Lego to build up presence in Mideast with Dubai office

Lego sees growth potential in the Middle East. (AP)
Updated 07 March 2018
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Lego to build up presence in Mideast with Dubai office

LONDON: The Danish toy company Lego is planning to ramp up growth in the Middle East with the opening of an office in Dubai toward the end of this year, according to the company’s CEO Niels Christiansen. 
“The market there is already big, it is already growing … We believe we can accelerate that by now putting people on the ground in Dubai who can develop the region further,” he said at a press conference on March 6.
His comments come as the toy brick-maker announced that its 2017 profits were down compared to the previous year, with full-year net profit dropping to 7.8 billion Danish kroner ($1.3 billion) compared to 9.4 billion kroner in 2016. 
Revenues decreased by 8 percent to 35 billion kroner in 2017 compared to 37.9 billion kroner last year.
The reduced revenues were partly blamed on too much inventory already sitting in shops and warehouses that needed to be sold off. Global consumer sales were flat in 2017, moving upward in the final months of the year benefiting from the Christmas season. 
“2017 was a challenging year and overall we are not satisfied with the financial results,” Christiansen said. 
“However, we ended the year in a better position. In December, consumer sales grew in seven of our 12 largest markets and we entered 2018 with healthier inventories. In 2018, we will stabilize the business and invest to build sustainable growth in the longer term,” he said. 
He said there was “no quick-fix” to the company’s fortunes. “It will take some time to achieve longer-term growth,” he said. 
While revenues declined in the company’s established markets of North America and Europe, Lego saw “significant” revenue growth in China. 
The company is planning to further expand in the country, and last year signed a partnership deal with one of the country’s largest Internet companies, Tencent, to work together to develop online games for Chinese children.


India court allows Vedanta to reopen controversial plant

Updated 16 December 2018
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India court allows Vedanta to reopen controversial plant

  • The city of Thoothukudi had been rocked by long-running protests over the plant
  • Protesters say it harms the environment and the health of those living near it, claims the company has long denied

NEW DELHI: An Indian copper smelter at the centre of a police shooting that left 13 protesters dead has been granted permission to reopen by the country's environmental court.
The Sterlite plant, owned by British mining giant Vedanta Resources, was closed after the bloody police crackdown in May on protesters who say the smelter is poisoning the air and water.
Vedanta Resources, owned by Indian-born billionaire tycoon Anil Agarwal, had appealed against the plant's closure by the state government of Tamil Nadu where it is located.
The National Green Tribunal, a federal authority which rules on environmental matters, ordered Saturday that the plant in Thoothukudi city could resume operation.
Sterlite CEO P. Ramnath on Sunday welcomed the decision.
"We are happy that all those affected by the closure will get back their source of livelihood and the town of Thoothukudi will revert to normalcy," he said in a statement on Twitter.
The Tamil Nadu state government has said it will appeal the decision in India's highest court.
The city of Thoothukudi, previously known as Tuticorin, had been rocked by long-running protests over the plant, one of the largest in India.
Protesters say it harms the environment and the health of those living near it, claims the company has long denied.
The demonstrations intensified in May after Vedanta sought to double the annual capacity of the plant.
On May 22, police opened fire on thousands of protesters, killing 13 people.
The plant was shuttered by the state government in the aftermath of the shooting.
The company denies all charges and maintains that it adheres to the best environmental standards.
The federal green court ordered Vedanta to spend one billion rupees ($13.9 million) over three years to assist local communities.
But it criticised the pollution regulators in Tamil Nadu, saying they stalled the case by tying up the company in paperwork.