Saudi operations boost Halliburton’s Mideast business in Q2

Saudi operations boost Halliburton’s Mideast business in Q2
Halliburton reported rising activity in its Saudi business in the second quarter. (Reuters)
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Updated 20 July 2021

Saudi operations boost Halliburton’s Mideast business in Q2

Saudi operations boost Halliburton’s Mideast business in Q2
  • Regional revenues received a boost from improved activity in multiple product service lines in Saudi Arabia

DUBAI: Halliburton said improved business in its Saudi operations helped to grow its Middle East second-quarter revenues.
The oilfield services contractor on Tuesday reported a 33.5 percent increase in second-quarter profit from the previous three months, as an oil price rebound spurred demand for work.
The Houston-based company said net income advanced to $227 million in the three months ended June 30, from $170 million in the first quarter.
Its Middle East and Asia revenues gained 5 percent sequentially to $925 million resulting from” improved activity in multiple product service lines in Saudi Arabia, higher well intervention services across the region, increased drilling-related services in Oman, higher completion tools sales in Kuwait,” the company said in a statement.
Global crude prices climbed 18.2 percent in the quarter ended June 30 following a 22.6 percent gain in the first three months of the year as speedy vaccinations encouraged the gradual re-opening of economies, Reuters reported.
Total US rig counts rose for the 11th straight month in June, according to Baker Hughes data. There were 470 rigs at the end of the second quarter. That compared with 417 at the end of the first quarter.


Bitcoin falls as investors criticize US tax plan

Bitcoin falls as investors criticize US tax plan
Updated 2 min 10 sec ago

Bitcoin falls as investors criticize US tax plan

Bitcoin falls as investors criticize US tax plan
  • Binance has announced that it will discontinue its derivatives and futures products in Germany, Italy

DUBAI: Bitcoin traded lower on Tuesday, falling by 2.81 percent to $38,516.96 at 5:01 p.m. Riyadh time, while Ether was down 4.03 percent to $2,517.24, data from CoinDesk showed.

The decline comes amid reports of cryptocurrency organizations criticizing the US government’s plan to tax the industry.

The US Congress earlier said it has plans to tax various actors in the crypto financial system to help pay for infrastructure expenditures. It will do this by classifying these parties as intermediaries under the Internal Revenue Code.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore has approved Australia’s Independent Reserve to operate digital payment services.

The reserve, which is one of Australia’s biggest cryptocurrency exchanges, said it was one of the first digital asset service providers to obtain initial approval for a license from a major payment institution in Singapore.

In South Korea, 11 cryptocurrency exchanges will be shut down by a top financial regulator, local media reported.

The regulator alleged their involvement in fraudulent bank accounts, and said they have yet to comply with state regulations.

Binance has announced that it will discontinue its derivatives and futures products in Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands — a likely result of the regulatory crackdown government around the world imposed on the company, CoinDesk reported.


Saudi stock market index hits 14-year high

The Tadawul All-Share Index (TASI) on Tuesday reached its highest level since January 2008 with 11,209 points. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
The Tadawul All-Share Index (TASI) on Tuesday reached its highest level since January 2008 with 11,209 points. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
Updated 03 August 2021

Saudi stock market index hits 14-year high

The Tadawul All-Share Index (TASI) on Tuesday reached its highest level since January 2008 with 11,209 points. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
  • Fitch Ratings also recently confirmed the long-term rating of Saudi Arabia at “A” with a change in the future outlook to stable

JEDDAH/RIYADH: The Tadawul All-Share Index (TASI) on Tuesday reached its highest level since January 2008 with 11,209 points.

The market index has witnessed a gradual rise since the beginning of the year, reaching about 2,500 points or 28.7 percent. The optimism in the market is also attributed to the rising oil prices following the easing of global COVID-19 restrictions and OPEC+ deal.

“The Tadawul index is benefitting today from many factors including the increase in the number of listed companies over the past 5 years and the rising investor confidence as the Kingdom is recovering from the pandemic,” said Faiz Alhomrani, a financial market analyst told Arab News. “The market today also benefited from the strong results of the banking and petrochemical sectors.”

Alhomrani also said that the increase in the oil prices also supported the markets as it is an indicator of increased government spending, adding that Tadawul might hit new highs around 13-14,000 points but this might take two years.

Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan recently said the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the Kingdom is very much under control.

Fitch Ratings also recently confirmed the long-term rating of Saudi Arabia at “A” with a change in the future outlook to stable, and Capital Economics raised its forecast for the growth of the Saudi economy from 2.2 percent to 4.8 percent during the current year, and from 4.1 percent to 6.3 percent in 2022. 

Tadawul had recorded its highest level on Sept. 9, 2014 session at 11,160 points, and the market's rise at that time came after the approval of the Saudi Cabinet to open the stock market to qualified foreign financial institutions, according to Argaam.


Dubai-based company setup firm expands operations in Saudi Arabia

Dubai-based company setup firm expands operations in Saudi Arabia
Updated 03 August 2021

Dubai-based company setup firm expands operations in Saudi Arabia

Dubai-based company setup firm expands operations in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Pro Partner Group, a Dubai-based company specializing in company formations, has expanded its operations in Saudi Arabia.

It was established in 2014 and has offices in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Oman, and Qatar. The company helps new entrants into the market to manage the legal requirements, arrange employment visas and other paperwork.

The company aims to take advantage of the Riyadh Strategy 2030 announced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in January. 

“Companies both large and small are already looking at the benefits of setting up a business in the Kingdom and taking advantage of commercial opportunities that are potentially more lucrative than in neighboring markets,” said Jane Ashford, founder, and chair of PRO Partner Group.

Under the ambitious Riyadh strategy, the Saudi government wants to attract up to 500 international companies to set up their regional bases in the city, creating around 35,000 new jobs for Saudi locals and doubling the capital’s population. The strategy aims to invest up to SR70 billion ($18.67 billion) in the national economy by the end of the decade and it is already attracting international players eager to expand into the Kingdom.

“I see Saudi Arabia as our biggest opportunity of the region by far. And I think in the next two to three years, our business in Saudi Arabia should eclipse our UAE business and Qatar business,” said Nazar Musa, CEO of Pro Partner Group.

“This year, we are 60 percent more than Q1 of last year, and Q1 of last year was 30 more than the year before,” Musa said of the company’s recent growth.

Musa said the recent announcements by the Saudi government had spurred interest among companies to expand their operations to the Kingdom. “Obviously, there are businesses that have been there for years and years, but I’m talking about the kinds of companies that are starting to speak to us for the first time about opportunities in the Kingdom,” he said.

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2020/2021 report, which surveyed adults aged between 18 and 64, found that 90.5 percent of those surveyed in Saudi Arabia believed there were good opportunities to start a business in their area, ranking it first in the world among 43 countries surveyed.


Saudi Aramco investors expect profit surge after strong first half

Saudi Aramco investors expect profit surge after strong first half
Updated 03 August 2021

Saudi Aramco investors expect profit surge after strong first half

Saudi Aramco investors expect profit surge after strong first half
  • Investors looking for news on size of dividend
  • JP Morgan predicts $23.7bn of net income

DUBAI: The oil reporting season will reach a climax next week with the announcement of first half results from the biggest company in the sector, Saudi Aramco.

With strong crude prices for most of the six months to June 30, and rising output as OPEC+ constraints were steadily lifted during the period, analysts are expecting a big increase in profits from the Saudi oil giant.

Analyst Christian Malek at JP Morgan is forecasting around $23.7bn of net income, a huge jump on the $6.6bn Aramco reported last year after the oil price collapsed as the COVID-19 pandemic severely hit demand.

“Against a positively trending demand/price backdrop, we expect a robust quarterly net income print from Aramco,” Malek said in a recent report to investors.

Higher oil prices, seasonally higher gas volumes, strong conditions in the petrochemical business and higher throughput from the start up of the Jazan facility will contribute to a strong first half performance, he added.

But analysts will also be looking for news on the dividend. At the time of its flotation in late 2019, Aramco promised at least $75bn per year in payouts to shareholders, but there is increasing speculation that the company might pay a higher special dividend for the first half, buoyed by strong financials. Other big oil companies like Shell, BP and Total all announced measures to boost shareholder returns in results this week.

“There is a logic to the argument for a special dividend this time round,” Malek told Arab News. “Aramco has done fantastically well consolidating fiscally. The majors in the oil sector have all been looking at ways of returning cash to shareholders, and there is no reason Aramco should be an exception.”

Other analysts agreed that there was scope for Aramco to boost its dividend.

“Aramco has had a fantastic year so far, and the results will be good,” said Ranjith Raja, head of MENA oil and shipping research at data group Refinitiv. “Other oil companies announced dividend increases or share buy-backs, so why not Aramco? They would not only be meeting the $75bn promise, but going beyond that, which would be very good for investor sentiment.”

In a program of investor and media calls after the results are announced on Sunday, analysts will ask CEO Amin Nasser about plans for further asset sales after the disposal of a stake in its pipeline business earlier this year, and for an update on the renewed talks about a link-up with Indian refining and petrochemicals group Reliance Industries.

They will also seek guidance on the progress of plans to sell another tranche of shares in Aramco, believed to be under consideration at the company.

Aramco’s finances are regarded as especially strong in a global oil sector that is just beginning to recover from the pandemic recession.

Last week, ratings agency Fitch upgraded Aramco’s status from negative to stable, explaining “Saudi Aramco’s financial profile is conservative compared with that of international integrated oil producers.”

Aramco’s Tadawul-traded shares fell 1.9 percent on Aug. 3 to SR38.25 a piece.


Standard Chartered posts highest half-year MENA profit in 5 years

Standard Chartered posts highest half-year MENA profit in 5 years
Updated 03 August 2021

Standard Chartered posts highest half-year MENA profit in 5 years

Standard Chartered posts highest half-year MENA profit in 5 years
  • MENA operating profit reaches $476 million, up from $91 million a year earlier
  • MENA income was flat, rose 6 percent in Africa

JEDDAH: Standard Chartered Bank reported its biggest half-year operating profit in the Middle East and North Africa for five years as wealth management income increased and credit impairments fell.

The emerging market-focused lender posted an operating profit in MENA of $476 million in the six months to the end of June, up from $91 million a year earlier, it said in a statement. Globally, it reported a 57 percent increase in pretax profit to $2.55 billion, announced a $250 million share buyback and a $94 million dividend.

Income in the MENA region was flat year on year after being impacted by rate cuts and currency devaluation, which provided a drag of about 8 percent, the bank said. Income in Africa grew by 6 percent on a constant currency basis.

There was a significant improvement in the bank’s return on tangible equity in the region, and it reported a “great turnaround story in the UAE, with significantly improved returns.”

“This is the result of all the hard work the team has put in over the years and the execution of some tough decisions we made to drive efficiencies and reduce risk,” said Sunil Kaushal, regional CEO, Africa and Middle East. “This has happened during a period when the backdrop, while improving, remains uncertain and challenging and is a true testament to the resilience of our underlying business.”

“We are excited about the recent expansion of our network into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he said. “We will leverage our presence in the Kingdom to promote trade, investment and capital flows in support of the Saudi Vision 2030.”

Standard Chartered has launched digital banking platforms in nine key African Markets – Cote d’Ivoire, Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, Kenya, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Nigeria – the adoption of which has been accelerated by the pandemic, the bank said.