PIF, Dubai businessman Alabbar launch $1bn e-commerce platform

Noon.com will launch operations in Saudi Arabia and the UAE in January, according to Mohammed Alabbar.
Updated 14 November 2016
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PIF, Dubai businessman Alabbar launch $1bn e-commerce platform

JEDDAH: The online shopping experience in the Middle East is set to forever change with the launch of Noon, described as the region’s largest-ever e-commerce company, in January.
Noon is designed to be a driver of innovation, which will offer a vast product selection and fast delivery across all categories.
With an initial investment of $1 billion, Noon will launch in the Saudi and UAE markets, and will soon cover the entire Middle East region. 
Noon aims to grow online sales in the region from 2 percent of the total market ($3 billion), to 15 percent ($70 billion) within a decade. 
Emaar Properties Chairman Mohamed Alabbar, who is leading the venture with prominent GCC investors, described Noon as “nothing less than a quantum leap in retail in the region, and the world.” 
Alabbar added: “We come with the endurance to build a customer-centric business for the long-term. For us, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. I am pleased to announce that the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia will take 50 percent equity in Noon. In addition, the head office of Noon will be based in Riyadh.”
“With Noon, we are offering the most customer-centric ecommerce experience available anywhere,” he said. “In one move, we are launching a future-focused company, which is the biggest online shopping platform ever seen in the region. Noon is a company born in the Middle East and serves customers in the Middle East.”
Noon is claims to bring a number of impressive firsts for the region. It will have the biggest selection, with 20 million products covering fashion, books, home and garden, electronics, sports and outdoor, health and beauty, personal care, toys, kids and baby products, among others.
It will have more than 10 million square feet of warehousing. At 3.5 million square feet, the UAE fulfillment center will cover more than 60 football fields.
Same-day delivery through Noon Transportation, an in-house express delivery service, and NoonPay, a secure and innovative payment gateway, are its other features.
Noon’s CEO Fodhil Benturquia said a commitment to customer-centric service and innovative technology will be key to Noon’s success. “The customer is the purpose of our being, and we are here to win their hearts and their trust. Our customer experience will be driven by state-of-the-art technology that will power everything from product discovery to purchase and delivery.”
Noon, through its mobile app and noon.com website, will be an end-to-end e-commerce retailer. “We want to be the partner of choice for sellers, whether they’re big or small. We invite them to be part of our ecosystem, working together to change the online shopping landscape for the Middle East customer.”
“Our team not only comes with exceptional backgrounds, but also with an all-consuming passion to change the way things are done,” he added.
Noon boasts that its team has a wealth of e-commerce experience earned at sector leaders, including Amazon, Apple, PayPal, eBay, Google, Flipkart and others.


As worries about populism in Europe rise, investors bet on stock market volatility

Updated 16 min 52 sec ago
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As worries about populism in Europe rise, investors bet on stock market volatility

  • More than 350 million EU citizens will head to the polls between May 23 and 26 to elect a new Parliament
  • The vote will shape the future of the bloc amid a backlash against immigration and years of austerity

LONDON: Investors are betting on heightened political uncertainty and greater volatility in European stock markets ahead of European Parliament elections in May amid growing concerns about rising populism.
In one of the first concrete signs in financial markets that investors are bracing for political instability, VSTOXX futures , which reflect investor sentiment and economic uncertainty, have jumped in recent weeks.
While the classic gauge of fear — known as implied volatility, which tracks demand for options in European stocks — is currently at 15.68, futures that bet on the same thing over the coming months show a pronounced jump.
That’s because investors have piled on trades that bet on big swings in stocks as election day nears.
Implied volatility for futures contracts expiring in May show a pronounced jump to 16.8, compared with 15.35 in April. The contracts measure the 30-day implied volatility of the euro zone STOXX 50 index.
“We are seeing a bit of a kink around May when we have European elections and we have this wave of populism,” said Edmund Shing, head of equities and derivatives strategy at BNP Paribas.

Looming elections
More than 350 million EU citizens will head to the polls between May 23 and 26 to elect a new Parliament, a vote that will shape the future of the bloc amid a backlash against immigration and years of austerity.
Mainstream center-left and center-right lawmakers may lose control of the legislature for the first time, as euroskeptic and far-right candidates build support.
Herve Guyon, Societe Generale’s head of European equity derivatives flow strategy and solutions, said the rise of populism had triggered a recent flurry of speculative trades.
“Political uncertainty might be coming from the EU rather than the United States. We’ve seen investors doing very large trades to benefit from an increase in volatility around these events,” he said.
“We as a bank don’t expect the elections to be a massive game-changer. The populists won’t get enough to disrupt the political system, but we do note some investors did take some positions on this event.”
The implied volatility is still well below levels seen in late 2018 when global stock markets were routed amid worries about rising interest rates, slowing economic growth and the trade war between Beijing and Washington.
In late December, it shot to above 26, its highest since February.
But the flurry of activity suggests investors are seeking out new opportunities after a slide in implied volatility across major asset classes.
Edward Park, deputy chief investment officer at asset manager Brooks MacDonald, said some of the activity may also be due to persistent uncertainty about Britain’s exit from the European Union as the Brexit date of March 29 nears.
This year, volatility across currency, fixed income and stocks markets has plunged as the US Federal Reserve and European Central Bank have taken dovish policy stances.
The Deutsche Bank currency volatility indicator hit multi-year lows this week, while the proxy for fixed income volatility is languishing at all-time lows.
In stocks, the Cboe volatility index, Wall Street’s so-called “fear gauge,” fell to its weakest in six months this week.
“There’s been a cross-asset volatility crash — in euro-dollar, US rates and equities — in the aftermath of (ECB President Mario) Draghi’s and (Fed Chairman Jerome) Powell’s comments and the expectation of lower rates for longer,” said Guyon.