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.


Vietnam jails activist for anti-government posts on Facebook

Updated 25 September 2018
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Vietnam jails activist for anti-government posts on Facebook

  • The conviction comes as communist authorities step up a crackdown on dissent
  • Some 97 activists were in jail as of April this year, according to Amnesty International

HANOI, Vietnam: A court in southern Vietnam has sentenced an activist to 27 months in prison for Facebook posts that judges say insulted the ruling Communist Party and government and called for anti-government protests.
Doan Khanh Vinh Quang, 42, was convicted “abuse of democratic freedom to infringe on the legitimate interests of the state” by the People’s Court in Ninh Kieu District in Can Tho province after a one-day trial Monday, the Vietnam News Agency reported.
The agency quoted judges as saying Quang’s actions “actively abetted hostile and reactionary forces from inside and outside the country” who want to overthrow the party and government.
Court officials were not available for comment Tuesday.
The conviction comes as communist authorities step up a crackdown on dissent. Quang was third activist to be jailed in a week on similar charges.
On Saturday, Nguyen Hong Nguyen and Truong Dinh Khang, were convicted of insulting the Communist Party and its leaders, including late founding President Ho Chi Minh, and sentenced to two years and one year respectively in separate cases in Can Tho province.
Despite sweeping economic reforms over the past 30 years that opened Vietnam to foreign investment and trade that made it one of fastest growing economies in the region, the Communist Party tolerates no challenge to its one-party rule.
Some Western governments and international human rights groups criticize Vietnam for jailing people for peacefully expressing their views. Hanoi says only lawbreakers are put behind bars.
Some 97 activists were in jail as of April this year, according to Amnesty International.