UAE’s DIFC to set up global knowledge hub as financial data values soar

People walk outside the Gate Building at the Dubai International Financial Centre. (Reuters)
Updated 04 July 2017
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UAE’s DIFC to set up global knowledge hub as financial data values soar

DUBAI: The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) in the UAE is planning to set up a research and information hub to capitalize on the soaring value of financial data in international investment markets.
The DIFC’s aim is to “build a regional knowledge hub by aggregating financial market insight and providing the tools to assess the pulse of the global economy,” according to a memo sent to selected financial members of the center and seen by Arab News.
The first step will be a website “as a platform by research providers and institutions… that can be used by policymakers, (economists), analysts, traders, students and others,” the memo continued.
Although the plan is at an early stage, it is a prototype of a database for financial and economic information that could become very valuable.
Just last week, it emerged that GIC, the sovereign wealth fund of the government of Singapore, was in talks with the owners of Mergermarket, a financial data service specializing in the areas of mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance and private equity.
Reports said that the GIC was interested in buying a 30 percent stake in Mergermarket, in a deal that would value the subscription-based website at as much as £1 billion ($1.3 billion).
That potential deal follows others in the field of financial information that have illustrated a rising trend in values in this specialist sector.
Zawya, the Middle East-focused information and financial-data website, was sold to Thomson Reuters for a reported $40 million in 2012, while the Financial Times, the London-based newspaper regarded as a global market leader in financial information, was sold by its then-owner, the UK conglomerate Pearson, to Nikkei of Japan for £844 million in 2015.
In between those deals, Mergermarket, then also owned by Pearson, was sold to private-equity investor BC Partners for £382 million in cash, after a fierce bidding round that saw interest
from some of the biggest private-equity investors in the world.
If the deal, currently under consideration, goes through it would represent a doubling of BC Partners’ investment in three years.
Founded in 2000, Mergermarket has expanded to 67 locations across the US, Europe, Asia and the Middle East and currently boasts 190,000 subscribers.
Although DIFC’s plans are at an early stage, observers believe it is a logical step for a center often regarded as the premier financial hub in the Arabian Gulf.
“There is a lot of brainpower and information in the DIFC, and it should really be the thought-leader in financial matters in the region. The challenge, however, is to monetize all that knowledge. Subscription-based databases have to get it just right to be successful,” said one expert, who did not want to be identified.
In 2014, the DIFC announced a 10-year strategy that would see it triple in size — in terms of member firms and employees, rentable space, and value of financial assets.


Pence presses Myanmar’s Suu Kyi to pardon Reuters journalists

Updated 14 November 2018
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Pence presses Myanmar’s Suu Kyi to pardon Reuters journalists

  • Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested in Yangon in December 2017
  • Lawyers for the two Reuters reporters have lodged an appeal against their conviction

SINGAPORE: US Vice President Mike Pence pressed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi “multiple times” on Wednesday to pardon two Reuters journalists jailed in her country, a senior White House official said.
Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested in Yangon in December 2017. They were found guilty in September of breaching the Official Secrets Act and sentenced to seven years in prison.
Pence met Suu Kyi on the sidelines of an Asia summit in Singapore.
“He raised the case of two Reuters journalists in particular and raised the request that a pardon could be made,” a senior White House official told reporters on condition of anonymity. “They had a very candid exchange of views on that.”
The White House official said Pence urged Suu Kyi directly to pardon the Reuters journalists “multiple times.”
The official declined to comment on Suu Kyi’s response in the closed-door meeting.
Lawyers for the two Reuters reporters have lodged an appeal against their conviction.
At the time of their arrest in December, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were working on a Reuters investigation into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim villagers during an army crackdown in Rakhine state.