Changan sees boom in demand as Saudis fall in love with Chinese car brands

Changan sees boom in demand as Saudis fall in love with Chinese car brands
Saudi Arabia is emerging as one of the most attractive markets overseas for Chinese car brands as they grab the attention of dealers and drivers in the Kingdom. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 28 July 2021

Changan sees boom in demand as Saudis fall in love with Chinese car brands

Changan sees boom in demand as Saudis fall in love with Chinese car brands
  • ‘Prices and technology are among the factors behind rise in popularity’

DUBAI, RIYADH, JEDDAH: A decade ago, if you would have asked a Saudi whether he would consider buying a Chinese car, the answer most likely would have been no, but this has now changed.

Saudi Arabia is emerging as one of the most attractive markets overseas for Chinese car brands as they grab the attention of dealers and drivers in the Kingdom.

Car sales in China, the world’s biggest market, were down 3 percent year-on-year to 2.13 million in May, ending a streak of 13 months of growth, mainly due to a global chip shortage and increased raw material prices. Last year, despite the coronavirus disease (COVID-10) pandemic, the data showed that sales continued to surge, and at the end of 2020, Changan’s share of the market had risen to 4.3 percent, moving it two places up in the annual car brand rankings to eighth most popular.

Mohammed Ramady, an independent economist and former professor of finance and economics at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, believes Chinese cars are proving popular because they appeal to medium- and lower-income families. He said the data showed that last year, around one in 10 Chinese cars were shipped to Saudi Arabia. A clear example of the growing popularity of Chinese cars in the Kingdom is the experience of the Changan brand. According to sales data compiled by Bestsellingcarsblog.com, the carmaker, which is owned by the Chinese state, captured 2.3 percent of the Saudi market in 2019, making it the 10th most popular car brand in the Kingdom just a few years after it was introduced to Saudi drivers.

Similarly, data from Google showed that searches for the term Changan increased nearly 50 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2021, peaking in January when the brand opened its service center in Riyadh. 

Dammam-based Wafi Al-Ghanim, marketing communication manager at Almajdouie Changan, the official distributor of the brand in Saudi Arabia, told Arab News there are three reasons the brand has quickly proved so successful: “Prices, quality, and warranty periods.”

“When you think about quality and specifications compared to the price in the car sector, you will definitely find that Chinese cars are far ahead of their counterparts in general, Japanese and Korean cars in particular,” Al-Ghanim said.

Looking to the future, he believes that Chinese cars across the board will continue to see strong growth and by 2022 will have captured 15 percent of the Saudi market, which “in a huge regional market is very good.”

One of the ways to boost sales is physical visibility. In January, Almajdouie built a 2,640-square-meter service center in Riyadh.

“We have had to raise the level of our services to match the high level of Changan cars, as well as to enhance the growing demand for Changan cars in the local market,” Yousef bin Ali Almajdouie, president of Almajdouie Group, said in a press statement at the time.

A report by the China Daily newspaper estimated that around 55,000 Changan cars have been sold in Saudi Arabia up to May this year, but it is not the only Chinese brand that has captured the attention of drivers in the Kingdom.

FASTFACTS

• Last year, despite the coronavirus disease (COVID-10) pandemic, the data showed that sales continued to surge, and at the end of 2020, Changan’s share of the market had risen to 4.3 percent, moving it two places up in the annual car brand rankings to eighth most popular.

• According to data, the carmaker, which is owned by the Chinese state, captured 2.3 percent of the Saudi market in 2019, making it the 10th most popular car brand in the Kingdom just a few years after it was introduced to Saudi drivers.

• An example of the growing popularity of Chinese cars in the Kingdom is the experience of the Changan brand.

Hongqi, one of China’s oldest luxury car brands, this month opened its first sales center in Riyadh, with plans to expand the network to Jeddah and Dammam.

“The market in the Middle East is key for Hongqi. And the Saudi market is crucial in the region,” Ma Zhenduo, general manager of Hongqi’s Middle East division, told Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency. “The sales have exceeded all our expectations across all the models,” said Mohammed Abduljawad, chairman of Universal Motors Agencies, Hongqi’s local partner in Saudi Arabia.

Hatem Khattab, the first marketing manager for FAW Bestune in Saudi Arabia, which sells the Chinese brands FAW, Bestune and Hongqi, told Arab News that the secret to the success of Chinese brands was the combination of price and technology.

“The manufacturers are very good at incorporating the latest technology in their cars. These are economic cars with state-of-the-art technology,” Khattab said. “The reason behind their popularity is their features, and now that they are seen more commonly on the streets, it has had a domino effect. Seeing the cars makes people think they are more reliable. They are affordable as well; we recently had a customer who bought 10 cars just for his family,” he added.

In addition to increased visibility on the roads, Khattab pointed out that Chinese brands also offer more options in terms of the range of models on offer.

“The competition in the automotive market here is huge, and I feel like the Chinese brands stepped up their game to meet the requirement of this cut-throat market. Currently, in Saudi Arabia, we have almost 20-25 Chinese brands as compared to brands of other countries that offer up to 10,” he said. Ramady said engine size was another big catalyst. Western, American, Japanese and South Korean models in the 2,500 to 3,000 cc engine sector still dominate the market, Chinese brands have positioned themselves in the 1,000 to 2,000 cc engine range, which is a growing segment in Saudi Arabia. He believes these models appeal “to a low to middle-income Saudi consumer market, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and economic uncertainties, as well as a new niche market for Saudi female drivers owning their first cars.”

The statistics also back this up, according to Motory.com, one of the largest specialized car websites in Saudi Arabia. “Over the last few years, we have seen Chinese cars become increasingly popular with consumers, especially in Saudi Arabia. Online searches for Chinese cars on our Motory.com website have increased by around 400 percent between 2018 and 2020,” a spokesperson told Arab News.

Chinese carmakers saw exports increase by 103 percent year-on-year in the first five months of this year, according to a report by the South China Morning Post, citing data from the China Passenger Car Association. The way trends are going, many will find their way into Saudi garages and carparks, as the Kingdom continues to be a dominant source market. Fahad Al-Arjani, a member of the Saudi Chinese Business Council, echoed the view that technology was at the key factor, as Chinese brands have been “injecting investments in clean energy cars supported by the smartest technologies.” He pointed to the partnership between technology giant Huawei and the state-owned Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co., Ltd. (BAIC) as an example.

“In addition to developing a highly efficient battery system, as well as emerging technologies, Huawei and BAIC’s first car will offer level three autonomous driving and will include 5G connectivity, which isn’t necessarily surprising given the Chinese company is a leader when it comes to the rollout of this new standard, which will make Chinese cars highly likely to lead the future of this sector for ages,” he told Arab News.


Argentinian exchange gets $50m in latest funding round: Market wrap 

Argentinian exchange gets $50m in latest funding round: Market wrap 
Updated 22 September 2021

Argentinian exchange gets $50m in latest funding round: Market wrap 

Argentinian exchange gets $50m in latest funding round: Market wrap 

Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency in trading internationally, traded lower on Wednesday, falling by 1.185 percent to $42,270.82 at 4:26 p.m. Riyadh time.

Ether, the second most traded cryptocurrency, traded at $2,939.71, down by 3.05 percent, according to data from CoinDesk.

Funding

Argentina-based Latin American exchange Ripio has successfully raised $50 million in its latest Series B funding round.

The exchange, which has a strong position in its home country and Brazil, will use these new funds to expand into other areas of South America, such as Colombia, Mexico and Uruguay later this year.

These funds will also help Ripio continue to grow its Latam brand, after it acquired Bitcointrade, one of the most popular exchanges in Brazil

"For us, this announcement is a natural step that allows us to continue expanding and consolidating our products in the region, with the mission of expanding access to the crypto world, building simple tools and offering quality information and resources to facilitate the path to the new digital economy,” Sebastian Serrano, CEO of Ripio said.

The round had the participation of bitcoin investor Tim Draper, Amplo (investors of Robinhood), Marcos Galperin (CEO of Mercado Libre), and Martin Migoya (CEO of Globant), led by Digital Currency Group (DCG).

 

Bye-bye Binance

Meanwhile, amid worldwide regulatory scrutiny, global crypto exchange Binance has announced that it will stop offering futures contracts, options and leveraged tokens to Australian users within 90 days.

"Effective from 24 September, 9 a.m. (UTC), existing Australian users will have 90 days to reduce and close their positions for these products," Binance explained.

 

Iran urged to change policy 

In Iran, some parliamentarians have set out to change the government’s regulatory stance toward cryptocurrencies, citing opportunities to use them to improve the country’s economy.

They also expressed concerns about Tehran’s restrictive policies toward innovations. 

After the release of a study that recommended a new approach to the crypto industry, lawmakers have called for the adoption of friendlier regulations.

“Taking a restrictive approach only pushes innovative solutions underground,” a spokesman for the council's economic committee, Gholamreza Marhaba, told Iranian media.

He also said: “Our studies show that 50 percent of crypto activities are in the informal market. This is while supportive regulations can help enhance contribution of the digital currency to the economy.”


Al-Falih invites Greek investors to explore opportunities in Saudi Arabia

Al-Falih invites Greek investors to explore opportunities in Saudi Arabia
Updated 22 September 2021

Al-Falih invites Greek investors to explore opportunities in Saudi Arabia

Al-Falih invites Greek investors to explore opportunities in Saudi Arabia
  • An agreement was signed to establish the Saudi-Greek Business Council

RIYADH: Saudi Investment Minister Khalid Al-Falih on Wednesday said the Kingdom seeks to benefit from Greece’s vast experience in the logistics, tourism and hospitality sectors.

Al-Falih, who is visiting Greece, held a meeting with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at Maximos Mansion in Athens.

During the meeting, they discussed bilateral ties and explored ways of expanding growing cooperation between the two countries in various areas.

“The Kingdom’s economy is opening up to the world at an unprecedented pace and volume, and it offers promising investment opportunities for investors from all over the world,” Al-Falih said in a statement.

He invited Greek investors and companies to explore the opportunities in the Kingdom and further strengthen bilateral ties.

“This visit is to confirm that together we can take our current relationship to even greater heights, and I look forward to welcoming more Greek investors to the Kingdom,” he said.

An agreement was signed to establish the Saudi-Greek Business Council, which will work to facilitate bilateral trade and exchange information on investment opportunities.

 


PIF first sovereign wealth fund to issue green bonds, Al-Rumayyan says

PIF first sovereign wealth fund to issue green bonds, Al-Rumayyan says
Updated 22 September 2021

PIF first sovereign wealth fund to issue green bonds, Al-Rumayyan says

PIF first sovereign wealth fund to issue green bonds, Al-Rumayyan says
  • The PIF has been given the mandate to develop nearly 70 percent of renewable projects in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund will be the first sovereign wealth fund to issue green bonds, PIF Gov. Yasir Al-Rumayyan said at an event organized by the Future Investment Initiative Institute on Tuesday.

The issuance is part of the fund’s plan of shifting toward green investments.

“The Kingdom aims to deploy 50 percent of its investments in renewable and sustainable power sources,” Al-Rumayyan said.

The PIF has been given the mandate to develop nearly 70 percent of renewable projects in Saudi Arabia through its portfolio companies, the organization’s chief said.

Utilities and renewables are among the 13 sectors identified by the fund as part of its Vision 2030 strategy.

Saudi Arabia has seen a surge of interest in initiatives related to environmental, social, and governance amid growing awareness among global investors about ESG risks.

Al-Rumayyan said PIF was working with BlackRock on the ESG framework.

“We’re working with many partners from all over the world, domestically and internationally, to have better ESG compliance (in) all the things that we do,” Al-Rumayyan said.

One of the companies PIF owns, the Red Sea Development Co. which is building a new beach resort in the kingdom, secured a $3.8 billion green loan earlier this year for new hotels powered by renewable energy.

Saudi Arabia will announce its “Green Initiative” next month, followed by the “Middle East Initiative,” which includes planting 50 billion trees, Al-Rumayyan said.

“We have long-term views. We don’t want to exploit all of our resources overnight,” he said.

The PIF governor said Saudi oil has the lowest emission in the world. “Our oil is the best when it comes to emission,” Al-Rumayyan added.

Saudi Arabia is now more interested to invest in lower impacting energies toward the environment.

“We are one of the most efficient when it comes to sustainability and renewable energy. So today, as I said, our solar power production is costing us only 1.2 cents per kWh versus some other pretty restrictions, it’s over $0.15,” Al-Rumayyan said.


Stocks rebound as Evergrande jitters ease: Reuters

Stocks rebound as Evergrande jitters ease: Reuters
Updated 22 September 2021

Stocks rebound as Evergrande jitters ease: Reuters

Stocks rebound as Evergrande jitters ease: Reuters

U.S. and European stocks churned higher on Wednesday as market jitters around property developer China Evergrande eased, while the dollar index edged lower ahead of a U.S. Federal Reserve meeting, Reuters has reported.

MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.62 percent, bouncing back for a second day after it logged its biggest one-day percentage drop in two months on Monday.

Wall Street's main indexes moved higher in early Wednesday trade following solid gains for markets in Europe.

China Evergrande agreed to settle interest payments on a domestic bond, while the Chinese central bank injected cash into the banking system, soothing investors' fears of imminent contagion from the debt-laden property developer that had pressured equities and other riskier assets at the start of the week.

"Right or wrong, people I think are starting to show signs that they think maybe this pullback has reached its worst point," said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas. "It wasn't entirely the Evergrande situation, but it seems like that was one of the biggest pieces of it."

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 361.36 points, or 1.07 percent, to 34,281.2, the S&P 500 gained 37.02 points, or 0.85 percent, to 4,391.21 and the Nasdaq Composite added 88.66 points, or 0.6 percent, to 14,835.06.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.93 percent, with bank stocks surging.

With a number of central banks around the world meeting this week, the Bank of Japan (BOJ) offered a bleaker view on exports and output as Asian factory shutdowns caused supply bottlenecks, but maintained its optimism that robust global growth would keep the economic recovery on track. BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda also brushed aside fears that the debt problems of Evergrande could disrupt the global financial system.

Investors were closely watching the Fed, with the U.S. central bank expected to clear the way on Wednesday for reductions to its monthly asset purchases later this year.

The dollar index fell 0.102 percent, with the euro up 0.16 percent to $1.1742. The Japanese yen weakened 0.32 percent versus the greenback at 109.56 per dollar.

Benchmark U.S. 10-year notes last rose 1/32 in price to yield 1.3209 percent, from 1.324 percent late on Tuesday.

Oil prices climbed after industry data showed U.S. crude stocks fell more than expected last week after two hurricanes, highlighting tight supply as demand improves.

U.S. crude rose 1.93 percent to $71.85 per barrel and Brent was at $75.77, up 1.9 perncet on the day.

Spot gold dropped 0.1 percent to $1,773.31 an ounce, after three sessions of gains.

 


Burgerizzr pays $2.1m in cash dividends in H1

Burgerizzr pays $2.1m in cash dividends in H1
Updated 22 September 2021

Burgerizzr pays $2.1m in cash dividends in H1

Burgerizzr pays $2.1m in cash dividends in H1

Burgerizzr board of directors have signed off on SR8 million ($2.1 million) in cash dividends for the first half of 2021, according to a filing.

The pay-out — worth SR 3.2 per share - come as the restaurant chain’s profits increased by 16 percent to SR6.49 million ($1.73 million) during the first half of this year.

Burgerizzr, run by Shatirah House Restaurant Company, saw its net profits rise thanks to the opening of 13 new branches in the period to the end of June 2021.

Financing costs and losses on the disposal of property and equipment also decreased, according to Tadawul.

The total income of the company amounted to SR24.4 million in the first half of this year, up 28 percent compared to SR19 million during the same period in 2020.

The operating profit amounted to SR7 million, up 5 percent, compared to SR6.8 million for H1 last year.

Earnings per share during the period amounted to SR2.6, compared to SR2.25 during the first six months of last year.