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Amazon picks up Whole Foods chain for $13.7 bn: an example for Indian e-retailers?



Amazon picks up Whole Foods chain for $13.7 bn: an example for Indian e-retailers?

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The e-retailing pioneer that took shopping to the virtual world is back to selling the old-fashioned way, with its $13.7 billion takeover of Whole Foods Market, the first “Certified Organic” grocer in the US operating a mid-sized grocery and foods chain based in Austin, Texas.

The takeover will not change Whole Foods much. Co-founder and CEO John Mackey stays on as CEO. The brand, too, will remain intact.

The move created more than a minor flutter. Feeling threatened, Wal-Mart Stores Inc said on Friday it would buy online men’s fashion retailer Bonobos Inc for $310 million, in its fourth e-commerce deal in under a year, seeking to bridge the gap with e-commerce leader Amazon.com Inc.

Reuters reported that Amazon’s deal to buy Whole Foods comes as Wal-Mart is engaged in a price war with rivals such as Aldi and Kroger in the grocery segment, which makes up about 56 percent of Wal-Mart’s revenue. Quoting Ken Perkins, president of research firm Retail Metrics, it said Amazon’s move only adds to the pressure on Wal-Mart, as over time, the convenience and grocery delivery offered by the e-commerce giant would likely cut into Wal-Mart’s sales.

The urgency of Amazon to go in for the all-cash deal ($42 per share of Whole Foods stock) highlighted Amazon chief Jeff Bezos’ desire to stay on the ball and in keep pace with the competition. The deal will complete in the second half of 2017, subject to stakeholders’ and regulatory approval.

Mackey saw the merger as a win-win for all, saying in a joint statement: “This partnership presents an opportunity to maximize value for Whole Foods Market’s shareholders, while at the same time extending our mission and bringing the highest quality, experience, convenience, and innovation to our customers.”

Bezos promised a hands-off approach, saying: “Millions of people love Whole Foods Market because they offer the best natural and organic foods, and they make it fun to eat healthy. Whole Foods Market has been satisfying, delighting and nourishing customers for nearly four decades — they’re doing an amazing job and we want that to continue.”

Whole Foods, with over 460 stores in the US, Canada and the UK, had revenues of $16 billion in fiscal 2016.

The move by Amazon could perhaps be an example for Indian e-retailers such as Flipkart. Indians are in the habit of first “handling” goods they wish to buy. Physical storefronts will encourage them to make purchases with the discounts they can avail of online.

The only problem could be the old one – of overheads. What Amazon has tried to do in keeping Whole Foods as a separate unit is to cash in on the successful business model of the company and add e-outlets for further expediency in sales.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

India News

Withdrawal of Rs 2,000 notes statutory exercise not demonetisation: RBI tells Delhi HC



The withdrawal of Rs 2,000 banknotes is a statutory exercise, not demonetisation, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) told the Delhi High Court on Tuesday.

The high court was hearing a petition challenging the decision by the RBI and SBI that enables the exchange of Rs 2,000 notes without the requirement of an identity proof. The plea filed by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay said the decision was arbitrary and against the laws enacted to curb corruption.

Responding to the plea, the RBI said the decision to enable the exchange of Rs 2,000 notes was taken for operational convenience as the withdrawal is not demonetisation but merely a “statutory exercise.”

In his plea, advocate Upadhyay said he wasn’t challenging the decision withdraw the Rs 2000 notes but the decision to exchange the said denomination without requiring any slip or identity proof. The petition argued that the exchange of currency should only be allowed through bank accounts linked with Aadhaar.

It claimed that the current arrangement would only enable mafia and gangsters like “Atiq Ahmed’s henchmen” and Maoists while arguing that today almost every poor person has a Jan Dhan account and BPL persons are also connected to bank accounts.

A Delhi HC bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramanium Prasad said an appropriate order will be passed on the plea.

Advocate Upadhyay claimed in his public interest litigation (PIL) that the notifications by the RBI and the State Bank of India (SBI) that enable the exchange of Rs 2000 notes without requiring a requisition slip and identity proof were arbitrary, irrational and offend Articles 14 of the Indian Constitution.

The PIL claimed that cash transaction in in high value currency is the main source of corruption and used for illegal activities like terrorism, naxalism, separatism, radicalism, gambling, smuggling, money laundering, kidnapping, extortion, bribing and dowry, etc. and a large amount of the currency has reached either in individual’s locker or has “been hoarded by the separatists, terrorists, Maoists, drug smugglers, mining mafias & corrupt people”.

RBI counsel, Senior advocate Parag P Tripathi argued that the emphasised that the court cannot interfere in such matters and the decision was taken to allow exchange of the Rs 2000 currency note for “operational convenience” as the said banknote is not commonly used and other denominations continue to meet currency requirements.

Advocate Tripathi said that no points mentioned by the petitioner impinge or deal with constitutional issues and as such the court cannot interfere.

On May 19, the RBI had announced withdrawal of Rs 2,000 currency notes from circulation, and said existing notes in circulation can either be deposited in bank accounts or exchanged by September 30.

However, the 2,000 notes will continue to be legal tender, it had said, adding that the notes can be exchanged for other denominations from any bank starting May 23, albeit with a limit of Rs. 20,000 per transaction.

Both the RBI and the SBI issued notifications stating that no requisition slip or identity proof is required for exchanging the Rs 2,000 notes.

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India News

Factually baseless: SEBI on claims of investigations against Adani Group since 2016

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on Monday told the Supreme Court that all claims that the market regulator has been investigating the Adani Group since 2016 are “factually baseless” and one must not jump to “premature and wrong conclusions” in the case.



Adani Group

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on Monday told the Supreme Court that all claims that the market regulator has been investigating the Adani Group since 2016 are “factually baseless” and one must not jump to “premature and wrong conclusions” in the case.

In an affidavit filed in the Apex court, SEBI said that no listed company of the Adani Group was among the list of 51 companies that it had investigated for issuing of Global Depository Receipts or GDRs.

According to the affidavit, filed in response to a plea claiming that SEBI had been investigating the Adani group since 2016 and had opposed a six-month extension to its ongoing probe, the market regulator clarified that the ‘investigation’ “referred to in paragraph 5 of the reply affidavit has no relation and/or connection to the issues referred to and/or arising out of the Hindenburg Report.”

It further said that matter pertains to the issuance of GDRs by 51 Indian listed companies which the SEBI was investigating, adding that no listed company of Adani Group was part of the aforesaid 51 companies.

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The SEBI said that after the completion of the investigation, appropriate enforcement actions were taken. Hence, the claims that the SEBI is investigating the Adani Group since 2016 are “factually baseless.”

The regulator said the six-month extension is to ensure that a thorough investigation is carried out keeping in mind the interest of investors and the securities market.

The Supreme Court had on March 2, directed the SEBI to investigate violations by the Adani Group, if any, before and after the release of the damning Hindenburg report.

The SEBI had been asked to file a report within two months, however, on April 29, the regulator filed for a six-month extension to complete the investigation.

Adani Group endured over $120 billion in market losses- nearly half of the conglomerate’s estimated value—since the damning report released by US short-seller Hindenburg Research.

In its critical report, Hindenburg Research accused the Adani Group of indulging in improper use of offshore tax havens and stock manipulation while also raising concerns about high debt and the valuations of seven listed Adani companies.

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Kerala News

Enforcement Directorate raids Manappuram Finance offices in Kerala

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) today raided the headquarters and offices of Manappuram Finance in Kerala in connection with an alleged money laundering case against the non-banking financial company, reports said.



Manappuram Finance in Kerala

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) today raided the headquarters and offices of Manappuram Finance in Kerala in connection with an alleged money laundering case against the non-banking financial company, reports said.

According to reports quoting official sources, the ED conducted raids at four offices of Manappuram Finance across Kerala, including its headquarters in Thrissur and the home and office of its promoter VP Nandakumar.

They said the raids are part of the central probe agency’s investigation against the financial company for allegedly contravening Reserve Bank of India (RBI) guidelines and collecting public deposits worth over Rs 150 crore, adding that ED—which probes financial crimes—is investigating Manappuram Finance for alleged money laundering and the searches were undertaken to gather evidence in the purported case.

The sources claimed that the ED is looking at gathering documents and recording statements of the company executives in connection with its suspicion that the company has made “large-scale” cash transactions by violating KYC regulation set by the RBI, as per reports.

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They said that the financial crimes’ probe agency is investigating Manappuram Finance for money laundering but it unclear yet if a case has been filed in this regard by the ED.

A response from Manappuram Finance wasn’t available when this report was filed.

Meanwhile, the shares of the non-banking financial company slumped by 10 percent as the news of the ED raids at its premises broke.

Mannapuram Finance, a non-banking financial company with a significant foothold in South India, has been providing a myriad of financial services for the past over thirty years and some of its services including gold loans, housing loans, microfinance, among others.

The company had recently announced that it was considering various options for raising funds through borrowings, including issuing debt securities on onshore and offshore securities markets by public issue, private placement, or through commercial papers.

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