Saudi Arabia, Pakistan ‘to sign deals worth up to $20 billion’

Pakistan army trucks park outside a presidential palace as security is beefed up in Islamabad ahead of the visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)
Updated 17 February 2019
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Saudi Arabia, Pakistan ‘to sign deals worth up to $20 billion’

  • More than 30 public and private companies are poised to invest in Pakistan, including Saudi Aramco, SABIC and ACWA Power
  • The sectors targeted for Saudi investment include oil refining, petrochemical, mining, construction, power generation, agriculture and glass

KARACHI: Saudi Arabia is expected to announce investments in Pakistan worth between $15 billion and $20 billion during Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s official visit, according to the head of Pakistan’s Board of Investment.

The Kingdom and the UAE in recent months have offered Pakistan more than $30 billion in loans and investments to tackle a soaring current-account deficit. The Saudi crown prince is due to sign off on his country’s deals, including one for a $10 billion oil refinery in Pakistan’s Gwadar Port.

“We are expecting Saudi investment in the range of $15 billion to $20 billion based on the interest investors have expressed so far,” said Haroon Sharif, minister of state and chairman of the Board of Investment.

Sharif previously said that Pakistan expected investments worth about $15 billion from Saudi Arabia over the next three years, and about $40 billion from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and China combined in the next three to five years.

Mian Mehmood, the Pakistani head of the Pakistan-Saudi Arabia Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said recently that in addition to the oil refinery project, a further $10 billion is expected to be invested in sectors other than oil and gas, bringing the total to $20 billion.

“About 25 to 30 agreements are expected to be finalized during the visit of the crown prince,” said Mehmood who recently led a business delegation to the Kingdom to explore bilateral investment and cooperation opportunities.

More than 30 public and private companies are poised to invest in Pakistan, including Saudi Aramco, SABIC and ACWA Power, he added.

The sectors targeted for Saudi investment include oil refining, petrochemical, mining, construction, power generation, agriculture and glass.

“Ten Saudi manufacturing companies working in construction and allied materials, and 10 companies interested in the food processing sector will come to sign agreements,” Mehmood said.

Speaking this month during a visit to Gwadar to inspect the site of the $10 billion oil refinery, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said: “Saudi Arabia wants to make Pakistan’s economic development stable through establishing an oil refinery and partnership with Pakistan in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.”

Work on the refinery is expected to begin within 18 months.

“Once the project starts production, the country would be able to save about $2 billion in foreign exchange on costly imports,” said Samiullah Tariq, the head of research at investment firm Arif Habib Limited.


BMW plans massive cost cuts to keep profits from sputtering

Updated 20 March 2019
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BMW plans massive cost cuts to keep profits from sputtering

  • ‘Our business model must remain a profitable one in the digital era,’ chief executive Harald Krueger said
  • Total number of employees is set to remain flat at around 135,000 worldwide

MUNICH: German high-end carmaker BMW warned Wednesday it expects pre-tax profits “well below” 2018 levels this year as it announced a massive cost-cutting scheme aimed at saving $13.6 billion (€12 billion) in total by 2022.
A spokesman said that “well below” could indicate a tumble of more than 10 percent.
The Munich-based group’s 2019 result will be burdened with massive investments needed for the transition to electric cars, exchange rate headwinds and rising raw materials prices, it said in a statement.
Meanwhile it must pump more cash into measures to meet strict European carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions limits set to bite from next year.
And a one-off windfall in 2018’s results will create a negative comparison, even though pre-tax profits already fell 8.1 percent last year.
Bosses expect a “slight increase” in sales of BMW and Mini cars, with a slightly fatter operating margin that will nevertheless fall short of their 8.0-percent target.
“We will continue to implement forcefully the necessary measures for growth, continuing performance increases and efficiency,” finance director Nicolas Peter said at the group’s annual press conference.
BMW aims to achieve €12 billion of savings in the coming years through “efficiency improvements” including reducing the complexity of its range.
“Our business model must remain a profitable one in the digital era,” chief executive Harald Krueger said.
This year, most new recruits at the group will be IT specialists, while the total number of employees is set to remain flat at around 135,000 worldwide.
Departures from the sizeable fraction of the workforce born during the post-World War II baby boom and now reaching retirement age “will allow us to adapt the business even more to future topics,” BMW said.
All the firm’s forecasts are based on London and Brussels reaching a deal for an orderly Brexit and the United States foregoing new import taxes on European cars.
“Developments in tariffs” remain “a significant factor of uncertainty” in looking to the future, finance chief Peter said, adding that “the preparations for the UK’s exit from the EU will weigh on 2019’s results as well.”
In annual results released ahead of schedule last Friday, BMW blamed trade headwinds and new EU emissions tests for net profits tumbling 16.9 percent in 2018, to €7.2 billion.