FII2018: Company chiefs urged to embrace technological revolution

Top CEOs at the opening ceremony of the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh. (AFP)
Updated 24 October 2018

FII2018: Company chiefs urged to embrace technological revolution

  • If companies do not transform with clear strategies, they will be left behind, just like many companies that have failed

RIYADH: Company chief executives must embrace the technological revolution, delegates to the Future Investment Initiative conference were told.

Leaders need to come out of their traditional offices and engage with the community, said Yousef Al-Benyan, vice chairman and chief executive of Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC), the Saudi petrochemicals giant.

“I don’t look at it wholly from a regional point of view, but I look at it globally,” he said. “Transformation and the technology evolution are going to be very crucial. At the same time, it is going to create challenges for business.”

Companies should keep in mind that if they do not transform themselves with different platforms and clear strategies, they will be left behind, like many companies that had failed, Al-Benyan said.

“I’m not looking at incremental transformation but it has to be a complete transformation otherwise the companies will not be able to truly satisfy their shareholders.”

Al-Benayan also discussed the digital transformation that is changing the petrochemical industry, and how it will drive future growth.

The petrochemical industry is important for the growth of prosperity, Al-Benayan said. “The petrochemical industry is now everywhere in every individual’s life,” he said. 

SABIC is competitive, he said. “We have more than 21 centers globally, supported by more than 2,000 scientists and researchers to make sure that we have up-to- speed positions in our competitive environment.”  

Al-Benayan expressed concern about the future of job creation. The speed of technological innovation was greater than the speed of the transformation of Saudi Arabia’s education system, he said, which would create challenges for Saudi youth.

South Korea seeks arrest of Samsung heir in succession probe

Updated 33 min 8 sec ago

South Korea seeks arrest of Samsung heir in succession probe

  • Jay Y. Lee faces a return to jail just a little over two years after being released from detention

SEOUL: South Korean prosecutors have requested an arrest warrant against Samsung Group heir Jay Y. Lee, they said on Thursday, in the investigation of a controversial 2015 merger and alleged accounting fraud in a suspected bid to aid his succession plans.
The move spells fresh trouble for Lee, who, if arrested, faces a return to jail just a little over two years after being released from detention in February 2018.
Lee already faces trial on a charge of bribery aimed at winning support to succeed ailing group patriarch Lee Kun-hee, and which involved former President Park Geun-hye, and spent a year in detention until the bribery case was suspended in 2018.
Prosecutors said they sought Lee’s arrest on suspicions of stock price manipulation and audit rule violations, among other offenses.
In a statement, Lee’s lawyers expressed “deep regret” at the prosecution’s decision to seek his arrest, adding that he had fully cooperated with the investigation while Samsung was going through management crises.
Prosecutors have been investigating suspected accounting fraud at drug company Samsung Biologics after the Korean financial watchdog complained the firm’s value had been inflated by $3.7 billion in 2015.
Prosecutors contend the violation helped boost the value of its major owner, Cheil Industries, which counted Lee as its top shareholder, and merged with Samsung C&T, a de facto holding firm, Yonhap news agency said.
Samsung requested an outside review of the investigation to weigh the validity of the indictment and the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office is following the necessary procedures, it said in a statement.
Last month, prosecutors questioned Lee, 51, over the latest investigation. He also apologized for a series of controversies around his succession planning.
Lee’s year in detention followed separate charges that he bribed Park to win government support for the 2015 merger which helped tighten his control of South Korea’s top conglomerate.