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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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Hyundai bets on diesel models, launches Tucson SUV

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Chennai, July 14 : The second largest car maker in India Hyundai Motor India Ltd while continuing to bet on diesel powered vehicles is also looking at faster demand recovery from tier 2/3 cities, said a senior official on Tuesday.

Hyundai Motor also launched its new premium sports utility vehicle (SUV) Tucson for the Indian market.

Speaking to reporters, Tarun Garg, Director (Sales, Marketing and Service) said the timing of Tucson’s launch is right as there are over five lakh Creta buyers in the country who are looking for an upgrade to a premium SUV.

The new Tucson’s starting price is about Rs 22 lakh.

“With over 6.5 million customers worldwide, Tucson is one of the best-selling SUV’s across the world,” S.S. Kim, Managing Director and CEO told reporters.

He said the model was unveiled at the Auto Expo 2020.

Garg said the booking for diesel engine models are growing and the demand is across the country and more so from tier 2/3 cities.

He said when the fuel prices go up, buyers will look at fuel economy and diesel engines are fuel efficient.

According to Garg, Hyundai Motor has got over 45,000 bookings for its SUV Creta model and 56 per cent of that are for diesel engine variant.

Similarly, one third of the booking for Venue and Verna are for diesel models, Garg said.

“SUV lovers want much more than the fuel economy which diesel vehicles offer. It appears demand will stablilise at this level. There is also good demand for petrol models,” Garg added.

Queried about the pay cuts implemented by various companies and its impact on buyers scaling down their model preference Garg said he is not seeing any such trend.

According to him, buyers prefer to come to the showroom to take delivery of new cars even though Hyundai Motor offers to deliver the car at their door step.

Garg said it is not possible to predict the likely sales for 2020 as some states have Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

He said the company is watching the market behaviour on a monthly basis.

Garg said during June 2020, the company has reached 75 per cent of June 2019 demand figures, In July 2020 the car maker plans to touch 90 per cent of July 2019 levels.

On the availability of components as the company is planning to start third shift in its plant Garg said the localisation levels are very high and the dependence on components from China is very low.

According to Garg the company’s supply chain is ready to meet the demand for increased components as third shift production is soon to start.

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No lay-offs by Wipro amid crorona crisis, no such plan

The Bengaluru-headquartered IT behemoth employs more than 1.75 lakh people in several countries across the globe.

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Azim Premji Wipro

Bengaluru, July 13 : Global software major Wipro has not laid off any employee during the Covid-19 pandemic nor has any such plan at the moment, a top company official said on Monday.

“I just want to give comfort and say this categorically that we have not laid off a single employee as the pandemic unfolded,” Wipro Chairman Rishad Premji said at the company”s 74th annual general meeting (AGM) held virtually.

“At the moment, we have no plans to lay off anybody at the company,” he said, replying to a female shareholder.

“We are trying to drive cost deductions through various other means operationally and otherwise,” said Premji.

The Bengaluru-headquartered IT behemoth employs more than 1.75 lakh people in several countries across the globe.

–IANS

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Google to invest Rs 75,000 crore to boost digitisation in India

The investment will focus on four areas important to India’s digitisation– first enabling affordable access to information to every Indian in their own language.

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Sundar Pichai

New Delhi, July 13 : Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Monday announced a Google for India digitisation fund through which, the company will invest Rs 75,000 crore or approximately $10 billion over the next five to seven years to help India go digital.

“We will do this through a mix of equity investment, partnerships and an operational infrastructure ecosystem in India. This is a reflection of our confidence in the future of India and its digital economy,” Pichai said during the Google for India virtual conference.

The investment will focus on four areas important to India’s digitisation– first enabling affordable access to information to every Indian in their own language.

“Second, building new products and services that are deeply relevant to India”s unique needs. Third, empowering businesses to continue or embark on digital transformation. And fourth, leveraging technology and Artificial Intelligence for social good in areas like health, agriculture and education,” the Google CEO said.

India’s Union IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad were also present during the conference.

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