Buy-now-pay-later fintech leads 2021 Saudi venture capital financing

Buy-now-pay-later fintech leads 2021 Saudi venture capital financing
Tamara’s $110 million Series A round was the biggest ever in the Middle East and North Africa. (Supplied)
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Updated 06 August 2021

Buy-now-pay-later fintech leads 2021 Saudi venture capital financing

Buy-now-pay-later fintech leads 2021 Saudi venture capital financing
  • Tamara is best-funded startup in Saudi Arabia this year
  • B2B marketplace Sary is second in list

RIYADH: Tamara, a financial technology company that allows consumers to spread out payments for their purchases, has received the most venture capital funding of any Saudi startup this year, according to a report by MAGNITT.

The buy now, pay later company raised $110 million in April via a Series A round led by global payment processor Checkout.com, adding to $6 million it raised earlier in the year.

In second place is Sary, a business-to-business e-commerce marketplace targeting grocery stores, which attracted $30.5 million in May. The Series B round was led by Silicon Valley’s Rocketship.vc, Saudi Arabia’s largest VC investor STV and returning investors Raed Ventures, MSA Capital and Derayah VC. Sary has now raised $37 million altogether.

The third best funded Saudi startup this year is Foodics, which specializes in restaurant management systems. The Riyadh-based business received $20 million in Series B funding in February in a round co-led by PIF subsidiary Sanabil Investments and STV.

Endeavor Catalyst, Elm and Derayah Ventures also joined the round, which and takes its total funding to date to $28 million.

Fourth of MAGNITT’s list is Azom, a developer of electronics and computer software, which raised $9.5 million in February. The Series A round from distribution company Assr AlJawal and an undisclosed individual investor brings total funding for the company to $10.7 million.

In fifth place was Lendo, which offers instant invoice financing to SMEs through its Shariah-complaint lending marketplace. It raised $7.2 million in March from investors led by Derayah Ventures and including Seedra Ventures, Shorooq Partners, 500 Startups, and Impact46.

 


Higher oil prices, widespread vaccine roll-out to drive Saudi Arabia’s economic rebound: S&P

Higher oil prices, widespread vaccine roll-out to drive Saudi Arabia’s economic rebound: S&P
Updated 24 sec ago

Higher oil prices, widespread vaccine roll-out to drive Saudi Arabia’s economic rebound: S&P

Higher oil prices, widespread vaccine roll-out to drive Saudi Arabia’s economic rebound: S&P
  • Growth is heavily observed in non-oil sectors, particularly in real estate where the government aims to drive national home ownership to 70 percent by 2030

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s economy will benefit from higher oil prices and its successful COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, ratings agency S&P Global has said as it affirmed the Kingdom’s stable outlook in its latest report. 

The semi-annual review from S&P affirmed the A-/Stable/A-2 sovereign rating of the Kingdom, attributing it to a positive post-pandemic performance as well as an improvement in oil sector dynamics. 

Growth is heavily observed in non-oil sectors, particularly in real estate where the government aims to drive national home ownership to 70 percent by 2030. 

Plastic and petrochemical exports also supported the Kingdom’s non-oil manufacturing, and consumer spending rose 3 percent in the first half of the year. 

The easing of tourism restrictions also supported other non-oil industries, including hotels and hospitality. 

There is also evidence of progress in the oil sector, which was heavily hit by the pandemic and the production cuts that came with it. Saudi Arabia’s GDP contracted by 4.1 percent last year, the biggest since 1987. 

But the S&P report said oil is getting back on track, particularly given the OPEC+ decision to restore and increase overall production by 400,000 barrels per day - 100,000 from Saudi Arabia. 

These indicators could drive economic growth from 2021 to 2024, the report said, especially given government efforts at fiscal control. 


Goldman cuts China growth forecasts as power cuts start to bite

Goldman cuts China growth forecasts as power cuts start to bite
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 6 min 17 sec ago

Goldman cuts China growth forecasts as power cuts start to bite

Goldman cuts China growth forecasts as power cuts start to bite
  • Nearly 60 percent of the Chinese economy is powered by coal, but supply has been disrupted by the pandemic
  • Goldman Sachs said Tuesday it expects growth to come in at 7.8 percent, down from 8.2 percent

Goldman Sachs Tuesday lowered its annual economic growth forecast for China as nationwide power cuts hit millions of homes and halted production at factories, including some supplying Apple and Tesla.

Goldman Sachs said Tuesday it expects growth to come in at 7.8 percent, down from 8.2 percent, citing power cuts that led heavy industries to cut output, leading to "significant downside pressures".


It is the second bank to downgrade forecasts in as many days.


At least 17 provinces and regions -- accounting for 66 percent of the country's gross domestic product -- have announced some form of power cuts in recent months, mainly targeting heavy industrial users, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.


Nearly 60 percent of the Chinese economy is powered by coal, but supply has been disrupted by the pandemic, put under pressure by tough emissions targets and squeezed by a drop in coal imports amid a trade tiff with Australia.


Earlier this month, coal prices hit a record high, with restrictions imposed on businesses and homes amid the supply crunch.


Still, China's power demand in the first half of the year exceeded pre-pandemic levels, according to the National Energy Administration.



Analysts at Nomura said Monday a surging number of factories had been forced to cease operations due to either government mandates to meet carbon targets or surging prices and coal shortages.


It cut its annual GDP growth forecast to 7.7 percent.

Footage in local media Beijing News showed cars travelling on a busy highway in the city of Shenyang in complete darkness without traffic lights or street lamps.


"Power cuts eight times a day, four days in a row... I'm speechless," wrote one frustrated user from Liaoning.


Another complained that malls were shutting early and a convenience store was using candlelight.
"It's like living in North Korea," they wrote.

Apple supplier Unimicron Technology said factories in two regions were told to stop production from midday Sunday through Thursday, in filings with the Taiwan stock exchange on Monday.


Dozens of other companies, including a parts supplier to carmaker Tesla, were told to halt production this week, according to stock exchange filings.


The northeastern rust belt, with thousands of power-hungry cement kilns and steel smelters, has been among the worst affected.


A factory in northeast Liaoning had to rush 23 workers to hospital due to carbon monoxide poisoning after ventilators suddenly stopped working during a blackout, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

 


Saudi Arabia’s Knowledge Economic City gets new acting CEO

Saudi Arabia’s Knowledge Economic City gets new acting CEO
Updated 32 min 49 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s Knowledge Economic City gets new acting CEO

Saudi Arabia’s Knowledge Economic City gets new acting CEO
  • Almubarak is KEC's current chief investment officer, and he is replacing Sami Almakhdoub

Knowledge Economic City (KEC), a special zone established during the time of late Saudi King Abdullah, has appointed Mohammad Abdulhameed Almubarak as acting chief executive officer from Oct. 1.

Almubarak is KEC's current chief investment officer, and he is replacing Sami Almakhdoub, whose contract expires on Sept. 30, 2021, the company said in a stock exchange filing. 

The new acting CEO holds extensive experience in real estate investment and development areas, and has worked with Riyad Capital and the Capital Market Authority (CMA). 

He has a masters in finance from the University of Cambridge, and a bachelor of science in finance from King Faisal University.

In April, KEC agreed to borrow SR782 million ($209 million) from the Saudi Tourism Development Fund and Riyadh Bank for the development of the Knowledge City Hub project in Madinah.


European shares drop to one-week lows on tech slide, China woes

European shares drop to one-week lows on tech slide, China woes
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 32 min 51 sec ago

European shares drop to one-week lows on tech slide, China woes

European shares drop to one-week lows on tech slide, China woes
  • The pan-European STOXX 600 index was down 1.3 percent
  • Data showed profit growth at China's industrial firms slowed for a sixth month in August

European stocks sank to their lowest in a week on Tuesday as a surge in government bond yields knocked high-growth technology shares, with fresh signs of a slowdown in China's economy weighing on investor sentiment.


The pan-European STOXX 600 index was down 1.3 percent, falling for a third session as a jump in U.S. Treasury yields signalled that investors were bracing for higher rates and the risk of persistent inflation.

Global shares were also down for a third successive day, while bond yields on both sides of the Atlantic soared on anxiety over when central banks might raise interest rates.


MSCI's All Country World Index, which tracks shares across 49 countries, was down 0.3 percent on the day after the start of trading in Europe.

Britain's FTSE 100 index fell 0.5 percent, while Germany's DAX fell 0.8 percent. France's CAC 40 fell 1.1 percent and Italy's FTSE MIB index slipped 0.6 percent.


Technology stocks fell 3.7 percent to hit a one-month low after their Wall Street peers tumbled overnight. They are particularly sensitive to rising interest rate expectations as their value rests heavily on future earnings, which are discounted more deeply when rates go up.


Meanwhile, data showed profit growth at China's industrial firms slowed for a sixth month in August, with an unfolding power crisis becoming a growing threat to output and profits.


"The pandemic situation remains unresolved. The Chinese economy is slowing and authorities have yet to stimulate forcefully. The Fed is preparing to normalize policy. And the debt ceiling showdown is ongoing," analysts at BCA Research wrote in a note.


"Heightened uncertainty combined with elevated speculation suggests that the near-term path will be bumpy."

While the benchmark STOXX 600 is on course to extend its quarterly winning run, a volatile September took some shine off its third-quarter gains as investors priced in risks of easing global growth momentum and tighter monetary policies.


However, a rally in Brent crude futures above $80 per barrel continued to support energy stocks, with the oil and gas index rising 0.9 percent to fresh highs since February 2020.
 


Saudi Arabia still Dubai’s largest Arab trading partner, reveals government data

Saudi Arabia still Dubai’s largest Arab trading partner, reveals government data
Updated 56 min 24 sec ago

Saudi Arabia still Dubai’s largest Arab trading partner, reveals government data

Saudi Arabia still Dubai’s largest Arab trading partner, reveals government data

DUBAI: Dubai’s trade with Saudi Arabia grew 26 percent to 30.5 billion dirhams in the first half of 2021, making it the emirate’s biggest trading partner in the Arab world.

China, however, remains the emirate’s biggest trading partner in the world in terms of value - increasing by 30.7 percent to 86 billion dirhams in the six months to July. India is the second largest, with trade value growing 74.5 percent to 67.1 billion dirhams. 

Overall, the non-oil foreign trade of Dubai grew 31 percent year-on-year in the first half 2021 to 722.3 billion dirhams ($196.66 billion), the media office reported. 

“This marked growth in trade demonstrates the success of Dubai's strategic plan to consolidate its position as a global logistics and trade hub that connects the world's diverse markets,” Hamdan Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Dubai crown prince, said. 

Exports value was 109.8 billion dirhams, a 45 percent growth, while imports rose 29.3 percent to 414 billion dirhams. Re-exports were up 28.3 percent to 198.6 million in the same period.