Italy to re-nationalize Alitalia in response to virus

Italy to re-nationalize Alitalia in response to virus
Alitalia filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and looked doomed in January when it failed to secure rescues from either the Italian state railway or Germany’s Lufthansa. (AFP)
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Updated 17 March 2020

Italy to re-nationalize Alitalia in response to virus

Italy to re-nationalize Alitalia in response to virus
  • Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s decision was revealed in a government decree published late Monday
  • Alitalia is currently 49-percent owned by Etihad Airways and 51-percent owned by the Italian management team

ROME: Italy’s government said Tuesday it will re-nationalize the bankrupt former national carrier Alitalia to make sure crises like the coronavirus pandemic never strand its compatriots abroad.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s decision was revealed in a government decree published late Monday after more than a week of debates.
It comes as part of a broader $28 billion (€25-billion) coronavirus response plan and will reportedly cost Italian taxpayers up to $670 million (€600 million).
The 74-year-old company filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and looked doomed in January when it failed to secure rescues from either the Italian state railway or Germany’s Lufthansa.
“At a time like this, a flag carrier gives the government more leeway,” Deputy Economy Minister Laura Castelli told Italian radio.
“We all saw the difficulties our compatriots faced in returning to Italy. Our decision stems from this.”
Transport Minister Paola De Micheli said a “national carrier was strategic for our country” at a time of crisis.”
Alitalia faced the threat of closure even before COVID-19 killed more than 2,100 people in the Mediterranean country and grounded the overwhelming majority of most airlines’ flights.
Market intelligence firm CAPA warned that “most airlines in the world will be bankrupt” by the end of May.
But how Conte’s government intends to save Alitalia — a member of the SkyTeam alliance that has been bleeding money for many years — remains unclear.
The government decree provides for the creation of “a new company wholly controlled by the ministry of economy and finance, or controlled by a company with a majority public stake, including an indirect one.”
Italy’s AGI news agency said the government was also setting up an €600-million fund to deal with the damage the pandemic was causing the aviation sector.
Some of the final details of the national economic rescue program are expected to be finalized next month.
Alitalia began to flounder with the emergence of budget fliers such as EasyJet and Ryanair in the 1990s.
But analyst believe that it is also too small — and has too many staff for the number of flights it operates — to compete with full-cost rivals.
It flew only 22 million passengers and saw its market share in Italy slip to 14 percent in 2018.
Lufthansa and the Atlanta-based Delta Airlines each carried around 180 million passengers that year.
Alitalia was privatized by a group of Italian investors for one billion euros in 2008 but went into administration when its staff rejected a proposal to cut jobs in 2017.
It is currently 49-percent owned by Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways and 51-percent owned by the Italian management team.
Etihad made no immediate comment.


Egypt in talks with international firms to invest in data centers, says minister

Egypt is in talks with international companies to boost investment in data centers and information technology. (Shutterstock/Illustrative)
Egypt is in talks with international companies to boost investment in data centers and information technology. (Shutterstock/Illustrative)
Updated 52 min 28 sec ago

Egypt in talks with international firms to invest in data centers, says minister

Egypt is in talks with international companies to boost investment in data centers and information technology. (Shutterstock/Illustrative)
  • The aim is to take advantage of the geographical location of Egypt and the passage of a large number of international data cables between Asia and Europe

RIYADH: Egypt is in talks with international companies to boost investment in data centers and information technology, the country's communications minister revealed.

The aim is to take advantage of the geographical location of Egypt and the passage of a large number of international data cables between Asia and Europe, reaching North America, said Minister of Communications and Information Technology,Amr Talaat.

It is part of a wider push to build an integrated digital society, Al Arabiya reported.

That is why the budget for the information technology sector and the ministry’s budget has been growing over the last two years and will continue to grow over the next three years, he added.

“We have started building the Egypt digital platform that provides more than 70 digitized government services at the present time, and we look forward to increasing it to 170 services by the end of this year, and then increasing to include all government services within two years until 2023,” said the minister.


Egyptian prime minister discusses industry localization with US firm Bechtel

According to a statement issued by the Egyptian government, Madbouly said that the Bechtel delegation’s visit to Egypt was part of a strategy to enhance Egyptian-American cooperation. (AFP/File Photo)
According to a statement issued by the Egyptian government, Madbouly said that the Bechtel delegation’s visit to Egypt was part of a strategy to enhance Egyptian-American cooperation. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 10 May 2021

Egyptian prime minister discusses industry localization with US firm Bechtel

According to a statement issued by the Egyptian government, Madbouly said that the Bechtel delegation’s visit to Egypt was part of a strategy to enhance Egyptian-American cooperation. (AFP/File Photo)
  • Mostafa Madbouly said the country was currently localizing industrial production with the aim of rendering it more sustainable

CAIRO: Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly held discussions with US construction firm Bechtel on ways to increase the use of local products and components in the development of projects in Egypt.

According to a statement issued by the Egyptian government, Madbouly said that the Bechtel delegation’s visit to Egypt was part of a strategy to enhance Egyptian-American cooperation across a number of sectors.

The prime minister said there were several projects in Egypt being developed in cooperation with American companies, like the petrochemical complex in the Ain Sokhna area. He added that he is following up on these megaprojects.

Madbouly also said that he welcomed the cooperation proposed by Bechtel in constructing a sixth metro line and in managing new cities.

Bechtel’s Infrastructure Global Business Unit President Shaun Kenny expressed his enthusiasm to work with the Egyptian government on megaprojects currently being implemented, especially the metro line.

The Egyptian prime minister stated that the country is currently localizing its industrial production with the aim of rendering it more sustainable.


Egypt’s Cleopatra Hospitals bid to buy Alameda Healthcare halted

Egypt’s Cleopatra Hospitals Group said its bid to acquire Alameda Healthcare through a sale and purchase agreement of shares has been halted. (Cleopatra Hospitals Group)
Egypt’s Cleopatra Hospitals Group said its bid to acquire Alameda Healthcare through a sale and purchase agreement of shares has been halted. (Cleopatra Hospitals Group)
Updated 10 May 2021

Egypt’s Cleopatra Hospitals bid to buy Alameda Healthcare halted

Egypt’s Cleopatra Hospitals Group said its bid to acquire Alameda Healthcare through a sale and purchase agreement of shares has been halted. (Cleopatra Hospitals Group)
  • The proposed deal was originally announced by Cleopatra in late December 2020

RIYADH: Egypt’s Cleopatra Hospitals Group said its bid to acquire Alameda Healthcare through a sale and purchase agreement of shares has been halted.

It made the disclosure in a filing to the Egyptian Stock Exchange on Monday.

The proposed deal was originally announced by Cleopatra in late December 2020, with an estimated value of about $500 million.

But it was quickly followed by an announcement from the Egyptian Competition Authority saying that it did not agree in principle to the acquisition.

It highlighted the potential consolidation of Cleopatra’s dominance over hospitals around Cairo and Giza.

Alameda Healthcare’s network includes four tertiary care hospitals in Cairo, two of which are currently being constructed. Once the facilities are fully commissioned Alameda Healthcare will have a capacity of 890 beds, according to its website. The network also includes facilities in Kuwait and London, outpatient clinics, diagnostic centers, specialist centers, pharmacies, and a rehabilitation center.


Saudi Kafalah small business loan program expands rapidly in Q1

Some 215 private sector business women benefited from the scheme during the first quarter of this year, compared to 64 during the year-earlier period. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
Some 215 private sector business women benefited from the scheme during the first quarter of this year, compared to 64 during the year-earlier period. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
Updated 10 May 2021

Saudi Kafalah small business loan program expands rapidly in Q1

Some 215 private sector business women benefited from the scheme during the first quarter of this year, compared to 64 during the year-earlier period. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
  • Businesses in Riyadh, the Eastern Region and Makkah claimed the lion’s share of assistance

RIYADH: The Saudi SMEs loan guarantee program ‘Kafalah’ helped 1621 businesses during the first quarter of 2021 — up 162 percent year-on-year, Al Eqtisadiah reported.

Guarantees increased by about 150 percent to SR2.9 billion and financing reached SR3.6 billion, the newspaper said.

Some 215 private sector business women benefited from the scheme during the first quarter of this year, compared to 64 during the year-earlier period.

The value of guarantees during the first quarter amounted to SR142 million and the value of financing reached SR157 million.

The most prominent sectors benefiting included the wholesale and retail trade, construction, accommodation services, food, and manufacturing industries, according to Kafalah.

Businesses in Riyadh, the Eastern Region and Makkah claimed the lion’s share of assistance.

The program will mostly target the tourism and entertainment sectors this year, in addition to the communications and information technology sectors, said Kafalah Director-General Homam Bin Abdulaziz Hashem.

The program was founded in 2006 as a joint initiative between the Kingdom’s ministry of finance and Saudi commercial banks to help overcome SME financing constraints.


A bamboo bat? That’s just not cricket old boy

A bamboo bat? That’s just not cricket old boy
Updated 10 May 2021

A bamboo bat? That’s just not cricket old boy

A bamboo bat? That’s just not cricket old boy
  • Faster growing Bamboo seen as a more sustainable alternative to Willow

Cricket is a sport defined by tradition, but change may be in store after research suggested bamboo could be an attractive alternative to willow in the manufacture of bats.
The Cambridge University study said its prototype bamboo bat was cheaper to produce, more sustainable and stronger than traditional willow blades and could grow the game worldwide.
The article, published in the Journal of Sports Engineering and Technology on Sunday, also found the laminated bamboo bat possessed a larger sweet spot, making it “a batsman’s dream.”
Willow trees take 15 years to mature enough to produce cricket bats, whereas bamboo only requires five to six years and abounds in China, South America and southeast Asia as well as cricket-obsessed India.
Bamboo bats could increase participation in lower-income countries thanks to lower production costs and make cricket much more sustainable without compromising quality, the study claimed.
Co-author Ben Tinkler-Davies said: “Whether you’re playing or spectating, you wouldn’t notice much of a difference.
“Because laminated bamboo is so strong, we’re very confident we can make a bamboo bat light enough, even for today’s fast-scoring, short forms of the game.”
The study found that bamboo is 22 percent stiffer than willow and that its sweet spot performed 19 percent better.
The prototype bat’s sweet spot — the point where the ball is hit most effectively — is larger than a traditional bat’s and located closer to the toe.
That allows it to transfer more energy to the ball, the researchers said.
Bamboo bats would be “a batsman’s dream,” according to co-author Darshil Shah, who played cricket for Thailand at youth level.
“The sweet spot on a bamboo bat makes it much easier to hit a four off a yorker for starters, but it’s exciting for all kinds of strokes,” he added.
Bamboo’s higher density means that the bat’s shape would have to be redesigned to make a lighter product before batsmen can blast bowlers with their new weapon.
The London-based Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) — the conservative custodian of cricket’s laws — must approve any change to the material used to make bats.
Cricketers have long experimented with different types of bat, from the length of the handle to thickness of the blade and weight, to try to gain a competitive edge.
In 1979, Australia’s Dennis Lillee caused controversy by using an aluminum bat, which was then banned.
Cricket’s current laws — brought in after the Lillee incident — state that bats must be made of wood, but bamboo is a type of grass.
“Playing with a bamboo bat would be within the spirit of the game because it’s a plant-based material. Cane, a type of grass, is already used in the handle,” said Shah.
“Tradition is important but think about how much cricket bats, pads, gloves and helmets have already evolved.
“If we can go back to having thinner blades but made from bamboo, while improving performance, outreach and sustainability, then why not?“