UAE’s Mashreq Bank ponders sale of payments arm in potential $500m deal: Bloomberg

UAE’s Mashreq Bank ponders sale of payments arm in potential $500m deal: Bloomberg
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Updated 24 February 2022

UAE’s Mashreq Bank ponders sale of payments arm in potential $500m deal: Bloomberg

UAE’s Mashreq Bank ponders sale of payments arm in potential $500m deal: Bloomberg

RIYADH: Dubai’s Mashreq Bank is working with Goldman Sachs on a potential $500 million sale of its payments arm, Bloomberg reported, citing unnamed sources.

The group is looking for potential buyers for the unit, mainly responsible for carrying out and processing debit and credit card transactions.

Representatives for the lender and Goldman Sachs declined to comment to Bloomberg on the news.

The move is the latest in the trend of traditional lenders pivoting into digital banking amid rising competition from startups providing non-traditional financial services.

As one of the UAE’s oldest privately held banks, Mashreq has origins going back to 1967.


Oil prices slip on cloudy demand outlook, but poised for weekly gain

Oil prices slip on cloudy demand outlook, but poised for weekly gain
Updated 12 August 2022

Oil prices slip on cloudy demand outlook, but poised for weekly gain

Oil prices slip on cloudy demand outlook, but poised for weekly gain

SINGAPORE: Oil prices dropped in Asia trade on Friday amid an uncertain demand outlook, though benchmark contracts were headed for weekly gains as recession fears eased, according a Reuters.

Brent crude futures fell 49 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $99.11 a barrel at 0330 GMT, while US West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 50 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $93.84 a barrel.

Brent was on track to climb more than 4 percent for the week, recouping part of last week’s 14 percent tumble, its biggest weekly decline since April 2020 amid fears that rising inflation and interest rate hikes will hit economic growth and fuel demand.

WTI was heading for a weekly gain of more than 5 percent, recouping about half of the previous week’s loss.

Uncertainty capped price gains as the market absorbed contrasting demand views from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and the International Energy Agency.

“While the peaking-inflation narrative has given some traction for risk assets lately, the more measured moves in oil prices since June suggest that some reservations remain in light of its cloudy demand outlook,” said Yeap Jun Rong, a market strategist at IG.

The trade-off for growth may continue to limit oil prices’ upside, with key psychological resistance for Brent at the $100 a barrel level, Yeap added.

On Thursday, OPEC cut its forecast for growth in world oil demand in 2022 by 260,000 barrels per day. It now expects demand to rise by 3.1 million bpd this year.

That contradicts the view from the IEA, which raised its forecast for demand growth to 2.1 million bpd, due to gas-to-oil switching in power generation as a result of soaring gas prices.

“There’s a great deal of uncertainty about demand in the short run. Until that settles, it (the market) will be like this for a while,” said Justin Smirk, a senior economist at Westpac.

At the same time, the IEA raised its outlook for Russian oil supply by 500,000 bpd for the second half of 2022, but said OPEC would struggle to boost production.

“The net picture that the IEA painted was a mix,” said Commonwealth Bank analyst Vivek Dhar. “Russian supply has been more resilient than thought.”

“Assessing global oil balances by the end of the year right now, given what’s happening on the demand side versus what’s happening on supply side — it’s just complicated. That’s why you have the daily volatility.” 


Egypt In-Focus — Annual headline inflation rises 1%; M&A activity amounts to $3.2bn in H1


Egypt In-Focus — Annual headline inflation rises 1%; M&A activity amounts to $3.2bn in H1

Updated 11 August 2022

Egypt In-Focus — Annual headline inflation rises 1%; M&A activity amounts to $3.2bn in H1


Egypt In-Focus — Annual headline inflation rises 1%; M&A activity amounts to $3.2bn in H1


CAIRO: Egypt’s annual headline inflation rose to 15.6 percent in July, up from 14.6 in June, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics.

CAPMAS attributed the rise in inflation to the increase in food and beverage prices that grew by 23.8 percent, along with growth in commodity and services prices.

M&A activity

Egypt reported a total of 65 mergers and acquisitions deals, valued at $3.2 billion, during the first six months of 2022, according to the EY MENA M&A Insights report.

Deal activity has surged thrice year-on-year during the first half of 2022. The report attributed the surge to “favorable government initiatives including granting a special license to foreign investors.” 

Port agreements

Egypt on Thursday signed two initial agreements for the development of port facilities with Hutchison Ports, Cosco and CMA CGM, Reuters reported citing a Cabinet statement.

The agreements with the international consortium could see investments of up to 800 million, it added.

Gas consumption 

Egypt has launched a plan to rationalize gas consumption in electricity plants in a bid to save foreign currency and achieve financial returns from gas export, according to Daily News Egypt. 

Maersk to invest $500m in Egypt

Danish shipping company Maersk is planning to invest  $500 million in Egypt to operate a new 1,000-meter container berth adjacent to the existing 500-meter berth in East Port Said. 

The company also aims to increase the number of cranes to 30 winches, all powered by electricity instead of diesel, according to a statement. 

This came at the end of  the head of the Suez Canal Authority Osama Rabie’s tour to the Netherlands and Denmark, which lasted 4 days, from Aug.7 to 10.

 


Oil rises as IEA hikes 2022 demand growth forecast

Oil rises as IEA hikes 2022 demand growth forecast
Updated 11 August 2022

Oil rises as IEA hikes 2022 demand growth forecast

Oil rises as IEA hikes 2022 demand growth forecast

LONDON: Oil prices rose by over 2 percent on Thursday after the International Energy Agency raised its oil demand growth forecast for this year as soaring natural gas prices lead some consumers to switch to oil.

Brent crude futures gained $2.39, or 2.5 percent, to $99.79 a barrel by 1348 GMT, while US West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose $2.65, or 2.9 percent, to $94.58.

“Natural gas and electricity prices have soared to new records, incentivizing gas-to-oil switching in some countries,” the Paris-based agency said in its monthly oil report, in which it raised its outlook for 2022 demand by 380,000 barrels per day.

By contrast, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries on Thursday cut its 2022 forecast for growth in world oil demand, citing the economic impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, high inflation and efforts to contain the pandemic.

OPEC expects 2022 oil demand to rise by 3.1 million bpd, down 260,000 bpd from the previous forecast. However, it still sees a higher overall global oil demand figure than the IEA for 2022.

A rise in US oil inventories last week and the resumption of crude flows on a pipeline supplying central Europe capped further price gains.

US crude oil stocks rose by 5.5 million barrels in the most recent week, the US Energy Information Administration said, more than the expected increase of 73,000 barrels.

Gasoline product supplied rose in the most recent week to 9.1 million barrels per day, though that figure shows demand down 6 percent over the last four weeks compared with the year-ago period.

The premium for front-month WTI futures over barrels loading in six months’ time was pegged at $4.38 a barrel on Thursday, the lowest in four months, indicating easing tightness in prompt supplies.

The resumption of flows on the southern leg of the Russia-to-Europe Druzhba pipeline further calmed market worries over global supply.


Egypt to ration electricity to boost gas exports

Egypt to ration electricity to boost gas exports
Updated 11 August 2022

Egypt to ration electricity to boost gas exports

Egypt to ration electricity to boost gas exports

CAIRO: Egypt’s Cabinet has approved a plan to ration electricity to save natural gas that it will instead divert to the export market to generate foreign currency, it said on Thursday.

Egypt has suffered from an acute foreign currency shortage since Russia's February invasion of Ukraine, which pushed up global commodity prices, led to the collapse of tourism from the two countries and drove up the cost of borrowing.

Under the draft plan, shops and malls will have to limit their use of strong lights and keep their air conditioning at no cooler than 25 degrees Celsius.

Ministries and government facilities will have to turn off lighting at the end of working hours, the statement added. Street lighting will also be reduced.

The government last month postponed a planned increase in electricity prices by six months. The higher prices would have been intensely unpopular among a population that over the last few years has endured a series of harsh austerity measures.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said the government hoped to reduce the amount of gas used to generate electricity by 15 percent. He said domestic power plants bought their natural gas at one-tenth the price that it could fetch on international markets.

Europe has been seeking alternative sources of gas to cut its reliance on Russian gas as the war in Ukraine escalates.

Rapid growth in Egypt’s natural gas supplies, boosted by the discovery of the Mediterranean’s largest field, turned it from a net importer to an exporter in late 2018.

Egypt exported 9.45 million cubic meters of liquid natural gas in the first seven months of 2022, up 44 percent from a year earlier, according to Refinitiv data. 


Ethiopia starts power generation from second turbine at mega-dam

Ethiopia starts power generation from second turbine at mega-dam
Updated 11 August 2022

Ethiopia starts power generation from second turbine at mega-dam

Ethiopia starts power generation from second turbine at mega-dam

RIYADH: Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed kickstarted electricity production from the second turbine at its controversial mega-dam on the Blue Nile on Thursday, despite continuing objections by Egypt and Sudan over the project, according to AFP.

Abiy also confirmed that a third filling of the multi-billion dollar Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam was under way, a development that led Egypt last month to protest to the UN Security Council.

Thursday’s move came even though there is still no agreement between Ethiopia and its downstream neighbors Egypt and Sudan about the GERD’s operations.

Abiy insisted that the third filling of the $4.2 billion dam — set to be the largest hydroelectric scheme in Africa — was not causing any water shortages for the two countries.

“We have repeatedly told downstream countries, especially Egypt and Sudan, that by generating power we’re developing our economy, as well as (our desire) to see our citizens who live in the dark see light,” he said.

There was “no aim to sideline and harm” those countries, he added.

Ethiopia first began generating electricity at the dam in February. Currently, the two turbines, out of a total of 13 at the dam, are generating 750 megawatts of electricity.

We are ready to face all scenarios after Ethiopia completes the third filling phase of the Renaissance Dam, and we expect an unprecedented rise in the Nile waters after the gates of the dam are opened, the Sudanese Minister of Irrigation Yasser Abbas told Asharq.