Saudi giga-projects help attract multinationals’ regional HQs

Saudi giga-projects help attract multinationals’ regional HQs
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Updated 21 November 2021

Saudi giga-projects help attract multinationals’ regional HQs

Saudi giga-projects help attract multinationals’ regional HQs

JEDDAH: The Saudi capital is witnessing a surge in business activities since multinational companies announced moving their regional bases to the city.

So far, over 40 multinational companies in sectors including IT, food and beverages, consulting and construction have announced plans to set up headquarters in Riyadh and many more planning to make their move.

Paul Arnold, managing director of Sovereign Saudi Arabia, said the announcement has caused a sudden increase in business activities in the Kingdom.

“From our perspective, foreign direct investment is coming into Saudi Arabia. The regional HQ announcement has got people talking. So the amount of interest in activity and questions that we're building around the necessity to have an HQ in Riyadh, it's been significant,” Arnold told Arab News.

In February this year, the Kingdom gave foreign firms until the end of 2023 to set up headquarters in the country or risk losing out on government contracts. This move has given a new momentum to the economic activities in the Kingdom, particularly in the capital. 

Arnold said several ongoing giga-projects are obviously attracting a lot of foreign companies to do business in the Kingdom. 

“As the regulatory environment changes here and improves, it means that foreign businesses are registering here in numbers we’ve never seen before,” he added.

Stuart D’Souza, co-founder and director of Arabian Enterprise Incubators, told Arab News that most of the companies operating in the Kingdom already had a significant footprint. 

“The fact that they are joining this very high-profile program is good news.”

D’souza said the Saudi Investment Ministry has done very well in attracting foreign companies and in retaining those firms in the Kingdom.

“The direction is very clear. If you want to do business in Saudi Arabia, you need to be registered in the Kingdom. If you’re a significant business, and so much of your regional revenue comes from the Kingdom, you should have your regional headquarters here in the country,” he said.

Pointing to the investment landscape in the Kingdom, he said the existence of a professional services company such as Sovereign in the Kingdom will help foreign businesses in setting up their offices.

“Opportunities for all sorts of other companies have significantly increased in Saudi Arabia in the last couple of years,” he said.

“All of that is driven by these giga-projects, whether it’s NEOM, be it the Red Sea project, AlUla, Qiddiya, Soudah or projects in the Eastern Province. The fact that those projects are spread all over the Kingdom means our clients are actually all over Saudi Arabia and we're supporting them with our services,” said D’Souza.

He added: “These projects are all happening. In Riyadh, you can drive down and see what is happening in Qiddiya in terms of the lower plateau development, and (to witness) upper plateau development, go to the Diriyah Gate Development Authority and you'll see all the construction underway.”

 


Tesla officially moves headquarters from California to Texas

Tesla officially moves headquarters from California to Texas
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 5 sec ago

Tesla officially moves headquarters from California to Texas

Tesla officially moves headquarters from California to Texas
  • In US regulatory filings at the end of last year, Tesla said it had about 71,000 employees worldwide

Tesla says it has officially moved its corporate headquarters from Silicon Valley to a large factory under construction outside of Austin, Texas.


The company made the announcement late Wednesday in a filing with US securities regulators.

CEO Elon Musk had said at the company's annual meeting in October that the move was coming.


The filing said the relocation from Palo Alto, California, to what Tesla calls a “Gigafactory” on Harold Green Road near Austin was done on Wednesday.


In US regulatory filings at the end of last year, Tesla said it had about 71,000 employees worldwide.

Company news releases in 2020 said about 10,000 work at the Palo Alto headquarters and 10,000 are employed at its factory in Fremont, California.


It wasn't clear if all of the headquarters employees would be required to move.

A message was left Wednesday seeking comment from Tesla, which has disbanded its media relations department.


Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives said in October that he expects some of the 10,000 employees in Palo Alto won’t want to leave the Bay Area, but says a large number will, due to Austin’s lower cost of living.

He said he thinks Tesla will give many the option of staying, but expects 40 percent to 50 percent to make the move.


“The tax incentives down the road, we believe, will be massive when you compare taxes versus California,” Ives said. “Getting employees is much cheaper and easier in Texas.”


CEO Elon Musk hinted at making a move ever since a spat with Alameda County, California, health officials over reopening the factory in Fremont last year at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.


Musk has said that he has moved his residence from California to Texas, where there is no state personal income tax.


Facebook parent company Meta makes it easier to run cryptocurrency ads

Facebook parent company Meta makes it easier to run cryptocurrency ads
Updated 23 min 4 sec ago

Facebook parent company Meta makes it easier to run cryptocurrency ads

Facebook parent company Meta makes it easier to run cryptocurrency ads

RIYADH: Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has updated the criteria for running ads about cryptocurrency on its platform, according to Bloomberg.

The tech giant announced on Wednesday its decision to reverse a long-standing policy that prevented most cryptocurrency companies from running ads on its services.

The move came after Meta’s marquee crypto-related effort had been downsized.

Previously, many marketers who wanted to promote cryptocurrency or related businesses had to submit an application detailing any licenses they have obtained and whether they are traded on a public stock exchange, among other information. 

Now, the company will make it easier to run ads about cryptocurrency by expanding the number of regulatory licenses that it accepts, which will allow more retail investors to access cryptocurrencies than ever before.

Meta will still require prior written approval for crypto exchanges and trading platforms, crypto wallets and mining-related hardware and software companies.

“Cryptocurrency continues to be an evolving space and we may refine these rules over time as the industry changes,” the company said in a blog post.


Omicron is an opportunity for investors: JPMorgan

Omicron is an opportunity for investors: JPMorgan
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 29 min 50 sec ago

Omicron is an opportunity for investors: JPMorgan

Omicron is an opportunity for investors: JPMorgan
  • “We view the recent selloff in these segments as an opportunity to buy the dip in cyclical”

Turmoil in global equity markets due to the new omicron variant could be an opportunity for investors to rebuild positions, JPMorgan has said. 

 According to Bloomberg, the American investment bank suggested the latest evolution of the COVID-19 virus might ultimately be a positive for risk markets because it could signal that the end of the pandemic is in sight.

“Omicron could be a catalyst for steepening (not flattening) the yield curve, rotation from growth to value, selloff in Covid and lockdown beneficiaries and rally in reopening themes,” Bloomberg reported, citing strategists.

“We view the recent selloff in these segments as an opportunity to buy the dip in cyclical, commodities, and reopening themes, and to position for higher bond yields and steepening,” they added.

Earlier this year, Kolanovic, JPMorgan’s chief global markets strategist, has advocated reopening trades and defended value stocks as the pandemic has evolved, also claiming that markets overreacted to the threat of the delta variant, Bloomberg reported.


Saudi Aramco and Raed invests $5.5m in emerging fintech startup Lamaa

Saudi Aramco and Raed invests $5.5m in emerging fintech startup Lamaa
Updated 41 min 54 sec ago

Saudi Aramco and Raed invests $5.5m in emerging fintech startup Lamaa

Saudi Aramco and Raed invests $5.5m in emerging fintech startup Lamaa

RIYADH: Riyadh-based fintech startup Lamaa has secured a $5.5m investment from Saudi Aramco’s entrepreneurship arm Wa’ed and Raed Ventures.

The deal represents one of the largest seed funding rounds in Saudi Arabia.

Lamaa provides financing solutions, such as supply chain finance and Buy Now Pay Later schemes, for small and medium enterprises.

Wa'ed and Raed's investment will assist Lamaa in developing its Trade Receivables Discounting System platform, which will enable factoring across thousands of suppliers at the same time.

Lamaa was established in early 2021 by Sumeet Khutale, who relocated from London to Riyadh after working with global firms such as Barclays Capital and JP Morgan.

“Since our initial launch in March 2021, Lamaa has grown dramatically, with over 100 corporate clients in the pipeline and a projection of over $1 billion dollars’ worth of invoices to be soon launched in its marketplace,” said Khutale.

He added: “In addition to supply chain finance, we will soon start offering B2B Buy Now Pay Later plans, which would be the first offering of its kind in the region. We also plan to expand our company into Egypt, UAE and Qatar in the next few months.”

Fahad Alidi, the managing director at Wa’ed, praised Lamaa’s “impressive growth” since it was established, and said: “Lamaa presents the type of entrepreneurial business that not only empowers its own team and start-up sector, but can also promote a stronger foundation for other emerging local SMEs who use the platform for financing solutions.

“We’re proud to support Lamaa’s founding team as they continue to break new grounds in the local fintech space.”


Grab’s $40bn Nasdaq debut to set tone for Southeast Asian tech listings

Grab’s $40bn Nasdaq debut to set tone for Southeast Asian tech listings
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 02 December 2021

Grab’s $40bn Nasdaq debut to set tone for Southeast Asian tech listings

Grab’s $40bn Nasdaq debut to set tone for Southeast Asian tech listings
  • Grab’s listing brings a payday bonanza to early backers such as Japan’s SoftBank and Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing

Grab, Southeast Asia’s biggest ride-hailing and delivery firm, makes its market debut on Thursday after a record $40 billion merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), in a listing that will set the tone for other regional offerings.


The backdoor listing on Nasdaq marks the high point for the nine-year-old Singapore company that began as a ride-hailing app and now operates across 465 cities in eight countries, offering food deliveries, payments, insurance and investment products.


The biggest US listing by a Southeast Asian company follows Grab’s April agreement to merge with US tech investor Altimeter Capital Management’s SPAC, Altimeter Growth Corp. and raise $4.5 billion, including $750 million from Altimeter.


There is scope for many players in the fragmented food delivery and financial services markets in Southeast Asia, a region of 650 million people, but the road to profitability could be a long one, analysts say.


Grab’s flotation “will provide a bigger cash buffer” to its “cash burn,” S&P Global Ratings said in a note. But the company’s “credit quality continues to be constrained by its loss-making operations, and free operating cash flows could be negative over the next 12 months.”


Southeast Asia’s Internet economy is forecast to double to $360 billion in gross merchandise value by 2025, prompting Grab’s rivals, including regional Internet firm Sea Ltd. and Indonesia’s GoTo Group, to bulk up.


GoTo plans a local IPO in 2022 after completing an expected $2 billion private fundraising, sources have told Reuters. A US listing will follow the Jakarta offering.


“Longer term, we’re really excited about Grab Financial Group,” a unit of the company, said Chris Conforti, partner at Altimeter Capital. “I think the bell curve on that is much wider in terms of what the outcome could be, but it could be extremely large.”

Grab was founded by Anthony Tan, its chief executive, and Tan Hooi Ling, who developed the firm from an idea for a Harvard Business School venture competition in 2011. The two Tans are not related.


CEO Tan, 39, expanded Grab into a regional operation with a range of services, after launching it as a taxi app in Malaysia in 2012.

It later moved its headquarters to Singapore.


“What we have shown to the world is that home grown tech companies can develop great technology that can compete globally, even when international players are in town,” Tan told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday. “We can compete and win.”


He will end up with 60.4 percent voting rights along with Grab’s co-founder, and president Ming Maa, but control only 3.3 percent stake with them.


To mark the New York listing, Grab and Nasdaq will hold a bell-ringing in a luxury hotel in Singapore in the middle of the Asian night. About 250 people, including executives from the exchange, Grab’s investors and other partners are to attend.


Grab’s listing brings a payday bonanza to early backers such as Japan’s SoftBank and Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing, which invested as early as 2014.


They were later joined by the likes of Toyota Motor Corp. , Microsoft Corp. and Japanese megabank MUFG .

Uber became a Grab shareholder in 2018 after selling its Southeast Asian business to Grab following a five-year battle.


In September, Grab cut its full-year adjusted net sales forecasts, citing renewed uncertainty over pandemic curbs on movement.


Third-quarter revenue fell 9 percent from a year earlier and its adjusted loss before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) widened 66 percent to $212 million.

GMV in the quarter rose to a record $4 billion.


It aims to turn profitable on an EBITDA basis in 2023.


JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley were the lead placement agents on the fundraising, while Evercore and UBS were the co-placement agents.