Twitter-Musk takeover dispute heading for an October trial

Tesla and SpaceX Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk. (AP)
Tesla and SpaceX Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk. (AP)
Short Url
Updated 20 July 2022

Twitter-Musk takeover dispute heading for an October trial

Tesla and SpaceX Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk. (AP)
  • Twitter is trying to force the billionaire to make good on his April promise to buy the social media giant for $44 billion — and the company wants it to happen quickly because it says the ongoing dispute is harming its business

WASHINGTON: Tesla CEO Elon Musk lost his fight to delay Twitter’s lawsuit against him as a Delaware judge on Tuesday set an October trial, citing the “cloud of uncertainty” over the social media company after the billionaire backed out of a deal to buy it.
“Delay threatens irreparable harm,” said Chancellor Kathaleen St. Jude McCormick, the head judge of Delaware’s Court of Chancery, which handles many high-profile business disputes. “The longer the delay, the greater the risk.”
Twitter had asked for an expedited trial in September, while Musk’s team called for waiting until early next year because of the complexity of the case. McCormick said Musk’s team underestimated the Delaware court’s ability to “quickly process complex litigation.”
Twitter is trying to force the billionaire to make good on his April promise to buy the social media giant for $44 billion — and the company wants it to happen quickly because it says the ongoing dispute is harming its business.
“It’s a very favorable ruling for Twitter in terms of moving things along,” said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond. “She seemed very concerned about the argument that delay would seriously harm the company, and I think that’s true.”
Musk, the world’s richest man, pledged to pay $54.20 a share for Twitter, but informed the company in July that he wants to back out of the agreement.
“It’s attempted sabotage. He’s doing his best to run Twitter down,” said attorney William Savitt, representing Twitter before McCormick on Tuesday. The hearing was held virtually after McCormick said she tested positive for COVID-19.
Musk has claimed the company has failed to provide adequate information about the number of fake, or “spam bot,” Twitter accounts, and that it has breached its obligations under the deal by firing top managers and laying off a significant number of employees. Musk's team expects more information about the bot numbers to be revealed in the trial court discovery process, when both sides must hand over evidence.
Twitter argues that Musk’s reasons for backing out are just a cover for buyer's remorse after agreeing to pay 38% above Twitter’s stock price shortly before the stock market stumbled and shares of the electric-car maker Tesla, where most of Musk’s personal wealth resides, lost more than $100 billion of their value.
Savitt said the contested merger agreement and Musk’s tweets disparaging the company were inflicting harm on the business and questioned Musk’s request for a delayed trial, asking “whether the real plan is to run out the clock.”
“He’s banking on wriggling out of the deal he signed,” Savitt said.
But the idea the Tesla CEO is trying to damage Twitter is “preposterous. He has no interest in damaging the company,” said Musk attorney Andrew Rossman, noting he is Twitter’s second largest shareholder with a “far larger stake” than the company's entire board of directors.
Savitt emphasized the importance of an expedited trial starting in September for Twitter to be able to make important business decisions affecting everything from employee retention to relationships with suppliers and customers.
Rossman said more time is needed because it is “one of the largest take-private deals in history” involving a “company that has a massive amount of data that has to be analyzed. Billions of actions on their platform have to be analyzed.”
Tobias said it’s still possible that Musk and Twitter will settle the case before it goes to trial, since both might find a drawn-out fight or the judge's final decisions costly to their businesses and reputations. One option is that Musk could pay the $1 billion breakup fee both he and Twitter agreed to if either was deemed responsible for the deal falling through. Or Twitter could push for him to pay more to make up for damages – just not the full $44 billion acquisition.
“Does Musk really want to run that company? Do they really want Musk to run that company?” Tobias said. “They could always settle somewhere in between.”


Studio 1932, Pressman Film team up for film production in Saudi Arabia

Studio 1932, Pressman Film team up for film production in Saudi Arabia
Updated 09 December 2022

Studio 1932, Pressman Film team up for film production in Saudi Arabia

Studio 1932, Pressman Film team up for film production in Saudi Arabia
  • Companies sign a deal to create drama feature film set in ancient Arabia

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s Studio 1932 and Hollywood’s Pressman Film announced on Friday a new partnership that will see the creation of a feature film shot in the Kingdom.

The American production house said it has signed a deal with Studio 1932 to film an action-drama feature based in ancient Arabia.

“We’re excited to be partnering with Studio 1932 on the development of films and tv to be made in Saudi Arabia for global audiences. Saudi Arabia’s commitment to cinema is one of the most interesting developments in the global marketplace for media today,” commented Edward Pressman, producer.

“We are proud to bring 50-plus years of industry experience as well as to share our relationships in the creative and technical spheres of production with the evolving landscape of Saudi media.”

The new partnership is the latest contribution to a flourishing film sector in the country and will be an opportunity to showcase not only the savoir-faire of the Saudi film industry but highlight the Kingdom’s diverse landscapes, regions, history and traditions through the camera lens.

The collaboration of cultural and creative value was made possible by the support of the Saudi Film Commission and the commitment to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, the companies also highlighted.

Founded in 1969, Pressman Film has produced over 80 world-class motion pictures that have kickstarted the careers of several of the most prominent figures in the movie industry.

Pressman’s classic productions include “Conan the Barbarian,” “American Psycho,” “The Crow,” “Thank You for Smoking” and “Wall Street,” directed by Oliver Stone, president of the International Jury of the 2022 Rea Sea Film Festival.


Saudi Film Commission announces new fund for local productions

Saudi Film Commission announces new fund for local productions
Updated 09 December 2022

Saudi Film Commission announces new fund for local productions

Saudi Film Commission announces new fund for local productions
  • Daw aims to provide additional support to fast-growing industry
  • Applications open from December 11

LONDON: 

The Saudi Film Commission has launched a grant scheme dedicated to supporting local productions and talent.

The Daw funding program was announced during the Red Sea International Film Festival, which is taking place from Dec. 1 to Dec. 10 in Jeddah. It is designed to stimulate the growth of the Saudi film sector and support private investment in industry.

“Daw is part of our continued efforts to encourage Saudi filmmakers and production companies to express their creativity and help us grow the Saudi film industry,” Saudi Film Commission CEO Abdullah Al-Eyaf said.

“The commission launched several initiatives over the past few years to develop the sector’s infrastructure and invest in our local talent, because we truly believe in the potential of Saudi filmmakers and production houses and strive to help them show their productions on the global stage.”

The new grant is built upon the success of last year’s Daw Film Competition, which saw 30 winners across five film categories.

Daw offers financial grants for Saudi-based production companies looking to produce short films or feature films.

The program is open from December 11 and will be available for three types of film: fiction, documentaries, and animation.

Applications will go through a rigorous four-step evaluation and will be assessed by a committee of leading experts.

Earlier this year the commission, a Saudi government body affiliated with the Ministry of Culture, unveiled a cash rebate program that is open for local and international production companies, which will stimulate Saudi filmmaking.

The film industry is “one of the most prominent and as well as fastest growing cultural sectors in Saudi Arabia,” said Najla Al-Nomair, chief strategy and business development officer at the Cultural Development Fund.

The film commission aims to develop the sector in the country, creating jobs and increasing the industry’s contribution to the economy.


Iranian women named ‘Heroes of the Year 2022’ by Time magazine

Iranian women named ‘Heroes of the Year 2022’ by Time magazine
Updated 09 December 2022

Iranian women named ‘Heroes of the Year 2022’ by Time magazine

Iranian women named ‘Heroes of the Year 2022’ by Time magazine
  • ‘Educated, secular, liberal’ Iranian women have been the backbone of the protests

LONDON: The women of Iran have been named Time magazine’s Heroes of the Year 2022 for their pivotal role in widespread protests against the Islamic Republic.

Iranian women, who were described by the New York-based magazine as “educated, secular, liberal,” took to the streets in mid-September following the death of Mahsa Amini at the hands of morality police.

Protesters demanded changes to the strict rules imposed by the Tehran regime.

The cover of the magazine, which is due to be published on Dec. 26, will feature an image of three unveiled Iranian women locking arms in defiance of the country’s rulers.

 

 

Iranian-American writer and former Time columnist Azadeh Moaveni has also written an accompanying piece lauding the actions of Iranian women and highlighting their importance in protests that have swept the country.

“These younger women are now in the streets. The movement they’re leading is educated, liberal, secular, raised on higher expectations, and desperate for normality — college and foreign travel, decent jobs, rule of law, access to the Apple Store, a meaningful role in politics, the freedom to say and wear whatever,” Moaveni wrote.

“I can only conclude that when a generation’s aspirations for freedom appear tantalizingly within reach, the more humiliating the remaining restrictions seem and the less daunting the final stretch of resistance feels.” 

Moaveni also wrote that what might appear to be a feminist revolt in fact carried the grievances of an entire society.


Brazil’s press officer shocks World Cup reporters by throwing cat to the floor in media conference

Brazil’s press officer shocks World Cup reporters by throwing cat to the floor in media conference
Updated 09 December 2022

Brazil’s press officer shocks World Cup reporters by throwing cat to the floor in media conference

Brazil’s press officer shocks World Cup reporters by throwing cat to the floor in media conference
  • Football star Vinicius Jr laughed out of shock

LONDON: The press officer of the Brazilian national team shocked journalists when he picked up a cat that had interrupted footballer Vinicius Jr’s press conference on Wednesday and threw it on the floor.

The stray was caught on camera jumping onto the table in front of the unnamed Brazil media officer while the Real Madrid forward, 22, was answering questions ahead of the World Cup clash with Croatia.

The press officer picked up the cat with both hands and disposed of it ruthlessly, shocking journalists, while the football star froze and then laughed, seemingly out of astonishment.

The video of Brazil’s press officer mistreating the cat went viral, and fans on social media criticized his action, with one hoping “Brazil don't win the World Cup now."


67 journalists, media workers killed on the job this year

67 journalists, media workers killed on the job this year
Updated 09 December 2022

67 journalists, media workers killed on the job this year

67 journalists, media workers killed on the job this year
  • The Brussels-based IFJ recorded five deaths of journalists amid this year’s political crisis in Pakistan
  • Group called on governments to take more concrete action to protect journalists

BRUSSELS: Russia’s war in Ukraine, chaos in Haiti and rising violence by criminal groups in Mexico contributed to a 30 percent spike in the number of journalists killed doing their work in 2022 over the previous year, according to a new report released Friday.
The International Federation of Journalists says that 67 journalists and media staff have been killed around the world so far this year, up from 47 last year.
The Brussels-based group also tallied 375 journalists currently imprisoned for their work, with the most in China, Myanmar and Turkiye. Last year’s report listed 365 journalists behind bars.
With the number of media workers killed on the rise, the group called on governments to take more concrete action to protect journalists and free journalism.
“The failure to act will only embolden those who seek to suppress the free flow of information and undermine the ability of people to hold their leaders to account, including in ensuring that those with power and influence do not stand in the way of open and inclusive societies,” IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said in a statement.
More media workers were killed covering the war in Ukraine – 12 in total — than in any other country this year, according to the IFJ. Most were Ukrainian but also included those of other nationalities such as American documentary filmmaker Brent Renaud. Many deaths occurred in the first chaotic weeks of the war, though threats to journalists continue as the fighting drags on.
The IFJ said “the rule by terror of criminal organizations in Mexico, and the breakdown of law and order in Haiti, have also contributed to the surge in killings.” 2022 has been one of the deadliest ever for journalists in Mexico, which is now considered the most dangerous country for reporters outside a war zone.
The group recorded five deaths of journalists amid this year’s political crisis in Pakistan, and warned of new threats to journalists in Colombia and continued danger for journalists in the Philippines despite new leadership there.
It also called out the shooting of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh as she was reporting from a Palestinian refugee camp. The Arab network this week formally asked the International Criminal Court to investigate her death.
The Brussels-based IFJ represents 600,000 media professionals from trade unions and associations in more than 140 countries. The report was released on the eve of the United Nations’ Human Rights Day.