ADNOC debt issuer holds investor meetings ahead of debut bonds

ADNOC debt issuer holds investor meetings ahead of debut bonds
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Updated 26 January 2022

ADNOC debt issuer holds investor meetings ahead of debut bonds

ADNOC debt issuer holds investor meetings ahead of debut bonds
  • The ability to tap the debt capital markets will give ADNOC flexibility to raise debt with longer tenors and potentially better pricing

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company’s newly set up debt-issuing unit, ADNOC Murban, began holding investor meetings on Tuesday ahead of its debut bond sale expected this year, an investors’ note seen by Reuters showed.


The meetings, coordinated by JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley, will run through Friday and will target investors in Asia, Europe, the United States, and the Middle East and Africa, according to the note.


ADNOC and JPMorgan did not respond to emailed requests for comment. Morgan Stanley declined to comment.


The ability to tap the debt capital markets will give ADNOC flexibility to raise debt with longer tenors and potentially better pricing.


In an investor presentation reviewed by Reuters, ADNOC Group’s chief investment officer said ADNOC has traditionally financed itself with equity and limited use of bank loans.


“We think it’s useful for modern treasury to add access to the debt capital markets to our financing toolkit, to complete the set of instruments available to us,” CIO Klaus Froehlich said.


Regional peer Saudi Aramco issued its debut bonds in April 2019, raising $12 billion ahead of its record $29.4 billion initial public offering.

Qatar Energy also raised $12.5 billion in last year’s largest bond sale out of emerging markets.


“For clarity, we do not intend to access the markets in the same way our regional peers have done with a jumbo inaugural debt offering. More likely, we will be accessing the market in sizes of around $3 to $5 billion per annum,” Froehlich said.


Proceeds from the upcoming bond sale will be used to refinance loans, he said. ADNOC has $6 billion in loans maturing this year and $10 billion over the following three years.


“But, just so that you understand, we just paid back a $3 billion bank line in cash, so this bond program is not necessarily a necessity to refinance bank loans, but a proactive move in order to build a curve,” Froehlich said.


Investors have previously been offered bonds carrying ADNOC risk indirectly.


ADNOC billed Murban as a “superior proposition for bondholders” in the investor presentation, in part due to a prospective “highest ranking position in ADNOC’s cash waterfall.”


ADNOC Murban investors get paid before ADNOC Group royalties, most operating expenditures, and tax, the presentation said.


Named after ADNOC’s flagship crude grade Murban, the debt-issuing unit is expected to be rated AA by S&P, Aa2 by Moody’s and AA by Fitch, ADNOC Murban said in a statement earlier on Tuesday.


It said the ratings are aligned with its shareholder, the emirate of Abu Dhabi, a regular issuer in the debt capital markets.


Debt issued by ADNOC Murban will not receive guarantees from ADNOC or the Abu Dhabi government, S&P said in its rating report on Tuesday.


“Murban takes momentary ownership of the Murban barrels assigned to it by ADNOC under the assignment agreement and immediately sells the same... barrels to ADNOC Trading and ADNOC,” S&P said.


“Murban has effectively been inserted in the crude oil value chain such that it owns no reserves and bears no production costs, royalties, or taxes, but has the first claim on the cash proceeds from these Murban crude oil barrels.”


Saudi Arabia's hospitality sector sees significant rebound

Saudi Arabia's hospitality sector sees significant rebound
Updated 19 sec ago

Saudi Arabia's hospitality sector sees significant rebound

Saudi Arabia's hospitality sector sees significant rebound
  • Kingdom’s hotels ‘enjoying higher occupancies of over 70% in most destinations’

RIYADH: Of all the industries impacted by the pandemic, the hospitality sector was the worst hit in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, as in all other territories.

In 2020, hotel occupancy rates declined to 49 percent in Riyadh from 60 percent in 2019. Likewise, Makkah witnessed a decline from 61 percent to 25 percent, and Jeddah from 58 percent to 37 percent, according to professional services firm Deloitte.

However, the Kingdom’s travel and tourism sector enjoyed an equally dramatic rebound. Riyadh, Dammam and Jeddah witnessed revenue per available room recovery index rates of 88 percent, 85 percent and 56 percent, respectively, in 2021, as recently reported by the US-based hospitality research company STR. 

Furthermore, the pace of growth is set to gather steam as the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform program aims to attract 100 million annual visitors within eight years. 

The reforms will also focus on T&T outside the traditional destinations of Hajj and Umrah and in line with national gigaprojects such as NEOM and The Red Sea Development Company.

“There is a palpable excitement about Saudi Arabia – not just locally, but globally,” said Philip Wooller, area director, Middle East & Africa at STR.

“Despite the challenges of the last two years, the acceleration of Saudi Arabia as both a leisure and business destination has been remarkable, and the ambitious plans laid out in Vision 2030 are on track.” 

These remarks were echoed by Haitham Mattar, managing director of India, Middle East & Africa at UK-headquartered IHG Hotels & Resorts, the world’s third-largest hotel company, which has been active in the Kingdom since 1975. He expected the resurgence of Saudi Arabia’s T&T sector in the broader international context.

Too big to fail

“The global pandemic was a crisis that brought the industry to its knees for the first time,” Mattar told Arab News. “However, I always say the hospitality sector is too big to fail. We’ve gone through the 2008 financial crisis, foot and mouth disease, SARS and other global problems, and the industry always seems to bounce right back.

“Saudi Arabia’s hotel performance registered year-on-year gains in 2021, and the sector’s recovery is expected to persist throughout the coming year, with pent-up demand driving further improvements as COVID-19-related restrictions continue to ease.

“Our hotels are now enjoying higher occupancies of over 70 percent in most destinations from domestic and international customers.”

Mattar is an authority on Saudi Arabia’s hospitality sector. He was a senior advisor to the Kingdom’s Ministry of Tourism from 2019 to 2021, where he helped develop a national tourism strategy based on research into global markets, demographics, events, infrastructure, supply chains and identification of key tourism destinations.

Mattar credited the government of Saudi Arabia for helping the hospitality industry through the worst of times and bringing it back to its feet.

“The government supported the entire private sector, including the hotel industry, with subsidization of wages, reduced energy costs and flexible or deferred loan repayments, all of which helped our owners in their recovery plan.

“And today, the government of Saudi and the tourism ministry has been extremely active in bringing great events to the country, which generate demand both domestically and internationally. In addition, we’ve seen increased demand as the borders have started to open with the easing of restrictions.”

Evolving dynamics

According to STR, over 30,000 hotel rooms are currently under construction in the Kingdom.

“STR’s findings clearly point to ongoing and sustained recovery. We are looking forward to exploring the vast untapped potential of the Kingdom’s burgeoning tourism sector,” said Danielle Curtis, exhibition director of Arabian Travel Market.

“Travelers today are seeking new destinations and new experiences, with sustainable tourism being high on their agenda,” Mattar said.

“And sustainability goes a long way. It’s not just about being environmentally friendly; it’s more about preserving wildlife, contributing to zero poverty, creating jobs, and protecting culture and heritage. That’s what travelers today want to associate themselves with.”

Mattar noted that the push for sustainable tourism is changing the very nature of hotel design in Saudi Arabia and worldwide.

“It’s critical to ensure that our hotels are designed with zero emissions, renewable energy and zero usage of single-use plastic.

“Also, consumers want to move away from large lobbies, conglomerates and queues at the reception. New designs will allow people access to their accommodation with minimal touchpoints with other people, for example, online check-ins and services.”

Technology impact

These technical advances are coordinated with the Kingdom’s wider harnessing of artificial intelligence and internet-connected smart devices as Vision 2030 drives it towards a more knowledge-based economy.

NEOM, The Line and TRSDC, all slated to be global tourist hubs, are implementing digital technology from the ground up, emphasizing sustainability.

“A hundred years from now, we will experience exactly the same natural treasures in the Red Sea,” said Najwah Hamzeh, senior smart destinations director at The Red Sea Development Co.

These initiatives will give the Kingdom an edge in the highly competitive global hospitality industry in the future. Still, according to Mattar, other attributes make it uniquely attractive to international travelers.

“Saudi Arabia has beautiful and diverse landscapes, from snow-topped mountains to green mountains to beautiful, lush valleys, great cultural experiences, a rich gastronomy, and preserved authenticity, with 7,000 years of history,” he said.

“There’s a great opportunity for the Kingdom to be a global player in the global tourism arena. The government is working with us, the operators, to ensure that they deliver to their plans.”


How Saudi developer TRSDC is turning Sheybarah Island into an iconic resort

How Saudi developer TRSDC is turning Sheybarah Island into an iconic resort
Updated 3 min 7 sec ago

How Saudi developer TRSDC is turning Sheybarah Island into an iconic resort

How Saudi developer TRSDC is turning Sheybarah Island into an iconic resort
  • Located in the southeast of TRSDC’s archipelago in the Red Sea, Sheybarah Hotel is a 73-room hyper luxury resort situated on Sheybarah Island

DUBAI: The Red Sea Development Co., the property developer known for building some of the most futuristic hospitality projects, is raising eyebrows across the design world with its overwater imprint of floating orbs on Sheybarah Island.

Located in the southeast of TRSDC’s archipelago in the Red Sea, Sheybarah Hotel is a 73-room hyper luxury resort situated on Sheybarah Island, which uses a design vocabulary involving a highly reflective stainless-steel skin polished to get a mirror finish.

These floating orbs reflect the colors and surface patterns of the ocean and the colors of the sky as they change throughout the day. This approach alleviates the visual impact of the architecture on the surroundings and harnesses solar energy with its reflective mirror surface.

The brains behind Dubai’s new Museum of the Future, Killa Design, designed these stainless-steel orbs, which promise to be a unique experience for guests in 2023 when the resort opens.

Speaking about these orbs, Yatindra Mudbidri, director of Grankraft Industries, said that the most crucial challenge to building the orbs was how to manufacture something seamless.

Grankraft is a partner of TRSDC empaneled to create over 70 futuristic ‘floating bubble’ overwater villas with seamless polished stainless-steel surfaces that reflect the environment. 

Yatindra Mudbidri, Director of Grankraft

“It’s like water; it reflects what you project onto it,” said Mudbidri.

Due to the company’s commitment to sustainability, the orbs are currently manufactured and built off-site at Grankraft’s facility in Sharjah Free Zone. The spheres are expected to be shipped this summer to the destination to be effectively “plugged” into the project.

Grankraft designed the orbs so that the skin is thermally isolated from the structure, he said, while adding that each sphere takes about 45 days to construct.

According to Killa Designs, the entire project is powered by a centralized solar farm, and freshwater is supplied from a solar-powered desalination plant. 

Recycling the waste material takes place on the island, minimizing the need to bring or remove materials from the site.

The entire infrastructural backbone of the project forms part of a visitor experience where guests can learn about the approach followed to make the project a self-sustained human development, said the design company in its concept note.

So, can one cook an egg on the stainless-steel orb?

“Unless you walk on top of the villa and place it directly at the location where the sun’s reflection is,” quipped Mudbidri, revealing a possibility not worth trying.


Fuel price cap ‘beat inflation’ in Saudi Arabia, says finance minister in economic forecast

Fuel price cap ‘beat inflation’ in Saudi Arabia, says finance minister in economic forecast
Updated 37 min 21 sec ago

Fuel price cap ‘beat inflation’ in Saudi Arabia, says finance minister in economic forecast

Fuel price cap ‘beat inflation’ in Saudi Arabia, says finance minister in economic forecast
  • Inflation in Saudi Arabia was 1.6 percent at the end of March and is expected to be no higher that 2.3 percent by the end of the year

DAVOS: A cap on the domestic price of gasoline when crude oil passed $70 a barrel helped to insulate Saudi Arabia from the danger of inflation, the Kingdom’s finance minister said on Monday.
Inflation in Saudi Arabia was 1.6 percent at the end of March and is expected to be no higher that 2.3 percent by the end of the year, Mohammed Al-Jadaan said. Many Western economies are nearing double-digit inflation, partly driven by domestic energy costs.
“It was the end of last year we froze the price escalation of gasoline for the internal economy and households at $70. So anything above $70, the economy will not feel that heat,” Al-Jadaan told a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
The minister said the economic outlook for the Middle East and North Africa region was generally positive, but geopolitical challenges such as the war in Ukraine were putting pressure on food prices. “In this particular area, let us remember that the MENA region is a significant importer of wheat,” he said.
“If you look at just some basic figures, we represent about 6 percent of the world’s population, and the World Bank is saying 20 percent of the world’s potential starvation will be in MENA.”


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

70% of UAE, Saudi professionals consider changing jobs due to lack of flexibility, LinkedIn research shows
Updated 29 min 3 sec ago

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

70% of UAE, Saudi professionals consider changing jobs due to lack of flexibility, LinkedIn 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.