Etisalat is region’s most valuable brand — report

Updated 23 April 2018
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Etisalat is region’s most valuable brand — report

  • Abu Dhabi-based telco overtakes STC as brand value hits $7.7 billion
  • Dubai-based Emirates Airlines fell to third position in the overall rankings for the region

Abu Dhabi-based telco Etisalat has been named as the region’s most valuable brand for 2018, rising by 40 percent to $7.7 billion in the past year, according to consultancy Brand Finance, with leading Saudi firms also experiencing gains.

Drivers behind the increase in value include “the brand’s innovative customer service-driven strategy, its leadership position on the 5G revolution, and successful launches of global brand-building initiatives,” Brand Finance said in a statement. 

Etisalat overtook fellow telco STC of Saudi Arabia to become the region’s most valuable brand. But STC enjoyed a positive year, its brand value rising 7 percent to $6.7 billion.

“Alongside its 5G rollout plans, STC’s new digital transformation strategy includes investment in digital media content and advertising services, creating opportunities outside of its core business,” according to Brand Finance. 

Dubai-based Emirates fell to third position in the overall rankings for the region, its brand value slipping 12 percent to $5.3 billion. Fellow airline Etihad also experienced a fall in brand value, with the regional aviation market hit by geopolitical issues over the past year. 

Emaar Properties entered the regional top 10 for the first time in 2018, its brand value increasing 39 percent to $2.7 billion, following a joint venture partnership with Abu Dhabi’s Aldar Properties, announced last month. 

“The strategic partnership between Aldar and Emaar strengthens prospects for the UAE’s real estate sector as well as delivering a real boost for the investment community as we inch closer toward Expo 2020,” said Andrew Campbell, managing director, Brand Finance Middle East.

The rise in Emaar’s brand value comes despite lingering uncertainty over Dubai’s real estate market. The developer’s shares have fallen more than 20 percent so far this year, as soft economic conditions and increasingly supply continue to weigh on prices and rental rates.

The UAE is home to 6 of the region’s top 10 brands and 42 percent of the total brand value in the Brand Finance Middle East 50 league table, more than any other country. But Saudi firms accounted for 21 of the region’s most valuable 50 brands, up from 18 in 2017. 

STC topped Brand Finance’s inaugural Saudi rankings. SABIC, in second place, was the Kingdom’s fastest growing brand of the past year, its value increasing 78 percent to $3.7 billion, which the consultancy attributed to the company’s renewed efforts to capitalize on the US shale boom by growing its business in the country. 

Banks accounted for 11 of Saudi Arabia’s 25 most valuable brands, led by Al-Rajhi Bank, the world’s largest Islamic bank by total assets. Al-Rajhi’s brand value rose by 22 percent during the year, with NCB and Samba rising 16 percent and 14 percent respectively. 

Amazon was named as the world’s most valuable brand by Brand Finance in February, its value increasing 42 percent to $150.8 billion, with technology companies Apple, Google, Samsung and Facebook rounding out the top 5. 


Merkel seeks united front with China amid Trump trade fears

Updated 22 May 2018
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Merkel seeks united front with China amid Trump trade fears

  • Merkel seeks common ground to ward off trade war
  • Plans complicated by US policy moves

Chancellor Angela Merkel visits China on Thursday, seeking to close ranks with the world’s biggest exporting nation as US President Donald Trump shakes up explosive issues from trade to Iran’s nuclear deal.

Finding a common strategy to ward off a trade war and keep markets open will be Merkel’s priority when she meets with President Xi Jinping, as Washington brandishes the threat of imposing punitive tariffs on aluminum and steel imports.

“Both countries are in agreement that open markets and rules-based world trade are necessary. That’s the main focus of this trip,” Merkel’s spokeswoman Martina Fietz said in Berlin on Friday.

But closing ranks with Beijing against Washington risks being complicated by Saturday’s deal between China and the US to hold off tit-for-tat trade measures.

China’s economic health can only benefit Germany as the Asian giant is a big buyer of Made in Germany. But a deal between the US and China effectively leaves Berlin as the main target of Trump’s campaign against foreign imports that he claims harm US national security.

The US leader had already singled Germany out for criticism, saying it had “taken advantage” of the US by spending less than Washington on NATO.

Underlining what is at stake, French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire warned the US-China deal may come “at the expense of Europe if Europe is not capable of showing a firm hand.”

Nevertheless, Merkel can look to her carefully nurtured relationship with China over her 12 years as chancellor.

No Western leader has visited Beijing as often as Merkel, who will be undertaking her eleventh trip to the country.

In China, she is viewed not only as the main point of contact for Europe, but, crucially, also as a reliable interlocutor — an antithesis of the mercurial Trump.

Devoting her weekly podcast to her visit, Merkel stressed that Beijing and Berlin “are both committed to the rules of the WTO” (World Trade Organization) and want to “strengthen multilateralism.”

But she also underlined that she will press home Germany’s longstanding quest for reciprocity in market access as well as the respect of intellectual property.

Ahead of her visit, Beijing fired off a rare salvo of criticism.

China’s envoy to Germany, Shi Mingde, pointed to a “protectionist trend in Germany,” as he complained about toughened rules protecting German companies from foreign takeovers.

Only 0.3 percent of foreign investors in Germany stem from China while German firms have put in €80 billion in the Asian giant over the last three decades, he told Stuttgarter Nachrichten.

“Economic exchange cannot work as a one-way street,” he warned.

Meanwhile, looming over the battle on the trade front is another equally thorny issue — the historic Iran nuclear deal, which risks falling apart after Trump pulled the US out.

Tehran has demanded that Europe keeps the deal going by continuing economic cooperation, but the US has warned European firms of sanctions if they fail to pull out of Iran.

Merkel “hopes that China can help save the atomic deal that the US has unilaterally ditched,” said Die Welt daily.

“Because only the giant emerging economy can buy enough raw materials from Iran to give the Mullah regime an incentive to at least officially continue to not build a nuclear weapon.”