Saudi Crown Prince reveals Neom megacity to be listed

Visitors watch a 3D presentation during an exhibition on "Neom", a new business and industrial city, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (REUTERS
Updated 26 October 2017
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Saudi Crown Prince reveals Neom megacity to be listed

RIYADH: The $500 billion mega-city planned by Saudi Arabia will be floated on financial markets alongside oil giant Saudi Aramco as part of the kingdom’s drive to diversify away from oil, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in an interview.
The 26,500-square kilometers business and industrial zone, named Neom, will extend into Jordan and Egypt. It was unveiled on Tuesday at a three-day international investment conference.
The surprise announcement is the latest — and most extraordinary — in a slate of privatization programs led by the floating of oil giant Saudi Aramco. The sales are designed to boost the Saudi economy and create jobs for millions of young people.
“Without a doubt, at the end of the day Neom will be floated in the markets. The first zone floated in the public markets. It’s as if you float the city of New York,” the Crown Prince said.
Prince Mohammed also said the Saudi Aramco IPO was on track for next year, dismissing reports of delays, adding it could be valued at more than $2 trillion.
He spoke on the sidelines of the Future Investment Initiative conference, which has attracted nearly 4,000 delegates from around the world to Riyadh this week.
Adjacent to the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba and near maritime trade routes that use the Suez Canal, the zone will serve as a gateway to the proposed King Salman Bridge, which will link Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Neom will be fully owned by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign Public Investment Fund (PIF) until its listing, and will attract investments from companies in renewable energy, biotechnology, advanced manufacturing and entertainment, the PIF has said.
“It won’t be listed in the markets until the idea is mature enough,” he said. “It might be after 2030, it might be before, but the idea and the strategy is to float it eventually.”
He said the name mixed “neo,” meaning new, with M, the first letter of the Arabic word for future.
It is part of the Vision 2030 plan to overhaul the economy of Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s largest producer, and provide jobs for an overwhelmingly young population amid a global oil price decline since 2014.
Economic growth has slowed and the economy may shrink this year as the government introduces austerity measures.
“The idea is not to restructure the economy as much as to seize the opportunities available that we didn’t address before. We have high capacity and we use only a little.”
The Crown Prince said Saudi Arabia’s dispute with neighboring Qatar had not affected investment.
“Qatar is a very, very, very small issue,” he said.
Saudi Arabia and three Arab allies cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar earlier this year over accusations Doha supported Islamic “terrorists.” Qatar denies the allegations.
He said the kingdom’s war in Yemen would continue in order to prevent the Houthi armed movement from turning into another “Hezbollah” on Saudi’s southern border.
“We’re pursuing until we can be sure that nothing will happen there like Hezbollah again, because Yemen is more dangerous than Lebanon,” he said.


OPEC oil ministers gather to discuss production increase

Updated 19 June 2018
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OPEC oil ministers gather to discuss production increase

  • Analysts expect the group to discuss an increase in production of about 1 million barrels a day
  • The officials were arriving in Vienna ahead of the official meeting Friday

VIENNA: The oil ministers of the OPEC cartel were gathering Tuesday to discuss this week whether to increase production of crude and help limit a rise in global energy prices.
The officials were arriving in Vienna ahead of the official meeting Friday, when they will also confer with Russia, a non-OPEC country that since late 2016 has cooperated with the cartel to limit production.
Analysts expect the group to discuss an increase in production of about 1 million barrels a day, ending the output cut agreed on in 2016.
The cut has since then pushed up the price of crude oil by about 50 percent. The US benchmark in May hit its highest level in three and half years, at $72.35 a barrel.
Upon arriving, the energy minister of the United Arab Emirates, Suhail Al Mazrouei, said: “It’s going to be hopefully a good meeting. We look forward to having this gathering with OPEC and non-OPEC.”
The 14 countries in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries make more money with higher prices, but are mindful of the fact that more expensive crude can encourage a shift to renewable resources and hurt demand.
“Consumers as well as businesses will be hoping that this week’s OPEC meeting succeeds in keeping a lid on prices, and in so doing calling a halt to a period which has seen a steady rise in fuel costs,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK
The rise in the cost of oil has been a key factor in driving up consumer price inflation in major economies like the US and Europe in recent months.
Already US President Donald Trump has called on OPEC to cut production, tweeting in April and again this month that “OPEC is at it again” by allowing oil prices to rise.
Within OPEC, an increase in output will not affect all countries equally. While Saudi Arabia, the cartel’s biggest producer, is seen to be open to a rise in production, other countries cannot afford to do so. Those include Iran and Venezuela, whose industries are stymied either by international sanctions or domestic turmoil. Iran is a fierce regional rival to Saudi Arabia, meaning the OPEC deal could also influence the geopolitics in the Middle East.