BeIN Sports loses out in Egypt for breach of competition rules

Nasser Al-Khelaifi is the chief executive of Qatar's BeIN Media Group and president of French soccer club Paris St Germain (PSG). BeIN was hit with a anti-trust fine by an Egyptian court this week. (Reuters)
Updated 13 March 2018
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BeIN Sports loses out in Egypt for breach of competition rules

LONDON: The outlook for Qatari-owned sports broadcaster BeIN in Egypt has worsened after it was hit by a fine of 400 million Egyptian pounds ($22.7 million) for breaching competition rules.
Qatar’s BeIN Sports chief executive Nasser Al-Khelaifi, who is also the president of Paris Saint-Germain, was fined by an Egyptian court on Monday, AFP reported.
The ruling — confirmed by a court on March 12 — comes after BeIN announced on Feb. 20 that it will be broadcasting this year’s Fifa World Cup held in Russia across six of its sports channels, broadcasting live for 14 hours every day of the tournament.
The World Cup is of particular interest in the Middle East this year with four Arab nations; Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia, taking part in the competition for the first time in history.
The fine slapped on BeIN highlights the close scrutiny paid to the granting of lucrative sports media rights in many countries, particularly those with fairly new competition legislation, AFP reported.
According to local press, the Egyptian Competition Authority said BeIN had made Egyptian customers replace their existing satellites in order to access BeIN services during the last African Football Cup held in Gabon.
The authority also raised concerns about the way subscriptions were sold, saying it forced viewers to buy sports bundles which included programming they weren’t interested in watching.
Alex Haffner, partner, sports business group at Fladgate law firm, in London, said that sports media rights often face scrutiny as they can potentially generate huge advertising revenue from advertisers keen to catch the eye of millions of sports fans.
“Competition and other regulatory authorities have historically paid a close interest to sports media rights and, specifically, the way they are tendered, packaged and sold to consumers.
“This is borne of the fact that such rights are typically a powerful medium to reach certain viewers, notably those who are highly prized by advertisers but not always easy to engage with via the medium of broadcast, and therefore tend to have a significant impact on competition in the broadcast markets on which they are exploited,” he said.
It could be additionally challenging where competition law is still in its “infancy,” he said, including Egypt in this category. The North African country introduced its competition law in 2005, but only started fully implementing it in the last few years, said Haffner.
“They have less established precedent to rely on and are more prone to being influenced by external factors. It therefore becomes more difficult to forward plan and map out how those authorities are likely to view particular business practices.
“That said, such ‘newer’ authorities, if treated with due reverence and respect are more likely to be open to closer co-operation and engagement with those they regulate,” he said.
The ruling against BeIN also reflects the wider geopolitical environment, with relations between Qatar and Egypt are already deteriorating due to the continued boycott of Qatar by the Saudi-led coalition of states, which includes Egypt, which began in mid-2017.
The reasons behind the boycott are said to be due to Qatar’s alleged support of terror groups — a claim Qatar denies.
“Egypt-Qatar relations were already very tense,” said Jane Kinninmont, senior research fellow and deputy head, MENA program at Chatham House in London.
“Egypt’s grievances against Qatar include a variety of grievances with Qatari media, primarily Al-Jazeera, so Qatar is likely to see this court case as a politicized decision, whether it is or not.
“However, the boycott has never been absolute. A variety of economic relations have continued, including the presence of Egyptians working in Qatar. This decision may underline the pre-existing tensions but is unlikely to be a game-changer,” she said.
BeIN did not respond to Arab News requests for comment. The Egyptian Competition Authority also did not respond to requests for comment.


Nissan meets to replace Ghosn, as tensions with Renault grow

Updated 41 min 24 sec ago
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Nissan meets to replace Ghosn, as tensions with Renault grow

  • The decision on replacing Ghosn at Nissan is being led by an advisory committee that includes a former Renault executive
  • The Japanese company removed Ghosn from his post last month after he was detained on allegations of under-reporting his salary

TOKYO: The board of automaker Nissan meets Monday to discuss replacing former chairman Carlos Ghosn after his arrest for financial misconduct, as tensions grow in the firm’s alliance with Renault.
The Japanese company removed Ghosn from his post last month after he was detained on allegations of under-reporting his salary.
But it appears unlikely to agree Monday on a permanent replacement for him, in part because of open discord in its alliance with French automaker Renault.
Nissan itself faces charges for allegedly submitting financial documents that understated Ghosn’s pay, and Renault is now reportedly seeking more sway on the Japanese firm’s board.
The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that Renault urged Nissan in a letter to hold a shareholders meeting to discuss Renault’s representation on the firm’s nine-member board and within its top management.
It warned that Nissan’s indictment “creates significant risks to Renault, as Nissan’s largest shareholder, and to the stability of our industrial alliance,” the Journal reported.
A source with knowledge of the issue confirmed that Nissan had received the letter and was planning an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting in January.
Renault’s letter is the latest sign of the tensions in the alliance that groups the firm with Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors — a partnership that Ghosn forged and was often credited with holding together.
While Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors quickly removed Ghosn from leadership positions after his arrest, Renault has kept the auto executive on as CEO and chairman.
And while Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa launched a broadside against his former mentor shortly after his arrest, describing his “dark side,” Renault has approached the allegations more cautiously.
The decision on replacing Ghosn at Nissan is being led by an advisory committee that includes a former Renault executive, and Japanese media reports suggested it was unlikely to reach a decision on Monday.
“It slows things down, but it isn’t the end of the world,” a source close to the issue told AFP.
“We need to let them talk and decide properly. That’s more important than rushing.”
The company is instead likely to announce new governance measures intended to address criticism that it failed to prevent Ghosn’s alleged misconduct.
As his former employer wrangles over his replacement, Ghosn remains in the one-man cell at a Tokyo detention center he has occupied since his shock arrest on November 19.
Prosecutors have already charged him with under-reporting his pay by around $44 million over the five years to 2015, and are also investigating claims he under-reported it further in the last three years.
He will be detained until at least December 20, when prosecutors will either file new charges or request another 10-day detention period while they continue investigations.
A range of additional claims of financial misconduct have been made against Ghosn, including using Nissan funds to purchase homes around the world, though prosecutors have yet to level those accusations formally.
He and his former right-hand man Greg Kelly, who is also under arrest, reportedly deny any wrongdoing.
The charges have sparked a legal battle over Ghosn’s flat in Rio de Janeiro, with Nissan trying to prevent his family members from accessing the property and removing items.
A Brazilian court authorized relatives to access the apartment, despite claims from Nissan that they were removing corporate documents.
Ghosn’s arrest marked a stunning reversal of fortune for the Franco-Brazilian-Lebanese tycoon, once revered in Japan for effectively rescuing Nissan from insolvency.
He helped engineer the alliance between Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi, creating a partnership that sold more cars than any other globally last year.