Saudi Arabia’s PIF clinches $15bn credit line

Saudi Arabia’s PIF clinches $15bn credit line
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Updated 11 March 2021

Saudi Arabia’s PIF clinches $15bn credit line

Saudi Arabia’s PIF clinches $15bn credit line
  • 17 banks involved in deal
  • Started to raise bank debt in 2018

DUBAI: The Public Investment Fund (PIF), Saudi Arabia’s premier investing institution, has arranged a $15 billion credit facility with a group of international banks as it seeks greater financial flexibility in its role as the main agency of the Kingdom’s economic transformation.

The sovereign wealth fund announced the facility on Wednesday after negotiations with international financial institutions. The amount raised is bigger than initial reports indicated late last year.

“PIF has signed a $15bn multi currency revolving credit facility with a group of 17 leading global financial institutions from Asia, the Middle East, Europe, the UK and the USA,” a statement from PIF said.

“The multi currency revolving facility reflects PIF’s prudent asset-liability management and flexibility, and forms part of its diverse and sustainable funding strategy within the Vision Realization Programs (VRP),” it added.

The Saudi government recently announced details of the second VRP running for a five-year term until 2025, designed to accelerate the diversification of the Kingdom’s economy away from oil dependency.

Under the program, PIF has pledged to inject $40 billion a year into the Saudi economy to generate jobs and stimulate private-sector activity in Saudi Arabia.

A revolving facility allows the borrower to draw down and repay parts of the facility during the duration of the loan arrangement. There was no timescale given for the facility, but reports suggested it would run for four years.

“The facility provides PIF with access to additional capital that can be deployed at speed when convenient,” the PIF said.

“PIF continues to act as a partner of choice globally, and will continue to drive the economic diversification of Saudi Arabia, investing SAR150bn ($40 billion) into the domestic economy per year,” it added.

In addition to borrowing on international financial markets, PIF receives grants from the Saudi government, dividends from its quoted investments and proceeds on asset realizations and transactions as its principal sources of funding.

In the course of the pandemic, during disruptions to the international financial markets, it took advantage of low prices to buy and sell shares in quoted companies and other securities on global stock markets.

The $15 billion facility is PIF’s third foray into global borrowing. Last year, it repaid a $10 billion syndicated loan ahead of schedule after it completed the sale of its stake in SABIC to Saudi Aramco, and in 2018 it raised an $11 billion term-loan facility from international banks.

PIF, currently with $400 billion of assets under management, plans to grow its value to more than $1 trillion by 2025.


Red Sea Development builds town for 14,000 employees

Red Sea Development builds town for 14,000 employees
Updated 12 April 2021

Red Sea Development builds town for 14,000 employees

Red Sea Development builds town for 14,000 employees
  • Red Sea project will have 50 hotels
  • First guests to be welcomed next year

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Development Company is building accommodation for some 14,000 people working on the mega project.
It signed a contract with Contracting & Construction Enterprises (CCE), to design and construct the infrastructure for the staff city, Al Eqtisadiah reported.
The contractor will also help to develop infrastructure designed to reduce carbon emissions.
The project will include the construction of roads, van lanes, pedestrian and cyclists’ paths, as well as the excavation and construction of central facilities.
The road and track network will be dedicated to sustainable transportation, the report said.
Lighting will also be designed to reduce energy consumption in line with the Red Sea Dark Skies Program.
The Red Sea project will consist of some 50 hotels providing up to 8,000 hotel rooms and more than 1,000 residential properties spread over 22 islands and six indoor sites, upon completion in 2030.
The project aims to receive its first guests next year as a new airport and the first of the planned hotels come online.
The new staff accommodation will welcome employees by the second quarter of 2021, the newspaper said.


Why we are paying more for tires, timber and tiles

Why we are paying more for tires, timber and tiles
Updated 12 April 2021

Why we are paying more for tires, timber and tiles

Why we are paying more for tires, timber and tiles
  • The latest IHS Markit Dubai Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) highlights a surge in input price inflation in recent weeks

LONDON: Global product shortages are starting to push up prices as consumers are forced to pay more and wait longer for everyday items.

The latest IHS Markit Dubai Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) highlights a surge in input price inflation in recent weeks “driven by mounting input shortages, restocking efforts by companies and an intensification of global supply delays.” It reported the largest rise in prices in the emirate in 28 months.

It is part of a global trend as the world’s manufacturing engines struggle to keep pace with accelerating consumer demand pushing up prices from hardware stores to garages.

Builders merchants from the US and Europe have started to flag shortages of materials that are already adding to the cost of new homes.

The UK’s Builders Merchants Federation and the Construction Products Association have warned that building material shortages are likely to get worse, especially for timber, steel and roof products.

They said concrete tiles are now taking as long as 36 weeks to be delivered, forcing some projects to be redesigned to use products in better supply.

Timber prices are also being driven by surging demand from the US construction sector, where prices have already jumped by around 150 percent over the last year.

Containers that previously cost $2,100 at this time last year are now costing between $15,000 and $30,000, the trade bodies said.

The Gulf states, which rely heavily on imports that arrive in such containers, are feeling the impact as prices climb and delivery times lengthen.

“We are seeing supply constraints impact on economic activity, and it is also impacting on inflation,” Doug Bitcon, Rasmala Investment Bank’s head of credit strategies, told Bloomberg TV on Monday.

He shared his experience of trying to buy a set of new tires for his vehicle in Dubai this weekend. He was only able to source a set made in 2020 but still had to pay full price.

“This is just one example of the supply constraints you are seeing in the PMI numbers for Dubai,” he said. “This is just the start of what we are going to see in economies around the world.”

China factory gate prices are now running at more than a two-year-high according to March data, while the latest US inflation data is expected on Tuesday.

“We are set to see the first evidence of the much anticipated surge in inflation that is widely expected through the coming months as base effects from a year ago begin to take effect as the sharp declines post-COVID start to fall out of the annual calculations,” said MUFG analysts.


Wizz Air Abu Dhabi offers flights under $55 to Belgrade, Luxor and Sohag

Wizz Air Abu Dhabi offers flights under $55 to Belgrade, Luxor and Sohag
Updated 12 April 2021

Wizz Air Abu Dhabi offers flights under $55 to Belgrade, Luxor and Sohag

Wizz Air Abu Dhabi offers flights under $55 to Belgrade, Luxor and Sohag
  • Fares to Luxor start from 129 dirhams ($35) with Sohag flights from 179 dirhams and Belgrade from 199 dirhams
  • Regional airlines are gradually adding new capacity as vaccinations programs are rolled out worldwide and more people resume flying

DUBAI: Wizz Air Abu Dhabi has announced three new routes connecting the UAE capital to Belgrade, Sohag and Luxor.
Fares to Luxor start from 129 dirhams ($35) with Sohag flights from 179 dirhams and Belgrade from 199 dirhams, it said on Monday.
"The new connection between the capital of the United Arab Emirates and these three new cities within Europe and the Middle East will continue to stimulate air traffic demand and support the growth of Abu Dhabi’s tourism sector and economic agenda," said Kees Van Schaick, managing director of Wizz Air Abu Dhabi.
Regional airlines are gradually adding new capacity as vaccinations programs are rolled out worldwide and more people resume flying.
Wizz Air Abu Dhabi is a joint venture between ADQ, one of the region’s largest holding companies and Wizz Air Holdings, the fastest growing European airline which operates a fleet of 137 Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft.


Dubai’s Alabbar to lead new digital-only UAE bank

Dubai’s Alabbar to lead new digital-only UAE bank
Updated 12 April 2021

Dubai’s Alabbar to lead new digital-only UAE bank

Dubai’s Alabbar to lead new digital-only UAE bank
  • Online banking has become increasingly popular in the UAE, especially as a result of restrictions as a result of the pandemic

Dubai businessman Mohamed Alabbar is to lead a new digital bank set to be launched soon in the UAE.

Zand is being billed as “the world’s first combined digital corporate and retail bank” and is currently going through final approvals ahead of its launch, according to an announcement issued on Monday.

Alabbar is the founder of Emaar Properties — the Dubai developer behind The Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa — and also teamed up with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) to launch the Noon online shopping platform in 2017. As part of his latest venture, he will take on the role of chairman of Zand.

“The UAE combines progressive regulations with commercial, financial, and technology hubs. This provides the perfect environment for a world-leading digital bank that can launch in the UAE and scale beyond,” Alabbar said in a statement.

“As the first fully independent digital bank in the country, with a full UAE banking license, Zand will provide innovative, effective financial solutions that help simplify businesses and lives, addressing the needs of both retail and corporate customers.”

Online banking has become increasingly popular in the UAE, especially as a result of restrictions as a result of the pandemic, which made it harder to get to a physical bank branch.

A survey by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) last October found that 70 percent of respondents said that they are actively searching for a new bank and 87 percent said they would be willing to open an account with a branchless digital-only lender.

The same BCG survey found that 53 percent said that they were using banking mobile apps more often as a result of the pandemic and half of those surveyed had started using digital banking for the first time.

“UAE’s banking customers’ have a strong appetite for digital banks, and we see more growth in the demand of digital products during the pandemic,” Mohammad Khan, partner at BCG, was quoted as saying.


Bahrain Bourse expects to attract two more listings, says CEO

Bahrain Bourse expects to attract two more listings, says CEO
Updated 12 April 2021

Bahrain Bourse expects to attract two more listings, says CEO

Bahrain Bourse expects to attract two more listings, says CEO
  • The pandemic had prompted some companies to shelve planned offerings

RIYADH: Bahrain Bourse is expected to attract two new public offerings this year, its CEO told Asharq Business.
The first is a logistics company and the second an oil company, Sheikh Khalifa bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa, told the website
However, he said that the pandemic had prompted some companies to shelve planned offerings.
He said that the exchange was focused on easing the entry of investors into the market.
He also highlighted the launch of the Bahrain Bourse environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting guideline for listed companies, in response to rising appetite for such investments from global institutions.
The stock exchange applies the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS) to classify listed companies, he said, highlighting continued cooperation with Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul stock exchange, the largest in the region.
He said the bourse’s main objective was to diversify its investor based which is currently dominated by institutions, unlike some other regional exchanges where individual investors are more strongly represented,
Al-Khalifa pointed to the adoption of new listing rules that better guarantee the rights of investors, including those directed at companies with large accumulated losses.