Green light for new Saudi shipyard as finance deal clinched

An engineer shows visitors a model of Saudi Aramco’s maritime yard in Ras al-Khair. (Reuters)
Updated 17 March 2018
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Green light for new Saudi shipyard as finance deal clinched

LONDON: A joint venture involving Saudi Aramco has kicked off construction work at a new shipyard on Saudi Arabia’s east coast, it was announced on Friday.

Consortium member Lamprell said in a statement that the JV, International Maritime Industries (IMI), started operations after reaching agreement for a loan from the Saudi Industrial Development Fund (SIDF).

SIDF agreed in principle last year to provide $1 billion in financing for the ambitious project.

IMI shareholders include UAE-based Lamprell, Aramco, National Shipping Co. of Saudi Arabia (Bahri) and South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries Co.

An Aramco executive will be CEO of the project, which Aramco has previously said will cost about $5 billion.

Lamprell’s anticipated total equity contribution over the construction period is up to $140 million, Lamprell’s statement said.

The nearly 12 million square-meter facility is planned to have an annual capacity to manufacture four offshore rigs and over 40 vessels, including three Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs), and service over 260 maritime products.

The Lamprell statement said the deal was “for the establishment of a major maritime yard at the Ras Al-Khair site in eastern Saudi Arabia”.

It added that in relation to the shareholders’ agreement, all conditions had now been completed, meaning that IMI could formally commence business.
An important condition was the entry by IMI into the loan agreement with the proposed government lender, SIDF.

“In addition to the previously mentioned offtake agreements and significant investment made by the Saudi government in the facility’s infrastructure, the loan agreement is expected be a cornerstone for the success of the IMI yard,” said Lamprell.

It added: “The construction process at the site is underway with dredging and associated activities in progress. The partners have made significant progress in creating the business infrastructure, including the management organization, the internal governance structure and the detailed business plan.”

Work at the site began after the first capital contribution by each partner in accordance with their pro rata share and in line with the original drawdown schedule. Lamprell’s first tranche amounted to $20 million which was invested in 2017, and would be used to pay for initial start-up costs of the business including staff hire and long lead item procurement.

Linked to one of the offtake agreements, ARO Drilling would order 20 jackup rigs from the IMI yard over the next ten years. Significant component parts of the first two rigs were expected to be subcontracted to Lamprell’s UAE facilities.

Christopher McDonald, Lamprell CEO, said: “We have been working closely with our partners on the establishment of the IMI business over the past few months and we are very pleased to see such tangible progress toward the operational phase, now that the conditions under the shareholders’ agreement have been completed.”

McDonald said that IMI had the capability of becoming a leading regional and global service provider to the rig and vessel markets.
He welcomed the selection of new LJ43 jackup rig designed with GustoMSC for rigs under the offtake agreement.

“This will further strengthen Lamprell’s position in our traditional markets,” said McDonald.


‘Don’t be too optimistic’: Huawei employees fret at US ban

Updated 26 May 2019
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‘Don’t be too optimistic’: Huawei employees fret at US ban

  • This week Google, whose Android operating system powers most of the world’s smartphones, said it would cut ties with Huawei
  • Another critical partner, ARM Holdings, said it was complying with the US restrictions

BEIJING: While Huawei’s founder brushes aside a US ban against his company, the telecom giant’s employees have been less sanguine, confessing fears for their future in online chat rooms.
Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei declared this week the company has a hoard of microchips and the ability to make its own in order to withstand a potentially crippling US ban on using American components and software in its products.
“If you really want to know what’s going on with us, you can visit our Xinsheng Community,” Ren told Chinese media, alluding to Huawei’s internal forum partially open to viewers outside the company.
But a peek into Xinsheng shows his words have not reassured everyone within the Shenzhen-based company.
“During difficult times, what should we do as individuals?” posted an employee under the handle Xiao Feng on Thursday.
“At home reduce your debts and maintain enough cash,” Xiao Feng wrote.
“Make a plan for your financial assets and don’t be overly optimistic about your remuneration and income.”
This week Google, whose Android operating system powers most of the world’s smartphones, said it would cut ties with Huawei as a result of the ban.
Another critical partner, ARM Holdings — a British designer of semiconductors owned by Japanese group Softbank — said it was complying with the US restrictions.
“On its own Huawei can’t resolve this problem, we need to seek support from government policy,” one unnamed employee wrote last week, in a post that received dozens of likes and replies.
The employee outlined a plan for China to block off its smartphone market from all American components much in the same way Beijing fostered its Internet tech giants behind a “Great Firewall” that keeps out Google, Facebook, Twitter and dozens of other foreign companies.
“Our domestic market is big enough, we can use this opportunity to build up domestic suppliers and our ecosystem,” the employee wrote.
For his part, Ren advocated the opposite response in his interview with Chinese media.
“We should not promote populism; populism is detrimental to the country,” he said, noting that his family uses Apple products.
Other employees strategized ways to circumvent the US ban.
One advocated turning to Alibaba’s e-commerce platform Taobao to buy the needed components. Another dangled the prospect of setting up dozens of new companies to make purchases from US suppliers.
Many denounced the US and proposed China ban McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and all-American movies and TV shows.
“First time posting under my real name: we must do our jobs well, advance and retreat with our company,” said an employee named Xu Jin.
The tech ban caps months of US effort to isolate Huawei, whose equipment Washington fears could be used as a Trojan horse by Chinese intelligence services.
Still, last week Trump indicated he was willing to include a fix for Huawei in a trade deal that the two economic giants have struggled to seal and US officials issued a 90-day reprieve on the ban.
In Xinsheng, an employee with the handle Youxin lamented: “I want to advance and retreat alongside the company, but then my boss told me to pack up and go,” followed by two sad-face emoticons.