HSBC to axe 82 branches in UK, cut services in others

HSBC to axe 82 branches in UK, cut services in others
HSBC said it had begun trialing different branch formats and decided to provide fewer full-service branches focused in large cities and towns. (AFP)
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Updated 19 January 2021

HSBC to axe 82 branches in UK, cut services in others

HSBC to axe 82 branches in UK, cut services in others
  • The lender said it would be left with 511 branches in the UK following the closures

LONDON: HSBC said on Tuesday it planned to axe 82 branches in Britain this year after a drop in footfall across its retail network and a surge in digital banking.
The lender said it would be left with 511 branches in the UK following the closures, with many of the remaining branches set to be refurbished with some providing fewer services.
The COVID-19 pandemic has dented bank finances, putting pressure on lenders to cut costs, while more customers have opted to bank online as people have been encouraged to stay at home to combat the spread of the virus.
HSBC said it had begun trialing different branch formats and decided to provide fewer full-service branches focused in large cities and towns, with others providing cash or self-service technology.
The bank said ‘pop-up’ mobile branches would also be rolled out later this year.
“The direction of travel is really quite clear and this is borne out by the reduction in branch usage and increase in digital interaction that we are seeing first-hand,” said Jackie Uhi, HSBC UK’s head of network.


Deyaar profits rise, sees Dubai property demand growing

Deyaar profits rise, sees Dubai property demand growing
Updated 18 min 51 sec ago

Deyaar profits rise, sees Dubai property demand growing

Deyaar profits rise, sees Dubai property demand growing
  • Profit grew on higher demand for Deyaar’s ready and off-plan residential units

DUBAI: Deyaar, one of Dubai’s biggest property developers, reported a rise in first quarter profit, the company said in a statement.

The shares rose 0.8 percent in early trade.

The developer that is majority-owned by Dubai Islamic Bank, reported first quarter net profit of 15.1 million dirhams ($4.1 million)  – up from 2.6 million dirhams from the same period last year.
Sales also rose to 149.2 million dirhams, compared to 98.8 million dirhams in 2020.
Profit grew on higher demand for Deyaar’s ready and off-plan residential units, Saeed Al-Qatami, its CEO said.
"We expect this demand to grow even more with the economic recovery in the emirate and the effort that the government takes towards executing the Dubai Urban Master Plan 2040,” he said.
Deyaar recently handed over its Bella Rose development in Dubai Science Park. It has 478 residential units and 12 shops.
The company also began construction work on the third and fourth phases of its residential Midtown project in Dubai Production City, where it plans to add 11 more buildings.


Qatar may allow 100% foreign ownership of listed companies

Qatar may allow 100% foreign ownership of listed companies
Updated 28 min 42 sec ago

Qatar may allow 100% foreign ownership of listed companies

Qatar may allow 100% foreign ownership of listed companies
DUBAI: The Qatari cabinet approved a draft law on Wednesday that would allow non-Qatari investors to own up to 100 percent of the capital of companies listed on the Qatar Stock Exchange, according to a statement on Qatar News Agency.

Should the law be implemented, companies would have to approve increases in foreign ownership on a case-by-case basis, Bloomberg News reported.

Such a change could lead to inflows of about $1.5 billion into listed Qatari companies, with beneficiaries potentially including Qatar Islamic Bank, Masraf Al Rayan and Commercial Bank of Qatar, Bloomberg cited investment bank EFG-Hermes as saying.

Foreign ownership of many Qatari companies currently sits way below the 49 percent limit. Qatar General Insurance had 32 percent foreign ownership as of April 14, Gulf Warehousing 30 percent and Commercial Bank of Qatar 21 percent, Qatar Stock Exchange data shows.

Saudi Arabia dropped its cap on ownership of publicly traded companies by foreign strategic investors in June 2019, while the UAE said in July of the same year it would allow the emirates to set their own foreign-ownership limits.

Qatar eased rules on foreign property ownership in October last year in an attempt to make the sector more attractive to expatriates, foreign investors and real estate funds.

Turkish lira trades flat ahead of central bank rate decision

Turkish lira trades flat ahead of central bank rate decision
Updated 25 min 41 sec ago

Turkish lira trades flat ahead of central bank rate decision

Turkish lira trades flat ahead of central bank rate decision
  • Last month, the lira weakened to near its record lows after President Tayyip Erdogan appointed Sahap Kavcioglu as central bank governor

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s lira traded flat against the dollar on Thursday, ahead of the new central bank governor’s first rate decision, where the bank is expected to maintain its policy rate at 19 percent.
The lira stood at 8.0530 against the dollar at 0647 GMT, near Wednesday’s close of 8.0655. Last month, the lira weakened to near its record lows after President Tayyip Erdogan appointed Sahap Kavcioglu as central bank governor, replacing his predecessor in a shock decision.


Dubai logistics firm Tristar drops IPO plans

Dubai logistics firm Tristar drops IPO plans
Updated 15 April 2021

Dubai logistics firm Tristar drops IPO plans

Dubai logistics firm Tristar drops IPO plans
  • Tristar began its public share sale on April 4, setting a price range that implied a market capitalization of 2.64-3.24 billion dirhams
  • The company saw weak demand for its shares, said two sources familiar with the matter

DUBAI: Logistics firm Tristar has dropped plans for an initial public offering (IPO) in Dubai, with sources saying the deal did not attract enough investor demand.
The move, which confirms what the sources had earlier told Reuters, is a setback for Dubai’s bourse, the Dubai Financial Market, which has not seen a big ticket listing since 2017.
The company said “its board and existing shareholders have decided to withdraw its planned initial public offering on the Dubai Financial Market as existing shareholders’ expectations were not met.”
“The board and existing shareholders believe that greater returns can be realized executing Tristar’s current growth strategy under the established shareholder structure,” it said.
Tristar began its public share sale on April 4, setting a price range that implied a market capitalization of 2.64-3.24 billion dirhams ($719-$882 million).
The company saw weak demand for its shares, said two sources familiar with the matter. The offering was planned to close on April 15.
Part-owned by Kuwaiti logistics firm Agility, Tristar had previously intended to list in London, but plans were scrapped after turmoil at London-listed health care firm NMC shook investor confidence in Gulf companies.
Tristar said earlier this month it expected to raise between 438 million and 537 million dirhams as part of its primary offering, and another 90 to 240 million from a secondary offering.
BofA Securities and Citigroup were global coordinators and joint bookrunners on the deal.


Saudi Arabia cuts maximum subsidized housing loans by five years

Saudi Arabia cuts maximum subsidized housing loans by five years
Updated 15 April 2021

Saudi Arabia cuts maximum subsidized housing loans by five years

Saudi Arabia cuts maximum subsidized housing loans by five years
  • Targets people who earn SR14,000 or less
  • Subsidized loans first implemented in 2017

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has reduced the maximum period of subsidized housing finance from 25 years to 20 years for new applications, 2021, the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing said in a circular on Tuesday. The change took effect from April 12.
The ministry said that this decision was "in line with the strategy of the housing program for the second phase, to serve the largest number of target groups,” the Al-Watan newspaper reported.
The subsidized mortgage loan program was first implemented in June 2017.
It provides a real estate loan with up to 100 percent, for those whose salary is SR14,000 or less, with a guarantee (on the amount of the profit margin) of up to SR500,000 of the financing amount.
This program targets Saudi citizens who are on the housing support lists of the Real Estate Development Fund, and who meet the Ministry of Housing conditions.