Joint Ventures

September 27, 2007

Warner Bros. in multibillion-dollar joint venture with UAE firms

According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. studio struck a multibillion-dollar joint venture deal Wednesday with two Abu Dhabi companies that will build a huge entertainment complex in the Persian Gulf region:

The partners have agreed to build a theme park, a hotel and multiplex cinemas in Abu Dhabi, the leading power in the United Arab Emirates. They also plan to produce movies and video games as well as undertake Web initiatives as part of the deal, which is arguably the most ambitious gamble yet by a U.S. entertainment giant in a region traditionally wary of Western culture.

Flush with cash from the oil boom, the Persian Gulf monarchies have been in a race to attract foreign investment in real estate, finance, healthcare and technology. Over the last year, Abu Dhabi and its smaller neighbor Dubai have made cross-cultural alliances with Universal Studios and Paramount Pictures in an effort to establish entertainment hubs in the Arab world…

Bahrain has emerged as a center for consumerism and tourism in the Middle East. Establishing an entertainment beachhead is seen by the emirates as helping to shake its reputation as lacking cultural attractions. The strategic alliance between Warner Bros.; ALDAR Properties, Abu Dhabi’s leading real estate developer; and the newly established Abu Dhabi Media Co. represents the Burbank-based studio’s first venture into the region.

“We think it’s a region of the world that has great potential and opportunities on many levels,” Warner Bros. Chairman and Chief Executive Barry Meyer said. “This is a unique arrangement for us. There’s nothing of the size, scope and breadth that encompasses so many of our businesses.”

In a conference call with Meyer from Time Warner’s corporate headquarters in New York, top executives from ALDAR and Abu Dhabi Media also expressed enthusiasm for the new arrangement. “We’ve found the right partner to start building our entertainment and media infrastructure,” said Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, chairman of ALDAR. “In the next five years, we hope to be the leader in the region. To do that, we need to attract world-class names, and Warner Bros. is certainly a very trusted name.”

Filed under Joint Ventures, Media and Entertainment, United Arab Emirates by

September 13, 2007

Volkswagen and Apple in exploratory talks

Rumor has it that German automaker Volkswagen AG and American computer company Apple Inc. are now in talks about the possibility of producing an “iCar” that would feature products from the manufacturer of personal music player. Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs and Volkswagen’s chief Martin Winterkorn met several days ago in California, and plan to meet for further discussions, said Hans-Gerd Bode, a spokesman for Volkswagen. There are “scores of ideas,” but few concrete plans at this point, according to a report in Digital Journal. Jobs and Winterkorn are supposedly in discussion to build a series of vehicles, reported German magazine Capital. The two industry giants met in California recently, and while the talks are in their early stages, Apple and Volkswagen are reportedly planning to cooperate on developing VW compact cars that will include Apple products.

Filed under Germany, Joint Ventures, Manufacturing by

April 17, 2007

Bank of America to market credit cards in China

“Bank of America Corp. will work with China Construction Bank Corp. to market credit cards in China… BofA will own 37 percent of the joint venture and launch the co-branded cards. BofA will buy the stake after approval from the Chinese government, which plans to change how it regulates joint ventures. ‘For Bank of America, this is a strategic collaboration in one of the fastest-growing economies in the world,’ said BofA CEO Ken Lewis… With a 20 percent market share, China Construction is the second-largest credit-card issuer in China. It has issued a total of 6.34 million credit cards, with 3.22 million cards issued in 2006. In June 2005, BofA bought a 9 percent stake in China Construction in a $3 billion deal. It was the largest purchase of stock in a Chinese bank by an overseas lender. BofA has an option to increase its investment to 19.9 percent. The two banks have since started more than 20 partnership projects, including no-fee cash withdrawals from BofA’s ATM machines in China and improved call centers and retail branches. Bank of America, California’s largest bank, was founded in San Francisco in 1904 as the Bank of Italy by A.P. Giannini. The bank was bought in 1998 by NationsBank, which took the Bank of America name and moved the headquarters to Charlotte, N.C.”

Filed under Banking and Financial Services, China, Joint Ventures by

Google to sell ads on Clear Channel radio

“Google Inc. and Clear Channel Communications Inc. said late on Sunday that the search giant will sell advertisements across the United States’ No. 1 radio station owner. Mountain View-based Google and San Antonio, Texas-based Clear Channel didn’t reveal financial details of the deal. Google will sell less than 5 percent of Clear Channel’s advertising inventory, potentially tens of thousands of 30-second spots per week, with the radio station operator getting most of the revenue. The deal by Google follows one on Friday in which it agreed to pay $3.1 billion to acquire New York-based DoubleClick Inc. from San Francisco private equity firm Hellman & Friedman and JMI Equity in a move to expand beyond text and search ads. “

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Comcast, News Corp. and NBC Universal to launch Internet venture

“Comcast Corp. will distribute programming from and provide programming to an Internet video venture that News Corp. and NBC Universal Inc. plan to launch this summer, the three companies said Monday… Comcast will provide programming to the venture from its cable networks, which include E! Style, G4, Versus and Golf Channel. The venture will use media management and video distribution technology from the Platform Inc., a Comcast subsidiary located in Seattle. News Corp. and NBC Universal will contribute thousands of hours of movies, clips and TV shows from more than a dozen networks and two major film studios to the venture, which will make it available via its own Web site and others, including AOL, MSN, MySpace and Yahoo. The venture will have offices in Los Angeles and New York.”

Filed under Joint Ventures, Media and Entertainment by

April 12, 2007

Chevron teams with Dow on large plastics venture

“A joint venture of San Ramon-based Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips is teaming up with Dow Chemical Co. to create the largest producer of styrene and polystyrene plastics in the Americas. Cost savings from the 50-50 venture between Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. and Dow Chemical will exceed 10 percent of sales. That’s because Dow is a net buyer of styrene in North America and Chevron Phillips is a seller, Andrew Liveris, Dow’s chief executive officer, said in an interview with Bloomberg. The joint venture would reduce costs in a low-margin industry. The venture hopes to bolster profit margins by matching larger styrene production from Chevron Phillips with a bigger polystyrene output from Dow. Styrene is made from benzene and is used to produce polystyrene, a hard plastic used in packaging and disposable cutlery. Chevron and its partner Phillips will contribute two U.S. factories to the joint venture. Dow will contribute seven plants, including five in the United States, to the new operation. The only California plant being contributed is a Dow factory in Torrance.”

Filed under Energy Industry, Joint Ventures, Manufacturing by

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