The ratings agency expects a significant deterioration in Bharti Airtel's cash flow protection measures and a weakening of the company's business risk profile if the Indian company acquires Zain Africa
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said that it had placed India-based telecommunications service provider Bharti Airtel Ltd's 'BBB-' long-term corporate credit rating (CCR) on CreditWatch with negative implications following the company's proposed bid for Zain Africa BV.
"The CreditWatch reflects our expectation of a significant deterioration in Bharti's cash flow protection measures and a weakening of the company's business risk profile if it acquires Zain Africa," said S&P's credit analyst Yasmin Wirjawan.
A potential debt-funded acquisition and the near-term 3G license auction in India could increase the company's pro-forma consolidated debt to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) to about 3.0x for the fiscal year ending 31 March 2011, from 1.4x for the 12 months ended 31 December 2009, it said.
"Bharti's business risk profile could weaken because of the macroeconomic and political risks associated with, and the lower profitability of Zain Africa's operations," said Ms Wirjawan. Zain Africa's EBITDA margins were about 33% for the nine months ended 30 September 2009, compared with Bharti's 45% for the 12 months ended 31 December 2009.
S&P said in its opinion that the proposed transaction would provide Bharti with meaningful growth opportunities in Africa, which has a relatively low mobile penetration. Zain Africa has close to 42 million subscribers in the continent. It expects the combined entity to benefit from economies of scale as it would have a leading position in many of the African markets as well as India.
The ratings agency said Zain Africa would also gain from Bharti's experience of running efficient operations in a highly competitive environment and generating good margins and it believes the transaction will face limited integration risk as the two companies have almost no overlapping operations.
S&P said that in its view, Bharti's liquidity is adequate, and it expects the company to be able to raise funds for the proposed acquisition.
Coke has fired the first salvo in this season’s edition of the cola wars. How will Pepsi hit back?
We know summer is fast approaching when the cola giants take over the television channels. And Coke is the first one to announce the change in the season.
For years together, Aamir Khan has been endorsing Coke. The last campaign they did with the star was titled, 'Opening happiness with Coke’. (Which was all about spreading cheer and bringing people together.) Well, this year they seem to have decided that other members of his extended family need to earn some moolah as well. So his nephew Imran Khan (not the cricketer) now endorses Coca-Cola. Why the need for a new kid on the block? Methinks it’s gotta do with the fact that Aamirbhai is gradually turning into an ageing uncle (no matter that he still accepts offers from films that project him as a college student… the fact is he is all of 43 years old). And it was time to bring in a dude star that the so-called ‘Youngistan’ would connect with. Makes sense, though uncle may vehemently disagree.
'Coke khule toh baat chale' is the new thought. The commercial features Imran Khan and minor actress Kalki Koechlin (of ‘Dev D’). The setting is a very crowded bus. Flirty Kalki, who’s seated, tries to get the attention of the standing, disinterested, dude Imran. And teases him by opening and slurping from an invisible Coke bottle. (Must say the scene is shot well… Kalki’s expressions, especially after her role as a rocking prostitute in ‘Dev D’, could so easily have turned vulgar). She then offers the non-existent bottle to the very impressed dude. Who joins in the fun, and ‘drinks up’ the remaining Coke. And then comes the twist: he produces an actual Coke bottle, and offers it to the naughty gurl. (Game, set and match… aaal izzz well, dude!)
I quite like this commercial. For many reasons. I think the ‘invisible bottle’ has the potential to become a memorable device for Coke. If used well across the 360-degree media spectrum, it can be milked out to catapult Coke into the top-of-the-mind status amongst the young set (thus giving rival Pepsi a lot to sweat about this summer). The casting is good too. The extroverted Kalki and the reticent Imran contrast each other well. And in an unspoken commercial, expressions and body language play a key role, and both the actors have done wonderfully. Also, the music track, a remixed old Hindi film song, fits in nicely.
So, good riddance to the over-used uncle Aamir. And a good start to the summer. Now let’s hope the other soft drink majors come up with equally imaginative ideas.
A mutual fund dividend payout is just taking your own money and giving it back to you
A spate of advertisements by fund houses about dividend payouts from various schemes has been enriching the print media of late. How do you use the dividends in a mutual fund at all? You have a corpus NAV, which gets reduced not only by the dividend payout but also by the amount of dividend distribution tax that is paid to the government of India. Unlike a business entity dividend, the mutual fund dividend is eyewash and is of use only to some tax avoidance or evasion entities.
It is no sign of prosperity of the mutual fund. Dividend option is good for those who seek tax-free income in the short term. In equity mutual funds, if your holding period is beyond one year, then any gain on sale of mutual fund units is tax-free to the investor. In such a case, why opt for dividend and then suffer the payout to the government of India?
The corporate sector uses the dividend option in liquid funds, because of tax arbitrage. Even with the dividend distribution taxes, they still make some extra money in the short term. For an individual also, a daily dividend scheme in a liquid fund does make some sense.
When the new Direct Taxes Code comes in, probably we would have to search for new loopholes.
However, when it comes to equity schemes, a dividend payout helps only someone who wants to indulge in ‘dividend stripping’. For this to happen, one has to be holding the units either three months before the dividend date or for nine months after the dividend payout. Let us assume that the pre-dividend net asset value (NAV) of a scheme is Rs20 and that there is a dividend of Rs4. Once the dividend is paid out, the NAV will decline to say around Rs15.12 (Rs4 for the dividend and 88 paise as the dividend distribution tax to the government). After a year, let us assume that the NAV has not moved at all. In this case, you have a ‘loss’ of Rs4.88 when you sell the units which can be offset against short-term gains. Of course, you have taken away Rs4 as dividend, which is like agriculture income, i.e., tax-free! A lot of HNIs use this route and many fund houses discreetly market the dividend payout three to four months in advance. Of course, it is illegal to announce dividend intentions so early, but who the hell cares about the law? Many schemes, if analysed, show healthy inflows around three to four months before the dividend payout.
A mutual fund dividend is taking your own money and giving it back to you. In the process, the dividend distribution tax chips away at some of your asset value. This distribution tax is not applicable if you are a non-taxable entity like a charitable organisation.
As a retail investor, stay put in the growth option. You will be better off. Whenever the fund pays a dividend, the NAV drops by the dividend payout plus the dividend distribution tax.