Syrian pound soars as regime nears Ghouta takeover

President Bashar Al Assad has appeared on the Syrian currency for the first time, his portrait printed on a new 2,000-pound banknote that went into circulation Summer 2017. (Reuters)
Updated 04 April 2018

Syrian pound soars as regime nears Ghouta takeover

  • Before 2011 the Syrian currency was valued at 48 Syrian pounds per dollar, now it is 460 pounds per dollar

Damascus — SYR
Damascus, April 4, 2018 Agence France Presse: The Syrian pound has appreciated around 10 percent against the US dollar in recent days, as rebel fighters quit their final stronghold of Eastern Ghouta on the edges of the capital.
The unofficial exchange rate in the capital was at 430 Syrian pounds per dollar on Wednesday, compared with 460 pounds the previous week.
When Syria’s conflict first erupted in 2011, the currency was valued at 48 Syrian pounds per dollar but it has depreciated dramatically since then.
The pound hit its highest value in years on Monday morning, according to the Al-Watan Syrian daily, reaching 405 pounds per dollar just as a new deal for Eastern Ghouta began to be implemented.
The official exchange rate is still at 436 pounds per dollar.
On Monday, rebels and civilians began evacuating the town of Douma, the final opposition-held pocket of the Ghouta enclave.
Rebel fighters had held Ghouta since 2012, and recapturing it will mark a major victory for Syrian President Bashar Assad.
“The psychological factor has no doubt tipped the balance, especially in light of the most recent deal reached in Ghouta,” Syrian economic analyst Firas Haddad told AFP.
The pull-outs came under a deal announced Friday between regime backer Russia and rebel group Jaish Al-Islam, which controls Douma.
The first evacuations saw 1,100 people leave Douma for the opposition-held town of Jarabulus in northern Syria, and another 1,200 were bussed out the following day.
Evacuations were under way for a third day on Wednesday, according to Syrian state media.
Government troops have recaptured more than 95 percent of Ghouta after a weeks-long bombing blitz and three sets of negotiated withdrawals.


Saudi Aramco IPO proves a hit with small investors

Updated 19 min 41 sec ago

Saudi Aramco IPO proves a hit with small investors

  • Saudi citizens were by far the biggest number of applicants, with 4.95 million seeking to buy in the IPO
  • Applications were received from all age groups, but the biggest number of applicants came in the 31 to 45-year-old age group

More than 5 million people - Saudi citizens, resident expats and nationals of other GCC countries - have bought shares in the initial public offering (IPO) of shares in Saudi Aramco, the biggest stock market flotation in history.

Because of the huge demand for shares in the flagship initiative of the Vision 2030 strategy to diversify the Saudi economy away from oil dependency, all those who applied for up to 1,500 shares will get the full entitlement, but bigger buyers will be scaled back.

Samba Capital, the lead manager for the record-setting share sale, announced that 5.06 million individual subscribers bought shares in the offer, spending nearly SR50 billion ($13.3 billion). Most of them did so online, or via the special ATM arrangements for the IPO.

Applications were received from all age groups, but the biggest number of applicants came in the 31 to 45-year-old age group, who accounted for nearly half the number of shares on offer to private investors. Some 1.7 million people aged between 46 and 64 also applied for shares.

The final offer price was set at SR32 - the top of the range indicated by Aramco at the beginning of the book-building process two weeks ago, valuing the IPO at $25.6 billion and the company at $1.7 trillion, the biggest in the world.

Those who applied for smaller numbers of shares will have their applications met in full, but because of the big demand for the offering among private investors, those who applied for 2,000 shares or more will have their final allotment scaled back, and funds will be returned.

Anybody who applied for 100,000 or more will receive only 12 percent of their application number.

The government could decide to increase the number of shares on offer by a further 15 percent of the IPO via what the investment bank adviser calls the “green shoe” mechanism, designed to ensure price stability when the shares start trading.

Saudi citizens were by far the biggest number of applicants, with 4.95 million seeking to buy in the IPO. But there was also significant demand from expats resident in the Kingdom, with more than 106,000 applying for shares.

The shares will begin trading on the Tadawul soon after the final legal and procedural details are completed on Dec. 12.