Netflix in talks to source local Indian content from Reliance affiliate Viacom18

Netflix in talks to source local Indian content from Reliance affiliate Viacom18
Netflix show Raising Dion about a black youngster with superpowers. The company is seeking to expand its number of Indian subscribers. (Netflix via AP)
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Updated 13 June 2020

Netflix in talks to source local Indian content from Reliance affiliate Viacom18

Netflix in talks to source local Indian content from Reliance affiliate Viacom18
  • Network18 affiliates to create shows for Netflix to help the US firm expand offerings in India

NEW DELHI: US video streaming company Netflix is in talks with Viacom18, part of the Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries’ media unit Network18, about a multi-year partnership to obtain content, three sources told Reuters, in a move that would expand a relationship between the two sides.

Under the partnership, Network18 affiliates — which include its joint venture with ViacomCBS, Viacom18 — would create shows for Netflix to help the US firm expand offerings in India, where it competes against the video streaming services of Amazon.com and Walt Disney.

A Netflix spokesman in India denied the company was in talks with Network18 or Viacom18, but did not elaborate. A spokeswoman for Viacom18 declined to comment on whether talks were under way.

The financial terms of any potential partnership were not immediately clear and negotiations are still in the early stages, the sources said, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are private.

While the new shows will be used only by Netflix, that does not mean Network18 and its affiliates will stop creating shows for other platforms, said two of the three sources.

Viacom18 licenses content to several platforms, including Amazon. In 2019, its digital unit partnered with Netflix for three Hindi-language shows, but two of the sources said the current discussions were about a much bigger tie-up over several years.

“This is a bigger version of the 2019 deal in essence,” said the first source.

The second source described the discussions as one of Netflix’s “biggest moves to create local content in India.”

“The scale of Netflix’s ambition and aspiration in India is quite high,” said the source, adding that the deal could involve at least 10 shows, mainly in Hindi.

Network18 Media & Investments is controlled by Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani through subsidiaries of his oil-to-telecoms conglomerate Reliance Industries. 

In recent weeks, Reliance has secured nearly $13 billion in investments from Facebook, KKR & Co. and other investors into its digital unit Jio Platforms, which houses movie and music apps, and a telecoms venture.

Some Reliance executives are involved in the Netflix negotiations, two of the sources said. A spokesman at Reliance did not respond to a request for comment.

Netflix’s Indian roster includes blockbuster originals such as “Sacred Games,” a crime thriller set in Mumbai and starring some of Bollywood’s biggest names. Its pricing is, however, higher than that of Amazon Prime Video and Disney-owned Hotstar.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said in December the company planned to invest nearly $400 million during 2019 and 2020 to develop content for Indian viewers.

Local-language shows are vital for Netflix’s growth in India, which the company in 2018 said could deliver its next 100 million subscribers.

While a content deal would boost Netflix’s offerings, it would also aid Network18 whose revenue has been hit as businesses cut back on advertising and other spending during the coronavirus lockdown, said one of the sources, adding: “It makes huge sense (for both companies).” 


RAK Ceramics Saudi business booms on anti-dumping move

RAK Ceramics Saudi business booms on anti-dumping move
Updated 22 min 43 sec ago

RAK Ceramics Saudi business booms on anti-dumping move

RAK Ceramics Saudi business booms on anti-dumping move
  • Net profit rose to 60.6 million dirhams compared to 25.7 million dirhams in the year earlier period

DUBAI: RAK Ceramics, one of the world’s largest tile makers, reported a jump in Saudi sales as it benefited from anti-dumping measures on imports from China and India in the Kingdom.
The company’s wider business surpassed pre-pandemic levels in the first quarter, as it recorded its strongest start to a year since 2016.
“Looking ahead for the remainder of 2021, our priority will be to invest in brand equity, grow our business in Saudi Arabia and protect our market share in the UAE and Bangladesh,” said CEO Abdallah Massaad.
Net profit rose to 60.6 million dirhams compared to 25.7 million dirhams in the year earlier period.
Total gross profit margin also reached an all-time high of 35 percent driven by an increase in revenue, an improvement in efficiencies and the optimization of production lines. Total revenues were also at a five-year high, rising almost 22 percent to reach 722.8 million dirhams.
Revenue growth was strongest in Saudi Arabia where sales jumped by 78.5 percent, followed by India with sales growth of 67 percent.
“In Saudi Arabia, the Company’s strategy continues to yield results,” the company said in a statement. “The imposition of anti-dumping duties on tiles from India and China in the Kingdom initially led to an increase in demand for RAK Ceramics’ products. Capitalizing on this demand, the company invested in differentiated tiles and new showrooms, developing significant brand equity in the market,” it said.
In the UAE, despite the impact of COVID-19, workforce was not reduced, and production reached the highest level in five years due to increased demand from Saudi Arabia, it said.


Emaar Malls Q1 profit falls 16% but sees retail on recovery path

Emaar Malls Q1 profit falls 16% but sees retail on recovery path
Updated 30 min 46 sec ago

Emaar Malls Q1 profit falls 16% but sees retail on recovery path

Emaar Malls Q1 profit falls 16% but sees retail on recovery path
  • Profits improved on a quarter-on-quarter basis as net income gained 169 percent from the previous three month period

DUBAI: Dubai operator Emaar Malls said first quarter profit fell 16 percent from a year earlier to 318 million dirhams ($86.6 million).

However the company behind the world's most visited shopping mall highlighted a recovery in the retail sector.
Profits improved on a quarter-on-quarter basis as net income gained 169 percent from the previous three month period.
The retail group said that its e-commerce subsidiary Namshi recorded sales of 258 million dirhams, as it continues to grow in other Gulf markets such Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar
The operator has also focused on expansions and new developments to buffer the blow of the pandemic, Emaar boss Mohamed Alabbar said in a statement.
“We are committed to delivering transformational retail and entertainment experiences that exceed expectations of constantly evolving customer demands,” he said.
The retail and entertainment sector in Dubai has been seeing positive signs of recovery as the emirate embarks on a massive vaccine program which has helped to buoy consumer confidence.
Emaar expanded its Dubai Mall Village in February, bringing in 21 new sports and lifestyle stores with an additional gross leasable area of 79,000 square feet.
It also partnered with Time Out Group to open the region’s first Time Out Market in the emirate’s downtown area.
A new mall – Dubai Hills Mall – is in the works, the Dubai Financial Market filing said. It will have a gross leasable area of 2 million square feet that will feature about 600 shops. It will open in the second half of the year.
Tenant rental performance improved over the period with overall occupancy at 91 percent.


Saudi property liquidity higher ahead of Eid

Saudi property liquidity higher ahead of Eid
Updated 10 May 2021

Saudi property liquidity higher ahead of Eid

Saudi property liquidity higher ahead of Eid
  • The market primarily benefited from a 15.6 percent weekly increase in the value of the commercial sector deals

RIYADH: The Saudi real estate market recorded a 6.2 percent rise in weekly activity to reach SR4.1 billion ($1 billion) after earlier declines.
The market primarily benefited from a 15.6 percent weekly increase in the value of the commercial sector deals, to just under SR1.2 billion by the end of last week, Al Eqtisadiah reported.
Housing sector deals recorded a 2.8 percent weekly increase to nearly SR2.6 billion.
Agricultural and industrial deals also increased by 2.3 percent to SR344 million.
The number of real estate transactions gained 1.4 percent to 5,600, the newspaper reported.



 


Riyadh to get ten BinDawood superstores over five years

Riyadh to get ten BinDawood superstores over five years
Updated 10 May 2021

Riyadh to get ten BinDawood superstores over five years

Riyadh to get ten BinDawood superstores over five years
  • The company said it would open the branches over five years from 2022 to 2027

DUBAI: BinDawood Superstores said it would open ten new branches in Riyadh as the retailer expands its footprint in the Kingdom.
The company, a unit of BinDawood Holding, said in a stock exchange statement that it would open the branches over five years from 2022 to 2027.
BinDawood Holding on Monday said first-quarter profit fell by more than half to SR62.1 million ($16.5 million) compared to a year earlier.

Revenues declined by a fifth to SR1.12 billion because of “non-recurring pantry buying” at the start of the pandemic when consumers stocked up on purchases.

That rush was not repeated in the first quarter of this year.

“It has been a tough start to the year as the local Saudi grocery retail market continues to remain subdued.It is heartening to see some green shoots of recovery but overall, we see a return to pre-COVID sales only in the second half of 2021,” said Ahmad AR. BinDawood, CEO of BinDawood Holding.
However the group remains cautiously optimistic as its sales in Makkah and Madinah pick up and are expected to benefit from the gradual return of pilgrims to the Kingdom.
At the same time it has been able to reduce its costs associated with COVID-19, it said.
BinDawood said the company’s store opening program would result in more jobs for Saudis in the supermarket sector.


Oil gains after cyberattack forces closure of US fuel ‘jugular’ pipeline

Oil gains after cyberattack forces closure of US fuel ‘jugular’ pipeline
Updated 10 May 2021

Oil gains after cyberattack forces closure of US fuel ‘jugular’ pipeline

Oil gains after cyberattack forces closure of US fuel ‘jugular’ pipeline
  • Pipeline moves 2.5 million bpd of gasoline and other fuels
  • Network is source of nearly half of the US East Coast’s fuel

TOKYO: Crude prices rose on Monday after a major cyberattack forced the shutdown of critical fuel supply pipelines in the United States and highlighted the fragility of its oil infrastructure.
Brent crude was up by 38 cents, or 0.6 percent, at $68.66 a barrel by 0443 GMT, having risen by l.5 percent last week. US West Texas Intermediate futures rose by 34 cents, or 0.5 percent, at $65.24 a barrel, after gaining more than 2 percent last week.
Signaling the seriousness of the situation, the White House was working closely with Colonial Pipeline to help it recover from the ransomware attack, which forced the biggest US fuel pipeline operator to shut a network supplying populous eastern states.
“The major takeaway is the bad guys are very adept at finding new ways to penetrate infrastructure,” Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates told Reuters. “Infrastructure has not developed defenses that can offset all the different ways that malware can infect one’s system.”
Colonial’s network is the source of nearly half of the US East Coast’s fuel supply, transporting 2.5 million barrels per day of gasoline and other fuels, and the company had to shut all its pipelines after the cyberattack on Friday, which involved ransomware.
US gasoline prices jumped nearly 2 percent on Monday, while heating oil was up by more than 1 percent.
It was not clear who carried out the attack, but sources told Reuters the hackers were likely a professional cybercriminal group.
Colonial said on Sunday its main fuel lines remain offline but some smaller lines between terminals and delivery points are now operational. It didn’t say when the network might return to full operational capacity.
A prolonged shutdown of the line, described as the “jugular of infrastructure” in the United States by one analyst, would cause retail prices to spike at gasoline pumps ahead of peak summer driving season, a potential blow to US consumers and the economy.
“The big unknown is how long the shutdown will last, but clearly the longer it goes on, the more bullish it will be for refined product prices,” ING Economics said in a note.
The attack has prompted calls from American lawmakers to strengthen protections for critical US energy infrastructure from hacking attacks.
The Department of Energy said it was monitoring potential impacts to the nation’s energy supply, while the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the Transportation Security Administration told Reuters they were working on the situation.