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

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

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.
 


Remittances from KSA surge as expats help families in lockdown

Updated 23 min 34 sec ago

Remittances from KSA surge as expats help families in lockdown

Remittances from KSA surge as expats help families in lockdown
  • Foreign workers defy World Bank forecasts by sending home $32.9bn in first 10 months of year, an 18.58% rise on 2019

RIYADH: Expats in Saudi Arabia sent SR123.4 billion ($32.9 billion) in remittances to their home countries in the first 10 months of this year, a rise of 18.58 percent compared with 2019.

The surge in payments came as foreign workers in the Kingdom looked to support their families during the coronavirus pandemic.

The growth is despite forecasts from the World Bank in April estimating that remittances to low- and middle-income countries would decline by 19.6 percent in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region this year as workers struggled to cope with the impact of the global health crisis.

Expat workers make up three-quarters of the 13.6 million workers in the Kingdom, with most coming from countries such as Syria, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka.

Figures from the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) showed that while remittances by expats in the Kingdom rose by 18.58 percent year-on-year between January and October, the biggest spike was in June when the monthly amount surged 60 percent compared with June 2019.

July also witnessed a rise of 32 percent, while August, September, and October saw monthly levels increase 24.7 percent, 28.5 percent, and 19.2 percent, respectively, compared with the equivalent months last year.

Mazen Al-Sudairi, head of research at Riyadh-based financial services company Al Rajhi Capital, told Arab News: “Debt to GDP (gross domestic product) ratio in emerging economies has increased up to 70 percent recently, and the unemployment rate led by COVID-19 has also increased in countries such as India and the Philippines, which are the countries forming the majority of the expat population in the Kingdom.

“Therefore, we believe that increased remittances are due to rising unemployment and difficult economic conditions back in the home countries of expats.”

He said another reason why expats may have been sending more funds home was because their surplus income had increased as a result of being unable to travel or spend as much as normal due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“Once the unemployment risks recede for expats in KSA, as well as in home countries, this level should normalize in our view,” Al-Sudairi added.

While the expats’ remittances increased in the 10-month period, the relative amount sent abroad by Saudi nationals declined by 17.5 percent to $12.58 billion during the same period, compared with $10.38 billion between January and October 2019.

Coronavirus travel restrictions were introduced in the Kingdom in March, leading to a 41.7 percent drop in funds transferred overseas by Saudi nationals in April compared with the same month last year. While domestic travel resumed in late May, funds sent overseas by Saudi nationals still fell 52 percent that month compared with May 2019.

FASTFACT

13.6 million

Expat workers make up three-quarters of the 13.6 million workers in the Kingdom.

Remittances briefly spiked by 17 percent in June, before reducing to declines again for the remainder of the year.

Al-Sudairi said that the drop in Saudis forwarding money out of the country was also due to the pandemic and travel restrictions.

“This affected tourism and medical treatment-related remittances. Even the business-related remittances were impacted in the earlier months of lockdown due to negative confidence.”

He added that he was “expecting the trend to be better next year” once international travel resumed.

The World Bank, despite its pessimistic outline in April, also predicted that remittances would recover in 2021 and rise by 5.6 percent globally and 1.6 percent in the MENA region.

In a statement issued in April, Michal Rutkowski, global director of the World Bank’s social protection and jobs global practice, said: “Effective social protection systems are crucial to safeguarding the poor and vulnerable during this crisis in both developing countries as well as advanced countries.

“In host countries, social protection interventions should also support migrant populations,” he added.