Asian city planners urged to include the poor

A general view of Penang skyline, Malaysia. (Reuters)
Updated 16 October 2019

Asian city planners urged to include the poor

  • This year, a majority of Asia-Pacific’s population for the first time became urban, with more than half living in cities

PENANG: Urban planners in rapidly expanding Asian cities must involve the poorest residents in decision-making and include informal spaces if they are serious about tackling inequality, development experts said on Wednesday.

More than 2.3 billion people in Asia-Pacific live in cities, and that number is expected to reach 3.5 billion in 2050, according to the UN.

But one-third of urban dwellers live in slums or slum-like conditions and are under constant threat of eviction as planners and authorities look to modernize cities, said Elisa Sutanudjaja at the Rujak Center for Urban Studies, a Jakarta think tank.

“Cities in Asia are largely a mix of formality and informality, but urban planning is never neutral: It’s all formal vs informal, legal vs illegal,” she said.

“But the right to city is far more than freedom to access urban resources and livelihoods; it is also about informality and community.”

FASTFACT

2.3bn

More than 2.3 billion people in Asia-Pacific live in cities.

This year, a majority of Asia-Pacific’s population for the first time became urban, with more than half living in cities, according to a new UN report.

With growing pressure on resources, the region is struggling to make “effective planning systems a cornerstone of national policy,” said Maimunah Mohd Sharif, executive director of UN-Habitat, the settlements agency.

Cities in the region that are ranked high for liveability, including Singapore, and those in Australia, Japan and South Korea have co-produced solutions with citizens, she said.

“Bridging the digital divide, engaging the urban poor, and building climate resilience must be a priority. We have to ensure equitable distribution of resources,” said Sharif, a former town planner and mayor of Penang island, off Malaysia’s west coast.

But increasingly, planners are ignoring the poorest residents, including slum dwellers and street vendors, said Renu Khosla, director of the Center for Urban & Regional Excellence in New Delhi. “Our cities are not being planned for the poor. But when cities are planned without people in mind, you get more informal settlements and inequality.”


Saudi Aramco sets IPO share price between 30-32 riyals

Updated 17 November 2019

Saudi Aramco sets IPO share price between 30-32 riyals

  • Final pricing for the Aramco shares would be announced on December 5

DUBAI: Saudi Aramco’s multibillion-dollar initial public offering (IPO), probably the biggest in history, shifted to full gear as its share price was announced and subscription to the world’s biggest oil company commenced on Sunday.

Saudi Aramco set an indicative share price between 30 and 32 riyals for the 1.5 percent of its oustanding shares – or about 3 billion shares of its 20 billion regular shares – that it would offer for the domestic part of its public offering. The blockbuster IPO could be worth least $24 billion, and values the state-owned oil giant at up to $1.71 trillion.

The offering – or book-building – period for institutional subscribers, which started today, closes on December 4 while the retail offering for individual investors will begin on November 21 and will end on November 28. Individual investors will subscribe based on a price of 32 riyals, the top end of the price range, the company noted in a document.

The final pricing for the Aramco shares would be announced on December 5, and Saudi Tadawul  – the Kingdom’s stock exchange – would make an announcement when initial trading day would be, the company added.

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For more of our coverage of the Aramco IPO, click here.

To view key Aramco IPO documents, click here.

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Samba Capital & Investment Management Company has been designated as issue manager while National Commercial Bank, Saudi British Bank, Samba Financial Group, Saudi Investment Bank, Alawwal Bank, Arab National Bank, Albilad Bank, Aljazira Bank, Riyad Bank, Al Rajhi Bank, Alinma Bank, Banque Saudi Fransi and Gulf International Bank were named as receiving banks.

If there are applications for more than the 0.5 percent on offer — amounting to 1 billion shares — allocations to private investors will be scaled back proportionate to demand; if there are fewer applications than the 0.5 percent when all maximum applications are satisfied, private investors can have the over-payment refunded either in cash via the receiving banks or in the form of extra shares in Aramco.

There is an incentive mechanism in the IPO whereby Saudi investors will receive a bonus one-for-ten allocation of shares, up to a maximum of 100 shares, if they do not sell shares in the market for a period of six months after dealings begin in December, at a date still to be determined.

Saudi Aramco also intends to buy $1 billion worth of shares for employees under a plan to incentivize executives and staff members alongside the IPO next month.

The plan — which was disclosed in the IPO prospectus — will involve Aramco buying the shares from the government and making them available for employees under special terms.