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. 


Maalem Financing raises $26m in debut sukuk

Updated 17 October 2018
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Maalem Financing raises $26m in debut sukuk

  • The sukuk from Maalem, a shariah-compliant commercial and consumer financing firm, is a small but novel deal
  • The three-year unsubordinated deal was sold through a private placement and Maalem could tap the market again

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s Maalem Financing has raised SR100 million ($26.6 million) from a debut sale of Islamic bonds, or sukuk, as the firm seeks to develop a crowdfunding product and expand its operations, a senior executive said on Tuesday.
The sukuk from Maalem, a shariah-compliant commercial and consumer financing firm, is a small but novel deal in a market that is dominated by issuance from sovereign institutions and Islamic banks.
The three-year unsubordinated deal was sold through a private placement and Maalem could tap the market again as early as January next year, said John Sandwick, a member of Maalem’s board of directors.
“The program is for SR500 million and with 3.6 times oversubscription, there seems to be a lot of demand,” he said.
Additional sales of sukuk aimed to raise between SR100 million and SR200 million, depending on market conditions, he said, adding that Maalem may consider a dollar-denominated sukuk issuance at a later stage.
The debut transaction used a structure known as murabaha, a cost-plus-profit arrangement commonly used in Saudi Arabia. The firm hoped to use an asset-backed structure for future deals, Sandwick said.
Established in 2009, Maalem received regulatory approval to operate as a non-real estate finance company in 2016 and increased its capital in 2017 to SR150 million.
The company plans to open several regional offices by the end of 2018 and is awaiting regulatory approval for a crowdfunding license, Sandwick said.
Crowdfunding enables startup firms to collect small sums of money from many individuals as an alternative to bank loans.
Albilad Capital, the investment banking unit of Bank Albilad, served as sole lead manager and arranger of the sukuk.