Acciona scales up KSA’s Shuqaiq 3 desalination plant to maximum capacity

Acciona scales up KSA’s Shuqaiq 3 desalination plant to maximum capacity
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Updated 31 October 2021

Acciona scales up KSA’s Shuqaiq 3 desalination plant to maximum capacity

Acciona scales up KSA’s Shuqaiq 3 desalination plant to maximum capacity

RIYADH: Acciona, has ramped up production of the Shuqaiq 3 desalination plant to full capacity producing 450 million liters of potable water per day. 

The global infrastructure company oversees the plant, which is equipped with energy-efficient seawater reverse osmosis technology. 

“Now that we are entering the final testing and commissioning stages, we will undertake a number of tests to make sure everything works perfectly,” said Jesús García Prieto, Acciona Shuqaiq 3 project director. 


London police investigating Downing Street lockdown parties

London police investigating Downing Street lockdown parties
Updated 54 sec ago

London police investigating Downing Street lockdown parties

London police investigating Downing Street lockdown parties
  • The gatherings are already being investigated by a senior civil servant Sue Gray
  • Boris Johnson has apologized for attending a party in the garden of his Downing Street offices in May 2020
LONDON: London police said Tuesday they were investigating Downing Street lockdown parties in 2020 to determine if UK government officials violated coronavirus restrictions, putting further pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The Metropolitan Police Service has launched an inquiry into “a number of events” at Downing Street because they met the force’s criteria for investigating the “most serious and flagrant” breaches of COVID-19 rules, Commissioner Cressida Dick told the London Assembly, the capital’s local government council.
Johnson is facing calls to resign amid revelations that he and his staff attended a series of parties during the spring and winter of 2020 when most social gatherings were banned throughout England, forcing average citizens to miss weddings, funerals and birthdays as friends and relatives died alone in hospitals. The gatherings are already being investigated by a senior civil servant Sue Gray whose report, expected this week, will be crucial in determining whether Johnson can remain in power.
Johnson has apologized for attending a party in the garden of his Downing Street offices in May 2020, but said he had considered it a work gathering that fell within the social distancing rules in place at the time.
In the latest revelation, ITV News reported late Monday that Johnson attended a birthday party in his Downing Street office and later hosted friends at his official residence upstairs in June 2020. His office denied that the gathering violated lockdown regulations, saying that the prime minister hosted a small number of family members outdoors, which was in line with rules at the time.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan welcomed the police investigation.
“The public rightly expect the police to uphold the law without fear or favor, no matter who that involves, and I have been clear that members of the public must be able to expect the highest standards from everyone, including the Prime Minister and those around him,” Khan said in a statement. “No one is above the law. There cannot be one rule for the government and another for everyone else.”
Police have previously faced criticism for suggesting that they wouldn’t investigate the “partygate” scandal because they don’t routinely investigate historical breaches of coronavirus regulations.
But Dick told the assembly that an investigation was warranted in this case because there is evidence that those involved knew or should have known that what they were doing was illegal, not investigating would “significantly undermine the legitimacy of the law,” and there seems to be no reasonable defense for the conduct.
“So in those cases, where those criteria were met, the guidelines suggested that we should potentially investigate further and end up giving people tickets,” she said.

Dairy giant Saudia to ‘grow as fast as Saudi GDP’ as it delights customers, CEO says

Dairy giant Saudia to ‘grow as fast as Saudi GDP’ as it delights customers, CEO says
Updated 2 min 50 sec ago

Dairy giant Saudia to ‘grow as fast as Saudi GDP’ as it delights customers, CEO says

Dairy giant Saudia to ‘grow as fast as Saudi GDP’ as it delights customers, CEO says

RIYADH: One of the oldest Saudi dairy firms is betting on the Kingdom’s economic growth this year to see better performance.

The CEO of Saudia Dairy and Foodstuff Co. said he wants the company to grow at a similar pace as the GDP, which is forecasted by analysts to increase somewhere between 5 and 7 percent over the next 11 months.

“We want to grow as fast as Saudi GDP,” Patrick Stillhart told Arab News in an interview.

Established in 1976, Jeddah-based Saudia, or SADAFCO, operates sales and distribution depots in 24 locations across the Kingdom, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan, and Kuwait, exporting to several countries in the MENA region.

It is known for its flagship long-life milk products that are becoming a symbol in the market. It also introduced other products throughout the years as it wanted to expand its reach.

The company’s product portfolio today comprises a wide range of items including long life milk, Tomato Paste, ketchup, snacks, ice cream, cheese, instant milk powder, cream, fruit nectars, butter and french fries.

Patrick Stillhart

Before joining SADAFCO in October last year, Stillhart led DKSH’s Consumer Goods business in Southeast Asia and Oceania, where he doubled the company’s size in three years, tripled the profit while improving the cash flow threefold.

During his time at Cereal Partners Worldwide, he accelerated growth in existing markets by driving household penetration, launching new products, and entering new countries.

At Nestle, Stillhart held several executive positions worldwide, from Nestle Indonesia to the Middle East and Switzerland.

Going forward, Stillhart said the business will focus on strengthening its three core divisions – long-life milk, tomato paste, and ice cream – to accelerate growth.

He is taking a very consumer-centric approach to grow the business.

As a long-renowned dairy player in the Kingdom, a key pillar for Saudia is to “delight end consumers” which is and will remain the center of all operations, he noted.

Applying the environmental, social, and corporate governance framework to SADAFCO is a major priority for the new CEO, who also said that he doesn’t see a need for the company to borrow or issue debt any time soon due to its strong cash position. 

In line with wider sustainability efforts and Vision 2030, Saudia has incorporated ESG measures to flourish the green environment, which Stillhart considered to be a major stakeholder.

Stillhart’s ambitious plans for the dairy maker come amid pandemic-driven challenges.

When asked about his financial outlook for the company, Stillhart conveyed being “conservatively optimistic” about the next fiscal year.

“Closing the year, I do not expect too many surprises,” he said, adding that costs will not burden the financials in the near term given they have already been incurred.

Profits of the homegrown dairy maker have tumbled by 29 percent during the nine months ending Dec. 31, 2021, as the pandemic weighed on sales volumes.

Addressing profitability barriers, Stillhart stressed the importance of “producing more with less” to drive efficiency whilst simultaneously delighting end consumers.

Highlights

  • SADAFCO is expected to “grow as fast as the Saudi GDP,” CEO Patrick Stillhart told Arab News in an interview
  • Company has no plan to borrow anytime soon as it enjoys strong cash position
  • To “delight end consumers” is a key pillar for the company
  • The net profit of SADAFCO went down by 29 percent in the first nine months of its fiscal year ending March 2022 
  • Commenting on his outlook for the financial performance going forward, Stillhart said “closing the year I do not expect too many surprises” 

 


Abu Dhabi stock exchange paves the way for its first SPAC listing

Abu Dhabi stock exchange paves the way for its first SPAC listing
Updated 3 min 56 sec ago

Abu Dhabi stock exchange paves the way for its first SPAC listing

Abu Dhabi stock exchange paves the way for its first SPAC listing

RIYADH: Abu Dhabi’s stock exchange, known as ADX, has paved the way for its first Special Purpose Acquisition Company listing as it approved the Gulf Cooperation Company’s first SPAC framework.

The approval, provided by the UAE’s Securities and Commodities Authorities, brings the region a step closer to global peers, according to Bloomberg.

Through such a move, the UAE aims to grow its capital markets in line with global exchanges, including the US which has raised $250 million from SPAC-led offerings since 2020. 

SPACs, also known as blank-check companies, allow private businesses to go public with less strict disclosure rules, through raising money to acquire companies.

Sponsors in Abu Dhabi shall raise a minimum of 100 million dirhams ($27 million) in the initial public offering and will be offered warrants with units sold, giving them the right to convert them into shares.

Fellow GCC countries including Saudi Arabia, have also taken steps to encourage blank-check offerings, with a proposed framework in place for Dubai's bourse.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, Egypt is set to see its SPAC framework launched no later than February, the head of the country's financial regulatory authority said. 

SPACs, also known as blank-check companies, allow private businesses to go public with less strict disclosure rules, through raising money to acquire companies.

 


Dubai solar project to power 250,000 homes

Dubai solar project to power 250,000 homes
Updated 16 min 2 sec ago

Dubai solar project to power 250,000 homes

Dubai solar project to power 250,000 homes

RIYADH: Dubai’s latest solar power project is set to supply 250,000 homes in the city with green energy.

The project, by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, is located on 10 square kilometers of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. It has an accumulated capacity of 900 megawatts, the National News reported.

It is the first project in the fifth phase of the of the solar installation, featuring over 2.5 million photovoltaic cells to capture as much sunlight as possible.

The project also falls in line with the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050.

“Once complete, this project will result in the reduction of more than 1.1 million tons of CO2 annually,” the National News reported, citing Omar Al Hassan, chief executive of Shuaa Energy 3, the firm operating the plan.

A US firm’s intelligent solar tracker solutions, known as Nextracker, is also helping to increase the project’s output.

A second project in the same phase is set to take place in December 2022 with a final phase set for the following December.


Hyundai Motor expects vehicle production to rebound in H1 as chip supply improves

Hyundai Motor expects vehicle production to rebound in H1 as chip supply improves
Hyundai Motor Company Dealership
Updated 23 min 43 sec ago

Hyundai Motor expects vehicle production to rebound in H1 as chip supply improves

Hyundai Motor expects vehicle production to rebound in H1 as chip supply improves
  • Major automakers and dealers, such as Tesla Inc. and Honda Motor Company, have already raised car prices over the past year

South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co. forecast on Tuesday its vehicle production would rebound in the first half of this year as a global chip shortage is expected to ease gradually from the second quarter.


“The normalization of auto chip supply and demand is expected in the third quarter, when the capacity of semiconductor companies is expected to rise,” Executive Vice President Seo Gang Hyun said on Hyundai’s conference call.


The shortage will continue in the first quarter due to the spread of the omicron variant, Seo said, adding it was the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic in Southeast Asia and resulting chip sourcing troubles that pushed Hyundai’s sales to less than the targeted 4 million vehicles in 2021.


Southeast Asia is central to the supply of basic chips that drive the world’s cars, smartphones and home devices, with Malaysia’s chip assembly industry accounting for more than a tenth of a global trade worth over $200 billion. COVID-related lockdowns in the region have disrupted several industries since last year.


Hyundai said it expects a 20 percent sales jump in its biggest market, North America, in 2022.


Hyundai and its affiliate Kia Corp, together among the world’s top 10 automakers by sales, have forecast a 12.1 percent jump in their combined global sales for 2022, after their sales fell almost 4 percent short of a target of 6.92 million vehicles last year due to the chip shortages.


Hyundai posted a nearly 50 percent drop in its profit for the quarter ended December, significantly short of analysts’ estimate, mainly due to the payment of corporate taxes.


It reported a net profit of 547 billion won ($456 million), versus 1.1 trillion won a year earlier. That compared with an average analyst forecast of 1.5 trillion won compiled by Refinitiv SmartEstimate.

HIGHER PRICES, OMICRON


Analysts warn that soaring raw material prices, component shortages and logistical bottlenecks caused by the pandemic are likely to further drive up costs in the current quarter.


“It is still difficult to forecast how the chip shortage will pan out ... also there will be other uncertainties involving the spread of the omicron variant and potential issues related to Ukraine tensions,” said Lee Jae-il, an analyst at Eugene Investment & Securities.


Japanese automakers Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. Ltd. have said they plan to curb their production this month due to rising COVID cases and part supply issues.


As supply chain and distribution disruptions continue, delaying deliveries and production, analysts expect Hyundai to raise vehicle prices to mitigate the impact.


Major automakers and dealers, such as Tesla Inc. and Honda Motor Company, have already raised car prices over the past year.