Saudi car rental firm achieves 40 percent growth in 2020

Saudi car rental firm achieves 40 percent growth in 2020
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Aljomaih Auto Rental (Ajar) is located in six Saudi airports and 24 locations across the Kingdom, and it plans to open eight more branches by the end of the year. (Social media)
Saudi car rental firm achieves 40 percent growth in 2020
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Ahmed Al Lawendy, Chief Operating officer at Aljomaih Auto Rental (Ajar). (Supplied)
Saudi car rental firm achieves 40 percent growth in 2020
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Aljomaih Auto Rental (Ajar) is located in six Saudi airports and 24 locations across the Kingdom, and it plans to open eight more branches by the end of the year. (Supplied)
Saudi car rental firm achieves 40 percent growth in 2020
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Aljomaih Auto Rental (Ajar) is located in six Saudi airports and 24 locations across the Kingdom, and it plans to open eight more branches by the end of the year. (Supplied)
Saudi car rental firm achieves 40 percent growth in 2020
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Aljomaih Auto Rental (Ajar) is located in six Saudi airports and 24 locations across the Kingdom, and it plans to open eight more branches by the end of the year. (Supplied)
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Updated 31 May 2021

Saudi car rental firm achieves 40 percent growth in 2020

Saudi car rental firm achieves 40 percent growth in 2020
  • The vehicle rental market in KSA is forecast to grow by 7.5% per annum between 2020 and 2026

DUBAI: “It wasn’t a great year” is how Ahmed Al-Lawendy, chief operating officer of Aljomaih Auto Rental (Ajar), sums up 2020.

However, despite the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and some of its vehicles being grounded due to travel restrictions during the lockdown, the company still registered double-digit growth, with 2020 being its first year of profitability.

“So it is a little bit contradictory,” Al-Lawendy told Arab News. Ajar is a subsidiary of Aljomaih Holding and is the master franchisee of the Enterprise, National, and Alamo car rental brands in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, the Levant, and Austria.

Missouri-based Enterprise Holdings, Inc. is the largest car rental company in the world, and Ajar was established in 2015 and began trading in May 2018.

According to a report by the Research And Markets company, the vehicle rental market in Saudi Arabia is forecast to grow by 7.5 percent per annum between 2020 and 2026.

Despite Al-Lawendy describing 2020 as “not a great year,” Ajar grew by 40 percent year-on-year and is forecast to grow by about the same figure in 2021. “January 2021 was much better than 2019 or 2020, so it is getting better,” he said.

The reason the company was able to maintain double-digit growth was its unique approach to the lockdown in early 2020 when it allowed clients to keep cars in their driveways free of charge and use them if they needed to, whether to go to the supermarkets or health clinics.

The decision came down to logistics, as the company had 4,500 vehicles and could not store them all in their facilities. On top of that, when the lockdown ended in June, clients already had rental cars in their possession and could easily return to normal.

FASTFACTS

• Missouri-based Enterprise Holdings, Inc. is the largest car rental company in the world.

• Ajar was established in 2015 and began trading in May 2018.

• The company’s fleet in the Kingdom rose by 27% year-on-year to 5,700 units by 2020.

• It plans to launch a website and an application in 2021.

“It was a nice message from our marketing and our admin team,” Al-Lawendy said, adding that after lockdown, the business quickly recovered to pre-pandemic levels and the company began buying more vehicles, with its fleet in Saudi Arabia rising by 27 percent year-on-year to 5,700 units by the end of 2020. “It kept the customer loyal to the brand and loyal to us,” he added.

Looking to the future, now that the company has reached profitability in 2020, it plans to continue to open in new locations, launch an app, expand its fleet, and an initial public offering (IPO) is also on the cards in a few years.

At present, it is located in six Saudi airports and 24 locations across the Kingdom, and it plans to open eight more branches by the end of the year.

Uber announced in April that it had chosen Saudi Arabia as one of its key international markets to launch into the car rental space in the coming months.

The San Francisco-based ride-hailing app announced a partnership with Avis Budget Group Inc., Hertz, and other vehicle rental agencies, to allow users in the US to book a rental car and have the vehicle delivered directly to them.

While it did not say when it will be launching this service in the Kingdom, Ajar is already taking action and ramping up its digital offering. “We are preparing ourselves for a website and an application, and will launch them during 2021,” Al-Lawendy said.

Theeb Rent a Car Co. launched a successful IPO in March. Its retail offering was 3,385.37 percent oversubscribed and its share price has remained steady overall, despite announcing a net loss after zakat and tax of SR131 million ($34.93 million) for the first quarter of 2021, compared with a net profit of SR1.1 billion during the same period in 2020.

While an IPO is in Ajar’s ambitions, Al-Lawendy said that it was too soon for the company to consider going public.

“Yes, we have some expectations and plans to do so. We are still growing this year. This year we are going to grow another 42 percent. I believe that even until 2023 we would be going on double-digit numbers and then you would reach a stage where you will start growing on a single-digit number, and I think at that time you would be very smart to move to an IPO or some sort of investment,” he said.


Egypt to sell minority stake in state payments firm e-finance

Egypt to sell minority stake in state payments firm e-finance
Updated 7 sec ago

Egypt to sell minority stake in state payments firm e-finance

Egypt to sell minority stake in state payments firm e-finance

CAIRO: Egyptian state-controlled payments firm e-finance for Digital and Financial Investments said on Sunday it would offer up to 14.5 percent of its capital in an initial public offering in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Founded in 2005, e-finance said in a statement it is the sole entity authorized to operate the government’s financial network, including processing and settling payment and collection transactions.

The sale is one of several planned for this year.

In May, Egypt sold a 51 percent stake in state-owned Arab Investment Bank to privately owned EFG Hermes, its first sale of a majority bank stake since 2006.

The government announced in 2018 it intended to sell minority stakes in nearly two dozen companies, but those sales have been delayed repeatedly by market downturns and more recently by the coronavirus pandemic.

e-finance said it would float 177.8 million new shares on the stock exchange and 80 million shares owned by current shareholders, to both institutional and retail investors.

Among its shareholders are three state-owned banks: National Investment Bank, with 63.64 percent, and the National Bank of Egypt and Banque Misr, each with 9.09 percent, according to e-finance’s 2019 annual report.

Egyptian Banks Co., a payments operator led by the central bank, and a firm called Egyptian Company for Investment Projects each own another 9.09 percent.

e-finance's revenue rose to 1.23 billion Egyptian pounds ($78 million) in 2020 and 904 million pounds in the first half of 2021, a 2018-20 compound annual growth rate of 30 percent, it said.

The sale is subject to market conditions and regulatory approvals, the statement added.


Saudi ministry launches initiative to implement global financial practices in govt entities

Saudi ministry launches initiative to implement global financial practices in govt entities
Updated 5 min 35 sec ago

Saudi ministry launches initiative to implement global financial practices in govt entities

Saudi ministry launches initiative to implement global financial practices in govt entities

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Finance Ministry on Sunday launched an initiative to ensure implementation of the latest global financial practices in the government sector to increase its efficiency in line with the Vision 2030, said a ministry statement.
Prior to the launch of the Financial Control and Support and Development Initiative, the ministry launched a self-assessment pilot program on selected government entities, it said.
The pilot project conducted field studies on the feasibility of self-assessment tools in government entities. The project sought to assess the efficiency of the entities’ internal control systems, level of transparency, and overall control measures.
The program aims to strengthen financial control procedures, improve governance, and switching to automation.


KSA’s grains storage capacity rises by 37% with 2 new silos


KSA’s grains storage capacity rises by 37%  with 2 new silos

Updated 26 min 49 sec ago

KSA’s grains storage capacity rises by 37% with 2 new silos


KSA’s grains storage capacity rises by 37%  with 2 new silos


RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has added two new silos to its existing infrastructure increasing its strategic grain storage capacity by 37 percent, according to an Al-Eqtisadiyah report.

The Saudi Grains Organizations completed the Yanbu Silos Project with a storage capacity of 120,000 tons and it is working on adding a new one with the same capacity in Duba port, the reported said citing SAGO Gov. Ahmed Al-Faris.

Al-Faris said that Saudi strategic storage capacity of grains increased by 900,000 tons to 3.4 millions between 2015 and 2021.  

The SAGO chief said that the Kingdom has reached self-sufficiency in many products such as fresh milk, eggs, dates and white corn etc.

SAGO is one of the leading national institutions tasked with ensuring availability of key food commodities in Saudi Arabia.


Skeptics fail to deter companies from entering crypto fray: Market wrap

Skeptics fail to deter companies from entering crypto fray: Market wrap
Updated 59 min 53 sec ago

Skeptics fail to deter companies from entering crypto fray: Market wrap

Skeptics fail to deter companies from entering crypto fray: Market wrap
  • Paypal Crypto is now available to its UK customers

RIYADH: Paypal has completed the first international expansion of its cryptocurrency offering outside the US. 

Paypal Crypto is now available to its UK customers allowing them to buy, hold and sell four types of cryptocurrencies.

The official account of Paypal UK tweeted: “We are delighted to share that all eligible customers in the UK can now buy, hold and sell cryptocurrencies such as: Bitcoin, ethereum, bitcoin cash and litecoin from their Paypal account.”

Meanwhile, Laos has allowed a series of cryptocurrency mining and trading projects in the country in contravention of the policies of its central bank which issued warnings against cryptocurrencies just a month ago. The move to allow bitcoin mining is part of the government’s efforts to compensate for the losses caused due to a decline in tourism due to the coronavirus disease pandemic. 

Six companies have been authorized to start cryptocurrency trading and mining operations in the country, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Laos could also try to attract some of the miners who were expelled from China.

Skepticism

Sergei Shvetsov, deputy chairman of the board of directors of the Bank of Russia, stated that the bank remains skeptical about the acquisition of cryptocurrencies and will not support increased access to crypto markets for Russian investors, most of whom are not certified, according to media reports.

Russia’s central bank is now working with commercial banks to delay payments made on digital asset exchanges.

The move aims to limit cryptocurrency purchases that Russian investors make based on emotion and are not qualified to do so. The move is likely to affect peer-to-peer and over-the-counter trading platforms.

Speaking at the International Banking Forum, the senior official explained: “When it comes to buying cryptocurrency for investment purposes, we are skeptical about this idea. We believe it’s different from traditional assets, it’s highly risky and has signs of a pyramid scheme.”

Trading

Bitcoin, the leading digital currency, traded lower on Sunday and slipped by 1.57 percent to $47,690.80 at 5:52 p.m. Riyadh time.

Ether, the second most-traded cryptocurrency, was down by 3.46 percent at $3,357.70, according to data from CoinDesk.

 

 


UAE economy minister to visit Britain seeking trade deal

UAE economy minister to visit Britain seeking trade deal
Updated 19 September 2021

UAE economy minister to visit Britain seeking trade deal

UAE economy minister to visit Britain seeking trade deal
  • Trade between the two countries was worth almost $8.1 billion in 2020

DUBAI: The UAE’s economy minister will lead a high-level delegation to Britain this week, the ministry said on Sunday, as the Gulf state seeks to deepen trade ties.

Abdulla bin Touq Al-Marri and the delegation will meet British ministers, officials and representatives from the private sector to discuss recently announced UAE economic policies.

One of those policies includes the UAE seeking to seal what it calls a comprehensive economic agreement covering trade and foreign investment with Britain and seven other countries.

The delegation would also discuss ways to develop economic ties and strengthen cooperation in trade, investment, healthcare and energy, among other sectors, the ministry said.

The UAE last week announced it had expanded an investment partnership with the British government, committing  £10 billion ($13.7 billion) to invest in the UK over five years.

The UAE delegation will also include local government, investment company and private sector representatives, the ministry said.

Britain is the UAE’s third largest non-oil trade partner in Europe, with trade between the two countries worth almost $8.1 billion in 2020, it said.