Showing posts with label Business. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Business. Show all posts
13 May 2021

'Champions League of tax avoidance:' Uber used 50 Dutch shell companies to dodge taxes on nearly $6 billion in revenue

 

GettyImages 1176816141 (1) NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 24: Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO, UBER, speaks onstage during the 2019 Concordia Annual Summit - Day 2 at Grand Hyatt New York on September 24, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Riccardo Savi/Getty Images for Concordia Summit)Riccardo Savi/Getty ImagesUber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.
  • Uber used around 50 Dutch shell companies to help reduce its global tax burden, an Australian research group found.
  • Despite earning $5.8 billion in global revenues in 2019, Uber claimed a $4.5 billion loss for tax purposes.
  • One researcher called Uber’s alleged scheme “the Champions League of tax avoidance.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Uber has been using a complex tax shelter involving around 50 Dutch shell companies to reduce its global tax bill, according to recent research from the Center for International Corporate Tax Accountability and Research.

In 2019, Uber claimed $4.5 billion in global operating losses (excluding the US and China) for tax purposes – in reality, it brought in $5.8 billion in operating revenue, according to CICTAR, an Australia-based research group.

Uber had previously disclosed details about its Dutch tax haven in 2019, when it moved its intellectual property from Bermuda to the Netherlands, but CICTAR’s research sheds more light on how the company has structured its network of shell companies.

“This is the Champions League of tax avoidance,” CICTAR principal analyst Jason Ward told Dutch news magazine De Groene Amsterdammer.

Uber did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story.

Uber transfered its intellectual property through a $16 billion “loan” from one of its subsidiaries in Singapore that in turn owns one of Uber’s Dutch shell companies, a manuever that grants the company a $1 billion tax break every year for the next 20 years, the researchers found.

“Uber has supercharged their tax avoidance approach,” Ward told Insider, using an intellectual property tax break “to prevent future tax bills, turning it into a much more useful, viable tax structure in the Netherlands.”

CICTAR also found several of Uber’s Dutch subsidiaries hadn’t submitted mandatory financial reports, and in India, Uber paid less than a third of the 6% tax the country imposes on multinational companies, according to the report.

“India is in desperate need of public revenue” to help it combat COVID-19, yet companies like Uber are able to avoid cointributing to that effort through tax avoidance schemes, Ward told Insider.

In Australia, CICTAR found that Uber was underpaying its tax bill by $30.5 million (AUD$39 million), according to Groene Amsterdammer.

Uber’s sophisticated efforts to achieve little or no tax burden on multibillion-dollar global revenues highlights a long-standing challenge governments face in enforcing tax compliance among wealthy corporations and individuals across borders.

In response, some lawmakers around the world, including the US President Joe Biden, have lobbied for a global minimum tax and other measures to reduce tax avoidance, which the Tax Justice Network estimates costs governments $427 billion annually.

27 April 2021

TSLA Slides After Beating EPS, But All "Net Income" Comes From Sale Of Reg Credits And Bitcoin

TSLA made $100MM in 1 month of trading crypto, more than it ever made selling cars in 14 years (ex reg credits). It should shut all money losing ventures and become a full time trading desk.

 Wall Street expectations from TSLA's earnings today are rather stratospheric, but as Bloomberg notes, even if the company misses big, the S&P 500 likely won’t be in the doldrums tomorrow because of it. Why? Simply put, the electric-vehicle maker matters less than other high-profile stocks in the broad market gauge.

Alphabet, Amazon.com, Apple, Microsoft and Tesla are among the most influential companies in the stock market. But by one simple measure, Tesla looks different than the others. The S&P 500’s 30-day positive correlation with the stock has fallen to ~0.44 from an early March peak of almost 0.8. That pales in comparison with Microsoft at ~0.77, Apple at ~0.72, Amazon at ~0.68 and Alphabet at ~0.65. In fact, the S&P 500’s correlation with old-school cyclical Caterpillar -- which also reports this week -- is higher than Tesla at ~0.51. This falling correlation is inevitable as Tesla has gained less than 5% this year compared with over 11% for the S&P 500, with value sectors such as energy and financials outperforming. This has happened as meme stocks like GameStop have pushed Tesla out of the limelight, while Bitcoin has attracted almost all the buzz.

With that in mind, here is what TSLA reported shortly after the close for Q1:

  • Adjusted EPS of 93C, beating est. 80c
  • Revenue $10.389BN, missing est. $10.42 billion (range $8.20 billion to $12.34 billion)
  • Free Cash Flow $293MM, beating est. of cash burn of $82.8 million
  • Automotive gross margin +26.5%, beating est +24.3%
  • Cash and cash equivalents $17.14 billion, missing estimates of $17.90 billion

The results visually:

But here is the problem: TSLA reported $594MM in income from operations, but regulatory credits accounted for a whopping $518MM of it, the highest on record and up from $401MM in Q4 2020.

So while GAAP net income was just $438MM, this means that for yet another quarter the company did not generate actual net income without regulatory credits. Add that another $101MM in profits came from "sale of bitcoin"...

... with TSLA owning $1.3BN in digital assets at the end of the quarter, which means it sold around $272MM of the bitcoin it previously owned.

So in addition to over half a billion in reg credit sales, made $101MM in profits from sale of $272MM in bitcoin (reducing its total from $1.5BN to $1.331BN at the end of the quarter).

And while everyone assumes that this is all bitcoin, it is unclear how much of TSLA's "digital assets, net" was Dogecoin.

Of course, some will claim that non of this matters, and that TSLA has in fact generated 7 consecutive quarters of profits, although if one strips reg credits from the GAAP Net Income, this is what one gets.

Discussing its profitability, TSLA said that its operating income improved in Q1 compared to the same period last year to $594M, resulting in a 5.7% operating margin. "This profit level was reached while incurring SBC expense attributable to the 2018 CEO award of $299M in Q1, driven by an increase in market capitalization and a new operational milestone becoming probable."

On a year over year basis, Tesla said that positive impacts from volume growth, regulatory credit revenue growth, gross margin improvement driven by further produt cost reducstions and sale of bitcoin were mainly offset by a lower ASP, increased SBC, additional supply chain costs, R&D investments and other items. Model S and Model X changeover costs negatively impacted both gross profit as well as R&D expenses.

In  terms of Tesla’s financial performance, it’s a case of better-than-expected Automotive Margins and free-cash-flow. The company said of its profit outlook: "We expect our operating margin will continue to grow over time, continuing to reach industry-leading levels with capacity expansion and localization plans underway."

The company also disclosed that it is on track to start production from Berlin factory in 2021, adding that first deliveries of the new model S should start shortly.

On the cash flow side, TSLA revealed that it had a $1.2BN net cash outflow related to bitcoin in Q1, as well as net debt repayments of $1.2BN offset by free cash flow of $293MM, which was above the estimate of $83MM in cash burn:

Quarter-end cash and cash equivalents decreased to $17.1B in Q1, driven mainly by a net cash outflow of $1.2B in cryptocurrency (Bitcoin) purchases, net debt and finance lease repayments of $1.2B, partially offset by free cash flow of $293M

Looking ahead, Tesla said it expects to achieve 50% average annual growth in vehicle deliveries over a multi-year horizon. But the company notes that rate of growth will depend on equipment capacity, operational efficiency and capacity and stability of supply chain.

Tesla’s timeline also remains largely intact. From the shareholder letter:

“We are currently building Model Y capacity at Gigafactory Berlin and Gigafactory Texas and remain on track to start production and deliveries from each location in 2021. Gigafactory Shanghai will continue to expand further over time. Tesla Semi deliveries will also begin in 2021.”

Something else the market may not like is that the average selling point for a Tesla fell 13% in the first quarter. According to the company, this is "because Model S and Model X deliveries reduced in Q1 due to the product updates and as lower ASP China-made vehicles became a larger percentage of our mix."

Elsewhere, there was no substantive mention of Cybertruck anywhere in the shareholder presentation, just that it’s a product ‘in development’ listed under the Texas plant. As Bloomberg reminds us, "Musk has said on prior calls that small volumes of Cybertruck deliveries could be possible by the end of this year. Will he give an update on that during the earnings call?"

Not surprisingly, not even TSLA's usual cheerleaders were ecstatic about the results: “Everything happened that people thought would happen,” Munster told Bloomberg. “There’s not a lot of news and it wasn’t a blowout.”

* * *

In kneejerk response to the earnings, Tesla shares were first up, but then slide more than 1% in postmarket, which nonetheless was a much tamer reaction than what options trading was pricing in ahead of the results.

21 April 2021

Facebook Plans To Launch Stablecoin That Will Compete With Dollar Early Next Year

A couple of days ago, Morgan Stanley warned that China's new digital renminbi - the first "central bank digital currency" (or CBDC) - could cement its status as the next reserve currency. But as government and Wall Street continue their embrace of virtual currencies that, some say, threaten to blow up the industry status quo and eliminate the need for banks, corporations are also striving to create the stablecoin of the future, challenging governments' long-held monopoly on money.

Years after Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg first declared his intention to launch a transnational stablecoin via Facebook's "Libra" project that would, he hoped, enable cross-border payments on Facebook's platform, the Facebook-backed digital-currency project Diem is reportedly planning to launch its first stablecoin in 2021 as a small-scale pilot, according to an anonymously sourced report from CNBC.

But Libra, which involved a convoluted plan to launch a stablecoin backed by a potpourri of fiat currencies, was quickly scaled back after Facebook's talk about creating a new international financial system to supplant the dollar apparently rattled too many feathers. What was left was later spun off as Diem, a re-branding that has given life to a scaled-back vision of corporate stablecoin dominance. However, When it finally arrives, Diem won’t come with the same fanfare and controversy of the original idea envisioned by the social media giant nearly two years ago.

The person, who preferred to remain anonymous as the details haven’t yet been made public, said this pilot will be small in scale, focusing largely on transactions between individual consumers. There may also be an option for users to buy goods and purchases, the person added. However, there is no confirmed date for the launch and timing could therefore change.

"It’s really drifted off the radar in a way that’s quite striking," Michael Casey, chief content officer of the cryptocurrency publication CoinDesk and a former financial journalist, told CNBC.

Facebook won't play an official role in the launch, which instead will be overseen by the Diem Association, the Switzerland-based nonprofit which oversees diem’s development.

In comments to CNBC, financial journalist Michael Casey said he was surprised at how under-the-radar the diem project has become. It's almost as if the international community has forgotten about it, he said. "It really drifted off the radar in a way that’s quite striking," said Casey, the chief content officer of the cryptocurrency publication CoinDesk who was one of the first reporters at a major American newspaper (the Wall Street Journal) to cover the rise of crypto.

The soft reaction to Diem is also surprising considering how much of a backlash its predecessor created. "It was such a stunning challenge to the international order, in that the backlash was just really powerful," Casey said.

Diem has lost several senior executives over the past year, as well as the backing of powerful corporations like Mastercard and Visa, among many others. But in the wake of its rebranding, Diem is reportedly in talks with Swiss financial regulators to secure a payment license, a crucial step that would place the organization further along the path toward getting its digital currency project off the ground.

Of course, more "government sponsored" competitors are in the works: in addition to the eRMB, the ECB recently concluded a public consultation on a digital euro and will make a decision this summer, and the Boston Fed is set to release its initial research in the fall.

With stablecoins seen as a more practical alternative to bitcoin and ether, we will be closely watching the rollout of stablecoins as a space where corporations might win an early victory in the battle to use crypto technology to seize the money-making monopoly from government - and from the people.

To sum up, why should readers be skeptical of Facebook's Diem? Well, Tom Luongo once described it as a "Trojan Rabbit" that could quietly help Zuck seize the ability to print money, and launch "the Central Bank of Facebook."

16 April 2021

Can Huarong Go Bankrupt?

By Ling Huawei, managing editor of Caixin Media and Caixin Weekly. Originally published in Caixin,

After China Huarong Asset Management Co. Ltd. on March 31 decided to suspend its share trading the next day, the market became awash in rumors that the company, one of the country’s four largest bad-asset managers, would be forced into restructuring or might even go bankrupt (as we discussed in "This Is A Fatal Event": China's Bond Market Hammered After Huarong Bankruptcy Rumors).

The rumors spooked many institutional investors, sending the company’s bonds tumbling. Huarong, a product of China’s reform of state-owned banks at the end of last century, has once again found itself at the center of a critical moment in its history.

But can Huarong go bankrupt?

Huarong is not a bank. Most of its investors are the institutional sort, not individuals. If it were to go bankrupt, the spillover risks ought to be much easier to handle. Also, although Huarong has total assets upward of 1.7 trillion yuan ($259 billion), the central bank does not regard it as a systemically important financial institution. Therefore, it seems that Huarong’s problems ought to be dealt with in the same “market-oriented” way as average financial institutions. Under China’s Company Law in the case, shareholders would need to fill the holes on the books with net assets. After that, the company could issue new shares or introduce strategic investors to supplement the company’s capital. If the company was still insolvent after all that, it might end up facing debt restructuring or bankruptcy.

However, Huarong is not an ordinary company. Rather it is a central government-administrated state-owned financial enterprise. At the end of last century, the company was set up to dispose of the nonperforming assets of state-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd. Since 2006, it gradually expanded into a financial holding company. Huarong’s biggest shareholder is the Ministry of Finance, which holds a 61.25% stake. Huarong has grown its business mainly by obtaining financing with a state guarantee. In July 2014, the company started issuing bonds overseas, the outstanding value of which is more than $23 billion.

Huarong, which went public in Hong Kong in October 2015, provides financing to multiple industries, with a large portion of its investment flowing into the property market or other areas where bank lending is kept under tight restrictions. Excluding its subsidiary, Huarong Xiangjiang Bank Corp. Ltd., Huarong has around 1 trillion yuan in assets, connecting financial institutions including banks, trust firms and insurance firms and nonfinancial industries. That gives Huarong certain characteristics of a systemically important financial institution that probably shouldn’t be allowed to go bankrupt.

Regardless of whether it ends up going bankrupt, Huarong will need to put under strict financial constraints. Lai Xiaomin, a former chairman of Huarong who came under investigation in April 2018, was sentenced to death this January in the country’s biggest financial corruption case since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Some believe that Lai’s misconduct as chairman left Huarong with a huge financial black hole. The complexity of Lai’s case made it difficult to unwind some of Huarong’s more problematic projects, so it’s unrealistic to expect Huarong to fill that hole all on its own.

As of mid-2020, Huarong had 160 billion yuan in net assets, and more than 30 billion yuan in loan-loss provisions. Huarong needs to be thoroughly recapitalized and have the value of its nonperforming assets correctly recalculated. It needs to “take a big bath.” Unless it does so, the company’s moral hazard will continue to grow. The financial black hole won’t disappear on its own, so Huarong needs to take responsibility and shoulder the losses.

There’s no making without breaking. “Breaking” does not mean a hasty debt restructuring or even bankruptcy, but a practical restructuring plan created after completely clarifying its assets and liabilities. “Making” means Huarong needs to have the professional capabilities to dispose of nonperforming assets, to become a professional institution that can effectively dispose of such assets at both home and abroad.

To achieve this goal, Hong Kong-listed Huarong will need the support and understanding of shareholders and other investors so that it can be privatized and delisted if necessary. Also, it needs to clear up its financials and recalculate its loss provisions. It will also need to reduce the costs of restructuring as much as possible and once again become a professional institution by reshaping its corporate culture and improving its internal governance.

Update

Confirming the above, this morning Bloomberg reported that Huarong has prepared funds for full repayment of a S$600 million offshore bond due April 27, according to a person with direct knowledge of the company’s plan.

Huarong plans to make the payment on the due date, while a Huarong spokesperson declined to comment but said the company has “adequate liquidity” and has made full repayment on bonds that have matured

Huarong International, the main offshore arm of China Huarong, “will continue its stable and compliant operations based on new business development plan,” the spokesperson said.

12 April 2021

Alibaba Fined, Thanks Regulators...

China Giveth, China Taketh away....

https://c.ndtvimg.com/2019-11/g6vqeilo_alibaba-headquarters-china-reuters_625x300_09_November_19.jpg

Chinese regulators have fined Alibaba 18 billion yuan ($2.75 billion) - around 4% of its revenues in 2019 - for violating anti-monopoly rules and abusing its dominant market position.

The State Administration for Market Regulation has also ordered Alibaba to make "thorough rectifications" to strengthen internal compliance and protect consumer rights. ($1 = 6.5522 yuan)



16 March 2021

Centre admits to earning Rs 33 per litre from petrol, Rs 32 from diesel; says no plan to bring fuel under GST

The central government on Monday informed Parliament that it earns almost Rs 33 from the sale of every litre of petrol and Rs 32 from per litre of diesel.

Centre earns around Rs 33 on the sale of each litre of petrol, the govt has told Lok Sabha | Picture Credits: PTI

Even as the petrol and diesel prices continued to stay at the all-time high for the 16th straight day on Monday, the Centre told Parliament that it earns a huge amount of revenue from fuel via excise duty, cess and surcharge.

The central government admitted that, since May 6, 2020, it has been earning Rs 33 per litre of petrol and Rs 32 on a litre of diesel in form of central excise duty, including basic excise duty, cess and surcharge.

In comparison, between March and May 5, 2020, the central government’s per litre earning on petrol and diesel was almost Rs 23 and Rs 19, respectively on one litre of diesel (SEE TABLE).

Table: Details of total central excise duty, including basic excise duty, cess and surcharge.

Between January 1, 2020, and March 13, 2020, only Rs 20 on a litre of petrol and Rs 16 on a litre of diesel were going to the Centre.

This means, compared to January 1, 2020, the government earning were up by Rs 13 on each litre of petrol and Rs 16 on diesel.

POLITICAL FLAK OVER PRICE FREEZE

The government has been facing political flak for both a high levy on fuels and for putting a freeze on fuel prices as five state assemblies head towards polls.

The opposition has been questioning the “politically fixed freeze” in fuel prices as rates of petroleum products in the country are benchmarked to international product prices.

In reply to a query in Lok Sabha, MoS Finance Anurag Thakur informed that “generally, the prices of petroleum products in the country are higher/lower than other countries due to a variety of factors, including prevailing tax regime and subsidy compensations by the respective governments, the details of which are not maintained by the government”.

Justifying the high levies on fuel, he said, “The excise duty rates have been calibrated to generate resources for infrastructure and other developmental items of expenditure keeping in view the present fiscal position.”

“Consumer Price Index-Combined (CPI-C) inflation has declined from 7.59 per cent in January 2020 to 4.06 per cent in January 2021. CPI—‘Petrol for vehicle’ inflation has increased from 7.38 per cent in January 2020 to 12.53 per cent in January 2021. CPI—‘Diesel for vehicle’ inflation has increased from 6.44 per cent in January 2020 to 12.79 per cent in January 2021,” he said.

The government has, however, been silent on why the oil companies have not changed prices for over two weeks when the prices of fuels are linked to global crude prices and calibrated daily.

The last time prices were calibrated was on February 27, 2021, when the petrol price was hiked by 24 paise per litre and diesel raised by 15 paise.

Meanwhile, consumers continue to pay high prices for fuels despite the freeze all over the country. On Monday, unbranded petrol was retailing in Delhi at Rs 91.17 per litre while diesel was Rs 81.47. In Mumbai, petrol was retailing at Rs 97.57, while diesel cost Rs 88.60.

CENTRE-STATE SHARE IN FUEL TAXES

In February, the price of petrol had crashed past the Rs 100-mark in two places in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. These two states levy the highest VAT on fuel in the country.

The central and state levies make up for 60 per cent of the retail selling price of petrol and over 54 per cent of diesel price. If a consumer is paying Rs 100 for a litre of petrol, almost Rs 33 goes to the Centre, while it’s Rs 32 on a litre of diesel.

The states cannot complain as not only they charge their own levies but also get 42 per cent of the central collections, excluding the cess and surcharge component, as their share, as per the finance commission recommendation.

‘NO PLANS TO INCLUDE FUEL IN GST LIST’

While experts have said that the only way to provide relief to the consumer is to add fuels to the GST list, the states and Centre are reluctant to do so, given the revenue the fuels bring in to them.

Replying to question on inclusion of fuels in the GST regime, Anurag Thakur told Lok Sabha: “Article 366 of the Constitution provides “Goods and Services Tax” means any tax on supply of goods, or services or both except taxes on the supply of the alcoholic liquor for human consumption. Thus, the supply of above petroleum products is not excluded from the purview of GST.”

However, he added, “Article 279 A (5) of the Constitution prescribes that the Goods and Service Tax Council shall recommend the date on which the goods and services tax be levied on petroleum crude, high-speed diesel, motor spirit (commonly known as petrol), natural gas and aviation turbine fuel (ATF), also as per the Section 9(2) of the CGST.”

Through the finance minister, the government informed the House that inclusion of these products in the GST list will require the recommendation of the GST Council.

In a signal that the government is staying non-committal on the issue, Anurag Thakur told Lok Sabha: “So far, the GST Council, in which the states are also represented, has not made any recommendation for inclusion of these goods under GST. The Council may consider the issue of inclusion of these five petroleum products at a time it considers appropriate keeping in view all the relevant factors including revenue implication.

“At present, there is no proposal to bring crude petroleum, petrol, diesel, ATF and natural gas under GST. As regards other by-products the same are already under GST,” he said.


15 March 2021

India: The safest banks for your deposits in 2021 - Q3 FY 2021 update


Bank NameScoreComment
Axis Bank Ltd4.00Meets all RBI PCA parameters as per the latest available results
Catholic Syrian Bank Ltd4.00Meets all RBI PCA parameters as per the latest available results
City Union Bank Ltd4.00Meets all RBI PCA parameters as per the latest available results
Development Credit Bank4.00Meets all RBI PCA parameters as per the latest available results
Dhanlaxmi Bank Ltd4.00Meets all RBI PCA parameters as per the latest available results
Federal Bank Ltd4.00Meets all RBI PCA parameters as per the latest available results
HDFC Bank Ltd4.00Meets all RBI PCA parameters as per the latest available results
ICICI Bank Ltd4.00Meets all RBI PCA parameters as per the latest available results
Karnataka Bank Ltd4.00Meets all RBI PCA parameters as per the latest available results
Karur Vyasa Bank Ltd4.00Meets all RBI PCA parameters as per the latest available results
Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd4.00Meets all RBI PCA parameters as per the latest available results
Nainital Bank Ltd3.75Made losses in FY2020. If RoA becomes negative in FY21 it will be in RT1
RBL Bank Ltd4.00Meets all RBI PCA parameters as per the latest available results
South Indian Bank Ltd4.00Meets all RBI PCA parameters as per the latest available results
Yes Bank Ltd3.75Made losses in FY2020. If RoA becomes negative in FY21 it will be in RT1
Bandhan Bank4.00Meets all RBI PCA parameters as per the latest available results
IDFC First Bank Ltd3.50RT1 - Negative RoA for 2 consecutive years. However, it has been profitable for the operations till December 31, 2020 of FY2021
IDBI Bank Ltd3.00RT3 - Negative RoA for 4 consecutive years
State Bank of India4.00Meets all RBI PCA parameters as per the latest available results
Bank of Baroda4.00Meets all RBI PCA parameters as per the latest available results
Bank of India2.00RT3 - breach in Leverage ratio and negative RoA for 4 consecutive years
Bank of Maharashtra4.00Meets all RBI PCA parameters as per the latest available results
Canara Bank3.75Made losses in FY2020 due to fraud provisioning. However, they have done well for the nine-month period of FY2021 till 31.12.2020
Central Bank of India3.00RT3 - Negative RoA for 4 consecutive years. Breaches NNPA parameter as well if Covid NPA norm relaxation is removed
Indian Bank4.00Meets all RBI PCA parameters as per the latest available results
Punjab & Sind Bank3.25RT2 - Negative RoA for 3 consecutive years. Further, It has made losses this year too, having posted net loss for the operations till December 31, 2020
Union Bank of India3.25RT2 - Negative RoA for 3 consecutive years. However, it has posted net profit for the current year for the operations till December 31, 2020
IndusInd Bank4.00Meets all RBI PCA parameters as per the latest available results
08 March 2021

Bank of Maharashtra, Bank of India, Indian Overseas Bank and the Central Bank of India are shortlisted for privatisation

Bank of Maharashtra, Bank of India, Indian Overseas Bank and the Central Bank of India are shortlisted for privatisation

Now the government has shortlisted four mid-sized state-run banks for privatisation. Earlier, the government was considering only two public sector banks but now it plans to privatise four banks.

According to a tweet by journalist Aadesh Rawal, the government has taken the call to do so. The four banks shortlisted are Bank of Maharashtra, Bank of India, Indian Overseas Bank and the Central Bank of India.

During the budget 2021, Sitharaman announced the plan to privatise two state-run banks, other than IDBI Bank. It is assumed that the banks which are not in the list of mergers will undergo privatisation process. The government is in the process of merging 13 banks into five banks.

In the past, an analyst said Punjab and Sind Bank and Bank of Maharashtra looked probable candidates for privatisation. This is mainly because of the six banks kept out of merger, Indian Overseas Bank, Central Bank and UCO Bank are under PCA (prompt-corrective action).

07 March 2021

Bitcoin Will Soon Become ‘The World’s Currency’, Says Crypto CEO


Bitcoin Will Soon Become 'The World's Currency', Says Crypto CEOPA Images

Leading global bank Citi believes Bitcoin is now at a ‘tipping point’, and the CEO of a major crytpocurrency exchange has said ‘it’s going all the way to the moon’.

This comes as big companies such as Tesla, PayPal and Mastercard begin to show favour towards Bitcoin, while central banks have started exploring the potential to issue their own digital currencies.

In a note dated Monday, March 1, Citi’s global perspectives and solutions team wrote that Bitcoin is now at the ‘tipping point of mainstream acceptance or a speculative implosion’.

BitcoinPA Images

Citi remarked upon the cryptocurrency’s incredible rise in value over the course of recent years, and spoke of burgeoning interest from institutional investors as potentially laying out a path for mainstream success.

The increased use of Bitcoin as a payment tool, escalating availability of digital wallets, and notable institutional interest have all helped boost confidence in Bitcoin, and could lead to it one day becoming the leading medium for international trade.

The note reads as follows:

There are a host of risks and obstacles that stand in the way of Bitcoin progress. Bitcoin’s future is thus still uncertain, but developments in the near term are likely to prove decisive as the currency balances at the tipping point of mainstream acceptance or a speculative implosion.

BitcoinPA Images

Citi analysts described Bitcoin as being the ‘North Star’ of the blockchain ecosystem, noting that its underlying technology has created a completely new domain of the digital economy around it:

Not only has Bitcoin increased in usage and value (hitting $1 trillion in market capitalization in February 2021), but it has created a whole ecosystem around it — including crypto exchanges, crypto banks, and new offerings into savings, lending, and borrowing.

The report notes bitcoin’s various advantages for global payments, including ‘its decentralized design, lack of foreign exchange exposure, fast (and potentially cheaper) money movements, secure payment channels, and traceability’.

These attributes, when combined with bitcoin’s international reach and neutrality, could well lead to the cryptocurrency becoming ‘the currency of choice for international trade’.

BitcoinPA Images

During an interview with Bloomberg, Jesse Powell, CEO of cryptocurrency trading exchange Kraken said:

I think true believers will tell you it’s going all the way to the moon, to Mars, and eventually it’ll be the world’s currency.

Powell went on to state that a $1 million price target within the next decade would be ‘very reasonable,’ remarking, ‘you have to think it’s going to infinity’.

However, analysts have also warned that there are still various risks and obstacles that could lead to the bitcoin bubble bursting, remarking that widespread changes to the market will be needed before the mainstream adoption of bitcoin.

It’s thought the impact on institutional investment caused by the pandemic will remove a crucial support pillar for Bitcoin, with anticipated regulation and oversight in the aftermath of the pandemic potentially causing ‘many of the most innovative developers and entrepreneurs to exit the ecosystem’.

04 March 2021

UPI registers 2.29 billion transactions in February

 

Unified Payments Interface or UPI has registered 2.29 billion transactions worth over 4 lakh 25 thousand crore rupees in the last month. As per the data released by the National Payments Corporation of India , UPI has been able to maintain its previous record in terms of average transaction value even in 28 days for the month of February.
 
While NPCI has not released the transactions break-up figures for February, digital payments major PhonePe had a lead over Google Pay in terms of UPI transactions volume and value by a decent margin in January. State Bank of India which processes the largest volume of transactions via UPI among all banks, had significantly improved its performance in terms of technical decline rate in the month of January.
03 March 2021

How This CEO Surged Into the Multibillion-Dollar Mattress Industry

Puffy's cloud-like mattress feel is revolutionizing the way Americans sleep, and CEO Arthur Andreasyan is just getting started


How This CEO Surged Into the Multibillion-Dollar Mattress Industry
Image credit: Pixabay

By Lakshay Jain

The boom of e-commerce has transformed mattresses into something of a cultural phenomenon. 

There are nearly 200 online mattress companies, and many players entered the market intending to disrupt it. But Puffy CEO Arthur Andreasyan had another goal: wake up the industry with luxurious products that are accessible to everyone. 

Puffy was founded in 2016 and launched in 2017 with the central mission of changing the landscape of sleep health in America. What sets Puffy apart from its competitors is its distinctive trademarked Cooling Cloud technology that feels like sleeping on a cloud. 

Achieving a cloud-like mattress is no easy feat: Andreasyan and his product development team spent countless hours testing and retesting different mattress foam materials and formulas to create the perfect mattress. But the company’s commitment to delivering high-quality comfort and better sleep worked: today, Puffy is ranked as one of the best-rated mattresses you can buy online. 

“We had always envisioned creating this signature feeling; now, it’s something we’re known for,” Andreasyan said in an interview with Tech Company News

Over the course of four years, Puffy expanded its product range to include bedding and bedroom accessories. In 2020, even though the pandemic wreaked havoc on the global economy, Puffy’s sales continued to rise, and the company experienced exponential growth. But how did Andreasyan reimagine sleep and establish Puffy as a leading force in a fiercely competitive industry? 

Simplifying an innovation 

Andreasyan was on a flight to LA when he looked out the window and wondered, “What would it feel like to sleep on a bed of clouds?” Just like that, the idea behind the Puffy Mattress came to life. 

A passionate digital marketer, Andreasyan had his eyes on the mattress industry and could see a shift in consumer behavior. He recognized the industry’s potential for what it was: an opportunity to empower many Americans’ lives by providing them with premium sleep solutions. 

When Puffy entered the market in 2017, the concept of buying a mattress online was still relatively new. But the retail mattress buying experience was broken.

Before the rise of direct-to-consumer mattress companies, shopping for a new mattress was a hassle characterized by inconsistent pricing, confusing branding options, and commission-based salespeople. As the popularity of bed-in-a-box brands surged, top mattress manufacturers became embroiled in lawsuits and bankruptcy filings, creating further confusion for customers. 

To uncomplicate the process of shopping for a mattress online, Andreasyan defined three focal points to drive all product developments: accentuate the feeling of sleeping on a cloud, luxurious comfort, and support for the body. 

“Simplifying our value proposition sets us apart in an often confusing industry where words such as ‘sleep science’ and ‘sleep technology’ can confuse people who just want a better night’s sleep,” Andreasyan said. “We believe in clear and transparent communication so the quality of our products and our brand experience can speak for itself.” 

Customer-centric product development 

Direct-to-consumer mattress brands, such as Puffy, have thrived because of the increased focus on customer satisfaction, unlike major retail brands. 

But Andreasyan knew there was a more effective way to deliver better sleep, and it started with designing a customer-focused journey and support system. Andreasyan and the product development team at Puffy remain engaged with customers pre-purchase, during the purchase journey, and after purchase. Puffy cares about every touchpoint with the customer, and this attention to detail and humanized approach is what Andreasyan believes sets the e-commerce retailer apart. 

“There are plenty of products on the market that promise good rest,” he said. “The reason we’re in this business is that we’ve done real research to uncover exactly what healthy and supportive sleep should feel like. We want to create products people feel good about investing in.” 

Adapt and deliver consistently

E-commerce is ever-evolving, and brands have to be able to adapt to the dynamic environment to survive. The undeniable fact of the matter is that not many startups can adapt proactively and deliver consistently. In fact, 90 per cent of startups are doomed to fail within the first five years. But Andreasyan has outlined the key ingredient for Puffy’s success: adaptability. 

“You must have the ability to adapt to the ever-changing environment of the business, or you will fall behind,” he said. “I truly believe that we need to crave the result so intensely that the work is irrelevant.” 

Moreover, he said he believes that product development should never be complacent. With Puffy, Andreasyan has created a brand that delivers premium products that don’t sacrifice quality. The company trusts its products enough to offer its customers a free lifetime warranty service. 
“At Puffy, we have a strong commitment toward making meaningful changes to increase the benefits our products can deliver to new and existing customers,” Andreasyan said. “The importance of sleep cannot be overlooked; we are passionate about bringing the power of good sleep to light.”

02 March 2021

Franklin Templeton top execs withdrew crores from the wound up fund just before they were locked to the public

Evidence from the SEBI inquiry are slowly coming into public domain and it doesnt show these executives acted in good faith.

The top executives of FT India including Sanjay Sapre, his wife Pradipta Sapre, Vivek Kudwa (Head of APAC at FT), his wife and mother, Aravind Vasudeo Sonde (Trustee at FTIL), Jayaram S Iyer (Listed director of Franklin Templeton India), Venkata Radhakrishnan (also director) all these people withdrew crores of funds from the debt funds, which were then locked for the public.

Source: https://themorningcontext.com/business/franklin-templeton-top-brass-put-self-interest-first (Pay wall but worth it for those entangled in this mess)

All of these people who are in the management of Franklin Templeton withdrew funds. On 23 Mar 2020, SEBI approved additional borrowing in these funds above the normal allowed limit. This was the sign of trouble in these funds, that the management of the fund would be aware of. The funds were then withdrawn by the management after 23rd March 2020.

We don't want to speculate much, but prima facie these actions seem like text book insider trading (acting on non public information). This information was obtained by SEBI inquiry, but for some reason has not been in the entirely released to public. SEBI has also rejected RTI inquiries even from affected parties. One has to wonder on whose side SEBI is acting.

Disclaimer: Affected in 2 of the wound up funds. While I believe the funds may eventually be recovered, if the management acted in bad faith, then action as per law must be taken.
This rattles public trust and belief in the entire mutual fund industry, and also the larger financial industry.

In other countries, bad actors have been prosecuted even if they held very high positions, as and when evidence of their misconduct has come to light.

 

Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/IndiaInvestments/comments/lv3vc4/franklin_templeton_top_execs_withdrew_crores_from/

Directors Appointment in India Maybe Suject to Dual Approval

In a consultation paper, the market regulator tightened norms with regard to the resignation of independent directors on the grounds of personal reasons or other commitments

Representational image.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) is proposing to give a greater say to minority shareholders in the appointment, re-appointment and in the removal of independent directors. 

In a consultation paper, the market regulator tightened the norms with regard to the resignation of the independent directors on the grounds of personal reasons or other commitments by suggesting a cooling off period of one year before the directors can join another board. Similar cooling off period has been proposed if the directors are elevated to a position such as   a whole-time director in the same company. It also mooted the grant of long-vesting ESOPs to the independent directors in lieu of cash-based commissions.

The appointment and the re-appointment of the independent directors shall be subject to dual approval — the approval of the shareholders and the approval by “majority of the minority” (simple majority) shareholders. Minority shareholders mean shareholders, other than the promoter and promoter group.

If either of the approval thresholds are not met, the person would have failed to get appointed or re-appointed. 

In such a case, the listed entity may either propose a new candidate or propose the same person for a second vote of all shareholders,without a separate requirement of approval by “majority of the minority”, after a cooling-off period of 90 days but within a period of 120 days.

The removal of the directors will also be subject to the dual approval process.

Further, if a casual vacancy arises because of resignation, removal or the death of an independent director, the approval of shareholders should be taken within a time period of three months.

Sebi said that considering the importance of the audit committee with regard to related party transactions and financial matters, it should comprise two-third independent directors and one-third non-executive directors who are not related to the promoter, including nominee directors, if any.

“While some these suggestions may increase the compliance burden, Sebi’s move will help broad-base corporate governance norms in Indian entities. These moves have the capacity to increase the independent oversight of Indian listed entities,” Arka Mookerjee, partner, J. Sagar Associates, said.




Cape Clean - India's Top Facade and Window Cleaning Company
26 February 2021

India's RBI Says Cryptocurrencies Can Cause ‘Financial Instability’

 The country’s central bank is taking a hard-hitting approach to the crypto sector while mulling its own CBDC.

By Shaurya Malwa

Bitcoin and Indian rupee. Image: ShutterstockThe Reserve Bank of India, the country’s central bank, says cryptocurrencies may impact the region’s financial stability, as per a report this morning on financial publication Bloomberg.

RBI governor Shaktikanta Das said cryptocurrencies were a “major” concern, adding the bank had highlighted the points to the country’s central government. The statements marked the second instance issued by the RBI with regards to the crypto market in two weeks.

Last week, the Indian administration proposed a blanket ban on all private cryptocurrencies and called for the creation of a framework for an official digital currency issued by the RBI instead. Das confirmed that development today, stating the bank RBI was “very much in the game” in that regard.

He added the project was “receiving our full attention” and that both the technical and regulatory aspects were currently being worked on.

Despite the negative comments, crypto proponents are continuing to fight for the cause. Local crypto exchanges and crypto lawyers have formed a legal coalition in the past years to work with the government to help create a regulated, safe framework for the use of cryptocurrencies in the country.

Any technology can be misused

Some high-ranking officials have joined in on the movement as well. “It can be a true game-changer for India. Indeed, Bitcoin can be misused but so can Google Maps! Don’t ban it, regulate it smartly,” said Dr. Srivatsa Krishna, an official of the country’s premier civil services agency, the Indian Administrative Service, in a report published earlier this week.

Krishna questioned the government’s pessimist approach to cryptocurrencies and warned that citizens could lose out on a “wealth creation” opportunity. He further added that the government simply did not understand the potential of cryptocurrencies and was instead taking the safer route of banning the sector outright.

The country had previously barred all state-owned and private banks to transact with crypto exchanges in 2018, but the Supreme Court later overturned that dictum in May 2020. While this served as a brief respite, the anti-crypto narrative has swiftly returned.

Infra.Market becomes India's latest unicorn after $100-million fundraising

 

The company seeks to offer an enhanced procurement experience to players in the construction ecosystem.


Infra.Market
Aaditya Sharda (left) and Souvik Sengupta founded Infra.Market in 2016

Infra.Market has joined the unicorn club after raising $100 million in a Series C round. This round was led by Tiger Global, with participation from other existing investors Accel Partners, Nexus Venture Partners, Evolvence India Fund, Sistema Asia Fund and Foundamental Gmbh.

Avendus Capital was the exclusive financial advisor to Infra.Market on the transaction.

The company had raised a seed round from Accel in June 2019, and has achieved the unicorn status in less than 20 months. Following the $100-million round, the company has raised $150 million so far.

Founded by Souvik Sengupta and Aaditya Sharda in 2016, the Mumbai-headquartered technology firm is a one-stop marketplace for construction material.

The company seeks to offer an enhanced procurement experience to players in the construction ecosystem.

It is digitally transforming the construction material supply chain by aggregating the capacity of small manufacturers and adding a technology and services stack. The start-up is targeting the $140-billion construction material market, with a focus on the infrastructure sector.

The company, which has been profitable for the past four years, currently has gross merchandise value (GMV) of $400 million, and is targeting a GMV of $1 billion this year.


chart

“We will focus on geographic and product expansion to achieve this target. Further, the focus on higher spend in infrastructure, as mentioned in the Budget, will help us expand further,” said Sengupta.

The company is expected to benefit from the 34 per cent increase in allocation for infrastructure projects, announced in the Union Budget.

“We are seeing rapid acceleration in demand, given that infrastructure and real estate companies are looking to shift their procurement in order to get consistent quality and minimise delays,” said Sengupta.

“With pioneering technology innovation and the ability to stitch together private label brands, Infra.Market is positioned for strong growth, healthy economics, and profitability,” said Scott Shleifer, partner at Tiger Global Management.

Infra.Market focuses on construction products under its own brands and aims to solve existing issues such as a lack of price transparency, unreliable quality, fragmented vendor base, and inefficient logistics.

More than two-thirds of its sales are contributed by the company’s own brands, which include concrete, stone material, chemicals, and cement.

The firm is about to launch in-house brands in paints and plywood soon.

The company caters to both institutional customers and retail outlets in the construction material sector, and supplies across 10 states. In addition, it exports to markets such as the UAE, Singapore, and Bangladesh.

25 January 2021

CAIT seeks action against Amazon, Zomato, Flipkart and Swiggy for 'daylight robbery'

New Delhi, Jan 25 : The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) in a communication sent to Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal demanded immediate action against e-commerce entities including Amazon, Flipkart, Zomato, Swiggy and others."It is a case of daylight robbery of e-commerce entities in India and therefore demand immediate action against the erring e-commerce portals and online mechanism providers," CAIT said.

CAIT has accused Amazon, Flipkart, Zomato, Swiggy and various other e-commerce entities for violation of mandatory display of Country of Origin and Manufacturer, seller Details on products sold through their respective E-Commerce Portals as required under the Consumers Protection (E Commerce) Rules,2020, Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Act, 2011 and guidelines of Food Safety & Standards Authority of India.

CAIT has asked Goyal to take action against E-commerce entities including Amazon, Flipkart, Zomato, Swiggy and others.

"It is a case of daylight robbery of e-commerce entities in India and, therefore demands immediate action against the erring e-commerce portals and online mechanism providers," CAIT said.

CAIT National President B.C. Bhartia and Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal in a communication to Goyal said that e-commerce entities conducting business in India including Amazon, Flipkart and others are highly violating the mandatory conditions spelled out in above Acts.

"It is a pity that particularly in e-commerce every guidelines, Rules & Regulations, Laws and policies are being flouted openly and no department has so far taken any cognizance of compliance issues resulting in a highly vitiated and mess like e-commerce trade of India," CAIT said.

Bhartia and Khandelwal said that Rule 10 of Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011 provide that e-commerce entities should have to display name and address of the manufacturer, name of the country of origin, common/generic name of the product, net quantity, best before/use by date (if applicable), maximum retail price, dimensions of the commodity, etc.

This rule was introduced in June 2017 and provided a transition period of six months thereby its implementation from January 1,2018 but even after a lapse of three years, the above rules are not being complied by e-commerce companies prominently by Amazon, Flipkart, etc.
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Failure to make declarations as above will amount to selling non-standard packages and will invite penalty under the above said Act, including fine or imprisonment or both, CAIT said.

Both trade leaders further said that similar obligations were imposed on e-commerce food business operators vide guidelines issued by the Food Safety & Standards Authority (FSSAI) on February 2,2017.

"But such FBOs like Zomato, Swiggy, etc. are not complying with the above rules," CAIT said.
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Bhartia and Khandelwal said that under Rule 4(2) of the Consumer Protection (E Commerce) Rules, 2020, it is provided that every e-commerce entity shall provide the following information in a clear and accessible manner on its platform, displayed prominently to its users, namely, legal name of the e-commerce entity, principal geographic address of its headquarters and all branches, name and details of its website, and contact details like email address, fax, landline and mobile numbers of customer care as well as of grievance office. Similar provisions are also spelled out in Press Note 2 of the FDI Policy, 2016.

CAIT said no e-commerce entity has appointed a Nodal Officer as also complying with above provisions. Important rights of the consumers are being violated as they are not aware of the seller or description of the product at the time of purchase of products from e-commerce portals.


Ethereum Surges To New Record

Coins that power decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols are soaring recently as bitcoin treads water.

While bitcoin grabbed all the headlines early on in the year, it is the rest of the crypto space that is stealing its thunder most recently as Ethereum, the backbone of the smart contracts that define much of the DeFi space, has drastically outperformed...

Source: Bloomberg

That is the highest for ETH relative to BTC since

Source: Bloomberg

In fact, as Bitcoin drifts, Ethereum is up over 17% since Friday...

Source: Bloomberg

Back above the recent highs....

Source: Bloomberg

Making new all-time highs...

Source: Bloomberg

The incredible surge in the price of AAVE (driven as surge in the growth of flash loans) most recently is a good example of what is driving this push into DeFi tokens. As CoinTelegraph notes,

Flash loans allow cryptocurrency holders to collatoralize their portfolio to fund other purchases or new crypto purchases.

The loans also help investors utilize the value in their tokens without the need to sell see them and create a taxable event.

Since launching flash loans less than 12 months ago, more than $1.7 billion have been issued and it’s expected that this figure will increse as the crypto bull market progresses.

Simply put, the crypto market is becoming its own bank.

23 January 2021

RBI puts out a proposal to tighten 'Fixed Deposits' by NBFCs


  • Currently NBFCs are categorized as deposit taking and non-deposit taking

  • Within the second category there are systematically important entities

  • New suggestions would have four layers - base layer would be for non deposit taking

  • Deposit taking NBFCs would have a new superstructure for regulation - this structure has not been fully specified, but is expected to be closer to that of the banks

  • In effect, entities taking deposits from customers would have similar regulations on Tier 1 capital, reserves, etc.

  • This would greatly help the folks who stick to 'Fixed Deposits'

source: https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/rbi-discussion-paper-proposes-tighter-rules-for-big-nbfcs-6384681.html

13 January 2021

IRFC IPO: First IPO of new year 2021 opens Jan 18

 The company aims to raise Rs 4,633.4 crore at the higher end of the price band.

State-owned Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC) has decided to open its maiden public offer for subscription on January 18 and has set the price band at Rs 25-26 per share.

The three-day public issue will close on January 20. The company aims to raise Rs 4,633.4 crore at the higher end of the price band.

The initial public offering of up to 1,78,20,69,000 equity shares consists of a fresh issue of 1,18,80,46,000 equity shares and an offer for sale of 59,40,23,000 equity shares by the Government of India.

The issue includes a reservation of equity shares worth Rs 50 lakh for subscription by eligible employees. The issue will constitute up to 13.64 percent of the post issue paid-up equity share capital of the company.

The dedicated market borrowing subsidiary of the Indian Railways is going to utilise net fresh issue proceeds for augmenting equity capital base to meet future capital requirements arising out of growth in the business; and general corporate purposes.

The company will not receive any proceeds from the offer for sale and the same will be received by the Government of India.

Bids can be made for a minimum of 575 equity shares and in multiples of 575 shares thereafter.

The primary business of IRFC is financing the acquisition of rolling stock assets, which includes both powered and unpowered vehicles such as locomotives, coaches, wagons, trucks, flats, electric multiple units, containers, cranes, trollies of all kinds and other items of rolling stock components as enumerated in the Standard Lease Agreement, leasing of railway infrastructure assets and national projects of the Government of India and lending to other entities under the Ministry of Railways, Government of India (MoR).

IRFC is registered with the Reserve Bank of India as an NBFC and is classified under the category of an 'Infrastructure Finance Company' of the Reserve Bank of India Act.

The book running lead managers to the issue are DAM Capital Advisors, HSBC Securities and Capital Markets (India), ICICI Securities and SBI Capital Markets.

09 October 2020

Mercedes-Benz teases 'highest-efficiency electric car in the world' with over 750 miles (1200 km) of range.

 


Mercedes-Benz teases a new super-efficient electric car concept, the Vision EQXX, with more than 750 miles of range on a single charge.

At Daimler’s latest company update, the automaker teased a new technical program to develop “the longest-range and highest-efficiency electric car the world has ever seen.”

Mercedes-Benz’s head of research and development, Markus Schafer, commented:

We have set up a group of our engineers to take on an extraordinary task: to build the longest-range and highest-efficiency electric car the world has ever seen. This is a serious project, chasing next-generation technologies. We intend to incorporate the learning into the next generation of series production cars.

The project takes the shape of the Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX concept, which the company teased with a few images:

This incredible range will be achieved through efficency improvements rather than just a bigger battery pack.

Daimler noted that the program will be used to test new technologies to improve efficiency and bring those to production cars:

While Vision EQXX is a technology program, it is expected to result in innovations that will quickly make their way into series production cars.

The automaker said that its Mercedes-Benz F1 HPP group in the UK is also working on the project:

Mercedes-Benz also announced an exciting next step in electric vehicle development today, with the Vision EQXX technology program. The aim is to build an electric vehicle with spectacular efficiency and range. Mercedes-Benz has tasked its engineering group with pushing the boundaries of electric range and efficiency with a cross-functional, multi-disciplinary team based in Stuttgart, supported by specialists from the Mercedes-Benz F1 HPP group in the UK, who bring expertise in eMotors plus motorsport-inspired development speed.

They haven’t disclosed when they plan to unveil the Vision EQXX electric prototype.