UK competition watchdog to examine music streaming market

UK competition watchdog to examine music streaming market
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Updated 19 October 2021

UK competition watchdog to examine music streaming market

UK competition watchdog to examine music streaming market
  • Initial market study could lead to full investigation

LONDON: Britain’s competition regulator plans to launch an examination of the music streaming market to see whether a sector dominated by platforms such as Spotify and Apple works for consumers.

The watchdog’s announcement on Tuesday follows a report from a UK parliamentary committee this year, which warned that the ties between music majors and streaming platforms could stifle innovation in the sector.

“The UK has a love affair with music and is home to many of the world's most popular artists,” CMA Chief Executive Andrea Coscelli said. “We want to do everything we can to ensure that this sector is competitive, thriving and works in the interests of music lovers.”

A market study is used to examine a sector and decide if an intervention is needed. Outcomes can include asking the government to change regulations, encouraging businesses to self-regulate, taking action against companies and a full, in-depth investigation.

A spokesperson for Spotify declined to comment. The British music industry body, the BPI, said it welcomed the study. “We look forward to seeing the scope of the project in due course and engaging with the CMA to inform its work,” it said.

Britain's Competition and Markets Authority has taken an increasingly proactive role in the regulation of digital markets, with investigations already launched into the power of Google, Facebook and Apple in different parts of the ecosystem.

It said it would now turn its sights to music streaming which, in Britain, accounts for 80 percent of music consumption and is dominated by the likes of Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon and Alphabet Inc-owned YouTube.

Having been hammered by piracy in the late 1990s, the music industry moved toward a streaming model backed by either advertising or subscriptions as a way to secure more sustainable revenue for the sector.

Official figures show that the global recorded music market rose by 7.4 percent in 2020 to $21.6 billion, with a jump in demand for paid streaming services leading the way.

A British report on the sector showed that there were 139 billion audio streams in total last year. Despite the growth, artists have long complained that they do not receive a fair share from streaming platforms.

The UK parliamentary report also noted that the three major music companies, Universal, Sony and Warner , also covered up to 75 percent of the UK recording market and had close ties with streaming platforms, prompting lawmakers to question the level of competition in the sector.


PIF governor and BlackRock’s CEO leads discussions on ESG in emerging markets in FII’s first regional summit

PIF governor and BlackRock’s CEO leads discussions on ESG in emerging markets in FII’s first regional summit
Updated 20 May 2022

PIF governor and BlackRock’s CEO leads discussions on ESG in emerging markets in FII’s first regional summit

PIF governor and BlackRock’s CEO leads discussions on ESG in emerging markets in FII’s first regional summit

RIYADH: The Future Investment Initiative Foundation will host its first ever regional summit on Friday, in Rosewood London, England, entitled Inclusive Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance in Emerging Markets.

The most prominent participants in the event include the FII Chairman and Governor of the Public Investment Fund, Yasser Al-Rumayyan, Egypt’s Minister of Environment, Yasmine Fouad and Blackrock CEO Larry Fink.

The summit will bring together international investors, world leaders, thought leaders, policy makers, global CEOs, and chiefs of sustainability to discuss and shape the future of ESG, particularly in emerging markets.

“The planet has major problems with climate, with destruction of nature, peace and security. But we also have tremendous resources, including our common humanity,” Executive Director of the FII Institute, Richard Attias said.

“We believe that ESG is an important tool to bring us together and channel capital to meet these challenges,” he said.

Using ESG standards to make investment decisions is a global boom, with assets expected to reach $53 trillion, about a third of global assets under management, by 2025, a statement showed.

Still, the lack of a framework for the effective implementation of ESG in emerging economies represent a stumbling block for investors. 

The FII says it will finally have the tool needed to develop sustainable investment strategies in these markets, through its proprietary measurement framework, developed in collaboration with investors, global companies, and FII’s strategic partners.

The Foundation works to impact humanity across four focus areas: artificial intelligence, robotics, education, health care, and sustainability.

The event is part of a series of events hosted by the Foundation, which will culminate in the sixth edition of the annual FII Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in October.

The PIF view

The PIF understands that being engaged in ESG is the right thing to do, Rania Nashar, head of compliance and governance at the fund, told the conference.

PIF companies are announcing emission reductions but it's not only about the destination, it is about the journey, she added.

“We approach the ESG through multiple aspects. Through creating platforms, sponsoring events and launching initiatives,” she said.


China’s April Saudi oil imports soar 38 percent on year, Russian oil up 4 percent

China’s April Saudi oil imports soar 38 percent on year, Russian oil up 4 percent
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Updated 20 May 2022

China’s April Saudi oil imports soar 38 percent on year, Russian oil up 4 percent

China’s April Saudi oil imports soar 38 percent on year, Russian oil up 4 percent

China’s crude oil imports from top supplier Saudi Arabia soared 38 percent in April from a year earlier, hitting the highest monthly volume since May 2020, according to Reuters’ calculations based on official Chinese customs data.

Saudi shipments amounted to 8.93 million tons last month, equivalent to 2.17 million barrels per day, according to data from the Chinese General Administration of Customs.

The hefty purchases, with trades completed mostly in February, compare with 1.61 million bpd in March and 1.57 million bpd a year earlier.

Imports from second-largest supplier Russia rose a more modest 4 percent last month from a year earlier, with cargoes booked before western governments toughened sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February.

Russian oil arrivals in April totalled 6.55 million tons, or 1.59 million bpd, data showed, up slightly from 1.5 million bpd in March and 1.53 million bpd a year earlier.

China’s overall crude oil imports last month rose nearly 7 percent on the year, its first rise in three months, although widespread COVID-19 lockdowns crimped fuel demand and dampened refinery output.

Friday’s data showed zero imports in April from Iran. However, customs next month is likely to report for May the import of nearly 2 million barrels of Iranian oil that was being discharged this week into a reserve base in south China.

Despite US sanctions on Iran, China has kept taking Iranian oil passed off as supplies from other countries. The import levels are roughly equivalent to 7 percent of China’s total crude oil imports.

Iranian oil, often priced lower than competing grades, have squeezed out rival supplies such as from Brazil and West Africa.

Customs reported zero imports from Venezuela, as state oil firms shunned purchases since late 2019 for fear of falling afoul of secondary US sanctions.

Imports from Malaysia, often used as a transfer point in the last two years for oil originating from Iran and Venezuela, jumped 84 percent on year to 2.165 million tons, the second highest on record.


Saudi tourism ministry signs deals to boost localization program

 Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism signs two agreements. (Twitter/@Saudi_MT)
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism signs two agreements. (Twitter/@Saudi_MT)
Updated 20 May 2022

Saudi tourism ministry signs deals to boost localization program

 Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism signs two agreements. (Twitter/@Saudi_MT)

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism has signed two agreements to enhance joint cooperation and support training and localization programs to qualify those wishing to work in the hospitality sector.
The move, which aims to support workers in the food, beverage and accommodation sectors, in support of achieving the Kingdom’s’ tourism human capacity development strategy.
Bandar bin Mohammed Al-Safir, director general of training and localization at the ministry, stressed that these two agreements aim to develop human resources in the tourism sector through quality training programs that will contribute to developing localized skills in the tourism sector.
Under the two agreements, which were signed with Kempinski Al-Othman Hotel and Carlton Al-Moaibed Hotel, the ministry will support dualifying Saudi nationals in the tourism sector within the “Your Future has Arrived” initiative.


Venture capital and microfinance firms should focus on startups, says Al Ahli Holding Group CEO

Venture capital and microfinance firms should focus on startups, says Al Ahli Holding Group CEO
Updated 20 May 2022

Venture capital and microfinance firms should focus on startups, says Al Ahli Holding Group CEO

Venture capital and microfinance firms should focus on startups, says Al Ahli Holding Group CEO

DUBAI: Mohamed Khammas, CEO of Al Ahli Holding Group, said that startup businesses are an excellent opportunity for investment in venture capital funds and microfinance banks.

During an interview with Arab News at the Top CEO event in Dubai, Khammas Mohamed Khammas, CEO of Al Ahli Holding Group, highlighted that startups are a good investment idea because the “ticket size is smaller, and the product ranges are higher.”

Khammas pointed out the risks that arise for startups are not in their early stages but rather when they become successful.

“The challenge is not when they’re trying to have a major impact on the economy; the problems occur when they become successful. All of those are calculated risks,” he said.

Khammas continued to add that regardless of these risks, investing in new, innovative startups is “absolutely the best opportunity.”

Also, during his talk at the event, Khammas  urged banks to fund new and innovative products and ideas in the area after he shed light on how banks are hesitant to invest in creative ideas.


Dubai’s Futurist says ‘virtual economies are already worth $130 billion’

Dubai’s Futurist says ‘virtual economies are already worth $130 billion’
Updated 20 May 2022

Dubai’s Futurist says ‘virtual economies are already worth $130 billion’

Dubai’s Futurist says ‘virtual economies are already worth $130 billion’
  • Investing in video games more rewarding than Metaverse: Raford

DUBAI: Even though the business world is increasingly fascinated by the Metaverse, Noah Raford, futurist-in-chief and chief of Global Affairs at Dubai Future Foundation, claimed games, Web3 and virtual economies is where the smart money is.

While speaking at the Top CEO event in Dubai, Raford argued that people should invest in video games, as it is the only successful digital economy so far.

In a statement to Arab News a day after the event, he said: “The metaverse has extraordinary potential and Dubai is moving rapidly to take advantage of it. Virtual assets and digital economies are a huge growth area. There is a lot of hype and wasted investment, but the best examples at the moment are video games and in-game virtual economies – especially connected to NFTs & Web3.”

Fady Kassatly, partner of Enterprise Solutions and Cloud, KPMG, said the Metaverse is nothing but the next evolution, which will make people live differently.

He also added the Metaverse is going to evolve quickly in different directions, and this is just the beginning of the journey.

On his part, Philippe Blanchard, founder of Futurous, stated the Metaverse will change the relationship between humans and nature.

Predicting an inevitable Metaverse future, Valerie Hawley, director of Sorbonne Center for Artificial Intelligence, said every business will look at the Metaverse space and consider using it in the coming years.

She also added the Metaverse is a projection of the world that humans would like to live in.