Net absorption and new completions of commercial office space in top 7 cities remain flat: report

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During the first half of FY 2024, the commercial office space experienced sluggish growth with a 5 per cent increase in new office supply across the top 7 cities compared to H1 FY23, states a report by Anarock. Additionally, the net office absorption dropped by 1 per cent y-o-y.

Grade A office rental values averaged ₹83 per sq. ft. per month, showing an increase from approximately ₹77.5 per sq. ft. in H1 FY23, according to Prashant Thakur, Regional Director & Head – Research, Anarock Group.

Chennai led with a notable 10 per cent annual increase in average monthly office rental values, reaching around ₹68 per sq. ft. in H1 FY2023. Hyderabad followed closely with an 8 per cent yearly growth, rising from ₹61 per sq. ft. in H1 FY2023 to about ₹66 per sq. ft. in H1 FY 2024. Bengaluru, Pune, and Kolkata each witnessed a 7 per cent annual growth, while MMR and NCR registered a 5 per cent increase.

largely stable

Despite global corporate layoffs and reduced business volumes, office activity remained largely stable in the first half of FY 2024. New completions saw a modest 5 per cent yearly increase, and net absorption dropped by just 1 per cent. IT/ITeS continued to dominate leasing transactions in H1 FY2024 but saw a decline in overall leasing share from 46 per cent in H1 FY2020 to 29 per cent in H1 FY2024. Coworking spaces, on the other hand, saw an increase in share from 11 per cent to 24 per cent.

With increased office space completions, vacancy levels rose marginally across most top cities, except in NCR, MMR, and Kolkata. The average vacancy rate of Grade-A offices in the top 7 cities collectively increased by 0.95 per cent, reaching 16.85 per cent in H1 FY24. Pune had the lowest annual average vacancy rate at 8.3 per cent, while NCR, MMR, and Kolkata witnessed a year-on-year reduction in vacancy levels.

In terms of variations, Pune, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad experienced increases in office space vacancy levels over the financial year.

Despite short-term challenges, the mid-to-long-term outlook for Indian commercial office space remains positive, especially with Grade A offices available at sub-dollar rents. Stability in the office market is anticipated to return from the second half of 2024, noted the report.

Trgovine su snizile cijene proizvoda za čišćenje, njegu i higijenu za više od 50%

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Pri kreiranju rubrike Index Shopping nastojimo izdvajati odlične proizvode koji se i nama sviđaju te odlične akcije i popuste. Ne objavljujemo proizvode koje i sami ne bismo kupili ili smatramo da njihova promocija nije u skladu s profesionalnim standardima. Neki proizvodi u rubrici Index Shopping mogu biti sponzorirani.

DOK smo listali kataloge i pretraživali ponudu za Indexovu prehrambenu šoping-listu, primijetili smo odlična sniženja na proizvode za čišćenje, njegu i higijenu, kao i na kućanske artikle i aparate, ili smo ih pronašli po povoljnim cijenama.

Izdvojili smo najpovoljnije ponude i proizvode s odličnim cijenama u svakoj trgovini. Tommy, Lidl, Kaufland, Konzum, Plodine, Eurospin, Spar i Interspar dostupni su u svim većim mjestima diljem Hrvatske, a ispod možete vidjeti našu šoping-listu za ovaj tjedan.

>> Trgovine su značajno srezale cijene, pale su i više od 50%

Kaufland

Kauflandov katalog vrijedi od četvrtka, 28.12., do nedjelje, 31.12., ili do prodaje zaliha, a pojedini popusti vrijede samo na odabrane datume u tom periodu. Aktualni katalog možete prolistati ovdje, a za ostvarenje pojedinih dodatnih popusta potrebna vam je Kauflandova kartica.


Lidl

Lidlov katalog vrijedi od srijede, 27.12., do subote, 30.12., ili do prodaje zaliha, a pojedini popusti vrijede samo na odabrane datume u tom periodu. Katalog možete prolistati ovdje, a za ostvarenje pojedinih popusta potrebna vam je mobilna aplikacija Lidl Plus.


Spar

Novi katalozi Spara i Interspara vrijede od srijede, 27.12., do utorka, 2.1., ili do prodaje zaliha za prehrambene namirnice, kozmetiku, proizvode za osobnu higijenu i sredstva za čišćenje. Pojedini popusti vrijede samo u trgovinama Spar i Interspar, ovisno o dostupnosti proizvoda na akciji u tim trgovinama. Aktualne kataloge možete prolistati ovdje.


Konzum

Konzumov katalog vrijedi od četvrtka, 28.12., do srijede, 3.1., ili do prodaje zaliha. Za pojedine popuste potrebna je MultiPlus kartica. Aktualni katalog možete prolistati ovdje


Tommy

Tommyjev akcijski katalog vrijedi od srijede, 27.12., do srijede, 3.1. Katalog možete prolistati ovdje


Eurospin

Katalog Eurospina vrijedi od četvrtka, 28.12., do srijede, 3.1., ili do isteka zaliha. Aktualni katalog možete prolistati ovdje


Plodine

Katalog Plodina vrijedi od srijede, 27.12., do nedjelje, 31.12., ili do isteka zaliha, a pojedini popusti vrijede samo na odabrane datume u tom periodu. Aktualni katalog možete prolistati ovdje.

*Cijene su izražene u eurima.

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Brandon Benjamin becomes another contributor for 11-1 Mater Dei

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Mater Dei’s bus was two hours late picking up the basketball team from campus for its two-hour drive to Rancho Mirage on Wednesday. Players had to dress on the run and hustle onto the court as soon as they arrived. No one was more eager to play than 6-foot-5 junior Brandon Benjamin, a transfer from Anaheim Canyon who finally was eligible after missing the Monarchs’ first 11 games.

Asked if he was a little nervous, Benjamin said, “My dad always says nervousness is excitement.”

Coach Gary McKnight gave Benjamin the chance to start, and he responded with 16 points and eight rebounds during the Monarchs’ 95-65 tournament win over San Diego Hoover. Suddenly, Mater Dei (11-1) is looking seven deep with experienced, talented and intelligent players ready to do battle against JSerra (13-0) and St. John Bosco (11-1) when Trinity League play begins next week.

It’s going to take a little time for Benjamin to reach a comfort level with his new teammates even though he has been practicing with them, but he should pull it off soon, giving the Monarchs another player who contributes in many ways. He averaged 24.5 points as a sophomore at Canyon.

“He finishes,” McKnight said.

Mater Dei also received five threes and 20 points from Owen Verna, 14 points from Blake Davidson, 13 points from Brannon Martinsen and 12 points from Luke Barnett.

Benjamin has three more games this week at Rancho Mirage before he really will be needed for a Jan. 6 league game against St. John Bosco at Crypto.com Arena. He’ll be one of the few to have played at the arena (Canyon had a game there).

“It’s very spacious,” he said. “If you’re a good shooter, you’ll find a sweet spot.”

JSerra 72, Torrey Pines 45: Aidan Fowler scored 18 points and Ben Rabara added 16 points for 13-0 JSerra in San Diego.

Harvard-Westlake 101, Oregon Liberty 62: In Oregon, the No. 1-ranked Wolverines improved to 13-0. Nikolas Khamenia finished with 23 points.

Damien 80, Arizona Sunnyslope 75: The Spartans needed overtime to advance in the Platinum bracket of their tournament. Nate Garcia scored 22 points and Xavier Clinton 20 points.

St. John Bosco 80, Clovis North 60: Kade Bonam scored 23 points and Brandon McCoy 21 for the Braves (11-1) in an opening game of the Platinum division.

Eastvale Roosevelt 68, Branson 64: Brayden Burries clinched the win with two free throws in the final seconds while finishing with 29 points. Roosevelt will face Idaho Owyhee in the Platinum division quarterfinals. Owyhee defeated La Mirada 64-57.

Lynwood 86, Hesperia 66: Chace Holley scored 35 points for Lynwood.

Dixie 57, Etiwanda 56: Christian Harris had 22 points for Etiwanda (11-1) at Damien.

Richmond Salesian 70, Windward 66: The Wildcats led early but couldn’t hold off one of the top teams from Northern California.

Vista Murrieta 61, Arcadia 57: The Broncos improved to 15-1 at the Classic at Damien.

Brentwood 71, Rancho Verde 53: The Eagles pulled off the upset at Damien. Jordan Houegban had 23 points and 10 rebounds.

Archbishop Mitty 43, Santa Margarita 38: Brayden Kyman scored 10 points in the loss at Torrey Pines.

Long Beach Poly 66, El Camino Real 44: Jovani Ruff led the Jackrabbits at St. Francis.

Westlake 59, Shalhevet 50: Austin Maziasz and Kayden Elsokary each scored 16 points for 13-3 Westlake at St. Francis. Aiden Bitran scored 24 points for Shalhevet.

Edison 70, Camarillo 61: The Chargers rallied from a 12-point, third-quarter deficit at Rancho Mirage.

Nevada Coronado 76, Mira Costa 68: The Mustangs (11-3) couldn’t hang on after leading by 10 points at Rancho Mirage. Jacob De Armas had 16 points and Eneasi Piuleini had 15 points.

Simi Valley 73, Lodi 62: Ryder Mjoen scored 28 points and Justin Rener had 27 points for Simi Valley.

LACES 69, St. Joseph Academy 39: Donovan Cornelius finished with 29 points for LACES in San Diego.

Cleveland 64, Price 58: Souljah Niles scored 24 points and had 11 rebounds for Cleveland.

Sherman Oaks Notre Dame 90, Providence 40: Mercy Miller scored 31 points and Lino Mark 19 points for Notre Dame (12-0).

Crescenta Valley 65, Verdugo Hills 62: Vaughn Zargarian led Crescenta Valley with 18 points.

Rolling Hills Prep 59, Valencia 31: Kawika Suter scored 15 points for Rolling Hills Prep at Damien.

AGBU 72, Patriot 49: Junior Isaiah Bennett had 21 points, 11 assists and 10 steals for AGBU.

St. Anthony 90, Nevada Douglas 52: In San Diego, Quincy Phillips scored 19 points for St. Anthony.

Maranatha 64, Sun Valley Poly 37: JD Wyatt scored 23 points for Poly.

Loyola 61, Peninsula 41: Quincy Watson led the Cubs with 13 points.

Oak Park 62, Chatsworth 54: Seshsha Henderson scored 42 points for Oak Park at Santa Barbara.

Crespi 77, Dougherty Valley 40: Peyton White had 22 points for the Celts.

Govt asks platforms not to carry advertisements of fraudulent loan apps

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Union Minister of State for Electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar on Wednesday followed up on Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY)’s directive to social media platforms and other online platforms issued on Tuesday and directed them to ensure that they do not host advertisements of fraudulent loan apps. Union Minister said that the IT ministry has made it clear to platforms that they cannot carry advertisements of fraudulent and illegal loan apps as they are misleading and exploiting people who are using the internet.

On the sidelines of an event, the Minister of State for Electronics and IT told PTI, “One of the areas we are now cracking down on is advertising of fraudulent loan apps that many platforms are carrying and we have, through yesterday’s advisory, made it clear that no intermediary can carry advertisements of fraudulent loan apps because it will be misleading and exploits people who are using the internet.” 

Also Read – Deepfake concerns: MeitY issues advisory to all social media platforms to comply with IT rules

There have been growing concerns regarding illegal instant loan apps that have mushroomed — which lend small amounts to desperate borrowers at exorbitantly high interest rates and often resort to harassment, even blackmailing later — are flourishing, and are openly being advertised on online platforms.

In the advisory issued on Tuesday, the IT Ministry directed that “intermediaries and platforms should take additional measures to not permit any advertisements of illegal loan and betting apps having the potential to scam and mislead the users, the consequences of which will be the sole responsibility of the intermediaries and platforms”.

The advisory also stressed the importance of robust grievance redressal mechanisms employed by intermediaries.

In a meeting convened in October 2023, the IT Ministry and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) discussed the necessary actions against illegal betting apps.

During this meeting, the ministry urged the RBI to devise a more comprehensive Know Your Customer (KYC) process for banks. This proposed KYC process, termed ‘Know Your Digital Finance App’ (KYDFA), is envisioned to enhance the ability to trace and address rogue loan apps effectively.

This recommendation was officially communicated to the Department of Financial Services (DFS) and RBI on October 13, 2023. Chandrasekhar had then said: “We have recommended the RBI, within their regulatory framework, to design a detailed KYC for companies, which we refer to as Know Your Digital Finance App (KYDFA), in the same manner that customers have to undergo detailed KYC for opening a bank account.” This, he had said, will “ensure that only legitimate and scrutinised financial apps can access and use the Indian banking system and further, if there is any violation of law, the KYDFA process will help in establishing traceability and origin of the app for action under the law.”

Earlier this month, the government informed Parliament that Google has suspended or removed over 2,500 fraudulent loan apps from its Play Store between April 2021 and July 2022.

The government is constantly engaged with the RBI and other regulators and stakeholders concerned to control fraudulent loan apps, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha this month.

As part of steps taken to control fraudulent loan apps, she said, the RBI has shared a ‘whitelist’ of legal apps with the Government of India, and this list was shared by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) with Google, whose app store is the primary source of distribution of digital lending apps.

Between April 2021 and July 2022, Google also reviewed approximately 3,500 to 4,000 loan lending apps and suspended or removed over 2,500 fraudulent loan apps from its Play Store.

The advisory on Tuesday also stressed the importance of robust grievance redressal mechanisms employed by intermediaries. It stated, “Rule 2(1)(j) defines “grievance” to include “any complaint, whether regarding any content, any duties of an intermediary or publisher under the Act, or other matters pertaining to the computer resource of an intermediary or publisher, as the case may be”. Any complaint made to the intermediary / platform, whether through the in-app reporting feature or to the email address/contact details of the Grievance Officer, is included within the definition of grievance and must be treated as such by the intermediaries / platforms. Accordingly, intermediaries / platforms must enable users, victims or any person on their behalf, as the case may be, to also report violations relating to Rule 3(1)(b) or Rule 3(2)(b) in a simple and easily accessible manner, including through in-app user reporting on its platform.”

(With Agency Inputs)

Mexico: Army-run Mexicana airlines’ first flight takes off to Tulum | Travel

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Mexico launched its army-run airline Tuesday, when the first Mexicana airlines flight took off from Mexico City bound for the Caribbean resort of Tulum.

Mexico: Army-run Mexicana airlines’ first flight takes off to Tulum, aims to transform travel landscape (File Photo via REUTERS)

It was another sign of the outsized role that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has given to Mexico’s armed forces. The airline’s military-run holding company now also operates about a dozen airports, hotels, trains, the country’s customs service and tourist parks.

Wrap up the year gone by & gear up for 2024 with HT! Click here

Gen. Luís Cresencio Sandoval, Mexico’s defense secretary, said that having all those diverse businesses run by the military was “common in developed countries.”

In fact, only a few countries like Cuba, Sri Lanka, Argentina and Colombia have military-run airlines. They are mostly small carriers with a handful of prop planes that operate mostly on under-served or remote domestic routes.

But the Mexicana airline plans to carry tourists from Mexican cities to resorts like Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos, Zihuatanejo, Acapulco and Mazatlan. Flights appear to be scheduled every three or four days, largely on weekends.

The carrier hopes to compete mainly on price: the first 425 tickets sold offered prices of about $92 for the flight from Mexico City to Tulum, which the government claimed was about one-third cheaper than commercial airlines.

However, Mexicana’s first flight didn’t go according to plan. The company said Flight MXA 1788 had to be re-routed to the colonial city of Merida because of poor weather conditions in Tulum. After a wait, it finally took off again and arrived in Tulum about five hours after it took off from Mexico City, about double the usual travel time.

Mexicana also hopes to fly to 16 small regional airports that currently have no flights or very few. For those worried about being told to “Fasten your seatbelt, and that’s an order,” the cabin crew on the Mexicana flight appeared to be civilians. In Mexico, the air force is a wing of the army.

Sandoval said the airline began operations with three Boeing jets and two smaller leased Embraer planes, and hopes to lease or acquire five more jets in early 2024.

López Obrador called the takeoff of the first Boeing 737-800 jet “a historic event” and a “new stage,” marking the return of the formerly government-run airline Mexicana, which had been privatized, then went bankrupt and finally closed in 2010.

The airline combines Lopez Obrador’s reliance on the military — which he claims is the most incorruptible and patriotic arm of the government — and his nostalgia for the state-run companies that dominated Mexico’s economy until widespread privatizations were carried out in the 1980s.

López Obrador recalled fondly the days when government-run firms operated everything from oil, gas, electricity and mining, to airlines and telephone service. He bashed the privatizations, which were carried out because Mexico’s indebted government could no longer afford to operate the inefficient, state-owned companies.

“They carried out a big fraud,” the president said at his daily morning news briefing. “They deceived a lot of people, saying these state-run companies didn’t work.”

In fact, the state-run companies in Mexico accumulated a well-deserved reputation for inefficiency, poor service, corruption and political control. For example, Mexico’s state-run paper distribution company often refused to sell newsprint to opposition newspapers.

When the national telephone company was owned by the government, customers routinely had to wait years to get a phone line installed, and were required to buy shares in the company in order to eventually get service, problems that rapidly disappeared after it was privatized in 1990.

While unable to restore the government-run companies to their former glory, the administration depicts its efforts to recreate them on a smaller scale as part of a historic battle to return Mexico’s economy to a more collectivist past.

“This will be the great legacy of your administration, and will echo throughout eternity,” the air traffic controller at Mexico City’s Felipe Angeles airport intoned as the first Mexicana flight took off.

López Obrador has also put the military in charge of many of the country’s infrastructure building projects, and given it the lead role in domestic law enforcement.

For example, the army built both the Felipe Angeles airport and the one in Tulum.

Apart from boosting traffic at the underused Felipe Angeles airport, the army-run Mexicana apparently will provide flights to feed passengers into the president’s Maya Train tourism project. The army is also building that train line, which will connect beach resorts and archaeological sites on the Yucatan Peninsula.

The army, which has no experience running commercial flights, has created a subsidiary to be in charge of Mexicana.

Taylor Swift boosts Britain’s vinyl revival and is top vinyl record seller this year | Music | Entertainment

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Britain’s vinyl revival has been boosted by pop star Taylor Swift with record sales hitting the highest level in nearly a quarter of a century.

Sales of vinyl have risen for the 16th consecutive year, according to a new music industry report.

Following a 2.9% increase in sales on last year, the vinyl market in 2023 has, with just a few more days to go until the end of the year, increased more than four times as fast with an 11.7% rise to 5.9 million units.

It’s not just vintage records by music legends such as David Bowie and The Beatles which are fuelling the retro renaissance,.

Analysis of Official Charts data by the BPI showed US songstress Swift is the year’s top vinyl seller.

The Shake It Off star’s decision to release multiple versions of her latest albums on LP was one reason sales of the format boomed among younger listeners.

Other modern artists such as Ed Sheeran, Lana Del Rey, and Lewis Capaldi with their new releases this year also drove the sales boost.

While more than four-fifths of recorded music consumption in the UK is now made up of streaming, demand for vinyl LPs is at its highest annual level since 1990.

This includes over a quarter of a million vinyl albums having been sold during the course of last week, making it the highest sales week for the format this century.

In more good news for the industry, the CD market has sustained its smallest decline in nearly a decade this year as it moves closer to plateauing.

Nearly 11 million CDs, which remain important commercially and to Official Charts success, were sold across the year.

Meanwhile, sales of cassettes topped 100,000 units in a calendar year for the fourth consecutive year.

Similarly to vinyl records, brand new albums also lead the CD and cassette markets, with the 10 biggest titles in each market at this stage of the year, released in 2023.

Take That’s This Life is the year’s top CD, having sold more than 100,000 copies on the format during its first week of release in November, while the other most popular titles include albums Ed Sheeran’s -, Lewis Capaldi’s Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent, P!nk’s Trustfall, The Rolling Stones’ Hackney Diamonds and Taylor Swift’s 1989 (Taylor’s Version).

Highlighting the appeal of cassettes to new music fans born decades after their original run, global teen popstar Olivia Rodrigo claimed the format’s top seller this year with her second album, Guts, while other popular cassette titles include 2023 releases from Blur (The Ballad Of Darren), Inhaler (Cuts & Bruises) and Kylie Minogue (Tension).

Dr Jo Twist OBE, BPI Chief Executive, said: “Led by vinyl, the resurgence of physical product underlines the resilience of the UK music market at a time when streaming consumption continues to hit record levels.

“Whilst LP sales have now been on an upward path for the past 16 years, it is encouraging to see a stabilisation in demand for CD, as well as new generations of music fans falling in love with the cassette. It is giving people more choice than ever in how they enjoy their favourite music.”

Max Verstappen denied Mercedes-AMG rental car during holiday

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Current Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen has been denied a Mercedes-AMG GT rental car from Sixt during a recent holiday to Portugal as he’s too young.

As reported by The Sun, the 26-year-old Dutch racing driver was denied the high-performance rental car as the company’s insurance policy requires drivers to be at least 30 years old.

Mr Vestappen flew into Algarve, Portugal last Monday with family and friends and had rented around 20 cars from Sixt at Faro Airport.

The party had also booked the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve racing circuit for two days.

“Max and the group went to Portugal for a fun racing trip and had booked the cars they wanted,” said an unnamed source to The Sun.

“When they got to the airport, Max was shocked when he was told he wasn’t allowed to drive the Mercedes he wanted.”

“He’s a seasoned F1 driver who’s used to handling powerful cars, so it’s quite astonishing to think he wasn’t allowed to get behind the wheel of this one — but those are the rules, so he abided by them.”

“The employees of our franchise partner in Portugal have only followed the rules that arise for insurance reasons,” said a Sixt spokesperson to The Sun.

“In order to find a customer-friendly solution on site, Mr Verstappen was provided with another premium vehicle.”

“However, there can be special circumstances that justify a deviation from rules. This is such a case.

“We apologise to Mr Verstappen. He can rent the car he wants from us at any time.

“There is of course no doubt at all about his driving skills and his experience with powerful cars.”

Mr Vestappen ended up taking a BMW 5 Series, though his manager Raymond Vermeulen drove the Mercedes-AMG GT.

Max Verstappen has won the last three Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championships. He has raced for the Red Bull Racing team since 2016.

Haven’s Compass Forges Strategic Partnerships with Beam and Seedify

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Haven’s Compass is all set to transform the gaming landscape with an alliance with Beam and Seedify.

Nottingham, United Kingdom – November 30, 2023: Ghost Ivy Development Studio, the creative force behind Haven’s Compass, proudly announces a strategic partnership with Beam, the gaming-focused blockchain by Merit Circle and Seedify, a leading blockchain incubator platform.

This collaboration marks a pivotal moment for Haven’s Compass, promising a transformative gaming experience for players worldwide. Set in a dystopian future where oxygen is a precious resource, Haven’s Compass garnered immense praise during its Open Alpha phase, boasting nearly 25,000 downloads, 50,000 hours played, and over 5,000 players during peak times on the Epic Games Store.

As Haven’s Compass gears up for the final launch in 2024, these partnerships are set to elevate the gaming experience to unprecedented heights.

While Beam’s blockchain integration empowers secure and efficient in-game transactions and fosters an environment of creativity and innovation through the Beam SDK, the collaboration with Seedify brings forth a new dimension. 

Haven’s Compass is now incubated with Seedify, opening avenues for strategic guidance, community support, and exposure to a vast network of blockchain enthusiasts.

By partnering with Beam and Seedify, we aim to redefine the gaming experience within Haven’s Compass,” says Ghost Ivy, the visionary team behind the game. “These collaborations not only enhance the security and efficiency of in-game transactions but also open up new possibilities for the future development and expansion of our gaming ecosystem. Seedify’s incubation will provide invaluable resources and guidance to further solidify Haven’s Compass as a pioneering force in the gaming industry.

As Haven’s Compass reflects on its achievements during its Open Alpha, the overwhelming response underscores the community’s enthusiasm and sets the stage for future success. 

These partnerships solidify the commitment to delivering an unparalleled gaming experience where players can immerse themselves in a captivating narrative and actively shape the evolving landscape of Haven’s Compass.

The collaboration with several Blockchain platforms is a testament to Haven’s Compass’s proactive approach to securing partnerships that address critical elements of user satisfaction, solidifying its position as a pioneering force in the gaming industry.

Ghost Ivy and Merit Circle invite players and enthusiasts alike to witness the future of gaming. 

Download Haven’s Compass on the Epic Games Store and experience the Demo Gameplay.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Fares AT
Co-Founder
[email protected]

About Ghost Ivy:

Ghost Ivy is a leading game development studio, dedicated to crafting immersive and innovative games that integrate blockchain technology and NFTs. With a mission to provide a unique and empowering gaming experience, Ghost Ivy combines cutting-edge graphics, engaging stories, and Web3 features.

Byju’s last paid PF to its employees in August 2023, show EPFO data 

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Edtech unicorn Byju’s has failed to pay the Provident Fund (PF) amount to its employees, yet again. Data from the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) shows that Think and Learn Pvt Ltd, the parent company of Byju’s, last paid any PF due to its employees on August 16, 2023. 

The last payment made was for the month of July 2023. EPFO rules mandate that a company should deposit the PF money for a month by the 15th of the next. Any delay could attract penal charges of 5-100 per cent of the amount. Going by this, the company has missed the payments for three months — August, September and October, which had to be deposited in September, October and November respectively. 

  • Also read: Byju’s misses deadline to clear dues of laid-off employees, yet again

According to the EPFO portal, on August 16, the company deposited ₹4.46 crore cumulatively in the PF accounts of 23,533 employees, as their PF contribution for the month of July. On the same day, it cleared pending dues for 92 employees for the month of June and for one, for November 2022. Currently, Universal Account Numbers of 28,943 Byju’s employees are linked to the EPFO portal. 

Unicorn’s woes

At the same time, many former employees of the unicorn have alleged on social media that they are yet to receive their pending PF dues, along with their full and final settlement amount. On Tuesday, businessline reported that Byju’s has again delayed the full and final settlement of its laid-off employees, after shifting its payment timeline from September to November. 

Earlier in June this year, businessline reported on the company’s delays in paying its PF dues. Following that, Byju’s paid EPFO dues worth ₹39.05 crore between June 26 and June 29. 

An email sent to Byju’s seeking comment on this matter hasn’t elicited a response.

The five biggest market surprises of 2023

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Financial markets will always produce surprises. After all, by the time a consensus has formed, people will have bought or sold accordingly. The move has already happened; the future has something else in store.

Even accounting for this, investors have had an unusually difficult time in 2023. The year started with broad agreement that 2022’s soaring interest rates would cause recessions in much of the world. Not only was this baked into asset prices—it also turned out to be wrong.

Yet it was not just economic assumptions that were overturned. Here are the other big market surprises of 2023.

Rates went higher. And bond yields rose by even more…

The year began with the Federal Reserve’s credibility in question. Rate-setting officials had spent nine months tightening monetary policy each time they met. Jerome Powell, their chairman, took every opportunity to make hawkish noises. The market was not buying it, however, expecting that the central bank would relent and start cutting within a matter of months, before it accidentally broke something.

That “something” turned out to be a clutch of American regional banks, the first of which—Silicon Valley Bank—collapsed in March. By continuing to raise rates even amid the turmoil, the Fed at last convinced investors that it was serious. The market accepted officials’ projections for where their benchmark rate would finish the year, whereas longer-term yields on government bonds marched ever higher. Ten-year American Treasuries, which hit a low of 3.2% in April, breached 5% in October, their highest since 2007. “Higher for longer” became the market’s mantra. Huw Pill of the Bank of England compared the future path of rates to Cape Town’s flat-topped Table Mountain, contrasting it with the triangular Matterhorn.

…until both reversed course harder than anyone expected

Within weeks of Mr Pill’s comments, yields had begun a distinctly Matterhorn-like descent (see chart). Those on ten-year American, British and German government debt are now around a percentage point below their peaks—amounting to a party in the bond market, since prices rise as yields fall. The festive mood took hold as one data release after another spurred hopes that inflation was fading and central bankers might not need to be so hawkish after all.

image: The Economist

Once upon a time, this would have prompted a rebuttal from Mr Powell, anxious that falling borrowing costs might stimulate the economy and undo his inflation-fighting work. Instead, the Fed’s chairman spiked the partygoers’ punch. On December 13th he announced that officials were already discussing rate cuts, which he envisaged taking place “well before” inflation hit its target of 2%. Bond investors turned the music up a notch.

Other markets shrugged off the interest-rate ructions

Few things matter more to the financial system than the “safe” yields available on government bonds and their implications for everyone else’s borrowing costs. So the wide swings in these yields throughout the year might have been expected to leave all sorts of asset classes looking wobbly. Instead, most showed remarkable resilience.

Investors had worried that rising interest rates might leave indebted borrowers unable to meet obligations. Yet after two years of such increases, the annual default rate on the riskiest “high-yield” American bonds was just 3.8%—below its long-term average of 4.5% and nowhere near peaks reached during crisis years such as 2009 or 2020. Investors in such debt therefore had an excellent year, with Bank of America’s high-yield index returning 13%.

The story in other supposedly rate-sensitive markets was similar. Global house prices began to climb again after only the briefest of blips. Gold rose by 12%. Even bitcoin—the poster-child of the cheap-money era—soared.

America’s stockmarket got high on artificial intelligence

The recovery of America’s stockmarket was less spectacular than that of bitcoin, but in some ways more surprising. Having fallen by 19% over the course of 2022, the S&P 500 share index has clawed back nearly all of its losses, returning to within touching distance of its all-time peak.

Two aspects of this recovery have taken many investors aback. The first is that, despite their previous losses, American stocks started the year looking pricey and then became much pricier. Measured by the excess return expected from their earnings, over and above the “risk-free” yield on government bonds, they are now more expensive (and hence yield less) than at any time since the swelling of the dotcom bubble (see chart).

image: The Economist

The second aspect is that this exuberance—essentially an assumption that shares have grown less risky and earnings growth more assured—took place amid a mania for AI. America’s tech giants provided the lion’s share of the gains, with investors judging them best placed to benefit from the new technology. Profits to be made from novel and yet-to-be-commercialised inventions are inherently uncertain. Nevertheless, equity investors are going all in on them.

IPO bankers are still at a loose end

Sadly, not everyone is feeling bullish. The market for initial public offerings remains moribund. Dealogic, a data firm, estimates that companies going public raised some $120bn globally in 2023. That is less than the $170bn raised in 2022 and a fraction of the amount raised in 2021, of more than $600bn. The high-profile firms that did go public—including Arm, a chip designer, and Instacart, a grocery-delivery group—failed to spark a broader revival.

Confusion over where long-term interest rates will settle did not help. But in other respects the dearth of new listings is a puzzle. Volatility has fallen, economic headwinds have died down and equity investors are throwing caution to the wind. That private firms are cautious might mean they see reasons to worry which the rest of the market is missing. Or perhaps they are merely getting ready to join the party in 2024. After months of twiddling their thumbs, bankers will be hoping for the latter.