other niche sectors attracting investor interest in APAC include retirement living, supported by ageing populations in Asia; data centres, driven by the increasing use of cloud computing; and healthcare, underpinned by demographic change and the emerging focus on wellness.

Some key facts about Bengaluru:

Bengaluru is considered as one of the fastest growing cities in India with the presence of important players from the areas of information technology, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing and other sectors. In the past two decades, it has transformed from being a ‘Pensioners’ Paradise’ to India’s ‘Silicon Valley’ and has become the hub of research and innovation.
·         Known as one of the key investment destinations in the country, Karnataka’s Ease of Doing Business ranking was eighth across India in 2017, ahead of Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
·         On the Social Progress Index 2017, Karnataka ranked second after Delhi.
·         While Karnataka is the leading state in the machine tools industry, Bengaluru alone produced 60% of machine tools (in terms of value) in the country in 2018.
·         Bengaluru was ranked first on the 'Best place to live and work' list by Mercer in 2018.
·         In 2017-18, the total real estate investment in Bengaluru was almost USD 800 million, this investment more than doubled annually in 2018-19. Commercial assets were a prominent choice for investors.
·         Bengaluru ranked second on the Global Startup Ecosystem Growth Index by 'Compass' Infrastructure in 2018.

ClearTax Launches ‘Quick GSTR-9’ Product for Speedy GSTR-9 Filing


Bangalore based Financial-Technology platform ClearTax, has announced a ‘Quick GSTR-9’ product for GSTR-9 compliance. This product is tailored for less complex businesses to help them finish filing in under 10 minutes. It can populate GSTR-9 return form using the GST portal’s auto-computed GSTR-9 summary and the data from GSTR-3B filed by the business; resulting in a 5x productivity improvement as compared to the portal itself.

Tax consultants usually have more than 50 businesses for which they need to prepare and file GSTR-9. GSTR-9 is a complex return form, and tax consultants are struggling to put together the information required for their clients. Since the deadline for GSTR-9 is fast approaching, businesses and tax practitioners are pressed for time to finalize their GST returns. They need to focus on current financial year compliance as well. Simpler businesses have fewer transactions and their filing should be simple and less complex. To help consultants file GSTR-9 quickly and leaving more room for compliance for complex businesses, ClearTax has launched a new ‘Quick GSTR-9’ product in its GSTR-9 module. This product ensures ITC is claimed as per GSTR-3B, by doing a critical comparison between GSTR-9 auto computed values (based on GSTR-1) and GSTR-3B.

‘Quick GSTR-9’ will fill more tables in GSTR-9 form than what the portal can do and it also has a checklist that can be used to do a fast review. It can be used for filing for businesses that belong to the service sector and have fewer complexities; have exempted supply or purchase, have no difference in GSTR-1 & GSTR-3B or those who have only a few transactions, are new businesses or are required to file nil returns.

ClearTax is also offering its other intelligent features in the ‘Quick GSTR-9’ product. It has a specifically tailored reduced version of ClearTax’s 5-point checklist to help a faster review for a CA. Besides, users can switch to full scale mode at any point in filing process. Full scale mode enables ClearTax’s 19 point checklist for validating GSTR-9 filing, detailed Excel tool download with data of GSTR-1 & 2A reconciled for FY17-18, monthly comparison of both GSTR-1 and GSTR-3B returns with financial statements, and more.

Speaking at the launch Archit Gupta, Founder and CEO, ClearTax, said “ We saw how pained CAs were with GSTR-9 filings. The launch of ‘Quick GSTR-9’ was the outcome of our interactions and deep work with CAs and tax consultants, who expressed the desire to have a fast and easy product for filing of businesses which were not complex. They wanted that the results should also be quickly verified. Our checklist helps in making sure data prepared is accurate. It is helping CAs manage their time and resources better. This super easy and quick filing makes ClearTax’s ‘Quick GSTR-9’, the best possible way to file GSTR-9 for simple businesses.”

Airtel Gives Lakshadweep its First 4G Network Across India


Bharti Airtel (“Airtel”), India’s leading telecommunications services provider, announced the launch of its 4G services in the pristine Lakshadweep Islands. Airtel is the first mobile operator to launch high speed data services on the tropical archipelago, which is now connected to the digital superhighway.

Airtel’s 4G services will enable local residents to enjoy digital services like HD quality video streaming, superfast downloads and uploads, high speeds internet browsing on Airtel’s state-of-the-art 4G network. It will also give a major boost to the local economy. Lakshadweep is also a popular tourist destination and visitors will also be able access seamless mobile broadband connectivity over the Airtel 4G network. Starting today, Airtel 4G is LIVE across Agatti, Bangaram and Kavaratti to begin with and will be gradually expanded to other islands of the archipelago

With today’s launch Airtel’s high speed 4G network covers the length and breadth of India. From Andaman & Nocobar to Lakshadweep and Leh/Ladhakh to Kanyakumari, it is serving customers with world-class mobile broadband services and contributing to the Government’s Digital India vision. Airtel has also taken the lead in expanding its high speed networks to the remotest corners of the North East and empower citizens in the region.

Commenting on the launch Smt. Aruna Sundararajan, Secretary – Department of Telecom, Government of India said: “I would like to congratulate Bharti Airtel on the launch of 4G services in Lakshadweep. This is yet another milestone towards building a digitally enabled India and empowering every Indian through access to digital services. The Government remains fully committed to supporting the telecom industry in their endeavor.”   
             
Gopal Vittal, MD & CEO (India and South Asia), Bharti Airtel said, “We are truly proud to become the first operator to launch 4G services in Lakshadweep and put the last remaining remote territory on the digital superhighway. Airtel 4G now reaches the farthest corners of India and empowers customers by connecting them to the world of digital services. Mobile broadband is also an important economic enabler, and Airtel 4G will also add to Lakshadweep’s growth, connecting customers and businesses. We remain fully committed to building a Digital India and invite everyone to experience Airtel 4G, which has been consistently rated as the fastest network by multiple platforms.”

Airtel 4G services will be available in Lakshadweep to begin with and will be gradually expanded to other parts of the islands. Customers can upgrade to 4G SIM for free and choose from a range of exciting Prepaid and Postpaid plans that come with premium bundled content like Netflix, Amazon, ZEE5 and access to Airtel TV and Wynk Music. Airtel 4G will be available to customers across a range of smart devices including mobile phones, dongles and 4G hotspots.

Airtel was the first private service provider to introduce mobile services in Lakshadweep in April 2008. The 4G rollout is part of Project Leap – Airtel’s nationwide network transformation program.

CSS Corp Wins the Incite Customer Service Awards 2019


CSS Corp, a new age IT services and technology support company announced today that they have won the “Solution Provider of the Year: People’s Choice” award at the recently concluded Incite Customer Service Awards 2019 event. The award ceremony was part of The Customer Service Summit West 2019 event in San Diego, organised by the Incite group. CSS Corp’s Cognitive Customer Experience (CX) portfolio was chosen as the best solution of the year from amongst other leading IT players.

CSS Corp’s Cognitive Customer Experience (CX) portfolio has been built to help brands drive superior customer lifecycle management powered by artificial intelligence and advanced analytics capabilities. The portfolio integrates technologies like chatbots, automation, consumer insights, knowledge management, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and mobile applications through an outcome-based service model to deliver enhanced customer experiences. In a business outcome context, it also enables new revenue opportunities for organizations by leveraging advanced applied analytics to map a customer’s journey, personalize interactions and enable purchase decisions.

Speaking about the win, Manish Tandon, Chief Executive Officer, CSS Corp said, “We are delighted to be recognized by the Incite group for our unique service model that delivers stellar customer experiences. It is a testimony to our underlying philosophy that customers are at the centre of the business ecosystem. Through our cognitive CX portfolio, we are committed to offer disruptive customer service solutions that enhance engagement and exceed expectations. We will continue to invest in developing solutions that enable our customers to dynamically react to the ever-changing customer intent and proactively resolve their challenges”.

The Incite Customer Service Awards unite leading minds at the forefront of customer service and aim to shine a spotlight on the achievements of those who are truly exceeding customer expectations. This year, companies of all sizes from around the world and across industries were part of the evaluation. Entries for each category were evaluated by a panel of judges who shortlisted 8 finalists based on relevant criteria. The People’s Choice Awards results were based upon an evaluation of maximum votes garnered from people who voted from the shortlisted finalists.

Brickwork Finance Academy Announced Eighth Banking and Financial Analyst Certification Program



Brickwork Finance Academy held the seventh convocation of its Banking and Financial Analyst program for the graduating Class of 2019 on Saturday, June 15, 2019 at the Academy’s campus on Bannerghatta Road, Bengaluru. The Class of 2020 was also inaugurated on this occasion.

The convocation featured speakers with deep expertise and rich experience in the finance domain. The speakers included Mr. ISN Prasad, IAS, Addl. Chief Secretary, Finance Dept., Government of Karnataka,    Dr. Emandi Sankara Rao, MD & CEO, IFCI Limited, Mr. Raja Kumar IRS, Founder & CEO, Ascent Capital Advisors, Prof. KRS Murthy, Advisor, Brickwork Finance Academy and former Director of IIMB, Mr. Vivek Kulkarni, IAS (Retd), President of Brickwork Finance Academy and         Mr. D Ravishankar, Founder Director of Brickwork Ratings.

Welcoming the gathering, Mr. Vivek Kulkarni, gave an overview of the Academy’s activities - a non-profit organization intending to develop leaders with a deep understanding of finance. He said, “The Academy has completed seven successful years of the certification program and has stepped into the eighth year. The professional value of the program has helped attract students and professionals from reputed backgrounds. Only 5% of the applicants secured admission into the program this year.  Many students have joined reputed organizations after graduating from here”

Delivering the Inaugural Address, Prof. KRS Murthy, widely respected as a doyen of academia, highlighted the implications of the current turbulence in the financial sector for rating agencies. He emphasized the need for developing intelligence backed by facts that could promote a high order intellect and foster wisdom in decision making. The Banking and Financial Analyst program is a focused way to fulfill the needs of aspiring finance professionals. Over the years, this program has developed concise and precise materials focused on emerging requirements. It has developed a tested methodology to provide working executives and young analysts the essentials of the art of finance and practical application through case studies in credit and equity markets.

In his Keynote Address, Mr. Raja Kumar IRS, quoting from his vast accomplished exposure, cautioned the young minds of the surprises that might humble the confidence level, despite the decorated qualifications that one might possess.  He said that only a small percentage of highly accredited fund managers have been successful notwithstanding the wherewithal knowledge level.  He made a passionate appeal highlighting importance of fact based approach to life that would keep at good stead, come what may.  Drawing analogy from the medical profession, he highlighted the importance of data integrity for Rating decisions just as the diagnosis reports helps the doctors to give the right prescription.

Delivering the Convocation Address, Dr. Emandi Sankara Rao, gave an incisive account of the Dynamic and competitive trends in the financial markets. He said, "Integrated risk focused processes & policies to be adopted with great emphasis on analytical simulations, develop dynamic and flexible corporate planning in line with the market conditions, and prevailing policies & regulations, constant innovation and planned execution are the keys to navigating the current turbulence with a success. Young finance graduates should master ways to effectively use technology and AI to simulate meaningful business and risk scenarios and generate insights that support sound, informed decisions."

Mr. ISN Prasad IAS, in his Presidential Address, drew attention to the sensitive role played by Rating Agencies that has far reaching impact on the economy and investors. He made a passionate appeal to the young budding Analysts, to uphold utmost integrity and work ethics and to be honest to themselves as well as with others.

According to Mr. D Ravishankar, “The Banking and Financial Analyst program focuses on Credit, Investment and Risk Management and other areas of finance for building domain knowledge in the practical aspects that are required for a financial analyst. The pass outs helps students to take up a career in the financial services industry, such as Banks, Mutual Funds, Investment Banks, Insurance companies and other financial intermediaries".

Mr. Saurabh Agarwal, the topper of the Class of 2019, formerly Senior Manager & Branch Head with Federal Bank said, ”I resigned from my previous organization, where I was working on SME credit proposals, to join the Banking and Financial Analyst program of Brickwork Finance Academy. This program provided me exposure to nuances of Corporate Finance, Derivatives, Public Finance, Risk Management and Economics. After getting through the rigorous yet fruitful year long program, I now feel confident of working on large corporate proposals and can efficiently relate myself to the ever growing and fast changing world of Finance.”

Student Profile

The Class of 2019 comprised of, primarily Postgraduates - CA, CFA, MBA, etc. from reputed B-Schools such as XLRI Jamshedpur, IIM Kozhikode, NIT – Suratkal, Symbiosis–Pune and SP Jain (Dubai).  About 78% of the candidates are MBAs/Post Graduates, 18% have passed various levels of CA, CFA-US and the remaining 5% are undergraduates. These students are from reputed organizations such as Bank of Baroda, Federal Bank, HDFC Bank, Wipro, Emirates National Bank, Barclays etc.

The current Class of 2020 also has enrolments of experienced finance professionals from reputed organizations such as State Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Federal Bank, ICICI, S&P etc. The student community comprised of CAs, CFA-US and MBAs from top B-Schools such as Xavier Institute, NMIMS, Christ University, Manipal Institute Great Lakes, and University of Bath, UK - 67% are MBAs, 30% are CA/CFA–US and 3% are undergraduates.

Nutanix Appoints AWS Veteran Anantharaman Balakrishnan to India Leader Role


Enterprise Cloud OS leader, Nutanix has confirmed the appointment of veteran IT leader Balakrishnan Anantharaman as its new Vice President and Managing Director of Sales for India. The announcement is a clear signal of intent from the enterprise cloud OS leader and reaffirms its continued commitment to the country and increasing focus on India’s top tier enterprises.

With more than 25 years of IT industry management experience, Balakrishnan is suitably placed to help drive the enterprise cloud OS leader’s growth and ambitions in India and his appointment reaffirms Nutanix’s leadership credentials in the county.

His knowledge and insight of the market, enterprise landscape and personalities, as well as a track record for rapidly growing business make him ideally placed to redefine Nutanix’s business in India and drive the enterprise cloud leader’s efforts as it expands its focus to India’s larger enterprises.

Before joining Nutanix, Anantharaman was Head of Amazon Web Services’ Financial Services and Manufacturing Verticals for the Large Enterprise Business in India where he built the India Go to Market segment and helped grow the business significantly during his tenure. Prior to that, he spent 8 years at Dell EMC in a variety of senior sales and leadership roles before finally becoming Senior Director, Global Services Lead.

“We are all delighted to have Bala add his focus, structure and direction to our cutting-edge solutions here in India.” said Neville Vincent, VP, South Asia Pacific at Nutanix. “We took the decision early on to wait for the right calibre of candidate, but the wait has been worth it. The team, our customers and our partners are all relishing the opportunities ahead and have already communicated their immense satisfaction with our choice of leader.”

Speaking on his appointment, Balakrishnan said: “I am delighted to be joining Nutanix at such an exciting time for the company and the industry. When you have built a career on generating growth and then get asked to take a rapidly growing industry leader to an even higher level – you don’t need to stop to think. You jump on board. The battle lines are being drawn as public and private clouds converge. True success will lie with the companies that can drive innovation and value for their customers. On that scale – Nutanix is unmatched.”

Balakrishnan’s appointment comes at a pivotal time for India’s cloud sector. As Digital India continues apace, hyperconverged infrastructure and hybrid cloud are seen as key to keeping the country’s enterprises relevant and competitive in a digital era. So much so that even incumbent public cloud providers are embracing hybrid as a key component of their offering. This knowledge of public and hybrid environments should also provide a unique perspective and advantage as Balakrishnan sets about expanding the Nutanix India Business.

The appointment follows increased investment in its India business by Nutanix including an expansion of its engineering and support operations.

Tata Motors Strengthens Brand Tigor with Automatic (AMT) Variants



Tata Motors has announced the introduction of two new Automatic (AMT) variants to its Tigor range - the XMA and the XZA+. These two new trims, stacked with premium features and effortless mobility of an Automatic will carry forward the style quotient of the Tigor. The XMA and XZA+ will be priced INR. 6.39 Lakhs and INR 7.24 Lakhs, (ex-showroom Delhi), respectively.

Commenting on the expansion of the Tigor range, Mr. S N Barman, Vice President, Sales, Marketing & Customer Support, Passenger Vehicles Business Unit (PVBU), Tata Motors, said “In a constant effort to maintain our growth momentum, we continuously introduce advanced technologies in our products, fill white spaces and offer exciting product interventions to meet the growing aspirations of our customers. This strategy also includes continuously expanding and strengthening our automatic portfolio. We are confident that our customers will appreciate the perfect combination of practicality and convenience these new additions have to offer.”

The two new trims will be offered with a 1.2L Revotron petrol engine and will be available in all the colours the Tigor is currently offered in – Egyptian Blue, Roman Silver, Espresso Brown, Berry Red, Pearlescent White and Titanium Grey.

The XZA+ will be the Automatic (AMT) offering on the top manual trim - XZ+ and will boast of attractive features like the 17.78cm (7 inch) touchscreen infotainment system equipped with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and an 8 speaker sound system by Harman. The exterior will feature 15 inch diamond cut alloy wheels and auto-fold ORVMs with integrated LEDs, which will complement the superior exterior design elements such as the break-free coupe-like roofline and dual chamber projector headlamps with sparkling chrome finish. With its competitive pricing and exceptional value, the XMA variant of the Tigor is set to attract new customers and should set itself apart as the most attractively priced automatic sedan in the market.

Both variants offer driving modes, a Harman tuned music system with Bluetooth connectivity, reverse parking sensors, foldable rear armrest with cupholders, 24 intelligently designed utility spaces for storage. They also come loaded with safety features like Dual Airbags, Anti-lock brakes, Electronic brake-force distribution, Corner Stability Control, reverse parking sensors, speed dependent automatic door locking and engine immobilizer.   

Features like the anti-stall and crawl functions, provides much needed respite in stop-go traffic and during tight parking maneuvers, making these variants convenient to drive, particularly on city roads. The anti-stall function prevents the car from stalling on sudden braking and helps the gearbox quickly downshift, ensuring that the vehicle has sufficient torque.

Launched in March 2017, the Tigor range has maintained a very active lifecycle with multiple evolutions, with the latest one being the introduction of the brand new range in October last year to provide its customers with the latest in comfort and technology. The new generation Tigor carries over the much acclaimed 1.2L Revotron petrol and the 1.05L Revotorq diesel powertrains. The new model also comes equipped with a fully automatic temperature control (FATC) with uniform cooling all around the cabin, a boot space of 419 ltrs with wide and clear opening using an innovative 4 bar mechanism and 24 intelligent spaces for carrying a lot more on the move.

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