Qatar infrastructure spend to boost Barwa Bank profit

Qatar infrastructure spend to boost Barwa Bank profit
Updated 11 December 2013

Qatar infrastructure spend to boost Barwa Bank profit

Qatar infrastructure spend to boost Barwa Bank profit

DUBAI: Barwa Bank, a Shariah-compliant Qatari lender, expects a sharp increase in its 2013 net profit, driven mainly by billions in infrastructure spending by the Gulf state and growth in its debt advisory and asset management business.
"For the first half of 2013, we were 85 percent up on the same period last year. And for the full year we’re moving along very strongly and expect a positive and material improvement in net profit over 2012," Chief Executive Steve Troop said in an interview as part of the Reuters Middle East Investment Summit.
The unlisted lender is awaiting regulators' approval a public floatation as part of two share sales planned to raise more than 2.05 billion riyals. It posted a profit of 345 million riyals ($94.75 million) for 2012, a 41 percent increase from the previous year.
The company's biggest shareholder, Barwa Real Estate, by contrast, on Monday reported a 40 percent drop in profits for the first nine months of 2013, having drawn on state aid earlier this year.
The four-year old bank, effectively controlled by an arm of the state's sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), is seeing a pick-up in infrastructure development in the country after a slowdown in the last two years, Troop said.
The tiny gas-rich state of Qatar launched plans to spend about $140 billion over the next decade on a rail system, a new airport, a seaport, and hundreds of kilometers (miles) of major new roads, in addition to stadiums that will host the 2022 World Cup soccer tournament.
Barwa outlined a fundraising plan in April which includes the public issue and a similar sized rights issue to existing shareholders.
"We understand that stock market regulators want to manage the runway and make sure we’re not all trying to go public on the same market at the same time so we’re waiting for the appropriate time slot," Troop said.
"We are in contact with the authorities to liaise on the perfect timing," he added.
Barwa Bank is 37.3 percent owned by Barwa Real Estate Co., while Qatar Holding, the investment arm of the Gulf state's sovereign wealth fund, has a 12.1 percent stake.
The remaining shares are owned by several individuals and corporations, according to the bank's results statements.
Barwa Bank, through its fully-owned investment banking arm, The First Investor (TFI), plans to partner with local investors in Qatar to invest in the healthcare sector, TFI Chief Executive Khalid Al-Subeai said in the interview.
"We’re focused on Qatar and we are looking to replicate our venture in the education sector into the healthcare sector," Al-Subeai said.
The bank in June set up an education company in Qatar and is now developing two private schools at a cost of 230 million riyals, yielding 8 percent annually, he added.
The bank also manages a Shariah-compliant Gulf equities fund, with 113 million riyals in assets. The fund has returned 19 percent to investors since inception in late 2012.
"We continue to see AUMs (assets under management) grow as we see the Gulf equity markets are more attractive for investors compared to money market products and the sukuk space," Al-Subeai, who previously ran Morgan Stanley Inc.'s business in Qatar, said.


Dubai’s Alabbar to lead new digital-only UAE bank

Dubai’s Alabbar to lead new digital-only UAE bank
Updated 19 min 17 sec ago

Dubai’s Alabbar to lead new digital-only UAE bank

Dubai’s Alabbar to lead new digital-only UAE bank
  • Online banking has become increasingly popular in the UAE, especially as a result of restrictions as a result of the pandemic

Dubai businessman Mohamed Alabbar is to lead a new digital bank set to be launched soon in the UAE.

Zand is being billed as “the world’s first combined digital corporate and retail bank” and is currently going through final approvals ahead of its launch, according to an announcement issued on Monday.

Alabbar is the founder of Emaar Properties — the Dubai developer behind The Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa — and also teamed up with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) to launch the Noon online shopping platform in 2017. As part of his latest venture, he will take on the role of chairman of Zand.

“The UAE combines progressive regulations with commercial, financial, and technology hubs. This provides the perfect environment for a world-leading digital bank that can launch in the UAE and scale beyond,” Alabbar said in a statement.

“As the first fully independent digital bank in the country, with a full UAE banking license, Zand will provide innovative, effective financial solutions that help simplify businesses and lives, addressing the needs of both retail and corporate customers.”

Online banking has become increasingly popular in the UAE, especially as a result of restrictions as a result of the pandemic, which made it harder to get to a physical bank branch.

A survey by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) last October found that 70 percent of respondents said that they are actively searching for a new bank and 87 percent said they would be willing to open an account with a branchless digital-only lender.

The same BCG survey found that 53 percent said that they were using banking mobile apps more often as a result of the pandemic and half of those surveyed had started using digital banking for the first time.

“UAE’s banking customers’ have a strong appetite for digital banks, and we see more growth in the demand of digital products during the pandemic,” Mohammad Khan, partner at BCG, was quoted as saying.


Bahrain Bourse expects to attract two more listings, says CEO

Bahrain Bourse expects to attract two more listings, says CEO
Updated 24 min 7 sec ago

Bahrain Bourse expects to attract two more listings, says CEO

Bahrain Bourse expects to attract two more listings, says CEO
  • The pandemic had prompted some companies to shelve planned offerings

RIYADH: Bahrain Bourse is expected to attract two new public offerings this year, its CEO told Asharq Business.
The first is a logistics company and the second an oil company, Sheikh Khalifa bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa, told the website
However, he said that the pandemic had prompted some companies to shelve planned offerings.
He said that the exchange was focused on easing the entry of investors into the market.
He also highlighted the launch of the Bahrain Bourse environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting guideline for listed companies, in response to rising appetite for such investments from global institutions.
The stock exchange applies the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS) to classify listed companies, he said, highlighting continued cooperation with Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul stock exchange, the largest in the region.
He said the bourse’s main objective was to diversify its investor based which is currently dominated by institutions, unlike some other regional exchanges where individual investors are more strongly represented,
Al-Khalifa pointed to the adoption of new listing rules that better guarantee the rights of investors, including those directed at companies with large accumulated losses.


We are happier at home say UAE workers

We are happier at home say UAE workers
Updated 39 min 54 sec ago

We are happier at home say UAE workers

We are happier at home say UAE workers
  • The Life and Beyond 2020 research after polling 10,000 workers in 11 countries to discover the impact of COVID-19 on their wellbeing

DUBAI: UAE workers are happy working from home according to a new study.

The Life and Beyond 2020 research, conducted by US-based technology company Avaya, revealed the UAE as “among the fondest of work-from-anywhere models,” after polling 10,000 workers in 11 countries to discover the impact of COVID-19 on their wellbeing.

The research found 64 percent of those polled in the UAE would support government policies aimed at adopting modern working practices, including remote working, adding it would contribute to their happiness.

The biggest worry for 51 percent of the country’s workforce was returning to work in the office full-time, the survey also revealed.

The UAE was also identified as the world’s best equipped country for remote working, with 64 percent claiming they have access to technology to be able to work from anywhere. Only 62 percent in the US said the same, and 55 percent inthe UK.


Al Ramz boss sees interest rate upside for UAE property

Al Ramz boss sees interest rate upside for UAE property
Updated 12 April 2021

Al Ramz boss sees interest rate upside for UAE property

Al Ramz boss sees interest rate upside for UAE property
  • Dubai-listed Al Ramz recorded a 2020 loss of investments of about 31 million dirhams ($8.4 million)

DUBAI: Low interest rates may fuel the recovery of the UAE real estate sector, according to the boss of one of the country’s biggest brokers.
The country is well positioned for an “accelerated bounce back from 2020 as all the ingredients for growth come back in play starting in 2021,”
Al Ramz chairman Dhafer Sahmi Al-Ahbabi said in the company’s annual report published on Monday.
“The backdrop of low interest rates not seen since the 2011 lows, will fuel the private sector and real estate sector in the country to fuel the growth over the next few years,” he said.

The UAE stock market has already signaled this positive outlook with the UAE indexes already outperforming in the EMEA and EM region in 2021.”
It comes after a tough year for regional brokers hit hard by the sharp decline in corporate profits and trading activity.
Dubai-listed Al Ramz recorded a 2020 loss of investments of about 31 million dirhams ($8.4 million), resulting to a net loss of 10.9 million dirhams, compared to a profit of 4.1 million in 2019.
Al Ramz had to diversify its income sources to buffer the blow of COVID-19, Al-Ahbabi said.


Dubai to become first location outside US to get self-driving vehicles

Dubai to become first location outside US to get self-driving vehicles
Updated 12 April 2021

Dubai to become first location outside US to get self-driving vehicles

Dubai to become first location outside US to get self-driving vehicles
  • The move will make Dubai the first location outside the US to operate self-driving vehicles

DUBAI: Dubai’s transport authority has signed an agreement with Cruise, a General Motors unit, to operate its autonomous vehicles in the emirate by 2023.
The move will make Dubai the first location outside the US to operate self-driving vehicles, the emirate’s Crown Prince Hamdan bin Mohammed Al-Maktoum said on Twitter.
He said the goal was to convert 25 percent of the total transportation trips in Dubai into self-driving trips by 2030.
The fleet will reach 4,000 vehicles by 2030, the crown prince said, as Dubai aims to cut transportation costs by 900 million dirhams ($245 million) annually and reduce carbon emission by 12 percent per year by then.