Sipchem, Sahara blame regulatory framework for merger collapse

Updated 08 June 2014
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Sipchem, Sahara blame regulatory framework for merger collapse

JEDDAH: Saudi International Petrochemical Co. (Sipchem) and Sahara Petrochemical have called off their proposed merger, citing an inadequate regulatory framework in the Kingdom for the collapse.
The tie-up, which would have created a firm with a market capitalization of $5.7 billion at current values, would have been only the second ever example of a merger between two listed Saudi companies.
Talks have been ongoing since June last year between the two firms, with an announcement in December that a share-swap agreement was likely to be agreed in the first half of 2014.
However, in bourse filings on Sunday, the companies said that while they still saw a merger as in the best interest of shareholders, it couldn’t be achieved under the current regulatory regime.
“The companies reached a conclusion that it is difficult to implement this merger under the current regulatory framework using a structure acceptable to both companies where both companies will continue to exist whilst achieving operational integration,” the statement said.
They added talks had been postponed but they may look at different structures in future to see if a tie-up was possible.
The Capital Market Authority couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Saudi Arabia’s existing regulation on mergers and acquisitions was brought in by the CMA in 2007. Since then, there has been only one tie-up between listed firms: the 2009 merger by food group Almarai and Hail Agriculture Development Company.
“There’s limited precedent of such transactions between the two listed companies in Saudi Arabia... regulatory issues could have been a concern,” said Ankit Gupta, assistant vice president of research at NBK Capital.
Mergers across the Gulf are rare as consolidation is often scuppered by major shareholders who are unwilling to cede control of businesses except for very high price tags.
However, both firms have The Zamil Holding Co. Group, one of the Kingdom’s most prominent family businesses, as a significant shareholder and this was expected to help the process.


British PM May: 'I will not break up my country for EU Brexit deal'

Updated 21 September 2018
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British PM May: 'I will not break up my country for EU Brexit deal'

  • Theresa May hits back with angry statement after EU leaders rejected May’s Chequers plan
  • Sterling plummets as both sides warn they are planning for a no-deal scenario

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Friday Brexit talks with the European Union had hit an impasse, defiantly challenging the bloc to come up with their own plans a day after the bloc’s leaders savaged her proposals.
At a summit in Austria on Thursday, EU leaders rejected May’s “Chequers” plan, saying she needed to give ground on trade and customs arrangements for the UK border with Ireland.
The British media said the response had left her proposals in tatters, and May angrily struck back in a televised address from her Downing Street office, saying neither side should expect the impossible from the other.
“Throughout this process, I have treated the EU with nothing but respect,” May said. “The UK expects the same. A good relationship at the end of this process depends on it.”
Sterling extended its losses as May spoke, falling to as low as $1.3080, about 1.4 percent on the day, putting it on course for its biggest one-day drop this year, over growing fears Britain could leave the EU without any deal.
May has said the Chequers proposals for trade with the EU, which would resolve arguments over the border of Northern Ireland with the Irish Republic, were the only way forward. EU leaders in Salzburg repeated their view that the plans would undermine their cherished single market.
After the summit, EU leaders said they would push for an agreement next month, but both sides have warned they are planning for a no-deal scenario.
“It’s not acceptable to simply reject the other side’s proposals without a detailed explanation and counter proposals,” May said. “So we now need to hear from the EU what the real issues are, what their alternative is, so that we can discuss them. Until we do, we cannot make progress.”
May, who commands a majority in parliament only with the support of a small pro-Brexit Northern Irish party, said she could not agree to any deal which treated Northern Ireland differently to the rest of the United Kingdom.
The EU insists that there can be no hard border between the British province and the Irish Republic, with Northern Ireland remaining in the bloc’s customs union or effectively establishing a border in the Irish Sea if no alternative deal is reached.
“I will not overturn the result of the referendum nor will I break up my country,” she said. “We need serious engagement on resolving the two main problems in the negotiations and we stand ready.”
However, she said no matter what happened, the rights of three million EU citizens living in the United Kingdom would be protected.
Earlier, her Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab said some EU leaders had shown unstatesmanlike behavior in Salzburg.
“We’ve already compromised hugely with the Chequers proposals,” Raab told BBC TV. “What we’re not going to do is be salami sliced throughout this negotiation in a typical style that the EU engages in without movement on the other side.”
For the British media, the message from Salzburg had been clear. “Your Brexit’s broken,” the Daily Mirror newspaper said.
Newspapers led their front pages with a Reuters picture showing May, dressed in a red jacket, standing apparently aloof and alone from a mass of suited male EU leaders.
May faces a fight with angry Conservative lawmakers at her party’s annual conference from Sept. 30.
Many have voiced opposition to her plans, which they said would bind Britain into much EU regulation in return for free trade, and some would prefer a no-deal “hard Brexit” in March, despite warnings that would ravage the British economy.
“Theresa May’s Brexit negotiating strategy has been a disaster,” opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said. “The Tories have spent more time arguing among themselves than negotiating with the EU.
“The political games from both the EU and our government need to end because no deal is not an option.”
In response to May’s statement, the Confederation of British Industry and other business bodies said they wanted to see constructive dialogue, not rhetoric.
Last week, London Mayor Sadiq Khan added his voice to those including union and business leaders who said there should be a second Brexit referendum. Scotland’s top court ruled on Friday that the European Court of Justice should consider whether Britain could unilaterally change its mind on Brexit.
“The referendum was the largest democratic exercise this country has ever undergone,” said May, who has repeatedly ruled out a second vote following the original 2016 referendum. “To deny its legitimacy or frustrate its result threatens public trust in our democracy.”