Pakistani and Chinese businesses free to choose the yuan for bilateral trade and investment

A Pakistani currency dealer counts Chinese currency for a customer in Quetta. Pakistan will allow the Chinese yuan to be used for imports, exports and financing transactions for bilateral trade and investment activities, in a move economists said would simplify a massive Chinese investment project. (AFP)
Updated 04 January 2018
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Pakistani and Chinese businesses free to choose the yuan for bilateral trade and investment

KARACHI: State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has taken steps to ensure that imports, exports and financing transactions can be denominated in Chinese Yuan (CNY).
Both public and private-sector enterprises in Pakistan and China are free to choose CNY for bilateral trade and investment activities, the country’s central bank announced on Tuesday.
Chinese yuan, under current foreign exchange regulations, is an approved foreign currency for denominating foreign currency transactions in Pakistan.
The SBP has already put in place the required regulatory framework which facilitates use of CNY in trade and investment transactions such as the opening of letter of credits (l/cs) and availing financing facilities in CNY.
In terms of regulations in Pakistan, CNY is on a par with other international currencies such as the US dollar, euro, and Japanese yen, the spokesman of SBP said.
After signing the currency swap agreement (CSA) with People’s Bank of China (PBoC), the SBP had taken a series of steps to promote use of CNY in Pakistan for bilateral trade and investment with China. The SBP allowed banks to accept CNY deposits and give CNY trade loans.
The central bank said that the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited (ICBC) Pakistan has been allowed to establish a local CNY settlement and clearing setup in Pakistan enabling it to open CNY accounts of the banks operating in Pakistan and to facilitate settlement of CNY based transactions such as remittance to and from China. With the opening of Bank of China in Pakistan, the access to onshore Chinese markets will strengthen further. Apart from the above, several banks in Pakistan maintain onshore CNY nostro accounts.
The central bank had permitted authorized dealers to open foreign currency accounts and extend trade loans under the FE-25 scheme in US dollars, pound sterling, euros, Japans yen, Canadian dollars, UAE dirhams, Saudi riyals, Chinese yuan, Swiss francs and Turkish lira.
According to the spokesman, for onward lending the proceeds of currency swap agreement, the SBP has put in place a loan mechanism for banks to get the CNY financing from SBP for onward lending to importers and exporters having underlying trade transactions denominated in CNY.
The currency swap arrangement was executed between State Bank of Pakistan and People’s Bank of China (PBoC) on Dec. 31, 2011. The central bank had explained the modus operandi of this liquidity facility for banks.
The bank through a circular had allowed all authorized dealers to take foreign exchange deposits and extend loans in CNY for financing of imports and exports in accordance with prevailing instructions on loans and deposits. In order to provide CNY funding to scheduled banks, so that they can lend CNY to importers and exporters with underlying trade documents in CNY, the SBP will conduct competitive auctions of Chinese yuan loan facility using proceeds of the currency swap arrangement with the PBoC.
Considering the recent local and global economic developments, particularly with the growing size of trade and investment with China under the China\Pakistan economic corridor (CPEC), the SBP foresees that CNY denominated trade with China will increase significantly and yield long term benefits for both countries.


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.