Citigroup returns to Saudi Arabia: ‘Right place, right market, right time’

Citigroup is returning to Saudi Arabia after leaving the Kingdom in 2004, It is just one of a number of multinationals making a return to the Kingdom. (Reuters)
Updated 17 April 2018
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Citigroup returns to Saudi Arabia: ‘Right place, right market, right time’

Dubai: Citigroup, the American financial giant that quit Saudi Arabia in 2004, yesterday put the seal on its return to the Kingdom with a formal opening ceremony in Riyadh.
The re-entry could be lucrative for the bank, which will be able to play a full role in the financial opportunities presented by the Vision 2030 plan to transform the economy, including a big program of sovereign bond debt issuance and privatizations.
Mike Corbat, Citi’s group CEO, attended the ceremony alongside Ibrahim Al-Omar, the governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority.
Al-Omar said: “You are at the heart of Arab markets and the biggest market in the region, where Saudi Arabia connects three continents. Vision 2030 is not possible without partners, and you are our very welcome partners. Citi will be able to take part in a privatization program that will see, between now and 2030, up to 100 opportunities. There are other opportunities, too, especially in the entertainment sector. You are in the right place in the right market at the right time.”
Corbat said: “We are delighted to establish an office in the Kingdom and be open for business on the ground. The expansion to Saudi is in line with our strategy to be present in the region’s biggest economy and contribute to its transformation.
“Citi continues to support the Kingdom’s national agenda for a diverse and sustainable economy and we aim to play a key role toward realizing this vision,” he added.
Some Citi executives admitted the 2004 withdrawal was “a mistake,” and for the past two years the bank has played a central role in the big sovereign bond issuance program.
Last year, the Saudi Arabian Capital Market Authority (CMA) granted Citi a license to provide a range of investment banking and capital market business.
Citi executives have said they could also look to get a license from the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority, which would enable it to also offer trade banking and treasury services.
At the Riyadh ribbon-cutting ceremony at the bank’s new offices in Kingdom Tower, Citi, through its Foundation arm, also handed over a $300,000 cheque to renew its partnership with Education for Employment Global, a Washington DC-based non-profit organization that helped train and find employment for 67,000 young people in the region.


Whitbread set to spin off Costa Coffee

Updated 3 min 51 sec ago
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Whitbread set to spin off Costa Coffee

  • Whitbread confident Britain's biggest coffee chain could succeed on its own.
  • Split expected to take place within the next two years.

Whitbread plc said it would spin off Costa Coffee, Britain’s biggest coffee chain, claiming it could thrive as a separately listed business.
The move leaves Whitbread with its Premier Inn hotels operation and the split is expected to be completed within 24 months.
It said Costa Coffee, the world’s second largest coffee shop chain, had attractive long-term international opportunities.
Chief Executive Alison Brittain said: “Given the progress Whitbread is making, we are confident that both Premier Inn and Costa will soon be businesses of sufficient strength, scale and capability to enable them to thrive as independent companies.”
She said the split would be pursued as fast as practical to optimize value for Whitbread’s shareholders.
The announcement came after Whitbread reported growth in full-year revenue of 6.1 percent to £3.3 million and a 4.5 percent rise in underlying profit before tax to £591 million.