Agthia Group acquires majority stake in top Egyptian processed meat producer

Agthia Group acquires majority stake in top Egyptian processed meat producer
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Updated 15 September 2021

Agthia Group acquires majority stake in top Egyptian processed meat producer

Agthia Group acquires majority stake in top Egyptian processed meat producer

RIYADH: Agthia Group, the UAE’s leading food and beverages company has completed the acquisition of a 75.1 percent stake in meat producer Ismailia Investments (Atyab), CNBC Arabia reported.

The Abu Dhabi-based leading food and beverage company achieved strong revenue growth at a compound annual rate of approximately 28 percent between 2016 and 2020, with healthy profit margins in 2020 of approximately 19 percent before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization.

Last year, the company achieved net revenues of AED424 million ($140.2 million), and profits of AED79 million ($26.1 million) before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization. 

The company’s portfolio includes four brands, and the annual production capacity of the company is approximately 70,000 tons across a number of facilities and production lines, including a factory with an area of 60,000 sqm. 

Agthia has 11 distribution centers across Egypt and employs more than 2,500 employees, and recently acquired the Al-Nabil Food Industries Co. in Jordan.

Attito Raslan, chairman and CEO of the company will retain a stake in the company.


UK's Drax considers delaying closure of coal plants to plug energy gap: FT

UK's Drax considers delaying closure of coal plants to plug energy gap: FT
Drax Power Station at sunset, Selby North Yorkshire England (Shutterstock)
Updated 7 sec ago

UK's Drax considers delaying closure of coal plants to plug energy gap: FT

UK's Drax considers delaying closure of coal plants to plug energy gap: FT
  • Britain will host the COP26 climate change summit in November to spur more ambitious commitments by countries to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050
  • Gardiner said the United Kingdom would face a "tough winter" if temperatures were colder than average

UK power generator Drax Group Plc said it could keep its coal-fired power plants operating beyond their planned closure next year as the energy crisis in Europe highlights potential fragilities in Britain's energy supplies, the Financial Times newspaper reported on Thursday.


"If the government wants us to rethink our plans, we need to talk to them in the next few months," Drax CEO Will Gardiner said in an interview with the FT.


His comments come as Britain prepares to host the COP26 climate change summit in November to spur more ambitious commitments by countries to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and keep the global average temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius during this century.


Gardiner said the United Kingdom would face a "tough winter" if temperatures were colder than average, and Drax's last remaining coal units would help to balance a grid that had experienced tight supply in recent weeks.


The country's energy regulator Ofgem and business minister Kwasi Kwarteng warned parliament this week that soaring gas prices would force more suppliers out of business and that the industry should prepare for a tougher environment.


Avro Energy and Green Supplier Limited became the latest providers to say they would cease trading, following a handful of others that have exited the market this year.


Volkswagen to build new EV battery system factory in China

Volkswagen to build new EV battery system factory in China
Electric car lithium battery pack (Shutterstock)
Updated 19 min 49 sec ago

Volkswagen to build new EV battery system factory in China

Volkswagen to build new EV battery system factory in China
  • The German automaker is building a factory for electric vehicles under a majority-owned venture with JAC in the Hefei city
  • The factory's initial capacity will be 150,000 to 180,000 battery systems a year for local EV production

Volkswagen AG said on Thursday it is building a new electric vehicle (EV) battery system factory in eastern China's Hefei city which will start production in 2023.


The German automaker is building a factory for electric vehicles under a majority-owned venture with JAC in the Hefei city. It also holds a stake in the EV battery maker Gotion which is also based in Hefei.


It said it would invest more than 140 million euros ($164 million) in the battery plant by 2025. The factory's initial capacity will be 150,000 to 180,000 battery systems a year for local EV production.


Volkswagen rolled out five ID. series electric models in China, the world's biggest car market, this year. It sold around 7,000 such vehicles there last month and aims to deliver 80,000 to 100,000 units in total this year.


Reuters reported last week, citing people familiar with the matter, that Volkswagen is in talks to tighten its grip on the Hefei venture, sparking tensions with its other Chinese partners who fear they could be sidelined.

Earlier this week US-based electric car maker Lucid Motors announced it would produce vehicles in Saudi Arabia by 2024. Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund poured $1 billion into the company in April 2019 - giving it a 67 per cent stake in the firm.


IBM targets Kingdom's youth as new Saudi GM insists he wants to 'serve' the country

IBM targets Kingdom's youth as new Saudi GM insists he wants to 'serve' the country
Updated 11 min 49 sec ago

IBM targets Kingdom's youth as new Saudi GM insists he wants to 'serve' the country

IBM targets Kingdom's youth as new Saudi GM insists he wants to 'serve' the country

IBM’s investments in initiatives ranging from a cybersecurity center to a training academy show the company's belief in the Saudi people, one of its top officials has told Arab News

Fahad Alanazi, general manager of IBM Saudi Arabia, said his company's strategy of “is to make the national priority, our priority” as he spoke of his commitment to the region.

Alanazi was appointed earlier this year as the first Saudi GM of IBM for Saudi Arabia, and he is clear that his local knowledge will help the company thrive in the Kingdom. 

“In order to serve people of a country, you need to understand the way business is operated there,” he said.

With this in mind IBM has established a number of initiatives aimed at the Saudi youth. 

The most recent, a training academy, was announced in August as part of a series of technology initiatives aimed at improving the digital skills of 100,000 Saudi youngsters.

The initiatives tie in with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, and are being delivered in partnership with the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority, the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones, and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.

Education

Alanazi praised the Saudi education system, something which IBM is seeking to complement with digital training programmes. 

“On previous technology training programs conducted by us, the Saudi students scored the highest among other Middle Eastern students and that’s a good sign of the education system,” he said. 

IBM has a “digital nation” program with the Saudi Ports which focuses on providing online training and enabling the digital skills of Saudi port employees. There have also been agreements with the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology to train their employees, as well as other government officials.   

IBM has signed an agreement with Tuwaiq Academy to provide online courses to improve the digital skills of employees in the government and private sectors that are using AI data technology.

The courses to be offered through Tuwaiq will cover hybrid clouds, data science, AI technology, blockchain, and machine learning.

“We are measuring our success by our ability to create jobs via our ecosystem,” said Alanazi .

IBM sees its projects as win-win opportunities, not only because they feel responsible for spreading knowledge but also because investment in education will reap benefits from seeing growth in Saudi Arabia. “The more we train people, the more the country will be developing technologically and that means there is a return for us,” he said.

This approach also benefits the IBM ecosystem, he said, ensuring there are the right people to work for IBM and creating customers in the future.

“ We are committed to developing local talent, we have strong belief in the Saudi market and the Saudi youth,” said.

A sign of this commitment is that IBM’s only security operations center in the region is located in its Riyadh office, serving the whole of the Middle East. The center operates 24/7 to monitor security incidents and provides active alerts on any suspicious activities related to client data, said Alanazi.

Clouds

IBM is one of the leading firms working in hybrid clouds, which they believe to be an opportunity worth $1.3 trillion worldwide, according to Alanazi. 

Hybrid clouds combine on-premises IT infrastructure with private cloud services and the public cloud, and they are viewed as a way of moving faster while keeping costs in check and complying with local regulations. 

Nearly half of C-suite executives in the Kingdom see hybrid clouds as a preferential solution when it comes to disaster recovery, and 85 percent are pursuing or planning hybrid cloud strategies, according to a survey by IBM.

However, fear of information leakage is slowing down their plans. Although the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology regulates the cloud, 80 percent of public and private sector leaders still prefer data to be held within the country for greater privacy.

It is a government requirement that all healthcare and financial personal data be held in the Kingdom. “We believe there will be some sort of acceptance to put them on the cloud system,” Al Anizi said, but for the time being there are clear instructions that valuable information needs to be inside the country. 

“We have the IBM cloud satellite installed here in Saudi Arabia, but we are committed in moving Saudi Arabia forward with hybrid cloud,” he said.

As with every other industry, data technology and AI have been affected by the pandemic.

“Delivery services, online banking, payment systems and other related sectors are growing. We have been part of that,” said Alanazi. 

This growth includes the recent launch of an instant payment system in cooperation with Mastercard. It is aligned with Saudi Payments’ aim to improve the Kingdom’s financial ecosystem through the adoption of faster payment systems and improvements to banking reconciliation, according to a report by IBM. 

Recent transformations in the way technology has been put to use was not determined by the pandemic, but Covid did accelerate investment and helped the process move faster, said Alanazi.

IBM first set foot in Saudi Arabia in 1947, when the first computer was installed at Aramco. The company does not yet plan to base its regional headquarters in Saudi Arabia and its existing office in Riyadh doesn’t only serve sales and marketing purposes, but also provides technical resources, consultancy services, and security expertise, he said.


European stocks rally for third day, Evergrande shares surge 30% in Asia

European stocks rally for third day, Evergrande shares surge 30% in Asia
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 23 September 2021

European stocks rally for third day, Evergrande shares surge 30% in Asia

European stocks rally for third day, Evergrande shares surge 30% in Asia
  • The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.6 percent earlier today and was now set to end the week with solid gains
  • Asian stocks rose after Evergrande's shares surged 30 percent in Hong Kong markets

European stocks rallied for a third day as the global mood brightened on easing concerns about cash-strapped developer China Evergrande, while investors awaited the latest batch of business surveys.


The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.6 percent earlier today and was now set to end the week with solid gains.


Asian stocks rose after Evergrande's shares surged 30 percent in Hong Kong markets as its chairman sought to reassure investors after the company's unit said it had "resolved" a coupon payment on an onshore bond. This interest payment is due today. 


However, Evergrande's Frankfurt-listed shares tumbled 20.4 percent.


Early reading of IHS Markit's September business surveys and the Bank of England's monetary policy decision are due later in the day, with investors looking for clues on growth and policy trajectory.

Meanwhile, Asian markets found solace in the Federal Reserve statement which signaled it may begin easing its extraordinary support measures for the economy later this year.


Shares rose in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Australia and Taiwan but fell in South Korea and Malaysia. U.S. futures were higher. Markets were closed in Tokyo for a holiday. Singapore equities headed for their best day in two months on Thursday, leading broad gains in emerging Asian stocks. 


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.”