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Paris-based Mediakeys all set to enter India

MUMBAI: Paris-headquartered independent out-of-home media agency Mediakeys is set to enter the Indian market, with its 15th global office in Mumbai.

In India, the company is opening its office in partnership with local independent integrated marketing communications company Laqshya Media Group (LMG).

LMG has signed a long-term strategic alliance with the Comkeys Group, which owns Mediakeys.

Outside France, Mediakeys has presence in New York, Zurich, Cologne, London, Madrid, Milan, Pekin, Hong-Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo.

The partnership will help Mediakeys’ global clients to advertise in the Indian market, while Indian advertisers of LMG will be able to launch outdoor campaigns globally, said David Payne, who recently joined Mediakeys as global head of strategy and operations.

Strategically, India is a very important market for the company and its clients, Payne told ET. “For the last few years, we’ve been considering our options,” Payne said. “But rather than setting up, it made more sense to get into a strategic partnership as that gives us the security of working for our clients in a market with somebody who knows the market inside out. It also gives us a partner that can help us really accelerate our growth in India and we can help them with business outside of India.”

Alok Jalan, managing director of LMG, said the move would allow the company to stay ahead of time in an industry that is ever evolving.

With consumerism and mobility among Indian audiences riding high, outdoor advertising, which includes billboards and transit advertising, is growing.

As per Jalan, Indian advertising spending on outdoor media is more than Rs 3,500 crore a year and is growing at around 15%.

Globally, out-of-home advertising is a $29-billion market, accounting for about 6% of the $500-billion global advertising spending.

Receiving offers from several states, Kerala govt hasn’t approached yet: Kitex chairman

Sabu Jacob, chairman of Kitex group, on Saturday said while he has received unofficial communications from over 10 states and an official offer from Tamil Nadu, to take his investment there, the Kerala government has not made any efforts to approach him.

The Tamil Nadu government, meanwhile, confirmed that a proposal has been extended to the Kitex group.

Jacob told that principal secretaries and ministers from states across the country have been calling him up to discuss taking his Rs 3500 crore investment there from Kerala, but he has not yet taken a decision on it.

He said he has also received an official offer from neighbouring Tamil Nadu and that too was under consideration.

“Proposal has been extended to the Kitex group, which is keen on investing Rs 3,500 crore in the textile sector,” a senior industries department official in Tamil Nadu told .

Tamil Nadu, he said, has good potential for investments and it is a “very important, attractive investment destination.”

Apart from land at 50 percent of fair value, the incentives offered by the government include subsidised power for five years and 100 percent GST waiver for capital investment assets.

However, the Kerala government was yet to approach him after he had announced withdrawal from a Rs 3,500 crore investment project in the state, alleging harassment by government officials.

After Kitex announced its withdrawal from the project, Kerala Industries Minister P Rajeev on June 30 said that though the government has not received any official complaint from Kitex, a major apparel manufacturing company, the issue would be taken seriously.

He had also said that the industrial sector was on the path of revival and offered the government’s full support to genuine investors.

Kitex Garments Ltd had said it has decided to withdraw from the project signed during the “Ascend Global Investors Meet” organised by the state government in Kochi in January2020.

Jacob had earlier said it was difficult for him to run the existing industrial units in the State.

He had alleged that various units of Kitex were raided 10 times by officials from various departments during the past one month.

Jacob had alleged that officials comprising 40-50 in numbers, entered the factory units, carried out searches, prevented workers, including women employees, from doing their job, grilled them and harassed them.

He had also claimed that the officials did not reveal the reasons for conducting such searches and what violations were committed by the company.

Make sure insurance ads are clear, fair and not misleading: Irdai to insurers

Regulator Irdai has asked insurers to ensure that advertisements of insurance products are clear and do not convey a fabricated sense of security to prospective customers. The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai) in a circular on ‘insurance advertisements’ has prescribed dos and don’ts for insurance companies to comply with.

All insurance advertisements should ensure that “communications are clear, fair and not misleading whatever be the mode of communication”, it said.

They should use material and design (including paper size, colour, font type and font size, tone and volume) to present the information legibly and in an accessible manner, Irdai said.

Also, the mandatory disclosures should be in the same language as that of the whole advertisement.

“Names of insurance products or benefits” must not use terms or phrases that convey a fabricated sense of security, the circular said.

It further said that in case of communications through internet, an “insurer should ensure that the recipients/viewers have the opportunity to view the full text of the relevant key features; terms and conditions; any other applicable risk information…they shall not be hidden away in the body of the text”.

Irdai said the success of insurance sales communication depends on public confidence and the faith they repose in the insurers, when they receive a communication from companies promoting their products.

“As it may be difficult for the public to understand and evaluate the inherent details in the various insurance products, it is of paramount importance that the publicity material is relevant, fair and in simple language enabling informed decision making about whether or not to buy a specific insurance product,” it said.

The circular also said all licensed entities soliciting insurance business should mention their identity and contact details.

Any person found to be guilty of misleading the prospect on any insurance product will be liable for regulatory actions, it added.

Pacific island turns to Australia for undersea cable after spurning China

The Pacific island of Nauru is negotiating for the construction of an undersea communications cable that would connect to an Australian network, two sources with knowledge of the talks told Reuters, after the earlier rejection of a Chinese proposal.

The United States and its Pacific allies have concerns that cables laid by China could compromise regional security. Beijing has denied any intent to use commercial optic fibre cables, which have far greater data capacity than satellites, for spying.

Nauru, which has strong ties to U.S. ally Australia, helped scupper a World Bank-led cable tender earlier this year over concerns the contract would be awarded to the former Huawei Marine, now called HMN Tech, after the Chinese firm lodged a bid priced at more than 20% below rivals.

The tiny Pacific nation of just over 12,000 people has now approached the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to help fund an alternative, the development agency told Reuters.

“ADB is involved in very early discussions with the government of Nauru to explore possible options to help fund an undersea cable to deliver low-cost, high quality internet service,” the ADB said in a statement to Reuters.

“The details of the connection arrangement and funding sources will be determined in due course.”

The two sources said the new plan would involve laying a cable from Nauru to the Solomon Islands capital of Honiara, located about 1,250 kilometres (776.7 miles) apart.

The new line would then tap into the Coral Sea Cable system, a 4,700km network that connects Australia to the Solomons and Papua New Guinea. That line, majority funded by Australia and built by Sydney-headquartered Vocus Group, was completed in 2019 to shut out a competing offer from Huawei Marine, then owned by Huawei Technologies.

The former Huawei Marine is now majority owned by Shanghai-listed Hengtong Optic-Electric Co Ltd after Huawei Technologies sold the submarine cable business last year.

Nauru’s plan needs Australia and the Solomons to be on board, the sources said. It is unclear if Nauru has requested financial assistance from Australia or whether it only needs Canberra’s permission to join the Coral Sea Cable system.

One source, who has direct knowledge of the planned cable route, described the talks as “early stage negotiations”.

The second source provided information about discussions between Nauru officials and the ADB, Australia and the Solomons. The source said Nauru was in the process of “doing a deal”.

The governments of Nauru, Australia and the Solomons did not respond to requests for comment. The World Bank said it was not involved in discussions around cables connecting with Nauru.

Nauru was the first to raise concerns over a bid lodged by China’s HMN Tech during the World Bank tender process last year to build subsea cables for Nauru, Federated States of Micronesia and Kiribati, sources told Reuters in December. The United States followed up by warning the Pacific island nations that the HMN Tech bid posed a regional security threat.

The project then unravelled after the island governments heeded the U.S. warnings and declined to award a contract.

“The Chinese government has always encouraged Chinese enterprises to carry out investment cooperation in various fields in accordance with market principles and international rules and on the basis of abiding by local laws,” said Zhao Lijian, a spokesman at the Chinese foreign ministry.

“Chinese enterprises have always maintained a good record in network security, and the so-called Chinese espionage activities are groundless,” Zhao told a regular press conference on Thursday, when asked about the undersea cable plan.

Australia has ramped up its presence in the Pacific through the creation of a A$2 billion ($1.5 billion)infrastructure financing facility and via its membership of the new “Quad” group, together with the United States, India and Japan, to counter China’s expanding interests in the Indo-Pacific.

Australia is also part of a trilateral partnership with the United States and Japan that was formed to finance an undersea optic fibre cable for Palau, another Pacific nation.

Washington has pressed governments around the world to squeeze Huawei and other Chinese companies out of supplying sensitive communications equipment, alleging the company could hand over data to the Chinese government for spying, a charge denied by Beijing and Chinese telcos.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said in a statement to Reuters last week that Chinese companies had an excellent record in cyber security and that they needed to be able to participate in a non-discriminatory business environment.

Nauru, located in the central Pacific, has retained diplomatic ties to Taiwan, creating tension with China, which regards Taiwan as its own territory. Hosting a major Pacific forum in 2018, Nauru’s then president, Baron Waqa, described a Chinese envoy as “very insolent” and a “bully” after an angry exchange between officials.