Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, said on Saturday its Singles’ Day sales extravaganza hit $25.4 billion, smashing its own record from last year and cementing it as the world’s biggest shopping event.
Once a celebration for China’s lonely hearts, Singles’ Day has become an annual 24-hour buying frenzy that exceeds the combined sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the United States, and acts as a barometer for China’s consumers.
As tills shut midnight on Saturday, Alibaba’s live sales ticker registered 168.3 billion yuan, up 39 percent from 120.7 billion yuan last year. The dollar figure was up more steeply due to the strength of the yuan against the greenback this year.
The event began soon after a star-studded event in Shanghai late on Friday. As midnight hit, a deluge of pre-orders helped drive a billion dollars of sales on Alibaba’s platforms in the first two minutes and $10 billion in just over an hour.
“In terms of scale it just dwarfs any other event out there,” said Ben Cavender, Shanghai-based principal at China Market Research Group.
At just past the halfway mark, the headline gross merchandise volume swept past last year’s dollar total just shy of $18 billion. Shortly afterwards, sales surpassed the 2016 total in the local currency.
Far more important than any corporate earnings or central bank announcements this week, will be Trump’s widely telegraphed and trial ballooned choice who will replace Janet Yellen, and as Politico writes, that announcement is likely to come on Thursday. As Politico reports, citing sources, “look for an announcement on Thursday, though plans are not totally set yet.” The reports adds that Jerome Powell is still the most likely pick, but Trump could surprise, Politico says and adds that if Trump changes his mind, “Kevin Warsh is more likely than John Taylor.”
More details on Warsh’s unexpected rise in the ranks:
The reason for this is that senior administration officials argued (evidently successfully) to Trump that while Taylor is a rock star economist and monetary policy expert, he might not be the steady hand you’d want at the helm during a potential crisis. Powell may not be the world’s most exiting chair but he is viewed as the safest pick outside of Janet Yellen. That’s where Warsh comes in.
If Trump decides at the last second that he wants a splashier pick that would satisfy more conservatives, Warsh could be the guy. And he worked at the Fed during the financial crisis, so presumably could be counted on if for whatever reason we hit the skids hard again.
Still, as of this writing, Powell remains the very likely pick. He wouldn’t be able to take part in any announcement early in the week, given the FOMC meets Tuesday and Wednesday. That would push the announcement to Thursday.
Meanwhile, over the weekend, the NYT reported that Trump is unlikely to simultaneously tap a vice chairman at the same time, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Saturday, eliminating one potential twist in a selection process being closely watched on Wall Street.
Finally, as far as the market is concerned, the only surprise at this point is if Powell is not picked as next Fed chair.
Diversified firm ITC has filed a Rs 1,000-crore defamation suit against proxy advisory firm IiAS at the Calcutta High Court for allegedly making ‘defamatory’ statements against the company and its directors. In the suit, filed last month, ITC said Institutional Investor Advisory Services (IiAS) had published two reports that were “false, defamatory and malicious” on its website www.iiasadvisory.com in July 2017 before the AGM of the company. It prayed before the court to issue a “decree for Rs 1,000 crore against” the defendants while also seeking a mandatory injunction directing IiAS to publish an unconditional apology. When contacted, an ITC spokesperson said: “We cannot comment as the matter is sub judice.” Queries sent to IiAS remained unanswered.
The complaint was presented before the court of Justice Soumen Sen on August 29 and leave was granted. Subject to scrutiny, summons will be served on all parties. IiAS had published two voting advisories for shareholders of ITC and had suggested them to vote against the company’s plan to pay a monthly remuneration of Rs 1 crore to its Chairperson Y C Deveshwar for his non-executive role. IiAS had said it “believes the board structure, and the proposed remuneration, signal Yogi Deveshwar’s continuing control over the company, which undermines the recently appointed CEO Sanjiv Puri. Once Yogi Deveshwar has stepped down, he must let go”. ITC, in its petition filed through its counsel Khaitan & Co, said IiAS’ reports ‘Voting Advisory, ITC Limited, Annual General Meeting’ and ‘ITC’s Succession Plan: Letting it Go’, contained “words which were defamatory of the plaintiff (ITC) and its management”.
Vedanta Resources has appointed an interim chief executive to replace Tom Albanese, as the miner continues to search for a replacement five months after it announced he would step down.
The company controlled by Indian tycoon Anil Agarwal said Kuldip Kaura would be chief executive from September 1 but he will not serve as a director on the board.
“Vedanta’s search for a new CEO is ongoing and the Board believes that Mr Kaura will ensure a smooth transition,” Vedanta said.
Mr Albanese, a former chief executive of rival Rio Tinto, said in March he would return to the US after his three-year contract, which was extended by five months, expires at the end of August.
That followed a month after the departure of Cynthia Carroll, a former chief executive of Anglo American, who had been advising Vedanta on its aluminium business.
Mr Agarwal said in July the company was looking for a new chief executive who could co-ordinate the company’s subsidiaries, from zinc to oil and iron ore, all of which are run by their own chief executives.
At the company’s annual general meeting earlier this month he said he was looking for a successor “with the right leadership qualities and experience to continue the Group’s strategy and the replacement will be announced in due course.”
Mr Kaura, who started off working for ABB India, was chief executive of Vedanta between 2005 and 2008. He has since worked as president of the chairman’s office at the company.
Indian IT services group Infosys has appointed its celebrated co-founder Nandan Nilekani as chairman, in a bid to end long-running tensions between its board and founding chairman Narayana Murthy.
Mr Nilekani was one of the seven young engineers who founded Infosys in the western Indian city of Pune in 1981, and took it in turns to lead it until 2014, when the former SAP executive Vishal Sikka took charge.
Mr Sikka resigned from the chief executive role last week, after a stream of criticism from Mr Murthy, who had claimed that the company’s ethical foundation was being eroded by a culture of high pay for senior figures.
Mr Nilekani served as Infosys’s chairman from 2002 to 2007, since then he has led major national initiatives such as the Aadhaar biometric identification system.
Mr Sikka, who had taken a new role as vice chairman last week, has now left the board, Infosys said. “Last week I said that my remaining on the Infosys Board was to primarily enable a smooth transition. In Nandan, we have found an ideal leader to manage this transition,” Mr Sikka said in a statement.
UB Pravin Rao, previously chief operating officer, will continue as interim chief executive until a permanent successor for Mr Sikka is found.
Tata Sons has named Natarajan Chandrasekaran, the chief executive of its hugely profitable IT services unit, as its new chairman – an appointment aimed at restoring stability to the group after months of turmoil in its upper ranks.
The announcement follows the October dismissal of Cyrus Mistry, who has since launched a vocal campaign to expose what he claims are governance flaws at India’s largest conglomerate. Tata Sons denies his allegations.
Under the seven-year leadership of Mr Chandrasekaran, 53, Tata Consultancy Services has been established as by far the most profitable part of the Tata group, paying hefty dividends to Tata Sons that the holding company has used to shore up other businesses.
“He’s the person who’s effectively been carrying the chequebook for the group, so he’s the most obvious choice,” said Amit Tandon, co-founder of Institutional Investor Advisory Services, a proxy advisory firm.
“He’s respected within the group as well as by investors. He’s had a ringside view of how the group has grown, and therefore he’ll have a very good sense of the hot issues that need immediate fixing.”
Reacting to Cyrus Mistry’s charges of Ratan Tata being insecure about his legacy, Tata Sons on Monday said that the Trusts governed by individual wills of Jamsetji Tata and his two sons have been following the mandates set out in the wills. Mistry had alleged that Ratan Tata had sent out a signal that he had an absolute right to do as he willed without having to explain himself to anyone. In a statement, in response to Mistry’s charges, Tata Sons claimed that he had converted the Group into personal fiefdom with unilateral actions destroying a precious institutional memory of House of Tata.
Hitting out at Mistry further, Tat Sons said that his statements caused enormous damage to the group. “Cyrus Mistry gradually concentrated all power and authority in his own hands as Chairman of major Tata operating companies,” alleged Tata Sons. It also said that the company and its shareholders suffered a loss ‘tens of thousands of crores’.
In a representation to the shareholders of six Tata firms that have called extraordinary general meetings to discuss a resolution seeking his removal as director, Mistry alleged that Tata refused to reply as to why he was removed as Chairman of Tata Sons in October when asked at a meeting of CEOs of Tata Group companies.
Taking a dig at Tata’s style, Mistry had said, “Acknowledging that change is a constant in the dynamic business world and gearing up to adapt to change is what business leadership is made of.” He also accused Tata and former Vice-Chairman of Tata Sons N A Soonawala, as trustees of Tata Trusts, of “abusing” veto rights of Trustee-Nominated Directors to dictate to the directors on how Tata Sons should conduct itself.
The head of the National Stock Exchange of India has resigned weeks before the country’s largest exchange was due to file details about a public listing.
The group said on Friday that Chitra Ramkrishna had decided to step down. “Ms Ramkrishna had tendered her resignation due to personal reasons and expressed her desire to step down with immediate effect,” the NSE said in a statement.
Her decision comes as the NSE was due to announce to file with markets regulators about a stock market flotation. The NSE said in June that it would file a draft prospectus by January. Analysts have said a listing could value the NSE at around $6bn.
Some foreign investors who bought stakes in India’s leading exchanges over the past decade have been frustrated by delays to public listings, because they were unable to monetise their paper profits.
Most global equities trade on listed exchanges, but plans to float India’s bourses have repeatedly run into problems with the country’s markets regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India.
Ousted Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry on Tuesday leveled allegations at Ratan Tata blaming his ego for the Corus deal at a high price. He also said Tata’s contribution to the success of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Jaguar Land Rover is an ‘illusion’. In a series of statements issued by Cyrus Mistry’s office today, it said, “Ratan Tata had pitched for selling TCS to IBM, a ‘near death experience’ for group’s crown jewel. Ratan Tata’s ‘ego’ led to Corus deal at a high price.” He also alleged that Tata’s decision to acquire Corus for more than $12 billion went against reservations of some senior executives. “Ratan Tata’s decision to acquire steelmaker Corus for more than $12 billion, when a year earlier it was available at half the price, went against the reservations of some board members and senior executives,” added the statement.
Mistry also defended his involvement in growing the revenues and profits at two key group companies, Tata Consultancy Services and Tata Motors, that make up the bulk of Tata’s $100 billion revenues. “It is important to set the record straight since insinuations and leaks are being made explicitly to create an illusion that Mistry was a ‘hands off’ chairman and TCS/JLR were on ‘auto-pilot’ during his leadership,” Mistry’s office said in a five-page letter today.
Ratan Tata wanted to sell the company’s “crown jewel” Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) to IBM. A statement from Cyrus Mistry’s office today dubbed the move by Ratan Tata as a “near-death experience for TCS”. The statement is the strongest attack so far from the Mistry camp against the Ratan Tata camp.
On Tuesday, Mistry’s office also alleged that Ratan Tata’s “ego” had led to Corus deal at a high price. A number of board members and senior executives of the group had reservations against Ratan Tata’s decision to buy the European steel company for over $12 billion. They had reservations against the decision as a year before the deal, the European company was available for sale at half the price, according to Mistry. The Corus deal, however, had put Tata steel on the global map.
Last month, Mistry was removed from the post of the chairman of Tata Sons, which is the holding firm of the $100 billion steel-to-software business empire. Mistry said that Ratan Tata’s decision to buy Corus at a higher price made it harder for the company to invest in acquired assets. It also placed jobs in the company at risk.
Mistry also defended his involvement in growing the revenues and profits of two group companies — Tata Consultancy Services and Tata Motors. These two companies make the bulk of Tata’s $100 billion revenues.
Earlier, a statement by Tata Sons on November 10 had insinuated that Cyrus Mistry made no “material contributions” to the success of TCS & JLR. The statement implied that the success of these two companies was because of “Ratan Tata’s personal vision and efforts”, Mistry’s office said in the statement.
It further said that it is important to set the record straight as “insinuations and leaks” are being made to create an illusion that Mistry was a “hands off” Chairman and TCS/JLR were on “auto-pilot” during his leadership.