Saudi Aramco signs six agreements with international firms

Saudi Aramco signs six agreements with international firms
Saudi Aramco has signed memorandums of understanding with six firms as part of an expansion of its program to increase local content and boost domestic supply chains. (Aramco)
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Updated 30 November 2020

Saudi Aramco signs six agreements with international firms

Saudi Aramco signs six agreements with international firms
  • Aramco said the signings paved the way for new business launches across several innovative growth sectors

LONDON: Saudi Aramco has signed memorandums of understanding with six firms as part of an expansion of its program to increase local content and boost domestic supply chains, the company announced on Monday.

The agreements are with: Dutch Shell & AMG Recycling, Suzhou XDM, Shen Gong, Xinfoo, SUPCON, and Posco.

Aramco said the signings paved the way for new business launches across several innovative growth sectors, including steel plate manufacturing, industrial 3D printing and digital equipment manufacturing, and marked a “significant milestone” in its in-Kingdom total value add (IKTVA) program.

The announcement was a “step change” in Aramco’s pioneering IKTVA program,  the company’s president and CEO Amin Nasser said. “Despite the uncertainties surrounding the global economy, we have sustained our focus on our long-term goals to enable growth and development for a thriving ecosystem and a more diversified Saudi economy.”

The collaborations would advance innovation, sustainability and enhance the scale of reliability, Nasser added. 

“These partnerships will also have a strong focus on new technologies, by maximising our investments in non-metallic materials and the circular carbon economy, as well as the development of talented Saudis in communities where we operate.”

Ahmad Al-Saadi, Aramco’s senior vice president of technical services, said the company had a history of supporting the local business ecosystem.

“Our IKTVA program is a manifestation of our commitment to this and the resulting investments, either directly by Aramco or indirectly by suppliers, have promoted localization, contributed to Aramco’s supply chain resilience and enhanced Saudi Arabia’s economic growth,” he said

“Our planned partnerships will continue this journey and advance the Kingdom’s economic progress. We intend to act as an enabler, supporting the growth of national champions. We are expanding our flagship program, and expect more partnerships in the future.”

The six agreements:

POSCO – an agreement to collaborate on evaluating the feasibility of constructing an integrated steel plate manufacturing plant in Saudi Arabia.

Suzhou XDM 3D Printing Company Ltd – an agreement to collaborate on industrial 3D printing technologies and development in Saudi Arabia.

SHEN GONG New Materials (Guang Zhou) Co. Ltd –  an agreement to focus on developing control systems technologies for LED lighting, energy management and intelligent control.

XINFOO Sensor Technology Company Limited – an agreement to explore opportunities in chip manufacturing and related technologies.

Shell & AMG Recycling B.V.  – an agreement to explore collaboration to develop plans for a state-of-the-art regional hub for the recycling of gasification ash and reclamation of spent catalysts, in addition to providing sustainable solutions.

Zhejiang SUPCON Technology Co. Ltd - an agreement to explore potential joint investment opportunities in Saudi Arabia for the services and manufacturing value chain.


Egypt's B2B Marketplace Cartona raises $4.5m Pre-Series A

Egypt's B2B Marketplace Cartona raises $4.5m Pre-Series A
Updated 55 min 28 sec ago

Egypt's B2B Marketplace Cartona raises $4.5m Pre-Series A

Egypt's B2B Marketplace Cartona raises $4.5m Pre-Series A
  • The Egypt-based team plans to use its newly acquired funds to further develop its Tech Stack
  • MENA-based E-commerce startups have observed steady growth this year

Cartona, the Egypt-based B2B platform connecting retailers to manufacturers and wholesalers, has successfully raised $4.5 million in its latest funding round, led by Global Ventures, MAGNiTT reported.

Kepple Africa Ventures, T5 Ventures, and a group of key angel investors also participated in leading the Pre-Series A round.

The Egypt-based team plans to use its newly acquired funds to further develop its Tech Stack, launch new products and expand geographically across Egypt. The technology stack is a combination of programming languages, frameworks, and tools that developers use to build a web or mobile app.

Cartona was launched in August last year to digitize the traditional, predominantly offline trade market in Egypt, enabling grocery retailers to order their store needs digitally from a curated network of sellers.

Since its launch, Cartona has aggregated over 30,000 users in Cairo and Alexandria. It has processed over 400,000 delivered orders with an annualized gross merchandise value of  over $63 million. 

Cartona works with 100 fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies, 1,000 distributors, and wholesalers, offering consumers over 10,000 products listed on its platform including dry, fresh, and frozen food.


MENA-based E-commerce startups have observed steady growth this year, according to MAGNiTT's August 2021 Venture Investment Dashboard.

The E-commerce industry has been the second most active and third most funded industry in MENA over 2021 year to date, driven by an eight percent year-on-year increase in number of deals closed in the region, and a solid 78 percent year-on-year growth in amount of funding.


NEOM to see increase in construction projects: CNBC

NEOM to see increase in construction projects: CNBC
Updated 18 min 4 sec ago

NEOM to see increase in construction projects: CNBC

NEOM to see increase in construction projects: CNBC
  • The state-owned company plans to offer tenders for building labor cities

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is working to increase the construction of projects in its NEOM megaproject, CNBC Arabia reported, citing sources. 

The state-owned company plans to offer tenders for building labor cities accommodating up to 100,000 workers, the sources added according to Argaam, the news portal.

Originally, the project, which was scheduled to be completed last year, was set to accommodate around 30,000 workers. 

The company is close to offering five to 10 tenders over the next six months, with each city planned to accommodate nearly 10,000 workers.

Deloitte is advising the Saudi government on the project of establishing labor cities.

In October 2017, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the launch of a new investment city, NEOM, in northwest Saudi Arabia, at a total investment of $500 billion, financed by the Saudi government, Public Investment Fund, as well as local and global investors.


Regulators not up to speed on banks' digital marketplaces: EU watchdog

Regulators not up to speed on banks' digital marketplaces: EU watchdog
Image: EBA
Updated 21 September 2021

Regulators not up to speed on banks' digital marketplaces: EU watchdog

Regulators not up to speed on banks' digital marketplaces: EU watchdog
  • Finance and tech companies are coming closer together as banks set up digital marketplaces for products like payments and mortgages
  • EU watchdog said reliance on digital platforms for marketing and distribution of services creates new forms of financial, operational and reputational interdependencies

Regulators have little understanding of risks from banks creating digital marketplaces with tech companies and a framework is needed to spot potential contagion if things go wrong, the European Union's banking watchdog said on Tuesday.


The European Banking Authority's warning is the latest sign that financial regulators are starting to pay more attention to Big Tech's increasing links with finance, such as in cloud computing.


Finance and tech companies are coming closer together as banks set up digital marketplaces for products like payments and mortgages, as well as other financial and non-financial services, a process which has accelerated since the pandemic began.


This means customers can make payments or buy things using their mobile phone which links directly to their bank account. This so-called platformisation helps banks to cut costs and reach a wider range of customers, and includes partnerships with tech groups.


Apple Pay, for example, allows banks' debit and credit card holders to set up an Apple wallet to make payments. Google and Citi have teamed up to enable users of the Google Pay app to open an account with Citi.


But the EU watchdog said reliance on digital platforms for marketing and distribution of services creates new forms of financial, operational and reputational interdependencies.


The trend is posing "some challenges" for regulators in monitoring market developments and any risks from these interdependencies, the watchdog said.


"Indeed, it appears that the vast majority of competent authorities currently have a limited understanding of platform-based business models," EBA said.


EBA said it proposes to develop a framework next year to collect information about dependencies among banks on digital platforms, and create indicators to assess potential concentration, contagion and systemic risks.

But it said new legislation is not needed at this stage.


The watchdog called on the EU to update guidance on when a digital activity should be considered a crossborder provision of services and therefore come under EU and national laws that require information to be reported to regulators to improve visibility.


EBA said a small number of banks say they had encountered some issues in accessing digital platforms on terms they considered fair.


Crypto rise falters on fears of Evergrande contagion

Crypto rise falters on fears of Evergrande contagion
Updated 21 September 2021

Crypto rise falters on fears of Evergrande contagion

Crypto rise falters on fears of Evergrande contagion

Global investors are turning their eyes to Evergrande Group, China's second-largest property developer by sales, for fear of a possible credit contagion.

Cryptocurrency prices rebounded from a one-and-a-half month low on Tuesday despite heavy selling linked to loan default concerns by property developer China Evergrande.

Global markets started the week with concerns that Evergrande's problems could lead to repercussions on the Chinese and global economies, leading to a sell-off in riskier assets.

On Monday, many people woke up to the news of China's Evergrande Group losing a significant amount of its market capitalization as the company's shares plunged to an 11-year low. The Hang Seng Tech Index also plunged in value on Monday morning as the news roiled markets.

Evergrande's losses could cause a domino effect like the collapse of Lehman Brothers during the 2008 financial crisis.

"We can't take a very positive view just yet until we get through the next few days," said Matthew Dibb, chief operating officer at crypto index fund provider Singapore-based Stack Funds.

"This is purely sentiment-driven right now, and it's actually been off very low liquidity," he said, adding that it would be better to wait on the sidelines as crypto markets will continue to be affected by the contagion.

Bitcoin traded around $43,000, recovering from its low to $4,0192. It hit a four-month high of $52,000 on September 6, while the value of smaller rival Ether rose 1 percent to $3,055 after falling below $3,000 for the first time since early August.


Kuwait Touristic to increase capital to $996m in bid to boost tourism

Kuwait Touristic to increase capital to $996m in bid to boost tourism
Kuwait Towers against the skyscrapers of Kuwait City during sunset. (Shutterstock)
Updated 21 September 2021

Kuwait Touristic to increase capital to $996m in bid to boost tourism

Kuwait Touristic to increase capital to $996m in bid to boost tourism

Kuwait Touristic Enterprises plans to increase its capital by 250 million dinars ($831.39 million) to 300 million, as it looks to reinvigorate tourism in the oil-rich country, its chief executive said.

A unit of Gulf country's Kuwait Investment Authority sovereign wealth fund, the company plans to borrow 50 million dinars from local banks to finance part of its projects, CEO Abdelwahab Almarzooq told a news conference.

"Our vision is to bring back the golden age of tourism in Kuwait," he said, adding that the company plans to execute 95 initiatives and projects costing 380 million dinars over 10 years.