Arab officials discuss Brexit opportunities in London

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Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit speaking at the event. (Supplied)
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Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit speaking at the event. (Supplied)
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GCC Secretary General Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani speaking at the event. (Supplied)
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Mohamed Abdo Saeed, President of The Union of Arab Chambers addressing the event. (Supplied)
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Mohamed Abdo Saeed, President of The Union of Arab Chambers addressing the event. (Supplied)
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Dr. Sami A. Alabidi, Chairman of Council of Saudi Chambers make a speech during the event. (Supplied)
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Arab British Economic Summit panel. (Supplied)
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Arab British Economic Summit at Queen Elizabeth II Center in London (Supplied)
Updated 05 July 2019
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Arab officials discuss Brexit opportunities in London

  • Conference, hosted by Arab British Chamber of Commerce (ABCC), tackled areas regarding infrastructure, investment, sustainable development and renewable energy
  • head of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Secretary-General Abdullatif Al-Zayani, spoke at the event

LONDON: Senior Arab officials and organizations met with their UK counterparts at a summit in London on Wednesday to discuss investment and bilateral opportunities, as the country prepares to leave the EU.
“Britain is on the verge of a crucial turning point in its relationships with the rest of the world,” said Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit. “The Arab world has a combined gross domestic product (GDP) exceeding $2.5 trillion annually. It has great economic power, wants sustainable investments in Britain, and sustainable British investments in its own countries.”
The head of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Secretary-General Abdullatif Al-Zayani, said harnessing the talents of young people — “a genuine asset to the region” — would be essential for any future relationship between the UK and GCC countries.
“If our societies can harness the energy and resourcefulness of our young people, then they can lead us into a vibrant new world with possibilities we could not have dreamed of a few years ago, but which to them are second nature,” he claimed.
The conference, hosted by the Arab British Chamber of Commerce (ABCC), tackled areas regarding infrastructure, investment, sustainable development and renewable energy opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa.

The chairman of the Council of Saudi Chambers, Sami Al-Abidi, said the Kingdom’s delegation represented Saudi Arabia’s experience in investment, infrastructure and reliance on sustainable development, as well as current projects being undertaken by the Saudi government and in the private sector. 
“Saudi Arabia has had a historic relationship with Britain with many old mutual investments, and now we are at a turning point as investment is increasing with very high returns due to the Vision 2030,” Al-Abidi told Arab News. 
Meanwhile, the President of the Union of Arab Chambers said commercial activities would expand between the two countries if the UK leaves the EU.
Mohamed Abdo Saeed said: “If the UK follows through with Brexit, this relationship is only going to be stronger and will see new British investments in the Kingdom, as well as Saudi capital in Britain.”

FASTFACT

£50 billion

The UK's trading relationship with the Middle East region exceeds £50 billion ($62.5 billion).

UK trade commissioner for the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Simon Penney, said Britain’s trading relationships with the region exceeded £50 billion ($62.5 billion), and that the GCC was the UK’s fourth largest trading partner outside of the EU.
“We are very keen to partner with Saudi companies and Brexit offers many opportunities, particularly around Vision 2030, but also around future trading relationships,” he told Arab News, adding that he would be visiting Riyadh soon to follow up on their commitments and obligations toward the vision.
“We are a trading island nation that has done so for hundreds of years, and we have always traded with the Arab world, and want to ensure that those relationships are developed properly.”

The chair of the Arab International Women’s Forum, Baroness Symons, said the UK was focusing on technology, the environment, youth and their employment and women’s issues in the region.
“The Kingdom has opened not only windows, but doors as well, for women to be more engaged in the economy, get the best education and be given more opportunities,” she said.
ABCC Secretary-General Haifa Al-Kaylani stressed the long-standing relations between the two Kingdoms were “dramatically increasing” every year. 
Several Saudi businesses were present at the summit, among them Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia), to shed light on the Kingdom’s investment opportunities and support new businesses.
“Saudi Arabia is now on everybody’s mind when they talk about investment and I tell people this is the time to invest because, by 2025 and 2030, there will be a great return on investment,” Frank Valle, Saudia’s manager of sales and marketing in the UK and Ireland, told Arab News.


Debut of China’s Nasdaq-style board adds $44bn in market cap

Updated 22 July 2019
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Debut of China’s Nasdaq-style board adds $44bn in market cap

  • Activity draws attention away from main board

BEIJING: Trading on China’s new Nasdaq-style board for homegrown tech firms hit fever pitch on Monday, with shares up as much as 520 percent in a wild debut that more than doubled the exchange’s combined market capitalization and beat veteran investors’ expectations.

Sixteen of the first batch of 25 companies — ranging from chip-makers to health care firms — increased their already frothy initial public offering (IPO) prices by 136 percent on the STAR Market, operated by the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

The raucous first day of trade tripped the exchange’s circuit breakers that are designed to calm frenzied activity. The weakest performer leapt 84.22 percent. In total, the day saw the creation of around 305 billion yuan ($44.3 billion) in new market capitalization on top of an initial market cap of around 225 billion yuan, according to Reuters’ calculations.

“The price gains are crazier than we expected,” said Stephen Huang, vice president of Shanghai See Truth Investment Management. “These are good companies, but valuations are too high. Buying them now makes no sense.”

Modelled after Nasdaq, and complete with a US-style IPO system, STAR may be China’s boldest attempt at capital market reforms yet. It is also seen driven by Beijing’s ambition to become technologically self-reliant as a prolonged trade war with Washington catches Chinese tech firms in the crossfire.

Trading in Anji Microelectronics Technology (Shanghai) Co. Ltd., a semiconductor firm, was briefly halted twice as the company’s shares hit two circuit breakers — first after rising 30 percent, then after climbing 60 percent from the market open.

HIGHLIGHTS

• 16 of 25 STAR Market firms more than double from IPO price.

• Weakest performer gains 84 percent, average gain of 140 percent.

• STAR may be China’s boldest attempt at capital market reforms yet.

The mechanisms did little to keep Anji shares in check as they soared as much as 520 percent from their IPO price in the morning session. Anji shares ended the day up 400.2 percent from their IPO price, the day’s biggest gain, giving the company a valuation of nearly 242 times 2018 earnings.

Suzhou Harmontronics Automation Technology Co. Ltd., in contrast, triggered its circuit breaker in the opposite direction, falling 30 percent from the market open in early trade before rebounding. But by the market close, the company’s shares were still 94.61 percent higher than their IPO price.

Wild share price swings, partly the result of loose trading rules, had been widely expected. IPOs had been oversubscribed by an average of about 1,700 times among retail investors.

The STAR Market sets no limits on share prices during the first five days of a company’s trading. That compares with a cap of 44 percent on debut on other boards in China.

In subsequent trading sessions, stocks on the new tech board will be allowed to rise or fall a maximum 20 percent in a day, double the 10 percent daily limit on other boards.

Regulators last week cautioned individual investors against “blindly” buying STAR Market stocks, but said big fluctuations were normal.

Looser trading rules were aimed at “giving market players adequate freedom in the game, accelerating the formation of equilibrium prices, and boosting price-setting efficiency,” the Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) said in a statement on Friday.

The SSE added that it was normal to see big swings in newly listed tech shares, as such companies typically have uncertain prospects, and are difficult to evaluate.