Bloomberg aligned with vision 2030 values in SRMG deal

Dr. Ghassan Alshibl, MD and CEO of SRMG (R) signing the Agreement with Justin Smith, CEO of Bloomberg Media in Bloomberg’s headquarters in New York. (AN photo)
Updated 22 September 2017

Bloomberg aligned with vision 2030 values in SRMG deal

NEW YORK: Bloomberg wants to play a role in the transformation under way in Saudi Arabia under the Vision 2020 Strategy to diversify the economy away from oil dependency, a top executive of the global media and information company said in New York yesterday.
Justin Smith, chief executive officer of Bloomberg Media Group, was speaking after the company signed a deal with Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG), owner of Arab News and other newspaper titles, to launch a multi-platform Arabic-language business and financial news service.
SRMG, which also publishes Al Sharq Al Awsat and Aleqtisadiyah, will be the partner in the region for TV, online, print, and audio content for Bloomberg, which will also stage events in the Kingdom.
“It was logical to go into partnership with a media company in the biggest economy in the region. The transformation as articulated by the Saudi Arabian leadership is an exciting story, and Bloomberg would like to play a role by being an independent, unbiased information provider in the region,” Smith said.
He added that Bloomberg shares the same principles as the policymakers behind Vision 2030: “Free markets, transparency, progress and modernity. Our partners at SRMG also share those qualities.”
Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg and former mayor of New York City, said: “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.”
Bloomberg already has English-language operations in the UAE, with TV studios in Dubai and Abu Dhabi as well as the Middle East version of Bloomberg Businessweek, but this is its first foray into Arabic.
Content will be provided by translation from Bloomberg’s existing English operations, and will also be self-generated by SRMG staff.
“We have set editorial standards which SRMG has embraced. What Bloomberg stands for is self evident in its work. We will operate with the legal media framework of the country where we are, but we will not change our stripes,” Smith said.
Prince Bader bin Abdullah Al-Saud, chairman of SRMG, said the deal would give a boost to the regional media industry. “We are very pleased with this promising partnership with Bloomberg. In addition to the many business opportunities this collaboration brings, we believe the partnership will greatly enhance the media landscape in our region.
“This is an exciting development for SRMG and a strong progression in our quest to offer the highest quality financial and business journalism from, and about the Middle East,” he added.
Bloomberg has been looking for a regional media partner since the demise of the aborted Al Arab news channel 18 months ago.
“They were good partners, but last year we decided to part ways, and we’ve been talking to different partners for most of this year. Leaning into a local language opportunity was always the next step for us,” said Smith.
“The Middle East is a very important markets for us. Outside North America and Europe we focus on markets that are fast growing. The Middle East has been a great market for our Bloomberg terminals business,” he added.
The Bloomberg/SRMG Arabic operation would be based initially in Riyadh and Dubai, though Smith did not rule out a bureau in Jeddah at a later date.

US media questions Bezos hacking claims

Updated 8 min 17 sec ago

US media questions Bezos hacking claims

  • Experts said while hack “likely” occurred, investigation leaves too many “unanswered questions”
  • Specialists on Thursday said evidence was not strong enough to confirm

LONDON: An investigation into claims that the phone of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was hacked has been called into question by cybersecurity experts and several major US media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and the Associated Press (AP).

Specialists on Thursday said evidence from the privately commissioned probe by FTI Consulting is not strong enough for a definitive conclusion, nor does it confirm with certainty that his phone was actually compromised.

The Wall Street Journal reported, late on Friday: “Manhattan federal prosecutors have evidence indicating Jeff Bezos’ girlfriend provided text messages to her brother that he then sold to the National Enquirer for its article about the Inc. founder’s affair, according to people familiar with the matter.”

Experts said while a hack “likely” occurred, the investigation leaves too many “unanswered questions,” including how a hack happened or which spyware program was used, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

Steve Morgan, founder and editor-in-chief of New York-based Cybersecurity Ventures, said the probe makes “reasonable assumptions and speculations,” but does not claim 100 percent certainty or proof.

UK-based cybersecurity consultant Robert Pritchard said: “In some ways, the investigation is very incomplete … The conclusions they’ve drawn, I don’t think, are supported by the evidence. They veered off into conjecture.”

Alex Stamos, former chief security officer at Facebook, wrote that the FTI probe is filled with “circumstantial evidence but no smoking gun.”

Matt Suiche, a Dubai-based French entrepreneur and founder of cybersecurity firm Comae Technologies, told AP that the malicious file is presumably still on the hacked phone because the investigation shows a screenshot of it.

If the file had been deleted, he said the probe should have stated this or explained why it was not possible to retrieve it. “They’re not doing that. It shows poor quality of the investigation,” Suiche added.

Reports on Wednesday suggested that Saudi Arabia was involved in the phone of Bezos being hacked after he received a WhatsApp message sent from the personal account of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Saudi Embassy in the US denied the allegations, describing them as “absurd.” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan called the accusations “purely conjecture” and “absolutely silly,” saying if there was real evidence the Kingdom looked forward to seeing it.

A Wall Street Journal report quoted forensics specialists as saying the FTI investigation’s claims that Saudi Arabia was behind any possible hacking of the phone “appeared to forgo investigatory steps.”

CNN reported that critics of the probe highlighted a “lack of sophistication” in it, quoting Sarah Edwards, an instructor at the SANS Institute, as saying: “It does seem like (FTI) gave it a good try, but it seems they’re just not as knowledgeable in the mobile forensics realm as they could have been.”

The New York Times said the probe tried to find links between the possible hacking of the phone and an article in the National Enquirer about the Amazon CEO’s extramarital affair with Lauren Sanchez, but any link remains “elusive.”

National Enquirer owner American Media said in a statement regarding the source of the leak on Sanchez’s involvement with Bezos: “The single source of our reporting has been well documented, in September 2018 Michael Sanchez began providing all materials and information to our reporters. Any suggestion that a third party was involved in or in any way influenced our reporting is false.”