Privatization of aviation sector to boost Saudi-US ties

Privatization of aviation sector to boost Saudi-US ties
CEO of Al-Salem Johnson Controls (YORK) Dr. Mohanad Al-Shaikh
Updated 29 July 2018

Privatization of aviation sector to boost Saudi-US ties

Privatization of aviation sector to boost Saudi-US ties

CEO of Al-Salem Johnson Controls (YORK) Dr. Mohanad Al-Shaikh said that plans to privatize the aviation sector in the Kingdom will provide promising investment opportunities for solution providers to develop all aspects of airport infrastructure in the Kingdom. By 2020, the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) will privatize 11 airports as well as specialized aviation services sectors in the areas of airport construction, operation, technical and air navigation systems.
Dr. Al-Shaikh’s comments were made during a meeting with Abdulhakim bin Mohammed Al-Tamimi, president of the GACA, organized by the US-Saudi Business Council (USSABC) on June 28 in Washington, DC to discuss the modernization and privatization of the aviation sector in the Kingdom as an economic and developmental driving force.
He further added that the visit carries a strategic dimension for both countries, especially in light of the promising investment opportunities in the civil aviation sector.


Oppo unveils rollable phone, wireless air charging at MWCS

Oppo unveils rollable phone, wireless air charging at MWCS
Updated 28 February 2021

Oppo unveils rollable phone, wireless air charging at MWCS

Oppo unveils rollable phone, wireless air charging at MWCS

Global smart device company Oppo recently showcased its state-of-the art 5G technological advancements and a host of innovations in device charging, 5G connectivity and smart technology at the Mobile World Congress, Shanghai (MWCS) 2021. The event ran from Feb. 23-25.

Since its launch in Saudi Arabia in 2019, Oppo has demonstrated incredible growth to become the fifth most popular smartphone brand in the Kingdom driven by the launch of two generations of the Reno handset in 2020, the Reno3 and Reno4 series, as well as the Find X2 Pro. 

Guests at the MWCS were introduced to the Oppo X 2021 concept phone, which features a screen that unrolls from 6.7 to 7.4 inches, showcasing the latest screen form advancements in the mobile industry. The company also demonstrated its wireless air charging innovation, which uses magnetic resonance technology to begin charging as soon as the phone is within 10 cm of its charging mat, with up to 7.5W of charging power.

Also launched was the Flash Initiative, a new era in mobile charging technology based around Oppo’s VOOC flash charging, which the company has developed alongside FAW-Volkswagen, Anker and NXP Semiconductors, leaders in their respective fields of automobiles, portable charging and chip manufacture. As part of the initiative, Oppo has applied for more than 2,950 flash charging patents worldwide, with more than 1,400 already granted. 

Adler Feng, senior director of intellectual property at Oppo, said: “The Flash Initiative reflects Oppo’s belief in human-centric technologies that make a difference in people’s everyday lives. And thanks to our new partners, our proprietary technologies can reach more people than ever before. This is a vital step in freeing consumers to use their devices however they want, no matter what they need to do or where in the world they are.”

Oppo also used the opportunity of the MWCS to demonstrate how it is expanding its portfolio beyond mobile phones to embrace wider smart technology. It has invested heavily in R&D to develop frontier technologies and create products including its 5G CPE Omni, a futuristic technology that converts the 5G mobile signal into a stable Wi-Fi connection, which in turn can support the Internet of Things in the smart home of the future.


SABB reports resilient Q4 results, net income up by 7%

SABB reports resilient Q4 results, net income up by 7%
Updated 28 February 2021

SABB reports resilient Q4 results, net income up by 7%

SABB reports resilient Q4 results, net income up by 7%

The Saudi British Bank (SABB) reported a net income of SR680 million ($181.3 million) for the three months ending Dec. 31, 2020. The net income before Zakat and income tax for Q4 of 2020 was SR801 million, SR55 million or 7 percent higher than the corresponding quarter ending Dec. 31, 2019. This was mainly from lower expected credit losses partly offset by reduced revenue.

SABB reported a resilient end to the year but disappointing bottom line financial performance, with a full year net loss before Zakat and income tax of SR4,302 million, which included the impairment of goodwill in the second quarter of SR7,418 million.

The underlying full year net income before Zakat and income tax was SR3,835 million, 13 percent lower than 2019 (on a pro forma basis), from lower revenue reflecting the cuts to benchmark interest rates partly offset by lower expected credit losses and reduced costs.

The fourth quarter of 2020 saw an acceleration in the integration of SABB and Alawwal Bank, with full integration expected by the end of the first quarter of 2021. 

The gross loans and advances increased 1 percent during 2020 and the fourth quarter.

SABB closed the reporting period with robust levels of capital, liquidity and a strong funding base.

According to a statement, the integration of the merged bank and realization of synergies is on track. 

Lubna Suliman Olayan, board chair of SABB, said: “2020 has been an eventful year with the COVID-19 global pandemic creating challenges and uncertainty, but despite this, we remained open for business, ensuring the safety of our customers and staff, and continued with our 2020 priorities. 

“In 2020, we completed the integration of our corporate and institutional banking and treasury businesses, which enter 2021 operating as a single bank. Our retail and wealth management business will complete its customer integration, referred to as ‘Customer Day 1’ in the first quarter of 2021, following which we will be one bank, with one branch network, one IT system, one website and a shared culture. As we transition into life as truly one bank, our Strategy 2025 provides a roadmap to deliver on our vision of ‘bringing a world of financial opportunities to an ambitious Kingdom,’ and supporting the ambitious growth plans of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 transformation plan.” 

Despite the environment, the bank has developed its leadership position in the capital markets. This has been demonstrated through SABB’s Tier II sukuk issuance of SR5 billion, a range of industry awards recognizing the bank’s digital and mobile banking capabilities, and trade, treasury and cash management.

“Although there is uncertainty ahead, we look forward to approaching 2021 with the same commitment and perseverance that we have shown during 2020 and we are optimistic that global recovery will take place during the year ahead,” Olayan added.


GFH acquires mission-critical Chicago distribution center

GFH acquires mission-critical Chicago distribution center
Updated 28 February 2021

GFH acquires mission-critical Chicago distribution center

GFH acquires mission-critical Chicago distribution center

GFH Financial Group has announced the acquisition of a mission-critical distribution facility in Chicago, Illinois, which has been leased since November 2015 to blue-chip tenant, Michelin North America, a global tire brand. 

The transaction, valued at approximately $135 million, marks the continued expansion of GFH’s global portfolio of income-generating real estate assets including prime distribution centers, well-positioned logistics assets and last-mile delivery facilities in the US and Europe. The transaction was undertaken in partnership with Silver Creek Commercial Development LLC, a US-based asset manager with a track record of more than $2 billion in logistics transactions. 

The facility is distinguished by its strategic location in the geographic center of the US. It is situated at the intersection of I-55 (Chicago to Louisiana) and I-80 (New York to Northern California), offering seamless access to major interstate highways. The facility is one of only two bulk logistics centers used by Michelin in the US, handling 35 percent of the company’s imported inventory.

Razi Al-Merbati, CEO of GFH Capital S.A., said: “With this transaction, we continue to further our efforts to diversify and expand our portfolio of international, blue-chip real estate assets. This includes new acquisitions of prime properties in strategic geographies for us including the US. This is especially true in the distribution and logistics segment today, where demand is strong for well-located facilities close to major urban centers and populations that require faster and more seamless access to goods. With this deal, we move further toward solidifying our position as a leading real estate investor in the US and look to transact on the strong pipeline of other unique opportunities we have in place.”

Salem Patel, head of asset management, at GFH, added: “We’re extremely pleased to announce another strategic global acquisition in the logistics sector. The Chicago-based facility is uniquely positioned in the center of the country and boasts seamless access to a variety of transport links giving tenants easy access to their customers located across major US states and commercial centers. This investment is supported by its long-term lease to Michelin N.A, a highly reputable tenant and global tire industry giant, who has helped establish and maintain the facility as a state-of-the-art distribution center. We are continuing to look at further investments in the sector globally and to maximize the value of this and our growing portfolio of logistics centers for the benefit of the group, our shareholders, investors and partners.”


DIFC, EdAid partner to deliver digital education

DIFC, EdAid partner to deliver digital education
Updated 25 February 2021

DIFC, EdAid partner to deliver digital education

DIFC, EdAid partner to deliver digital education

The UAE’s DIFC Academy has partnered with EdAid, a London-based fintech platform dedicated to increasing access to higher education, to launch the Future Campus. The platform will offer online education opportunities to UAE nationals and residents from leading global academic institutions. The academy is part of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the leading financial hub in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia region.

The initiative supports UAE Vision 2021 to build a competitive knowledge-based economy by developing local capabilities driven by sustained investment in education. It will become a catalyst for expanding and deepening Dubai and DIFC’s talent pool, whose acquired knowledge and skills will support the growth of more sustainable, inclusive societies and economies.

The Future Campus will become the fourth initiative at the DIFC Academy, alongside three schools dedicated to finance, law and management. The opening of the Future Campus coincides with the academy’s transition into the new state-of-the-art DIFC Innovation Hub at Gate Avenue, the largest innovation ecosystem in the region, supporting early and growth stage startups, unicorns and big tech firms to accelerate success and shape the future of finance. The Future Campus will welcome up to 25,000 students a year, offering programs that focus on acquiring the necessary skills and knowledge to develop a sustainable and innovative future for the global finance industry. 

Students will benefit from the center’s dynamic and vibrant ecosystem, including a supportive environment to apply to more than 400 online degree programs, practical skills-based training courses, and vocational boot camps and study with a community of peers. All eligible online education opportunities are powered by 2U, Inc., a global leader in education technology, and will include a number of programs focused on artificial intelligence, blockchain cybersecurity, software engineering, data analytics and fintech. DIFC Academy and EdAid will also offer students career guidance, mentoring and networking opportunities, including internship and employment prospects with over 2,500 companies based within DIFC. 

Alya Al-Zarouni, executive vice president of operations and head of DIFC Academy, DIFC Authority, said: “DIFC is committed to shaping the future of finance through collaboration, innovation, and technology. The Future Campus will become part of the DIFC Academy and will accelerate the country’s economic growth by developing much-needed local talent. In time, they will lead the transformation of the financial sector, delivering positive impact and sustained growth. Given the breadth of campus’ offering, we will also be able to supply talent that will contribute to a revolution in other industries that will contribute to economic growth in Dubai, the region and major international economies.”

Tom Woolf, founder and CEO of EdAid, said: “Providing affordable access to high-quality online education and driving life-changing outcomes are everything to us at EdAid. Students enrolled in selected online courses will have access to co-working, co-study space within the Future Campus along with access to the DIFC’s comprehensive and vibrant ecosystem.”


NCB and Mastercard launch credit card for corporates

NCB and Mastercard launch credit card for corporates
Updated 25 February 2021

NCB and Mastercard launch credit card for corporates

NCB and Mastercard launch credit card for corporates

Mastercard and the National Commercial Bank (NCB) have launched a new corporate credit card offering the bank’s corporate and micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) clients a range of financial solutions. 

The Mastercard Corporate World card allows companies to effectively manage their expenses and corporate payment needs. The card aims to maximize companies’ financial control and provide them with full visibility in order to reduce costs and enhance cash flow. 

J.K. Khalil, country manager, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Levant, Mastercard, said: “As a trusted technology leader and proud supporter of the business community, we are delighted to collaborate with NCB to expand inclusion for best-in-class financial control, B2B expenditures and corporate travel benefits. We remain committed to helping businesses by offering innovative tools and payment solutions that enable them to make the most of the digital economy and an ever-strengthening payment ecosystem.” Majed Al-Ghamdi, chief executive of retail, NCB, said: “We are delighted to once again collaborate with Mastercard for another solution which we believe will provide strong value to businesses by offering the tools to enhance efficiency as well as meet their working capital requirements. Through the commercial credit card, our large corporate customers as well as SME clients will be able to make cashless transactions seamlessly and conveniently, while maintaining a stronger control over their cash flows. Furthermore, the initiative will add benefits to our corporate customers, such as control of spending and compliance with corporate policies.” 

The new corporate credit card delivers a range of innovative benefits and product offerings designed for the diverse needs of large corporations. Additionally, the dedicated self-service portal on AlAhlieCorp responds to requests and enables best-in-class relationship management. The card also offers consolidated e-statements and spending trends, so that cardholders and the management can benefit from simplified reconciliation and enhanced, integrated reporting.

The new credit card features a host of offers and rewards, including complimentary airport lounge access in more than 1,000 lounges across 300 cities with LoungeKey. It further includes complimentary travel and accident insurance, cover for medical emergencies, trip cancellations and lost baggage, in addition to other value-added benefits.

Additionally, companies that request an NCB corporate credit card before June 30 will have their annual fee waived for the first year.