Facebook holds ground among Saudi, UAE users but comes under pressure in US, UK

A 3D printed Facebook logo is seen in front of a displayed Snapchat logo. The pair are in fierce competition to retain social media users across the Gulf. (Reuters)
Updated 23 August 2017
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Facebook holds ground among Saudi, UAE users but comes under pressure in US, UK

LONDON: While Facebook’s dominance in the US and the UK is being threatened by the growth of Instagram and Snapchat, the world’s largest social network is forecast to hold its ground in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, according to research firm eMarketer.
In its latest forecasts, the US-based group has predicted that Facebook’s appeal, particularly among the younger generations, is set to decline in both the US and the UK. In the 12-17 age group in the US, eMarketer forecasted a decline of 3.4 percent this year over the last year, marking the first time the firm has predicted a fall in Facebook usage for any age group.
A different picture is emerging in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, where despite the rising popularity of Instagram, Snapchat and other social networking sites, Facebook has retained and is predicted to increase its share of users, according to eMarketer’s latest data available for the region.
In Saudi Arabia, almost 60 percent of the total population will be on Facebook by 2021, almost double the proportion recorded in 2013, according to the latest data for the country, updated in May. The proportion of social media users on Facebook is expected to also rise from 87 percent in 2013 to 95 percent in 2021.
The UAE is forecast to see similar growth, with almost 63 percent of the country’s total population to be using the network by 2021, again almost double that recorded in 2013, eMarketer data show.
However, growth is likely to slow in both countries, the report said. The UAE will see Facebook user growth slow to 3 percent in 2021, which compares to rates of 25 percent and 20 percent in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Saudi Arabia will see a more subdued growth of 5 percent in 2021, eMarketer predicted.
The research firm categorizes a social media user as someone who accesses their Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat account via any device at least once a month.
Elsewhere, Facebook is likely to see its market share diminish, eMarketer analysts warn. In the US, the number of Facebook users as a proportion of all social network users is forecast to steadily decline from its peak of 91 percent in 2013 to 88 percent by 2021 as other networks gain ground, eMarketer’s data show.
The popularity of Instagram in the US is set to grow, with 55 percent of social media network users predicted to be on the picture-sharing network by 2021, compared to 37 percent in 2016. Similarly, Snapchat is gaining fans with the proportion of social network users accessing the messaging service rising to to 47 percent in 2021 compared to 33 percent in 2016, according to eMarketer.
Facebook’s marketshare in the UK is also being eroded. Facebook users as a proportion of total social media users is expected to decline from its 92 percent peak in 2012 to 87 percent by 2021.
“Facebook is still the big winner in social media,” said Bill Fisher, eMarketer’s UK senior analyst.
“But it will be slightly concerned that younger people in the UK are having their heads turned by Snapchat. Of course, its ownership of Instagram is softening the blow, and it will be further enthused to see Instagram’s longer-term prospects looking even better than Snapchat’s.”


UAE regulators ask corporates to declare exposure to Abraaj

Updated 21 June 2018
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UAE regulators ask corporates to declare exposure to Abraaj

  • Air Arabia admits $336 million exposure to Abraaj funds.
  • Abraaj sells its Latam, Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and Turkey Funds to Colony Capital.

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates’ top securities regulator has asked UAE-listed companies to declare their exposure to Dubai-based private equity firm Abraaj, which filed for provisional liquidation last week.
The Securities & Commodities Authority sent a letter earlier this week and companies had until Thursday to submit their responses, Obaid Al-Zaabi, chief executive of the regulator, told Reuters.
Air Arabia, a Dubai-listed low-cost carrier, said this week that it had a $336 million exposure to Abraaj, which is the Middle East’s biggest private equity firm. Shares in the airline plunged because of these links.
Al-Zaabi said some companies in the UAE had exposure to Abraaj, without naming them.
A court in the Cayman Islands, where Abraaj Holdings is registered, ordered this week that PwC be appointed as provisional liquidators of the company and Deloitte as liquidators of Abraaj Investment Management Ltd.
Abraaj said that the latest restructuring agreement has received in-principle regulatory approval and is expected to close upon approval from the Cayman Islands court and other customary consents.
On Thursday, the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), which is the regulator of the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC), said it would discuss “various matters” with the liquidators and “will continue to work toward safeguarding the interests of investors.”
The DFSA is involved because Abraaj has an entity regulated in DIFC.
Abraaj Group agreed to sell its Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and Turkey Funds management business to US investment management firm Colony Capital Inc, the companies said on Thursday.
The sale agreement comes after months of turmoil at Abraaj in the wake of its dispute with four of its investors, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and International Finance Corp. (IFC), over the use of their money in a $1 billion health care fund. The group has denied it misused the funds.
The sale is part of a provisional liquidation and restructuring as set out in a court order. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Colony Capital has also agreed to oversee, on an interim basis, other Abraaj group funds that are not being acquired so that the group and all its stakeholders have a “comprehensive global solution in place,” the companies said.
The other group funds include the $1 billion health care fund, and some legacy funds of the private equity group.
Sources told Reuters earlier that US buyout firm TPG was in talks with investors in Abraaj’s health care fund to take over management of the assets of the $1 billion fund.
The K-Electric asset, which is being sold in Pakistan and is owned by Abraaj Holdings, is also not part of the transaction.
Colony’s deal comes after other investors such as Cerberus Capital Management had also made offers for the Abraaj business before it filed for provisional liquidation in the Cayman Islands.
A unit of Abu Dhabi Financial Group earlier this week made a conditional offer to buy Abraaj’s management interest in all of its limited partnerships for $50 million, according to a document seen by Reuters.
Since Abraaj’s row with some investors became public early this year, it split its investment management business and holding company, while its founder Arif Naqvi stepped aside from the day-to-day running of its private equity fund unit and the firm halted its investment activities.
Tom Barrack, executive chairman of Colony Capital, said that he hoped that the transaction would enable the process of rebuilding on all sides and also bring an end to the speculation that has swirled around Abraaj over the past months.