Saudi PIF to become anchor investor in $800m Gulf infrastructure fund — FT

Saudi PIF to become anchor investor in $800m Gulf infrastructure fund — FT
Education is among the sectors being targeted by the fund. (AFP)
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Updated 10 June 2021

Saudi PIF to become anchor investor in $800m Gulf infrastructure fund — FT

Saudi PIF to become anchor investor in $800m Gulf infrastructure fund — FT
  • Fund was set up by Aberdeen Standard and Bahrain's Investcorp
  • First closing with be about $250 million

RIYADH: Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) is set to become an anchor investor in a new $800 million Gulf infrastructure fund, set up by Aberdeen Standard Investments and Investcorp, the Financial Times reported, citing people briefed on the fund’s strategy.

Bahrain-based Investcorp, the Middle East’s largest alternative investment manager, is finalizing the infrastructure fund’s first close at about $250m, according to the people.

PIF will be joined by a large Asian institution as an anchor investor in the fund, which could be announced as early as next week.

The fund expects to focus on social infrastructure projects across the GCC, including health care, education, social housing, water and digitization, betting the new generation of Gulf leaders will prioritize social development within their economic transformation plans, the FT said.


Dubai utility provider to boost clean energy capacity this year

Dubai utility provider to boost clean energy capacity this year
Updated 5 min 50 sec ago

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 7 min 40 sec ago

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.


Ma’aden awards $880m gold mining contract

Ma’aden awards $880m gold mining contract
Updated 26 min 21 sec ago

Ma’aden awards $880m gold mining contract

Ma’aden awards $880m gold mining contract
  • Saudi mining company also announced completion of pre-operational stage on $900m ammonia plant

RIYADH: The Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma’aden) has awarded a new $880 million contract at its Mansourah-Massarah gold mines, marking the company’s largest-ever investment in the gold sector.

The agreement was signed for Jac Rijk Al-Rushaid Contracting and Services Company to provide operational mining services at the gold mines. The range of services will include drilling, scaling, loading, hauling, re-handling, ore control, dewatering, crusher feed, and all related production activities at the mines.

It is forecast that the Mansourah-Massarah site will reach full production capacity by 2023 and will represent one-quarter of Ma’aden’s goal to produce 1 million ounces of gold per year by 2025.

The Mansourah-Massarah site is one of six mines in Ma’aden’s portfolio and is part of the company’s bid to boost local production. Gold currently accounts for around 20 percent of Ma’aden’s revenues.

Ma’aden on Sunday also announced the completion of the pre-operational stage at its third ammonia plant in Ras Al-Khair Industrial City. The $900 million project is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2021 and will start operations in the first quarter of 2022, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The ammonia plant is the first project as part of Ma’aden’s $6.4 billion Phosphate 3 expansion plan, which aims to add 3 million tonnes of phosphate fertilizer production capacity to Ma’aden’s portfolio. This will bring Ma’aden’s total production capacity of more than 9 million tonnes and make it one of the top three global phosphate fertilizer producers in the world.

Ma’aden CEO Abdul Aziz Al-Harbi said in a press statement: “This is a tremendous milestone for our phosphate portfolio. The ammonia plant expansion will add over 1 million tonnes of ammonia production to reach 3.3 million tonnes, making Ma’aden one of the largest ammonia producers east of the Suez Canal.”

Ma’aden in April reported a net profit after zakat and tax of SR 761.2 million ($202.99 million) in the first quarter of 2021, compared to a net loss of SR 353.3 million in the first quarter of 2020.

The Kingdom’s Ministry of Energy has estimated its untapped mineral resources to be worth about SR 5 trillion. Under Vision 2030, the government is aiming to triple the mining and metals sector’s contribution to gross domestic product and create 200,000 jobs directly and indirectly by 2030.

“Saudi Arabia has vast under-explored territories compared with other world-class mining countries. Ma’aden’s goal is to capitalize on that to become one of the world’s top mining companies, and we are making great strides in achieving this goal,” Mosaed Al-Ohali, former CEO of Ma’aden, told Arab News in October 2020.

“The increase in exploration spending is focused on brownfield drilling, assessment of potential greenfield targets and continued drilling at many prospective locations to maintain healthy ore reserves. We are working on two more gold mines that we expect to bring on stream around the middle of the decade,” he added.

On Friday, gold prices slipped slightly, down 1.2 percent to $1,875.31 per ounce, while US gold futures were 0.9 percent lower at $1,879.6.


Lebanon currency drops to new low as financial meltdown deepens

Lebanon currency drops to new low as financial meltdown deepens
Updated 33 min 16 sec ago

Lebanon currency drops to new low as financial meltdown deepens

Lebanon currency drops to new low as financial meltdown deepens
  • Lebanon is in the throes of a deep economic meltdown that is threatening its stability

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s currency crashed past a milestone on Sunday reaching a new low against the dollar, as the country’s financial meltdown and political deadlock linger.
Market dealers said the Lebanese pound was trading at around 15,150 to the dollar, losing around 90 percent of what it was worth in late 2019, when Lebanon’s economic and financial crisis erupted.
Lebanon is in the throes of a deep economic meltdown that is threatening its stability. The World Bank has called it one of the deepest depressions of modern history.
The last time the pound hit a low of 15,000 in March protesters took to the streets across Lebanon for over a week, blocking roads by burning tires.
Foreign reserves, used to fund a subsidy program for basic goods including fuel, medicine and wheat, are running out and shortages have been worsening across the board in recent weeks.
Some hospitals are ruling out elective procedures and only performing emergency surgeries to ration what is left of medical supplies. Most pharmacies staged a two day strike this week as medications run out and hours long car queues for gasoline have frustrated motorists causing squabbles.
The financial collapse is taking place against a backdrop of fractious politicians bickering over cabinet formation.
Prime Minister-designate Salad Al-Hariri has been at loggerheads with President Michel Aon over naming ministers since his designation in October. The former government has continued in a caretaker capacity after having resigned in the aftermath of the Aug. 4 Beirut port blast.
Depositors, locked out of their dollar accounts since last year, have been promised some access starting July, with each customer getting $400 in cash and an equivalent in Lebanese pounds at a rate close to market value.
But the International Monetary Fund on Thursday criticized Lebanon’s proposal for dollar deposit withdrawals and a capital control law yet to be approved by parliament saying both measures would only be meaningful as part of broader reforms.


Easing restrictions drive Middle East’s post-pandemic rebound, says ICAEW

Easing restrictions drive Middle East’s post-pandemic rebound, says ICAEW
Updated 13 June 2021

Easing restrictions drive Middle East’s post-pandemic rebound, says ICAEW

Easing restrictions drive Middle East’s post-pandemic rebound, says ICAEW
  • The report reveals that business confidence in the region has strengthened in recent months

DUBAI: The Middle East’s regional GDP will grow by 2.4 percent this year according to a report commissioned by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICEAW).
It represents a similar rate to the region’s average growth trajectory in the last decade, as countries double down on their pandemic exit strategies.
The report reveals that business confidence in the region has strengthened in recent months on the back of eased COVID-19-related restrictions and an energetic vaccine campaign.
Strong Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) readings indicate a positive outlook throughout the year, the report said.
This shows a marked improvement from the 4.4 percent economic contraction felt across the region last year.
The region can particularly benefit from the expected surge of travel demand once the rest of the world opens up, the report noted, with major global events set to happen in Dubai and Qatar.
“The outlook for most Middle Eastern economies looks positive this quarter, but keeping coronavirus levels low will be essential to ensure economies can return to growth,” the company’s regional director, Michael Armstrong, said.
He highlighted the need to continue diversification strategies to reduce reliance in the oil industry, which has seen gradual recovery from its performance in 2020.
“The rise in the oil price has boosted revenue prospects for GCC producers,” ICAEW Economic Adviser Scott Livermore, said.
“Higher oil revenue gives governments more scope to support post-pandemic recoveries without undermining efforts aimed at improving medium-term fiscal sustainability,” he added.