Makkah-Madinah rail project: Tata Steel wins major order

Updated 18 August 2013
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Makkah-Madinah rail project: Tata Steel wins major order

Tata Steel has won an order to manufacture 60,000 tons of high-quality rails for a new high-speed line linking Makkah and Madinah.
The new railway will allow millions of pilgrims to cross the 444 km between the two holy cities at speeds of 200 mph (320 kmph).
The line will cross desert, withstanding temperatures ranging from freezing to 50oC, as well as sandstorms, flash flooding and shifting dunes.
Gerard Glas, rail sector head for Tata Steel, said: “This is a prestigious project which will see the holy cities being linked by rail for the first time.
“Tata Steel is delighted to be contributing to this high-speed line, which will have to overcome some major challenges presented by building a high-capacity rail line across some of the most extreme terrain in the world.”
Steel for the project will be made at Tata Steel’s Scunthorpe plant before being rolled into rail in lengths of 25 meters both there and at the company’s plant in Hayange, Northern France.
Work on producing the rail will start at the end of this year and is expected to continue throughout 2014.
Tata Steel rail has already been used successfully in similarly challenging conditions for projects in Brazil and Mauritania.
Last year, the Saudi Railways Organization awarded the contract for the final phase of completing, running and maintaining the Haramain High-Speed Rail Project to a group of Spanish infrastructure, construction and technology companies.
The new line is expected to carry around 160,000 people a day — and even more during the Haj pilgrimage. They will be transported on a fleet of 35 new high-speed trains.
The project started in 2009, with an estimated cost of more than 12 billion euros.
The new rail line is set to open to the public in late 2014 or early 2015.
Aside from the two holy cities, the line will have three other stops — two in Jeddah for commuters and one in the new King Abdullah Economic City, a prestigious Saudi residential, industrial and commercial macro-complex that is being built.
Spanish construction companies — Copasa, Imathia and OHL — are responsible for building the line’s superstructure and the track bases, as well as for the line’s mechanisms.
The European operations of Tata Steel comprise Europe’s second largest steel producer. With the main steelmaking operations in the UK and Netherlands, they supply steel and related services to the construction, automotive, packaging, lifting and excavating, energy and power, aerospace and other demanding markets worldwide.
The combined Tata Steel group remains one of the world’s largest steel producers, with an aggregate crude steel capacity of more than 28 million tons and approximately 80,000 employees across four continents.


Slack primed as latest unicorn to make market debut

Updated 19 June 2019
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Slack primed as latest unicorn to make market debut

  • Slack is a cloud-based software company that markets online tools for information sharing and workflow management
  • Current customers include Nordstrom, Ford and HSBC and the company has more than 95,000 paid customers overall

NEW YORK: The 2019 parade of big new Wall Street entrants continues this week with the debut of Slack Technologies, underscoring investor hunger for new companies in spite of some high-profile stumbles.
Nearly halfway through the year, US markets are on track for one of the biggest IPO seasons ever in terms of money raised following a stream of offerings from former “unicorns,” private companies worth more than $1 billion.
Yet two of this year’s biggest names — Uber and Lyft — currently trade below their IPO price, along with Snapchat, which has lagged its initial price for most of the time since it went public in March 2017.
Still, there have also been plenty of prominent companies that have risen since their initial public offerings, including jeans company Levi’s, Tradeweb Markets, which builds electronic marketplaces, Zoom Video Communications, and mobile application and software system Pinterest.
The most dramatic jump has been in food company Beyond Meat, which now trades at more than six-fold its entering price.
“The public has a huge interest” in new companies, said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade, adding that the mixed performance of the 2019 ex-unicorn class is comparable to that of the broader market.
“There aren’t a lot of other choices besides IPOs for investors seeking growth,” said Gregori Volokhine, president of Meeschaert Financial Services, who attributes the rush of funds in part to central bank policies promoting liquidity.
“There’s an excess of underinvested funds worldwide,” he said.
In terms of sheer volume, the number of IPOs in 2019 so far — 93 — is roughly equal to last year’s figure, according to Dealogic.
But the funds raised, $34.5 billion, stand 13.6 percent above last year’s sum and the highest for the comparable period since 2000, according to Dealogic data.

Direct listing
A cloud-based software company that markets online tools for information sharing and workflow management, San Francisco-based Slack parts ways from the other big companies this year by opting for a direct listing instead of an IPO.
This approach, which was also employed by Spotify last year, cuts down on fees to investment bankers in IPOs. Although existing shares can be sold, a direct listing does not issue new shares, averting share dilution but also forgoing the new funds raised in an IPO.
The process can also be riskier in terms of share price volatility compared with an IPO, where underwriters line up investors in advance. In a direct listing, shares are exposed more directly to the open market.
Slack chief executive and co-founder Stewart Butterfield described the company’s technologies as a “brand new category of software” that replaces email in a company.
Current customers include Nordstrom, Ford and HSBC and the company has more than 95,000 paid customers overall.
“It turns email to messages and organizes them into team, project and topic based channels instead of individual in-boxes,” Butterfield said in a June 10 earnings conference call.
“It’s a team-first approach to communication, in contrast to email’s individual first approach. It creates a rich, searchable, permanent body of information that’s widely available across an organization, even for people who just joined the team.”
 

Unprofitable three years
The company, which is expected to be valued at around $17 billion when it enters the market on Thursday, reported revenues of $134.8 million in the quarter ending April 30, up 66.7 percent from the year-ago period.
But Slack, which has been unprofitable the last three years, reported a $33.3 million loss during the period, 34 percent more than last year’s loss.
Of course, many unprofitable companies have gone public and done well in markets for years. Yet the heavy losses and murky profit outlook at Uber and Lyft have been seen as factors in their lackluster performance since going public.
But investors remain keen on growth stories following the success of Amazon, Facebook and other tech giants that have emerged in recent decades.
A key beneficiary of this desire has been Beyond Meat, which has multiplied in value many times since going public May 3 at $25 and currently is priced at $168.92. The company has been seen as a main beneficiary of the growing alternative protein market, which some analysts think could top $100 billion in the coming decade or so.
Kinahan said in general investors have wised up after the early 2000s Internet bubble but that “it’s just unnatural” for stocks like Beyond Meat to move in an unbroken straight line upwards.
“There’s a healthy bit of skepticism in the market,” he said. “However, certain companies have maybe gotten a little ahead of themselves.”