AS IT HAPPENED: Future Investment Initiative 2021, Day Two

AS IT HAPPENED: Future Investment Initiative 2021, Day Two
Abeer Mohammed Alenezi for Arab News
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Updated 27 October 2021

AS IT HAPPENED: Future Investment Initiative 2021, Day Two

AS IT HAPPENED: Future Investment Initiative 2021, Day Two

DUBAI: The Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh is on its second day with scheduled discussions on a plethora of subjects from the circular carbon economy, green economy, sustainable tourism to investing in equality.

Watch the livestream of FII 2021’s second day:

With more than 250 expert speakers delving on ‘Investing in Humanity’ at the three-day Davos of the Desert, the second day’s opening plenary tackled the concept of circular carbon economy — an integrated and inclusive approach to transitioning toward more comprehensive, resilient, sustainable and climate-friendly energy systems that support and enable sustainable development.

Discussions revolved on how the investment community, business and government work together to achieve progress towards the G20 recommendations of the circular carbon economy.

The scheduled speakers included Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister; Lorenzo Simonelli, chairman and CEO of Baker Hughes; Matt Harris, founding partner of Global Infrastructure Partners and Dr. Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech.

(All times in GMT) ­­

16.00 - ICYMI - Ken Costa, the former investment banker who has been Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s special envoy for the past three years, spoke to Arab News about the depth of ties between Saudi Arabia and the UK. A snippet of the interview below.

14.57 —  Princess Haifa Al Saud, a minister in Saudi's tourism department, delivered a plea for governments to help get the travel industry back on its feet after the ravages of the pandemic. She invoked the manner in which the banking system was rescued in 2008 as she declared: “Tourism is way too big to fail.”

14.00 — Anne-Laure Malauzat of Bain and Company Middle East sat down for a chat with Arab News and explained how the COVID-19 pandemic has taken the world to a new level of digitalization and the world's youth are the driving force behind the ongoing digital transformation.

13.22 — Some strong words from Karim Awad, CEO of financial services company EFG Hermes. He says while the Middle East has improved in the 'G' in ESG (Governance), it still lags behind Europe, particuarly in the E and S (Environment and Social).

 

 

 

11.53 — Covid exposed many economic, digital, and workplace inequalities. Leading communications consultant Margery Kraus highlighted how women were impacted in particular.

11.04 — Saudi Arabia's pledge to reach net-zero for carbon emissions by 2060 received plaudits around the globe, but a senior PIF official is relaxed about the Kingdom missing the target.

10.08 — “I worry about the balance of pace we are moving.” That is the stark message from Fahad AlSaif, head of Global Capital Finance at Saudi's Public Investment Fund when it comes to green investment. His concerns were echoed by other leading global financial players.

09.17 — Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 has been a strong theme throughout this conference, and the country's mining minister has revealed the government has updated 400 policies as part of the drive to diversify the economy.

08.16 — Riyadh is  “witnessing the greatest art movement since the Renaissance”, according to Hosam Alqurashi, director of the Regional Headquarters (RHQ) Program. He made the claim as he announced 44 multinational companies had chosen the Saudi capital as the location for their regional bases

07.44 Here's a write up of the energy minister's remarks, including his claim that developments in tech could see Saudi Arabia could reach net zero before 2060

06:57 – “We are suggesting a $500 million program that will take care of about 750 million people, like a micro-financing scheme for energy projects, where other lending agencies can join to form a total of $2 billion,” the Saudi energy minister says.

06:45 – Prince Abdulaziz talks about the Kingdom’s consolidated efforts in pursuit of sustainability, adding “we’ll be issuing our own energy strategy soon.”

06:37 – Energy security, economic prosperity, and the well-being of people are the three key pillars of Saudi Arabia’s circular carbon economy agenda, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman says.

06:24 – Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman opens the discussion on investing in the circular carbon economy.


US investment bank Moelis to open Riyadh office, hire Saudis

US investment bank Moelis to open Riyadh office, hire Saudis
Updated 26 November 2021

US investment bank Moelis to open Riyadh office, hire Saudis

US investment bank Moelis to open Riyadh office, hire Saudis

RIYADH: US investment bank Moelis & Co. plans to open an office in the Saudi capital Riyadh and will soon begin hiring staff in the Kingdom, Bloomberg reported.

The New York-based company sees the Kingdom attracting more foreign investors and benefiting from an “energy supercycle,” Vice Chairman Eric Cantor said in an interview.

The boutique financial adviser, founded by Wall Street veteran Ken Moelis, wants to do more deals in the region as the world’s biggest oil exporter prepares for as many as 160 privatizations in 2022, as well as a flood of initial public offerings to the Kingdom’s stock market.

“We are waiting for a final stamp on our license,” Cantor said. “It’s forthcoming and part of that is hiring Saudis,” he said, without saying how many people the bank wants to employ.

Moelis has its main office for the Middle East in Dubai. The move to open one in Riyadh comes as Saudi Arabia pushes international firms to relocate their regional headquarters there.

 


Oil demand to return to 2019 levels by end of 2022: Baker Hughes CEO

Oil demand to return to 2019 levels by end of 2022: Baker Hughes CEO
Updated 26 November 2021

Oil demand to return to 2019 levels by end of 2022: Baker Hughes CEO

Oil demand to return to 2019 levels by end of 2022: Baker Hughes CEO

RIYADH: Oil demand will return to 2019 levels by the end of 2022, despite some delays in projects due to repercussions from the pandemic, Baker Hughes CEO Lorenzo Simonelli told Al-Arabiya.

National oil companies in the Middle East have been preparing for the increased demand, while international oil companies, especially those in North America, have been maintaining financial discipline in returning funds to shareholders, he said.

However, some independent oil companies have already begun to increase their capital spending, he said.

Currently, Baker Hughes sees an improvement in oil and gas services activity, not only in North America, but also in international basins with low costs, he said.

When it comes to developing its products, Baker Hughes always takes into account carbon emissions and the Texas-based energy services company is trying to shift its sources in its manufacturing operations to renewables and has contracted with suppliers, Simonelli said.

The company pledged to reduce carbon emissions of the first and second scope by 50 percent by 2030, and to zero by 2050, Simonelli said. The company is now concerned with dealing with third scope emissions, he said.

 


Saudi Arabia startups see huge growth in eco-friendly ‘impact’ funding 

Saudi Arabia startups see huge growth in eco-friendly ‘impact’ funding 
Updated 26 November 2021

Saudi Arabia startups see huge growth in eco-friendly ‘impact’ funding 

Saudi Arabia startups see huge growth in eco-friendly ‘impact’ funding 

RIYADH: Venture capital impact investment in Saudi Arabia reached a new high in 2021 in both total number of transactions and capital deployed, according to a report produced by MAGNiTT and Saudi Aramco.

Impact investments are those aimed at generating a measurable social and environmental benefit alongside a financial return. 

Impact funding in the Kingdom up to the third quarter of 2021 was 130 percent higher than in 2020 in terms of funding, and 21 percent higher in transactions.

Some $444 million were invested through 403 deals with impact-driven startups across the Middle East and North Africa between 2016 and the third quarter of 2021, according to the report.

Of those deals, 20 percent involved Saudi-based firms.

Flat6Labs was the leading impact investor in startups based in the MENA region with 45 transactions between 2016 and the third quarter of this year to date. 

The Saudi Aramco Entrepreneurship Center, 500 Startups, the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology Innovation Fund, Oasis 500 and Falak Startups invested in 12 or more funding rounds raised by impact-driven startups in MENA.

The education and healthcare technology sectors accounted for the highest share in total impact VC deals, collectively registering 40 percent of all transactions in MENA from 2016 to the third quarter of this year to date.

The energy sector played a key role in impact investments across MENA, with 95 percent of all funding going to startups within the impact ecosystem.

 


Cryptocurrencies tumble on COVID-19 variant; virtual land sells for $2.5m: Crypto wrap

Cryptocurrencies tumble on COVID-19 variant; virtual land sells for $2.5m: Crypto wrap
Updated 26 November 2021

Cryptocurrencies tumble on COVID-19 variant; virtual land sells for $2.5m: Crypto wrap

Cryptocurrencies tumble on COVID-19 variant; virtual land sells for $2.5m: Crypto wrap

Bitcoin led a rout in cryptocurrencies on Friday as investors fled assets considered riskier, including stocks and commodities, and headed for the refuge of government bonds, the Japanese yen and the US dollar.

Concerns over a new COVID-19 variant that may evade vaccines and spread more quickly than previous mutations were seen as responsible for the movements.

Bitcoin, the largest digital currency, fell as much as 9.2 percent to $53,551, its lowest since Oct. 10. That would be Bitcoin’s biggest one-day decline since Sept. 20, leaving it more than one-fifth lower since hitting a record high of nearly $70,000 earlier in November.

The second-largest cryptocurrency, Ether, fell over 13 percent to its lowest in a month, trading at $3,924, down almost 20 percent from its record high, hit on Nov. 10.

A number of European and Asian nations have suspended travel to and from southern Africa after a potentially more deadly COVID-19 variant emerged in Botswana and South Africa. The variant has so many mutations that current vaccines may not be effective against it, according to scientists.

“The spread of (the variant), especially to other countries, could wither investor appetite further,” said Yuya Hasegawa at Tokyo-based exchange Bitbank. “BTC's upside will likely be limited and the market should brace for further loss.”

While cryptocurrencies wobbled, a plot of land in Axie Infinity, an animated, metaverse pet-training game, sold for $2.5 million on Thursday, according to a tweet on the game’s Twitter account.

The sale, for 550 ether, was the highest for a single plot of virtual land, according to the tweet. The transaction was for a section of Genesis land, one of several types available in the game.

A larger sale of virtual real estate took place on Monday in Decentraland. In that transaction, 618,000 MANA, worth about $3.2 million at the time, bought 116 land parcels, according to Tokens.com, whose Metaverse Group subsidiary made the purchase.

Interest in the metaverse has surged in recent months, spurred by Facebook, which changed its name to Meta in October in a sign of its increasing focus on the sector.

Revenue from virtual gaming worlds could grow to $400 billion in 2025, from $180 billion in 2020, Grayscale Investments said on Thursday. The overwhelming majority of that $400 billion will be in-game spending, compared to spending on premium games, the company said.

Grayscale defined the metaverse as “interconnected, experiential, 3D virtual worlds where people located anywhere can socialize in real-time to form a persistent, user-owned, internet economy spanning the digital and physical worlds.”


Anghami to complete US merger ‘soon,’ CEO says

Anghami to complete US merger ‘soon,’ CEO says
Updated 26 November 2021

Anghami to complete US merger ‘soon,’ CEO says

Anghami to complete US merger ‘soon,’ CEO says
  • Maroun said the company’s priority is growth not profitability as it seeks to increase its market share from 6 percent

RIYADH: Lebanon’s Anghami, known as the Spotify of the Arab world, will not postpone its merger with the blank-check company Vistas Media in a potential $90 million deal, according to the firm’s CEO.

Eddie Maroun said the agreement had suffered a delay due to the procedures of the Securities and Exchange Commission in the US, but the deal will still go ahead.

The process is currently in its final stages, and the implementation will be announced very soon, he told Al-Arabiya on Thursday.

Maroun said the company’s priority is growth not profitability as it seeks to increase its market share from 6 percent.

He expects Anghami to achieve profitability within three years, he added.

Subscriptions represent 80 percent of the company’s revenue with the rest coming from advertising, Maround said.

Founded in 2012 in Lebanon, Anghami is the first legal music streaming platform in the Middle East and North Africa region.