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Microsoft To Acquire Cyber Security Firm Hexadite

May 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft has made a deal to purchase cyber security firm Hexadite for $100 million, according to Israeli financial news website Calcalist.

Hexadite, headquartered in Boston with its research and development center in Israel, provides technology to automate responses to cyber attacks that it says increases productivity and reduces costs for businesses.

Microsoft officials declined to comment. Officials at Hexadite could not immediately be reach for comment.

Investors in Hexadite include Hewlett Packard Ventures, and venture capital firms TenEleven and YL Ventures.

Microsoft said in January it plans to continue to invest more than $1 billion annually on cyber security research and development in the coming years. Israel has already benefited from that investment.

Intel Kittson Really A Successor To The Itanium Line

May 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Intel has released the successors to the Itanium “Poulson” microprocessors and they are showing all the development and evolution of an Apple product.

The Itanium 9720, 9740, 9750 and 9760 CPUs are better known as “Kittson” and really are so similar to their predecessor you could not tell them apart.

In fact the only improvement in “Kittson” lineup is slightly increased operating frequency in two models.

The new range has four and eight CPU cores depending on SKU, up to 32 MB of last level cache, and 2 DDR3 memory controllers. They are clocked at up to 2.66 GHz, and support Hyper-Threading technology. Other supported features are Turbo Boost and Virtualization technologies.

They have shedloads of RAS features, such as machine check architecture with ECC and parity protection, Instruction Replay technology, hot add and removal.

Each on-chip memory controller supports two interconnects to Intel 7500 and 7510 Scalable Memory Buffers. The CPU works with DDR3-800 and DDR3-1066 memory. The Itanium 9720 is rated at 130 Watt TDP and the 9740, 9750 and 9760 SKUs have 170 Watt TDP.

Courtesy-Fud

Samsung On The Hunt For Acquisitions

May 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Tech giant Samsung Electronics Co Ltd plans to continue their hunt for acquisition opportunities, a company executive said on Monday, as the firm seeks to build software and services to further differentiate its products.

“We are going to be bullish on finding companies that fit our strategy,” Peter Koo, a senior vice president for Samsung’s mobile division, said during an investor event in Hong Kong. He did not elaborate on specific targets or technologies that Samsung is looking to acquire.

The world’s top maker of memory chips, smartphones and televisions has grown more aggressive in acquiring companies in recent years, breaking from its past preference to rely on its own talent and use its cash for capital expenditures amid intensifying competition from the likes of Apple Inc and Huawei Technologies Co Ltd.

In addition to buying firms such as Viv Labs and LoopPay, deals that bolstered Samsung’s existing efforts for artificial intelligence and mobile payments services, Samsung is also spending money to break into new businesses.

The firm completed an $8 billion acquisition of Harman International Industries early this year, its biggest ever deal, in an attempt to speed up its entry into the automotive components industry and develop a new growth engine.

Koo said Samsung’s aim with software and services is to primarily make its products more attractive to consumers, and that the firm will look for partnerships as well as acquisitions to bolster its offerings.

Lyft, Waymo Form Self-driving Car Partnership

May 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

U.S. ride-hailing company Lyft Inc and Alphabet Inc’s self-driving car unit Waymo have launched a self-driving vehicle partnership, bringing together two rivals to dominant ride-sharing service Uber Technologies Inc.

Lyft, the No. 2 U.S. ride service by ride volume, in a statement said a deal to launch self-driving pilots would accelerate its vision for transportation and Waymo, which is beginning tests of a self-driving car service in Phoenix, said the partnership would let its technology reach “more people, in more places”.

Neither offered many details of the agreement, which was reported earlier by the New York Times.

The auto industry and technology companies are racing to develop self-driving technology, which they expect in a number of years will transform transportation, cutting costs of ride services and changing the way people buy and use cars.

Uber is the biggest U.S. ride service by volume and has been developing self-driving technology, which it sees as a key to its future, as it expands its ride service with human drivers.

Waymo has some of the most advanced self-driving vehicle technology and has been looking for partners, while Lyft offers ride services in about 300 U.S. cities.

Still, Lyft said the deal is non-exclusive and will allow it to continue a self-driving partnership with U.S. automaker General Motors Co , which is a Lyft investor.

GM plans to deploy thousands of self-driving electric cars in test fleets partnering with Lyft beginning 2018, sources told Reuters in February.

Lyft is extremely early in its autonomous efforts. It has relied heavily on General Motors for any testing and doesn’t have a program that rivals Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group, a department in Uber dedicated to building self-driving technology.

Waymo and Uber are fighting in court over self-driving technology that Waymo says was stolen by a former employee who founded another company that Uber later acquired. Uber says it did not steal or use Waymo secrets.

Talks on the Waymo and Lyft collaboration between began last summer, a person familiar with the situation said.

Snapchat Reports Slowing User Growth

May 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Snap Inc shares took a deep dive after the owner of Snapchat reported slowing user growth and revenue in its first earnings report as a public company, missing some Wall Street estimates as it competes with copycat messaging apps.

Shares tumbled 23 percent in after-hours trading to wipe some $6 billion from Snap’s market value, a reversal for the company after a red-hot March initial public offering that was the biggest for a U.S. tech company since Facebook Inc’s 2012 debut.

The stock fell to $17.66, just above its IPO price of $17.

Some investors were hoping Snap would surprise them with big numbers in its first quarterly report, BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield said.

“The fact that they failed to live up to expectations, let alone exceed them, disappointed people,” he said.

The performance echoed slides in Facebook and Twitter after they posted debut scorecards following their IPOs. Twitter shares cratered 24 percent the next day, while Facebook’s tumbled 11 percent, still the biggest-ever one-day losses for both.

Snap Chief Executive Evan Spiegel sought to reassure investors during an earnings call, fielding a dozen questions that ranged from strategy to how it would deal with competitors.

He also did not shy away from one query that allowed him to take a feisty jab at Facebook.

“If you want to be a creative company, you’ve got to get comfortable with and enjoy the fact that people are going to copy your product if you make great stuff,” he said.

Making a comparison to the search industry, Spiegel added: “Just because Yahoo has a search box doesn’t mean they’re Google.”

Snap said its daily active users (DAUs) rose 36.1 percent to 166 million in the first quarter from a year earlier, marking a slowdown from the 47.7 percent rise for the fourth quarter and 62.8 percent jump for the third quarter that the company reported in its IPO filing.

The slowing rate of growth was in line with an estimate from JPMorgan, which accurately expected 166 million DAUs for the first quarter. Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Co Inc had pegged them even higher at 173 million.

Snap’s March IPO priced above the company’s target range as investors put aside concerns about a lack of profits and voting rights to get a piece of the action. The IPO raised $3.4 billion and gave the company a market valuation of roughly $24 billion, and shares surged 44 percent in their first day of trading.

Toshiba, Western Digital Clash Heat Up Over Chip Unit Sale

May 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Toshiba Corp warned Western Digital Corp not to interfere in the sale of its prized chip unit, refuting claims it has breached a joint venture contract and threatening legal action.

The clash between Toshiba and Western Digital – both its business partner and one of the bidders for the chip unit – risks delaying or even quashing an auction that the Japanese conglomerate is depending on to plug a $9 billion hole in its accounts.

Although the two companies jointly operate Toshiba’s main semiconductor plant, Western Digital is not seen as a favored bidder for the world’s second biggest NAND chip producer, having put in a much lower offer than other suitors, sources with knowledge of the matter, have said.

The U.S. firm has argued the Japanese company is violating their contract by transferring their joint venture’s rights to the newly formed unit and has asked for exclusive negotiating rights. Chief Executive Steve Milligan is currently visiting Japan to press its case.

But in a May 3 letter sent by Toshiba’s lawyers, the TVs-to-nuclear conglomerate disputed Western Digital’ s argument and said it would pursue all available remedies if it saw continued interference in the sale process.

Western Digital’s “campaign constitutes intentional interference with Toshiba’s prospective economic advantage and current contracts. It is improper, and it must stop,” the letter, which was seen by Reuters on Tuesday, said.

In a separate letter, also dated May 3, the general manager of Toshiba’s legal affairs accused Western Digital of failing to sign some joint venture agreements.

If Western Digital refuses to sign by May 15, the chip unit would protect its intellectual property rights by suspending Western Digital employees’ access to all of the unit’s facilities, networks and databases, the letter said.

A Western Digital spokeswoman in Japan declined to make immediate comment.

For some analysts, Western Digital has the upper hand.

“From a commonsense standpoint, it’s hard to buy Toshiba’s argument that it doesn’t need approval from its JV partner because it’s almost a 50-50 joint venture,” said Masahiko Ishino, an analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Center.

Toshiba believes that a consortium of U.S. private equity firm KKR & Co LP and Japanese government-backed investors would be the most feasible solution, a source familiar with the matter said this week.

But Western Digital has vehemently said it is opposed to a deal with Broadcom. Other suitors could also be blocked by the Japanese government which has vowed to prevent any deal that could allow the transfer of sensitive technologies and represent a risk to national security.

The source also said that Toshiba plans to report full-year results this month without an endorsement from its auditor – its second such earnings report – as disagreements over its books are unlikely to resolved.

The move puts the troubled Japanese conglomerate’s bourse listing in further jeopardy, after it submitted twice-delayed third-quarter results without approval from PricewaterhouseCoopers Aarata (PwC) last month.

Is Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Too Expensive?

May 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft made a rather surprising move by unveiling its Surface Laptop at the #MicrosoftEDU event in New York but at that price, it faces some rather stiff competition.

Microsoft is aiming at education with Windows 10 S OS, the new Microsoft Surface Laptop starts at a rather steep price of US $999 for the base version, powered by 7th-gen Kaby Lake Core i5 CPU, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Both HP and Acer have unveiled their notebooks powered by Windows 10 S, the HP ProBook x360 Education Edition, and the Acer TravelMate Spin B1 Convertible, which start at rather more reasonable US $299, coming with 11.6-inch screens, Intel Celeron CPUs, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.

While it might be both lighter and thinner than any Apple Macbook as well as 50 percent faster than Macbook Air (like that was so hard to achieve), the Surface Laptop falls short when it comes to some serious competition.

Microsoft spent a lot of time talking about dimensions and the fact that the Surface Laptop is both lighter and thinner than any Apple Macbook. Measuring at 308.1×223.27×14.48mm (12.13×8.79×0.57 inches) and weighing in at 1,252g (2.76 lbs), the Surface Laptop is a fancy looking system with anodized chassis and Alcantara covered keyboard, but competition, like the Dell XPS 13, coming with CNC machined aluminum chassis and carbon fiber composite palm rest with soft-touch, is not far behind at all.

The Dell XPS 13 measures at 304x200x9-15mm (11.98×7.88×0.33-0.6inches) and weighs 1.22kg (2.7lbs) for the standard and 1.31kg (2.9lbs) for the touch version, which makes it smaller and pretty much the same weight as the Surface Laptop. 

When it comes to hardware, Dell also offers more bang for the buck, at least when it comes to high-end configurations. The most expensive version of Surface Laptop, one featuring an Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB or RAM and 512GB of PCIe NVMe SSD is listed at US $2,199, whereas Dell will give you its high-end XPS 13 Touch with Intel 7th-gen Core i7-7560U, 16GB or RAM, 512GB of SSD storage and the 13.3-inch QHD (3200×1800) touch screen for US $1,974.99.

Dell also has the new XPS 13 2-in-1, which was introduced back in January, and which comes an UltraSharp QHD+ (3200×1800 resolution) screen or a standard 1920×1080 screen. It is powered by Intel’s latest Kaby Lake Y-series CPUs, including the Core i5-7Y54 clocked at 3.2GHz or i7-7Y75 clocked at 3.6GHZ. It can also be equipped with up to 16GB of RAM and up to 1TB of SSD storage, so this is a viable competition as well. 

HP has a neat offer with the Spectre 13-v151nr, offering a 13.3-inch FHD system with Intel Core i7-7500U CPU, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of PCIe NVMe SSD storage for US $1,249.99.

We are sure that Surface Laptop has its market but those in education will be looking at cheaper systems while those looking for a high-end notebook will probably look elsewhere as there is plenty of competition offering more than Microsoft’s new Surface Laptop, let alone the Apple Macbook line. Bear in mind that all of these high-end notebooks run on Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro OS, which offer a lot more than the locked Windows 10 S OS. 

Courtesy-Fud

Microsoft’s Surface Sales Take A Deep Dive

May 2, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Revenue generated by Microsoft’s Surface hardware during the March quarter fell by 26% from the same period the year before, the company said in a Wall Street briefing.

For the quarter, Surface produced $831 million, some $285 million less than the March quarter of 2016, for the largest year-over-year dollar decline ever.

Microsoft blamed the portfolio’s age and increased competition from hardware partners for the fall-off. “Our Surface results fell short of expectations impacted by end-of-product-lifecycle and increased price competition,” contended Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, in the Thursday earnings call.

The Surface Pro 4, the portfolio’s top seller, was introduced in October 2015, and has not been refreshed since then.

Analysts accepted Microsoft’s reasons for the downturn.

“There is competition that is lower-priced,” said Carolina Milanesi of Creative Strategies in a Friday interview. “There’s not just more of the same, but a lot that are positioned in the same space are cheaper. And there were expectations that we would have seen a [product] refresh that we haven’t seen yet.”

Jack Gold, principal analyst at J. Gold Associates, echoed Milanesi on the age angle. The revenue decline “indicates that the aging product needs a refresh badly,” Gold wrote in a note to clients today. “Price cutting and competing vendors’ products will continue to create declines until new product is released, rumored for later this year.”

Microsoft threw cold water on any significant changes to the Surface line before June, forecasting that the current quarter will also post a revenue decline.

Initially, Surface was pitched by Microsoft as a kick-in-the-pants to its partners, the OEMs, or “original equipment manufacturers,” which until 2012 had had a lock on the Windows hardware market. Microsoft meant to show the OEMs what a cutting-edge, premium-priced device could do, and how it could best demonstrate the power of Windows.

Milanesi rejected the idea that the quarter’s revenue decline signaled retrenchment by Microsoft, that the company considered the line’s mission fulfilled by the rise in 2-in-1s from partnering OEMs.

“Surface as a revenue segment is important; it’s not just a reference design,” said Milanesi, using the term bandied when Microsoft first entered the personal computer hardware space.

One reason why Surface carries weight at Redmond, said Milanesi: The 2-in-1, tablet-slash-notebook mostly sells to enterprises, or to employees who buy it themselves for work. That plays to Microsoft’s own company-wide emphasis on corporate customers. It also brings the usual advantages earned by courting enterprises, including less price sensitivity and, unlike the consumer market, a steadier calendar that doesn’t rely on high seasonal sales at the end of each year.

Even so, Milanesi thought Microsoft was missing an opportunity by focusing on business sales of the Surface, particularly the Surface Pro. “Microsoft needs to do more than just the enterprise — such as looking at higher ed students, people who may have picked a MacBook Air — and see what they can do in that space,” she argued.

Google Investing In Another Massive Undersea Fiber-optic Cable

April 7, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Google is plans on funding another massive undersea fiber-optic cable as a part of its plans to build out network connectivity around the world. The company announced  that it is investing in a project called Indigo, which will connect Jakarta, Singapore, Perth and Sydney to one another.

The cable will run for approximately 9,000 kilometers (almost 5,600 miles) and provide a capacity of roughly 18Tbps (bits per second). It’s being built to bring users more connectivity in a region that has growing internet needs.

Google has now invested in five submarine cables in the Asia-Pacific region and seven overall. By investing in these cables, the company hopes to better compete with other cloud providers and consumer internet companies.

Alcatel Submarine Networks will build the cable, and Google expects it to be finished by the middle of 2019. Other Indigo investors include cable company SubPartners and ISPs AARNet, Indosat Ooredoo, Singtel and Telstra.

Only Google and the other investors will be able to use Indigo, though Singtel and Telstra will be able to sell capacity to their customers as part of their telecom businesses.

Google and other users of the cable will be able to expand its capacity with future technology to keep up with growing needs. Indigo has two fiber pairs, one-third as many as the trans-Pacific FASTER cable turned on last year, where Google was also an investor.

Interestingly, Indigo’s roughly 9,000-kilometer run puts it on par with the length of FASTER. It’s that long partly because of the curving path it needs to take to connect the four cities along its length.

Spotify Inks Exclusive Artist Deal With Universal Music

April 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Music streaming service Spotify announced that it has signed a deal with Universal Music Group that will allow artists to release new albums exclusively on its paying premium service for two weeks.

Spotify, a rival to Apple Music, has yet to report a profit as it expands, but is under pressure from some artists who have boycotted the usually free service and needs to show investors it can generate cash as it considers a U.S. listing.

The multi-year license agreement with Universal Music could make Spotify more attractive to Universal Music’s artists, who include Taylor Swift, Adele, Lady Gaga, Coldplay and Kanye West.

“We know that not every album by every artist should be released the same way, and we’ve worked hard with UMG to develop a new, flexible release policy,” Spotify Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Daniel Ek said in a statement.

“Universal artists can choose to release new albums on premium only for two weeks, offering subscribers an earlier chance to explore the complete creative work, while the singles are available across Spotify for all our listeners to enjoy,” he said.

Spotify said the deal also covered collaboration on marketing campaigns and would give Universal Music “unprecedented access” to data.

Spotify did not disclose details of the agreement in the statement, such as the fee structure or its exact duration, and a company spokeswoman declined to provide further information.

Launched in 2008, Spotify said last month it had reached 50 million paying subscribers, a rise of 25 percent in less than six months, extending its lead over Apple Music.

Mercedes, Bosch Join Forces On ‘Robo-taxis’

April 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler and supplier Robert Bosch are joining forces to develop self-driving cars in an alliance primarily aimed at accelerating the production of “robo-taxis”.

The pact between the world’s largest maker of premium cars and the world’s largest automotive supplier forms a powerful counterweight to new auto industry players like ride-hailing firms Uber and Didi which are also working on self-driving cars.

Tech companies and carmakers are preparing for a new way of doing business in the auto industry as customers use smartphones to locate, hail and rent vehicles, rather than going out and buying a car.

The alliance, which marks an end to Daimler’s efforts to develop an autonomous car largely on its own, is the latest example of a car and technology firm teaming up to secure a slice of this market which is expected to grow explosively over the next two decades.

Financial terms were not disclosed of the deal between the two German companies, which was announced on Tuesday.

Bosch, which was founded in 1886, the same year that Mercedes founder Carl Benz patented the motorcar, will develop software and algorithms needed for autonomous driving together with the Stuttgart-based carmaker.

Teaming up with Bosch helps Mercedes throw more engineering resources at autonomous cars, allowing it to bring forward the date for having a production-ready system for autonomous cars by several years.

The autonomous system will now be ready by the beginning of next decade, Daimler said, without disclosing when it had first envisaged the commercial launch of robo-taxis.

“The prime objective of the project is to achieve the production-ready development of a driving system which will allow cars to drive fully autonomously in the city,” Daimler said in a statement on Tuesday.

The German carmaker has set its sights on the smartphone-based ride-hailing market which is currently dominated by China’s Didi, and U.S.-based Uber and Lyft.

Last year, Goldman Sachs projected the market for advanced driver assistance systems and autonomous vehicles would grow from about $3 billion in 2015 to $96 billion in 2025 and $290 billion in 2035.

“Within a specified area of town, customers will be able to order an automated shared car via their smartphone. The vehicle will then make its way autonomously to the user,” Daimler said. “The idea behind it is that the vehicle should come to the driver rather than the other way round.”

Is Facebook Really Trying To Compete Against Nintendo’s Switch?

April 3, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

In a move that positions the social giant against video platforms like Twitch and YouTube, Facebook today has announced that people can now live broadcast from a PC or laptop – something that was only possible via mobile devices since last year. More importantly to the game industry and the world of online influencers, this expansion of Facebook Live also extends to live streaming of PC software.

“If you’re a gamer, this new feature makes it easier than ever to stream your PC gameplay to friends and followers and engage with them while you play,” the company stated. “If you’re giving your friends or followers a tutorial or how-to guide, you can incorporate on-screen graphics, titles, and overlays. Or if you’re an artist, you can go live and switch seamlessly between cameras as you narrate the process.”

It’ll be interesting to see how much of the market Facebook will be able to wrangle away from rivals Google (YouTube) and Amazon (Twitch) as the rise of streaming and influencers continues. It’ll also be important for developers to keep a close eye on how Facebook Live streaming fares, as it could be another valuable marketing tool – for both AAAs and indies, as Innervate consultant Becky Taylor observed during the Game Developers Conference.

Courtesy-GI.biz

ARM Give Controls To A.I.

March 31, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

British chip designer ARM is announcing the next evolution of its ARM chip design which it calls DynamIQ which gives AI and ML control of the chip’s cores.

ARM compares this new DynamIQ technology to the revolutionary big.LITTLE technology it introduced back in 2011.

For those who came in late ARM’s big.LITTLE enabled a processor to have two different sets of cores, one high-power and one energy-efficient, and which works depending on the task required to save power.

DynamIQ takes this big.LITTLE technology to the next level, improving the heterogeneous processing capabilities of ARM processors. Only the cores that are really needed will be activated, no matter the combination, be those be one, three, four, or seven.

Currently processor configurations would have a more or less even number of cores, ARM DynamIQ would pave the way for different combinations.

It is unlikely that ARM DynamIQ processors will pop up in smartphones for a while. ARM wants it for workstations and servers dedicated to artificial intelligence and machine learning. This is bad news for Intel because it is mostly its home turf and is now getting increasingly squeezed.

Courtesy-Fud

British Telecom Fined $53M For Not Installing Business Internet Fast Enough

March 28, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Britain’s BT has been fined a record 42 million pounds ($53 million) by the regulator for failing to install high-speed lines for business customersfast enough, in an error that is likely to cost the company around 300 million pounds in compensation.

BT, which runs Britain’s major telecoms network, misused the terms of its contracts to reduce compensation payments to other providers for failing to deliver Ethernet services on time between January 2013 and December 2014, regulator Ofcom said on Monday.

Ofcom’s Investigations Director Gaucho Rasmussen said dedicated high-speed lines, which are used by large businesses to transmit data, were a vital part of Britain’s digital backbone.

“We found BT broke our rules by failing to pay other telecoms companies proper compensation when these services were not provided on time,” he said.

“Our message is clear – we will not tolerate this sort of behavior.”

BT is obliged to provide access to its Openreach network to rivals such as TalkTalk and Vodafone, but they have long complained about the service they receive from the former monopoly.

Ofcom was considering making BT spin off Openreach in order to remove any possible incentive for the unit to favor BT over other providers.

It stopped short of forcing a full split, however, last month when it agreed that a legal separation was sufficient.

Analysts at Bernstein said on Monday that the resolution of Openreach’s structural future felt like ancient history.

“We expect investors to react with disbelief and dismay at this arguably avoidable controversy at BT,” they said.

“The fall out is staggering. By its own admission, BT is expected to compensate its competitors to the tune of 300 million pounds, although this is a preliminary figure.”

BT’s Chief Executive Gavin Patterson, who recently vowed to improve the service BT delivered to customers, said Openreach had fallen well short of the standard it had set itself.

“We take this issue very seriously and we have put in place measures, controls and people to prevent it happening again,” he said.

Emaar Malls Acquisition Of Souq.com May Be Amazon’s Challenger

March 28, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Dubai’s Emaar Malls, operator of glitzy Middle East shopping centers, has tendered an $800 million offer for regional online retailer Souq.com, setting up a potential bidding war with Amazon.com.

Emaar Malls’ bid has so far not been accepted by Souq.com shareholders, the Dubai-listed firm said in a stock exchange announcement on Monday.

Reuters reported last week that Amazon had agreed in principle to buy Souq.com, which was founded 12 years ago by Syrian-born entrepreneur Ronaldo Mouchawar.

Amazon declined to comment, and Souq.com did not respond to an emailed request for further comment.

However, Emaar Malls’ offer is higher than Amazon’s $580 million bid, a source familiar with the matter said. The Financial Times reported Amazon would pay between $650 and $750 million, quoting two sources familiar with the matter.

However, Souq.com will have to break an exclusivity agreement with Amazon if it is to accept the Emaar Malls offer at this stage, the source said.

The Emaar Malls bid includes a $500 million up-front payment and a guaranteed 15 per cent internal rate of return for Souq.com shareholders, the source said.

A successful bid would give Emaar “a firmer footing in retail and consumer behavior,” said Sanyalaksna Manibhandu, head of research at NBAD Securities.

The offer is not the first move online to be made by Dubai billionaire Mohamed Alabbar, who made his name as chairman of Emaar Properties, the Dubai-government linked-developer of the world’s tallest building. Emaar Malls is the retail unit of Emaar Properties.

Last year Alabbar raised $1 billion from regional investors including Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund to set up his own Middle East e-commerce firm Noon.

Days before announcing Noon, Alabbar and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos met in Dubai, leading to speculation that they would forge some sort of partnership in the region.

Originally set to open for business with 20 million products, Noon quietly missed its January launch date. The company has yet to comment on the delay.

Emaar Malls bid is independent of Noon, the source said, aimed at complementing the retail unit’s brick-and-mortar sales by introducing services such as “click and collect”. Shoppers in the Arab world prefer to make purchases in-store despite a young and tech-savvy population.

Emaar Malls is the operator of the Dubai Mall, which accounts for around 50 percent of the emirate’s luxury goods spending and is one of the Middle East’s largest shopping centers.

“Emaar’s retail division will strengthen the case for online retail for traditional brick and mortar retailers, by providing an avenue of online retail,” Euromonitor research analyst Rabia Yasmeen said in an email.

 

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