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US, Saudi Arabia firms reach deals worth $55 billion

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Saudi-US CEO Forum

Riyadh, May 20 : The US and Saudi Arabia announced deals worth over $55 billion on Saturday, coinciding with President Donald Trump’s arrival here for a two-day visit.

The Saudis announced they had reached preliminary agreements with US defence companies, industrial manufacturers and oil and gas companies following a Saudi-US CEO Forum in Riyadh, CNN reported.

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The series of deals also includes a $12 billion investment in a US oil refinery from Motiva Enterprises, a subsidiary of Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s national oil and gas company.

The deals are at least in part aimed at garnering goodwill with Trump, who has focused on delivering a boost to companies in those three industries, giving him a multibillion-dollar package to champion as he returns to the US.

The agreement with defence companies represents just a part of the $110 billion deals that Trump and Saudi King Salman are expected to broker by the end of the US President’s visit.

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The defence portion of the agreements on Saturday included a $6 billion deal for Lockheed Martin to build 150 Blackhawk helicopters in Saudi Arabia, helping the kingdom develop its defence industry, which is a key component of the country’s 2030 Vision plan.

US defence company Raytheon will also establish a branch in Saudi Arabia and General Dynamics agreed “to localise design, engineering, manufacturing, and support of armoured combat vehicles,” the government announced in a press release.

The American technology and engineering giant General Electric (GE) also reached a $15 billion deal to work with the Saudi kingdom on a range of projects aimed at improving the country’s power grid and energy capabilities.

Dow Chemicals will also build a $100 million manufacturing plant in the country.

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The Saudi oil and gas industry also reached partnerships worth $22 billion between Saudi Arabia and US companies that will bolster the country’s massive oil and gas industry.

Trump, along with his wife Melania and daughter Ivanka, arrived in Saudi Arabia’s capital on Saturday for the first stop on his five-nation foreign trip, the first of his presidency.

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Trump will be looking for more than just economic deals as he eyes an increased commitment from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf allies to combat the Islamic State and terrorism more broadly in the Middle East.

The deals represented a significant victory for the Saudi Deputy Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who has championed the Vision 2030 plan as necessary to modernising the country and diversifying its economy.

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SBI to sell 4% stake in SBI General Insurance, post regulatory approvals

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SBI

Mumbai, Sep 26: Lending major State Bank of India (SBI) will divest four per cent stake in SBI General Insurance company for Rs 481.73 crore post regulatory approvals.

According to a BSE filing, the bank’s Executive Committee of Central Board (ECCB) on Wednesday approved the divestment of “86,20,000 equity shares” to “Axis New Opportunities AIF-l (Axis AMC Ltd.) and Pl Opportunities Fund-I (Premji)”.

The filing added that the transaction is subject to regulatory approvals.

IANS

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Mobile-first workforce to drive SaaS Cloud growth in India: Oracle

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Vice President-Applications at Oracle India

As more and more businesses in India shift their focus to building a mobile-first workforce, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Cloud solutions will connect not only people to solutions but also networked devices, machinery and products in the near future, a top Oracle India executive said on Monday.

With over 40 per cent of all business owners using their smartphones daily to manage their operations, the demand for mobile applications and solutions is increasing significantly in the country.

“We will see streamlined mobile dashboards, allowing users to increase sales and track, and tag and convert more leads from anywhere, at any time,” Prasad Rai, Vice President-Applications at Oracle India, told IANS.

“Emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and predictive analytics will also be better integrated to transform customer experiences through SaaS solutions and open new avenues for revenue generation,” Rai emphasised.

Last year was a “pivotal” year in expanding Public Cloud service adoption globally, according to market research firm IDC.

SaaS remains the largest bucket by some distance at $74.8 billion globally, with IDC predicting the SaaS market will hit $163 billion by 2022.

The SaaS market — accounting for 72 per cent of the total Public Cloud services market and forecast to grow at 20 per cent (CAGR) over the forecast period — is dominated by Cloud solutions such as enterprise resource management (ERM) and customer relationship management (CRM).

“At Oracle, we are observing a substantial year-on-year growth in our SaaS revenues, making India one of the significant contributors to the APAC revenues for Oracle,” Rai noted.

The Cloud major sees the demand for its SaaS solutions coming from industries like manufacturing, retail, hospitality, social welfare, engineering and construction, logistics, oil and gas, etc.

“Industries governed by regulatory compliances like governments, banks, insurance agencies, telecom operators and IT services continue to see benefits from Oracle SaaS solutions,” Rai told IANS.

Oracle is enabling businesses of all sizes in the country to innovate and to succeed in the cloud.

“The simplicity of our solution and quick deployment ability — some in as less as 30 days — comprehensive SaaS portfolio and a 600-strong partner ecosystem are some of the factors attracting customers to Oracle SaaS. We are the fastest-growing Cloud company in the world today,” Rai informed.

Oracle last week reported revenue of $9.2 billion for its fiscal first quarter (Q1 2019) — up from $9.1 billion in the same period last year.

“The vast majority of ERP applications running in the Cloud today are either Oracle Fusion or Oracle NetSuite systems,” said Oracle CEO Mark Hurd.

“The Oracle Fusion ERP customer count is now nearly 5,500, while the NetSuite ERP customer count is over 15,000. Virtually every analyst ranks Oracle as the market leader in Cloud ERP,” Hurd added.

Oracle expects more and more organisations going for advanced solutions to eliminate redundancy and create harmony, with a unified Cloud suite like ERP and HR as an integrated single Cloud offering.

Oracle ERP Cloud’s biggest contribution to Religare Healthcare Trust (RHT) has been the reduction of the time spent on routine transactional activities.

“ERP Cloud has helped RHT streamline its several databases and related information. As a result, RHT is now no longer dependent on manual checks and balances,” informed Rai.

With Oracle “Taleo” solution, BPM services firm Genpact has successfully enhanced experience for its workforce. “Oracle ‘Taleo’ has helped Genpact in bringing down onboarding time from one day to one hour, while ensuring compliance to processes,” said Rai.

Oracle’s human capital management (HCM) Cloud offering has helped Airtel adapt a culture of ownership by driving employee practices from HR-led mechanisms towards a more self-service mode.

“All employee-relevant information and services, such as those related to payroll and performance, have been made available online, with automation helping reduce time, better employ resources while making processes more regular at Airtel,” said the Oracle executive.

Keeping the changing SaaS trends in mind, Oracle is organising an “Impact for Business” event in Mumbai and Delhi this week, showcasing the emerging technologies in the SaaS segment.

According to Rai, emerging technologies like AI, Automation and Blockchain have triggered strong stimulation and are driving discussions across the board.

“The purpose of ‘Impact for Business’ event is to showcase how all these innovations are embedded in our Cloud offerings so there is no need to purchase any additional solutions and how we differentiate ourselves from competitors,” Rai noted.

(Nishant Arora can be contacted at [email protected])

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Learning from diversity in regulation

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Pawan Agarwal is CEO, FSSAI,

Regulation has an unfortunate, negative connotation to it. It brings to mind an authoritarian image with regards to the government. That is definitely not how it should be. It must be accepted that regulation has a great positive impact on society and the economy. The economic crisis of 2008, which was effectively a failure of regulation, forcefully underlines this fact. One needs to see regulation as an enabler, even for businesses, and not as a deterrent.

It is only natural for a citizen to have inhibitions about the regulatory environment. However, such concerns can be allayed if the government ensures that the key elements for an efficient regulatory body are present. An OECD document, “Principles for the Governance of Regulators”, explains that the key elements for “better” regulatory outcomes are: Well-designed rules and regulations that are efficient and effective; appropriate institutional frameworks and related governance arrangements; effective, consistent and fair operational processes and practices; and lastly, high quality and empowered institutional capacity and resources, especially in the leadership.

Given that India has a very peculiar regulatory environment, due to the lack of uniformity and presence of diversity in the structures and functionality of regulatory bodies, it is necessary to not only ensure that the aforementioned necessary conditions are met, but that the regulatory bodies adapt with the dynamic environment and learn from one another. India has multiple regulatory authorities, which have been set up due to three primary reasons. One is for welfare, wherein they have been set up in the public interest; two, to counter anti-competitive forces; and, lastly, to prevent any form of market failure.

India’s regulatory environment took flight only with the advent of the economic reforms of 1991, which implies that the regulatory bodies are at a very nascent stage. For instance, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recently completed 20 years; the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) completed 10 years; while the Central Electricity Regulation Commission (CERC) has also been functioning for 20-odd years.

The tricky role of a regulator is to ensure the participation of the citizens, involve them in the process and enable them in the movement towards a better society and economy. The recent mammoth task taken up by FSSAI with its Eat Right Movement, which nudges the citizens and consumers to change their eating habits, is one example of how a regulatory body has been able to impact social and behavioural change that will culminate in a healthier nation and involves citizens.

It is not only about involving the citizens but also ensuring that they are be able to trust the regulatory bodies. As a case in point, TRAI has strengthened its administrative set-up for the purpose of internal audits. Similarly, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) now has an in-house transparency officer to cater to the same concern.

In a similar spirit of improved transparency, the regulatory bodies have adapted themselves to the ongoing increased reliance on technology and shifted to online portals and apps. This has not only made the processes and mechanisms smoother but has also reduced cumbersome paperwork.

For example, TRAI has whole host of online portals and apps, such as TRAI Analytics Portal and the Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Portal. FSSAI has also incorporated facets of the online revolution within its system, wherein the licensing and registration of businesses can be done online via the Food Licensing and Registration Systems (FLRS) platform.

Finally, given that the regulatory environment is quite new, it is also crucial to continuously update policies and ensure laws are amended to be in sync with the changing economic and social environment. TRAI recently released a draft of the National Telecom Policy 2018. This is a step that every regulatory body needs to follow.

For India, the regulatory environment is growing, and newer, more innovative techniques are being adopted for the larger social good and to make the economy more competitive. For growth to be sustainable, all the regulatory bodies should learn from one another, adapt to the changing global environment and keep implementing innovative methods to counter issues as they arise. Most importantly, they must function as accountable, transparent and independent authorities.

(Pawan Agarwal is CEO, FSSAI, and can be contacted at [email protected] Amit Kapoor is chair, Institute for Competitiveness, and can be contacted at [email protected])

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