Liabilities and lobbies: The Week That Was 17-21 August
The Paper Wrap wishes you a happy and prosperous Ganesh Chaturthi.
This week, we sent two pieces in The Paper.
The first was on the inter-related topics of the business of MS Dhoni (who retired from international cricket last week), and the fantasy sports company Dream11 that won the title sponsorship rights to IPL 2020. The rights were sold for half the amount that Vivo had earlier promised to pay before backing out on the back of the India-China border clashes. We couldn’t help but wonder if the IPL could have raised more had they designed the auction mechanism better.
Then, on Friday, we wrote about “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” of the Indian Economy as it tries to recover from the pandemic and successive lockdowns. To cut a long story short, there wasn’t much “good” - more traffic and a small uptick in real estate. The bad and ugly stories dominated - lower industrial production, high (even by pandemic standards) unemployment, and general misery all round.
What else interested us this week
What is a liability?
The AGR saga (on how much Indian telecom operators need to pay the government as annual license and spectrum fees) continues. The issue this week is about bankrupt telecom operators, and how the government can recover license fees from them. The Supreme Court wants the government to recover it from the firms that have inherited these companies’ mobile spectrum.
We are not lawyers and so not qualified to talk about it, but this falls in the territory on “what is a liability”. If you bought something and only later were told that the thing had some liabilities attached, have you bought the liabilities as well? It seems like the Supreme Court thinks so.
Online medical shop mergers and competition
Your friendly medical shop might sport a large corporate label soon. Reliance bought a stake in Netmeds. PharmEasy and Medlife merged. Amazon launched Amazon Pharmacy. They are all nicely setting up for a juicy war on who can bring your medicines home to you.
Bloomberg Quint looks at it from the lens of a larger battle that is being set up between Reliance and Amazon. The story is largely based on one Forrester Research report.
When you are a large company, the number of ways in which the government can influence your business can be large. The strategy here is that you try to influence the government instead. So you set up “public policy divisions” and hire lobbyists.
Facebook has done exactly that. Now the Wall Street Journal thinks ($) that Facebook’s handling of hate speech in India is biased, in favour of the incumbent government. As usual, everyone and her uncle has an opinion about it. This piece about Facebook India’s early efforts in lobbying is good.
In broadly related news, the antitrust case against WhatsApp Pay has been dismissed.