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Industry Update

Mohamed Alabbar, founder of Dubai’s largest developer Emaar Properties PJSC, is stepping down as chairman to comply with regulatory requirements and will continue running the government-backed company as its new managing director. The company, which built the world’s tallest tower, cited a regulatory rule that bars combining the position of chairman and any executive role in publicly listed companies. Jamal Bin Theniyah, who had been vice chairman, was appointed chairman, and Ahmed Jawa, a board member, was named vice chairman. Alabbar, who had served as Emaar chairman since July 1997, will be “devoted to the executive management matters and the day to day affairs of Emaar,” the company said in a stock market filing published on Sunday. Alabbar is one of the top lieutenants of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai who helped shepherd the emirate’s emergence from a small fishing town into a global metropolis. Alabbar founded Emaar in 1997, building thousands of homes, offices and malls and creating landmarks including one of the world’s largest shopping centers.

Source: Dubai's Emaar Names New Chairman as Alabbar Steps Down - Bloomberg

In the first ten days of December, Discovery unveiled its streaming service; Warner Bros. said that its entire 2021 slate of films will be released on HBO Max and in theaters at the same time; and Disney announced 100 new projects, with most of them heading straight to streaming services. Three years from now, we'll probably still be talking about the content and the consequences. The resistance to the streaming transformation is significant, but the strategic imperatives of major media companies are more serious. Thus, observers were blown away by the sheer amount of content announcements at Disney's investor day on Thursday, in much the same way they were stunned by Warner Media’s move last week.  "The fact is, we're only getting started," Disney's exec chairman Bob Iger said with a smile at the end of the Disney presentation.

Source: Disney+ announcements are an 'earth-shaking' development in the streaming wars - CNN

The boss of luxury carmaker Ferrari is stepping down for "personal reasons" after less than two years in the role. Louis Camilleri is leaving the company with immediate effect just ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend. Mr Camilleri was hospitalized this year due to Covid-19 but he has been recovering and Bloomberg reports this is not the reason for his departure. He has also stepped down as chairman of Philip Morris, also with immediate effect and for personal reasons. Prior to joining Ferrari, Mr Camilleri had worked in the tobacco industry for a number of years. He took over as Ferrari's chief executive in July 2018 from Sergio Marchionne who left due to illness and died shortly afterwards.

Source: Ferrari boss leaves car maker on eve of Grand Prix - BBC News

Dangote Oil Refinery has been listed among the world’s top 20 influential projects surveyed in the last 18 months by the renowned Project Management Institute (PMI).  It was selected for its potential to fuel Nigeria’s economic transformation from importer to a self-sustaining powerhouse, said a statement. PMI, which disclosed this recently in its annual list of Influential Projects for 2020, said that “Most Influential Projects” highlights compelling projects around the world and across industries that achieved significant milestones and impacted the society. The 2020 Most Influential Projects list identifies the noteworthy projects that have defined the past year—a year that has been dramatically transformed by the global coronavirus pandemic. Many of the projects on this year’s list reflect the ingenious ways project managers and change-makers have kept the initiatives moving forward in the face of unexpected obstacles and challenges.

Source: Dangote Refinery among 20 world’s most influential projects | The Guardian Nigeria News - Nigeria and World NewsBusiness — The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News

HSBC Holdings plc (HSBC), via its wholly owned subsidiary, HSBC Holdings B.V (HHBV), has participated in the accelerated book build process launched on 30 November 2020 by NatWest Markets plc and Banco Santander. HHBV has as a result purchased shares which will, post completion of the purchase, increase its shareholding in The Saudi British Bank (SABB) from 29.2 per cent to 31 per cent. “The transaction further emphasises our long term strategic commitment to both SABB and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” HSBC said in a statement.

Source: HSBC increases stake in Saudi British Bank to 31% | Banking – Gulf News

A record outflow from one of Vanguard Group’s biggest exchange-traded funds is stirring speculation over who was behind it and why. More than $7 billion was pulled from the $172 billion Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (VOO) on a single day this week, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, about 4% of the fund’s assets. But trading volumes were below the one-year average and there were no obvious outsized transactions, while the U.S. equity benchmark rose on the day -- making a mass exodus less appealing. It’s all leading to a theory that a major holder of the fund executed a large over-the-counter trade.


Global insurance giant AXA announced on Monday that it has entered into an agreement with Gulf Insurance Group (GIG) to sell its insurance operations in the Gulf region. The deal includes its shareholding in AXA Gulf, AXA Cooperative Insurance Company and AXA Green Crescent Insurance Company. As part of the transaction, Yusuf Bin Ahmed Kanoo, one of the largest conglomerates in the Gulf Region, will also sell its shareholding in AXA Gulf and in AXA Cooperative Insurance Company. GIG is a major insurer in the Gulf region, strengthened by the global footprint and insurance expertise of Fairfax, a financial holding company headquartered in Toronto, Canada, as well as the regional market knowledge of KIPCO, its shareholders.

Source: Insurance giant AXA set to sell its Gulf business - Arabianbusiness

Denmark will end all new oil and gas exploration in the North Sea, as part of a wider plan to stop extracting fossil fuels by 2050. Its government also agreed to cancel its latest licensing round on Thursday, which gives firms permission to search for and produce oil and gas. "We are now putting a final end to the fossil era," said Denmark's climate minister. Greenpeace Denmark described the announcement as a "watershed moment". However, the country's latest licensing round was facing uncertainty, after Total of France pulled out in October, leaving only one other applicant. Denmark is currently the largest oil producer in the European Union, although it produces much less than non-EU members Norway or the UK. It pumped 103,000 barrels a day in 2019, according to analysis by UK oil giant BP. There are 55 drilling platforms on its territory, across 20 oil and gas fields.

Source: Denmark set to end all new oil and gas exploration - BBC News

The world has been inching toward fully autonomous cars for years. In China, one company just got even closer to making it a reality. On Thursday, AutoX, an Alibaba (BABA)-backed startup, announced it had rolled out fully driverless robotaxis on public roads in Shenzhen. The company said it had become the first player in China to do so, notching an important industry milestone. Previously, companies operating autonomous shuttles on public roads in the country were constrained by strict caveats, which required them to have a safety driver inside. This program is different. In Shenzhen, AutoX has completely removed the backup driver or any remote operators for its local fleet of 25 cars, it said. The government isn't restricting where in the city AutoX operates, though the company said they are focusing on the downtown area.

Source: Self-driving robotaxis are taking off in China - CNN

While 2020 has forced each of us to grapple with difficult issues — from the Covid-19 pandemic to social justice to climate change — it has also made clear that no single government or organization will be able to solve them all. It's going to take all of us, which is why now, more than ever, people are also looking to leading brands and businesses to be part of the solution. Companies like ours are fortunate to have the global presence and scale to help tackle big challenges. In the 100 markets where McDonald's operates, we see about 80% of the population in a given year and serve about 65 million people a day.Few organizations have that kind of reach, and our customers rightly expect us to use it to make a difference. Consumers tell us that when they feel good about brands and when they understand that a corporation's purpose, mission and values match their own, they will visit more often. There is no formula a company can use to define its purpose. It has to flow authentically from what a company values, how it acts and what it does in the world.

Source: Opinion: McDonald's CEO: How we are thinking differently about our role in society - CNN