FII Institute announces agreement to combat counterfeit, illicit trade in Africa

Richard Attias, CEO of the Future Investment Initiative Institute, opened the second day of the fourth FII forum in Riyadh. (Twiiter/@FIIKSA)
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Richard Attias, CEO of the Future Investment Initiative Institute, opened the second day of the fourth FII forum in Riyadh. (Twiiter/@FIIKSA)
Richard Attias, CEO of the Future Investment Initiative Institute, opened the second day of the fourth FII forum in Riyadh. (Supplied)
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Richard Attias, CEO of the Future Investment Initiative Institute, opened the second day of the fourth FII forum in Riyadh. (Supplied)
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Updated 28 January 2021

FII Institute announces agreement to combat counterfeit, illicit trade in Africa

FII Institute announces agreement to combat counterfeit, illicit trade in Africa
  • The initiative will contribute to reducing production and trade in counterfeited products

RIYADH: The Future Investment Initiative (FII) Institute, the organizer of the Kingdom’s flagship forum taking place in Riyadh this week, on Wednesday signed a number of major agreements, including a partnership aimed at protecting over 1.2 billion people from counterfeit and illicit trade in Africa.
Addressing a press conference on the second day of the fourth FII forum, Richard Attias, CEO of the institute, announced the three initiatives.
The first is a letter of intent between the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Swiss tech company OriginAll and the FII Institute, to develop technology aimed at protecting people from 54 African nations from counterfeit and illicitly traded products. The agreement was signed in the presence of Attias, Wamkele Mene, secretary-general of the AfCFTA and Hans Schwab, co-founder and CEO of OriginAll.
Mene told reporters that the cooperation will benefit over 1.2 billion people, stimulate innovation and investment, and safeguard wellbeing.
The initiative will contribute to the reduction of production and trade in counterfeited products, increasing government revenues and creating new investment opportunities.
“We have to be mindful of the unintended consequences of trade liberalization… there is a present and serious risk that trade liberalization in the context of free movement of goods may present an opportunity for counterfeit, sub-standard and illicitly traded goods to transit through borders,” Mene said.
“We have to be extremely vigilant against this. Counterfeiters and illicit traders have been taking advantage of our continent for centuries, depriving our nations from substantial revenues, encouraging a culture of corruption and, regrettably, costing the lives of hundreds of thousands of African citizens every year. 
“This can no longer be tolerated, it needs to stop, and it must stop now. We must prioritize our national interests, the public health and safety of African citizens.”
Attias added: “This initiative fully embraces our vision and mission, representing a concrete, unprecedented and decisive action to bring together experts, innovators and investors with the power to shape a more prosperous and safer future for the African continent. May this be a strong start of a global movement to eradicate the world from counterfeit and illicitly traded products and its deep-rooted consequences.”
OriginAll will provide the platform for business, government, and consumers to identify and verify the authenticity and conformity of any product traded under the AfCFTA rules.
Schwab said: “This initiative will channel critical resources back into the member states’ economies and contribute to investment growth and employment creation, improving the economic wellbeing, health, and safety of AfCFTA citizens. By next year, counterfeiting is projected to cost the global economy up to $4.2 trillion.”
He added: “These funds are primary sources of revenue that lead to economic disruption and corruption. We all share the blame for letting this problem get out of control and losing visibility over its complexity. We have a joint responsibility to address this global economic and social disease. We are immensely privileged to be part of this initiative.”
At the same FII event, two other agreements were also announced. King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and the FII Institute signed an agreement to cooperate on research projects and create events aimed at facilitating access to scientific knowledge.
Tadawul CEO Khalid Abdullah also signed a memorandum of understanding with the FII Institute. The partnership will promote cooperation on environmental, social, and governance needs in the region.


Egypt to launch natural gas-powered bus fleet in 2022

Egypt to launch natural gas-powered bus fleet in 2022
Updated 05 December 2021

Egypt to launch natural gas-powered bus fleet in 2022

Egypt to launch natural gas-powered bus fleet in 2022

CAIRO: Egypt will launch its first fleet of buses powered by natural gas next year, Minister of Public Enterprise Hisham Tawfik has said.

About 70 percent of the components used in the manufacturing of the buses will be sourced locally, in cooperation with several Egyptian companies, he said.

Tawfiq said that the fleet will include buses that can accommodate 14 to 50 passengers, and that the goal of the project is to localize technology and transport production.

“Our strategy is to work in the production of environmentally friendly vehicles, whether they run on natural gas or electricity,” he added.

A delegation from the Belarusian Minsk Automobile Plant signed a contract to supply production materials for the project.

Production is expected to begin in mid-2022, with a target of 250 buses completed per year.

Tawfiq welcomed cooperation with the Belarusian side, especially in light of the distinguished relations between the two countries, which have developed significantly in recent years.


PIF offers 100m shares in stc in secondary public offering

PIF offers 100m shares in stc in secondary public offering
Updated 05 December 2021

PIF offers 100m shares in stc in secondary public offering

PIF offers 100m shares in stc in secondary public offering

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (selling shareholder) and stc on Sunday announced the launch of a secondary public offering of stc’s ordinary shares, Argaam reported.

“The potential transaction is in line with the PIF’s strategy to recycle its capital to new investments,” the fund said in an earlier statement. 

A total of 10.02 million shares will be allocated to retail subscribers.

The offering comprises a fully marketed secondary public offering of 100.2 million stc shares, representing 5.01 percent of its share capital

The price range has been set between SR100 and SR116 per share. The final offer price will announced on Dec. 10.

Goldman Sachs Saudi Arabia, HSBC Saudi Arabia, Morgan Stanley Saudi Arabia and SNB Capital are acting as joint financial advisers for STC and joint global coordinators for STC and PIF. The Citigroup Saudi Arabia and Credit Suisse Saudi Arabia are acting as joint bookrunners, according to a bourse filing.


Bitcoin continues to decline from its high in November: Crypto wrap

Bitcoin continues to decline from its high in November: Crypto wrap
Updated 05 December 2021

Bitcoin continues to decline from its high in November: Crypto wrap

Bitcoin continues to decline from its high in November: Crypto wrap

RIYADH: Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency, plunged around 30 percent from the year’s high of $69,000 on Nov. 10.

It, however, traded higher on Sunday, rising by 2.82 percent to $48,972 at 5:14 p.m. Riyadh time.

Ether, the second most popular cryptocurrency, traded at $4,140 up 4.16 percent, according to data from CoinDesk.

“Corrections and declines do occur in almost all markets including crypto. The current decline is considered the largest in terms of market value since the late March 2020 decline,” Abdullah Mashat, managing director of a private Saudi retail company told Arab News.

Mashat said: “Current decline is due to investors being concerned of tapering talks in the US, which resulted in the decline in stock exchanges and later this caused liquidity crunch in the crypto markets."

Anto Paroian, COO at crypto hedge fund ARK36 said: “The market sentiments  have decisively soured as a result of deepening concerns about omicron variant and its (likely) effect on the economy. The current situation resembles closely what happened in March 2020 as we’re seeing equities plunge 5 percent off recent highs and the negativity is spreading to other markets as well including the digital asset markets. 

“On the other hand, the current price levels aren’t unexpected after the bulls failed to flip the $60,000 resistance multiple times in the past few weeks. During previous Bitcoin bull markets violent swings of 20-30 percent happened a few times before the market topped and let’s remember what happened in July - and how well the market rebounded afterward."

 "It must be noted, though, that one of the key Bitcoin bull market indicators — the 20-week simple moving average — has now been decisively breached so the outlook is currently bearish in the short to medium term. What’s more, since there are widespread expectations that interest rates will rise as central banks are signaling a more aggressive stance on inflation, the violent price move in the digital asset market may also suggest that some investors are preparing to go into a risk-off mode for the time being," Paroian added.

Meanwhile, El Salvador President Nayib Bukele said the Central American country had acquired an additional 150 bitcoins after the digital currency’s value slumped again, enlarging his bet on the cryptocurrency despite criticism.

Bukele said last week that El Salvador had acquired 100 additional coins to take advantage of the currency weakening.


Aramco enters Saudi lubricants market with new product line

Aramco enters Saudi lubricants market with new product line
Updated 05 December 2021

Aramco enters Saudi lubricants market with new product line

Aramco enters Saudi lubricants market with new product line

RIYADH: Saudi Aramco on Sunday announced its entry into the Kingdom’s domestic lubricants market with the launch of a new line of products.

The oil giant timed the ORIZON® launch to coincide with the inaugural Saudi Arabian Formula 1 Grand Prix in Jeddah.

The product line has been introduced in more than 20 cities including Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam with more locations planned. The products include synthetic and semisynthetic lubricants for gasoline engines and heavy-duty diesel engines, as well as driveline products, greases and brake fluids. 

The company has also expanded the brand to include ORIZONPRO® which is a high-performance line for the industrial sector.

Yasser M. Mufti, Aramco vice president of fuels, said: “Entering the lubricants market is an important milestone for the company, as we continue to expand our presence throughout the downstream value chain.” 

The launch “further complements Aramco’s presence in the Kingdom’s downstream direct-to-consumer segment, following the inauguration of our first two service stations in Riyadh and Saihat recently.”


Countries tackle economic woes amid omicron fears, revised growth outlooks: Economic wrap

Countries tackle economic woes amid omicron fears, revised growth outlooks: Economic wrap
Updated 05 December 2021

Countries tackle economic woes amid omicron fears, revised growth outlooks: Economic wrap

Countries tackle economic woes amid omicron fears, revised growth outlooks: Economic wrap

CAIRO: The Australian government is expected to raise its economic growth forecast for 2022 in its midyear budget review, according to the country’s treasurer, Josh Frydenberg.

He said omicron’s effect, the new COVID-19 variant, is still unclear.

The country’s fiscal year runs until June.

The Australian economy narrowed by 1.9 percent in the third quarter of this year on the back of the delta variant which led to a national lockdown.

However, the treasurer said the country now enjoys one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, boosting market conditions.

France avoids more restrictions

France will try to refrain from the imposition of any health-related restrictions even as virus cases continue to rise, the country’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said.

France is also avoiding any mandatory vaccination campaigns, Bloomberg reported, citing the minister.

He said two sectors, restaurants and hospitality, were particularly hit by the wave of new cases, adding that they will receive government support.

He also stated the new variant, omicron, is yet to have an effect on the country’s economic growth.

US growth rate

Unlike other countries, US expected growth rates for both 2021 and next year were trimmed down by Goldman Sachs, one of the world’s leading investment banks. 

It said this downward revision was attributed to a potential adverse effect by omicron, according to Bloomberg.

The world’s largest economy is now predicted to grow by 3.8 percent in 2021, instead of the previous 4.2 percent forecast. As for next year, the US is set to expand by 2.9 percent, down from 3.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the country’s unemployment rate plunged to a 21-month low to hit 4.2 percent in November, according to the Labor Department. This is a 2.1 percent drop compared to January’s level, a considerable decline.

However, employment growth slowed down during the month.

The economy is still expected to experience strong growth in the fourth quarter, following the previous quarter’s weak performance.