HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - Vodafone has its eye firmly on the top spot in India. A $23 billion merger of the UK-based telecom giant’s Indian operations with Idea Cellular will create the nation's top mobile operator amid a bloody price war. The structure is less than ideal, however, because it aims to satisfy both companies, and give a big say to an Indian tycoon all at once.
HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - Anil Agarwal is betting the house on Africa. The Indian tycoon is making a personal bet on Anglo American worth up to 2 billion pounds through a fiddly, bond-financed deal. The raid signals a desire to build a global mining giant. There is little overlap with Agarwal's flagship London-listed Vedanta Resources, but a 12 percent stake would give him a prime position in the event of an Anglo breakup.
NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) - Global tech giants are heading for a proxy war in India. Alibaba is leading a $200 million investment into Paytm’s marketplace, creating a new Indian unicorn. It confirms the intention of the Chinese behemoth to take on Amazon, which is aggressively ramping up, investing $5 billion into its local operation as other homegrown rivals flail. Only one of the tech big boys will emerge victorious.
HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - India may see bigger as easier. Tucked into the budget released on Wednesday was a plan to create national champions, starting in the oil sector. The idea pairs industrial logic with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s love of grand gestures, and desire to see India make a bigger mark on the international stage. Such state capitalism looks like a marriage of convenience.
HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - Malaysia is still struggling to put its sovereign-fund scandal behind it. Prime Minister Najib Razak was not named in lawsuits filed last year by the U.S. Department of Justice after billions disappeared from 1Malaysia Development Berhad, and he has deftly avoided a legal tangle on his home turf. Nonetheless, the fallout is keeping Malaysia's leader on his toes.
SINGAPORE (Reuters Breakingviews) - Global banks are being hit by Southeast Asia’s distrust of hot money. Indonesia plans to introduce new rules to ensure research about the health of its economy and financial markets is “factual”. It follows a decision by Jakarta to cut business ties with JPMorgan. Meanwhile Malaysia has been clamping down on currency trading. The skittishness moves serve to highlight the region's vulnerabilities ahead of its impressive growth profile.
HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - India's banks need a cash injection, and 2017 looks like the year that they will get it. The country reckons ailing state lenders need at least 1.8 trillion rupees ($27 billion) or more to shore up their balance sheets and meet global capital requirements. Now Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have a way to rally political support for such a move.
HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - Evergrande's M&A boldness has backfired. China's second biggest property developer has spent 36.3 billion yuan ($5.2 billion) building a stake of more than 14 percent in larger rival Vanke. With the regulator cracking down on capital market "savages" and Evergrande itself now ruling out a takeover, the bet is 13 percent out of the money - and things could get worse.
HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - Tax evaders are spoiling Prime Minister Narendra Modi's play for the history books with his fight against illicit wealth. Indians have returned money faster than expected in a cash recall worth $210 billion. Now New Delhi is scrambling to demonstrate the value of the initiative, which is taking its toll on the cash-dependent economy.
HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - Narendra Modi's gamble will cost India the title of the world's fastest-growing large economy, at least in the short term. That is the result of the prime minister's shock move, announced on Nov. 8, to outlaw 500 and 1,000-rupee notes. That removes almost $250 billion of bills, 86 percent of the currency by value, from circulation. Breakingviews examines the far-reaching consequences.