Talks over three-way Qatari bank merger collapse

Doha Corniche: A proposed merger of three Qatari banks has failed to materialize. (Reuters)
Updated 14 June 2018
0

Talks over three-way Qatari bank merger collapse

  • Islamic lender Masraf Al Rayan and conventional lenders Barwa Bank and International Bank of Qatar (IBQ) have been in talks since December 2016 over a potential tie-up.
  • A shake-up has long been mooted in the Qatari banking sector, given that 18 local and international commercial banks serve a population of 2.6 million.

DUBAI: Talks to merge three Qatari banks have ended after they were unable to reach an agreement, the lenders said in a joint statement on Thursday.
Islamic lender Masraf Al Rayan and conventional lenders Barwa Bank and International Bank of Qatar (IBQ) have been in talks since December 2016 over a potential tie-up.
“The three banks could not reach an agreement to complete the transaction,” the lenders said in a bourse statement, without elaborating.
Sources close to the matter told Reuters the talks stalled over the past year as shareholders could not agree on valuations and due to client concerns about the possibility of converting IBQ into an Islamic lender.
Qatari regulations do not allow a bank to operate both types of lending, so IBQ would have had to convert its business to being Sharia-compliant should the deal have gone ahead.
A shake-up has long been mooted in the Qatari banking sector, given that 18 local and international commercial banks serve a population of 2.6 million.
KPMG was advising Masraf Al Rayan on the merger, with Perella Weinberg advising IBQ, the sources said. Credit Suisse was advising Barwa, they added.


Search engine Baidu becomes first China firm to join US AI ethics group

Updated 17 October 2018
0

Search engine Baidu becomes first China firm to join US AI ethics group

  • The Partnership on AI (PAI), which counts Alphabet Inc’s Google, Apple Inc. and Facebook Inc. as members, is a body that develops ethical guidelines for AI research
  • Baidu’s inclusion in the group comes as Chinese and US companies are looking to ramp up cooperation on AI

BEIJING: Chinese search engine Baidu has become the first Chinese company to join an artificial intelligence (AI) ethics group led by top US tech firms, amid wider political clashes over AI competition between China and the US.
The Partnership on AI (PAI), which counts Alphabet Inc’s Google, Apple Inc. and Facebook Inc. as members, is a body that develops ethical guidelines for AI research, including ensuring research does not violate international conventions or human rights.
Last year China’s industry ministry named Baidu as one of four national AI champions, and the search firm has invested heavily in autonomous driving and deep learning in recent years.
“Baidu’s admission represents the beginning of PAI’s entrance into China. We will continue to add new members in China and around the world as we grow,” said PAI in a statement on Tuesday.

 

Baidu’s inclusion in the group comes as Chinese and US companies are looking to ramp up cooperation on AI, despite a looming political scuffle between the US and China over technology transfers.
Last year China set out a roadmap to become a world leader in AI by 2025, with plans to invest roughly $400 billion in the industry in the coming years.
The ambitions have rankled the US government, which has discussed plans to bolster security reviews of cutting-edge technology, including AI, over fears that China could access technology of strategic military importance.
China’s AI roadmap encourages technology sharing between private, public and military research groups.
Despite the clash, US companies have expanded their AI presence in China while Baidu and other Chinese firms have launched AI research labs in the US.
Last month China’s cyber ministry hosted Google, Amazon Inc. and Microsoft Corp. at its annual AI forum. All three companies have launched AI research labs in China over the past year, despite tightening censorship and data restrictions that limit the companies’ involvement in the market.
At the forum, top government officials stressed that China’s development of AI technology would be ethically conducted, adding that they have plans to retrain workers who lose their jobs to AI.

Decoder

China’s AI roadmap encourages technology sharing between private, public and military research groups.