Thailand’s Minor International in talks to expand into Saudi Arabia

Thailand’s Minor International in talks to expand into Saudi Arabia
Minor International manages a portfolio of more than 500 hotels worldwide. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 23 May 2021

Thailand’s Minor International in talks to expand into Saudi Arabia

Thailand’s Minor International in talks to expand into Saudi Arabia
  • MINT’s three core businesses are hospitality, restaurants and lifestyle brands

RIYADH: Thailand-based hospitality company Minor International (MINT) is in talks to expand into Saudi Arabia, according to the company’s founder and chairman.

“We’re very excited about what’s happening in Saudi Arabia, so we’re very hopeful that we’re going to be included in a couple of projects,” William Heinecke, MINT founder and chairman, said in response to a question from Arab News during the online Asian Business Leadership Forum (ABLF) last week. “We already have one or two projects on the boil, and we’re very, very excited to see them come to fruition.”

Saudi Arabia has the world’s biggest hotel pipeline, despite the negative economic impact of the pandemic on the hospitality sector, according to an April report from industry research firm STR.

The study said the country’s expected 67.1 percent increase in room supply over the next three years was the highest among the 50 most populated countries.

“Saudi Arabia’s growth aspirations, along with the strength of other Middle East hospitality markets such as Qatar and the UAE, is further validation that the region continues to emerge as a global tourist destination,” said Philip Wooller, STR’s regional director.

STR data showed there were 73,057 rooms in the Kingdom’s hotel pipeline. Of the total, 16,965 were scheduled to come online during 2021.

MINT’s three core businesses are hospitality, restaurants and lifestyle brands. It has a portfolio of 529 hotels in 56 countries which it owns, operates and invests in across a number of brands, including Anantara, Avani, Oaks, Tivoli, NH Collection, NH Hotels, nhow, Elewana, Marriott, Four Seasons, St. Regis and Radisson Blu.

While it currently does not have a property in Saudi Arabia, MINT’s portfolio has 22 hotels in operation or in development across the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

In August last year, Reuters reported that MINT had seen a 91 percent year-on-year drop in hotel revenue as average occupancy levels fell to nine percent. 

Earlier this month, MINT announced it had a loss of THB5.2 billion ($165.4 million) during the first quarter of 2021.

“It is going to be an uneven ride out of the pandemic. 2021 is still going to be very challenging,” Heinecke said at the ABLF event.


European banks should start merging, says Deutsche Bank’s top Qatari investor

European banks should start merging, says Deutsche Bank’s top Qatari investor
Updated 26 min 19 sec ago

European banks should start merging, says Deutsche Bank’s top Qatari investor

European banks should start merging, says Deutsche Bank’s top Qatari investor
  • European banks need the scale to compete with US, Chinese rivals

DOHA: Deutsche Bank AG’s biggest Qatari shareholder urged consolidation in Europe’s financial services industry, so the continent’s lenders can achieve the scale to compete globally, Bloomberg reported.

European lenders should start merging now to confront the growing strength of US and Chinese lenders, the former Qatari prime minister and influential investor Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani said in an interview.

“They have to decide,” he said about Deutsche Bank, “but I’m saying what I think and I believe that mergers are inevitable.”

“Everybody’s waiting to have a better valuation to think about merging, but I believe to merge now is better because the market is being taken by the big banks,” Sheikh Hamad said in an interview at the Qatar Economic Forum, Powered by Bloomberg.

“If we compare the European banks with the American banks or with the Chinese banks, we would find that they are too small to survive by themselves,” he said.

Sheikh Hamad is one of the German lender’s largest shareholders through an entity called Paramount Services Holdings.

In 2015, he transferred about half his shareholding to Supreme Universal Holdings, controlled by former emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani and each entity owns a stake of just over 3 percent in Deutsche Bank.


Dubai repays $500m bond certificates

Dubai repays $500m bond certificates
Updated 23 June 2021

Dubai repays $500m bond certificates

Dubai repays $500m bond certificates
  • Notes matured on June 22

RIYADH: The Government of Dubai, acting through the Department of Finance (DOF), announced that the $500 million Fixed Rate Note issued on 22 June 2011 under its Euro Medium Term Note Programme, reached maturity on 22 June 2021.

Upon maturity, all the notes have been redeemed in full, according to the Dubai Media office statement on Tuesday.

“The Government of Dubai’s ability to fulfill its financial obligations reflects its deep fiscal stability amidst the circumstances imposed by the current global crisis,” said Director General of DOF Abdulrahman Saleh Al Saleh. “The government’s solvency has allowed it to fulfill its past and current obligations and will continue to enable it to meet all future obligations on time.”

“We have been successful in overcoming the most challenging repercussions of the global pandemic, and have now entered a solid phase of recovery, thanks to the measures taken by the government to ensure rational prioritized spending, under the directives of our leadership,” Al Saleh added.


Saudi $48m culture fund may take stakes in private companies

Saudi $48m culture fund may take stakes in private companies
Updated 23 June 2021

Saudi $48m culture fund may take stakes in private companies

Saudi $48m culture fund may take stakes in private companies
  • Fund will begin receiving requests for beneficiaries in August
  • Financing, including crowdfunding, also being explored

RIYADH: The Saudi Cultural Development Fund may take direct stakes in private companies as it seeks to stimulate investment in the sector, said CEO Mohammed Bindayel.

Cultural projects in Saudi Arabia will receive SR180 million ($47.9 million) from the fund in 2021 and requests for beneficiaries will start to be received in August, he told Asharq.

Financing options being explored include crowdfunding, said Bindayel, who was appointed as the CEO of the fund last week.

The Cultural Development Fund, which was created to support projects of private-sector enterprises, NGOs and associations working in the cultural sectors and their supporting fields, is working within the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, said Bindayel.


Cruises set to return to Abu Dhabi in September 2021

Cruises set to return to Abu Dhabi in September 2021
Updated 23 June 2021

Cruises set to return to Abu Dhabi in September 2021

Cruises set to return to Abu Dhabi in September 2021
  • About 500,000 cruise visitors arrived in the UAE capital in 2019, a 46 percent year-on-year increase

DUBAI: Abu Dhabi said it will resume receiving cruise liners in the emirate from Sept. 1, after the industry faced a global shutdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT Abu Dhabi) said it would work with Abu Dhabi Ports to regain the momentum it achieved before the pandemic – about 500,000 cruise visitors arrived in the UAE capital in 2019, a 46 percent year-on-year increase.

“This comes as part of the efforts to enliven the emirate’s tourism sector after the impressive results we have achieved in combating the spread of the pandemic, and yet another step towards strengthening the UAE capital’s position as a world-class hub for maritime tourism,” Ali Al-Shaiba, the executive director of DCT Abu Dhabi.

A series of initiatives throughout the year will be implemented to ensure a smooth return of the business, the department said, including joining international events to promote Abu Dhabi to global cruisers.


Italy’s Lamborghini eyes big opportunities in Saudi market

Italy’s Lamborghini eyes big opportunities in Saudi market
Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann says the region is a very important market for the manufacturer and has maintained its importance despite economic challenges. (Supplied)
Updated 23 June 2021

Italy’s Lamborghini eyes big opportunities in Saudi market

Italy’s Lamborghini eyes big opportunities in Saudi market
  • Super-car manufacturer said its Urus SUV has been a ‘game-changer’ for growth in the Kingdom

DUBAI: Lamborghini, the Italian super car manufacturer, sees Saudi Arabia as potentially its strongest market in the Middle East, its CEO Stephan Winkelmann told Arab News.

“The UAE is currently the biggest one, but we think that Saudi Arabia could become the biggest — it’s currently No. 2. We have the right partner today, so there is a big opportunity. We see growth and more potential,” he said.
Lamborghini has partnered with Saudi elite car dealership Samaco and now has outlets in Jeddah, Riyadh and Alkhobar. Winkelmann said that he saw the Urus, the Lamborghini SUV that has been a big success in the region and accounts for half of new sales, as a “game-changer” in Saudi Arabia.
He said that the region was a very important market for the manufacturer and had maintained its importance despite economic and geopolitical challenges.
He was in the Middle East to discuss with dealers and customers the recent $1.8 billion move by the Italian company to turn away from petrol engine cars later this decade, first with hybrid engines, then with an all-electric car.
Winkelmann said the company is also exploring the possibility of a new generation of synthetic fuels in its super-fast models.

HIGHLIGHT

Lamborghini has partnered with Saudi elite car dealership Samaco and now has outlets in Jeddah, Riyadh and Alkhobar.

Although Lamborghini is not the first super car manufacturer to consider going electric, its move away from the internal combustion engine is still a big challenge.
“For us, it’s even tougher because we not only have to reduce emissions but also maintain performance and make it even better than it was before,” Winkelmann said.
Hybrid plug-in versions of the Aventador and Huracan sports cars will be developed in the next couple of years, alongside the Urus. The first all-electric car — a brand new design — will be introduced in the second half of the decade.
Another challenge for Lamborghini will be how to replicate the famous exhaust “crackle” enthusiasts like in the petrol engine cars.
“We have time to think about this. I don’t think we should try to repeat the sound of the engine and exhaust in an electric car. Maybe we will find a new sound or have no sound at all,” Winkelmann said.
Despite the pandemic recession, Lamborghini had one of its most profitable years ever in 2020, as enthusiasts rewarded themselves for the deprivations of lockdown by splashing out on a new super car. The price of a new Urus, for example, starts at around SR1 million ($270,000), but can be much higher with customization and extras.
“People had time to think about their lives in lockdown and what was coming next,” Winkelmann said.