‘Aggressive’ NMC lifts profits and margin as expansion pays off

‘Aggressive’ NMC lifts profits and margin as expansion pays off
NMC, the health care group, boosted its earnings last year despite a rise in net debt and financing costs. (Photo courtesy of NMC)
Updated 07 March 2018

‘Aggressive’ NMC lifts profits and margin as expansion pays off

‘Aggressive’ NMC lifts profits and margin as expansion pays off

LONDON: UAE private health care operator NMC boosted profit and revenue in 2017 following acquisitions but net debt and financing costs shot up as expansion led to rise in borrowings.
The number of beds at its private hospitals increased from 679 to 1,365, up 101 percent year on year as growth took off. Net profit rose 38 percent to $209 million and revenue grew by a third to $1.6 billion.
Expansion meant net debt increased during the year from $431.3 million to more than $ 1billion, in line with management’s expectations.
“Net debt was equivalent to 2.9 times EBITDA (earnings before tax, interest, depreciation and amortization), remaining at a very comfortable level relative to the group’s cash flow generation capacity,” said a company statement.
The debt increase was “largely attributed to the acquisitions made during the year”.
The group’s largest acquisition during 2017 was the purchase of Al-Zahra Hospital that was financed via borrowings, but also utilized the proceeds of a share placing raising $322 million in December 2016.
Total finance costs for were $63.8 million compared to $41.7 million in 2016. “This was mainly on account of the higher facility amount availed to refinance the existing debts as well as to finance the acquisitions,” said the company.
It added: “Overall, our growth in revenue and improved profitability are attributed to both an improvement in performance of our existing hospitals and medical facilities and the acquisitions made within the Middle East, Europe and South America over the last 2 years.”
Pursuing an “aggressive international expansion program from 2016”, the company now has over 35 percent of its licensed bed capacity in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where the company has introduced long-term and multi-specialty care services. The enlarged group received over 5.7m patients in 2017.
Prasanth Manghat, CEO said: “We see 2017 as setting the stage for many more years of growth for the company and we begin 2018 with confidence.”
Higher margins associated with the health care business continued to elevate overall group margins, with consolidated EBITDA margin reaching 22 percent in 2017, up 180 basis points year on year, added Manghat.
With the health care division remaining the primary focus of NMC’s organic and inorganic expansion plans going forward, “the trend of increasing contribution from this segment to group’s revenues and profitability is expected to continue for the foreseeable future”.
NMC is a constituent of London’s FTSE 100 Index where the shares fell 3 percent on Wednesday.


Saudi Tadawul Group said to narrow banks for IPO process

Saudi Tadawul Group said to narrow banks for IPO process
Updated 18 min 9 sec ago

Saudi Tadawul Group said to narrow banks for IPO process

Saudi Tadawul Group said to narrow banks for IPO process
  • Received proposals from 10 firms
  • The group will have four subsidiaries

DUBAI: Saudi Tadawul Group has short-listed three local and three foreign banks for potential advisory roles in the financial market company’s upcoming initial public offering (IPO), three sources said.
Citigroup, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley were chosen, along with the securities unit of Saudi National Bank, Saudi Fransi Capital and HSBC Saudi Arabia, the sources said.
Tadawul, the kingdom’s bourse operator, is expected to chose one local bank and potentially one or two international banks for its listing, they said. A final round of pitching for roles is taking place this week, they added.
Tadawul did not immediately respond to a request for comment when contacted by Reuters on Wednesday. Citigroup, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and HSBC declined to comment. The units of Saudi National Bank and Saudi Fransi Capital were not immediately available for comment.
Tadawul said earlier this month it had received proposals from 10 local and international firms for the advisory roles.
Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange has converted itself into a holding company and will be renamed Saudi Tadawul Group ahead of the listing this year, Group Chief Executive Khalid Al-Hussan said previously.
The group will have four subsidiaries — its bourse Saudi Exchange, securities clearing and depository businesses and technology services.


Abu Dhabi said to weigh sale of $4bn Taqa stake

Abu Dhabi said to weigh sale of $4bn Taqa stake
Updated 21 April 2021

Abu Dhabi said to weigh sale of $4bn Taqa stake

Abu Dhabi said to weigh sale of $4bn Taqa stake
  • Size of potential stake could change
  • Abu Dhabi seeking to attract FDI

RIYADH: Abu Dhabi is working with an adviser as it considers selling about 10 percent of Abu Dhabi National Energy Co. (TAQA), Bloomberg reported citing people familiar with the matter.
The stake in the company could be worth more than $4 billion based on its current market price.
Initial non-binding bids are expected to be submitted in May, according to the people.
The size of the Taqa stake being sold could change depending on investor interest, Bloomberg reported. Deliberations are ongoing, and there’s no certainty they will lead to a transaction, it said.
Last year, Abu Dhabi orchestrated a plan for Taqa to receive assets from state-owned holding company Abu Dhabi Power Corp., known as ADPower, in return for stock.
Abu Dhabi has been seeking to attract foreign capital by selling stakes in some of its largest companies.


Emirates may need to raise cash if air travel does not pick up

Emirates may need to raise cash if air travel does not pick up
Updated 21 April 2021

Emirates may need to raise cash if air travel does not pick up

Emirates may need to raise cash if air travel does not pick up
  • Emirates has resumed flights with all of its 151 Boeing 777 jets
  • Emirates lost 12.6 billion dirhams in the first half of the year

DUBAI: Emirates may need to raise more cash this year, possibly through another equity injection from the Dubai government, if demand for air travel does not pick up soon, its president said on Wednesday.
The state carrier had hoped the global vaccine rollout would renew confidence in air travel but demand remains at very low levels, leaving many airlines to ground planes or fly them near-empty.
“We are good for another six, seven or eight months in terms of cash. We have sufficient cash coming in to be able to keep the day-to-day operation at a neutral basis,” Tim Clark told the online World Aviation Festival.
“But like everybody else, if in six months global demand is where it is today then we are all going to face difficulties. Not just Emirates“
Emirates, which lost 12.6 billion dirhams ($3.4 billion) in the first half of the year, got $2 billion in equity in 2020 from the Dubai government, its sole shareholder.
The airline would make a recommendation to the government on raising cash, Clark said without saying exactly when that would be done.
The recommendation could be for equity injection, or for the airline to raise debt or to take other measures, he said without specifying.
“The balance sheet is pretty strong regardless of what has happened.”
The cash situation, however, could be turned around by September-October as long as demand picks up, Clark said, adding that he hoped the airline would not have to seek cash.
Emirates has resumed flights with all of its 151 Boeing 777 jets which are mainly carrying cargo, with about 20,000 to 30,000 passengers a day.
Clark said the airline could retain some of its older 777 passenger jets that are due to retire and instead convert them into cargo-only planes as freight demand remains high.
He said that he expected there would be demand for business class travel post-pandemic even if corporate travel does diminish through executives opting to hold meetings online instead of traveling.
Demand would likely be supported by cheaper fares to fill business class seats if corporate travel does not rebound, he said.
Clark, who was due to retire last year, said he wanted to set the airline on its future course before he retires, but added he no longer knew when that would be.


Football 1 Super League 0: Gulf fans rejoice as shares fall

Football 1 Super League 0: Gulf fans rejoice as shares fall
Updated 54 min 5 sec ago

Football 1 Super League 0: Gulf fans rejoice as shares fall

Football 1 Super League 0: Gulf fans rejoice as shares fall
  • Shares in publicly traded Manchester United and Juventus fell on the news as the prospect of a multi-billion dollar pay day for the breakaway clubs was drowned out

DUBAI: Shares in European football clubs fell after plans for a European super league lay in tatters following a global fan backlash.
In what must rank among the most extraordinary 48 hours in the history of the modern game, 12 of the continent’s most powerful clubs attempted to create a brand new elite league before its would-be founding members began to break ranks one by one.
By early Wednesday all six Premier League teams linked to the project had withdrawn.
Gulf-based football fans rejoiced at the news on supporter club social media.
“We stand firmly behind all supporters groups calling for the ESL to be scrapped,” tweeted the Dubai Reds, the official Liverpool supporters club in the emirate.


Shares in publicly traded Manchester United and Juventus fell on the news as the prospect of a multi-billion dollar pay day for the breakaway clubs was drowned out by a global outcry that appeared to unite fans, pundits and even some of the managers of the clubs involved.
US investment bank JP Morgan had planned to finance the new league, providing a €3.5 billion ($4.2 billion) grant for the founding clubs to help recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which has drained revenue from clubs worldwide, Reuters reported.
The collapse of the project has exposed the sometimes bitter rifts between the fans and owners of some of Europe’s biggest clubs. It also leaves a potential legal mess behind as withdrawing clubs risk being sued, the Telegraph reported on Tuesday.
Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli said that the league could no longer go ahead after six English clubs withdrew.

The founding members of the league were English clubs Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, Italy’s Juventus, Inter and AC Milan, and Spain’s Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico.


World’s first fully Islamic Shariah-compliant digital bank launched in UAE

World’s first fully Islamic Shariah-compliant digital bank launched in UAE
Updated 21 April 2021

World’s first fully Islamic Shariah-compliant digital bank launched in UAE

World’s first fully Islamic Shariah-compliant digital bank launched in UAE
  • Long-term, the lender aims to scale up operations worldwide via strategic partnerships with banks and financial institutions

DUBAI: The UAE is set to be home to the world’s first fully Islamic Shariah-compliant digital bank, it was announced on Wednesday.

Set up by Zurich Capital Funds Group and branded as RIZQ / BARAKA, the new lender will provide all banking services according to Islamic law.

It will operate all digital banking services through mobile phones and computers, and its app can be downloaded via Apple Store, Google Play (Android stores), and many communication sites and social media networks.

RIZQ / BARAKA is launched from the UAE but aims to target customers in the Middle East and North Africa.

Long-term, the lender aims to scale up operations worldwide via strategic partnerships with banks and financial institutions in India, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, the UK, Australia, Brazil and Mauritania.

Dr. Fahed Al-Merhebi, chairman of Zurich Capital Funds Group, said the bank is the latest in its digital ambitions, having already launched a Shariah-compliant digital crypto exchange platform called the SUSTAIN EXCHANGE, and a range of sports digital currencies that were listed on the exchange.

Earlier this month, Dubai businessman Mohamed Alabbar announced that he 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 going through final approvals ahead of its launch.

Alabbar, founder of Emaar Properties — the Dubai developer behind The Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa — teamed up with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund to launch the Noon online shopping platform in 2017. 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.

“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. In a survey by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) last October, 70 percent of respondents said 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.