Trump to argue ‘America First’ at World Economic Forum in Davos

Donald Trump will be the first US president to attend Davos since Bill Clinton, who attended in 2000. (AP)
Updated 10 January 2018

Trump to argue ‘America First’ at World Economic Forum in Davos

DUBAI: President Donald Trump will be the first White House incumbent for 18 years to attend the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos later this month after he agreed to attend the glittering gathering of the world elite in the Swiss Alpine town.

A statement from the president’s official spokesperson said: “The president welcomes opportunities to advance his America First agenda with world leaders. At this year’s WEF, the president looks forward to promoting his policies to strengthen American businesses, American industries and American workers.”

The US leader’s stance of “America First” on economic issues is often regarded as at odds with the globalist, free-market emphasis espoused by business and world leaders at Davos, while his populist political ambition to “drain the swamp” of corporatist business interests would appear to run contrary to the establishment elitism on show.

But WEF officials are privately happy that President Trump has accepted an invitation to attend. “There were long discussions with him before he took office, and he and his team are under no illusions that it is simply a gathering of the world’s elite,” said one WEF official who did not want to be named.

“It is an economic forum after all, and you could not imagine he would not want to take that opportunity to talk about issues like his tax reform laws to a global business audience. If he wants to bring investment and jobs to America, Davos is the place to meet the people who are going to do that,” he added.

The Trump presence in Davos will also shine more light on the affairs of the Middle East, insiders believe. “He can be expected to say some things about the region, given the situation in Iran,” said the official.

The US president is due to decide soon whether to continue to waive sanctions against Iran under the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal. Iran has been the scene of demonstrations against government policies in recent weeks.

Arabian Gulf countries are preparing to send senior-level teams of delegates to Davos. Saudi Arabia has accepted an invitation on behalf of senior policymakers, in addition to official WEF partners like Saudi Aramco and Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC).

The UAE also traditionally send a top level team of government officials and senior business leaders to Davos.

The theme of WEF 2018 is “creating a shared future in a fractured world.” The New York Times — a committed critic of the president and his policies — said that some members of the president’s team were “befuddled” by his planned trip, coming a year after his team decided not to send a representative to the 2017 gathering.

Last year the US was officially represented by outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden. Trump’s official inauguration took place during the Davos meeting.

The last US president to attend Davos was Bill Clinton, who was at Davos in 2000, and who has been at the WEF in a private capacity a number of times since.

Neither President Bush nor President Obama attended a WEF annual meeting. The WEF official said: “Davos falls at a busy time in American politics, with the State of the Union address from the president coming about the same time.”


STC postpones its acquisition of Vodafone Egypt for second time

Updated 13 July 2020

STC postpones its acquisition of Vodafone Egypt for second time

  • Kingdom’s largest telecom company says it will need an additional two months to complete the deal

CAIRO: The Saudi Telecom Company (STC), the Kingdom’s largest telecom company, said that it will need an additional two months to complete a deal to purchase a 55 percent stake in Vodafone Egypt.

In January, STC was in agreement to buy the stake for $2.4 billion. In April, it extended the process for 90 days due to logistical challenges stemming from the spread of COVD-19. The company said in a statement that it would extend the period again to September for the same reason.

The Public Investment Fund, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, owns a majority stake in STC. The ownership of Vodafone Egypt is divided between 55 percent for Vodafone International, which is the target percentage of the Saudi purchase offer, 44.8 percent for Telecom Egypt, and the remaining 0.2 percent for small shareholders.

Telecom Egypt is awaiting the results of Vodafone’s evaluation of the final share price to announce its position on the deal. A Telecom Egypt official stated that the company is still awaiting STC’s position regarding the purchase of the share. If the deal is not completed, it may be presented with its rights to acquire Vodafone’s share, which would allow it to take over 99.8 percent of the company’s shares, leaving 0.2 percent for small investors.

Ashraf El-Wardany, an Egyptian communications expert, pointed out the importance of waiting until the procedures between STC and the Vodafone Group are complete. The results will determine the next steps by Telecom Egypt.

El-Wardany said that the Saudi operator must, after completing the relevant studies, submit a final binding offer at the share price and any conditions for purchase. If approved by Vodafone, it must submit the offer with the same conditions and price to Telecom Egypt, provided that the latter responds within a maximum period of 45 days to determine its position regarding the use of the right of pre-emption and the purchase, or lack thereof, of Vodafone’s share.

According to El-Wardany, there are other possible scenarios. Vodafone International may not be convinced of the offer or the conditions presented by the Saudi side and the sale may be withdrawn, or the Vodafone group may be ready to sell and has prepared another buyer for its stake in Egypt in the event of rejecting the Saudi offer. It may also it back away from the deal and continue to operate in Egypt for a few more years.

El-Wardany said that if Telecom Egypt decides not to use the right of pre-emption to acquire the remaining Vodafone shares for any reason, it will continue with its 44.8 percent stake.
It may also resort to selling all of its shares or part of it to the Saudi side or to any company that wants to acquire its stake.

“This raises the question of whether STC can acquire all of Vodafone’s shares,” El-Wardany said, adding that the coming months “will make the answer clear.”