Who is Saudi Arabia's new finance minister?

Updated 02 November 2016
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Who is Saudi Arabia's new finance minister?

JEDDAH: Mohammed Al-Jadaan, Saudi Arabia’s new minister of finance, is widely seen as a reformer within the government and a close ally of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to analysts.

Al-Jadaan, a top lawyer appointed to the Capital Market Authority in early 2015, oversaw the Saudi bourse opening to more foreign investments last year as well as several more recent changes intended to ease barriers to attraction of overseas capital.
Commenting on the latest developments, Jason Tuvey, Middle East economist at Capital Economics, told Arab News: “Prior to his appointment as finance minister, Al-Jaadan was previously thehead of the Capital Markets Authority. So already has policymaking experience having overseen the opening up of the Saudi Tadawul to foreign investors over the past couple of years.”
Recently, Al-Jaadan has endeavoured to loosen the restrictions on foreign investors in order to attract more capital into the stock market, Tuvey pointed out.
On Tuesday, the new minister said that he had great confidence in Saudi Arabia’s economic vision despite all the challenges it faces.
“My confidence in God is great, and then the guardian (the king), at this blessed state’s launch toward broader horizons of growth and financial, economic and social prosperity, in the framework of the kingdom’s 2030 vision, despite all the challenges,” he said in a statement on the ministry’s website.
Al-Jadaan was named finance minister by royal decree on Monday, replacing Ibrahim Al-Assaf, who had held the post since 1996.
Al-Assaf served for 20 years in the ministry, which strived to cut spending fast enough to cope with falling oil revenue.
Commenting to Bloomberg, Fahad Nazer, who worked at the Saudi embassy in Washington and is now a political analyst at JTG Inc. in Virginia, said: “Al Jadaan’s appointment reflects the reform direction that Saudi Arabia is moving toward with wide support for a younger generation of bureaucrats.”
He added: “Most of these senior positions are going to younger, less experienced people, but people who are still very-well qualified and energetic.”
Monday’s replacement of the veteran finance minister had no significant impact on the Saudi stock market on Tuesday.

Extensive experience
Before his appointment as the CMA’s chairman of the board on Jan. 29, 2015, Al-Jadaan was one of the founding partners of the Al-Jadaan and Partners Law Firm and was listed in Chambers and Partners 2004-2014 as a leading lawyer in corporate/commercial and the banking/finance practice areas in Saudi Arabia.
Al-Jadaan has extensive experience in advising on all aspects of capital market, structuring, documenting and negotiating complex international project financings and providing counsel on corporate and commercial matters, including equity and debt public offering, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and shareholder agreements and matters pertaining to Islamic law and Islamic finance.
Al-Jadaan has also represented corporate and commercial clients before a number of key courts and judicial committees in Saudi Arabia.
He was also a special adviser to the board of directors at Morgan Stanley Saudi Arabia.
Economists said that Al-Jadaan’s first major job will be to deliver the 2017 budget toward the end of this year.
“As we argued recently, the majority of spending cuts have probably now happened so we expect he will be able to outline plans to ease the pace of fiscal consolidation over the next couple of years,” Capital Economics said in a report.
“But austerity is far from over and many Saudis may have been premature in celebrating Al-Assaf’s departure,” the report added.


China’s Xiaomi swings to net profit in Q3 on robust sales in India, Europe

Updated 19 November 2018
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China’s Xiaomi swings to net profit in Q3 on robust sales in India, Europe

  • Profit for the three months through September reached $357.23 million
  • The firm has been adding new brands to its smartphone portfolio to target niche consumers

HONG KONG: Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Inc. said on Monday it swung to a net profit in the third quarter, beating analyst estimates, driven by robust sales in India and Europe.
Profit for the three months through September reached 2.48 billion yuan ($357.23 million), versus an 11 billion yuan loss in the same period a year earlier. That compared with a 1.92 billion yuan average of five analyst estimates compiled by Refinitiv Eikon.
Xiaomi also said operating profit sank 38.4 percent to 3.59 billion yuan in the third quarter. Revenue rose 49.1 percent to 50.85 billion yuan.
The mixed results come amid a slowdown in smartphone purchases both in China, where Xiaomi once was the top-selling handset brand, and overseas.
Nevertheless Xiaomi, along with fellow low-cost handset makers Oppo and Vivo, accounted for around a quarter of the global smartphone market in the first half of 2018, showed data from researcher IDC.
Xiaomi’s fastest-growing markets are India, where it has had success with its budget Redmi phone series, and Europe, where it entered in 2017 with launches in Russia and Spain. Earlier this month it released its flagship Mi 8 Pro device in Britain.
But to weather the global market slowdown, analysts said Xiaomi needs to expand to new markets and also sell more higher-priced devices with wider profit margins.
The firm has been adding new brands to its smartphone portfolio to target niche consumers. Concurrent with today’s earnings, it announced a partnership with Meitu Inc, a maker of a photo app popular with young women, to sell phones under its brand. Earlier this year it launched Black Shark, a phone targeted at gamers, and Poco, a value-for-money device aimed at India.
Mo Jia, who tracks China’s smartphone makers at research firm Canalys, said attempts to sell more expensive devices requires changing its brand perception.
“It’s still very hard for Xiaomi to change its perception of being a low-end device manufacturer as the majority of its smartphone shipments are the Redmi series.”
Xiaomi also aims to transform itself from a smartphone firm into a software company. As the firm prepared for its IPO, founder Lei Jun touted Internet services — namely advertisements placed on the firm’s in-house apps — as its future and key differentiator from other handset brands.
In the third quarter, Xiaomi’s smartphone division grew revenue by 36.1 percent while its Internet service division grew 85.5 percent. But phones made up 64.6 percent of total sales, while Internet services made up 9.3 percent.
The results are the second set released by Xiaomi since the smartphone maker raised $4.72 billion in an initial public offering (IPO) in June, valuing the firm at about $54 billion — around half of some earlier industry estimates of $100 billion.
Its shares have fallen roughly 20 percent since they started trading in July amid a broader Chinese stock market sell-off and concern about a slowdown in China’s tech industry.