Qatar Airways ditches plan to buy stake at American rival

Legacy carriers in the US have for years charged that their Gulf rivals, including Qatar, have received billions of dollars of unfair state subsidies. (Reuters)
Updated 02 August 2017
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Qatar Airways ditches plan to buy stake at American rival

NEW YORK: Qatar Airways will not proceed with its proposed financial investment in American Airlines Group, reversing an earlier decision to build a stake of up to 4.75 percent in the US carrier.
“Further review of the proposed financial investment, taking into account the latest public disclosure of American Airlines, has demonstrated that the investment no longer meets our objectives,” Qatar Airways said in a statement.
“Qatar Airways will continue to investigate alternative investment opportunities in the United States of America and elsewhere that do meet our objectives.”
Qatar Airways’ proposal to buy into American was met with suspicion by critics at a time when Qatar is embroiled in the region’s worst diplomatic crisis in years and is locked in an airspace rights row with three other Gulf states.
At the same time, legacy carriers in the US have for years charged that their Gulf rivals, including Qatar, have received billions of dollars of unfair state subsidies, allegations the Gulf carriers deny.
When news broke of Qatar’s intentions, American Airlines slammed the move, accusing the Middle Eastern carrier of receiving “illegal” state subsidies.
In response to the proposed investment, American said it was canceling its code-share agreements with Qatar Airways and Gulf rival Etihad Airways.
American, along with US competitors Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, have pressed the US government to curb US flights by Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways.


Etisalat is region’s most valuable brand — report

Updated 39 min 24 sec ago
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Etisalat is region’s most valuable brand — report

  • Abu Dhabi-based telco overtakes STC as brand value hits $7.7 billion
  • Dubai-based Emirates Airlines fell to third position in the overall rankings for the region

Abu Dhabi-based telco Etisalat has been named as the region’s most valuable brand for 2018, rising by 40 percent to $7.7 billion in the past year, according to consultancy Brand Finance, with leading Saudi firms also experiencing gains.

Drivers behind the increase in value include “the brand’s innovative customer service-driven strategy, its leadership position on the 5G revolution, and successful launches of global brand-building initiatives,” Brand Finance said in a statement. 

Etisalat overtook fellow telco STC of Saudi Arabia to become the region’s most valuable brand. But STC enjoyed a positive year, its brand value rising 7 percent to $6.7 billion.

“Alongside its 5G rollout plans, STC’s new digital transformation strategy includes investment in digital media content and advertising services, creating opportunities outside of its core business,” according to Brand Finance. 

Dubai-based Emirates fell to third position in the overall rankings for the region, its brand value slipping 12 percent to $5.3 billion. Fellow airline Etihad also experienced a fall in brand value, with the regional aviation market hit by geopolitical issues over the past year. 

Emaar Properties entered the regional top 10 for the first time in 2018, its brand value increasing 39 percent to $2.7 billion, following a joint venture partnership with Abu Dhabi’s Aldar Properties, announced last month. 

“The strategic partnership between Aldar and Emaar strengthens prospects for the UAE’s real estate sector as well as delivering a real boost for the investment community as we inch closer toward Expo 2020,” said Andrew Campbell, managing director, Brand Finance Middle East.

The rise in Emaar’s brand value comes despite lingering uncertainty over Dubai’s real estate market. The developer’s shares have fallen more than 20 percent so far this year, as soft economic conditions and increasingly supply continue to weigh on prices and rental rates.

The UAE is home to 6 of the region’s top 10 brands and 42 percent of the total brand value in the Brand Finance Middle East 50 league table, more than any other country. But Saudi firms accounted for 21 of the region’s most valuable 50 brands, up from 18 in 2017. 

STC topped Brand Finance’s inaugural Saudi rankings. SABIC, in second place, was the Kingdom’s fastest growing brand of the past year, its value increasing 78 percent to $3.7 billion, which the consultancy attributed to the company’s renewed efforts to capitalize on the US shale boom by growing its business in
the country. 

Banks accounted for 11 of Saudi Arabia’s 25 most valuable brands, led by Al-Rajhi Bank, the world’s largest Islamic bank by total assets. Al-Rajhi’s brand value rose by 22 percent during the year, with NCB and Samba rising 16 percent and 14 percent respectively. 

Amazon was named as the world’s most valuable brand by Brand Finance in February, its value increasing 42 percent to $150.8 billion, with technology companies Apple, Google, Samsung and Facebook rounding out the top 5.