Nomura Middle East head: Saudi-Japan business links to move beyond oil

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Updated 14 January 2020

Nomura Middle East head: Saudi-Japan business links to move beyond oil

  • Makoto Kinone talks to Arab News during Japanese Prime Minister Abe’s visit to the Gulf
  • He views the region as a place to do business and strengthen the relationship between Japan and Saudi Arabia

DUBAI: Makoto Kinone is head of the main Middle East investment banking operations for Nomura International, the foreign arm of one of Japan’s biggest and oldest banks.
Nomura has been involved in the region — mainly Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain — for several decades, and has advised clients on billions of dollars of trade finance and corporate transactions. It also has a big asset management business in the region.
On the eve of the visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the Gulf, Kinone told Arab News how he views the region as a place to do business, and the strengthening relationship between Japan and Saudi Arabia.

Q: Explain the background to Nomura’s presence in the Middle East. What projects have you been involved in here, in Saudi Arabia, in particular?
A: With a presence in the Middle East region since 1974, Nomura has long-standing relationships with Saudi government bodies, financial institutions and corporates.
Nomura was licensed as an investment bank by the Capital Market Authority in May 2008 and began operations in July 2009, becoming the first Asian firm authorized to provide investment banking services in the Kingdom.
Nomura Saudi Arabia is focused on arranging and advising in securities, and has delivered a number of customised solutions to clients.
Most recently, Nomura acted as sole financial adviser to one of the largest petrochemical companies in the Kingdom, on a sell-side transaction in the mergers and acquisitions field.

Q: What do you see as the synergies between Japan and Saudi Arabia from a business and financial point of view?
A: Culturally, Japan and Saudi Arabia have some commonalities — the value of long-term relationships, the need for balance and careful deliberation in decision making. This translates into the business and financial world where there has been stable growth in trade and economic agreements between the two countries.

Q: Japan is a big importer of crude oil from the Kingdom, but does this relationship extend beyond the oil trade?
A: Although the current business relationship is dominated by energy-related trade, there has been a focus on finding ways to promote a balanced relationship (cooperation in areas such as technology, general industry, security and finance) that is mutually beneficial to both countries.

Q: What is Nomura’s assessment of the current economic situation in Japan?
A: Japan continues to face domestic and international headwinds. An aging population at home, as well as a cyclical global economic slowdown and international political uncertainty, has made an impact.
That said, macro-fundamentals show that Japan’s cyclical slowdown, which has continued since 2018, is coming to an end. Domestic economic growth is expected to start gathering pace, but not until the end of this year.
 


OPEC, allied nations extend nearly 10M barrel cut by a month

Updated 29 sec ago

OPEC, allied nations extend nearly 10M barrel cut by a month

  • The meeting, originally scheduled for next week, was brought forward to Saturday

VIENNA: OPEC and allied nations agreed on Saturday to extend a production cut of nearly 10 million barrels of oil a day through the end of July, hoping to boost energy prices hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Ministers of the group and outside nations like Russia met via video conference to adopt the measure, aimed at cutting out the excess production depressing prices as global aviation remains largely grounded due to the pandemic. It represents some 10% of the world's overall supply.
However, danger still lurks for the market. Algerian Oil Minister Mohamed Arkab, the current OPEC president, warned attendees that the global oil inventory would soar to 1.5 billion barrels by the mid-point of this year.
“Despite the progress to date, we cannot afford to rest on our laurels,” Arkab said. “The challenges we face remain daunting.”
That was a message echoed by Saudi Arabia's Oil Minister Abdul Aziz bin Salman, who acknowledged “we all have made sacrifices to make it where we are today.” He said he remained shocked by the day in April when US oil futures plunged below zero.


“There are encouraging signs we are over the worst,” he said.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak similarly called April “the worst month in history” for the global oil market.
The decision came in a unanimous vote, Energy Minister Suhail al-Mazrouei of the United Arab Emirates wrote on Twitter. He called it “a courageous decision and a collective effort deserving praise from all participating producing countries.”
OPEC has 13 member states, including Saudi Arabia. The additional countries part of the plus-accord have been led by Russia, with Mexico under President Andrés Manuel López Obrador playing a considerable role at the last minute in the initial agreement.
Crude oil prices have been gaining in recent days, in part on hopes OPEC would continue the cut. International benchmark Brent crude traded Saturday at over $42 a barrel. Brent had crashed below $20 a barrel in April.
The oil market was already oversupplied when Russia and OPEC failed to agree on output cuts in early March. Analysts say Russia refused to back even a moderate cut because it would have only served to help US energy companies that were pumping at full capacity. Stalling would hurt American shale-oil producers and protect market share.
Prices collapsed as the coronavirus and the COVID-19 illness it causes largely halted global travel. That also hurt US shale production, drawing the ire of President Donald Trump. But Trump welcomed the earlier deal, as US Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette did on Saturday with the extension.
“I applaud OPEC-plus for reaching an important agreement today which comes at a pivotal time as oil demand continues to recover and economies reopen around the world,” Brouillette wrote on Twitter.
Under a deal reached in April, OPEC and allied countries were to cut nearly 10 million barrels per day until July, then 8 million barrels per day through the end of the year, and 6 million a day for 16 months beginning in 2021.
However, some countries produced beyond their quotas set by the deal. One of them was Iraq, which remains decimated after the yearslong war against the Islamic State group.
On Saturday, Iraq Oil Ministry spokesman Assem Jihad said in statement that Baghdad had “renewed its full commitment” to the OPEC+ deal.
“Despite the economic and financial circumstances that Iraq is facing, the country remains committed to the agreement," Jihad said.
Analysts had expected OPEC and the other nations to extend the cuts of 10 million barrels per day by one more month, but not longer, since the level of demand is still fluctuating.
“If the demand is great, countries like Russia will want to produce more oil, so they probably won’t want to get locked into a longer-term deal that may not help them,” said Jacques Rousseau, managing director at Clearview Energy Partners.