Mideast funds positive on Saudi Arabia after corruption crackdown

Saudi King Salman ordered the formation of a super committee to combat corruption in November. (SPA)
Updated 01 December 2017
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Mideast funds positive on Saudi Arabia after corruption crackdown

DUBAI: Middle East fund managers have become more positive toward Saudi Arabian equities after authorities launched a sweeping crackdown on corruption, a monthly Reuters poll showed on Thursday.
Forty-six percent of funds now expect to raise their allocations to the Saudi stock market in the next three months and none to reduce them, according to the poll of 13 leading managers, conducted over the past week.
That is the most bullish bias toward Saudi stocks since July, and compares with ratios of 31 percent and 8 percent in last month’s poll.
The crackdown alarmed the stock market because of its potential to damage the economy and undermine companies linked to suspects.
As a result, foreign investors were net sellers of stocks in the first three weeks of this month, exchange data shows. They were also concerned by rising tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, fueled by instability in Lebanon.
But many fund managers said they were looking past the short-term instability caused by the corruption crackdown to possibilities created by Saudi Arabia’s economic reform program, including privatizations, big new development projects and the plan to lift a ban on women driving next year.
“The crackdown on corruption that we witnessed earlier this month, along with escalated tensions between Iran and Saudi, pushes us to be cautious about our overall Saudi exposure,” said Dubai’s Arqaam Capital.
However, it added: “Short-term uncertainties are concerning, but our long-term view is net positive when putting together reform initiatives and liberalization efforts.”
The non-oil part of the Saudi economy is barely growing this year and is not expected to fare much better next year because of the planned introduction of a 5 percent value-added tax.
But the government is expected to increase spending on development projects moderately in 2018 — perhaps relying in part on funds recovered in the corruption crackdown — so some funds are starting to look toward an economic recovery in 2019.
Sachin Mohindra, portfolio manager at Abu Dhabi’s Invest AD, said that while economic, regulatory and social reforms in the region as a whole would sustain growth in the long term, for now “we expect regional investors to continue to exercise a lot of caution and volumes to remain subpar relative to history.”
 


China willing to invest $3 bln in Nigerian oil operations -NNPC

Updated 15 July 2018
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China willing to invest $3 bln in Nigerian oil operations -NNPC

  • China National Offshore Oil Corp is willing to invest $3 billion in its existing oil and gas operation in Nigeria
  • Other western oil companies, including ExxonMobil, operate in Nigeria through joint ventures with NNPC

ABUJA: China National Offshore Oil Corp is willing to invest $3 billion in its existing oil and gas operation in Nigeria, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said on Sunday following a meeting with the Chinese in Abuja.
During a visit to Nigeria’s state-owned NNPC, CNOOC Chief Executive Yuan Guangyu said the Beijing-based oil company had invested more than $14 billion in its Nigerian operations and expressed readiness to invest more.
Guangyu said Nigeria was their largest investment destination and also asked the NNPC to seek common grounds with CNOOC for enhanced productivity.
Nigeria has been holding talks with oil majors over new finance agreements for joint ventures since last year. The NNPC last year signed financing agreements with Chevron and Shell worth at least $780 million to boost crude production and reserves.
Other western oil companies, including ExxonMobil, operate in Nigeria through joint ventures with NNPC.