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Italy permanently halts arms sales to Saudi Arabia, UAE | Weapons News

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Italy’s figures from 2019 show Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates ranked as the 10th and 11th biggest markets for Italian arms exports.

Italy has halted the sale of thousands of missiles to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) due to their involvement in the Yemen conflict, making permanent an 18-month temporary suspension.

“Today I am announcing that the government has revoked the authorisations under way for the export of missiles and aircraft bombs to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates,” Italy’s Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Friday.

“[This is] an act that we considered due, a clear message of peace coming from our country. For us, respect for human rights is an unbreakable commitment,” said Di Maio, who did not mention Yemen but had referenced the conflict there when he ordered the initial suspension in July 2019.

Italy’s Peace and Disarmament Network, a campaign group, hailed the move as “historic” and estimated that it would see orders for more than 12,700 ordnance cancelled.

The blocked sales were part of a total allotment of 20,000 missiles worth more than 400 million euros ($485m) agreed in 2016 under a centre-left government led by former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, the disarmament group said.

It “puts an end, once and for all, to the possibility that thousands of ordnance manufactured in Italy could strike civilian facilities, cause casualties among the population or contribute to worsening the already serious humanitarian situation”, the group said.

There was no public reaction from Saudi Arabia or the UAE by the time of publication.

In 2019, several European Union countries froze arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which heads a military coalition fighting Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen in a conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people.

The United Nations describes Yemen as the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with 80 percent of its people in need of aid.

Italy’s latest figures – dating to 2019 – show Saudi Arabia and the UAE ranked 10th and 11th in the list of the biggest markets for Italian arms exports.

Exports to Saudi Arabia were worth 105.4 million euros ($128m), while those to the UAE were worth 89.9 million euros ($109.1m).

Saudi, ‘a new Renaissance’

Italy’s decision came in the wake of controversy over former premier Renzi’s guest appearance at a high-level event hosted by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Renzi, a longstanding foe of Di Maio, is under the spotlight in Rome for withdrawing from the ruling coalition earlier this month and forcing the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

In Riyadh, he spoke at the Future Investment Initiative – dubbed “Davos in the desert” – in an apparently prerecorded video with the prince, also known as MBS.

Despite longstanding concerns about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, Renzi said the Gulf oil monarchy “could be the place of a new Renaissance for the future”.



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Zooming ahead: Videoconferencing firm tops analysts’ expectations | Coronavirus pandemic News

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Revenue more than tripled to $882.5m in the fiscal fourth quarter, the company said, surpassing analysts’ estimates.

Zoom Video Communications Inc. projected annual revenue that would top analysts’ estimates, signaling the video meeting service expects to remain a ubiquitous presence in daily life even as the pandemic recedes. Shares jumped about 10% extended trading.

Sales will be as much as $3.78 billion in fiscal year 2022, the San Jose, California-based company said Monday in a statement. While the projected annual revenue growth of 43% is far short of Zoom’s 326% increase in the fiscal year ended Jan. 31, it topped the 37% average estimate of analysts, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Profit, excluding some items, will be as much as $3.65 a share. Analysts projected $2.97.

Investors have feared the software maker couldn’t continue the dramatic growth in 2020 that came as people forced home in coronavirus lockdowns connected remotely on the service to work, school, friends and family.

While Zoom’s stock jumped almost fivefold last year as it became one of the biggest beneficiaries of the pandemic, it had gained just 11% during the first two months of 2021 before surging almost 10% Monday to close at $409.66 in New York.

Chief Executive Officer Eric Yuan has tried to diversify Zoom’s capabilities and add products such as a cloud phone system to appeal to more large enterprises and small- and mid-sized businesses.

“We believe we are well positioned for strong growth with our innovative video communications platform, on which our customers can build, run, and grow their businesses; our globally recognized brand; and a team ever focused on delivering happiness to our customers,” Yuan said in the statement.

Revenue more than tripled to $882.5 million in the fiscal fourth quarter, the company said. Analysts, on average, estimated $811 million. Profit, excluding some items, was $1.22 cents a share, compared with an average estimate of 79 cents.

“In our view, and whether you like it or not, video will continue to remain a core element of our daily lives and further be embedded in work, school, etc. Zoom will clearly benefit and report sustained levels of growth, in our view, and increasingly in the enterprise segment,” wrote Matt VanVliet, an analyst at BTIG, in a note before the results.

Zoom offers video gatherings free for 40 minutes and as many as 100 participants before users are charged for the service. Analysts have focused on the churn, the number of customers who drop monthly or annual subscriptions, particularly among corporate users.

The company said it had 467,100 customers with more than 10 employees, a jump of about 8% from the previous period and topping analysts’ average estimate of 442,570. The company also said 1,644 clients contributed $100,000 in trailing 12-month revenue. Analysts projected 1,474 such large customers.



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