Lebanon set for IMF rescue talks

Lebanon’s currency has lost more than half its value in the past six months. (AFP)
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Updated 13 May 2020

Lebanon set for IMF rescue talks

  • Lebanon hopes to secure IMF financial support of $9 billion-$10 billion

BEIRUT: Lebanon will start negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the next two days, Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni said on Tuesday, as Beirut seeks aid to deal with its financial crisis.

Lebanon, which officially requested IMF assistance on May 1, is grappling with a crisis seen as the biggest threat to its stability since the 1975-90 civil war.

“There is contact with the IMF and in the coming two days we will start the negotiation sessions,” Wazni told reporters after a Cabinet session.

Turning to the IMF is widely seen as the only way for Lebanon, one of the world’s most heavily indebted nations, to secure the financial assistance it urgently needs.

A source close to the government said that the two sides held an introductory meeting on Monday ahead of Wednesday’s detailed talks. Wednesday’s talks via video conference will include officials from the prime minister’s office, central bank and presidency.

Lebanon defaulted on its foreign currency debt in March, while its beleaguered currency has lost more than half its value since October. Savers have largely been shut out of foreign exchange deposits as the supply of dollars has grown scarce.

Wazni said last week that Lebanon hoped to secure IMF financial support of $9 billion-$10 billion.

A government economic recovery plan, which outlines steps that would result in vast losses for Lebanon’s financial system, will form the basis for the IMF talks.

Donors, which have supported Lebanon in the past, say the government must enact long-delayed reforms to address state waste and corruption, widely seen as root cause of the economic crisis, before they will consider any fresh aid.

Bayut and Dubizzle merge to create a Dubai-based unicorn company

Updated 27 min 4 sec ago

Bayut and Dubizzle merge to create a Dubai-based unicorn company

  • The two owner companies will also run a $150 million investment round
  • EMGP will continue operating both Bayut and Dubizzle in the UAE

DUBAI: The owners of UAE technology firms Bayut and Dubizzle have announced a merger which will form a $1 billion Dubai-based unicorn company, state news agency WAM reported on Tuesday.
Emerging Markets Property Group, EMPG, and OLX Group will also run a $150 million investment round as part of the agreement to merge their MENA and South Asia operations.
Unicorn companies are privately held startups valued at over $1 billion.
The merger makes OLX, EMGS’s largest single holder with 39 percent of shares. EMGP will continue operating both Bayut and Dubizzle in the UAE, and the merger will bring OLX entities in Egypt, Lebanon, Pakistan and several GCC countries into the company’s reach.
“This merger of EMPG and OLX will allow us to better serve our customers, given that both operate brands with a strong following and will allow us to leverage existing tech and data to paint a more accurate picture of the state of affairs in the real estate industry across the region. At the same time, we will be making significant technology investments to provide more value to all users of property, automotive and other segments of the Dubizzle and OLX platform,” Head of EMGP MENA Haider Ali Khan said.
The cumulative value of properties sold in the UAE, Egypt, Lebanon and Pakistan through the websites is estimated at $8.984 billion, offering a possible commission pool of above $1.9 billion for real estate agents.
Meanwhile, Ali Maabereh, head of mergers and acquisition (M&A) at KMPG in Saudi Arabia said M&A activity will increase in GCC countries amid the coronavirus pandemic as SMEs and several large corporates will look for capital injections to satisfy working capital needs.
“The current pandemic is creating a lot of uncertainties and contradictions in what to expect after the dust settles. The expected key impacts on companies are shortages of liquidity and working capital requirements. Though companies might be running a healthy P&L, there will be significant pressure on working capital requirements,” he said.