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BUSINESS

Norway IT budgets soar as ‘cloud’ grows

Over half of all Norway’s 335,000 companies hiked their budgets for information technology, or IT, in 2011, according to a study commissioned by some of Norway’s 500 largest private and state companies.

Most, or nearly 80 percent, answered a study by saying their 2011 IT spend was aimed at growth — nearly double the number that used the “G” word in last year’s survey.

The study IT i Praksis presented by the Norwegian Computer Society and conducted by Rambøll Management Consulting with funding from newly merged EDB Edergo Group, also showed that business rarely stuck to its IT spending limits, with half of all budgets burst or never spent. Likewise, 14 percent of companies surveyed said their budgets were 14 percent lower in 2011, year-on-year.

Some thought controversial cloud computing, or “software as a service” (not a product we buy) was the reason for more spending.

 “The last 12 months have seen growth that has outstripped many people’s expectation by a surprisingly wide margin,” said EDB chief exec Terje Mjøs.

He also warned that at least Denmark was now coming to grips with security of information issues to do with storing all our information with software makers rather than on the software we “bring home in a box”.

Meanwhile, one in two Norwegians works for the state, and the study was aimed at mapping trends in state enterprise as well as the private sector. Most IT budgets in both types of organizations were said to be aimed at “new projects”.

Companies owned in part by one of the two levels of government, mostly state or municipal, generally spent less on new IT, with just 41 percent saying they hiked their 2011 budgets.

Inline with stereotypes, perhaps, government-owned or run entities replied that they had spent 27 percent more than planned. Entirely private businesses reported spending 37 percent less than budgeted.

Norway’s tens of billions of oil dollars — just 3 million adults toying with the wealth neighbour Russia shares between 150 million people and six time zones — has been a torrent of funding for all sorts of municipal enterprise. While villages have hired philharmonics with stately, trickle-down cultural funding, municipalities are establishing internet service providers in control of families’ TV, internet and telephone services.

Some of those municipally owned IT companies were raking in money. The study revealed a 21 percent leap, with some 37 percent of businesses having bought new software as a service rather than as a product.

The expense saved on shipping and production has further swelled public coffers for those local governments involved in IT enterprises.

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BUSINESS

Norwegian pension fund sells off groups linked to Israeli settlements

Norway's largest pension fund announced Monday it had divested assets in 16 companies for their links to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including telecom equipment giant Motorola.

Norwegian pension fund sells off groups linked to Israeli settlements
Oslo business quarter. Photo by Jacek Dylag on Unsplash

“Motorola and other companies risk complicity in international law violations in occupied Palestine,” KLP, which manages some 95 billion dollars (80 billion euros) worth of assets, said in a statement.

The divestment follows the February 2020 UN publication of a list of 112 companies with activities linked to Israeli settlements, considered illegal under international law.

Israel’s government has denounced the publication of the list — which included companies like Airbnb, Expedia, Motorola and Tripadvisor — as a “contemptible effort”.

“Divesting from Motorola Solutions was a very straightforward decision over its surveillance role in the occupied territories,” KLP said, arguing the company provide software used in border surveillance.

KLP also divested telecom operators offering services within the West Bank as they contributed to making “the settlements attractive residential areas.”

These included Bezeq, Cellcom Israel and Partner Communications, and Altice Europe — which was delisted from the Amsterdam stock exchange in January.

Also included are five banks that facilitated or financed the construction of housing and infrastructure in occupied territories, as well as engineering and construction groups, including the French multinational Alstom.

READ ALSO: Norway fund dumps firms linked to West Bank settlements

In total, the Norwegian fund’s divestments of shares and company bonds amounted to $32 million.

“Companies have a responsibility to respect and protect human right in all countries that they are operating in, regardless if the state itself is upholding these rights,” KLP analyst Kiran Aziz said.

“Conflict can mean a particularly high risk of human rights violations. Companies operating in conflict zones must therefore exercise particular caution to avoid involvement in human rights abuses and to protect vulnerable individuals,” she added.

In late June, KLP announced its divestment of the Indian port and logistics group Adani Ports because of its links to the Burmese military junta.

Another Norwegian fund, the sovereign wealth fund, which is the largest in the world, has also excluded several companies in the past because of their connections to Israeli settlements.

More than 600,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, where tensions often flare up between settlers and the Palestinian population.

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