Ferrari turns to tech for an electric era chief executive

Ferrari turns to tech for an electric era chief executive
Benedetto Vigna, who has been appointed the CEO of Ferrari on June 9, 2021, poses in this undated handout photo. (Reuters)
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Updated 09 June 2021

Ferrari turns to tech for an electric era chief executive

Ferrari turns to tech for an electric era chief executive
  • Ferrari, which already offers hybrid models, has promised to deliver its first electric car by 2025

MILAN: Ferrari has turned to technology industry leader Benedetto Vigna to navigate the luxury sports car maker known for its roaring, high-octane engines through a new era of silent, electric powertrains.

Vigna, a 52-year-old Italian national, currently runs the biggest division of chipmaker STMicroelectronics (ST), where he has worked since 1995 and helped pioneer screen technology used in early Apple iPhones.

His appointment fills a six-month vacancy at the helm of the luxury carmaker after former Chief Executive Louis Camilleri retired nearly two-and-a-half years into the job in December citing personal reasons.

Chairman John Elkann, the scion of the Agnelli family which controls Ferrari through its investment firm Exor, said in a statement that the company was delighted to welcome a technology industry leader aboard.

“His deep understanding of the technologies driving much of the change in our industry, and his proven innovation, business-building, and leadership skills, will further strengthen Ferrari and its unique story of passion and performance,” he said.

Ferrari, which already offers hybrid models, has promised to deliver its first electric car by 2025.

Pietro Solidro, an analyst at Bestinver said Vigna’s appointment should reduce market concerns about Ferrari’s future and its path toward its first electric vehicle.

“We believe that he will be able to further accelerate Ferrari’s ability to remain ahead of the curve in next-gen technologies compared to the automotive sector,” Solidoro said.

Vigna is currently president of ST’s Analog, Micro-electromechanical Systems and Sensors group, its largest and most profitable operating business in 2020. He will leave on Aug. 31, the chipmaker said in a statement.

He will start at Ferrari the next day.


Saudi $48m culture fund may take stakes in private companies

Saudi $48m culture fund may take stakes in private companies
Updated 5 min 17 sec ago

Saudi $48m culture fund may take stakes in private companies

Saudi $48m culture fund may take stakes in private companies
  • Fund will begin receiving requests for beneficiaries in August
  • Financing, including crowdfunding, also being explored

RIYADH: The Saudi Cultural Development Fund may take direct stakes in private companies as it seeks to stimulate investment in the sector, said CEO Mohammed Bindayel.

Cultural projects in Saudi Arabia will receive SR180 million ($47.9 million) from the fund in 2021 and requests for beneficiaries will start to be received in August, he told Asharq.

Financing options being explored include crowdfunding, said Bindayel, who was appointed as the CEO of the fund last week.

The Cultural Development Fund, which was created to support projects of private-sector enterprises, NGOs and associations working in the cultural sectors and their supporting fields, is working within the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, said Bindayel.


Cruises set to return to Abu Dhabi in September 2021

Cruises set to return to Abu Dhabi in September 2021
Updated 39 min 44 sec ago

Cruises set to return to Abu Dhabi in September 2021

Cruises set to return to Abu Dhabi in September 2021
  • About 500,000 cruise visitors arrived in the UAE capital in 2019, a 46 percent year-on-year increase

DUBAI: Abu Dhabi said it will resume receiving cruise liners in the emirate from Sept. 1, after the industry faced a global shutdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT Abu Dhabi) said it would work with Abu Dhabi Ports to regain the momentum it achieved before the pandemic – about 500,000 cruise visitors arrived in the UAE capital in 2019, a 46 percent year-on-year increase.

“This comes as part of the efforts to enliven the emirate’s tourism sector after the impressive results we have achieved in combating the spread of the pandemic, and yet another step towards strengthening the UAE capital’s position as a world-class hub for maritime tourism,” Ali Al-Shaiba, the executive director of DCT Abu Dhabi.

A series of initiatives throughout the year will be implemented to ensure a smooth return of the business, the department said, including joining international events to promote Abu Dhabi to global cruisers.


Italy’s Lamborghini eyes big opportunities in Saudi market

Italy’s Lamborghini eyes big opportunities in Saudi market
Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann says the region is a very important market for the manufacturer and has maintained its importance despite economic challenges. (Supplied)
Updated 23 June 2021

Italy’s Lamborghini eyes big opportunities in Saudi market

Italy’s Lamborghini eyes big opportunities in Saudi market
  • Super-car manufacturer said its Urus SUV has been a ‘game-changer’ for growth in the Kingdom

DUBAI: Lamborghini, the Italian super car manufacturer, sees Saudi Arabia as potentially its strongest market in the Middle East, its CEO Stephan Winkelmann told Arab News.

“The UAE is currently the biggest one, but we think that Saudi Arabia could become the biggest — it’s currently No. 2. We have the right partner today, so there is a big opportunity. We see growth and more potential,” he said.
Lamborghini has partnered with Saudi elite car dealership Samaco and now has outlets in Jeddah, Riyadh and Alkhobar. Winkelmann said that he saw the Urus, the Lamborghini SUV that has been a big success in the region and accounts for half of new sales, as a “game-changer” in Saudi Arabia.
He said that the region was a very important market for the manufacturer and had maintained its importance despite economic and geopolitical challenges.
He was in the Middle East to discuss with dealers and customers the recent $1.8 billion move by the Italian company to turn away from petrol engine cars later this decade, first with hybrid engines, then with an all-electric car.
Winkelmann said the company is also exploring the possibility of a new generation of synthetic fuels in its super-fast models.

HIGHLIGHT

Lamborghini has partnered with Saudi elite car dealership Samaco and now has outlets in Jeddah, Riyadh and Alkhobar.

Although Lamborghini is not the first super car manufacturer to consider going electric, its move away from the internal combustion engine is still a big challenge.
“For us, it’s even tougher because we not only have to reduce emissions but also maintain performance and make it even better than it was before,” Winkelmann said.
Hybrid plug-in versions of the Aventador and Huracan sports cars will be developed in the next couple of years, alongside the Urus. The first all-electric car — a brand new design — will be introduced in the second half of the decade.
Another challenge for Lamborghini will be how to replicate the famous exhaust “crackle” enthusiasts like in the petrol engine cars.
“We have time to think about this. I don’t think we should try to repeat the sound of the engine and exhaust in an electric car. Maybe we will find a new sound or have no sound at all,” Winkelmann said.
Despite the pandemic recession, Lamborghini had one of its most profitable years ever in 2020, as enthusiasts rewarded themselves for the deprivations of lockdown by splashing out on a new super car. The price of a new Urus, for example, starts at around SR1 million ($270,000), but can be much higher with customization and extras.
“People had time to think about their lives in lockdown and what was coming next,” Winkelmann said.


Saudi Cabinet authorizes finance ministry to issue licenses to STC Bank and Saudi Digital Bank

Saudi Cabinet authorizes finance ministry to issue licenses to STC Bank and Saudi Digital Bank
Updated 23 June 2021

Saudi Cabinet authorizes finance ministry to issue licenses to STC Bank and Saudi Digital Bank

Saudi Cabinet authorizes finance ministry to issue licenses to STC Bank and Saudi Digital Bank
  • Both banks are currently being established, according to the ministry

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet on Tuesday gave its nod to the Kingdom’s finance minister to issue licenses for the country’s first digital banks, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

“The finance minister will issue the necessary licenses for STC Bank and Saudi Digital Bank, both under establishment,” the report said, quoting a Cabinet statement.

The Cabinet approved the proposal during a virtual meeting chaired by King Salman, it said.

Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said on Twitter that the cabinet’s approval is in line with the Saudi Financial Development Program, which is part of the Kingdom's massive economic reform plan known as Saudi Vision 2030.

These objectives seek to develop a more efficient digital infrastructure, while encouraging entrepreneurship and creating job opportunities in the financial sector, he said.

Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 goals include developing the digital economy and enabling financial companies to support the growth of the private sector.

Last year, the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) licensed 16 financial technology companies to provide payment services, consumer microfinance, and electronic insurance brokerage.

Similar digital banks had earlier been launched in the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

(With Reuters)


Saudi Central Bank extends SME deferred payment program another 3 months

Saudi Central Bank extends SME deferred payment program another 3 months
Updated 22 June 2021

Saudi Central Bank extends SME deferred payment program another 3 months

Saudi Central Bank extends SME deferred payment program another 3 months
  • Program aims to support small and medium-sized enterprises still struggling due to the pandemic
  • More than 106,000 contracts have benefited since it was launched in March 2020 with a value of approximately SR167 billion

RIYADH: The Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) announced on Tuesday that it is extending a deferred payment program for a second time to help support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are still struggling during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
SAMA said the program — one of the bank’s initiatives to support private sector financing — will be extended for another three months from July 1 through Sept. 30.
The move is part of SAMA’s role in maintaining the stability of the financial sector, enabling it to promote economic growth and maintain employment levels in the private sector, especially within micro enterprises and other SMEs.
More than 106,000 contracts have benefited from the program since it was launched in March 2020 while the value of the deferred payments for those contracts has amounted to approximately SR167 billion ($44.5 billion).
SAMA has also offered a secured financing program for SMEs as more than 5,282 contracts have benefited from that program with a total financing value of more than SR10 billion, the bank said in a statement.
These programs are meant to support the private sector and the levels of liquidity in the financial sector. They enable financing agencies to provide support while mitigating the economic and financial effects on the SME sector, the bank said.
This is the second time SAMA has extended the two programs to support SMEs. It renewed the deferred payment program for three months last March, while it also extended the guaranteed financing program for an additional year until March 14, 2022.