Citigroup returns to Saudi Arabia: ‘Right place, right market, right time’

Citigroup is returning to Saudi Arabia after leaving the Kingdom in 2004, It is just one of a number of multinationals making a return to the Kingdom. (Reuters)
Updated 17 April 2018
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Citigroup returns to Saudi Arabia: ‘Right place, right market, right time’

Dubai: Citigroup, the American financial giant that quit Saudi Arabia in 2004, yesterday put the seal on its return to the Kingdom with a formal opening ceremony in Riyadh.
The re-entry could be lucrative for the bank, which will be able to play a full role in the financial opportunities presented by the Vision 2030 plan to transform the economy, including a big program of sovereign bond debt issuance and privatizations.
Mike Corbat, Citi’s group CEO, attended the ceremony alongside Ibrahim Al-Omar, the governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority.
Al-Omar said: “You are at the heart of Arab markets and the biggest market in the region, where Saudi Arabia connects three continents. Vision 2030 is not possible without partners, and you are our very welcome partners. Citi will be able to take part in a privatization program that will see, between now and 2030, up to 100 opportunities. There are other opportunities, too, especially in the entertainment sector. You are in the right place in the right market at the right time.”
Corbat said: “We are delighted to establish an office in the Kingdom and be open for business on the ground. The expansion to Saudi is in line with our strategy to be present in the region’s biggest economy and contribute to its transformation.
“Citi continues to support the Kingdom’s national agenda for a diverse and sustainable economy and we aim to play a key role toward realizing this vision,” he added.
Some Citi executives admitted the 2004 withdrawal was “a mistake,” and for the past two years the bank has played a central role in the big sovereign bond issuance program.
Last year, the Saudi Arabian Capital Market Authority (CMA) granted Citi a license to provide a range of investment banking and capital market business.
Citi executives have said they could also look to get a license from the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority, which would enable it to also offer trade banking and treasury services.
At the Riyadh ribbon-cutting ceremony at the bank’s new offices in Kingdom Tower, Citi, through its Foundation arm, also handed over a $300,000 cheque to renew its partnership with Education for Employment Global, a Washington DC-based non-profit organization that helped train and find employment for 67,000 young people in the region.


Amazon workers strike as ‘Prime’ shopping frenzy hits

Updated 16 July 2019
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Amazon workers strike as ‘Prime’ shopping frenzy hits

  • The protesters waves signs with messages along the lines of “We’re human, not robots”
  • The strike was part of an ongoing effort to pressure the company on issues including job safety, equal opportunity in the workplace, and concrete action on issues including climate change

SAN FRANCISCO: Amazon workers walked out of a main distribution center in Minnesota on Monday, protesting for improved working conditions during the e-commerce titan’s major “Prime” shopping event.
Amazon workers picketed outside the facility, briefly delaying a few trucks and waving signs with messages along the lines of “We’re human, not robots.”
“We know Prime Day is a big day for Amazon, so we hope this strike will help executives understand how serious we are about wanting real change that will uplift the workers in Amazon’s warehouses,” striker Safiyo Mohamed said in a release.
“We create a lot of wealth for Amazon, but they aren’t treating us with the respect and dignity that we deserve.”
Organizers did not disclose the number of strikers, who said employees picketed for about an hour in intense heat before cutting the protest short due to the onset of heavy rain.
The strike was part of an ongoing effort to pressure the company on issues including job safety, equal opportunity in the workplace, and concrete action on issues including climate change, according to community organization Awood Center.
US Democratic presidential contenders Kamila Harris and Bernie Sanders were among those who expressed support for the strikers on Twitter.
“I stand in solidarity with the courageous Amazon workers engaging in a work stoppage against unconscionable working conditions in their warehouses,” Sanders said in a tweet.
“It is not too much to ask that a company owned by the wealthiest person in the world treat its workers with dignity and respect.”
Amazon employees also went on strike at seven locations in Germany, demanding better wages as the US online retail giant launched its two-day global shopping discount extravaganza called Prime Day.
Amazon had said in advance that the strike would not affect deliveries to customers.
Amazon has consistently defended work conditions, contending it is a leader when it comes to paying workers at least $15 hourly and providing benefits.
The company last week announced plans to offer job training to around one-third of its US workforce to help them gain skills to adapt to new technologies.
Amazon has been hustling to offer one-day deliver on a wider array of products as a perk for paying $119 annually to be a member of its “Prime” service, which includes streaming films and television shows.
The work action came on the opening day of a major “Prime” shopping event started in 2015.
Now in 17 countries, the event will span Monday and Tuesday, highlighted by a pre-recorded Taylor Swift video concert and promotions across a range of products and services from the e-commerce leader.
Prime Day sales for Amazon are expected to hit $5 billion this year, up from $3.2 billion in 2018, which at the time represented its biggest ever global shopping event, JP Morgan analyst Doug Anmuth says in a research note.