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
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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.”


Aramco CEO says energy transition not going smoothly: Reuters

Aramco CEO says energy transition not going smoothly: Reuters
Updated 27 January 2022

Aramco CEO says energy transition not going smoothly: Reuters

Aramco CEO says energy transition not going smoothly: Reuters

BEIRUT: Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser said on Thursday that the energy transition “was not going smoothly,” pointing to a resurgence in demand for oil and gas as the global economy recovers while supplies lag on the back of falling investment, according to Reuters.

“We all agree that to move towards a sustainable energy future a smooth energy transition is absolutely essential but we must also consider the complexities and challenges to get there,” he told the B20 conference in Indonesia via video link.

“We have to acknowledge that the current transition is not going smoothly,” he said.

- Reuters


SNB board recommends dividends of over $1bn for the second half of 2021

SNB board recommends dividends of over $1bn for the second half of 2021
Updated 27 January 2022

SNB board recommends dividends of over $1bn for the second half of 2021

SNB board recommends dividends of over $1bn for the second half of 2021

RIYADH: Saudi National Bank, the Kingdom’s biggest lender, said its board has recommended cash dividends of SR4.03 billion ($1.1 billion), or 9 percent of capital, for the second half of 2021.

SNB’s shareholders will receive SR0.9 per share, with a total amount of 4.48 billion shares eligible for dividends, a bourse statement by the bank revealed.

This brings the annual dividend yield to 2.12 percent, based on a share price of SR73, given the bank paid out SR0.65 per share for the first half of the same year.

The distribution date is yet to be disclosed, according to the statement.


Data-led innovation needed to help Saudi firms process information, says Dell ahead of LEAP

Data-led innovation needed to help Saudi firms process information, says Dell ahead of LEAP
Updated 27 January 2022

Data-led innovation needed to help Saudi firms process information, says Dell ahead of LEAP

Data-led innovation needed to help Saudi firms process information, says Dell ahead of LEAP

RIYADH: The majority of Saudi businesses gather data faster than it can be analyzed and used, Dell Technologies has warned ahead of the LEAP tech event being held in Riyadh from Feb. 1-3.

The US firm is set to take part in the forum, which is focused on future and disruptive technologies.

Ahead of the event, Mohamed Talaat, vice president in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Levant at Dell Technologies, pointed to research by his company in 2021 that showed 70 percent of Saudi respondents have data-driven business and consider data as the lifeblood of their organisation.

However, 59 percent said they were gathering data faster than they could analyze and use.

Talaat said: “Saudi Arabia today stands at the threshold of change, underpinned by the nation’s ambitious vision and drive to transform, innovate and build a legacy for generations to come.

“Dell Technologies remains committed to advancing the country’s transformation agenda. We're empowering local organizations with end-to-end infrastructure and client solutions. They not only support a data-driven work culture, but are also capable of predicting the future and achieving better business results.”


Pandemic fast food orders see Saudi chain Herfy triple profits in 2021

Pandemic fast food orders see Saudi chain Herfy triple profits in 2021
Updated 27 January 2022

Pandemic fast food orders see Saudi chain Herfy triple profits in 2021

Pandemic fast food orders see Saudi chain Herfy triple profits in 2021

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s largest food chain, Herfy Food Service Co. has seen over a threefold rise in its estimated annual profit for 2021, after a surge in its sales during the pandemic.

The estimated net profit amounted to SR162 million ($43.2 million), compared to SR52.8 million a year earlier, according to a bourse filing.

The hike was propelled by a jump in sales of 22 percent, reaching more than SR1.3 billion, as well as a fall in general and administrative expenses.

This came despite a decrease in other income and higher selling and marketing expenses, the Riyadh-based food chain owner said in a bourse statement.

Herfy Food Services was established in 1981, and the first Herfy restaurant opened in Riyadh that same year.


Shares in SoftBank trading at their lowest level since May 2020

Shares in SoftBank trading at their lowest level since May 2020
Updated 27 January 2022

Shares in SoftBank trading at their lowest level since May 2020

Shares in SoftBank trading at their lowest level since May 2020

RIYADH: Japan's SoftBank, backed by the Saudi Public Investment Fund was among the most significant victims of the tech stock sell-off across Asia on Thursday, Bloomberg reported.

Investors turned on billionaire Masayoshi Son's company as the tightening phase of central bank policies unfolded.

The stock dropped as much as 9.8 percent in Tokyo, the most since March 2020, as Nasdaq futures tumbled and shares of the firm’s biggest investment, Alibaba Group, dropped in Hong Kong.

Hawkish signals from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell led investors to bet against technology companies, which have powered much of the recent growth in global markets: something SoftBank has been gambling on with its Vision Funds of speculative tech bets.

“SoftBank is a poster child of a firm highly leveraged to the current asset bubbles,” wrote Amir Anvarzadeh, senior strategist at Asymmetric Advisors Pte, who recommends shorting the stock.

“This latest lurch down in its value could add further pressure on its financing structure.”

Shares in SoftBank traded at their lowest level since May 2020, with reports that a planned sale of its Arm chip unit to Nvidia was likely to fall through also weighing on the stock.

Analysts pointed out that the failure of the deal may lead to a credit downgrade.