Dubai’s Vista Global agrees to buy Uber-style private jet booker

Updated 10 April 2019

Dubai’s Vista Global agrees to buy Uber-style private jet booker

  • Equity swap expected to close by second quarter
  • Vista competes with Warren Buffett's NetJets

LONDON: Dubai-based Vista Global has agreed to buy JetSmarter which allows well-heeled travelers to book private jets on demand.
Vista Global, headquartered at the Dubai International Financial Center and run by the Swiss billionaire Thomas Flohr, is acquiring the US company for an undisclosed sum.
He said: “Customers today want speed, reliability and value, which in today’s world is only possible with technology.”
The acquisition underscores a trend of moving away from private jet ownership globally as more people choose to buy flying hours instead.
The Middle East has traditionally been a strong market for private jet operators with the Dubai Airshow a popular parade ring for planemakers and private jet charter companies.
But a regional economic slowdown, especially in the oil and gas sector, has hurt underlying demand for private jet services.
Founded in 2012, JetSmarter had planned to IPO and was valued at $1.6 billion just three years ago, but has since faced tough trading.
The equity swap deal is expected to complete in the second quarter of 2019 and it means that JetSmarter investors that include Clearlake Capital and Jefferies Financial Group will now become investors in Vista Global.
Vista competes with NetJets, part of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway empire.

UAE to impose 50% tax on soft drinks in health drive

Updated 21 August 2019

UAE to impose 50% tax on soft drinks in health drive

  • The 50% tax on soft drinks and 100% on vaping products start Jan. 1, 2020
  • The government says the taxes are necessary to help persuade people to make healthier choices

DUBAI: The UAE government has announced new taxes of up to 100 percent aimed at vaping and soft drinks, in a bid to reduce the consumption of unhealthy products.

Starting Jan. 1, 2020, the new list of taxable products will include sugary and sweetened soft drinks, as well as powders that can be used to make drinks, and electronic smoking devices.

A statement on state-run news agency WAM said the step is aimed at reducing “consumption of unhealthy goods and modifying consumers’ behavior.”

The Cabinet decision, will add a 50 percent tax on soft drinks with added sugar, in form of a liquid, concentrate, powders, extracts or any product that may be converted into a drink.

Vaping devices and the associated products will be taxed at 100%. (File/Shutterstock)

“The decision also requires manufacturers to clearly identify the sugar content in order for consumers to make sensible healthy choices,” the statement read.

The cabinet also announced the introduction of a 100 percent tax on electronic smoking devices - irrespective of whether they contain nicotine or tobacco - and the liquids used in the devices.

The UAE government first introduced a tax on specific goods deemed harmful to human health in 2017.