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Nigeria: MTN involves 15 lawyers to challenge CBN huge demand.

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The Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed December 4, 2018, for hearing in the suit filed by MTN Nigeria Communications Limited to challenge the  $8,134,312,397.63 being demanded by the Central Bank of Nigeria over the alleged forex remittances.

At the Tuesday proceedings in the case, MTN was represented by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), who led 14 other lawyers, including Prof Fabian Ajogwu (SAN), Mr Damian Dodo (SAN), Mr Adeniyi Adegbonmire (SAN), and Mr Bode Olanipekun (SAN).



On the CBN legal team were Messrs Seyi Sowemimo (SAN) and Ademola Akerele (SAN).

The Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), who was joined as the 2nd defendant in the suit was absent and was not represented in court.

IMG-20180912-WA0030

While adjourning the suit till December 4, 2018, for the hearing of all pending applications, Justice Saliu Saidu directed that hearing notice should be served on the Attorney General of the Federation.

In the suit, marked FHC/L/CS/1475/2018, MTN is seeking a court declaration that it is “not liable to refund $8,134,312,397.63 to the coffers of the 1st defendant (CBN) premised on the decisions reached in the 1st defendant’s letter of 28/8/2018.”

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The firm wants Justice Saidu to hold that the CBN “lacks the power to determine the civil obligations or penal liabilities of the plaintiff.”

It is urging the court to declare that the CBN acted ultra vires its statutory powers when it wrote the August 18 letter to it demanding a refund of $8.1bn.

The firm wants the court to hold that the $8.1bn demand was “illegal, oppressive, abusive, unauthorised and unconstitutional.

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Business

I’ve always wondered, Why do billionaires buy media empires?

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An article by Jordan Murray

Although the financial situation for newspapers remains less than ideal, billionaires continue to invest in print media for their institutional worth, with aims to make publications self-sufficient.

If you had $190 million to spare, what would you spend it on?

If you’re Marc and Lynne Benioff, you’d buy a media empire. The flamboyant CEO of Salesforce and his wife purchased the publication from Meredith Corporation a few weeks ago, quickly distancing themselves from the magazine’s editorial direction.

It was a decision that was made, Marc admits, without much forethought, and its spontaneity is as much a product of his outsized personality as it is of his wealth. Indeed, the large cash infusion represents a boon for Time, but represents only around three per cent of the Benioff’s net wealth. It’s endemic of a larger trend in business of high-earning CEOs bankrolling print media to insulate cultural institutions from economic and technological changes.

Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce

Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce

While many are grateful for Benioff’s financial infusion, others are suspicious of his motives and the pressures he might exert on the newspaper’s editorial position. For his part, Benioff has moved to assuage those concerns, with Time’s chief content officer Alan Murray saying the Benioffs were willing to “put journalistic integrity ahead of corporate gains”.

Otherwise, Benioff’s purchase of Time appears to be an effort to preserve the periodical, as opposed to turning it into a vehicle for his political views. That hasn’t comforted some sceptics though, who have witnessed the financially precarious situation that arises when business leaders expect returns on their investments.

Why would anybody buy a newsroom?

It’s easy to compare billionaires with an interest in media empires to Charles Foster Kane, Orson Welles’ ruthless newspaper magnate. The truth is often more complex than that. Some CEOs, like Jeff Bezos, purchase flagging institutions not out of pity but out of a profit motive. Bezos, after all, was initially unmoved at the prospect of purchasing a business that haemorrhaged money and that he didn’t know much about.

However, he saw the opportunity as having a greater sense of rightness to it. “If this were a financially upside-down, salty snack food company, the answer would be no,” Bezos reasoned, “But as soon as I started thinking about it that way, I started to realize The Washington Post is an important institution.”

“If this were a financially upside-down, salty snack food company, the answer would be no,” Bezos reasoned, “But as soon as I started thinking about it that way, I started to realize The Washington Post is an important institution.”

Nowadays, The Washington Post is profitable, thanks to Bezos’ technological direction as much as his financial contributions. He has remained outside the newsroom, and has instead focused on the newspapers’ economic situation, preferring not to think of his contribution as a “philanthropic endeavour”.

A comparable situation arose for Laurene Powell Jobs, when her Emerson Collective purchased The Atlantic in July 2017, saying that “there’s a door between Emerson and the Atlantic, but it only swings from the Atlantic into Emerson; it doesn’t open in the other direction”.

Like Bezos’ approach, the emphasis wasn’t on editorial direction as much as it was on improving the economic function of the publication itself, which Jobs managed to do. Although the financial situation for newspapers remains less than ideal, billionaires continue to invest in print media for their institutional worth – an often-achievable goal, as newspapers are relatively inexpensive investments – with aims to make the publications self-sufficient.

Laurene Powell Jobs

Laurene Powell Jobs

Do things always work out?

In contrast to those two particularly fortunate cases, other entrepreneurs aren’t quite as committed to the outcomes of their chosen publication, quickly losing patience with their investment and becoming eager to rid themselves of it.

Perhaps the most notorious example of this is Joe Ricketts, whose purchase of Gothamist prefaced an attempt to merge the idiosyncratic vehicle for snark and culture with his own New York-centric outlet, DNAInfo. The arrangement lasted for only eight months, in which time both newsrooms complained about mismatched agendas. When the staff of both publications attempted to unionise, Ricketts simply shut both down and walked away from the situation.

Similarly, Peter Barbey purchased The Village Voice in 2015 promising that he was “flat-out serious about getting The Voice to be a major Manhattan publication”. Three years later, he unceremoniously shut down printing, citing “business realities”.

Such billionaire investments in newspapers are met with suspicion by the journalists who work for them not because they portend maleficent editorial direction, but because they often become more accountable to the economic concerns of one person. Much like any other business, if there isn’t a model for self-sufficiency to work towards, that often means that the end is in sight.

Much like any other business, if there isn’t a model for self-sufficiency to work towards, that often means that the end is in sight.

So, what happens next?

In conversation with CNBC, Joshua Benton, director of Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard, cited several reasons for why billionaires choose to become involved in media, including “a mixture of … sincere appreciation of the art form, … a desire to see it flourish … [!and!] a sense of civic responsibility”.

Moreover, the chance for growth in an industry that has struggled to adapt to digital distribution is immense and has proven profitable under the right leadership. Ultimately, the emphasis isn’t about establishing a vehicle for personal retribution. It’s about product differentiation and, eventually, financial returns.

It’s not difficult to appreciate how Benioff views the matter; he believes that there are two types of CEOs, those committed to improving the state of the world, and those who are not.

When he purchased Time, he was acting on that impulse, believing that print journalism deserved attention. It doesn’t mean he’s prepared to throw away a significant sum of money. It means that he’s willing to help a beleaguered industry through challenging times, with the sort of leadership and business expertise only an eccentric, carefree CEO can bring.

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The Big corporates back crypto ‘plumbing’ despite currency caution

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Source Reuters

Major finance and tech firms are pouring money into startups building technology to develop the crypto market, even though they’re steering clear of the volatile currencies themselves.

Venture capital investments in crypto and blockchain startups that included funds from corporates have raced to $850 million so far this year, data compiled by PitchBook for Reuters shows. The 13 deals put the flows on track for a second straight annual record.

Such bets, by companies including London Stock Exchange Group and Microsoft Corp, spiked over five-fold to a record $2.4 billion over 117 investments in 2018. This suggests large companies see promise in the nascent technology, even as it struggles for acceptance.

They have mostly given digital coins, including bitcoin, a wide berth, avoiding direct investment because of worries over tightening regulation, frequent security lapses and high volatility.

The lack of mainstream embrace has sown serious doubts over the potential of cryptocurrencies to evolve from speculative tokens to means of payment capable of rivaling fiat money.

Bitcoin slumped by three-quarters last year after nearing a record of $20,000 in its frenzied 2017 bubble. It’s still prone to wild price moves, underscored by a recent 20 percent jump that caused puzzlement among traders and analysts.

And though blockchain has found some use in sectors such as trade finance, its application has been relatively narrow.

Firms are looking at how, and if, blockchain and related technologies can be used in ways that could spark deeper change, said Richard Hay, UK head of fintech at law firm Linklaters.

“There are two dynamics at play,” he said. “We can get something up and running and achieve cost savings, and also look longer term at ways of deploying the technology in more transformative ways.”

Recent examples include a $20 million investment involving the London Stock Exchange and Banco Santander in a London startup whose platform can be used to issue debt on blockchain, the technology that underpins most digital coins. Graphic: Corporate bets on crypto and blockchain soar.

“BASIC PLUMBING”

The investments span startups from makers of cryptocurrency mining gear and exchanges, the PitchBook data to April 8 shows.

One key driver is a growing expectation that the “tokenisation” of assets from stocks to oil – essentially digitizing them and allowing them to be traded on blockchain – will upend markets, lawyers and consultants working with fintech firms said.

“People are really enamored by tokenisation – the ability to produce coins or other forms of value – so that’s where we see all of the action at the moment,” said Anton Ruddenklau, global co-head of fintech at KPMG.

“They are investing as a technological hedge as much as anything.”

Bets involving corporate venture capital are usually small, the data shows. Deals this year had a median value of $6.5 million, a notch below the $8 million of last year.

Others are much bigger.

Bakkt, a cryptocurrency trading platform founded last year by New York Stock Exchange owner Intercontinental Exchange Inc, raised in December over $180 million from investors including M12, Microsoft’s venture capital arm.

The rush of corporate venture money comes as traditional venture capital (VC) investments also pour into the sector. Last year 617 deals totaled a record $5.6 billion worldwide, the data shows, as venture capitalists assess how the technologies will impact the online economy.

“There is a huge experimentation in effectively the basic plumbing for a native economic layer to the web,” said Jamie Burke, CEO of Outlier Ventures, a fund that has led investment in around eight blockchain-related projects.

But with that experimentation has come examples of failure.

In December, cryptocurrency project Basis said it would shut down and return funds to its backers including Google owner Alphabet’s venture arm GV and Bain Capital Ventures because of concerns over regulation.

Cryptocurrency miners and exchanges make up the four biggest VC-backed firms by valuation, according to the PitchBook data.

Some have struggled amid the slump in bitcoin prices. The $12 billion-valued Bitmain Technologies, for example, last month shelved a planned initial public offering in Hong Kong.

Others have fared better. San Francisco-based exchange Coinbase, valued at $8 billion, saw non-U.S. revenue grow 20 percent last year to 153 million euros ($173 million), a filing to Britain’s corporate registry last week showed.

The exchange’s UK arm, which books the firm’s non-U.S. revenue, accounts for almost a third of the firm’s overall revenue, said Coinbase UK chief executive Zeeshan Feroz.

That suggests, according to Reuters calculations, worldwide revenue of around $520 million last year – a rare glimpse into the financial health of a cryptocurrency exchange.

Coinbase declined to comment.

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