India’s richest man buys Hamleys toy stores

Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director, Reliance Industries. (Supplied)
Updated 10 May 2019

India’s richest man buys Hamleys toy stores

  • Through its Reliance Brands subsidiary, the conglomerate said it signed an agreement to buy, Hamleys, the 250-year-old chain from Hong Kong-listed C Banner International Holdings
  • The acquisition by Reliance Industries, owned by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, marks the conglomerate’s first foray in an overseas retail brand

MUMBAI: Hamleys, the world’s oldest toy retailer, is set to pass from Chinese to Indian control after Reliance Industries said it had agreed to buy the British high street icon.
Through its Reliance Brands subsidiary, the conglomerate said it signed an agreement to buy the 250-year-old chain from Hong Kong-listed C Banner International Holdings.
On Friday, C Banner stock was suspended from trading pending an announcement.
Reliance did not disclose the price of the deal, but in 2018, C Banner wrote off $49.8 million in goodwill and brand value related to Hamleys, its annual report showed. The cut reduced the carrying value of the toy retailer by 36 percent to 626 million yuan ($91.85 million).
The Chinese group bought Hamleys in 2015 for $130.2 million from France’s Groupe Ludendo, but its enthusiasm for British acquisitions has since cooled. Last year, it dropped plans to buy 51 percent of House of Fraser, sending the UK department store chain into administration.
The acquisition by Reliance Industries, owned by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, marks the conglomerate’s first foray in an overseas retail brand.
Reliance Industries runs the world’s biggest single-location crude oil refinery and has been transforming itself into a consumer-facing behemoth through ventures in retail and telecommunications.
“The worldwide acquisition of the iconic Hamleys brand and business places Reliance into the frontline of global retail,” said Reliance Brands Chief Executive Darshan Mehta.
Founded in 1760, Hamleys resonates with adults and children alike, with its flagship Regent Street store in central London recognized around the world.
The toy seller runs 167 stores across 18 countries, the majority of which are in India, Reliance said. The Indian company, which already holds the master franchise for the brand in India, currently operates 88 stores in 29 cities.
Having established itself as India’s leading mobile telecoms player, Reliance Industries has been firming up plans for a retail onslaught to combine its traditional outlets with an online foray aimed at taking on Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart Inc. in India.
A supermarket operator, Reliance is already the country’s biggest bricks-and-mortar retailer in terms of revenue and number of stores.
The conglomerate’s strategy to diversify beyond refining and petrochemicals has seen its fast-growing telecoms and retail operations driving quarterly profit to record highs at a time when its gross refining margins have taken a hit from oil price volatility and slowing global demand.
The group’s retail business doubled revenue to 356 billion rupees ($5.1 billion) in the three months to Dec. 31 while earnings before interest and tax more than tripled to 15 billion rupees.


Saudi Arabia promotes investment opportunities with Japan’s business leaders  

Updated 11 min 41 sec ago

Saudi Arabia promotes investment opportunities with Japan’s business leaders  

  • Saudi Arabia and Japan exchanged 12 MoUs in the fields of education, science, technology, and banking and finance

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia opened its doors for Japanese investment during a Saudi-Japan business forum held in Tokyo on Wednesday amid growing economic ties between the two nations.  

The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) discussed tourism and entertainment investment opportunities in Saudi Arabia with Japan’s business leaders and government officials during the Saudi-Japan Vision 2030 Business Forum, hosted in partnership with the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO).

During the forum, 12 Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) were exchanged in fields of education, science, technology, and banking and finance.

The MoUs include Toyobo and Saline Water Conversion Corporation and Arabian Japanese Membrane Company which will aim to manage disposed brine water generated from seawater desalination plants for environmental sustainability.

Two Saudi and Japanese universities signed MoUs for academic exchange on research. While SAGIA signed MoU with Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation to enhance investment opportunities.

“Japan is one of Saudi Arabia’s most important economic partners, and businesses from across our countries have a strong track record of working together,” Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Commerce and Investment, Majid Al-Qasabi said at the Forum.

“Today’s Forum reflects the success and strength of this enduring partnership. We established the Saudi-Japanese Vision 2030 two years ago, which seeks to drive and facilitate continued private sector involvement by establishing joint-ventures between entities across our respective countries,” he added.

These investments come alongside a broad series of economic reforms, which are enabling rapid growth in foreign investment in Saudi Arabia. This is part of the Kingdom’s efforts to diversify its economy as outlined in Vision 2030.

Saudi Arabia has moved up three positions to the 36th place, globally, through its efforts to diversify the Kingdom’s economy, according to the 2019 Global Competitiveness Report published by the World Economic Forum.

The total number of foreign investor licenses issued in the first half of 2019 was more than double the number issued the same period a year before.

“We believe that the future prosperity of the Kingdom depends on fostering even closer ties with our strategic partners across the globe, and we look forward to welcoming these companies as they take part in the historic transformation of our economy,” Al-Qasabi said. 

Memoranda of Understanding exchanged at the Forum include:

  • University of Tokyo and King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) – the academic exchange for research in renewable energy and petrochemicals
  • Kyoto University Institute for Advance Study (KUIAS) and King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST)– to promote the exchange of scientific materials, publications, and information and exchange of faculty members and researchers, students and joint research
  • University of Tokyo and King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST) – to collaborate on the research and the next generation of organic and soft electronics and efficient generation of hydrogen
  • Japan Patent Office (JPO) and Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property (SAIP) – to promote the exchange of data and best practices in the field of intellectual property protection including trademarks and patents
  • Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) – to enhance investment opportunities between Japan and Saudi Arabia
  • Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) – a framework for cooperation to enhance investment from Japan to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • Toyobo and Saline Water Conversion Corporation and Arabian Japanese Membrane Company – to develop innovative membrane technologies and manage disposed brine water generated from seawater desalination plants for environmental sustainability
  • Sojitz Corporation and AIZAWA Concrete Corporation and Al Saedan for Development – to explore opportunities and utilize 3D printing technology and local materials for housing construction
  • Cyberdyne Group and Abdul Latif Jameel Investments – to collaborate and enhance Cybernic treatment and contribute to the social development of the Kingdom.
  • Saudi-Japan Vision Office Riyadh (VRO) and National Industrial Development and Logistics Program (NIDLP) – to expand collaboration and enable investments in the field of industry, mining, energy and logistics
  • TBM and SABIC – to build a circular economy using LIMEX
  • Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the National Industrial Clusters Development Program (NICDP) and the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation and Saudi-Japanese Automobile High Institute – to provide support and training for human capacity development for Saudi youth in the automotive sector