Frankly, it’s a disgrace that Trump administration officials and American business tycoons enabled and applauded M.B.S. as he
- imprisoned business executives,
- kidnapped Lebanon’s prime minister,
- rashly created a crisis with Qatar, and
- went to war in Yemen to create what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis there.
Some eight million Yemenis on the edge of starvation there don’t share this bizarre view that M.B.S. is a magnificent reformer.
.. Trump has expressed “great confidence” in M.B.S. and said that he and King Salman “know exactly what they are doing.” Jared Kushner wooed M.B.S. and built a close relationship with him — communicating privately without involving State Department experts — in ways that certainly assisted M.B.S. in his bid to consolidate power for himself.
The bipartisan cheers from Washington, Silicon Valley and Wall Street fed his recklessness. If he could be feted after kidnapping a Lebanese prime minister and slaughtering Yemeni children, why expect a fuss for murdering a mere journalist?
.. M.B.S. knows how to push Americans’ buttons, speaking about reform and playing us like a fiddle. His willingness to sound accepting of Israel may also be one reason Trump and so many Americans were willing to embrace M.B.S. even as he was out of control at home.
In the end, M.B.S. played Kushner, Trump and his other American acolytes for suckers. The White House boasted about $110 billion in arms sales, but nothing close to that came through. Saudi Arabia backed away from Trump’s Middle East peace deal. Financiers salivated over an initial public offering for Aramco, the state-owned oil company, but that keeps getting delayed.
.. The crackdown on corruption is an example of M.B.S.’s manipulation and hypocrisy. It sounded great, but M.B.S. himself has purchased a $300 million castle in France, and a $500 million yacht — and he didn’t buy them by scrimping on his government salary.
.. In fairness, he did allow women to drive. But he also imprisoned the women’s rights activists who had been campaigning for the right to drive.
Saudi Arabia even orchestrated the detention abroad of a women’s rights activist, Loujain al-Hathloul, and her return in handcuffs. She turned 29 in a Saudi jail cell in July, and her marriage has ended. She, and not the prince who imprisons her, is the heroic reformer.
.. The crown prince showed his sensitivity and unpredictability in August when Canada’s foreign ministry tweeted concern about the jailing of Saudi women’s rights activists. Saudi Arabia went nuts, canceling flights, telling 8,300 Saudi students to leave Canada, expelling the Canadian ambassador and withdrawing investments. All for a tweet.
.. Western companies should back out of M.B.S.’s Future Investment Initiative conference later this month. That includes you,
- Credit Suisse,
- Bain and
all listed on the conference website as partners of the event.
.. We need an international investigation, perhaps overseen by the United Nations, of what happened to Jamal. In the United States, we also must investigate whether Saudis bought influence with spending that benefited the Trump family, such as $270,000 spent as of early 2017 by a lobbying firm for Saudi Arabia at the Trump hotel in Washington. The Washington Post reported that Saudi bookings at Trump Chicago increased 169 percent from the first half of 2016 to the first half of this year, and that the general manager of a Trump hotel in New York told investors that revenues rose partly because of “a last-minute visit to New York by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.”
.. If Saudi Arabia cannot show that Jamal is safe and sound, NATO countries should jointly expel Saudi ambassadors and suspend weapons sales. The United States should start an investigation under the Magnitsky Act and stand ready to impose sanctions on officials up to M.B.S.
America can also make clear to the Saudi royal family that it should find a new crown prince. A mad prince who murders a journalist, kidnaps a prime minister and starves millions of children should never be celebrated at state dinners, but instead belongs in a prison cell.
Hyderabad Public School, situated in Begumpet, has produced the CEOs of Microsoft, Adobe, Mastercard, and even homegrown Wipro. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella studied there, before leaving for Manipal and finally for the US. As did Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen, who attended the school before doing his engineering at Osmania University. Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga was at Hyderabad Public school before moving on to Delhi University and IIM Ahmedabad, and Wipro CEO TK Kurien is an alumnus too. And if you thought this list was impressive enough, there’s more — Prem Watsa, CEO of Fairfax Holdings, who’s been called the Canadian Warren Buffet, is also from Hyderabad Public School.
.. It isn’t a mere coincidence that Hyderabad Public School, often called HPS, boasts such a formidable list of alumni. It was founded all the way back in 1923 and was modeled after Eton, and was meant to be a means for the the children of the Jagirdars of the seventh Nizam of Hyderabad to attain a world-class education.
.. . When the Jagirdari system was abolished after independence, admission to the school was open to all castes and creeds, and India’s first President, S Radhakrishnan, became the Chairman of the trust. The school was boys-only till 1984, when it admitted its first girl student. Today, the school is spread over 152 acres, and enrolls 3,200 students from PP1 to Class 12.
Which makes it no surprise that the school has produced famous alumni people in several diverse fields, not just business. Cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle studied here, as did MTV VJ Nikhil Chinappa. The school has also provided some cinema stars — it is the alma mater of Telugu actor Nagarjuna and Vivek Oberoi. And given its heritage, it’s also a favorite of the political class –former Andhra Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi, and Parliamentarians Ajay Kumar, Pallam Raju, Bapi Raju Kanumuri all studied here. And to add a dash of glamour, former Miss India Diana Hayden is also an alumna.
It’s a fairly incredible bunch of personalities to have come from the same school, but perhaps HPS’s most striking achievement is producing 4 simultaneous CEOs of major corporations. India has been making a name for itself in producing top CEOs, but to have four of them from the same school in Hyderabad is remarkable.
Laurence Fink, the chief executive of the investment firm BlackRock and one of the biggest investors in the world, shook the business world last week with an implicit threat to punish small-minded companies that “only deliver financial performance” without “a positive contribution to society.”
What’s driving the rethink isn’t a tingling of the tycoon conscience but brutal self-interest. Millennials want to work for ethical companies, patronize brands that make them feel good and invest in socially responsible companies.
Some of this is shallow and some is deep, but it’s authentic: Doing good is no longer a matter of writing a few checks at the end of the year, as it was for my generation; for many young people, it’s an ethos that governs where they work, shop and invest.
C.E.O.s tell me that this forces their hand. If companies protect groping scumbags, that hurts recruitment and they lose in the war for talent. Increasingly, a company that ignores social value loses shareholder value.
.. I believe the best industries for doing good are law (pro bono work) and certain pharmaceuticals (drug donation programs). That’s because they are held accountable by metrics: Big law firms are ranked by American Lawyer for their pro bono work (Jenner & Block is top of the list), and pharma donations are rated by the Access to Medicines Index (GSK is No. 1).
.. Other companies hailed as model global citizens include Unilever, Starbucks, Whole Foods, Mastercard, Danone and Chobani.
Buckingham Research analyst Chris Brendler thinks there’s plenty that investors still underestimate about the two card companies, which he calls “simply the best businesses we’ve ever seen.” Visa and Mastercard have significant pricing power and are proving to be consistently resilient against up-and-comers in the payments landscape. And they’re poised to keep growing volume and earnings as they further eat into cash and check usage
.. For the most part, Visa and Mastercard have made it so that every relative newcomer in payments has to go through them. The companies struck deals with PayPal, for instance, so that the service would stop dissuading users from funding transactions with their credit cards. And while Apple Pay and other similar mobile-wallet services haven’t really taken off, Visa and Mastercard are well-positioned in case they do, since these tools rely on credit and debit cards, too.