Holiday-Inn owner IHG posts annual loss on COVID-19 slowdown

Holiday-Inn owner IHG posts annual loss on COVID-19 slowdown
The Holiday Inn Express in St Julian’s, Malta, April 13, 2018. (Reuters)
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Updated 23 February 2021

Holiday-Inn owner IHG posts annual loss on COVID-19 slowdown

Holiday-Inn owner IHG posts annual loss on COVID-19 slowdown
  • IHG, which previously scrapped its final dividend, said 2020 was the most challenging year in its history as revenue per available room slumped 52.5 percent
  • Demand remained stronger in IHG’s Holiday Inn Express business, which represents about 70 percent of its rooms in the US market

BENGALURU: InterContinental Hotels (IHG) booked an annual loss of $153 million on Tuesday, pummelled by repeated COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns, but said a faster recovery in its Holiday Inn Express brand had helped it outperform in key markets.
The company, which previously scrapped its final dividend, said 2020 was the most challenging year in its history as revenue per available room slumped 52.5 percent, with global travel and entertainment spending remaining under pressure.
Pinning its hopes on the global roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines and a wider economic rebound, IHG said the industry was unlikely to see a recovery until later in the year but hinted that global travel was starting to recover.
“People want to travel again...It is the thing that people have missed most and so there is enormous pent up demand to travel,” Chief Financial Officer Paul Edgecliffe-Johnson said, adding that “travel will come back very rapidly.”
Shares of the company were up 3.8 percent at 5,516 pence by 0845 GMT, amid a near 3 percent rise on the FTSE 350 travel and leisure index as Britain saw a surge in flight and hotel bookings after the government said would-be holidaymakers will be given clarity on making plans for the summer by April 12.
Demand remained stronger in IHG’s Holiday Inn Express business, which represents about 70 percent of its rooms in the US market and has historically been impacted less and recovered faster than other segments in economic downturns, the company said.
“IHG is at the start of a prolonged period of commercial recovery,” Peel Hunt analysts said in a note.
Still, IHG reported a group operating loss of $153 million for the year ended Dec. 31, compared with a profit of $630 million last year.


China’s economy expected to grow 5.3 percent in 2022, says govt think tank

China’s economy expected to grow 5.3 percent in 2022, says govt think tank
The main shopping street in Shanghai. Shutterstock.
Updated 5 sec ago

China’s economy expected to grow 5.3 percent in 2022, says govt think tank

China’s economy expected to grow 5.3 percent in 2022, says govt think tank
  • The world’s second-largest economy is expected to have expanded by about 8 percent this year

China’s economy expected to grow 5.3 percent in 2022, says govt think tank

China’s economy is expected to grow around 5.3 percent in 2022, bringing the average annual growth rate forecast for 2020-2022 to 5.2 percent, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), a top government think tank, said on Monday.


Advisers to the government will recommend that authorities set a 2022 economic growth target lower than the target set for 2021 of “above 6 percent,” Reuters reported, amid growing headwinds from a property downturn, weakening exports and strict COVID-19 curbs that have impeded consumption.


The world’s second-largest economy is expected to have expanded by about 8 percent this year, according to the annual blue book on the economy from CASS.

The think tank warned that the property downturn was likely to persist and weigh on the expenditures of local governments next year.


It urged the central government to proactively engineer a soft landing for the property sector, to avoid failed land auctions in big cities and to fend off risks of quickly falling property prices in smaller cities, the report said.


Alibaba appoints new CFO, reshuffles e-commerce businesses

Alibaba appoints new CFO, reshuffles e-commerce businesses
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 37 min 5 sec ago

Alibaba appoints new CFO, reshuffles e-commerce businesses

Alibaba appoints new CFO, reshuffles e-commerce businesses
  • Alibaba said that it would be creating an International Digital Commerce team to handle its e-commerce businesses in international markets

China’s largest e-commerce group Alibaba said Monday it is appointing a new chief financial officer and reorganizing its e-commerce businesses amid a regulatory crackdown in the technology industry.


The company said in a statement Monday that Toby Xu will succeed Maggie Wu as its new CFO from April 1, 2022. Xu joined Alibaba from PricewaterhouseCoopers three years ago and was appointed deputy group CFO in July 2019.


Wu, who has been Alibaba’s CFO since 2013 and has helped lead three Alibaba-related company listings, will continue to serve as an executive director on Alibaba’s board.


She will also remain as a partner in the Alibaba Partnership – a group of senior executives who have the right to nominate a simple majority of Alibaba’s board of directors.


“We are focused on the long-term, and succession within our management team on every occasion is always in the service of ensuring Alibaba will be stronger and better positioned for the future,” said Daniel Zhang, chairman and CEO of Alibaba Group.


Separately, Alibaba said that it would be creating an International Digital Commerce team to handle its e-commerce businesses in international markets. A China Digital Commerce team will be in charge of e-commerce operations inside China, according to a post on the company’s Alizila news hub.


The international and domestic digital commerce teams will be led by executives Jiang Fan and Trudy Dai respectively.


Jiang has been in charge of Taobao and Tmall, Alibaba’s core e-commerce sites in China. Dai was the firm’s chief customer officer.


The Hangzhou-based firm was fined a record $2.8 billion for antitrust violations and is under scrutiny as regulators step up oversight of the technology industry at a time when the economy is slowing.


Last month, Alibaba cut its sales outlook for the year amid mounting competition from rivals such as Pinduoduo. It expects growth for its current year to be the slowest since it listed in New York in 2014.


Alibaba’s flagship Singles’ Day shopping extravaganza also posted its slowest-ever growth this year, amid muted marketing campaigns and a shift to sustainability and philanthropy amid Chinese President Xi Jinping’s calls for “common prosperity.”


Alibaba’s New York stock price has plunged more than 50 percent over the last 12 months. The company’s Hong Kong-traded shares were down 4.9 percent Monday.


American, Lebanese lag behind home-grown restaurants as they lead Riyadh’s lifestyle boom 

American, Lebanese lag behind home-grown restaurants as they lead Riyadh’s lifestyle boom 
Updated 42 min 27 sec ago

American, Lebanese lag behind home-grown restaurants as they lead Riyadh’s lifestyle boom 

American, Lebanese lag behind home-grown restaurants as they lead Riyadh’s lifestyle boom 
  • The US and UAE are the second and third largest sources of restaurant chains in Riyadh

RIYADH: Riyadh’s food and beverage scene has come a long way since 2016, when the National Transformation Plan was announced, with the city witnessing 288,000 square meters of new developments so far.

“The Kingdom’s capital is beginning to morph into a foodie’s treasure trove and we’re not done yet,” Faisal Durrani, head of Middle East research at Knight Frank said. 

This growth is led by home-grown restaurants and cafes, he added, with 68 percent of Riyadh’s new outlets being Saudi - 21 percent of which specialize in international cuisine. 

“American food outlets account for 16 percent of Food and beverage outlets, while Lebanese restaurants are the third most prevalent at 13 percent,” Durrani said. 

The US and UAE are the second and third largest sources of restaurant chains in Riyadh, respectively, he added.

“International brands must adapt their proposition across the full spectrum to suit demand, both in terms of operational aspects, as well as the actual menu offering itself,” Pedro Riberio, head of retail advisory KSA at Knight Frank, said.

The Kingdom’s capital will further benefit from upcoming tourism developments, including the Bujairi Terrace and Diriyah Gate, which the Knight Frank report said will add “15,000 sqm of lifestyle retail space to the capital when its 17 restaurants open their doors in 2022.”

This rapid growth and competition are putting pressure on older developments, the report indicated, with some operators struggling to keep vacancy rates and footfall up. 


TASI rises for a third consecutive day, up 1 percent in early trading, led by SADR: Market Open

TASI rises for a third consecutive day, up 1 percent in early trading, led by SADR: Market Open
Updated 3 min 31 sec ago

TASI rises for a third consecutive day, up 1 percent in early trading, led by SADR: Market Open

TASI rises for a third consecutive day, up 1 percent in early trading, led by SADR: Market Open

RIYADH: Share prices of the major players in the Saudi stock market rose for a third consecutive day as omicron-related imbalances eased.

Sadr Logistics came on top of the biggest gainers, up almost 10 percent to SR94.8 ($25.26), which marks an all-time record for the company.

Biggest moving stocks of the day also include Wafrah for Industry and Development Co., National Industrialization Co., and Al Kathiri Holding Co, up 6.26 percent, 5.02 percent, and 4.14 percent respectively.

Today’s gains were crimped by a 3.97 percent drop in stc’s price.

This came as the Saudi Public Investment Fund and stc’s announced the subscription period for stc’s secondary offering that could raise as much as SR11.6 billion.

 

9:30am Saudi Time: Will TASI reignite after its slight fall in November? Here are key takeaways: Premarket

Saudi Arabia’s main benchmark index TASI started the week in the green zone with stocks recouping omicron-related declines, up around 350 points from last week.

Al Rajhi Bank traded at 4.8 percent higher this week with around 4 million traded shares.

Sahara International Petrochemical Company saw a recovery of 7.44 percent.

The Kingdom’s oil giant Aramco saw gains of 0.72 percent.

This came as the group announced its entry into the Kingdom’s domestic lubricants as well as its collaboration agreement with French companies including hydrogen car deals with Gaussin.

The International Company for Water & Power Projects, or ACWA Power, and Natixis CIB signed a memorandum of understanding aiming to collaborate on the development of ACWA power in the GCC region.

Natixis CIB will finance up to almost SR7.5 billion ($2 billion) over two years to finance ACWA Power’s projects.

Sadr Logistics’ shareholders approved the board of directors’ recommendation to raise SR175 million through a rights issue worth SR150 million to expand its logistics services. The rights issue trading and new share subscription period will start today Dec.6.

Apart from its rights issue, Sadr Logistics has been on the rise since last week jumping to an all-time high of SR86.2.

With reference to the Public Investment Fund and stc’s earlier announcement, the subscription period for stc’s secondary offering will start on Dec.7 and end on Dec. 8 for retail tranche whereas, for participating parties, it started yesterday and will end on Dec.9.

Saudi Exchange announced the initial public offering of Saudi Tadawul Group Holding Company to be 442.53 percent oversubscribed.

Subscriptions exceeding individual subscribers will be refunded no later than Dec.8, when the listing and trading of the company’s shares on the main market will begin.

Jahez International Company for Information Systems Technology issued the prospectus for its initial public offering at 13 percent of its capital on Nomu, Tadawul’s parallel market.

The offering period will commence on Dec. 23 and end on Dec. 26.


France’s Natixis to finance $2bn ACWA Power projects in 2 years

France’s Natixis to finance $2bn ACWA Power projects in 2 years
Updated 35 min 11 sec ago

France’s Natixis to finance $2bn ACWA Power projects in 2 years

France’s Natixis to finance $2bn ACWA Power projects in 2 years
  • The MoU will allow both parties to “explore opportunities to develop new projects in the region”

RIYADH: France-based Natixis Corporate and Investment Banking has signed an agreement to finance ACWA Power projects over the next two years - with funding of up to $2 billion. 

The MoU will allow both parties to “explore opportunities to develop new projects in the region,” the Saudi clean energy provider said in a bourse filing. 

Paddy Padmanthan, chief executive officer of ACWA Power, said the agreement will allow them to expand “cost competitive financing solution” and access wider pools of liquidity for its projects.

Natixis has previously underwritten some of the Saudi-listed firm’s high-profile renewable projects, including the Sakaka solar project.