France’s Louvre Hotels to create 3,500 new jobs in Saudi Arabia

France’s Louvre Hotels to create 3,500 new jobs in Saudi Arabia
France's Louvre Hotels is set to expand in Saudi Arabia as the Kingdom moves closer to re-opening to tourists. (Supplied)
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Updated 27 May 2021

France’s Louvre Hotels to create 3,500 new jobs in Saudi Arabia

France’s Louvre Hotels to create 3,500 new jobs in Saudi Arabia
  • The group currently has 1,600 hotels with 132,253 rooms around the world, including 63 properties in the Middle East

RIYADH: Louvre Hotels Group is planning to create more than 3,500 new jobs as part of its strategy to expand its portfolio to nearly 50 hotels in the Kingdom by 2025.
It currently has 16 hotels in Saudi Arabia and its expansion will begin this year with the opening of five new hotels. They are the 94-room Golden Tulip Riyadh, the 84-room Golden Tulip Unaizah, the 70-room Tulip Inn Dammam Corniche, the 150-room Tulip Inn Al Balaad Madinah and the 454-room Golden Tulip Umm Al Qurah in Makkah. The French hotelier is also planning to roll out the Campanile brand across the Kingdom.
“Saudi Arabia represents a strategic market for our global development, due in great part to its focus on tourism and the extraordinary choice of destinations it offers. Launching Campanile, our midscale brand, in this region is a point of pride for us because we want to inaugurate an innovative yet affordable offer, able to satisfy local customers and international tourists alike,” Pierre-Frédéric Roulot, CEO Louvre Hotels Group, said in a statement.
The company’s president, Amine E. Moukarzel, was one of more than 60 speakers taking part in the Tourism Recovery Summit 2021 in Riyadh this week.
Established in 1976 by French wine merchants the Taittinger Group, the Louvre Group was sold to Starwood Capital Group in 2005 and to China’s Jin Jiang International (Holdings) in 2015.
The group currently has 1,600 hotels with 132,253 rooms around the world, including 63 properties in the Middle East.
Middle East’s hotel occupancy rates approached 2019 levels during Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr this year, according to data from the hotel management analytics firm STR.
The report highlighted near-normal occupancy levels in the region during the holy month, helping key markets outperform global peers.
Hotels in Alkhobar city, in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, reported the highest average occupancy level in the Kingdom at 63.5 percent.
A separate global STR report from March said that Saudi Arabia had the world’s biggest hotel pipeline.
The research found that the Kingdom’s expected a 67.1 percent increase in room supply over the next three years was the highest among the 50 most populated countries.
STR data shows 73,057 rooms in the Kingdom’s hotel pipeline. Of the total, 16,965 are scheduled to come online during 2021.
While a significant portion of Saudi Arabia’s pipeline activity is concentrated in Makkah, with 28,052 rooms under development, several other sub-markets across the country are expected to increase hotel supply by 50 percent or more.


Banque Misr to get largest syndicated loan in its history at $1bn, reports CNBC

Banque Misr to get largest syndicated loan in its history at $1bn, reports CNBC
Updated 17 sec ago

Banque Misr to get largest syndicated loan in its history at $1bn, reports CNBC

Banque Misr to get largest syndicated loan in its history at $1bn, reports CNBC

RIYADH: Egypt's Banque Misr is in the process of obtaining the largest syndicated loan in its history — about $1 billion — to pay off financing obtained in 2018, banking sources told CNBC Arabia.

The second-largest governmental bank in the country in terms of assets is getting a record turnout by banks to provide financing, and will use the loan to pay off a $550 million financing obtained in December 2018, the sources said.

The bank's initial plan was to obtain the same amount of financing that it would have to pay back, but later raised the size of the loan amid a rush from banks to provide the joint sum.

Al Ahli Bank of Kuwait, Emirates NBD, First Abu Dhabi Bank and Standard Chartered are among the banks working as arrangers, private sources said.

Banque Misr deputy, Akef El Maghraby, has previously said the bank will launch a number of funds by the end of this year in the real estate, health and FinTech sectors.

Going digital

Meanwhile, Banque Misr plans to launch Egypt’s first digital bank by the first quarter of 2022, El Maghraby told Masrawy on Sunday.

The Central Bank of Egypt is still working on a regulatory framework governing digital banks, he said.

Misr Digital Innovation, a subsidiary of Banque Misr set up last year to launch the bank, has signed a seven-year partnership agreement with Visa that will see it issue the iconic branded cards, use its APIs, and work with it on marketing and design, the company said in a separate statement.


Indonesia wrestles with lure of lucrative coal industry and greener vision

Indonesia wrestles with lure of lucrative coal industry and greener vision
Coal barges at Mahakam river, Samarinda, Indonesia. Image: Shutterstock
Updated 29 min 7 sec ago

Indonesia wrestles with lure of lucrative coal industry and greener vision

Indonesia wrestles with lure of lucrative coal industry and greener vision
  • Indonesia, the eighth-biggest carbon emitter, recently brought forward its goal for net zero emissions from 2070 to 2060 or sooner
  • With nearly 39 billion tonnes of reserves, coal remains the economic backbone of parts of Indonesia and miners are among the biggest taxpayers

As Indonesia wins cautious praise from some green groups for ambitious plans to cut carbon emissions, the world's biggest exporter of thermal coal is grappling with its commitment to a greener future.


Indonesia, the eighth-biggest carbon emitter, recently brought forward its goal for net zero emissions from 2070 to 2060 or sooner, ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November, and joined a U.S.-led Global Methane Pledge.

Indonesia is wrestling with how to balance its environmental targets with the cost of pulling the plug on an industry that contributed $38 billion in export earnings in the first seven months of 2021.


It also plans to stop commissioning new coal-fired power plants and phase out coal for electricity by 2056 under a new, greener, long-term economic vision.


"We are phasing out coal power plants. But if you ask whether we're closing down mines, we have the coal and there are other utilisation options," Dadan Kusdiana, the energy ministry's head of renewable energy, told Reuters.

Indonesia is exploring ways to keep consuming and extracting value from coal by using carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, although environmentalists say CCS is unproven and expensive.

COAL GASIFICATION


With nearly 39 billion tonnes of reserves, coal remains the economic backbone of parts of Indonesia and miners are among the biggest taxpayers.


The government has been encouraging miners to invest in production of dimethyl ether (DME) from coal. Under new laws passed in 2020, it no longer requires them to pay royalties to the government on such processes, and their mine permits can be extended.


It has touted DME as a replacement for imported liquefied petroleum gas and a feed stock for chemicals and fertilizer.


Making DME requires burning coal, so it needs to be paired with CCS to be environmentally friendly, Dadan said.


However, if Indonesia can adopt CCS more widely and cheaply, the technology could also be applied to coal power plants, extending their usage, he said.


He said that although using CCS technology is feasible, there is risk of leakage in trying to capture emissions from burning and mining coal.

RECORD PRICE 


Coal power generation is Indonesia's second-biggest emissions source after deforestation, contributing 35 percent of its 1,262 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent a year, government data showed.


Indonesia consumes about 130 million tonnes of coal annually to fuel 60% of its 73 gigawatt (GW) electricity capacity, and exports about three times that amount.


Renewable sources like solar, hydro and geothermal make up just 11 percent of its energy mix, even though experts say Indonesia has 400 GW of renewable potential.


The government has pledged to increase the renewable share to 23 percent by 2025. 


Coal power remains the cheapest option.  Coal prices hit all-time highs this year, helping Indonesia book record exports and a trade surplus in August. The government raised its 2021 coal output target by 14 percent to 625 million tonnes to cash in.


Cerah and other green groups have campaigned to retire coal plants early, but officials have said this could trigger fines for breaching contracts with independent power producers.

On the flip side, parliament is reviewing a government-proposed carbon tax, and Indonesia has ambitious plans to use its nickel reserves to become a production hub for batteries and electric vehicles.

 


Saudi Arabia's blockchain market to grow 41 percent by 2025

Saudi Arabia's blockchain market to grow 41 percent by 2025
Updated 20 September 2021

Saudi Arabia's blockchain market to grow 41 percent by 2025

Saudi Arabia's blockchain market to grow 41 percent by 2025

Saudi Arabia's blockchain market is expected to grow by 41 percent between 2021 and 2025, according to estimates of the Kingdom's communications sector regulator.

The blockchain market surge is part of wider expected growth in the IT and emerging technology sector that will hit SR100 billion by 2025, with an annual compound growth rate of 10 percent, Saudi Press Agency reported, citing Raed Alfayez, vice-governor of emerging technologies at the Commission of Information Technology and Communication.

The market today has a size of SR65 billion, he added.

 


Surge in MENA’s SPAC activity counters IPOs drop, says Ernst & Young

Surge in MENA’s SPAC activity counters IPOs drop, says Ernst & Young
Updated 20 September 2021

Surge in MENA’s SPAC activity counters IPOs drop, says Ernst & Young

Surge in MENA’s SPAC activity counters IPOs drop, says Ernst & Young

Middle Eastern businesses are increasingly making use of the alternative route to public listing known as SPACs, a report by Ernst & Young has claimed.

The analysis shows a rise in activity involving special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) and MENA-based firms.

SPACs are publicly listed companies created with the sole purpose of purchasing privately owned businesses, which therefore leads to its target to be listed. 

As well as private companies, sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East — including Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala — have also made use of SPACs, with PIF investing USD$75 million in NYSE-listed Compute Health in February.

Gregory Hughes, Ernst & Young MENA IPO and transaction diligence leader, said: “IPO activity during H1 2021 was below expectations, nevertheless the year did bring some remarkable deals with MENA companies showing an ever-increasing interest in SPAC transactions as a means to go public. We expect this trend to continue as companies seek to increase their international presence and gain access to a wider pool of investors.”

Among the MENA companies to go public this year after merging with SPACs were Abu Dhabi-based music streaming platform Anghami, and Dubai-headquartered transit firm Swvl Inc.

While SPAC activity was surging, the proceeds from initial public offerings (IPOs) across the region saw a year-on-year drop of 48 percent in the first half of 2021. 

Four IPOs raised USD$425.8 million, even though the number of listings stayed the same as 2020. 

Matthew Benson, EY MENA Strategy and Transactions Leader said that despite the drop, his company’s outlook on the region’s IPO activity “remains positive”.


World shares slide to a one-month low as uncertainty grips markets

World shares slide to a one-month low as uncertainty grips markets
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 52 min 26 sec ago

World shares slide to a one-month low as uncertainty grips markets

World shares slide to a one-month low as uncertainty grips markets
  • European shares sank 1 percent to a near two-month low on Monday
  • The benchmark European stocks index has now fallen for three straight weeks on worries about slowing global growth

World shares skidded and the dollar firmed on Monday ahead of a week packed with global central bank meetings, while debt troubles at property group China Evergrande dragged Hong Kong stocks towards to a one-year low.

European shares sank 1.8 percent to a two-month low on Monday, tracking Asian equities lower, with energy and mining stocks tumbling as the dollar's jump to near four-week highs crushed commodity prices.


Holidays in Japan, China and South Korea meant trading was thin in Asia, while politics added extra uncertainty with elections in Canada and Germany bookending the week.


Shares in China Evergrande plummeted 12 percent after earlier losing as much as 19 percent to more than 11-year lows.

The company's listed units also fell, as investors worried about the real estate developer's ability to repay a small portion of its $305 billion debt due this Thursday.


Evergrande's troubles added to growing concerns about the health of China's economy after Beijing's recent crackdown on tech firms. The Hang Seng index shed 3.5 percent, while Singapore-traded FTSE China futures fell 3 percent.


MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slid 1.7% to its lowest since August 24, with Australia stocks, in their worst session in nearly seven months, slumping 2.1 percent.


The MSCI All Country World Index lost 0.5 percent, close to a one-month low and down further from record highs hit earlier this month.