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

PIF Gov. Yasir Al-Rumayyan
PIF Gov. Yasir Al-Rumayyan
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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.


Abu Dhabi’s tech hub sees surge of interest from startups

Abu Dhabi’s tech hub sees surge of interest from startups
Updated 12 sec ago

Abu Dhabi’s tech hub sees surge of interest from startups

Abu Dhabi’s tech hub sees surge of interest from startups

DUBAI: Abu Dhabi’s new technology hub says it has seen a surge in interest from startup firms in the UAE and abroad despite the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic last year, amid increased optimism from the sector.

Hub71, backed by Abu Dhabi state fund Mubadala Investment Co., the SoftBank Vision Fund, and Microsoft, has accepted 100 startup firms since its inception in 2019 after a selection process that drew about 3,500 applications, said Hub71 Chief Operating Officer Jida Itani.

“Despite COVID and everything else, start ups continue to apply. In fact we have seen a surge in particular sectors that have been accelerated by the pandemic like health tech, education tech and fintech,” Itani said.

Startups have become encouraged to base themselves in the UAE following a handful of successes by local technology companies, as investors search for potential tech unicorns - privately held startups with a valuation of more than $1 billion — in the Middle East, she said.

Anghami, a Middle East and North Africa-focused rival to Spotify, became a target for a so-called special purpose acquisition company earlier this year and is slated for a listing on the Nasdaq exchange in New York.

Careem, a Middle East and Asia ride hailing app, was acquired by Uber for $3.1 billion in 2020, which was the largest exit for a startup from the region. Amazon in 2017 acquired e-commerce marketplace Souq.com for $580 million.

Startups were also encouraged to base themselves in Abu Dhabi due to support provided by Hub71, which was extended to all companies based in the hub during the pandemic.

Companies were offered free office space, housing and insurance for all their employees, Itani said.

Hub71 has brought in around 19 venture capital funds that have a combined $2 billion to $2.5 billion of assets under management, with a pool of readily available capital that can be deployed to Hub71’s companies, she said.

Hub71, located in the emirate's financial district, is a flagship initiative of Abu Dhabi’s 50 billion dirham ($13.6 billion) Ghadan 21 stimulus program launched in 2018 to accelerate economic growth.


Egypt to spend over $2bn to enhance internet efficiency, says minister

Egypt to spend over $2bn to enhance internet efficiency, says minister
Updated 5 min 24 sec ago

Egypt to spend over $2bn to enhance internet efficiency, says minister

Egypt to spend over $2bn to enhance internet efficiency, says minister

RIYADH: Egypt has started work on the third phase of its plan to enhance the efficiency of internet services in the country with up to $2 billion investment, Amr Talaat, minister of communications and IT, told Asharq.

The project includes delivery of fiber optic cables to around 4,500 villages in the next three years, he said. Talaat said once completed the project will benefit 58 million Egyptians with high-speed internet services.

As part of the country’s “Decent Life” initiative, the minister said, more than 1,500 mobile stations have been built in different villages during 2021 and in the coming year the number of communication towers will be doubled in different parts of the country.

Last year, new frequency spectrums were allocated with investments of $1.17 billion, which will soon become operational, Talaat said.

The Egyptian minister told Asharq that Egypt was working on building a technology city in its new administrative capital. The first phase will be constructed with investments amounting to 3.5 billion Egyptian pounds, while the second phase will see even more investment, he added. 

Talaat said as part of “Digital Egypt” initiative, several projects will be launched in 2022 to ensure smooth digital transformation of the country. He said the government seeks to enhance the contribution of the ICT sector to the gross domestic product to reach 8 percent by 2024.

Citing a recent industry report, he said in the coming days Egypt will present 25 percent of the total growth opportunities in the Middle East.

The minister also highlighted the country’s postal authority’s development plan. “Before the end of the year we will finish developing more than 3,100 offices at a cost of 3.5 billion pounds,” to provide quality services such as digital wallets, electronic payments, financing and micro-lending, to achieve financial inclusion and enhance fintech in Egypt, he said.

Talaat said Egypt is a leading country in terms of the ability to provide outsourcing services. There are more than 85,000 people in Egypt providing these services to more than 100 countries in 20 different languages, he said.

Egypt holds a market share of about 17 percent of the outsourcing sector worldwide, he said.

 

 


Middle East ‘catching up’ in better use of energy, but more work is needed: ENGIE

Middle East ‘catching up’ in better use of energy, but more work is needed: ENGIE
Updated 28 min 51 sec ago

Middle East ‘catching up’ in better use of energy, but more work is needed: ENGIE

Middle East ‘catching up’ in better use of energy, but more work is needed: ENGIE

DUBAI: Middle East companies need to do more to make a visible impact on bigger energy goals, an official with multinational utility company ENGIE has told Arab News. 

“There are new regulations in place, which basically request the builders and consultancy companies to build on a greener environment, and there are more stringent regulations,” Jesus Gutierez, head of energy efficiency at ENGIE Solutions, said.  

These regulations only applied to newer projects, he added, leaving a big percentage of older buildings inefficient in their energy use.  

Gutierez said there is increasing interest in the region for energy efficiency solutions, with demand coming from different sectors. 

“We started to be very active in the commercial sector — hotels, hospitals, and schools — but more and more now we are getting into factories,” the ENGIE head told Arab News on the sidelines of the Future Food Forum in Dubai. 

The French company is currently working with a UAE-based cement company, where they transform the heat produced by the factory into electricity.

Aside from the new regulations, a stronger consciousness about sustainability is also pushing the demand upwards.

“Before, energy efficiency was all about the payback and return of investments, but now the companies are willing to invest in solutions with longer returns,” he explained. 

Gutierez added: “For them the priority is how to become more sustainable because they understand, if they don’t do it, clients will start to notice and choose the ones that are greener.”

Another factor driving this demand for energy efficient solutions is financing —  as either the technology becomes cheaper or providers have designed a business model that is attractive to their clients. 

Energy efficiency in food and beverage companies

A particular sector where energy efficiency is a big issue is food and beverage, which is one of the biggest emitters of carbon dioxide in the world. 

About 40 percent of the man-made emissions come from food systems, according to a study published in the Environmental Research Letters journal. 

Although Gutierez said the supply side is catching up in implementing more sustainable systems, there is still a lot of work to be done on the consumer side, particularly in so-called ‘downstream’ processes such as food processing, delivery, and retail. 

“The major track of the food industry based here in the UAE are more on the downstream processes, because local production is relatively small,” he explained, adding: “This is where we see more and more companies finding ways to reduce their energy build.”


Top executives of SoftBank-backed Ola to exit ahead of potential $1bn IPO

Top executives of SoftBank-backed Ola to exit ahead of potential $1bn IPO
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Updated 46 min 16 sec ago

Top executives of SoftBank-backed Ola to exit ahead of potential $1bn IPO

Top executives of SoftBank-backed Ola to exit ahead of potential $1bn IPO

SoftBank Group-backed Indian ride-hailing firm Ola is set to lose two top executives, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters, ahead of a potential $1 billion initial public offering.


Chief Financial Officer Swayam Saurabh and Chief Operating Officer Gaurav Porwal are leaving the company, according to the memo sent to employees by Chief Executive Officer Bhavish Aggarwal.


Ola did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.


Aggarwal in the memo also announced several management changes across its mobility, vehicle commerce, and delivery and financial services units.


Saurabh, a former CFO of Hindustan Zinc, has been with Ola for seven months while Porwal, who has run the mobility business over the last year, joined the company in 2019.


Porwal will be leaving Ola to "pursue other interests", while Saurabh will be pursuing other opportunities, according to the memo.


Moneycontrol first reported about Ola's management changes on Tuesday.


Ola plans to raise up to $1 billion through an initial public offering in the next few months, according to recent media reports.


Founded in 2010, Ola also counts private equity firms Temasek and Warburg Pincus among its investors and competes with U.S.-listed Uber Technologies for a share of India's ride-hailing market.

The firm has since expanded into offering cars on lease and into the electric-vehicle space in the country.


Ola's electric vehicle business earlier this year launched a scooter and has charted out plans to produce kick scooters, e-bikes, drones and even flying cars. The unit raised more than $200 million at a valuation of $3 billion in September.


Apple to sell fewer iPhones as chip crisis bites: J.P.Morgan

Apple to sell fewer iPhones as chip crisis bites: J.P.Morgan
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 19 October 2021

Apple to sell fewer iPhones as chip crisis bites: J.P.Morgan

Apple to sell fewer iPhones as chip crisis bites: J.P.Morgan
  • The brokerage trimmed its iPhone revenue estimate to $63 billion for the first quarter of fiscal 2022

 J.P.Morgan on Tuesday became the second brokerage in two weeks to cut its forecast for Apple Inc's iPhone sales for the crucial holiday quarter as the global chip shortage and factory closures in Asia finally catch up to the technology giant.


The brokerage trimmed its iPhone revenue estimate to $63 billion for the first quarter of fiscal 2022, which would be a yearly fall of nearly 4 percent, analyst Samik Chatterjee said in a note to clients.


Last week, Needham said it expected iPhone 13 shipments to total 80 million units in the first quarter and cut its estimates for the holiday quarter by 10 million units citing supply chain issues including the chip shortage.


For the fourth quarter, JPM expects iPhones to bring in revenue of $46 billion after selling 58 million units, marginally higher than Wall Street's forecast of $41 billion.


According to Refinitiv IBES, analysts are expecting about 45 million units for the holiday quarter and 79.4 million units in the first quarter.


While Apple has weathered the supply crunch better than many other companies due to its massive purchasing power and long-term supply agreements with chip vendors, supply chain bottlenecks and lockdown in some countries are hampering its production timelines.


Bloomberg News reported last week that the Cupertino, California-based company is likely to slash production of its iPhone 13 by as many as 10 million units due to the global chip shortage.


Customers wanting an iPhone 13 are already having their patience tested with one of the longest wait times for the phone in recent years, analysts said.


"We continue to see strong demand for iPhone 13 and 5G iPhone SE relative to low investor expectations to act as a catalyst, the timing of realization of which, although delayed on account of supply headwinds, is unchanged in magnitude," Chatterjee said.


However, Apple said on Monday that its two new MacBook Pro models, that run on more powerful in-house chips, and new AirPods 3, will start shipping next week.


Apple's announcement of hardware innovations for the holiday season despite the chip shortage showed the company was flexing its supply chain muscles, Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives said.