EU drafts rules to curb state-backed foreign buyers

EU drafts rules to curb state-backed foreign buyers
The EU commission said it was exploring ways to boost European independence in chip making, as well as 5G, hydrogen energy and possibly clean aviation. (File)
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Updated 05 May 2021

EU drafts rules to curb state-backed foreign buyers

EU drafts rules to curb state-backed foreign buyers
  • New strategy unveiled to reduce dependence on China, others

BRUSSELS: The EU commission on Wednesday unveiled new powers to block state-backed companies making unfair inroads into Europe, as the bloc seeks new ways to respond to China’s rise.

The new rules, once approved by member states and the European Parliament, will give EU competition authorities fresh abilities to probe foreign companies seeking to snap up EU firms or public contracts.

The rules do not specifically mention China, but they land as ties between the EU and its second biggest trading partner are at a low point after an angry exchange of tit-for-tat sanctions over human rights concerns. The bitterness has forced the EU commission to suspend its efforts to seek ratification of a German-backed EU-China investment deal, which had been billed as a key tool to pave the way toward smoother relations.

“Unfair advantages accorded through subsidies have long been a scourge of international competition. This is why we have made it a priority to clamp down on such unfair practices,” EU Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said.

“China is certainly a challenge in this context but this ... can cover pretty much any country, and any situation, if it is found that there is a distorted position in the market,” he said. In the new rules, the bloc’s powerful antitrust authority would investigate state-backed foreign companies seeking to acquire EU businesses with an annual turnover of more than €500 million ($600.4 million).

State aid investigations would also be launched into subsidized companies bidding for large public contracts in Europe, such as in rail or telecommunications, worth more than €250 million.

If necessary, Brussels will be able to implement corrective measures to remedy possible distortions of competition, and in some cases even prohibit a merger or the award of a public contract to the company concerned.

Illegal aid could include interest-free loans, preferential tax treatment or simply direct subsidies.

The regulation comes shortly after the commission, which manages trade policy for the EU’s 27 member states, reached its surprise investment deal with Beijing in late December.

Dombrovskis, who is also the EU’s trade supremo, told AFP that he had suspended efforts to promote the deal to the European Parliament given the sanctions and poisonous political context, a move that was welcomed by MEPs.

The commission also unveiled a new industrial strategy that would help the EU ease its dependence on China and others, especially after the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic. EU industry commissioner Thierry Breton, a former tech CEO, has complained that the EU has been too naive in its approach to strategic sectors such as microchip making that depends heavily on manufacturing in Asia. The commission said it was exploring ways to boost European independence in chip making, as well as 5G, hydrogen energy and possibly rocket launchers and clean aviation.


Egypt signs 1.7 billion euros of financing deals with France

Egypt signs 1.7 billion euros of financing deals with France
Updated 13 June 2021

Egypt signs 1.7 billion euros of financing deals with France

Egypt signs 1.7 billion euros of financing deals with France
  • Of the financing, 776 million euros came from the French government and 990 million euros from AFD
  • The signings came during a visit by French finance minister Bruno Le Maire to Cairo

CAIRO: Egypt has signed 1.7 billion euros ($2.06 billion) worth of deals with France to finance projects in the transportation, infrastructure, electricity and wholesale sectors, the cabinet said on Sunday.
Of that financing, 776 million euros will come from the French government and 990 million euros from AFD, France's development agency, the cabinet said.
The signings came during a visit by French finance minister Bruno Le Maire to Cairo.
In May, France announced a 4 billion euro deal to deliver 30 Dassault warplanes to Egypt beginning in 2024, strengthening ties with what it considers a vital partner in fighting Islamist militants.
Projects announced on Sunday by the cabinet include sanitation stations as well as a number of railway projects, including the provision of 55 new cars for the Cairo metro's oldest line and the construction of a railway line between Aswan in southern Egypt and Wadi Halfa in neighbouring Sudan.
AFD will provide 150 million euros in support of Egypt's universal health insurance programme, the cabinet said. ($1 = 0.8260 euros)


UAE builder Drake & Scull returns to profit in Q1

UAE builder Drake & Scull returns to profit in Q1
Updated 13 June 2021

UAE builder Drake & Scull returns to profit in Q1

UAE builder Drake & Scull returns to profit in Q1
  • This represents a return to profit from a net loss of 30 million dirhams for the same period in 2020, driven by ongoing operations across the region

DUBAI: Dubai contractor Drake & Scull International (DSI) recorded a net profit of 115 million dirhams ($31.3 million) in the first three months of the year.
This represents a return to profit from a net loss of 30 million dirhams for the same period in 2020, driven by ongoing operations across the region, including in countries such as Tunisia, Palestine, Kuwait, and Iraq.
DSI also recorded revenues of 46 million dirhams and the order backlog remained stable at 376 million dirhams, it said in a statement.
Drake & Scull was hit hard by the regional construction downturn since 2014 and has been involved in lengthy financial restructuring and cost cutting.
It signed contracts worth 376 million dirhams earlier this year.


PIF boosts senior management team in expansion drive

PIF boosts senior management team in expansion drive
Updated 13 June 2021

PIF boosts senior management team in expansion drive

PIF boosts senior management team in expansion drive
  • The latest appointments follow the creation of two new deputy governor roles, announced last Tuesday

RIYADH: The Public Investment Fund (PIF), Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, on Sunday announced several new senior appointments, just days after it also created two new deputy governor roles as part of its expansion drive.

The fund announced the appointment of Eyas Al-Dossari and Omar Al-Madhi as senior directors to its MENA investments division, and Abdullah Shaker as senior director to the global capital finance division.

Al-Dossari joins PIF from his position as managing director and head of investment banking for Goldman Sachs Saudi Arabia, where he served since 2017. He also previously worked at HSBC Saudi Arabia and the initial public offering and merger and acquisitions department at the Saudi Capital Market Authority.

Al-Madhi previously held senior positions at Abdul Latif Jameel Investments, Volkswagen Group, McKinsey & Company and Saudi Aramco. He is chairman of the board and executive committee of the Saudi Fisheries Company and is also a member of the board of the National Agricultural Development Company, which are both part of PIF’s portfolio.

Shaker joins PIF from Saudi Al Baraka Banking Group and has almost 25 years’ experience in banking and financial services, having worked for Deloitte, HSBC Saudi Arabia and the Saudi Arabia Capital Market Authority.

The latest appointments follow the creation of two new deputy governor roles, announced last Tuesday.

Turqi Al-Nowaiser, who heads the international investments division, and Yazeed Al-Humied, who leads the MENA investments division, will take on the deputy governor roles alongside their current responsibilities at PIF.

“The latest appointments bolster the PIF leadership team, as it implements its ambitious plans as one of the world’s largest and most impactful investors, with the stated aim of reaching AUM (assets under management) of more than $1.07 trillion, while investing $40 billion annually into the local economy through 2025,” the PIF said in a statement on Sunday.

The fund announced in December 2020 that its total employee count surpassed 1,000, up from about 700 at the start of 2020 and 40 five years ago. It said that about 84 percent of its employees were Saudi citizens and 26 percent were women.

The PIF has grown to $430 billion AUM since 2016 and has invested about $90 billion into the Kingdom’s economy over the last five years, creating more than 331,000 new direct and indirect jobs.


Dubai utility provider to boost clean energy capacity this year

Dubai utility provider to boost clean energy capacity this year
Updated 13 June 2021

Dubai utility provider to boost clean energy capacity this year

Dubai utility provider to boost clean energy capacity this year
  • The government agency will use photovoltaic solar panels and Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) to achieve a total capacity of 1,614 MWThe government agency will use photovoltaic solar panels and Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) to achieve a total capacity of 1

DUBAI: The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) said it was adding 600 megawatts (MW) of clean energy capacity to the emirate’s power mix this year.

The government agency will use photovoltaic solar panels and Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) to achieve a total capacity of 1,614 MW, it said in a statement.

Half of the additional capacity will be from the 5th phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum solar park. The rest will come from a 262-meter CSP tower and a parabolic trough.

Upon delivery of the projects, clean capacity in Dubai’s energy mix will reach around 10 percent in July, and 12 percent by the end of the year.

“This supports the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, which aims to provide 75 percent of Dubai’s total power capacity from clean energy sources by 2050,” DEWA’s CEO Saeed Mohammed Al-Tayer said.


G7 split on reallocating $100b IMF funds to COVID-hit nations

G7 split on reallocating $100b IMF funds to COVID-hit nations
Updated 13 June 2021

G7 split on reallocating $100b IMF funds to COVID-hit nations

G7 split on reallocating $100b IMF funds to COVID-hit nations
  • Germany and Italy had yet to back the inclusion of the $100 billion figure in the final statement by leaders

CARBIS BAY, England: Group of Seven leaders were trying to resolve differences over a proposal to reallocate $100 billion from the International Monetary Fund’s warchest to help countries struggling to cope with the COVID-19 crisis.
An almost final version of the G7 communique seen by Reuters showed Germany and Italy had yet to back the inclusion of the $100 billion figure in the final statement by leaders.
The IMF’s members agreed in April to a $650 billion increase in IMF’s Special Drawing Rights and the G7 countries are considering whether to reallocate $100 billion of their rights to help poor countries fight the COVID pandemic.
SDRs are the IMF’s reserve asset, and are exchangeable for dollars, euros, sterling, yen and Chinese yuan or renminbi. Member states can loan or donate their SDR reserves to other countries for their use.
The head of the IMF, Kristalina Georgieva, told reporters on the sidelines of the summit that she had been heartened by the G7’s support for the plan and that she expected a clear indication later on how best to proceed, adding that the $100 billion target had been in discussion.