SRMG acquires controlling stake in Saudi financial news service Argaam

Updated 18 October 2017
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SRMG acquires controlling stake in Saudi financial news service Argaam

LONDON: The Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG) has acquired a controlling stake in the Argaam Investment and Trading Company, which publishes an online financial news service.
Argaam owns Argaam.com, which provides real-time updates on financial markets and macroeconomic trends in Saudi Arabia. It also owns the news portal Akhbaar24.com.
SRMG Chairman Prince Badr bin Abdullah Al-Saud said the acquisition will help pave the way to a “brighter future” for the digital content industry in Saudi Arabia.
The deal forms part plans by SRMG, the publisher of Arab News, to expand its range of specialized content.
“The acquisition of one of the most important economic websites in Saudi Arabia and the Arab world is a continuation of the group’s strategy to expand its specialized content portfolios in the world of finance, business, market economics and different media platforms,” said Dr. Ghassan Al-Shibl, managing director and chief executive of SRMG.
The acquisition also reflects an anticipated rise in demand for information on Saudi Arabia’s economy and financial markets as the country ramps up non-oil growth and diversifies its economy under its Vision 2030 strategy.
Saudi Arabian data has become a “strategic commodity” for potential investors weighing their options on how to invest in the Kingdom, Al-Shibl said in a statement.
SRMG secured its 51 percent stake for SR37.5 million ($10 million), according to a statement from the company. The deal is self-funded and will be paid in cash after formal procedures are finalized. Ownership is expected to be completed by Oct. 24, pending final regulatory approvals.
The acquisition follows news last month that SRMG signed a deal with the New York-headquartered news conglomerate Bloomberg to launch Bloomberg Al Arabiya — a new multi-platform Arabic-language business and financial news service.
Under the agreement, SRMG will publish Bloomberg Businessweek magazine in Arabic as well as producing a 24/7 television and radio network. The Bloomberg Al Arabiya team will be headquartered in the Gulf, and managed by SRMG with support from Bloomberg.
“The Middle East is an important, economically diverse region and our agreement with SRMG allows us to deliver the sharpest global business and financial insights to a critical audience of business decision makers,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg L.P. and former mayor of New York City in September.


Bamboo house for Manila slums wins top prize in future cities contest

Updated 12 min 43 sec ago
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Bamboo house for Manila slums wins top prize in future cities contest

  • The house, known as CUBO, uses engineered bamboo and can be put together in four hours at a cost of £60 per square meter
  • Of Manila’s population of 12 million, about a third live in slums

BANGKOK: The creator of a low-cost house made of bamboo to tackle the chronic shortage of affordable housing in the Philippine capital has won a top international prize to design future cities in a rapidly urbanizing world.
Earl Forlales, 23, won the first prize from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in its Cities for our Future competition. The prize money of £50,000 ($63,915) will fund a prototype, as well as actual units.
The house, known as CUBO, uses engineered bamboo, and can be put together in four hours at a cost of £60 per square meter, according to a statement released Thursday.
The modular housing, which can be manufactured in a week, includes design elements such as a tilted roof that captures rainwater and reduces heat gain, and elevated stilts that prevent floodwaters from entering the home.
“The world’s cities are growing all the time and there is a real need to make sure they are safe, clean and comfortable places to live in,” said John Hughes, competition judge and president of RICS.
“Earl’s idea stood out for its simple, yet well thought through solution to the world’s growing slum problem,” he said.
Of Manila’s population of 12 million, about a third live in slums, possibly the most in any urban area in the world, charities estimate.
Many residents are migrants from the provinces who come in search of better opportunities, and cannot afford housing. An additional 2.5 million migrant workers are forecast to move to the city in the next three years.
The National Housing Authority last year committed to building 800,000 homes over five years. The backlog for government housing in the Philippines is about 5.5 million, campaigners estimate.
Forlales, a graduate in material science engineering, said he took inspiration for CUBO from the bamboo hut his grandparents lived in outside Manilla.
CUBO will first be used to house the incoming worker population in the short term, and then extended to the city’s slums. The plan also includes options to provide residents with new skills and jobs, Forlales said.
“The affordable housing solution must necessarily be low-cost, sustainable, robust and long lasting. We cannot make do with band-aid solutions,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“Housing opens up opportunities, so the solution must be decent and dignified, giving residents access to all necessary amenities for a better life,” he said.
CUBO can be built in any city where bamboo is available, including most of Southeast Asia, and parts of Africa and Latin America, he said.
The inaugural Cities for our Future competition — run by RICS and supported by the United Kingdom National Commission for UNESCO and the Association of Commonwealth Universities — drew more than 1,200 entries.