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Alibaba acquires stake in Wanda Film for whooping $750 million

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Troubled Chinese conglomerate Wanda announced Monday that e-commerce giant Alibaba has agreed to buy a stake in its cinema division for around $750 million, the latest sell-off by the heavily-indebted group.

Wanda Film said in a regulatory filing that Alibaba will buy a 7.66 percent stake for 4.68 billion yuan, and a holding company controlled by the Beijing government will take 5.11 percent for 3.12 billion yuan (around $500 million), generating over $1.2 billion for the conglomerate.

Following rapid diversification, Wanda ended up mired in debt and under the scrutiny of Chinese regulators, forcing its head Wang Jianlin — once China’s richest man — to sell off parts of his empire.

Last month, it raised $5.4 billion through a stake sale and retail link-up with several investors, including Chinese internet giant Tencent.

Wanda Film owns 1,352 cinemas around the world with more than 14,000 screens — around 12 percent of the global box office, according to the Wanda Group website.

Alibaba will now become the second-largest shareholder in the division, strengthening its position in China’s massive entertainment market.

The e-commerce behemoth already has a foothold in Hollywood, with its 2016 purchase of a minority stake in Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners, which owns DreamWorks Pictures.

Wanda originally specialised in real estate, but later diversified into cinema, amusement parks and sports — including the 2015 acquisition of a 20-percent stake in Spanish top-flight football club Atletico Madrid.

But Beijing, which has been trying to control the surge in Chinese corporate debt, was alarmed by Wanda’s “irrational” purchases, which were largely financed through borrowing.

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AKS Youths Thrilled by Prospects of Re-emerging ALSCON

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Youths of Ikot Abasi Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State, are excited at the projections of fresh job opportunities, following the plan by the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria, (ALSCON), located in the area, to commence full operations after Russian Aluminium Company, RUSAL and BFIG settled their contentious bid controversy out of court.

NDV learned that the process to privatise ALSCON started since 2001, but the highest bidder, BFIG, in2004, dragged the Bureau of Public Enterprise, BPE and RUSAL to court. It was gathered that the Federal Government subsequently gave RUSAL, the second highest bidder, a go-ahead after BFIG failed to pay the money it offered to take over the company.

Immediate past president of Ukpum Ete Clan, who expressed confidence in RUSAL restoring ALSCON to its former glory, said: “When our people heard that the Federal Government had intervened in the lingering court matter between BFIG and RUSAL towards the ending of 2017, we were very excited.

Even foremost socio-cultural groups like Mboho Ikot Abasi were optimistic that once ALSCON commenced full operations, Ikot Abasi will come alive again.” Outstanding past “When ALSCON was functional, there were lots of job opportunities and our people, especially youths, benefitted a lot from the company. Apart from the constant and free electricity supply enjoyed by our communities, there were programmes for youths of the five clans in Ikot Abasi, including payment of certain amount of money to each clan for youth development. “The Americans that managed ALSCON then did a lot for us and that was responsible for the peaceful coexistence between the company and its host communities of Ikot Abasi,” he said. RUSAL wins hearts His words: “We have also observed that since RUSAL took over ALSCON before the court case, they have demonstrated that they would toe same path. For us, it is a good sign that once they start full operations, Ikot Abasi people will smile again. “And for convincing RUSAL and BFIG to settle out of court, we the youths cannot thank the Federal Government enough for that effort. We specially thank this administration for considering ALSCON among nonfunctional industries in the country,” he added.

Similarly, Chairman Ikot Abasi Clan Youth Leaders’ Forum, Akparawa Mfreke Usoro said: “For many years now, nothing had been happening in Ikot Abasi. No development, no job opportunities, the youths are idle because they have nothing to do and that is why there is rise in criminality. “And what Ikot Abasi youths want now is for RUSAL to start production immediately; no more court matter or anything that will bring problem or impede development of our communities. And I believe that RUSAL will accommodate our youths very well,” he said. No more litigation An activist, Innocent John, said: “I want to advise that RUSAL and BFIG resolve the matter once and for all because we do not need any more court case. We need progress and development in Ikot Abasi We value ALSCON so much because it is the only Federal Government presence in our communities.”

 

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Cryptocurrencies are Ponzi Schemes – Kim, World Bank President

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The President of the World Bank Group, Jim Yong Kim became the latest financial voice to raise questions about the legitimacy of digital currencies such as Bitcoin as he compared cryptocurrencies to “Ponzi schemes.”

Kim’s expression of doubt about legitimacy of digital coins came amid slump in market for cryptocurrencies across the globe.

“In terms of using Bitcoin or some of the cryptocurrencies, we are also looking at it, but I’m told the vast majority of cryptocurrencies are basically Ponzi schemes. It’s still not really clear how it’s going to work,” he said.

The global development lender is “looking really carefully” at blockchain technology, a platform that uses so-called distributed ledgers to allow digital assets to be traded securely.

There’s hope the technology could be used in developing countries to “follow the money more effectively” and reduce corruption, Kim added.

The value of cryptocurrencies soared in 2017 before slumping, with Bitcoin losing nearly two-thirds of its value since mid-December.

While cryptocurrency technology has the potential to reshape global finance, concerns have been raised about its volatility and the potential for money laundering or other crimes.

Meanwhile, Nouriel Roubini, while discussing the downsides to cryptocurrencies, called Bitcoin the “mother of all bubbles.”

Also, in a speech this week, Bank of International Settlements’ Chief, Agustin Carstens, said there’s a “strong case” for authorities to rein in digital currencies because their links to the established financial system could cause disruptions.

Federal Reserve Chair, Jerome Powell, has said that “governance and risk management will be critical” for cryptocurrencies.

The President of the World Bank Group, Jim Yong Kim became the latest financial voice to raise questions about the legitimacy of digital currencies such as Bitcoin as he compared cryptocurrencies to “Ponzi schemes.”

Kim’s expression of doubt about legitimacy of digital coins came amid slump in market for cryptocurrencies across the globe.

“In terms of using Bitcoin or some of the cryptocurrencies, we are also looking at it, but I’m told the vast majority of cryptocurrencies are basically Ponzi schemes. It’s still not really clear how it’s going to work,” he said.

The global development lender is “looking really carefully” at blockchain technology, a platform that uses so-called distributed ledgers to allow digital assets to be traded securely.

There’s hope the technology could be used in developing countries to “follow the money more effectively” and reduce corruption, Kim added.

The value of cryptocurrencies soared in 2017 before slumping, with Bitcoin losing nearly two-thirds of its value since mid-December.

While cryptocurrency technology has the potential to reshape global finance, concerns have been raised about its volatility and the potential for money laundering or other crimes.

Meanwhile, Nouriel Roubini, while discussing the downsides to cryptocurrencies, called Bitcoin the “mother of all bubbles.”

Also, in a speech this week, Bank of International Settlements’ Chief, Agustin Carstens, said there’s a “strong case” for authorities to rein in digital currencies because their links to the established financial system could cause disruptions.

Federal Reserve Chair, Jerome Powell, has said that “governance and risk management will be critical” for cryptocurrencies.

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CBN on Twitter to Discuss Nigeria’s Exit from Recession

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The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN is set to hold a meeting on world’s popular social media platform, Twitter to discuss the country’s exit from recession.

The Tweet meeting is aimed at informing and educating Nigerians on the efforts being made by the Bank to grow the economy, especially against the backdrop of the country’s exit from recession in the last quarter of 2017.

The meeting is scheduled to hold today, Monday, 12th February 2018 at 2:00 pm (Nigerian time) and will feature the Acting Director of Corporate Communications in the Bank, Mr. Isaac Okorafor who will entertain questions from the general public on a wide range of issues, especially as regards the policies and actions taken by the Bank to grow the economy in the post-recession era.

These include the Expanded Anchor Borrowers Program, the Accelerated Agricultural Development Program (AADS), Prioritizing forex allocation to vital items and specific target end users, among others.

The Tweet meeting will also provide a veritable “feedback” opportunity, which is a component of effective communication.

It will be moderated by a renowned senior economist, Mr. Paul Alaje.

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Voice Calls: Telecommunication Firms Lost N120bn in 2017

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Major Telecommunications firm in the country lost N120bn potential revenue from voice calls in 2017, data from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) showed on Friday.

This is as a result of the reduction in the subscriber base of MTN, Globacom, Airtel and 9mobile between January and December 2017, according to analyses of the latest statistics from the NCC.

 

The NCC’s statistics on the subscribers under the GSM category showed that the active mobile voice subscriptions on the four major networks fell from 154.660 million in January to 144.631 million in December, representing a loss of over 10.028 million active network users.

This impacted negatively on revenue meant to accrue to telcos from voice calls.

According to findings, the industry’s Average Revenue Per User on voice calls is $2.75, which is equivalent to N998.25 per month using N363 to one dollar exchange rate.

This means that in 12 months, a subscriber was expected to have spent an average of N11,979 on voice calls.  An estimation of the amount of money they would have earned on voice calls from 10,028,768 subscribers that were lost is N120.134bn.

However, what was lost from voice calls was gained in data subscription as the number of Internet users rose to 98.391 million in December 2017, from 91.274 million at the beginning of the year. This brings the total number of new Internet users to 7,117 million.

Stakeholders in the industry have warned of depleting revenue due to increased usage of Over-the-Top Internet voice applications such as Whatsapp, Skype, Telegram and FaceBook Messenger that offer instant messaging and voice calls to subscribers globally. These messaging apps have also integrated video calling into their features, all which directly affect voice and the SMS usage but encourage the use of data subscriptions.

A London-based research and analytics firm, Ovum, had predicted that the telecommunications industry would lose about $386bn between 2012 and 2018 from customers using the OTT voice applications.

Speaking on the loss of revenue by telcos on voice calls, the President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, Mr. Olusola Teniola, said other avenues through which telcos made money included wholesale, data and the SMS and mobile payments.

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