Friday, 31 May 2013

Judge orders Google to comply with FBI's secret NSL demands

A federal judge has ruled that Google must comply with the FBI's warrantless requests for confidential user data, despite the search company's arguments that the secret demands are illegal.

CNET has learned that U.S. District Judge Susan Illston in San Francisco rejected Google'srequest to modify or throw out 19 so-called National Security Letters, a warrantless electronic data-gathering technique used by the FBI that does not need a judge's approval. Her ruling came after a pair of top FBI officials, including an assistant director, submitted classified affidavits.

The litigation taking place behind closed doors in Illston's courtroom -- a closed-to-the-public hearing was held on May 10 -- could set new ground rules curbing the FBI's warrantless access to information that Internet and other companies hold on behalf of their users. The FBI issued192,499 of the demands from 2003 to 2006, and 97 percent of NSLs include a mandatory gag order.



It wasn't a complete win for the Justice Department, however: Illston all but invited Google to try again, stressing that the company has only raised broad arguments, not ones "specific to the 19 NSLs at issue." She also reserved judgment on two of the 19 NSLs, saying she wanted the government to "provide further information" prior to making a decision.

NSLs are controversial because they allow FBI officials to send secret requests to Web and telecommunications companies requesting "name, address, length of service," and other account information about users as long as it's relevant to a national security investigation. No court approval is required, and disclosing the existence of the FBI's secret requests is not permitted.

Because of the extreme secrecy requirements, documents in the San Francisco case remain almost entirely under seal. Even Google's identity is redacted from Illston's four-page opinion, which was dated May 20 and remained undisclosed until now. But, citing initial filings, Bloomberg disclosed last month that it was Google that had initiated the legal challenge.

While the FBI's authority to levy NSL demands predates the Patriot Act, it was that controversial 2001 law that dramatically expanded NSLs by broadening their use beyond espionage-related investigations. The Patriot Act also authorized FBI officials across the country, instead of only in Washington, D.C., to send NSLs.

EFF's separate challenge
Illston, who is stepping down from her post in July, said another reason for her decision is her desire not to interfere while the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is reviewing the constitutionality of NSLs in an unrelated case that she also oversaw.

In that separate lawsuit brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation on behalf of an unnamed telecommunications company, Illston dealt a harsh blow to the bureau's use of NSLs.

EFF had challenged the constitutionality of the portion of federal law that imposes nondisclosure requirements and limits judicial review of NSLs. Illston ruled that the NSL requirements "violate the First Amendment and separation of powers principles" and barred the FBI from invoking that language "in this or any other case." But she gave the Obama administration 90 days to appeal to the Ninth Circuit, which it did on May 6.

Neither the FBI nor Google responded to requests for comment. (In March, Google beganpublishing summary statistics about NSLs it received, making it the first major Internet company to do so.)

These aren't the first cases to tackle whether NSLs, including gag orders, are constitutional or not. In a 2008 ruling (PDF), the Second Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a mixed decision.

A three-judge panel of the Second Circuit took an odd approach: the judges agreed that the "challenged statutes do not comply with the First Amendment" but went on to rewrite the statute on their own to make it more constitutional. They drafted new requirements, including that FBI officials may levy a gag order only when they claim an "enumerated harm" to an investigation related to international terrorism or intelligence will result.

Illston's decision in the Google NSL case said that the FBI had submitted "classified" evidence "intended to demonstrate that the 19 NSLs were issued in full compliance with the procedural and substantive requirements imposed by the Second Circuit."

That includes classified declarations submitted by Stephanie Douglas, executive assistant director of the FBI's national security branch, and Robert Anderson, assistant director of the counterintelligence division at FBI headquarters.

A 2007 report by the Justice Department's inspector general found "serious misuse" of NSLs, and FBI director Robert Mueller pledged stricter internal controls. Mueller has also called the investigative technique invaluable.

Source: cnet

Gay-marriage: Residents commend National Assembly

Residents of Dutse in Jigawa have commended the National Assembly for the passage of the bill which outlawed same-sex marriage and for imposing 14-years jail term on the offenders.

A cross section of the residents, who spoke in Dutse on Friday, described the legislation as commendable.

A social analyst, Mr Abdullahi Nasiru, said the lawmakers had demonstrated high sense of patriotism in the passage of the bill in spite of international pressure.

Nasiru said that the gesture was a clear indication of the lawmakers’ resolve to provide proactive legislation to meet the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians.

“It clearly indicated their resolve to work and protect the interest of the people,” he said.

An Islamic cleric, Malam Usman Sadiq, said that the legislation would instil discipline and check moral decadence in the society.

Sadiq explained that the action would save Nigerian society from social vices and protect its norms and values.

“Same-sex marriage is an abomination and alien to our celestial society. We do not need this kind of thing here which is repugnant to God and humanity,” he said.

Sadiq urged the government and the lawmakers not to be swayed in their resolve due to the pressure by the international community.

“If the major economies and donor agencies threaten to withhold their grants, we should not be deterred; we must be resolute and focus.

Source: Vanguard

NCC says SIM card registration ends June 30

The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), Dr Eugene Juwah, has said that the nationwide registration of Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards by the commission will end on June 30.

Juwah made the announcement in Enugu on Thursday in a message to the 73rd edition of Telecoms Consumer Parliament organised by the commission.

The vice chairman, who was represented by the Director of Communications, Mrs Biodun Olujimi, said the commission would not extend the date for any reason.

According to him, any subscriber who did not register his or her number before the closing date will have the number invalidated.

He explained that the commission would commence the collation of the data for publication, adding that subsequent registration would be done by different telecom providers with approval from the commission.

Speaking on the theme of the parliament, `Mobile Number Portability: Benefits to Telecom Consumers’, the vice chairman said the service would allow consumers to switch from one network to another while retaining the current number.

He explained that the service would remove the trouble of moving around with multiple cell phones and encourage competitions among providers as well as reduce tariffs.

Juwah said the porting required registration of SIM card by the subscribers for security reasons.

“Without the registration, the network operators will not be able to identify a porting subscriber or confirm that such is the rightful owner of the number being ported,’’ he said.

Some of the consumers who spoke at the interaction lauded the programme but complained that the 90 days duration for porting was too long.

14 years of democracy: It’s a mixed bag

                                                                           

The essence of democratic government is the institution of good governance which will ensure effective and efficient management of public resources with a view to improving the lot of the people.

When Nigerians were clamouring for democratic rule during the military regimes that preceded the current republic, their expectation was that with the military shut away from governance, the succeeding civilian administrations would strive to make life better for the people. However, 14 years of democratic rule has

5000 Kids Attend Konga.com Children's Day Party


May 27th, 2013 was Children’s Day in Nigeria, and Nigeria’s Online Mega store, Konga.com in collaboration with Triple X entertainment, Access Bank, First Aluminum and other Nigerian brands organized a Children’s day event to put smiles on the faces of 5000 kids at the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos.

The event which had several dignitaries from the Lagos state government in attendance was full of laughter and fun fare as the kids had a lot to eat, drink and with several other side attractions like games, music and face painting provided by the sponsors.



The major aim of the event was to ensure that these children who would have spent the day on the streets or in many other unsavory locations could all come together under one umbrella and experience love, laughter and hope which the konga brand represents.

Several members of staff of konga.com assembled at the venue of the event as early as 10am and worked with other volunteers to ensure that the children were properly dressed and prepared for the full day event.

According to Ifeanyi Abraham, Public Relations Strategist at konga.com, “Our major aim for this event is to put smiles on the faces of kids and show them that society actually cares about them, today more than 5000 kids have been encouraged, and the smiles on their faces will stay with us forever."

There is also a 50% price slash on selected children’s items on konga.com/childrensday right now.

Click to view more pictures from the event on the Konga Facebook page.

27 year old man claims he is former US president Bill Clinton's son


A 27-year-old man, Danney Lee Williams Jr from Arkansas is claiming he is Bill Clinton's secret son.

From Globe Magazine 
Bill Clinton has a secret son he fathered with a hooker – and the now 27-year-old young man is desperate to meet his biological dad.
In a bombshell exclusive interview, Danney Lee Williams Jr., the love child the then-governor of Arkansas conceived with ‘working girl’ Bobbie Ann Williams, tells GLOBE he fears Clinton, 66, who’s battling heart disease and also suffers from Parkinson’s, will pass away before they can meet.

“I read he doesn’t have long to live and I want to meet him face to face before he dies,” says Danney, who lives in Little Rock Ark.
“I just want to shake his hand and say, “Hi Dad,’ before he dies. I’d like to have a relationship with Chelsea, too. She’s my half-sister."
Danney also wants Clinton to acknowledge and meet his five children, who he says are the former President’s only grandchildren and range in age from 10 years to just 4 months old.

Fayemi’s Election: Supreme Court Throws Out Oni’s Appeal


 
A five-man panel of the Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal instituted by former governor of Ekiti state, Mr Segun Oni of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which sought to upturn the Court of Appeal’s decision that sacked him from Ekiti state government house.

The former governor had hoped to cash in on the judicial crisis that rocked the nation’s judiciary when Justice Ayo Isa-Salami was forcefully suspended from office by appealing to the Supreme Court alleging likelihood of bias in his defeat at the Ekiti election appeal.

Mr Oni in his suit relied on Section 36 of the Constitution which guarantees right to fair hearing and had asked the Apex court to revisit the judgment of the Court of Appeal which removed him from office.

However counsel to Governor Kayode Fayemi relying on Section 246 (3) opposed the appeal and contended that as at the time the governorship election was conducted in 2007, that the Court of Appeal was the final court to determine governorship election matters.

In an unanimous decision, the Supreme Court agreed with Mr Fayemi and held that attempt by Oni to lure the apex court to exercise its authority by meddling into an appeal already determined by the Court of Appeal which is the final court over the governorship election matters, is an attempt to get back into Ekiti state government house.

In the decision read by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, the court declined Oni’s invitation to interfere in an appeal that had been adequately determined and settled by a competent court which had the final say on such elections as at the time the election was conducted.

The court subsequently dismissed Oni’s appeal and insisted that his appeal has nothing to do with Section 36 of the constitution, especially in view of the provision of Section 246(3) of the same constitution.

Frivolous Appeal

In his reaction to the judgment, Mr Fayemi said he is not surprised with the ruling of the court as it has continued to remain the saving grace of Nigeria’s democracy.

According to him the matter ought not to have gone to Supreme Court in the first place as it has no place in the country’s jurisprudence.

He however called for the establishment of Election Offences Commission noting that if the former governor had been prosecuted for committing electoral fraud in the state, he would not have had the opportunity to approach the apex court with what he called a frivolous appeal with the purpose of distracting the government of Ekiti state and a waste of the time of the court.

Source: http://www.channelstv.com

Nigeria: Sylva Appeals Court's Refusal to Quash Charges

Former Bayelsa State governor Timipre Sylva, who was last year arraigned before an Abuja Federal High Court, has filed an appeal against the court's decision refusing his application to quash the six count charge of money laundering proffered against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Sylva filed an application asking the court to quash the charge on the ground that the prosecution failed to establish a link between him and the offense he is alleged to have committed, having failed to attach the proof of evidence to the charge.

But the court dismissed the application for lacking in merit.

Holding that the a proof of evidence is not a criteria in a summary trial, Justice Adamu Bello said quashing the charge will amount to denial of fair hearing, as it will not allow prosecution provide its evidence or witnesses.

The court also refused Sylva's application seeking to accompany his wife on a medical trip. The case has been adjourned till July 8 for tria

Nigeria Shines As GTBank, First Bank, Sanusi Win At African Bankers Awards

Guarantee Trust Bank was on Wednesday named winner of 'the 2013 African Bank of the Year' by the African Banker magazine, just as First Bank of Nigeria emerged the 'Best Bank in West Africa."

At the African Banker Awards gala dinner held in Morocco, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Lamido Sanusi, emerged the "2013 Africa Central Bank Governor of the Year" award winner for the third consecutive year, while the African Banker of the Year went to the Managing Director/Chief Executive of Access Bank, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede.

According to the Publisher, African Banker and Managing Director, IC Events, Omar Ben Yedder, Sanusi's award was in recognition of his remarkable leadership role and consistent contribution to banking reforms in Nigeria, which have inspired his peers to emulate him across the continent of Africa and beyond.

In the citation prior to the presentation of the award, Mr. Yedder stated: "The African Banker Awards Committee has commended you (Sanusi) on your outstanding work in the past years in sustaining reforms; ensuring macroeconomic stability, protecting the independence of the Central Bank and enhancing many aspects of Nigerian Banking adoption of new technologies for financial inclusion; continuous modernization and more transparent disclosures including adopting higher reporting standards to banks."

The organizers of the award, which has the African Development Bank Group as its official patron, noted that the latter reforms championed by Mr. Sanusi are having positive impact not only on the banking industry, but also on the country as a whole.

"The Awards Committee has also highlighted that you have been continuously singled out by many of your Central Bank peers, international bankers, investors and development partners as a reformist Governor with integrity, candour, energy and exceptional courage," Mr. Yedder added.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Nigerian Military Says It Foiled 'Extensive Terrorist Operation'

Nigerian soldiers are seen patrolling a town in the north-eastern state of Borno in this April 30, 2013, file photo.
The Nigerian military says it has killed three insurgents and captured 25 while foiling what it calls an "extensive terrorist operation" in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, at the epicenter of the insurrection by the group known as Boko Haram. Communication networks remain shut down making it hard to confirm or deny the military's account.

Besides stopping the attack and either arresting or killing all of the plotters, the Nigerian military says it has intercepted messages that urge Boko Haram insurgents to fight on against what the military calls a “massive” offensive against the group.

The defense ministry also says it has captured one of the country’s “most wanted" terrorists, a man named only as Abba, and one soldier was killed in the battle.

Fleeing insurgents, it says, now have fewer places to run because several towns on Nigeria's borders have been taken over by government troops.

But public communications networks are down, roads are blocked and there are no independent observers reporting from the fronts, so none of the military reports are verifiable. There has also been no word from Boko Haram, which usually contacts the public only through YouTube videos, blocked phone lines, and untraceable emails.

Some analysts fear the information blackout is an intentional cover-up of human-rights abuses. International rights groups and the U.S. government have previously accused Nigeria's military of killing suspects before arresting them, or arresting them without evidence.

But Wole Olaoye, a Nigerian journalist for nearly four decades, says these accusations do not account for the reality of a war with Boko Haram, an organization that claims ties to al-Qaida and has been blamed for more than 3,000 deaths.

Soldiers, he says, can neither arrest people that are shooting at them nor identify un-uniformed Boko Haram members without questioning them.

“The very thin line between doing their duty, between doing one's duty as a soldier and extra-judicial killing, almost disappears. Because they have said 'It is war,' now the government will now provide all the facilities. There will be prisoners of war. There will be protocols for all of these things,” Olaoye said.

President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states on May 14 and sent thousands of soldiers to battle Boko Haram. Since then, the military says it has captured hundreds of militants and killed dozens.

The government says it is also trying to negotiate with Boko Haram and has promised to release hundreds of prisoners, including all women and children held in association with the insurgency.

But some analysts say the conflict could continue past the planned six-month emergency rule and they suspect the military is exaggerating its successes and playing down its losses.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Nigeria Signs $22m Deal To Boost Mechanised Farming

In a bid to improve agricultural productivity and production, Nigeria’s Ministry of Agriculture and the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) have signed a N3.5 billion ($22 million) financing pact to procure 400 tractors for farmers under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which forms the basis for establishing Agricultural Equipment Hiring Enterprise, was signed by the country’s agriculture Minister, Akinwumi Adeshina and the Managing Director of BoA, Dr Mohammed Santuraki with other dignitaries as eyewitness.

The new tractors which will be supplied to some 60 centres across the country will help reduce stress associated with manual farming methods so as to attract the youth back agriculture and upscale food production in the country.

Speaking at the signing of the deal in Abuja, Adeshina said, “The MoU will form the basis for establishing Agricultural Equipment Hiring Enterprises to be equipped with 400 units of tractors that all help to put up an additional 152,000 hectares of land under cultivation, expected to add 760,000 tons of food to our national output per annum. The financing will be done through public private Partnership (PPP) as BOA has undertaken to finance the interested Service provider operators”

“The Ministry will provide adequate fund towards facilitating the financing of the enterprise, in partnership with the BOA and the private sector. In the refinancing window for the service providers operators, the Government is providing 35 per cent of the loans; BOA, 35 per cent; tractors vendors. 10 per cent; Service providers operators 20 per cent as equity for the take-off of the scheme ‘s hiring centres.”

On his part, the BoA boss affirmed that the financing would be done through Public Private Partnership as BoA had undertaken to finance the interested service providers operators.

He stated that the directive by President Goodluck Jonathan that the bank be recapitalised to the tune of N15 billion ($95 million) would help “refocus the institution on its core mandate of agriculture and rural financing.”

BOA is also finalising plans for another sum of N2 billion ($12.6 million) to finance youth and women in agriculture programme aimed at attracting them back to agriculture.

Santuraki also said that the bank has reviewed its operating model to conform with international best practices of successful agricultural development, modernised the institution and retrained the staff to create a more sustainable and impactful institution.

GOV ROTIBI AMAECHI'S DEADLY SINS

The 7 Deadly Sins Of Governor Rotimi Amaechi However, Amaechi bears a chunk of the blame. I see the creeping rise of the governor’s churlishness, that pettiness which tarred my first impression of him eight or so years ago. But he has been fortunate. He is self serving and lacks a sense of proportion, yet we all – especially the media – continue to cut him so much slack. Last week in Ekiti, he spoke at the Symposium for Young and Emerging Leaders, and all his excesses were on full display again. It was a painful thing to watch. Amaechi was unprepared – he said so himself. But whereas for others, that might have served as a cautionary marker to watch what comes out of their mouth; for him it was a licence to run amok. It is unbecoming of the governor to use every given opportunity to throw barbs at the president.

Hear him: “On fuel subsidy, what have we done? A lot. That’s why they want to remove me as chairman of the Governor’s Forum. They face a radical chairman that’s why they want me removed.” Interestingly, in 2012, when they – meaning President Jonathan – took the bold, mistimed, callous decision to remove subsidy on fuel and the whole nation was about to combust, all the fingers pointed to Aso Rock. Amaechi and the other governors in the NGF from all parties, the instigators, remained strategically silent, allowing the president take the hits on their behalf. To be clear, Amaechi never said he was opposed to the removal, but no one heard him come out to speak forcefully in backing the president. When labour leaders met with him during the Occupy protest in Rivers, he said, “Please let’s bear with the president, we have only one country.”
Do not forget that it was Amaechi that lead other Governors in threatening the Federal Government to remove the subsidy, as they claimed that states are starved of funds.

In the midst of it, he announced a N4 subsidy, slashing the price from N141 to N137 in Rivers, and asking that motorists cut fares which had increased following the subsidy removal. And that’s exactly how he does it – by playing both ways. On the one hand he announced the laughable N4 subsidy and the bus fare slash, small gestures intended to show that he was making motion; securing his ‘lovability.’ Behind the scene however, he maintained pressure on the president to stay firm and not budge to the people’s demands, and he was at the forefront of the hawks who clamoured for soldiers to be deployed to Ojota (he mockingly said so himself at the symposium.) Let’s hear more quotes from Amaechi: “Because government is the biggest enterprise in the country, that’s why when the president enters, everybody catches cold, so that’s why I keep getting advise ‘Amaechi don’t talk again oo…’” and “I went to Turkey with the president and that’s the last trip I went with him. They don’t like taking me to travel with them…” and “They’ve threatened me with the EFCC, they’ve hunted me, there’s nothing they’ve not threatened me with… If I was not a governor with immunity, they would have taken me down.”

Did I mention that people cheered him on? But of course! We love the “me” vs. “them” stories which Amaechi tells so well. His “David” vs. “Goliath” epics, in which he is always the “David” with his tongue for a sling and haughty words for stones, felling every giant in sight. But while he ‘photoshops’ his narration of his records, he cannot photoshop our memories. And we remember that it was he who pushed for the noxious Rivers Governor and Deputy Governor Fringe Benefits Bill last year which entitles all Rivers ex-governors and their ex-deputies to two houses in Rivers and Abuja, three new vehicles to be replaced yearly, 300 per cent funding for any furniture of their choice, pension equivalent to the annual basic salary of the incumbent governor or deputy, amongst other benefits. These bills of course would be footed by the Rivers taxpayer.

The assembly members couldn’t dare oppose the bill. You see, part of Amaechi’s ‘maverism’ is that he doesn’t tolerate dissent. Imagine if it was Jonathan who had proposed and signed such an obscene law – Verily, verily I say unto you, the nation would have known no peace. When you hear Amaechi describe Jonathan as a “dictator”, you wonder if it’s not the same Amaechi who sacked 11 duly elected local government chairmen because they failed to attend a meeting at the Governors’ Office. When you hear him claim to be a Marxist and a radical socialist opposed to the ‘greed of capitalism’, you wonder if it’s not the same guy who six months ago blew $45 million to procure a new Bombardier jet. Today, it is exposed that the plan still belong to the American sellers and one should ask, what happened to $45million that belong to Rivers tax payers? The answer is obvious.

Oh, and by the way, in Ekiti, when he saw a small reference to the absurdity of his jet purchase in an Enough is Enough (EiE) flyer which was distributed at the event, he simply accused the executive director of EiE, Yemi Adamolekun, of “trying to incite people against me. Tomorrow when you come and ask me to carry you in my jet, I won’t.” “Hahahahaha,” roared the audience.

Our maverick has spoken. So in essence, Amaechi has a blank cheque – he can say whatever he likes (“kidnapping can be seen as a form of redistribution of wealth”), change positions whenever he likes (“Orubebe is an incompetent minister”/January 2013; “Orubebe is a transformational leader”/March 2013), and still have everyone in his corner. What a charmed life!

He’s the only one who can condemn oppression and claim to be an oppressor while making the same speech, and be applauded both times because he is just being himself, he speaks his mind, and he is a maverick. No, no, no, he is a politician, people! He should be judged on a case by case basis and the press should not be too quick to make excuses for him. The governor is not incompetent and he is by no means a failure.

If any comparison is made between him and the president, only the deliberately mischievous can claim that Jonathan has been a better performer. But it’s time to tell him that he hasn’t done anything extraordinary, that he is taking his eyes off the ball, that his double speak and double mindedness would not go unchallenged henceforth and that for some time Rivers people have been reaping thorny fruits of his neglect.

It’s time for someone to tell Gov. Amaechi that he talks too much, that he needs to tone down on his self-serving arrogance and that next time he feels the need to criticise President Jonathan, he should go right ahead, but only after removing the Iroko trunk in his own eyes.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Nigeria: Dangote Stakes U.S.$500 Million for Tanzania Cement Plant

Africa's richest man, Aliko Dangote is investing N500 million in the building of a cement plant in Tanzania.

The ground breaking ceremony of the three million metric tons cement factory takes place today in Tanzania, a statement from the Dangote group said.

The company also announced dividend payouts of N3.00 for every 50 kobo share held in its 2012 financial year to investors in Nigeria.

This is against the N1.25kobo paid in the previous year. This is coming as the chairman of the Shareholders Trustees Association (STA) Mukhtar Mukhtar said the shareholders were happy with the performance of their company.



Speaking at the Annual General Meeting last week in Abuja, the company's chairman Aliko Dangote attributed the growth to expansion and increase in sales volumes from 8.66milliom metric tonnes in 2011 to 10.38million metric tonnes in 2012.

"Turnover increased from N241billion in 2011 to N285 billion in the current year, representing an increase of about N18 percent," Dangote said.

The company grew its turnover of 241,405,977 billion in 2011 to 285, 635,278 billion in 2012 and shareholders' fund from N294,318,046 to N427,606,594

Profit After Tax also grew from N120, 941,567 billion in 2011 to N152,652,762 billion in 2012 as a result of strong growth in cement sales which was at 19.9 per cent in 2012, increasing its market share capacity with Ibese and Obajana coming on stream.

He said the company has since March this year commenced cement export to Ghana.

"We are clearly on the right path and are poised for improved performance in 2013," he said.

Dangote Cement Plc is making substantial investment in some African countries which include Tanzania, Senegal, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Zambia, Ethiopia, Liberia and Sierra Leone among others.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Airtel Nigeria confirms resignation of Olu Akanmu, Chief Marketing Officer

WorldStage Newsonline-- Airtel Networks Limited on Thursday confirmed that Mr. Olu Akanmu, its Chief Marketing Officer has resigned his appointment with the company to pursue other interests-with effect from Wednesday, May 22, 2013.

According to a statement, Mr. Segun Ogunsanya, the Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of Airtel was quoted as saying, “Mr. Akanmu led the marketing function at a crucial time in the life of our organization and brought his over two decades of marketing experience and a rich knowledge of the telecommunications market to bear on his role as our CMO. On behalf of all of us at Airtel, I wish him the very best in his future endeavours.”


A national daily, National Mirror reported in its Thursday edition that Akanmu resigned his appointment on Wednesday following the intractable crises between the telecoms company and the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria, APCON, on one hand and advertising agency, Prima Garnet Africa, on the other.

The paper said Akanmu resigned after it was discovered that Airtel, in breach of APCON rules, published an advert in one of Nigeria’s national dailies without clearance from him.

Akanmu was said to be angry that the advert was published without reverting to him, a factor that suggested lack of respect for his office as the Chief Marketing Officer.

“Akanmu, who was said to have expressed his anger over the published advert, which was in clear violation of a court order that Airtel should maintain status quo in a dispute it has with Lolu Akinwunmi’s Prima Garnet, was reported to have expressed his disappointment to the management over the company’s inclination to a disobey court order,” the paper said.

Nigeria Oil Company, Exxon Joint Venture May Issue Bonds in 2016

Nigeria’s state-owned oil company and Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM)’s local unit may decide to tap the bond market in 2016 as an alternative source of funding for their joint venture.

“The challenge of today is that a lot of people are going into the bank market, and the avenue is being crowded, making it difficult for us to obtain sufficient funding,” Mobil Producing Nigeria’s Chief Financial Officer Segun Banwo said in a statement on the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp.’s website. “From the years 2013 to 2015, we will continue to use the external financing option, but by the year 2016 we would switch to the bond market.”

Exxon Mobil, the second-largest producer in Nigeria, is the operator of a joint venture in which it holds a 40 percent stake, with NNPC holding the rest. The company has daily output capacity of about 550,000 barrels of crude from 90 offshore platforms and about 300 oil wells, according to its website.

Exxon in June said it concluded a $1.5 billion financing arrangement with NNPC, with a $900 million loan sourced from a group of Nigerian and international banks.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Microsoft unveils its 'all-in-One,' next-generation Xbox


This product image released by Microsoft shows the new Xbox One entertainment console that will go on sale later this year. (AP Photo/Microsoft)





After four years of development, Microsoft unveiled the Xbox One entertainment console and touted it as an all-in-one solution for playing games, watching TV and doing everything in between. Microsoft wants the Xbox One to be central to your living room and packed the new Xbox with such features as the ability to change TV channels through voice commands.
Although the device won't go on sale until later this year, at a price that hasn't been disclosed yet, Microsoft invited attendees of Tuesday's announcement event to take a closer look at the system.


After four years of development, Microsoft unveiled the Xbox One entertainment console and touted it as an all-in-one solution for playing games, watching TV and doing everything in between. Microsoft wants the Xbox One to be central to your living room and packed the new Xbox with such features as the ability to change TV channels through voice commands.
Although the device won't go on sale until later this year, at a price that hasn't been disclosed yet, Microsoft invited attendees of Tuesday's announcement event to take a closer look at the system.

Etisalat says Nigeria unit inks $1.2bn loan deal



UAE telecommunications giant Etisalat said its Nigeria unit had secured a $1.2bn medium term syndicated loan facility to refinance existing debt and expand its network.

“The company plans to use the proceeds to refinance the existing commercial medium term debt of $650m and continue its network rollout,” Etisalat’s CFO Serkan Okandan said in a statement to the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange.

The loan comes from a group of 13 lenders within Nigeria and is denominated in both Nigerian naira and US dollars.

The company said earlier this year that it was seeking to raise $500m in debt from local banks in order to expand its network infrastructure.

Etisalat is currently the fourth largest mobile operator in the west African country with a market share of about 15 percent, or 15m users. This places it behind MTN at 43 percent, Globacom at 22 percent and Airtel at 20 percent. Etisalat says it wants to increase its market share to about 17 percent by this year, or add 4m new mobile subscribers.

The International Telecommunications Union forecasts Nigeria to have 120m mobile subscribers by end 2013, out of a population of 170m.

The number of mobile users in Africa's most populous nation crossed the 100m subscriber base in the first half of last year, adding six million new callers from 2011.

Etisalat Nigeria is 40 percent owned by its UAE parent company.

S/South rulers pledge support for Jonathan’s 2015 ambition

TRADITIONAL rulers from the South-South region of the country, under the aegis of the South-South Traditional Rulers Council (SSTRC), have announced their support for a second term in office for President Goodluck Jonathan.

Announcing this in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, on Tuesday, at a meeting, the traditional rulers said their decision was based on the admirable performance of the president since he assumed office.

Chairman of the group, Osu Charles Ogodo, said they were following the president’s steps in office and had observed his progress so far, especially in actualising his transformation agenda, adding that the group would support the him all the way for the 2015 election.

“We call on him in view of the steady progress that he has made in his transformation agenda, which has seen to a lot of damage control within the period that he has served as the president of this country.

“It is our collective belief that he has done very well and if given more time the results will be unassailable,” he said.

They also condemned the terrorist activities of the dreaded Boko Haram sect in the Northern part of the country, calling on the group to embrace the Federal Government’s amnesty offer.

Also speaking at the event, spokesperson of the Ijaw Republican Assembly (IRA), Ms Ann-Kio Briggs, warned that the first year that Jonathan inherited after the death of the former president, Umaru Musa-Yar’Adua, should not be considered as part of his tenure.

Briggs said that PDP had no right to compel Jonathan to respect any one-term agreement claimed to have been signed between the president and some northern leaders, as alleged by the former President Olusegun Obsanjo.

“The single term agreement between Jonathan and some northern leaders has nothing to do with the people of the South-South region and the entire Nigeria,” Briggs said.

In a build up to the 2015 presidential election, traditional rulers from the South-South geopolitical zone have declared support for President Jonathan to seek re-election.

Making the declaration in Port Harcourt, the traditional rulers’ council, SSTRC, from Lagos, said the decision was necessary giving the “enormous” achievements of the president in the past few years.


The group said having followed the sequence of events in recent past and the various calls for and against Jonathan’s ambition, “the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should freely exercise his right to aspire for a second term.”


Chairman of the group, Ogodo called on President Jonathan in view of his transformation agenda, as well as expressed the intention of the group to support the president all the way for 2015 election.

“We call on him in view of the steady progress that he has made in his transformation agenda, which has seen to a lot of damage control within the period that he has served as the president of this country.

“It is our collective belief that he has done very well and if given more time, the result will be unassailable,” he said.

The Monarchs at a courtesy call to the Niger Delta activist and human rights crusader, Ann-Kio Briggs in Port Harcourt, condemned the carnage of attacks by the members of the Boko Haram sect and called on them to embrace the federal government’s offer of amnesty.

Responding, the spokes person of the Ijaw Republican Assembly, IRA, Ms. Ann-Kio Briggs warned that the first year that Jonathan inherited after the death of the former President, Shuhu Musa Yar’Adua should not be considered as part of his tenure.

Briggs said that PDP has no right to compel Jonathan to respect any one term agreement purported into between the President and some northern leaders as alleged by the former President Olusegun Obsanjo.

“The single term agreement between Jonathan and some northern leaders has nothing to do with the people of the south-south region and the entire Nigeria”, Briggs said.

Kenya misses out as Obama's Africa tour plays catch-up

As the US president gets ready for diplomatic missions around Africa next month, Obama's Africa tour will leave his ancestral homeland of Kenya as the biggest loser.
Meanwhile, the winners are: Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania. Each will be rewarded for its democratic virtues when Obama embarks on his first major presidential tour of Africa.
Not even a relatively peaceful election earlier this year is enough to tempt Obama back to his ancestral homeland. The big problem is the winner, Uhuru Kenyatta, who is facing charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
At least the president will avoid jibes from Donald Trump about returning to his birthplace. Rubbing salt in Kenya's wound will be Obama's patronage of neighbouring Tanzania, which compares favourably in terms of ethnic harmony. Senegal, a key francophone ally for the US, also gets the presidential nod after a smooth democratic transition last year that was hailed as an "example for Africa".
There will be immense relief in South Africa, the continent's biggest economy, where an Obama no-show would have been regarded as a snub and fed paranoia that its pre-eminence was in jeopardy. On the day of Obama's re-election last year, Lindiwe Zulu, international relations adviser to President Jacob Zuma, told the Guardian they would expect a visit "because if he doesn't, we won't forgive him for that".
Obama's first trip to South Africa since he came as a senator in 2006 also raises the prospect of a historically resonant encounter with Nelson Mandela ahead of his 95th birthday in July. The august pair's only previous meeting, eight years ago in Washington, was captured in a single photograph. But Mandela's health now appears so frail that any photo opp will require delicate handling. Beyond the handshakes, pledges of mutual co-operation and traditional Zulu dancers, however, from June 26 to July 3 Obama and first lady Michelle will be on a diplomatic mission to make up for lost time.
Many who hoped that the son of a Kenyan would give priority to the continent are disappointed that, after more than four years in power, he has spent less than 24 hours in sub-Saharan Africa – a solitary visit to Ghana in 2009.
'Strategy toward sub-Saharan Africa'
And instead of an eye-catching policy initiative, the White House came out last year with the "US strategy towards sub-Saharan Africa" containing laudable but blandly impossible-to-disagree-with objectives: strengthen democratic institutions; spur economic growth, trade and investment; advance peace and security; promote opportunity and development.
The omission seems curious at a moment when the meme of "Africa rising" has swept through investment conferences, think-tanks and countless media commentaries. At the recent summit of the Brics developing economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – the talk was of a "new paradigm" and challenge to US-dominated institutions such as the World Bank.
Has Obama taken his eye off the ball?
"He's totally neglecting Africa," says Koffi Kouakou, a Johannesburg-based political commentator who spent eight years in the US. "There's not enough time to catch up. It's a strategic neglect that is going to be costing America big time.
"The hope when he was elected was that he would put Africa on the map more than other presidents, but he's been virtually invisible. Our expectations were too high. His visit now won't have the same degree of reverberation as when he first became president."
China, in particular, has been both a driver and beneficiary of Africa's economic growth. It overtook the US as Africa's biggest trading partner four years ago and its blunt infrastructure-for-minerals approach has won friends and influenced people. Some governments have welcomed a lack of "preaching" on human rights, pointing out that America's own record is chequered.
Former Chinese president Hu Jintao made five trips to Africa as head of state, while his successor Xi Jinping sped to three resource-rich African countries just a month after taking over. The Asian giant has exercised soft power through building schools and hospitals. No wonder some have portrayed Africa as a microcosm of China's future usurpation of the United States as the world's dominant superpower.
Kouakou adds: "The Chinese are coming and the Americans are not taking this thing seriously. Even Britain is out of the game. They're not engaged because of problems at home and the Chinese are having a field day."

Pressure mounts on MTN Nigeria



MTN faces new pressure on its dominance of its biggest market by subscriber base, Nigeria, after rival operator Etisalat signed a $1.2 billion refinancing loan with 13 Nigerian banks to bolster its network in the region.
“The company plans to use the proceeds to refinance the existing commercial medium term debt of $650 million and continue its network rollout,” Etisalat said.
By 13h00, shares in MTN declined 2.53% or 4.67% to R179.83 on the JSE. The All Shares Index declined 0.60% to 41,566 points.
Launched in 2001, MTN has a market share of 49.7%  (Q1 2013) in Nigeria, which boasts a population of 161 million, and a penetration rate of 65%.
According to data compiled by the Nigeria Communications Commission, Nigeria is the fastest growing telecommunications market in Africa, rising from 500,000 telephone subscribers in 2001 to over 108 million as at December 2012.
For the year ended 31 December 2012, MTN’s total subscriber base increased by 13.9% to 47.4 million in Nigeria, but market share was down 2.5% to 47.5% for the year.
MTN says it hopes to add 7 million new subscribers in 2013.
Its rivals in Nigeria include Nigeria’s Globacom, Indian-owned Bharti Airtel and Abu Dhabi-based Emirates Telecommunications Corp (Etisalat).

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

9 bank CEOs shun Reps over tax remittance


NINE out of 21 bank chief executives, on Monday, failed to honour the invitation of House Committee on Finance investigating remittance of tax to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
The House committee, however, threatened that it would not hesitate to issue warrant of arrest on the affected bank chiefs.
To this end, another invitation was extended to the affected bank executives to appear tomorrow.
The committee was probing tax returns to FIRS from 2008 to 2012, as well as level of compliance  with collected tax remittances to the Federal Government within the same period.
The affected banks are Zenith Bank, Sterling Bank, Stanbic IBTC, Skye Bank, Keystone Bank, FCMB, Ecobank, Enterprise Bank and CitiBank.
Chairman of the committee, Honourable Abdulmumin Jibrin, said “we don’t take this lightly. These CEOs talk about global best practices at every turn, yet they fail to honour the parliament’s invitations.
“We will take nothing less than the rank of Executive Director. If they feel their jobs are more important than a call to parliament, then they must explain.”
Earlier, Honourable Jibrin had said the exercise was in line with the oversight mandate of the committee on FIRS and tax matters, stressing that “our vision is to strengthen the FIRS and optimise the potentials of our tax system.

Boko Haram crisis Nigeria to free women


Boko Haram has been demanding the release of suspects



Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered the release of all women held in connection with "terrorist activity", the defence ministry says.
The decision was aimed at enhancing peace efforts in Nigeria, it added.
The army is conducting an offensive in three states, where an emergency was declared last week to fight the militant Islamist group Boko Haram.
The group had set the release of women and children as a condition for talks with the government.
More than 2,000 people have died in the conflict in Nigeria since Boko Haram launched its insurgency in 2009.
Earlier this month, it said it had abducted women and teenage girls in response to the security forces arresting the relatives of its fighters.
It said it would treat them as "slaves".
The defence ministry said a number of suspects detained for "terrorist activities" would be freed.
"The measure, which is in line with presidential magnanimity to enhance peace efforts in the country, will result in freedom for suspects, including all women under custody," it added, in a statement.

Nigeria $1 bln wealth fund to start investing in June


Nigeria will begin investing the initial $1 billion allocated to a new sovereign wealth fund by June, a statement from the fund showed, after it delayed the start date twice.
Africa's biggest oil producer is one of only three OPEC member states that do not yet have a wealth fund (SWF) set up. Global markets and investors are closely watching Africa's second-biggest economy's plans for its SWF.

Nigeria's Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) in a late Monday statement, also said it would allocate 32.5 percent of the fund to infrastructure investment, the same amount for a savings pot for future generations, 20 percent to protect against commodity price shocks, with 15 percent unallocated.

"This formula aims to balance the infrastructure need of the current generation and the need for savings for the future generation of Nigerians," the statement said.

Investment in both the future generation and the stabilization fund will start in June, but more details needed to be worked for the infrastructure fund, it said.

The fund faces opposition from Nigeria's powerful state governors, who want oil savings to be distributed for spending on projects, arguing that it is unconstitutional for the federal government to hoard money that belongs to all three tiers of government - federal, state and local.

Because of this, it started with a mere $1 billion, whereas the Excess Crude Account (ECA) it is supposed to replace had nine times that amount in it late last year. That has fallen to $5.87 billion so far this year, as the government has made withdrawals to appease state governors.
Analysts say the ECA does not sufficiently protect Nigeria's oil savings from profligate politicians, because it can be dipped into too easily.

Nigeria hopes the new fund will provide a firmer legal basis to ring-fence it's savings from competing demands so it can better save money when oil prices are high. The NSIA has moved the date of commencing its investments twice. Last year, the finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told revealed that the fund would begin investing by the end of 2012 but political opposition stalled its progress. In December it delayed the launch again to March.

JAMB Will Scrap Paper & Pencil Examination by 2015: Prof. ’Dibu Ojerinde

The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board is set to scrap the Paper Pencil Test entirely by the year 2015.


This was revealed by JAMB Chief Executive, Prof. Dibu Ojerinde, in an interview with new reporters on Saturday, after supervising the maiden Computer Based Testing for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination.

Ojerinde, who said he was happy with the outcome of the CBT, added that other forms of examination would be scrapped by 2015. He said, “We are thinking of 2015. By 2015 registration, we will be asking candidates to go fully into Computer Based Testing but that again depends on availability of centres.



“For now, we have only 70 centres all over the country and this is not sufficient. We are encouraging as many individuals, who can participate in this project to go and build their centres then we will patronise them. But if it has to go beyond it, so be it. We are flexible we want to see how far everybody is able to cope with it.”

Ojerinde said over 227,000 results withheld for lack of Biometric Data Verification had been released to after scrutiny. He blamed the problems on overzealous supervisors and invigilators. He said, “We have scrutinized the results and we found out that some of the supervisors were overzealous and some investigators also misbehaved. They did not allow the children to do the biometrics and they allowed them to write examination. For those with genuine cases, we have released their results.



Tumblr’s 26-Year-Old Founder Celebrates $1.1 Billion Deal


Karp, who will remain CEO at Tumblr, is getting $253 million in cash from the transaction, according to PrivCo, a New York-based research firm specializing in closely held companies.

Tumblr Inc. Chief Executive Officer David Karp, a 26-year-old who started the company in 2007, signed a note announcing Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO)’s $1.1 billion acquisition with the closing, “F--- yeah.”
Beyond just expressing elation, Karp was making a statement that the New York-based company will retain its distinctive and irreverent character under a new owner. The phrase is common parlance at the social-media upstart, used in the titles of some of its most popular blogs. In its own statement on the deal, Yahoo echoed the idea of giving Karp and Tumblr a wide berth, saying it “promises not to screw it up.”
“Our headquarters isn’t moving. Our team isn’t changing. Our road map isn’t changing,” Karp said. “Our mission -- to empower creators to make their best work and get it in front of the audience they deserve -- certainly isn’t changing.”

Karp, who will remain CEO at Tumblr, is getting $253 million in cash from the transaction, according to PrivCo, a New York-based research firm specializing in closely held companies.
For Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, the purchase adds a service with more than 13 billion monthly page views and brings more young entrepreneurs into the fold. Yahoo bought Summly, the developer of a news-reading application, for $30 million in March, a person familiar with the transaction said at the time. That deal made 17-year-old founder Nick D’Aloisio a millionaire.
Ad Strategy
Karp received his payday after taking pains not to emphasize revenue at Tumblr, a network of more than 108 million blogs. The company, popular among teens and 20-somethings, only started accepting advertising last year. Karp told the Los Angeles Times in 2010 that he was opposed to Web advertising, saying “it really turns our stomachs.”
Tumblr ultimately adopted an approach to advertising that lets users pay money to make their posts more prominent on the site. The company expanded the program to the mobile version of its service, a bid to get closer to profitability. The company had about $13 million in 2012 revenue, according to PrivCo.
For now, the company hasn’t been able to break even. That made the Yahoo deal more compelling, even though Tumblr didn’t expect to sell out so soon, Karp said in an interview.
‘Our Providence’
“We are not cash-flow positive yet, which means we are always running out of money,” he said. “There was no expectation we were selling the company -- certainly not this year. This was our providence.”
Karp has emphasized user experience, more than gaining market share, money or press coverage, said Bijan Sabet, a general partner at Spark Capital who sits on Tumblr’s board. The founder is meticulous with anything that affects users -- including personally editing the company’s terms of service so readers aren’t forced to decipher legal jargon, Sabet said.
Tumblr’s backers include Union Square Ventures and Spark Capital, which led the startup’s first two financings -- a $775,000 round in 2007 and a $4.5 million round the next year. Sequoia Capital joined as an investor in late 2010 as part of a $30 million funding round. Tumblr then raised $85 million the following year, with firms including Greylock Partners, Insight Venture Partners, and Draper Fisher Jurvetson’s Growth Fund joining the existing investors.
UrbanBaby Money
Karp founded the company using money and experience he had acquired as a software consultant for the website UrbanBaby. The CEO grew up on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and dropped out of Bronx High School of Science before moving by himself to Tokyo when he was 17. He founded Tumblr after returning to New York and learning computer programming. He still hasn’t earned his high school diploma.
Karp updates his own Tumblr with quotations, photos, animated GIFs and snippets of conversations with girlfriend Rachel Eakley. He lives a minimalist existence in an apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Sabet said.
“It’s this beautiful one-bedroom loft, beautifully designed, but it’s not this megamansion thing,” Sabet said.
The company, which provides the building blocks for popular blogs like Reasons My Son is Crying and Food on My Dog, has been expanding to new floors of its headquarters in New York’s startup-friendly Flatiron District. The offices are adorned with eclectic artwork, with beer on tap.
Users’ Ire
In accepting a takeover from Yahoo -- a company that thrived in the initial dot-com boom only to lose ground to Facebook Inc. and Google Inc. in the social-media era -- Karp risks alienating some users. After reports of the deal broke over the weekend, the number of Tumblr posts switching to WordPress, another platform, surged to 72,000 per hour on Sunday night. That compared with the usual 400 to 600 an hour, founder Matt Mullenweg said in a post. Still, he doesn’t expect an exodus from Tumblr.
One user responded to the situation by creating a Tumblr spotlighting outrage about the Yahoo deal. The blog, “Meltdowns About Yahoo Buying Tumblr,” includes reactions such as, “This is like going out to see a movie, and when I come back my entire family has been sold into the slave industry.”
In his negotiations with Yahoo, Karp said he asked for as much stock as the company would give him. He sees that as a sign he’ll stay with Tumblr for years to come.
“This is something I’ve been building for the last seven years and hope employs me 30 years from now,” he said.
To contact the reporters on this story: Sarah Frier in New York at sfrier1@bloomberg.net; Douglas MacMillan in San Francisco at dmacmillan3@bloomberg.net

Yahoo buying Tumblr for $1.1 billion, vows not to screw it up


SAN FRANCISCO/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Yahoo Inc will buy blogging service Tumblr for $1.1 billion cash, giving the Internet pioneer a much-needed social media platform to reach a younger generation of users and breathe new life into its ailing brand.
The deal, announced on Monday, is a bold bet by Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer to revitalize the company by co-opting a Web property with strong visitor traffic but little revenue.
The combination of Yahoo and Tumblr creates an online powerhouse with roughly one billion users, which will draw in more advertisers and help Yahoo keep visitors on its properties for longer periods of time, Mayer told Reuters in an interview.

"Tumblr in terms of users and traffic is an immediate growth story for us," she said.
Analysts say Yahoo appeared to be overpaying for a business that has never posted a profit, makes a fraction of Yahoo's sales, and may not contribute significantly to revenue for years. But the company, rebuffed by the French government when it tried to pay $1 billion for video site Dailymotion earlier this year, had to do something to plug a hole in its social media efforts.
Yahoo made clear it was sensitive to concerns that it might damage Tumblr by making it less irreverent or more corporate.
"Per the agreement and our promise not to screw it up, Tumblr will be independently operated as a separate business," Yahoo said in a statement.
The deal will make Tumblr founder and CEO David Karp, 26, a multimillionaire.
Tumblr is one of the Web's most popular hubs of so-called user-generated content, drawing young people who use the platform to post pictures and text. It has more than 100 million blogs in its network, ranging from "White Men Wearing Google Glass" - a collection of photos poking fun at the early adopters of the wearable computing devices - to housing-focused "The Worst Room."
Though Yahoo remains one of the Web's most popular destinations, it has seen its revenue shrink in recent years as consumers and advertisers favor rivals such as Google Inc and Facebook Inc. The deal is expected to increase Yahoo's audience by 50 percent.
The acquisition, which will use up about a fifth of Yahoo's $5.4 billion in cash and marketable securities, is the largest by far since Mayer took the reins in July with the goal of reversing a long decline in Yahoo's business and Web traffic.
RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Mahaney called it a "long-shot/long-term investment" but one that fits into Mayer's turnaround strategy.
"(Yahoo's) fundamentals have been subpar for numerous years, in part because of the company's missing presence in Social and Mobile. Tumblr may help (Yahoo) develop that presence," Mahaney said in a note.
RICH PREMIUM
While Tumblr is certainly popular - it has tens of millions of monthly unique visitors in the U.S. - analysts questioned what kind of contribution it will make to Yahoo revenue, since advertising on the site is in its nascent stages.
Media reports have pegged Tumblr's 2012 revenue at $13 million. The privately held company, based in Manhattan, does not disclose its financial results.
Yahoo expects that Tumblr will help boost revenue by 2014, Ken Goldman, Yahoo's chief financial officer, said on a call with analysts. He did not provide specific numbers.
"Even if revenue was $100 million, it means Yahoo paid 10 times revenue," said BGC Financial analyst Colin Gillis. "Ten times is what you pay to date the belle of the ball. It's on the outer bands of M&A."
Yahoo could quickly boost Tumblr's revenue by combining the website with its own sales force, said Pivotal Research Group analyst Brian Wieser. But loading Tumblr up with banner ads risks alienating its users and probably wouldn't provide a significant lift to Yahoo's overall revenue, he said.
"It's not clear that this deal will be favorable from a return-on-capital perspective," Wieser said. "One billion (dollars) for one company is a big bet."
Gillis and Wieser were contacted on Sunday after the deal was reported by the online publication All Things D.
Mayer, on the conference call, described the Tumblr deal as an exception and said Yahoo was not necessarily planning lots of similarly sized deals.
Yahoo is one of several companies that have coughed up considerable money for buzz-worthy start-ups that hold promise. Facebook bought the popular social media photo site Instagram for $1 billion last year. In 2006, Google paid $1.6 billion for YouTube.
Yahoo's track record in acquisitions is patchy. Its $3 billion-plus purchase of Geocities - a free service that hosted personal home pages for consumers and once ranked among the most-trafficked websites - stands among the most glaring of its failed deals. Yahoo shut down the service in 2009.
"It's not lost on me that there were some large acquisitions done in Yahoo's history that did not go well," Mayer said in the interview with Reuters. She said Yahoo now has a completely different management team, committed to making the Tumblr deal work.
The Tumblr team will remain in New York, Mayer noted, partly because she believes the most successful deals in the Internet industry, such as Google's YouTube acquisition, have thrived by letting the acquired company operate somewhat independently.
Shares of Yahoo were up 27 cents, or 1 percent, at $26.78 in afternoon trading. Through Friday's close, the shares had risen 70 percent since Mayer became CEO.
IMAGE ISSUES
One question Yahoo may have to address is Tumblr's reputation as a home for pornographic blogs. At one point in 2009, about 80 percent of Tumblr's top sites had something to do with adult content. Today that number is closer to 5 percent, according to Quantcast data, but the old image lingers.
Mayer, on the conference call, brushed off concerns that Tumblr has content that might not appeal to advertisers, saying the ability to reach more people is "really exciting." She said Yahoo's targeting tools would allow advertisers to zero in on specific demographics and content.
One area where Yahoo plans to ramp up advertising: Tumblr's dashboard, the main landing point, akin to a newsfeed.
Dealing with that and other issues may fall to Karp, who founded Tumblr in 2007 and will remain CEO.
Karp, a self-taught programmer who left high school in favor of home schooling, did not take part in Mayer's conference call. Media reports have suggested his take in the sale of Tumblr would top $200 million.
In a 2012 interview with The Guardian, Karp seemed to be less interested in money than in Tumblr's prominence.
"There are a lot of rich people in the world. There are very few people who have the privilege of getting to invent things that billions of people use," he said.
(Reporting by Jennifer Saba in New York and Alexei Oreskovic in San Francisco; Writing by Ben Berkowitz and Edwin Chan, editing by John Wallace)
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