National banks deliver to boost Saudi stocks

Saudi Arabia’s index gained 1.2 percent. (Reuters)
Updated 07 February 2019
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National banks deliver to boost Saudi stocks

  • National Commercial Bank added 3.9 percent, while Al Rajhi Bank was up 1.4 percent after the Capital Market Authority approved an increase in capital
  • Saudi Arabia’s impending entry into emerging market indexes should mean a $15 billion inflow of passive benchmark-linked funds

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s index gained 1.2 percent with National Commercial Bank adding 3.9 percent. Ratings agency Moody’s said the bank’s brand and diversified assets make it resilient to slower economic growth in Saudi Arabia.
Al Rajhi Bank was up 1.4 percent after the Capital Market Authority approved an increase in capital. The bank, which is currently capitalized at SR16.25 billion ($4.3 billion), proposed increasing its capital to up to SR25 billion.
Saudi Arabia’s impending entry into emerging market indexes should mean a $15 billion inflow of “passive” benchmark-linked funds, which will attract billions more of active funds, regardless of low oil prices or geopolitical tensions.
Saudi’s Almarai climbed 1.7 percent after the firm said it would acquire Premier Foods for an enterprise value of SR108 million.
In Dubai, the index added 0.5 percent with Emirates NBD, its largest bank, gaining 2.1 percent. The company called a shareholders’ meeting on Feb. 20 to discuss the issue of non-convertible securities.
Commercial Bank of Dubai rose 0.8 percent after its board proposed a full-year cash dividend of 20.7 percent of its share capital. The Abu Dhabi index rose 0.2 percent, with Emirates Telecommunications gaining 0.6 percent. Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank increased 1.6 percent to its highest since April 2016, its third straight session of gains. The lender has gained since reporting a 23 percent increase in its fourth-quarter net profit.
Qatar’s index edged down 0.1 percent, with Commercial Bank declining 0.8 percent despite reporting a higher full-year net profit and proposing a cash dividend of 1.5 riyal per share for the same period.
Egypt’s blue-chip share index rose sharply on Tuesday boosted by major lender Commercial International Bank after its strong fourth-quarter earnings, while banks also lifted Saudi Arabia’s stock market.
Egypt’s index gained for a ninth straight session, climbing 2.6 percent with 27 of its 30 stocks rising.
The country’s biggest lender Commercial International Bank jumped 3.9 percent after it reported fourth-quarter net profit after interest of 2.56 billion Egyptian pounds ($146 million) compared to 1.87 billion pounds a year ago. Global Telecom Holding climbed 3.3 percent to its highest since July after major shareholder Veon said that it offered to buy out the firm.


Gulf defense spending ‘to top $110bn by 2023’

Updated 15 February 2019
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Gulf defense spending ‘to top $110bn by 2023’

  • Saudi Arabia and UAE initiatives ‘driving forward industrial defense capabilities’
  • Budgets are increasing as countries pursue modernization of equipment and expansion of their current capabilities

LONDON: Defense spending by Gulf Arab states is expected to rise to more than $110 billion by 2023, driven partly by localized military initiatives by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, a report has found.

Budgets are increasing as countries pursue the modernization of equipment and expansion of their current capabilities, according to a report by analytics firm Jane’s by IHS Markit.

Military expenditure in the Gulf will increase from $82.33 billion in 2013 to an estimated $103.01 billion in 2019, and is forecast to continue trending upward to $110.86 billion in 2023.

“Falling energy revenues between 2014 and 2016 led to some major procurement projects being delayed as governments reigned in budget deficits,” said Charles Forrester, senior defense industry analyst at Jane’s.

“However, defense was generally protected from the worst of the spending cuts due to regional security concerns and budgets are now growing again.”

Major deals in the region have included Eurofighter Typhoon purchases by countries including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Saudi Arabia is also looking to “localize” 50 percent of total government military spending in the Kingdom by 2030, and in 2017 announced the launch of the state-owned military industrial company Saudi Arabia Military Industries.

Forrester said such moves will boost the ability for Gulf countries to start exporting, rather than purely importing defense equipment.

“Within the defense sector, the establishment of Saudi Arabia Military Industries (SAMI) in 2017 and consolidation of the UAE’s defense industrial base through the creation of Emirates Defense Industries Company (EDIC) in 2014 have helped consolidate and drive forward industrial defense capabilities,” he said.

“This has happened as the countries focus on improving the quality of the defense technological work packages they undertake through offset, as well as increasing their ability to begin exporting defense equipment.”

Regional countries are also considering the use of “disruptive technologies” such as artificial intelligence in defense, Forrester said.

Meanwhile, it emerged on Friday that worldwide outlays on weapons and defense rose 1.8 percent to more than $1.67 trillion in 2018.

The US was responsible for almost half that increase, according to “The Military Balance” report released at the Munich Security Conference and quoted by Reuters.

Western powers were concerned about Russia’s upgrades of air bases and air defense systems in Crimea, the report said, but added that “China perhaps represents even more of a challenge, as it introduces yet more advanced military systems and is engaged in a strategy to improve its forces’ ability to operate at distance from the homeland.”