Saudi Arabia’s Savola issues 1-billion riyal sukuk

Savola's issue comes after Saudi Arabia this year reduced fees for new debt offerings and annual registration charges for issuers, as part of efforts to spur local market activity. (File photo:Reuters)
Updated 11 July 2019
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Saudi Arabia’s Savola issues 1-billion riyal sukuk

DUBAI: Savola Group, Saudi Arabia's largest food products company, confirmed on Tuesday it had raised 1 billion riyals ($267 million) in sukuk, or Islamic bonds, in a deal arranged by the Saudi arm of HSBC.
Savola made the deal public in a bourse filing, confirming what sources familiar with the matter had earlier told Reuters.
Savola and other consumer goods companies in Saudi Arabia are suffering from the effects of subsidy cuts, the introduction of VAT sales tax and an exodus of expatriates, which have all put pressure on consumer spending.
The company had said in May it planned to issue the bonds to back its financial and strategic needs.
Savola's bonds, issued last week, offer investors a profit rate equivalent to 160 basis points over the 6-month Saudi interbank offered rate.
One of the sources said the deal was priced at the level at which it was initially marketed, which is unusual in bond markets, where new issues tend to price below initial price guidance, reflecting demand.
A spokesman for Savola referred to the company's filing, which said subscription requests for the new bonds exceeded the issuance value by more than 1.6 times.
HSBC declined to comment.
Around half the value of the privately placed sukuk, with a seven-year maturity, was exchanged with previous Islamic bonds issued by the company, Savola said.
Savola's issue comes after Saudi Arabia this year reduced fees for new debt offerings and annual registration charges for issuers, as part of efforts to spur local market activity. ($1 = 3.7503 riyals)


BMW picks insider Zipse as CEO to catch up with rivals

Oliver Zipse
Updated 19 July 2019
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BMW picks insider Zipse as CEO to catch up with rivals

  • German giant has lost ground to Mercedes-Benz and Tesla as tech steps up

FRANKFURT: BMW has named Oliver Zipse as its new CEO, continuing the German carmaker’s tradition of promoting production chiefs to the top job even as the auto industry expands into new areas such as technology and services.
Hailing Zipse’s “decisive” leadership style, BMW hopes the 55-year-old can help it win back its edge in electric cars and the premium market  from rival Mercedes-Benz.
But some analysts questioned whether Zipse was the right choice with new fields such as software and services like car-sharing becoming increasingly important.
“What is intriguing is the cultural bias to appoint the head of production. It works sometimes but ... being good at building cars is not a defining edge the way it was 20 years ago,” said Jefferies analyst Philippe Houchois.
Current CEO Harald Krueger, and former chiefs Norbert Reithofer, Bernd Pischetsrieder and Joachim Milberg were all former production heads.
Zipse joined BMW as a trainee in 1991 and served as head of brand and product strategies and boss of BMW’s Oxford plant in England before joining the board.
He will become chief executive on Aug. 16, taking over from Krueger who said he would not be available for a second term.
“With Oliver Zipse, a decisive strategic and analytical leader will assume the Chair of the Board of Management of BMW. He will provide fresh momentum in shaping  the future,” said Reithofer.
Zipse helped expand BMW’s efficient production network in Hungary, China and the US, in a move that delivered industry-leading profit margins.
Under Krueger, BMW was overtaken in 2016 by Mercedes-Benz as the best-selling luxury car brand.
It also had an early lead over US  rival Tesla in electric cars, but scaled back ambitions after its i3 model failed to sell large numbers.
Reithofer initially championed Krueger’s low-key consensus-seeking leadership, but pressured him to roll out electric vehicles more aggressively, forcing Krueger to skip the Paris Motor Show in 2016 to reevaluate BMW’s electric strategy.
Krueger’s reluctance to push low-margin electric vehicles led to an exodus of talented electric vehicle experts, including Christian Senger, now Volkswagen’s (VW) board member responsible for software, and Audi’s Markus Duesmann, who is seen as a future CEO of the company.
Both were poached by VW CEO Herbert Diess, a former BMW board member responsible for research who was himself passed over for BMW’s top job in 2015.
VW has since pushed a radical 80 billion euro ($90 billion) electric car mass production strategy, and a sweeping alliance with Ford.

Other skills
“A CEO needs to have an idea for how mobility will evolve in the future. This goes far beyond optimising an existing business,” said Carsten Breitfeld, chief executive of China-based ICONIQ motors, and former BMW engineer. “He needs to build teams, attract talent, and promote a culture oriented along consumer electronics and internet dynamics.”
German manufacturers have dominated the high-performance market for decades, but analysts warn shifts towards sophisticated technology and software is opening the door to new challengers.
“Tesla has a lead of three to four years in areas like software and electronics. There is a risk that the Germans can’t catch up,” UBS analyst Patrick Hummel said.
Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport car magazine, normally quick to champion German manufacturers, this week ran a cover questioning BMW’s future.
“Production expertise is important, but if you want to avoid ending up being a hardware provider for Google or Apple, you need to have the ability to move up the food chain into data and software,” a former BMW board member said.