Musk offers to close Twitter buyout deal at original price

Musk agreed in April to buy Twitter for $44 billion, but within weeks said the number of bot accounts was much higher than Twitter’s estimate of less than 5 percent of users. (AFP/File)
Musk agreed in April to buy Twitter for $44 billion, but within weeks said the number of bot accounts was much higher than Twitter’s estimate of less than 5 percent of users. (AFP/File)
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Updated 05 October 2022

Musk offers to close Twitter buyout deal at original price

Musk offers to close Twitter buyout deal at original price
  • The news comes ahead of a highly anticipated faceoff between Musk and Twitter in Delaware’s Court of Chancery on Oct. 17

SAN FRANCISCO: Elon Musk on Tuesday offered to push through with his buyout of Twitter at the original agreed price, as a trial over his efforts to withdraw from the deal loomed.
The world’s richest man said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that he sent Twitter a letter vowing to honor the contract.
The latest twist in the long-running saga came ahead of the high-stakes court battle launched by Twitter in an attempt to hold the Tesla chief to the deal he signed in April.
Musk’s potential stewardship of the influential social media site has sparked worry from activists who fear he could open the gates to more abusive and misinformative posts.
“We write to notify you that the Musk Parties intend to proceed to closing of the transaction,” read a copy of the letter to Twitter filed with the SEC.
Twitter confirmed to AFP that it received the letter from Musk, and said it intends to close the buyout deal at the agreed-on price of $54.20 per share.
Conditions noted in Musk’s letter included that the court halt action in the lawsuit against him. He had been slated to be questioned under oath by Twitter attorneys later this week.
The 51-year-old tweeted that buying Twitter “is an accelerant to creating X, the everything app,” offering no details.
During an annual shareholders meeting in August, Musk said Twitter could add momentum to a vision he had for the X.com company he founded in 1999.
X.com merged with Confinity, whose co-founders include Peter Thiel, and the entity went on to become PayPal.
“I do sort of have a grander vision for what I thought X.com, or X corporation, could have been back in the day,” Musk said at the shareholder meeting.
“I think Twitter would help accelerate that by three to five years.”

A serial entrepreneur made rich through his success with Tesla electric cars, Musk began to step back from the Twitter deal soon after it was agreed.
But “I think that Musk realized he was not going to win that trial” next week, University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told AFP.
“Ever since he had buyer’s remorse, the problem has been why, and why had he not done due diligence up front.”
Musk said in July he was canceling the purchase because he was misled by Twitter concerning the number of fake “bot” accounts, allegations rejected by the company.
Twitter meanwhile has sought to prove Musk was contriving excuses to walk away because he changed his mind.
In July, a Delaware judge agreed to fast-track a trial on Twitter’s allegations.
Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said in an email that Musk’s pivot showed he recognized “this $44 billion deal was going to be completed one way or another.”
Musk made his unsolicited bid to buy Twitter without asking for estimates regarding spam or fake accounts, and even sweetened his offer to the board by withdrawing a diligence condition, the lawsuit said.
“Ultimately, we will not know why Elon elected to change course ahead of trial, though we speculate that there are details of the negotiation or legal process that he preferred remain private — including deposition,” Baird Equity Research analysts said in a note to investors.
Seen by his champions as an iconoclastic genius and by his critics as an erratic megalomaniac, Musk surprised many investors with his pursuit of Twitter.
Claiming to be a free speech advocate, he has said he favored lifting the site’s ban on Donald Trump, who was kicked off shortly after the former president’s efforts to overturn his election defeat led to the January 6, 2021 assault on the US Capitol by his supporters.
“Musk made it clear that he would roll back Twitter’s community standards and safety guidelines, reinstate Donald Trump along with scores of other accounts suspended for violence and abuse, and open the floodgates of disinformation,” said Angelo Carusone, president of watchdog group Media Matters for America.
“In effect, Musk will turn Twitter into a fever swamp of dangerous conspiracy theories, partisan chicanery, and operationalized harassment.”
Musk’s norm-defying conduct over Twitter come after the Tesla and SpaceX chief’s past record of statements that flout or test convention and sometimes provoke a crackdown from regulators.
On Monday he was embroiled in a Twitter spat with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky over his ideas on ending Russia’s invasion.


Hong Kong jails pro-democracy media tycoon over fraud

Hong Kong jails pro-democracy media tycoon over fraud
Updated 44 sec ago

Hong Kong jails pro-democracy media tycoon over fraud

Hong Kong jails pro-democracy media tycoon over fraud
  • Jimmy Lai was arrested during a crackdown on the city’s pro-democracy movement following widespread protests in 2019
  • His media company, Next Digital, published the now-defunct pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily
HONG KONG: A Hong Kong court sentenced a pro-democracy media tycoon to five years and nine months in prison on Saturday over two fraud charges linked to lease violations, the latest of a series of cases against prominent activists that critics say are aimed at crushing dissent in the city.
Jimmy Lai, who was arrested during a crackdown on the city’s pro-democracy movement following widespread protests in 2019 and under the National Security Law imposed by Beijing, was also fined 2 million Hong Kong dollars ($257,000).
His media company, Next Digital, published the now-defunct pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily. The publication was forced to close following the arrests of its top executives, editors and journalists last year.
In October, Lai was found guilty of fraud for subletting part of the office space to a secretarial firm, which was also controlled by him, between 2016 and 2020. The second fraud count was for letting the same firm use the media outlet’s office space in an alleged breach of lease agreements from 1998 to 2015.
The court at that time ruled the moves had violated lease agreements with the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corp. and that Lai had hidden the fact that the company was occupying space in the building.
Handing down the sentences on Saturday, Judge Stanley Chan said the violations, which he called “organized and planned,” occurred over two decades and that Lai had used his media organization as “an umbrella of protection.”
He said Lai did not feel guilty about the moves, so there was no basis for the court to reduce his jail term.
Lai’s former colleague Wong Wai-keung, who was convicted on a single charge of fraud over the case, must serve 21 months in jail, Chan added.
Lai’s legal team earlier asked the United Nations to investigate his imprisonment and multiple criminal charges as “legal harassment” to punish him for speaking out. The tycoon was previously sentenced to 20 months in jail for his role in unauthorized assemblies.
His national security trial, initially scheduled to begin on Dec. 1, was postponed after Hong Kong leader John Lee asked China to effectively block him from hiring a British defense lawyer. If convicted, Lai faces up to life imprisonment.
The enactment of the security law has led to the arrests of many prominent democracy activists in the semi-autonomous Chinese city. Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to China’s rule in 1997.
It has also damaged faith in the future of the international financial hub, with increasing numbers of young professionals responding to the shrinking freedoms by moving abroad.

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."