Kuwait Projects Co. hires Goldman Sachs for sale of OSN — sources

Boats sail in front of Kuwait City’s skyline. (File photo / AFP)
Updated 22 November 2018
0

Kuwait Projects Co. hires Goldman Sachs for sale of OSN — sources

DUBAI: Kuwait Projects Co. (KIPCO), the Gulf state’s largest investment company, has hired Goldman Sachs to advise it on the sale of its majority stake in pay-television operator OSN, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
OSN, which this year signed its first partnership deal in the region with Netflix, reported income of 12.38 million dinars ($40.7 million) for the period from July 1 to August 8, according to KIPCO’s latest financial results.
KIPCO and Goldman Sachs declined to comment.
KIPCO said in the results, released last week, that the company’s board had approved initiating a plan to divest its 60.5 percent equity interest in Panther Media Group, also known as OSN, and had engaged an international investment banker for the purpose. It did not disclose the name of the banker.
Dubai-based OSN has been facing fierce competition in a changing entertainment landscape that has involved a move away from traditional paid television providers.
With the rights to broadcast into countries across the Middle East and North Africa, OSN has more than 180 channels, according to its website. Its other shareholder is Mawarid Group.
OSN faces subdued demand in its core markets due to piracy, geopolitical factors and fiscal reforms by governments which have led to sizeable expatriate populations leaving some of its core markets, said Anuj Rohtagi, director of group financial control at KIPCO in KIPCO’s third-quarter earnings conference call on Nov. 15. He added OSN was taking action to cut costs and attract new customers.
It is not the first time KIPCO has explored offloading at least some of its stake in OSN. In 2014, it said it planned to start the process for an initial public offering of OSN shares.


HSBC plans more China tech jobs in push for market share

Updated 36 min 41 sec ago
0

HSBC plans more China tech jobs in push for market share

  • Europe’s biggest bank by assets will boost headcount at its technology centers in Guangzhou, Shanghai and Xi’an by 14 percent
  • HSBC’s expansion plan in China comes amid growing use of technology in the financial sector — from payments to transactions
HONG KONG: HSBC plans to add more than 1,000 jobs this year at its technology development centers in China, as the Asia-focused lender seeks to bolster its presence in the world’s second largest economy.
Europe’s biggest bank by assets will boost headcount at its technology centers in Guangzhou, Shanghai and Xi’an by 14 percent from a current 7,000-strong workforce, said HSBC Chief Information Officer Darryl West.
In recent years the London-based bank has spent $3 billion annually on its group technology operations which employ 40,000 people worldwide, and West said annual investments of $3-$3.5 billion are planned over the next few years.
Many global banks set up low-cost hubs in China and India more than a decade ago to maintain their complex worldwide information technology networks, but these centers have now become a core part of their operations.
The centers develop and implement risk and fraud management technologies, as well as digital applications that make it easier for banks to attract customers and deliver faster and more secure services.
HSBC’s expansion plan in China, a key market for the bank, comes amid growing use of technology in the financial sector — from payments to transactions.
At stake is a bigger share of the billions of dollars worth of retail and corporate banking business in a major financial market with a growing customer base.
“There is a lot more we can do with technology in mainland China. The level of technology adoption and innovation in China is way ahead of other markets,” West told reporters during a tour of HSBC’s technology center in the southern city of Guangzhou last week.
“We see mainland China as a tremendous source of talent, not just for the local market but our technology operations globally. We are hiring very aggressively here,” he added.
About 30 percent of the work done at the Guangzhou center, the largest HSBC tech facility in China with more than 5,000 employees, is for the mainland market and that share is expected to grow over the next couple of years.
HSBC is also using China-based tech centers to develop banking products for its global network, such as the bank’s UK mobile app which was developed in the northwestern city of Xi’an.
Outside China, HSBC employs more than 10,000 people at technology centers in India, with the rest in countries such as Britain, Canada, Hong Kong and the United States.
HSBC has in recent years lifted investment in China, including the prosperous southern Pearl River Delta region. Mainland China and Hong Kong together accounted for nearly 40 percent of the bank’s revenue in 2018.
The bank will invest $15-$17 billion in the next three years in areas including technology and China, its Chief Executive John Flint said last year.
The limited physical presence of foreign banks in China compared to dominant domestic rivals has been a challenge.
HSBC’s losses in retail banking and wealth management (RBWM) in mainland China widened to $200 million last year from $44 million in 2017. The bank aimed to reverse that with its investments in technology.
“Things like that, we see as very important for the next phase of our business growth ... once the major investments have gone in, RBWM will grow bigger and also profitable,” said HSBC Greater China Chief Executive Helen Wong.