Saudi investments in Britain reach 60 billion pounds

Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi
Updated 23 July 2016
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Saudi investments in Britain reach 60 billion pounds

LONDON: There are huge Saudi investments in the UK and they amount to nearly 60 billion pounds, according to Minister of Commerce and Investment Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi.
The minister made the remark following participation in the work of the second Gulf-British Economic Forum, organized by the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce, in London.
In a statement to Saudi Press Agency (SPA, he lauded the bilateral commercial ties and pointed out that the official Arab and British attendance at the forum indicates the status of importance that both sides attach to the development of cooperation, in various trade and investment fields.
He explained that Britain is a historical friend and ally of the states of the region and there must be concerted efforts to discuss the opportunities and challenges that contribute to the development of investment bridges between the two sides, especially after Britain's decision to leave the European Union (EU).
Referring to the large expansion that has occurred in trade and investment cooperation between the Gulf and Britain in education, defense and other investment activities, the minister noted that Saudi investments in the UK are huge and the Kingdom's participation in such and other international forums is due to the government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, which has adopted policies that encourage marketing and investment opportunities. This is in line with Saudi Vision 2030, the minister added.
He mentioned that Saudi investments in the UK amounted to nearly 60 billion pounds in various domains.


Crisis at India's Jet worsens as it grounds planes, faces strike

The debt-laden carrier has delayed payments to banks, suppliers, pilots and lessors. (Reuters)
Updated 21 min 31 sec ago
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Crisis at India's Jet worsens as it grounds planes, faces strike

  • More than 20,000 people are employed in the company
  • The company had to stop more than 50% of their aircraft due to insufficient funds

MUMBAI: India's Jet Airways was fighting multiple crises Wednesday after grounding six planes, leaving it with only a third of its fleet flying, while pilots have threatened to walk out and a major shareholder is reportedly looking to offload its huge stake.

The problems at India's number-two carrier come as other airlines struggle to turn a profit despite the sector rapidly expanding in the country over recent years.

Jet, which employs more than 20,000 people, is gasping under debts of more than $1 billion and has now been forced to ground a total of 78 of its 119 aircraft after failing to pay lenders and aircraft lessors.

In a statement late Tuesday announcing its latest grounding, the firm it said it was "actively engaging" with lenders to secure fresh liquidity and wanted to "minimise disruption".

But with hundreds of customers left stranded, Jet's social media accounts have been flooded with often suddenly stranded passengers demanding information, new flight tickets and refunds.

"@jetairways We book our flights in advance so that we save on travel cost and you are sending cancellation (message) now?", read one irate tweet on Wednesday.

"I have sent a DM (direct message) regarding my ticket details. Please respond!", said Sachin Deshpande, according to his Twitter profile a design engineer.

Another, Ankit Maloo, wrote: "Received an email for all together cancellation of flight days before departure without any prior intimation or communication over phone!"

The firm is also facing pressure from its many pilots who have not been paid on time, with unions threatening they will walk off the job if salaries do not arrive soon.

"Pilots will stop flying jet planes from 1st April 2019 if the company does not disburse due salaries and take concrete decisions," a spokesperson for the National Aviator's Guild, a pilots union, told AFP.

India's aviation regulator on Tuesday warned Jet Airways to ensure that staffers facing stress are not forced to operate flights.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that Etihad Airways of the United Arab Emirates has offered to sell its 24 percent stake in Jet to State Bank of India (SBI).

A collapse would deal a blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pragmatic pro-business reputation ahead of elections starting on April 11.

India's passenger numbers have rocketed six-fold over the past decade with its middle-class taking advantage of better connectivity and cheaper flights.

The country's aviation sector is projected to become the world's third-largest by 2025.

But like other carries, Mumbai-based Jet has been badly hit by fluctuating global crude prices, a weak rupee and fierce competition from budget rivals.

Alarm bells for Jet first rang in August when it failed to report its quarterly earnings or pay its staff, including pilots, on time. It then later reported a loss of $85 million.

In February, it secured a $1.19 billion bailout from lenders including SBI to bridge a funding gap, but the crisis has since deepened.

"Jet Airways is rapidly reaching a point of no return and running out of assets to keep itself afloat," Devesh Agarwal, editor of the Bangalore Aviation website, told AFP.

"The only solution is equity expansion by diluting its stakes but Jet is just trying to cut losses and running out of options," Agarwal said.

Shares in Jet Airways were down more than five percent on Wednesday.