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DELOITTE MIDDLE EAST POINT OF VIEW: 5G TECHNOLOGY, RISK MANAGEMENT IN THE MIDDLE EAST CONSTRUCTION MARKET, NON-PERFORMING LOANS, AND GCC FAMILY BUSINESSES

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DELOITTE MIDDLE EAST POINT OF VIEW: 5G TECHNOLOGY, RISK MANAGEMENT IN THE MIDDLE EAST CONSTRUCTION MARKET, NON-PERFORMING LOANS, AND GCC FAMILY BUSINESSES

Mitigating risk is of increasing importance for both banks and the construction industry. Reduced liquidity due to changing market dynamics, namely a reduction in oil prices, is forcing banks in the GCC region to rethink their lending policy due to a rise in Non-Performing Loans. This is one of the topics discussed in the summer 2017 issue of Deloitte’s quarterly publication, the Middle East Point of View (ME POV).

The Summer 2017 issue tackles several hot topics: from 5G technology and risk management in the Middle East construction market, to family businesses in the Middle East, business travel, non-performing loans, leadership attributes and IFRS 15 and ISO 37001.

David Stark, Partner, and Karim Labban, Assistant Director, Restructuring Services, Financial Advisory, Deloitte, Middle East explain in their report  NPLs on the rise that corporates should seek creative financing and restructuring solutions to mitigate default risk and engage in transformation initiatives to adapt to the changing dynamics of the market. In the absence of similar initiatives, corporates risk deepening challenges if they remain loyal to an outdated business model that might no longer be viable under the new macroeconomic and financial parameters.

Matt Hanson, Assistant Director, Capital Projects, Financial Advisory, Deloitte, Middle East, points out that the effects of tighter financial policies in the Middle East can certainly be felt in the construction industry.

“Tight management of project costs and clear visibility of project risks will become critical in ensuring overruns are avoided and stakeholders retain confidence in an organization’s ability to deliver projects successfully,” explains the author.

Jayne Stokes, Director, Global Employer Services Leader, Deloitte, Middle East in her report on business travel, explains that as organizations become more global, business travel is no longer immune to taxes and risk.

“Employees are increasingly expected to take on global or regional roles [giving rise] to a complex array of tax, immigration and payroll risks for both the organization and the employee,” explains Stokes.

Walid Chiniara, Partner and Head of Family Enterprise Consulting, and Yasmine Omari, Manager, Family Enterprise Consulting, Deloitte, Middle East also discuss mitigating risks in family businesses.

“There is no standard “Family business” insurance policy that can truly mitigate and cover all the risks associated with a family-owned business,” explain the authors. ‘However, it is possible to put in place a governance structure, akin to an insurance policy, to safeguard the capital of a family in all its forms: financial, human, social and intellectual.”

Emmanuel Durou, Partner and Technology, Media and Telecommunications Leader, Deloitte, Middle East, and other co-authoring experts review 5G, and the challenges faced by mobile operators in their report, Survival of the fastest.

“Telcos need to gain a clear picture on the monetization potential and return on investment for 5G. Beyond strategy, there are clear operational challenges ahead for the 2020 planned 5G Deployment,” explain the authors.

Roy Gillespie, Director, Forensic, Financial Advisory, Deloitte, Middle East in his article ISO 37001 anti-bribery management system: time for implementation outlines the required measures and fundamental elements to ensure a successful implementation of the system, including top-level commitment, communication and adequate resources and budget.

Angelito Catacutan, Principal, Audit, Deloitte, UAE, reviews the “Big Change” in IFRS 15, that affects the recognition criteria of revenue and will surely affect many industries especially some of the big real estate players and key telecommunications companies, who have chosen an early  adoption of the standard.

  • To download the Middle East Point of View Summer 2017 – pdf version, go to: http://bit.ly/2w4Qd0K
  • To download the ME Point of View App and review over 100 current and past reports, go to http://bit.ly/Q9WGAV
  • To subscribe to the Middle East Point of View, send contact details to [email protected]

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Australia says no further Facebook, Google amendments as final vote nears

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Australia says no further Facebook, Google amendments as final vote nears 1

By Colin Packham

CANBERRA (Reuters) – Australia will not alter legislation that would make Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google pay news outlets for content, a senior lawmaker said on Monday, as Canberra neared a final vote on whether to pass the bill into law.

Australia and the tech giants have been in a stand-off over the legislation widely seen as setting a global precedent.

Other countries including Canada and Britain have already expressed interest in taking some sort of similar action.

Facebook has protested the laws. Last week it blocked all news content and several state government and emergency department accounts, in a jolt to the global news industry, which has already seen its business model upended by the titans of the technological revolution.

Talks between Australia and Facebook over the weekend yielded no breakthrough.

As Australia’s senate began debating the legislation, the country’s most senior lawmaker in the upper house said there would be no further amendments.

“The bill as it stands … meets the right balance,” Simon Birmingham, Australia’s Minister for Finance, told Australian Broadcasting Corp Radio.

The bill in its present form ensures “Australian-generated news content by Australian-generated news organisations can and should be paid for and done so in a fair and legitimate way”.

The laws would give the government the right to appoint an arbitrator to set content licencing fees if private negotiations fail.

While both Google and Facebook have campaigned against the laws, Google last week inked deals with top Australian outlets, including a global deal with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

“There’s no reason Facebook can’t do and achieve what Google already has,” Birmingham added.

A Facebook representative declined to comment on Monday on the legislation, which passed the lower house last week and has majority support in the Senate.

A final vote after the so-called third reading of the bill is expected on Tuesday.

Lobby group DIGI, which represents Facebook, Google and other online platforms like Twitter Inc, meanwhile said on Monday that its members had agreed to adopt an industry-wide code of practice to reduce the spread of misinformation online.

Under the voluntary code, they commit to identifying and stopping unidentified accounts, or “bots”, disseminating content; informing users of the origins of content; and publishing an annual transparency report, among other measures.

(Reporting by Byron Kaye and Colin Packham; Editing by Sam Holmes and Hugh Lawson)

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GSK and Sanofi start with new COVID-19 vaccine study after setback

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GSK and Sanofi start with new COVID-19 vaccine study after setback 2

By Pushkala Aripaka and Matthias Blamont

(Reuters) – GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi on Monday said they had started a new clinical trial of their protein-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate, reviving their efforts against the pandemic after a setback in December delayed the shot’s launch.

The British and French drugmakers aim to reach final testing in the second quarter, and if the results are conclusive, hope to see the vaccine approved by the fourth quarter after having initially targeted the first half of this year.

In December, the two groups stunned investors when they said their vaccine would be delayed towards the end of 2021 after clinical trials showed an insufficient immune response in older people.

Disappointing results were probably caused by an inadequate concentration of the antigen used in the vaccine, Sanofi and GSK said, adding that Sanofi has also started work against new coronavirus variants to help plan their next steps.

Global coronavirus infections have exceeded 110 million as highly transmissible variants of the virus are prompting vaccine developers and governments to tweak their testing and immunisation strategies.

GSK and Sanofi’s vaccine candidate uses the same recombinant protein-based technology as one of Sanofi’s seasonal influenza vaccines. It will be coupled with an adjuvant, a substance that acts as a booster to the shot, made by GSK.

“Over the past few weeks, our teams have worked to refine the antigen formulation of our recombinant-protein vaccine,” Thomas Triomphe, executive vice president and head of Sanofi Pasteur, said in a statement.

The new mid-stage trial will evaluate the safety, tolerability and immune response of the vaccine in 720 healthy adults across the United States, Honduras and Panama and test two injections given 21 days apart.

Sanofi and GSK have secured deals to supply their vaccine to the European Union, Britain, Canada and the United States. It also plans to provide shots to the World Health Organization’s COVAX programme.

To appease critics after the delay, Sanofi said earlier this year it had agreed to fill and pack millions of doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine from July.

Sanofi is also working with Translate Bio on another COVID-19 vaccine candidate based on mRNA technology.

(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru and Matthias Blamont in Paris; editing by Jason Neely and Barbara Lewis)

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Don’t ignore “lockdown fatigue”, UK watchdog tells finance bosses

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Don't ignore "lockdown fatigue", UK watchdog tells finance bosses 3

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – Staff at financial firms in Britain are suffering from “lockdown fatigue” and their bosses are not always making sure all employees can speak up freely about their problems, the Financial Conduct Authority said on Monday.

Many staff at financial companies have been working from home since Britain went into its first lockdown in March last year to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

One year on, the challenges have evolved from adapting to working remotely to dealing with mental health issues, said David Blunt, the FCA’s head of conduct specialists.

“During this third lockdown, there has been a greater impact on mental well-being, with many people struggling with job security, caring responsibilities, home schooling, bereavements and lockdown fatigue.”

Bosses should continually revisit how they lead remote teams, he said.

“The impact of COVID-19 is creating a huge workload for those considered to be high performers, while the remote environment potentially makes it much more challenging for those who were previously considered low performers to change that perception,” Blunt told a City & Financial online event.

Companies should consider “psychological safety” or ensuring that all employees feel confident about speaking out and challenging opinions.

“We’ve heard varying reports of how successful this has been,” Blunt said.

Pressures in the financial sector were highlighted this month when accountants KPMG said its UK chairman Bill Michael had stepped aside during a probe into comments he made to staff.

The Financial Times said Michael, who later apologised for his comments, had told staff to “stop moaning” about the impact of the pandemic on their work lives.

Blunt was speaking as the FCA next month completes the full rollout of rules that force senior managers at financial firms to be personally accountable for their decisions to improve conduct standards.

There have only been a “modest” number of breaches reported to regulators so far as firms worry about being “tainted” but more cases will become public as sanctions are revealed, Blunt said.

“Regulators won’t be impressed by lowballing the figures.”

(Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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