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Sam Altman To Return As OpenAI CEO

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Last Updated on November 22, 2023 by Fellow Press

Sam Altman is returning to OpenAI as its chief executive, the high-profile AI startup said Wednesday, capping an intense five days of discussions, debates and convincing following the sudden dismissal of Altman last week from the startup he co-founded.

OpenAI, which is the most valuable U.S. startup, said it has reached an “agreement in principle” for Altman’s return. The startup is also reforming its board, eliminating several members who faced intense scrutiny for their decision last week.

Former Salesforce chief executive Bret Taylor, former US Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers, and Quora founder Adam D’Angelo will be part of the new board at the AI startup, it said. Taylor will serve as the chair of the board, the startup said.

Microsoft, which owns about 49% of OpenAI, was taken aback by OpenAI’s decision last week and rushed to hire Altman to lead a new AI group at the software conglomerate. Greg Brockman, former President of OpenAI, and countless other members of the startup resigned in protest of the earlier OpenAI board’s decision.

“I love OpenAI, and everything I’ve done over the past few days has been in service of keeping this team and its mission together. when I decided to join Microsoft on Sunday evening, it was clear that was the best path for me and the team. With the new board and with Satya’s support, I’m looking forward to returning to OpenAI, and building on our strong partnership with Microsoft,” Altman said in a statement posted on X.

Microsoft chief Satya Nadella, who also expressed disappointment in OpenAI board’s decision last week and pledged to ensure that Microsoft is never “surprised” again, said Wednesday that he was encouraged by today’s changes to the OpenAI board.

“We believe this is a first essential step on a path to more stable, well-informed, and effective governance. Sam, Greg, and I have talked and agreed they have a key role to play along with the OAI leadership team in ensuring OAI continues to thrive and build on its mission. We look forward to building on our strong partnership and delivering the value of this next generation of AI to our customers and partners.”

OpenAI’s earlier board — which included its chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, independent directors D’Angelo, technology entrepreneur Tasha McCauley, and Georgetown Center for Security and Emerging Technology’s Helen Toner — faced intense public scrutiny for their abrupt decision, for which they never offered a comprehensive explanation. Growing frustrated with the earlier OpenAI board, several OpenAI investors began exploring options to sue the board members, Reuters reported Tuesday.

Emmett Shear, the former Twitch chief executive who was appointed as interim leader of OpenAI on Sunday, said he was pleased with OpenAI’s new decision. “Coming into OpenAI, I wasn’t sure what the right path would be. This was the pathway that maximized safety alongside doing right by all stakeholders involved. I’m glad to have been a part of the solution,” he posted on X.

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FG updates on UAE lifting visa ban on Nigeria

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The Minister of Aviation, Festus Keyamo, has revealed that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government will soon announce the date for lifting the visa ban that has been imposed on Nigerian travellers.

This information was shared during an interview with Otega Ogra, Senior Special Assistant to President Bola Tinubu, which is available on the official YouTube page of the State House of Nigeria.

Keyamo acknowledged that while a resolution was reached between President Bola Tinubu and UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan during President Tinubu’s working visit to the UAE in September 2023, additional processes were required before the ban could be officially lifted.

He said the processes have now been completed, paving the way for the imminent announcement from the UAE government.

“After that high-level meeting, Mr. President, credited to him, made things very easy for us all. We did our follow-ups as his ministers. We have done everything. We have resolved everything.

“Just wait for the announcement from the UAE government, and that announcement is imminent,” Keyamo stated.

The Minister further mentioned that he is aware of the specific date when the travel restriction will be lifted, but he emphasized that it is up to the UAE government to make the official announcement.

The lifting of the ban is expected to restore ease of travel for Nigerian citizens to the UAE, thereby enhancing bilateral relations and cooperation between the two countries.

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Otedola, Zenith Bank settle out-of-court

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The Federal High Court of Nigeria, Lagos Division, dismissed the case on Thursday on receiving a notice of discontinuance from the plaintiffs.

Femi Otedola, the chairman of FBN Holdings and majority shareholder of Geregu Plc, and some of his companies have opted for an out-of-court settlement with Zenith Bank Plc.

Otedola was involved in a legal dispute with the bank over alleged “fraudulent transactions” on his company’s accounts.

Court papers obtained by PREMIUM TIMES showed the Federal High Court of Nigeria, Lagos Division, where Mr Otedola and his companies filed the suit against the lender on 12 March, dismissed the case on Thursday, 13 June, on receiving a notice of discontinuance from the plaintiffs.

Zenon Petroleum & Gas Limited, Seaforce Shipping Co. Limited, Luzon Oil & Gas Limited, Garment Care and Mr Otedola were the plaintiffs, while Zenith Bank, Quantum Zenith Securities & Investment Limited, Veritas Registrars Limited and Central Securities Clearing System Plc were the defendants.

According to a court document, Justice A.O. Faji discontinued the lawsuit after the counsel for the first to third defendants and the counsel for the plaintiffs asked for the matter to be dismissed, with the “counsel for the fourth defendant not objecting.”

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Mr Otedola and his companies initiated legal action against Zenith Bank and the other defendants in March, claiming that the lender disposed of his shares in the bank without authorisation, manipulated the companies’ bank accounts and fabricated some documents to conceal the alleged crimes.

He accused the lender of wrongfully calculating his debts before selling them to the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), which the bank set up to buy the non-performing loans in the books of banks with the intention of recovering them thereafter.

Zenon had claimed that the letters of credit that led to the bad loans AMCON acquired were opened before the corporation took over the debt in December 2011. The company stopped operating the account after AMCON’s intervention.

According to a document seen by PREMIUM TIMES, the overdue on Zenon’s account at the point AMCON took over the liabilities was N39 billion. Zenon said Zenith Bank offered the debt to the corporation at N49 billion. AMCON ended up paying the bank N44.1 billion for the debt.

Sources with knowledge of the matter told PREMIUM TIMES in May that Mr Otedola chose to take legal action against the bank after several failed reconciliation attempts. During the month, both parties held three meetings, none yielding the desired results.

“It is clear that Zenith Bank Plc is not sincere in resolving this issue out of court and as such a time-wasting exercise,” one of the sources said.

“At this juncture, we have resolved to pursue our claims via the judiciary, law enforcement, the CBN and the court of public opinion as we know that our claims are very genuine.”

According to a document detailing the deliberations of both parties at a meeting held on 20 May, Zenith Bank agreed to refund the N205 million it wrongfully debited to Zenon’s account with compounded accrued interest using a bankdraft.

Seaforce Shipping Company Limited, owned by the billionaire tycoon, said Zenith Bank presented some statements of account claiming that it owed the bank N5.9 billion as of February 2024. It added that Zenith Bank abandoned the claim after the company showed proof that Seaforce’s account was in credit as of 2018.

A source said Zenith Bank sold the 415 million shares that Zenon held in Zenith Bank for N4.9 billion in December 2010, noting that the shares were repurchased in the following month for N5.4 billion, triggering a net loss of N142.9 million.

He further disclosed that related transactions were carried out on Mr Otedola’s account, causing a net loss of N61.5 million and a combined loss of N205.4 million in both cases.

Isyaku Mohammed, the commissioner of police in charge of administration at the Force Criminal Investigation Department, summoned the managing director of Zenith Bank on 16 May over what he described as an alleged unauthorised debit to Zenon’s account.

“This office is investigating an alleged case of fraudulent misrepresentation, wrongful debit and unauthorised transactions referred from the assistant inspector general of police, FCID Annex, Alagbon Close, Ikoyi, Lagos, involving your financial institution,” the letter, a copy obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, read.

“A precis of the petition at disposal reveals that sometime in 2011, an unauthorised withdrawal was carried out on the account of Zenon Petroleum Gas Limited with number 10110385211 to the tune of Two Hundred and Five Million, Three Hundred and Forty-six Thousand, Five Hundred and Seventy-Three Naira (N205,346,573.00) without justification.”

The letter stated that Zenith Bank wrongfully opened some letters of credit after AMCON acquired the debt in 2011, which led to unsolicited loan disbursement that further plunged Zenon into indebtedness.

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