Trump means business: $380bn deals signed in Riyadh

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Saudi King Salman and US President Donald Trump take part in a signing ceremony at the Royal Court in Riyadh Saturday. (AFP)
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King Salman and US President Donald Trump sign the “Saudi-US Joint Strategic Vision Declaration” in Riyadh. (SPA)
Updated 21 May 2017
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Trump means business: $380bn deals signed in Riyadh

RIYADH: Saudi-US deals worth at least $380 billion were struck on Saturday during the historic visit to Riyadh by US President Donald Trump, officials said. 

King Salman and Trump held high-level talks in the Saudi capital, where they co-signed the Saudi-US “Joint Strategic Vision Declaration,” as a series of defense, business and technology deals were agreed in the Saudi capital.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said that Trump’s visit marks “the beginning of a turning point” in relations with the Arab world.

Speaking at a press conference held with his US counterpart Rex Tillerson in Riyadh on Saturday, Al-Jubeir said that the strategic partnership agreement by King Salman and Trump would develop into a strong strategic partnership.

“The two countries have signed a series of agreements, both by private, commercial entities and inter-governmental, including on investment and infrastructure,” said Al-Jubeir.

“The value of the deals exceeds $380 billion; they will be executed over the next 10 years and will provide many opportunities both for the Kingdom and for the United States.”

Tillerson said that over 20 licenses were issued to large US companies helping direct investment between the two countries, which will result in the creation of thousands of jobs for Americans, an increase the purchase of US goods, equipment and technologies, and also benefit Saudi Arabia.

Defense played a key element in the myriad deals announced in Riyadh on Saturday.

Saudi Arabia and the US signed arms deals worth approximately $110 billion, the White House announced on Saturday.

Several other multi-billion-dollar deals were sealed at the inaugural Saudi-US CEO Forum, also held on Saturday.

They included a landmark $6 billion defense and armament agreement under a “letter of intent” to assemble 150 Lockheed Martin Black Hawk helicopters.

The agreement, which was revealed during the forum, is expected to support around 450 jobs in the Kingdom.

“At Lockheed Martin, we are proud to be part of this historic announcement that will strengthen the relationship between the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” said Marillyn A. Hewson, chairman, president and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation.

“We are especially proud of how our broad portfolio of advanced global security products and technologies will enhance national security in Saudi Arabia, strengthen the cause of peace in the region, and provide the foundation for job creation and economic prosperity in the US and in the Kingdom. The agreements will directly contribute to His Majesty’s Vision 2030 by opening the door for thousands of highly skilled jobs in new economic sectors.”

Energy — one of Saudi Arabia’s strongest sectors — witnessed a number of announcements with a combined $22 billion worth of new deals signed during the forum by Saudi and American executives in the oil and gas industry.

A major funding boost for the largest oil refinery in the US was among a number of announcements in refining and petrochemicals signed on Saturday at the forum.

Amin Nasser, president and CEO of Saudi Aramco, said: “Today we are investing in long-term job creation and the future of the refining industry in the United States, and we are delivering on Vision 2030 to expand the US-Saudi partnership.

“The message is clear: the longstanding bonds between our two countries are reinforced by both the value and scale of today’s agreement.”

Following his participation in the forum, Nasser also announced several agreements with suppliers including Jacobs, Honeywell and McDermott.


Saudi Arabia real estate reform ‘on the right track,’ housing minister tells conference

Updated 8 min 28 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia real estate reform ‘on the right track,’ housing minister tells conference

  • Financial Sector Conference is designed to showcase Saudi Arabia’s finance industry to a world audience
  • The most eye-catching was a plan by the Saudi Real Estate Refinance Company (SRC)

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s real estate finance sector — crucial to the ambition of a home-owning economy under the Vision 2030 strategy — is maturing rapidly, a high-profile event in Riyadh heard on Wednesday.
“We’re on the right track,” housing minister Majid Al-Hogail told attendees on the first day of the Financial Sector Conference, designed to showcase Saudi Arabia’s finance industry to a world audience.
His comments came as financial institutions in the Kingdom announced a raft of measures to encourage more home ownership.
The most eye-catching was a plan by the Saudi Real Estate Refinance Company (SRC) — owned by the Public Investment Fund — to issue up to SR3.75 billion ($1 billion) worth of sukuk, or Islamic bonds, this year to finance home ownership plans.
Fabrice Susini, chief executive of the company, said SRC had spent SR1.2 billion buying mortgages from local mortgage finance companies and adding liquidity to these firms. SRC is often compared to US home finance group Fannie Mae.
Reform of the financial infrastructure of the property market is regarded as crucial to Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 reform plans, to ensure an ownership rate of 70 percent in the privately owned housing market by 2030.
In a panel entitled “Mortgages: Bolstering Industry Appetite,” Al-Hogail spoke of the unique position Saudi Arabia has in the housing market, highlighting the relevance of a database established by the Ministry of Housing to give a better and deeper understanding of the market. The diverse nature of the market presents its own challenges, he said.
“Every city has its own different set of challenges and we can’t generalize. With the establishment of the database, it provides the ministry with a better future outlook through more detailed information, obtained through various means — whether it were through the Electric Company, through the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs, or through the General Authority for Statistics and their surveys.”
“Over 16 government agencies support the housing sector to achieve Saudi Vision objectives, to increase property ownership among Saudis to 70 percent by 2030,” he said.
An official report for the first quarter of 2019 revealed that the finance market reached SR5.6 billion last March. Some 12,800 citizens received loans, and 85 percent were subsidised.
Saudi Arabia last year announced plans to boost the size of the mortgage market to SR502 billion by 2020 as part of a comprehensive plan to provide housing finance to its citizens, facilitating a balanced and sustainable housing environment through the establishment and development programs.
In other deals, Bidaya Home Finance announced three initiatives to enhance the Saudi market. Its first initiative involved the sale of Bidaya’s mortgage portfolio to SRC, valued at SR500 million over a period of six months. SRC, formed in 2017, is also keen to tap foreign institutional investors for its debt sale this year, Fabrice Susini told Reuters in an interview. “Our strategy is clearly to tap the market twice this year,” he said.
“We are really looking at probably issuing something between SR2 to 4 billion that we may be issuing in two tranches.”
He said SRC was looking at sukuk in the 10- to 15-year range, to help minimize refinancing risks. “Generally speaking we are trying to issue as long as possible,” Susini said. He added that the company was assessing whether it could also issue bonds in currencies other than the Saudi riyal.
In March, SRC completed a SR750 million sukuk issue with multiple tenors, under a program that allows it to issue up to SR11 billion of local currency denominated Islamic bonds.