Daily Archives: December 25, 2016

Blindsided by SUV boom, Hyundai Motor trims costs, perks

SEOUL, Rabi’I 27, 1438, December 26, 2016, SPA — Headed for a fourth straight annual profit decline, Hyundai Motor is trimming its cost fat; scaling back on business class flights and annual family home trips for overseas employees, executives told Reuters.
The South Korean automaker has been hit by its exposure to weak emerging markets, and a product line-up that features more sedans than sport utility vehicles, just as SUVs have become more popular across many global markets.
The belt-tightening – which also includes cutting back on printing and fluorescent light bulbs – aims to buy Hyundai time to prepare new models and a design revamp.
“We’re trying to address a mismatch between the market trend and our product line-up,” said one Hyundai insider, referring to a need for more SUV models. “That’s a longer term plan. For now we’re trying to save every penny,” he said, declining to be identified because the plans are not public.
Since October, Hyundai Motor Group executives have taken a 10 percent pay cut, the first such move in seven years. The number of executives at Hyundai Motor alone has risen by 44 percent in five years, to 293 last year.
The group has also downgraded hotel rooms for executive travel, and is encouraging video conferencing as a cheaper alternative to travel, insiders said.
“We’re in emergency management mode,” said another insider, who didn’t want to be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
In a response to Reuters for this article, Hyundai Motor said it is “making various cost-saving efforts”, with shrinking global demand and growing business uncertainty, but did not elaborate.
Other costs, such as low-margin supplier parts and labour at the heavily-unionised automaker, are tougher to pare back, said Ko Tae-bong, analyst at Hi Investment & Securities, noting Hyundai needs also to spend more on research and development in self-driving and other new technologies.
While Hyundai remains cash-rich, its costs as a proportion of revenue have risen for five straight years, to 81 percent so far this year, regulatory filings show.
“Cutting expenses are stopgap measures, and won’t do much to improve its bottom line,” Ko said, calling them more “symbolic”.
SALES DECLINE
Hyundai grew quickly after the global financial crisis, with brisk sales of its Sonata and Elantra sedans. It was the only major automaker to increase sales in the United States in 2009.
But it has struggled to maintain that momentum as rivals’ sales of SUVs have boomed and emerging market economies have weakened. Hyundai Motor shares have fallen 40 percent in the past three years, the worst performer among global automakers.
The automaker’s top U.S. executive has resigned, and the South Korea sales chief and China head have been replaced.
Sales of Hyundai cars, and those of its affiliate Kia Motors , could drop to 8 million this year, a first decline since Hyundai bought its smaller domestic rival in 1998, said Ko, the analyst.
For next year, Hyundai-Kia Executive Vice President and research head Park Hong-jae, expects sales to pick up again. “It was a difficult year this year. Things will get better,” he told reporters on Thursday, citing recovery in markets such as Brazil and Russia.
Another Hyundai source said the group has trimmed its preliminary 2017 sales target to 8.2 million vehicles, from 8.35 million forecast in mid-year.
MORE SUVS
While it looks to manage its staff budget, Hyundai is beefing up its SUV offerings, freshening up its Sonata sedan, and redirecting exports from slow-demand markets such as the Middle East to the United States.
In the United States, SUVs accounted for 28 percent of Hyundai’s sales in January-November, up from 23 percent a year earlier, according to Autodata Corp, but less than half the industry average.
At its plant in Montgomery, Alabama, Hyundai has replaced some Sonata production with its popular Santa Fe SUV.
Next year, Hyundai will look to plug a gap in its SUV offerings for developed markets by making a sub-compact model – under the project name “OS” – in South Korea for sale at home, in the United States and Europe, people inside the company said. Hyundai makes sub-compact SUVs locally in China, India and Russia.
“We need that small SUV in the U.S, much sooner than later,” Scott Fink, one of Hyundai’s biggest U.S. dealers, told Reuters.
In sedans, Hyundai is pushing sales of bigger, higher-margin models like the Azera, or Grandeur, and its Genesis luxury line. Its smaller sedans, including the Elantra and Sonata, have lost ground to rivals like Honda Motor’s Civic, which one Hyundai executive said has “wowing design”.
Hyundai is working on a next generation of cars with “a different flair” to hit the market from 2019, Luc Donckerwolke, senior vice president for design, told Reuters on the sidelines of a recent event. The biggest holder of Hyundai Motor preferred shares, the Norway-based Skagen Kon-Tiki fund, expects the automaker to get back on track over the next couple of years, with new SUVs, recovering emerging market currencies and better plant utilisation.
Knut Harald Nilsson, the fund’s lead portfolio manager, reckons Hyundai’s margins should recover to above 7 percent over that period, from 6 percent earlier this year, but are unlikely to return to the 10 percent levels of a few years ago “anytime soon”.
–SPA
02:34 LOCAL TIME 23:34 GMT

Jeddah International Book Fair concluded

Jeddah International Book Fair concluded

Monday 1438/3/27 – 2016/12/26

Jeddah, Rabi’I 27, 1438, December 26, 2016, SPA — Jeddah International Book Fair was concluded here yesterday evening.
The event attracted 355 thousand visitors and recorded the presence of 450 publishing houses representing 30 countries.
–SPA
01:42 LOCAL TIME 22:42 GMT

Islamic Development Bank holds a session for Board of Executive Directors in Jeddah

Islamic Development Bank holds a session for Board of Executive Directors in Jeddah

الأحد 1438/3/26 هـ الموافق 2016/12/25 م واس

Jeddah, 26 Rabi’I, 1438,December 25, 2016, SPA — The Board of Executive Directors of Islamic Development Bank Group held here today its 316th session under the chairmanship of President of the Bank Group Dr. Bandar bin Mohammed Hajjar.
The session discussed a number of topics related to the works of the bank, especially the proposed plan of the bank’s operations for the years 2017 -2019 as well as the proposed budget.
— SPA
15:16 LOCAL TIME 12:16 GMT

‫مؤسس والرئيس التنفيذي للينكشور دانيان تشن يسمى في قائمة “40 تحت 40” بنسخة مجلة فورتش الصينية 2016

سنغافوورة، 25 كانون الأول/ديسمبر، 2016 / بي آر نيوزواير / — يوم 20 كانون الأول/ديسمبر، أعلنت النسخة الصينية من مجلة فورتشن عن قائمتها “40 تحت 40” للعام 2016، وهي قائمة المجلة السنوية للشباب الأكثر تأثيرا في ميدان الأعمال التجارية. وكان مؤسس والرئيس التنفيذي لشركة لينكشور، السيد دانيان تشن، من بين من ضمتهم هذه القائمة.

وكان السيد تشن قد أسس شراكة مع شقيقه الأكبر السيد تيانغياو تشن شركة شاندا غروب وقاد أيضا الجهود لتأسيس شركتي شاندا ليتراتشر وشاندا إنوفيشنز. وفي العام 2013، أسس السيد تشن شركة لينكشور في شنغهاي لتشغيل “وايفاي ماستر كي” (goo.gl/x8GN05) وهو تطبيق جوال مجاني يمكن الناس من الوصول إلى الإنترنت عبر نقاط واي فاي ساخنة مشتركة مع تشجيع أصحاب النقاط الساخنة على تشاطر نقاطهم الساخنة هذه في أوقات عدم انشغالها.

هذا المنتج هو من وحي مفهوم “تقاسم الاقتصاد”، وتم تقديمه من أجل سد “الفجوة الرقمية” التي اتسعت أكثر من أي وقت مضى مؤخرا. ووفقا لإحصاءات البنك الدولي، فأكثر من 4 مليار شخص في العالم ليس لديهم في الوقت الحاضر أي وصول إلى الإنترنت.

وقال السيد تشن: “إن عدم المساواة في تقنية المعلومات سيجعل من الأصعب بصورة متزايدة على الفقراء الحصول على الفرص المغيرة للحياة. ولذلك، فإننا نلتزم بتطبيق واي فاي ماستركي ورؤية أن تتوفر خدمات الإنترنت المجانية لعدد أكبر من الناس. وقد بدأنا أيضا مشروع بناءشبكة إنترنت لحوالى 1000 مدرسة في مناطق جبلية فقيرة بحيث تتسنى للأطفال هناك قريبا فرصة استكشاف العالم عبر الإنترنت.”

وخلال فترة قصيرة لم تزد على ثلاث سنوات منذ بدء تشغيل لينكشور، مكن التطبيق الملايين من الناس من تغيير حياتهم ومستقبلهم عبر الاتصالالالمجاني بالإنترنت. “واي فاي ماستركي” هو واحد من أكبر ثلاث تطبيقات لديها أكبر قاعدة ستخدمين في الصين، وذلك مباشرة بعد تطبيقي المراسلة العملاقين ويشات وكيوكيو. وحتى الآن، تجاوز التطبيق معلم الـ 500 مليون مستخدم نشط شهريا، وهو لديه حجم تحميل يبلغ أكثر من 900 مليون في أكثر من 200 دولة. “واي فاي ماستر كي” يصنف أيضا في قمة تطبيقات الأدوات على متجرغوغل بلاي في 49 بلدا. وفي آب/أغسطس العام 2016، ذكرت تينسنت رسميا أن حجم تنزيل المستخدمين الجدد اليومي على “واي فاي ماستركي” تجاوز ويشات وكي كيو، ليصبح أكبر التطبيقات لناحية حجم التنزيل اليومي في الصين.

وكما قالت فورتشن، “نحن نسلط الضوء على هؤلاء الشباب ليس فقط بسبب القيم العالية لشركاتهم، ولكن أيضا بسبب جهودهم من أجل المجتمع. وهذه الأسماء هي التي تقودنا إلى المستقبل. فمبادرات السيددانيان تشن بمنح تحقيق الذات من خلال الوصول إلى شبكة الإنترنت مجانا يفسر أسباب تكريم الـ “40 تحت 40″ هذا من قبل مجلة فورتشن.”

حولواي فاي ماستر كيمن  en.wifi.com

واي فاي ماستر كي هو تطبيق إنترنت محمول مجانيتديره لينكشور لتمكين الوصول إلى الإنترنت مجانا. اعتبارا من حزيران/يونيو عام 2016، كان لدى التطبيق 900 مليون مستخدم و 520 مليون مستخدم نشط شهريا. وسجلت الشركة رقما قياسيا كونها واحدة من أسرع شركات الإنترنت المحمول فى الصين نموا بتحقيقها مليار دولار في العام 2015، بعد إغلاق سلسلة تمويل أ بقيمة 52 مليون دولار.

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Erdogan, Putin Discuss Syria Crisis, Assassination of Russian Envoy

Ankara, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in which the two leaders discussed the recent developments in Syria.

Officials in the Turkish President’s Office said the two leaders also discussed the ongoing investigation into the assassination of Russian Ambassador to Ankara, Andrey Karlov.

Source: Qatar News Agency

Successful Ebola Vaccine Will Be Fast-Tracked for Use

Geneva, A highly effective vaccine that guards against the deadly Ebola virus could be available by 2018, the World Health Organization said.

Trials conducted in Guinea, one of the West African countries most affected by an outbreak of Ebola that ended this year, show it offers 100% protection.

The vaccine is now being fast-tracked for regulatory approval.

Manufacturer Merck has made 300,000 doses of the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine available for use should Ebola strike.

GAVI, the global vaccine alliance, provided $5m for the stockpile.

Results, published in The Lancet medical journal, show of nearly 6,000 people receiving the vaccine, all were free of the virus 10 days later.

In a group of the same size not vaccinated, 23 later developed Ebola.

Only one person who was vaccinated had a serious side effect that the researchers think was caused by the jab. This was a very high temperature and the patient recovered fully.

It is not known how well the vaccine might work in children since this was not tested in the trial.

Ebola has been around for 40 years now. But it wasn’t until the height of the 2014 outbreak in West Africa that the world decided to invest some serious money into finding treatments and cures.

Source: Qatar News Agency

14 Dead in Malaysian Bus Crash

Kuala Lumpur, Fourteen people are reported dead and 17 others injured after a bus crashed into a ravine on Malaysia’s North-South Expressway early Saturday morning, according to local media.

The accident occurred near the west coast of town of Muar, after the driver lost control of the bus and it fell 20 feet into a ravine, local broadcaster Astro Awani said.

Muar police department’s Azman Ayob said seven women, a young girl and six men were killed, including the driver.

He said the bus, carrying 30 passengers, was travelling from Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur, according to the broadcaster.

Source: Qatar News Agency