Almarai buys land in California to grow fodder

Updated 11 January 2016

Almarai buys land in California to grow fodder

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Almarai Co, the largest dairy company in the Gulf, has spent $31.8 million to buy land in California to supply its business with alfalfa hay, it said.
The 1,790 acres of land, acquired through Almarai’s Fondomonte California LLC operation and located in Blythe in the southeast corner of the US state, was financed through its own resources, the company said in a statement to the Saudi bourse.
Almarai, which already owns land in Arizona, said the purchase was part of efforts to secure high-quality hay from outside Saudi Arabia, in line with Saudi government policy.
Saudi Arabia is phasing out the growing of crops and fodder because of the strain such cultivation places on scarce water resources in the Kingdom.
The cultivation of green fodder will end in the next three years, a December cabinet statement said.
Almarai’s costs will increase by SR200 million ($53 million) this year because of the ban on green fodder, with the amount rising each year until the company imports all its green fodder by 2019, it said in a separate bourse filing.
The purchase comes at a time when California is suffering its own water shortages.
The state is in its fourth year of drought conditions, forcing residents and businesses to curtail water usage.
California’s drought is expected to have cost the state’s economy an estimated $2.74 billion last year, with farmers having to fallow 542,000 acres of land because of dry conditions and difficulty obtaining water for irrigation, according to research from the University of California, Davis.


Bank jobs go as HSBC and Emirates NBD reduce costs

Updated 15 November 2019

Bank jobs go as HSBC and Emirates NBD reduce costs

  • Others have also reduced headcount amid economic downturn and property market weakness

DUBAI: HSBC Holdings has laid off about 40 bankers in the UAE and Emirates NBD is cutting around 100 jobs, as banks in the Arab world’s second-biggest economy reduce costs.

The cuts come amid weak economic growth, especially in Dubai, which is suffering from a property downturn.

HSBC’s redundancies came after the London-based bank reported a sharp fall in earnings and warned of a costly restructuring, as interim CEO Noel Quinn seeks to tackle its problems head-on.

HSBC has about 3,000 staff in the UAE, part of a nearly 10,000-strong workforce in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey.

The cuts at Dubai’s largest lender Emirates NBD came in consumer sales and liabilities, one source said, while a second played down the significance of the move.

HSBC and Emirates NBD declined to comment.

“The cuts are part of cost cutting and rationalizing to drive efficiencies in a challenging market,” the second source said.

Other banks have also reduced staff this year. UAE central bank data shows local banks laid off 446 people in the 12 months until the end of September. Foreign banks added staff in the same period.

Staff at local banks account for over 80 percent of the 35,518 banking employees in the country.

The merger between Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Union Commercial Bank and Al Hilal Bank saw hundreds of redundancies.

Commercial Bank International (CBI) said it would offer voluntary retirement to employees in September, which sources said saw over 100 departures. Standard Chartered, too, cut over 100 jobs in the UAE in September.

Rating agency Fitch warned in September a weakening property market would put more pressure on the UAE’s banking sector.