FII: Bank chiefs, CEOs pass mixed verdict on cryptocurrency investment

CNN's Richard Quest (L) moderates a session at the annual Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh on October 26, 2021. (AFP)
CNN's Richard Quest (L) moderates a session at the annual Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh on October 26, 2021. (AFP)
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Updated 28 October 2021

FII: Bank chiefs, CEOs pass mixed verdict on cryptocurrency investment

CNN's Richard Quest (L) moderates a session at the annual Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh on October 26, 2021. (AFP)
  • Saudi central bank chief does not foresee destruction of banking system by digital currencies
  • Leading investors still view gold and dollar as a safer haven for investments than bitcoin

RIYADH: The verdict on cryptocurrency products and funds was mixed as CEOs, central bank chiefs, investors and policymakers exchanged views on the topic on the first day of the Future Investment Forum in the Saudi capital.

The three-day forum, which is themed “Invest in Humanity,” includes talks on artificial intelligence, robotics, education, healthcare and sustainability.

Taking part in a session on Tuesday, Fahad Al-Mubarak, the governor of Saudi Arabia’s central bank, said SAMA should have no involvement with crypto-assets as many of those who deal in them are criminals.

He did not foresee the destruction of the banking system by digital currencies but rather an expansion of centralized systems for regulating tender.

Bitcoin is the leading digital currency trading internationally, followed by Ether and Solana.




The three-day forum, which is themed “Invest in Humanity,” includes talks on artificial intelligence, robotics, education, healthcare and sustainability. (AFP)

Regulators are still playing catch-up when it comes to how cryptocurrencies should be governed, Al-Mubarak said.

Having made his point, he noted that there has been a sharp jump in online banking during the coronavirus disease pandemic. “Before the pandemic, only 35 percent of bank transactions were electronic,” he said. “Now it’s around 55 percent.”

Hussain Abdulla, co-CEO of Qatar-based investment bank QInvest, said cryptocurrency products were not yet Shariah-compliant, and more understanding was needed.

Nevertheless, he warned that the Middle East is lagging way behind the US and Europe when it comes to digitization of the banking industry.

“Winners in the banking industry will be those who take steps today toward digitization rather than later,” Abdulla said.

Several prominent business people who took part in FII sessions on Tuesday said leading investors still view gold and the dollar as a safer haven for investments than bitcoin.

Both Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, and David Solomon, chairman and CEO of the Goldman Sachs Group, said they preferred investments in US dollar over bitcoin.

Ray Dalio, founder and co-chairman of Bridgewater Associates, opted for gold over bitcoin.

Khaldoon Khalifa Al-Mubarak, CEO and managing director of the UAE’s Mubadala Investment Co., said he would take bitcoin “hedged in gold.”

In the past week, the crypto industry has seen inflows to the tune of $1.5 billion, amid soaring optimism with the trading of bitcoin exchange traded funds.

Inflows so far this year hit $8 billion, far exceeding the record set for the whole of 2020 of $6.7 billion, according to data from a report released by digital asset manager CoinShares on Monday.

The bulk of inflows for the sixth straight week went to bitcoin, with $1.45 billion, data showed. Inflows year-to-date amounted to $6.1 billion.

With more than 250 expert speakers from the economic, business, education and corporate worlds, discussions at the FII, dubbed the “Davos in the Desert,” have centered on investments that aim to create the greatest benefits for humanity.

Solomon said there must be clarity regarding indicators of economic recovery and action plans, and this contributes to attracting investments and facilitating the movement of funds.




Guests attending the opening ceremony of the annual Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh. (AFP)

More broadly, he underscored the importance of supporting and investing in small businesses to ultimately bring growth and innovation to economies.

“One of the key solutions to drive economic participation and growth is support for small businesses and finding ways that we all can contribution to growth and innovation,” Solomon said.

BlackRock’s Fink said: “It is important to improve human and environmental conditions and to think about long-term solutions, and governments have a great burden.”

In his remarks, Al-Mubarak highlighted the importance of coming together to combat the challenge of climate change.

“The climate challenge will require everybody to contribute in their own way. Nobody is going to solve it on their own. We have to solve it together, working together globally as institutions, as governments, as civil society.”


ENGIE pulls out of a $3bn Qatar project amid global supply chain disruptions: Al Arabiya

ENGIE pulls out of a $3bn Qatar project amid global supply chain disruptions: Al Arabiya
Updated 14 sec ago

ENGIE pulls out of a $3bn Qatar project amid global supply chain disruptions: Al Arabiya

ENGIE pulls out of a $3bn Qatar project amid global supply chain disruptions: Al Arabiya

A coalition led by the French power utility company ENGIE has withdrawn from competing for a $3 billion Qatari project that aims to build a power and water desalination plant.

This happens as uncertainty about the prices of future projects lingers amid the disruption of global supply chains, Al Arabiya reported citing sources. 

The withdrawal came as investment feasibility was lower than the original plan and the responsible party’s refusal to amend the terms of the contract, the report said.

Sources added the withdrawal means the Japanese investment company Marubeni alliance has won the project.

Qatar’s new project aims to produce electricity from gas with a capacity of 2.5 GW and desalinate over 100 million gallons of water per day.

 


Saudi Arabia raises January Arab Light crude prices to Asia

Saudi Arabia raises January Arab Light crude prices to Asia
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 50 min 30 sec ago

Saudi Arabia raises January Arab Light crude prices to Asia

Saudi Arabia raises January Arab Light crude prices to Asia

Saudi Arabia's state oil producer Aramco raised its January official selling price to Asia for its flagship Arab Light crude to $3.30 a barrel versus Oman/Dubai crude, up $0.60 from December, the company said on Sunday.

The company set the Arab Light OSP to Northwestern Europe at minus $1.30 per barrel versus ICE Brent and to the United States at plus $2.15 per barrel over ASCI (Argus Sour Crude Index).


UAE’s BLOOVO, Egypt’s CI Capital sign agreement on streamline recruitment using AI

UAE’s BLOOVO, Egypt’s CI Capital sign agreement on streamline recruitment using AI
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 05 December 2021

UAE’s BLOOVO, Egypt’s CI Capital sign agreement on streamline recruitment using AI

UAE’s BLOOVO, Egypt’s CI Capital sign agreement on streamline recruitment using AI
  • This comes as BLOOVO pushes forward with efforts to expand across Egypt

RIYADH: UAE-based BLOOVO announced the signing of a partnership agreement with Egypt’s investment banking company CI Capital Holdings to supply it with an artificial intelligence recruitment tool.

The technology company, a specialist provider of  AI-powered recruitment solution, HYRDD will be supplying the AI-powered Applicant Tracking System. 

This comes as BLOOVO pushes forward with efforts to expand across Egypt by using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to transform the HR industry. 

“This partnership comes at a time when Egypt’s digital transformation soars as more firms recognise the importance of AI in improving the way firms run their business processes,”   CEO of BLOOVO, Ahmad Khamis, said.

CI Capital Holding, listed on the Egyptian Exchange, offers diversified financial services, including investment banking, leasing, and microfinance products and services. 

The deployment of HYRRD will equip the investment bank’s hiring teams with tools and resources to streamline their recruitment process and eliminate inefficiencies. 


Higher costs, weak demand weigh on Egypt’s private sector

Higher costs, weak demand weigh on Egypt’s private sector
Updated 05 December 2021

Higher costs, weak demand weigh on Egypt’s private sector

Higher costs, weak demand weigh on Egypt’s private sector

CAIRO: Egypt’s private sector experienced a downturn in November due to rising costs and weaker demand, according to IHS Markit.

The Purchasing Manager’s Index hit 48.7 in November, the 12th consecutive month in which the North African country’s in below 50.

Production levels in Egypt’s private sector were down in November. Output has now slipped for the third month in a row, the London-based firm said.

Following four months of jumps, employment was down during the month as new orders in the North African country declined.

“Inflationary pressures and supply shortages were again the most prominent depressors of Egypt’s non-oil economy in November,” David Owen, economist at IHS Markit, said.

Selling prices were on the rise as inflation rate fell marginally from its 38-month high in October. This prompted firms to mark-up their prices by over 10 percent to safeguard their profits


Trump’s social media venture says it has raised $1bn

Trump’s social media venture says it has raised $1bn
Truth Social app logo seen on the smartphone and the Follow the fruth on blurred screen behind. New social media platform from Donald Trump.
Updated 05 December 2021

Trump’s social media venture says it has raised $1bn

Trump’s social media venture says it has raised $1bn
  • He is working to launch a social media app called TRUTH Social that is at least several weeks away

Donald Trump’s new social media venture said on Saturday it had entered into agreements to raise about $1 billion from a group of unidentified investors as it prepares to float in the US stock market.


The capital raise, details of which were first reported by Reuters on Wednesday, underscored the former US president’s ability to attract strong financial backing thanks to his personal and political brand.

He is working to launch a social media app called TRUTH Social that is at least several weeks away.


Digital World Acquisition Corp, the blank-check acquisition firm that will take Trump Media & Technology Group Corp. public by listing it in New York, said it will provide up to $293 million to the partnership with Trump’s media venture, taking the total proceeds to about $1.25 billion.


The $1 billion will be raised through a private investment in public equity (PIPE) transaction from “a diverse group of institutional investors,” Trump Media and Digital World said in a statement.

They did not respond to requests to name the investors.


Trump Media inked its deal with Digital World to go public in October at a valuation of $875 million, including debt.

The social media venture is now valued at almost $4 billion based on the price of Digital World shares at the end of trading on Friday.

Trump supporters and day traders snapped up the stock.


Many Wall Street firms such as mutual funds and private equity firms snubbed the opportunity to invest in the PIPE.

Among those investors who participated were hedge funds, family offices and high net-worth individuals, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

Family offices manage the wealth of the very rich and their kin.


Some Wall Street investors are reluctant to associate with Trump. He was banned from top social media platforms after the Jan. 6 attack by his supporters on the US Capitol amid concerns he would inspire further violence.

The Capitol attack was based on unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud in last year’s presidential election.


“As our balance sheet expands, Trump Media & Technology Group will be in a stronger position to fight back against the tyranny of Big Tech,” Trump said in a statement on Saturday.


The deal also faces regulatory risk. US Senator Elizabeth Warren asked Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler last month to investigate the planned merger for potential violations of securities laws around disclosure.

The SEC has declined to comment on whether it plans any action.


Trump Media and Digital World said the per-share conversion price of the convertible preferred stock PIPE transaction represents a 20 percent discount to Digital World’s volume-weighted average closing price for the five trading days to Dec. 1, when Reuters broke news of the capital raise.


If that price averages below $56 in the 10 days after the merger with Digital World has been completed, the discount will grow to 40 percent with a floor of $10, the companies added.

Digital World shares ended trading on Friday $44.97.


Trump had 89 million followers on Twitter, 33 million on Facebook and 24.5 million on Instagram at the time he was blocked, according to a presentation on his company’s website.


Investors attending the confidential investor road shows were shown a demo from the planned social media app, which looked like a Twitter feed, Reuters reported.

Since Trump was voted out of office last year, he has repeatedly dropped hints that he might seek the presidency in 2024.


Special purpose acquisition companies such as Digital World had lost much of their luster with retail investors before the Trump media deal came along.

Many of these investors were left with big losses after the companies that merged with SPACs failed to deliver on their ambitious financial projections.


TRUTH Social is scheduled for a full rollout in the first quarter of 2022.

It is the first of three stages in the Trump Media plan, followed by a subscription video-on-demand service called TMTG+ that will feature entertainment, news and podcasts, according to the news release.


In a slide deck on its website, the company envisions eventually competing against Amazon.com’s AWS cloud service and Google Cloud.