BlackRock, Brookfield and EIG among bidders for Aramco Gas Pipelines: Bloomberg

BlackRock, Brookfield and EIG among bidders for Aramco Gas Pipelines: Bloomberg
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Updated 10 November 2021

BlackRock, Brookfield and EIG among bidders for Aramco Gas Pipelines: Bloomberg

BlackRock, Brookfield and EIG among bidders for Aramco Gas Pipelines: Bloomberg

RIYADH: BlackRock, Brookfield Asset Management and EIG are among firms that made final bids for a stake in Saudi Aramco’s natural-gas pipeline network that could fetch more than $15 billion, Bloomberg reported citing people familiar with the matter.

Italian energy infrastructure operator Snam SpA, China’s state-backed Silk Road Fund Co. and Saudi government-controlled Hassana Investment Co. also made offers, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information.

Bidders are now discussing teaming up to form a consortium, while the oil giant Aramco might inform suitors on the outcome of their bids as soon as this month, the people said.

Western companies are still showing interest in Middle Eastern oil and gas assets and infrastructure, despite the increased focus on investments that support the transition away from fossil fuels.

BlackRock and KKR & Co. put $4 billion into Abu Dhabi’s oil pipelines in 2019. 

Snam was part of a consortium that agreed in 2020 to buy a $10.1 billion stake in Abu Dhabi National Oil Co.’s natural gas pipeline network. 
 


70% professionals consider changing jobs due to lack of flexibility, research shows

70% professionals consider changing jobs due to lack of flexibility, research shows
Updated 12 sec ago

70% professionals consider changing jobs due to lack of flexibility, research shows

70% professionals consider changing jobs due to lack of flexibility, research shows

RIYADH: A new research from professional networking site LinkedIn has shed light on employee sentiment in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, with 70 percent of those surveyed saying they have considered leaving (or have left) a job due to lack of flexibility.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the rise in demand for flexible work. “The impact of the pandemic on how we work has been transformative, and research globally is pointing to an increased urgency for greater flexibility and empowerment in the workplace,” said Ali Matar, head of LinkedIn MENA and EMEA Venture Markets.

The research follows the launch of LinkedIn’s “career break” feature, which aims to destigmatize career gaps and support flexible careers. Last year, LinkedIn added stay-at-home parent job titles on the website in an effort to break biases around career gaps.

These initiatives align with what employees want, as 56 percent of those surveyed by LinkedIn said they plan on taking a career break in the near future.

LinkedIn refers to this shift toward flexible work as a “flexidus.” However, research showed there is still a disconnect between what companies offer in terms of flexibility and what employees want. 

While 74 percent of professionals in the UAE and Saudi Arabia said they thought the pandemic exposed a need for flexible work arrangements, more than 50 percent said that no new policies had been introduced by their firms to promote flexible work.

Additionally, LinkedIn research showed that a lack of workplace flexibility significantly impacts women’s careers, with 20 percent of women who had to leave a job due to lack of flexibility saying their career progression was affected.

“We have been given an incredible opportunity to reshape the world of work, and it’s critical we remember to keep people at the heart of it to truly build ‘work that works’ for everyone,” said Matar.


Macro Snapshot — Egypt GDP topped 5% in Q1; countries hike interest rates to stabilize economies

Macro Snapshot — Egypt GDP topped 5% in Q1; countries hike interest rates to stabilize economies
Updated 23 May 2022

Macro Snapshot — Egypt GDP topped 5% in Q1; countries hike interest rates to stabilize economies

Macro Snapshot — Egypt GDP topped 5% in Q1; countries hike interest rates to stabilize economies

RIYADH: Egypt’s economy grew more than 5 percent in the first quarter of 2022, CNBC Arabia reported on Monday, citing Planning Minister Hala Al-Saeed.

She also said the economy would grow around 6 percent in the 2021-22 fiscal year, which ends in June.

On the other hand, many countries are taking steps to stabilize their respective economies by hiking interest rates.

Ghana ramps up interest rate 

Ghana’s central bank on Monday raised its main interest rate by 200 basis points to 19 percent to curb inflationary pressures and promote macroeconomic stability, Gov. Ernest Addison said.

In March, the Bank of Ghana raised its policy rate by 250 basis points to 17 percent — the largest hike in its history — to stem runaway inflation in one of West Africa’s more prosperous nations as the government cut spending to reduce the budget deficit and save a sliding local currency.

But in April the consumer inflation rate in the gold, oil and cocoa producer hit an 18-year high of 23.6 percent. 

Pakistan hikes main policy rate 

The State Bank of Pakistan raised its benchmark interest rate on Monday by 150 basis points to 13.75 percent, the second hike in less than two months, as the South Asian nation grapples with a sinking economy.

The key interest rates have been hiked by 400 bps in less than two months, according to the central bank.

“This action, together with much needed fiscal consolidation, should help moderate demand to a more sustainable pace while keeping inflation expectations anchored and containing risks to external stability,” the bank said in a statement.

Swiss bank may tighten monetary policy 

The Swiss National Bank will tighten monetary policy if inflation in Switzerland remains persistently high, governing board member Andrea Maechler said in an interview published on Monday.

The European Central Bank on Monday became the latest institution to signal it was hiking rates to combat soaring inflation, following similar moves by the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of England. Read full story

The SNB could follow suit, should Swiss inflation remain outside its target range 0-2 percent. April saw the highest inflation rate in Switzerland for 14 years, with prices rising by 2.5 percent.

“If the inflation we expect does not come down in the medium term to a range between 0 percent and 2 percent, we will not hesitate to tighten policy,” Maechler told Swiss newspaper Bilan.

The SNB now has the world’s lowest interest rate of minus 0.75 percent which along with its readiness to intervene in the currency markets has been the basis of its monetary policy over the last seven years.

Nigeria Q1 GDP growth slows 

Nigerian gross domestic product grew 3.11 percent in the first quarter, slower than in the previous quarter as a fall in oil production hit the rest of the economy, the national statistics office said on Monday ahead of a central bank interest rate decision on Tuesday.

It was the sixth consecutive quarter of growth, with non-oil sectors helping Nigeria bounce back from a severe recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The full-year GDP figure for 2021 showed the fastest growth in seven years. 

Gross domestic product grew by 3.98 percent in the fourth quarter of 2021. In the first three months of last year, the growth rate was 0.51 percent.

“After the recession experienced by the country in 2020 occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy has been on the path of growth,” the National Bureau of Statistics said.

 


Africa development bank approves $1.5bn for food crisis

Africa development bank approves $1.5bn for food crisis
Updated 23 May 2022

Africa development bank approves $1.5bn for food crisis

Africa development bank approves $1.5bn for food crisis

ACCRA: The African Development Bank has approved a $1.5 billion emergency program to alleviate the impact of worsening food insecurity due to the Ukraine war, its director said on Monday.

About 20 million farmers on the continent will benefit from the fund as Africa faces a shortage of at least 30 million metric tons of food, especially wheat, maize, and soybeans imported from Russia and Ukraine.

“The$1.5 billion ... will be used to support African countries to produce food and do so rapidly,” AfDB Group President Akinwumi Adesina told the media ahead of annual general meetings in Ghana's capital Accra.

The program aims to help produce 38 million tons of food. This will consist of 11 million tons of wheat, 18 million tons of maize, six million tons of rice and 2.5 million tons of soya beans.

“Food aid cannot feed Africa. Africa does not need bowls in hand. Africa needs seeds in the ground, and mechanical harvesters to harvest bountiful food produced locally,” Adesina said.

“Africa will feed itself with pride for there is no dignity in begging for food.”

The program aims to deliver seeds, fertilizer and services to farmers and support post-harvest management, the AfDB said in a statement. It will also provide financing and credit guarantees for large-scale supply of fertilizer.


US ready to tap diesel reserves amid supply shortage, says White House

US ready to tap diesel reserves amid supply shortage, says White House
Updated 23 May 2022

US ready to tap diesel reserves amid supply shortage, says White House

US ready to tap diesel reserves amid supply shortage, says White House

WASHINGTON: The Biden administration is ready to tap into the US’ national diesel reserves to tame soaring prices amid a supply crunch, a White House spokeswoman said Monday.

The Russian war against Ukraine and ensuing economic sanctions against Moscow have caused fuel prices to soar around the world.

The issue, along with rising inflation, is a major challenge for President Joe Biden and his Democratic administration ahead of midterm elections in November.

“We’re closely monitoring challenges to diesel supply and prices as a result of (President) Putin's invasion" of Ukraine, White House Press Secretary Emilie Simons wrote on Twitter.

“An emergency declaration has been prepared for @POTUS to authorize a release from reserves if necessary.”

In the US, the average price for diesel, an essential fuel for agriculture and transport companies, jumped over nine percent over the past month and as much as 75 percent, year on year.


Oil dips as recession worries outweigh rising demand forecast

Oil dips as recession worries outweigh rising demand forecast
Updated 23 May 2022

Oil dips as recession worries outweigh rising demand forecast

Oil dips as recession worries outweigh rising demand forecast

HOUSTON: Oil prices edged slightly lower on Monday, as worries of a possible recession outweighed an outlook for higher fuel demand with the upcoming US driving season and Shanghai’s plans to reopen after a two-month coronavirus lockdown.

Brent crude futures fell 13 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $112.43 a barrel by 10:46 a.m. ET (1446 GMT). US West Texas Intermediate crude declined 52 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $109.72.

“There are black clouds gathering around the financial markets here and it has started to impact crude oil,” said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho.

“The economic wellbeing of the global economy is questionable at this point,” he added.

Both benchmarks were down after two straight sessions of gains.

Losses were limited by expectations that gasoline demand would remain high as the US was set to enter its peak driving season beginning on Memorial Day weekend at the end of May.

Despite fears that soaring fuel prices could dent demand, analysts said mobility data from TomTom and Google had climbed in recent weeks, showing more drivers on the road in places such as the US.

To address a major supply crunch and blunt rising prices, the White House is weighing an emergency declaration to release diesel from a rarely used stockpile, an administration official said.

The White House is considering tapping the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve, created in 2000 to help with supply issues and used only once in 2012 in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The impact from such a release would be limited by the relatively small size of the reserve, which only contains 1 million barrels of diesel.

The EU’s inability to reach a final agreement on banning Russian oil after its invasion of Ukraine has stopped oil prices from climbing much higher. Hungary continues to hold out against the proposed ban, ensuring no sudden shock to supply for now.

“The persistent squeeze in refined petroleum products in the US and ever-present Ukraine/Russia risk underpinned prices,” said Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst at OANDA.

Shanghai, China’s commercial hub, aims to normalize life from June 1 as its coronavirus caseloads decline.

Lockdowns in China, the world’s top oil importer, have hammered industrial output and construction, prompting moves to prop up the economy, including a bigger than expected mortgage rate cut last Friday.