Saudi SMEs extend lifeline with borrowing to recover from the pandemic

Saudi SMEs extend lifeline with borrowing to recover from the pandemic
Saudi SMEs look for more loans as they face debt during pandemic. Image: Shutterstock
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Updated 07 September 2021

Saudi SMEs extend lifeline with borrowing to recover from the pandemic

Saudi SMEs extend lifeline with borrowing to recover from the pandemic
  • Borrowing by SMEs increased in the first quarter of 2021
  • The data showed that in the first quarter of 2021 the total amount of borrowing by SMEs was SR188.42 billion ($50 billion), up from SR134.84 billion in Q1 2020

RIYADH: Borrowing by SMEs increased in the first quarter of 2021, as they invested to emerge positively from the pandemic, and partly as they incurred debt due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

According to the most recent figures by the Saudi Central Bank, the total amount of credit awarded to SMEs between the first quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of the current year increased by 39.74 percent.

The data showed that in the first quarter of 2021 the total amount of borrowing by SMEs was SR188.42 billion ($50 billion), up from SR134.84 billion in Q1 2020 and SR113.17 billion in Q1 of 2019.


Also read: Saudi tech SMEs can get up to $4 million in loans


The SAMA data showed that the medium-sized enterprises were the top beneficiaries of the government subsidies and their revenues ranged between SR40 million and SR200 million. Medium enterprises are classed as those with 50-249 employees.

Mohammed Ramady, a London-based independent economist, told Arab News it is not surprising to see a surge in credit provided by both banks and finance companies due to “economic revival in this period, and due to the SMEs sector receiving increased government support through Monshaat (the General Authority for SMEs).”

"SMEs also borrowed to cover some debt during lockdown but more to move on from COVID slowdown and to expand some of their activities such as repairs, food and take aways," he added.

He said the Kingdom is also encouraging micro-financing especially for entrepreneurs in the high-tech sector. The economist expects this trend to continue.

All major economies started with a strong SME base, but some have moved on to empowering this sector by stimulating the commercial banking sector to play an effective lending role.

The government has also introduced several programs that are helping small and medium businesses financially, such as the sponsorship program with banks that provide loans.


Read more: Small businesses in the Middle East pay big price for pandemic protection measures


Ramady said: “It is a positive picture as compared to a few years ago when the overall percentage of total bank credit facilities was 5.8 percent for the SMEs sector and the share of finance companies was even much smaller (then).”

The report added that the Kingdom saw a 4.4 percent increase in small-sized enterprises compared to Q1 of 2020 and Q1 of 2021. Small companies are classified as those whose revenues do not exceed SR3 million to SR40 million, and the number of employees does not exceed 6 to 40.

SAMA also reported an increase in credit offered by financial companies in the first quarter of 2021 to SR12.97 billion compared to the first quarter of 2020, which totaled SR9.67 billion while the volume of corporate financing in Q3 of 2020 reached SR10.75 billion.

The banking sector, however, awarded the most credit to SMEs amounting to SR164.53 billion.

Total bank credit for the private sector increased to a record amount, SR1.874 trillion in July, SAMA figures show. 

This is up by 0.5 percent from June and by 15.7 percent year on year. This was the 25th consecutive month of growth.

Bank lending to the private sector increased for the 12th consecutive month, bringing the total to SR1.945 trillion, up by 15 percent year on year, and by 0.6 percent compared to June.


More than 50 companies plan listing on Saudi stocks market, regulator says

More than 50 companies plan listing on Saudi stocks market, regulator says
Updated 55 min 41 sec ago

More than 50 companies plan listing on Saudi stocks market, regulator says

More than 50 companies plan listing on Saudi stocks market, regulator says

More than 50 companies are waiting to be listed on the Tadawul, according to the chairman of the Capital Market Authority.

Speaking at the Financial Sector Conference on Monday, Mohammed Al-Quwaiz said he expected to have over 30 listed by the end of the year.

“If we look at the numbers today we have over 50 files that are either offering or listing either in the primary market or the Tadawul market,” he said.

“Our expectation is obviously this is subject to market norms and the readiness of these businesses but we imagine that we will end the year with over 30 listed,” he added.


Switching to renewables will save Kingdom's businesses $13bn, Saudi debt office chief claims

Switching to renewables will save Kingdom's businesses $13bn, Saudi debt office chief claims
Updated 27 September 2021

Switching to renewables will save Kingdom's businesses $13bn, Saudi debt office chief claims

Switching to renewables will save Kingdom's businesses $13bn, Saudi debt office chief claims

The transition to renewable energy will save companies $13billion, the CEO of the National Centre for Debt Management said on Monday.

Speaking at the Financial Sector Conference in Riyadh, Hani Al-Madini said many local entities are already transforming towards sustainable energy, which can decrease expenses by SR50 billion.

His comments were echoed by Mohammed Al Kuwais, chairman of the capital market authority, who said: “Companies are doing this because they recognize their responsibility, and to relate to investors’ demands.” 


Consortium signs financing deals for world’s largest IGCC complex in Jazan

Consortium signs financing deals for world’s largest IGCC complex in Jazan
Updated 58 min 27 sec ago

Consortium signs financing deals for world’s largest IGCC complex in Jazan

Consortium signs financing deals for world’s largest IGCC complex in Jazan
  • The JV is purchasing the ASUs, gasification, syngas cleanup, utilities and power assets from Aramco

RIYADH: A consortium of Saudi Aramco, Air Products, ACWA Power and Air Products Qudra on Monday signed asset acquisition and project financing agreements for a $12 billion air separation unit, gasification and power joint venture in Jazan Economic City, said a press release.

“This JV is meant to be central to the self-sufficiency of our megaprojects at Jazan,” said Mohammed Al-Qahtani, senior vice president of downstream, Saudi Aramco.

It serves Aramco’s Jazan Refinery, a megaproject to process 400,000 barrels per day of the crude oil to produce the main products such as ultra-light sulfur diesel, gasoline, and other products.

All parties under the joint venture expect asset transfer and funding to occur during October 2021. Air Products intends to conduct a public investor call at that time.

Seifi Ghasemi, Air Products chairman, president and CEO, said the project is a “perfect fit with our growth strategy.”

The JV is purchasing the ASUs, gasification, syngas cleanup, utilities and power assets from Aramco. The JV owns and operates the facility under a 25-year contract for a fixed monthly fee. Aramco will supply feedstock to the JV, and the JV will produce power, steam, hydrogen and other utilities for Aramco.

Mohammad Abunayyan, chairman of ACWA Power, said:  “Jazan IGCC is set to be the largest integrated project for gasification and combined cycle energy production in the world.”

Aramco via its subsidiary Saudi Aramco Power Co. has a 20 percent share in the JV; Air Products 46 percent; ACWA Power 25 percent; and Air Products Qudra 9 percent. Air Products’ total ownership position is 50.6 percent by owning an additional 4.6 percent through Air Products Qudra.


Dubai's Amanat eying up $272m of investments in Middle East, says CEO

Dubai's Amanat eying up $272m of investments in Middle East, says CEO
Updated 27 September 2021

Dubai's Amanat eying up $272m of investments in Middle East, says CEO

Dubai's Amanat eying up $272m of investments in Middle East, says CEO

RIYADH: Dubai-based Investment firm Amanat Holdings can call on a billion dirhams warchest to fund new acquisitions across the Middle East, its chief executive has revealed.

Speaking on CNBC Arabia, Mohamad Hamade said his firm will target investments in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt as he claimed Amanat’s investment portfolio delivered achieved returns of 235 million dirhams in the first half of the year, representing about 10 percent of the value of the portfolio.

"Currently, the liquidity has reached more than 700 million dirhams as cash for investment, but we can increase this amount to one billion or more if we borrow from the banks," Hamade said.

On Sunday, Amanat completed the sale of its minority 13.13 percent share in Jeddah Hospital International Medical Center for SR443 million ($118 million).

The divestment resulted in a cash return of 100 million dirhams, and is expected to report a gain of 40 million dirhams, Amanat said in a statement.

Amanat Holdings acquired Cambridge Medical and Rehabilitation Center — a local rehabilitation firm for an enterprise value of $232 million, Bloomberg reported last February.

The Cambridge acquisition deal amounted to 850 million dirhams and was half financed by banks, Hamade said.  

 


Saudi Arabia set to issue green bonds, says head of Kingdom's debt office

Saudi Arabia set to issue green bonds, says head of Kingdom's debt office
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 27 September 2021

Saudi Arabia set to issue green bonds, says head of Kingdom's debt office

Saudi Arabia set to issue green bonds, says head of Kingdom's debt office
  • The Gulf has seen a surge of interest in ESG-related initiatives and deals amid growing awareness
  • Saudi Arabia has recently hired banks to advise it on a sustainability financing framework

Saudi Arabia will soon issue green bonds as part of its drive to diversify its economy by embracing environmental, social and governance concerns, an official said on Monday.

Hani Al-Medaini, acting chief executive officer of the Finance Ministry’s National Debt Management Center, said the government will also be looking at financing backed by export credit agencies, in addition to conventional and Islamic bonds — known as sukuk.

He made the comments at an investment conference in Riyadh.

The Gulf has seen a surge of interest in ESG-related initiatives and deals amid growing awareness among global investors about such risks.

“We issued in 2020 a green bond transaction to King Abdulaziz Project for Public Transport, which is only a beginning for a long journey of sustainable finance ” said Al-Madani.

Saudi Arabia has recently hired banks to advise it on a sustainability financing framework, and sovereign fund Public Investment Fund said it planned to announce soon its first green debt deal.

Mohammed El-Kuwaiz, the chairman of Saudi Arabia’s Capital Markets Authority, speaking at the same conference, said he expected an increase in green financing instruments in the kingdom, supported by growth in the domestic debt markets and higher participation of foreign investors.

— Additional reporting by Reuters.