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Ericsson was founded in April 1876 in Stockholm Sweden. Ever since then, the com­pany has been on a journey to create a smarter and more livable world. Today, we perceive in our daily lives the massive consequence of this transfor­mation, which has had a significantly positive impact on people, businesses and societies.

 

The company had its first historical milestone in Middle East and Africa in the 1890s with the instal­lation of the first telephone line in the Dolmabahçe Palace, in Istanbul Turkey. This line is still active today. Ericsson’s presence in the region grew with the first telephone exchange in Egypt in 1897, and the com­mencement of sales of telephone receivers in Ethiopia in 1894. Telephony services in Turkey and Egypt grew throughout the 1920s and in that time “Ericsson” be­came a generic term for a telephone in the Middle East.

 

Throughout the decades, Ericsson has always brought its latest innovative services and solutions to the region, building network infrastructure and growing the connectivity potential across different markets, while supporting operators to overcome business challenges and achieve their strategic objec­tives in new areas.

 

The company introduced many firsts in the Middle East and North East Africa, including some of the first GSM networks, the first third generation networks, and radio dot system installations.

 

Other firsts include the first LTE-A network in Lebanon, the introduction of the first radio dot system in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the first non-operator industry transformations to the Networked Society in the region.

 

“The progression towards the Networked Society, in which everything that can benefit from being connect­ed will be connected, is continuous in our region. There is still a way to go, but we can see significant steps being taken across several countries in the region. These in­vestments will empower more and more entities to har­ness technology in a way that enables them to monetize the transformation, and become change makers in their own right. Our goal is to attain and maintain a certain stage of infrastructure maturity, which will lead the re­gion to reap the benefits of the integrated and digital Networked Society,” said Rafiah Ibrahim, President of Ericsson for the Middle East and Africa.

 

These historic milestones mark Ericsson’s com­mitment to the region, and the innovation is testa­ment to it. Ericsson’s aim today is to continue paving the way for life in the Networked Society, empower­ing individuals through technology, transforming in­dustries to deliver more value and advancing society through sustainable development.

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If there is a seat left in business class on a flight to Tehran, you might be hard pushed to find it. Ever since Iran signed its nuclear accord in January lifting longstanding sanctions, businesspeople of every kind have been making their way to the country in the hope of clinching a deal.
Iran’s main industries have suffered from underinvestment, its consumers have been starved of choice and billions frozen in overseas accounts are in the process of being released.
The country’s reintegration with the international community is well underway and with it comes a drive to return the country’s business activity to a state of normality, whether it be the strategic industries like oil and gas, or consumer retail, Gavin Hinks wrote for the UK-based magazine Financial Director.
Jan Ward, chief executive of Corrotherm International, a former exporter of specialist piping to the energy sector in Iran, tells Financial Director: “I’ve been waiting for them to remove the sanctions … I absolutely love going there.”

  Under Starter’s Orders
From news reports however, it’s obvious that many companies did not wait for the ink to dry on the final settlement. In anticipation of an agreement, many had clearly been in Iran to negotiate well ahead of the diplomats.
Within days of the agreement being signed, Airbus finalized the sale of 118 planes to Iran Air worth $27 billion. Though conditional on obtaining US export licenses (10% of Airbus parts are made in the US), the deal will see Airbus build 73 wide-body jets and 45 narrow-body planes for Iran, which will also take delivery of several A380s, the world’s largest jet aircraft. More importantly though for Airbus, they have beaten Boeing to the line in helping Iran rebuild its raging passenger aircraft fleet.
Elsewhere, President Hassan Rouhani forged a deal with Italian metals producer Danieli, reportedly worth $5.7 billion, to produce steel and aluminum for machines and equipment.
A few days later, Japan and Iran sealed an “investment pact” intended to give Japanese investors the edge when it comes to providing capital for Iranian projects.
For British exporters, however, there’s one important point to note. None of the high-profile deals announced were with British companies.
“The big thing is to get out there and meet the people. You’ve got to find a partner. The Germans, French and Italians are out there in their hordes,” says Ward.

  Reasons
And why wouldn’t they be? Iran is a country of about 80 million people with a GDP of $406.3 billion, making it the second largest economy in the Middle East.
President Rouhani’s reforms have also seen the country turn a corner after two years of recession: 2014, according to the World Bank, saw the economy grow by 3%, with many, including the Institute of International Finance, expecting 2015 to see growth of about 6%.
The World Bank reckons on 5.8% this year and 6.7% for 2017. These figures though are predicated on transformation, once the sanctions are lifted.
Inflation is also down from an eye-watering 45% in 2012 to 15.6% as of July last year. Unemployment, however, has proved difficult to budge and remains around 11%.
In September last year, the World Bank wrote: “Reforms to the business environment to promote competition, rationalize licensing and authorization requirements, reduce the imprint of state-owned enterprises in the economy and improve the health of the financial and banking sector are needed to accelerate growth and private-sector led job creation.”
Yes, there is a job of work to be but the population is well educated and young, with some estimates placing 65% under 35.

  Banking
Sanam Vakil, associate fellow at international affairs think tank Chatham House, has some good news for UK businesses. She says no one country is going to monopolize business in Iran, as the deals publicized so far have proved.
“It’s been much easier to do deals with the Italians, French and Germans who have longer standing relations and remained active in the region regardless of sanctions,” she says.
But Vakil adds the “onus” is on the British to move things forward more quickly. She observes the British Embassy has been slow to reopen in Tehran.
However, the British have moved swiftly in one area–Iranian banking—an essential issue for exporters.
The whole sector is one where many outstanding issues need to be resolved, according to Vakil.
However, three UK subsidiaries of Iranian banks–Persia International Bank, Melli Bank and Bank Sepal International–have already received regulatory approval to go back to work after being helped by the startup banking unit of the Prudential Regulatory Authority.
This is timely, because a report from professional services firm Mazars published in January highlighted key areas for improvement following a survey of financial reporting at nine Iranian banks.
Mazars concluded the sanctions had left “deep scars”. Iranian banks are yet to adopt Basel I and II, “let alone Basel III”, says the report. IT and cyber security “are in their infancy. Corporate governance needs revision to meet international best practice,” says the report, and “international-accepted accounting and reporting standards need to be implemented”.
Greg Simpson, head of UK banking audit at Mazars, says International Financial Reporting Standards will become applicable for listed Iranian banks from 2016, though not all banks are listed. He insists, however, that there is a “strong willingness” to adopt greater transparency.
The fact that UK subsidiaries have been reactivated by regulators demonstrates they have “adequate capital and liquidity to satisfy regulatory requirements”, according to Simpson.
He adds: “One of the main impediments to resuming normal trading is establishing correspondent relationships with international banks. However, recent announcements by Dr. Valiollah Seif, the governor of the Central Bank of Iran, indicate there is an increasing desire by international counterparts to facilitate trade relations.

  Frontiers
Strong institutions will be essential to the reform and reintegration of Iran and the country is not short of them. In fact, Vakil notes the country may have so many that decision-making on issues like petroleum contracts are slow and uncertain.
It’s a point echoed by Hassan Hakimian, director of the London Middle East Institute at SOAS, who recently wrote that Iran’s “complex post-revolutionary institutional architecture, which is beset by a labyrinth of decision-making entities interlaced with yet more bodies and agencies created to ensure compliance with Islamic tenets and revolutionary standards”, is one of the key challenges in reforming the country.
That said, Hakimian is optimistic that trade can be done, referring to Iran as a “frontier market”.
“When you think about it, Iran is one of the few countries where you don’t face a big US competitor,” he tells Financial Director.
“There are opportunities in consumer goods, the energy sector and in replacing the country’s infrastructure.”
According to Hakimian, the big risk in Iran is President Rouhani’s ability to deliver on expectations of economic improvement, the basis on which he was elected and the reason for recent success in parliamentary polling. He faces presidential elections in 2017 with victory critical if Iran is to maintain certainty around its current path.
“There’s no market with no risk whatsoever,” he concluded.

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Iranian deputy labor minister has announced the expansion of cooperation between Iran and Malaysia over labor market, employment as well as training for work programs.

Speaking at a meeting with Malaysian Ambassador to Tehran Raja Nushirwan Zainal Abidin on Tuesday, Iran's Deputy Minister of Cooperatives, Labor, and Social Welfare and Head of Iranian Technical and Vocational Training Organization (ITVTO) Mohammad Amin Sazgarnejad voiced satisfaction towards development of Malaysia as an Islamic country; “especially, Malaysia’s ‘Vision 2020’ is truly appreciable.”

Sazgarnejad deemed vocational education as a possible venue for cooperation between the two countries expressing hope that bilateral ties will be strengthened in this regard.

“Numerous Iranian students are studying in Malaysia,” underlined the official emphasizing the need to boost collaboration between the two countries in areas of technical and vocational education.

He invited the Malaysian ambassador to make a visit to ITVTO in order to become closely familiar with the features and capabilities of the organization.

Sazgarnejad pointed out that Iran hold good cooperation with different countries in the field of technical and vocational training, including Western countries, East Asian states, Japan, South Korea and India.

Iran’s deputy labor minister went on to enumerated several other venues for cooperation between the two sides in areas of vocational training concluding “in view of Iran’s condition in the post sanction era, creation of a specialized training center with the participation of Malaysian oil and gas companies in Iran to provide training to oil industry workers can bring about positive outcomes in the ties between the two countries.”

Malaysian Ambassador to Tehran Raja Nushirwan Zainal Abidin, for his part, said “Iranians have had an active role in technical cooperation in Malaysia since 1981.”

He underlined that much work has been done between the two sides; “we have tried to invite academic people to conduct cooperation between Iran and Malaysia and we are eager to hold joint sessions with the presence of Iranian academic, technical and professional figures.”

He further reported on the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Iranian and Malaysian governments on human resource development concluding “in line with the inked MoU, we can run collaborations in the field of technical and vocational education.

 

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