RDIF chief praises Saudi reforms, says Bezos hacking story is ‘Fake News’

Speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said the Bezos phone hacking claims did not seem plausible. (WEF/File Photo)
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Updated 26 January 2020

RDIF chief praises Saudi reforms, says Bezos hacking story is ‘Fake News’

  • Kirill Dmitriev: Investors interested in business opportunities presented by tourism, improved position of women and youth demographic in Kingdom

DAVOS: One of Saudi Arabia’s biggest investment partners has reassured the global community about doing business in the Kingdom and ridiculed the Jeff Bezos accusations of phone hacking.
Speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), told Arab News that stories about the apparent hacking of Amazon boss Jeff Bezos’ phone did “not look plausible at all.
“This has all the signs of being fake news put about by enemies of the Kingdom.”
Dmitriev, whose organization has channeled investment into Saudi Arabia and partnered with the Kingdom on billions of dollars-worth of joint ventures, said the people he had spoken to in Davos remained in favor of the opportunities presented by Riyadh’s Vision 2030 strategy.
“Lots of people here are positive about the changes going on in Saudi Arabia, both from the West and Asia. They are interested in the business opportunities presented by tourism, the improved position of women and the youth demographic. I’m surprised the Western press does not give the full picture about what is happening in Saudi Arabia,” he added.
While in Switzerland, the RDIF announced a deal to invest in an online tourism platform that would benefit from increased Russian tourism, especially by members of Russia’s big Muslim minority, as well as other potential visitors to Saudi Arabia.
The Bezos allegations, which have been dismissed by Saudi officials as “absolutely silly,” were a hot topic of conversation at the WEF meeting.
A Western executive at a leading Gulf energy company, who declined to be named, said: “Phone hacking and cyber-security is a growing problem in the business world and is not confined to any one country.
“You have to take it all with a pinch of salt. If you’re going to do business in Saudi Arabia you will look at all the pros and cons, and this (the Bezos allegation) is not likely to deter you.”


Aramco profits fall in tough quarter, but sees partial recovery from COVID-19 impact

Updated 2 min 50 sec ago

Aramco profits fall in tough quarter, but sees partial recovery from COVID-19 impact

  • Aramco see’s “partial recovery” from pandemic impact
  • Aramco president says company remains resilient

DUBAI: Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil company, reported a net income of $6.57bn for the second quarter of 2020, the period which witnessed the most volatile oil market conditions for many decades.

The result, announced to the Tadawul stock exchange in Riyadh where the shares are listed, compared with income of $24.7 bn last year.

Amin Nasser, president and chief executive, said: “Despite COVID-19 bringing the world to a standstill, Aramco kept going. We have proven our financial resilience and operational reliability, setting a record in our business operations, while at the same time taking steps to ensure the health and safety of our people.”

Aramco’s dividend - a big attraction for the investors who bought into the world’s biggest initial public offering last year - will remain as pledged, Nasser added. Cash flow in the quarter amounted to $6.106 bn.

““Strong headwinds from reduced demand and lower oil prices are reflected in our second quarter results. Yet we delivered solid earnings because of our low production costs, unique scale, agile workforce, and unrivalled financial and operational strength. This helped us deliver on our plan to maintain a second quarter dividend of $18.75 billion to be paid in the third quarter,” he said.

Aramco said the loss was “mainly reflecting the impact of lower crude oil prices and declining refining and chemicals margins, partly offset by a decrease in production royalties resulting from lower crude oil prices and a decrease in the royalty rate from 20 per cent to 15 per cent, lower income taxes and zakat as a result of lower earnings, and higher other income related to sales for gas products.”

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Sales and revenue in the period - which saw oil prices collapse on “Black Monday” in April - fell 57 per cent to $32.861 bn from the comparable period last year. 

Nasser said he was cautiously optimistic that the world economy was slowly recovering from the depths of the pandemic lockdowns.

“We are seeing a partial recovery in the energy market as countries around the world take steps to ease restrictions and reboot their economies. Meanwhile, we continue to place people’s safety first and have adapted to the new normal, implementing wide-ranging precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19 wherever we operate.

“We are determined to emerge from the pandemic stronger and will continue making progress on our long-term strategic journey, through ongoing investments in our business – which has one of the lowest upstream carbon footprints in the world,” he added.

Aramco expects capital expenditure to be at the lower end of the $25bn to $30bn range it has already indicated for this year.