Davos and Houston are as different as chalk and cheese — or steak and fondue

Daniel Yergin (L to R), vice chairman of IHS Markit, Sara Ortwein, president of XTO Energy, Timothy Dove, president and CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources, Mark Little, CEO of Suncor Energy and Lorenzo Simonelli, chairman and CEO of Baker Hughes, take part in a panel discussion at CERAWeek energy conference in Houston, Texas, US. (Reuters)
Updated 08 March 2018
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Davos and Houston are as different as chalk and cheese — or steak and fondue

HOUSTON: The CERAWeek by IHS Markit event is sometimes called the “Oil Man’s Davos” and on the surface the resemblance is striking: At both big gatherings of the global elite, discussing weighty matters of policy and strategy by day, and letting their hair down at night, is a succession of receptions, dinners and after-parties.
But once you scratch just a bit below the surface, the similarities fade. The two events really are chalk and cheese. CERAWeek is slick, American, energy focused and very New World; Davos is chaotic, eccentric, eclectic and very European.
The geography is the telling factor, of course. The Swiss event is held 5,000 feet up on an Alpine mountain, constrained within the borders of a small town, and spills over from the Congress Hall to the frosty anarchy of the hotels, bars and cafes around.
Houston is the fourth largest city in the US, with a population of more than two million people, and is accessible by land, sea and air from George Bush International and other local airports. It is a real urban hub for west Texas, an American city given over to the motor car, with big open freeways linking the sprawling suburbs to the gleaming new downtown.
Every city block seems to have its own gigantic parking lot or multi-story parking block. The space given over just to parking would be enough for several hotels, chalet apartments and even a ski-run in Davos.
The other big difference is the central venue. Houston has one, Davos hasn’t. You can get through the week of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting without ever setting foot in the Congress Hall, following events on live stream from the Belvedere hotel with the other “Masters of the Universe.”
In the Bayou city, 99 percent of the action takes place on four floors of the Hilton Americas, a huge hotel and conference complex set in the midst of the sparking new downtown area. There are events around and about the Hilton — the Grove steakhouse on Lamar Street is known as a power dining hub — but you can easily spend the whole week just in the Hilton.
If you do venture outside, the other obvious difference between Houston and Davos hits you straight away: You can walk the streets of Houston in the comfort of a business suit and normal shoes, without having to don extreme weather gear every time you leave the indoors.
At this time of year, Houston is a pleasant climate, in the low 20s, with the occasional refreshing shower to keep you stimulated. The summer is hot, stuffy and humid, they tell me, and in autumn there is the ever-present risk of hurricanes like Harvey, the one that devastated Houston last year. But for CERAWeek, the weather is perfect.
The two events share another similarity, in that they are each the creation — largely — of one man. Klaus Schwab founded the WEF and led Davos through 48 years of WEF annual meetings, while Daniel Yergin has overseen CERAWeek through 37 years of gatherings.
Yergin, who won the Pullitzer Prize with his epic history of the oil industry “The Prize,” is ubiquitous at CERAWeek, running the event almost single-handedly, chairing and moderating events from dawn to dusk. Schwab only comes out of his Chairman’s Office for the really big ones, like — embarrassingly — Donald Trump at this year’s event. Where Schwab is oleaginous and deferential, Yergin is probing and incisive.
One final difference: Davos has fondue and skiing, Houston has steak and the rodeo, an annual celebration of Texan cowboy heritage that coincides with CERAWeek. An assessment of the latter will follow soon.


NMC Health raises full-year core earnings forecast

Updated 22 October 2018
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NMC Health raises full-year core earnings forecast

  • UAE-based NMC Health has operations across 17 countries
  • Revenue for 2019 will increase by between 22 and 24 percent

DUBAI: UAE-based health care provider NMC Health on Monday raised its full-year core earnings and revenue forecasts, citing strong organic growth, and said it remained confident in achieving its longer-term margin guidance.
The company raised its core earnings forecast by 3.2 percent to $480 million for the year and said it expected revenue to grow 24 percent, 2 percentage points more than its previous expectation.
“2019 guidance will also point toward continuation of strong organic growth on the back of a sustained ramp-up at key facilities, integration and expansion of acquired entities, as well as a strong operational performance,” the company said.
The company, the leading private health care operator in the Gulf, is benefiting from growing demand in the health care sector due to an increasingly wealthy population that is becoming more susceptible to lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and obesity.
NMC Health, which has operations across 17 countries, said during 2019 management anticipated the opening of new greenfield facilities, particularly in the UAE, the expansion of facilities across different countries and the consolidation of Aspen Healthcare, which NMC Health acquired earlier this year.
Revenue for 2019 will increase by between 22 and 24 percent, and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization were expected to grow by 18 to 20 percent during 2019, it said, adding that the guidance did not include the effects of implementation of IFRS 16, or the impact of the anticipated financial consolidation of National Medical Care Company.