India In-Focus — LIC to go ahead with IPO listing; ONGC struggling to move Russian oil

India In-Focus — LIC to go ahead with IPO listing; ONGC struggling to move Russian oil
India expects to raise up to $2.74 billion from selling a 3.5 percent stake in LIC’s IPO. (AFP)
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Updated 27 April 2022

India In-Focus — LIC to go ahead with IPO listing; ONGC struggling to move Russian oil

India In-Focus — LIC to go ahead with IPO listing; ONGC struggling to move Russian oil

MUMBAI: India has decided to go ahead with state-run Life Insurance Corp’s initial public offering in May, due to strong market demand and a “solid” anchor investor base, a top finance ministry official said on Wednesday.

India expects to raise up to $2.74 billion from selling a 3.5 percent stake in LIC’s IPO, just a third of its original target, and is set to open on May 2 for anchor investors.

Tuhin Kanta Pandey, secretary at the department of investment and public asset management, said the size of the LIC IPO is “optimal” in current market conditions. The government had originally planned to sell a 5 percent stake in the company.

Tata’s Air India proposes to buy AirAsia India




Tata Sons has an 83.67 percent stake in AirAsia India. (AFP)

Tata Group-owned Air India has proposed to buy the entire equity share capital of low-cost carrier AirAsia India, in which Tata has a majority stake, to merge into a single airline, according to an application with India’s competition commission.

The autos-to-steel conglomerate bought state-run carrier Air India in a $2.4 billion equity-and-debt deal, regaining ownership of what used to be India’s flagship carrier after nearly 70 years.

Tata Sons has an 83.67 percent stake in AirAsia India.

“This was expected, as it makes no sense for the Tata Group to own stakes in separate airlines,” said Vinamra Longani, head of operations at Sarin & Co, a law firm specializing in aircraft leasing and finance.

“The Tata Group has embarked on what will go down in history as possibly one of the most challenging airline realignments or turnarounds.”

While Air India has lucrative landing slots, Tata faces an uphill task to upgrade the airline’s aging fleet and turn around its financials and service levels.

France’s Atos moves Russian services to India and Turkey

Atos is moving services currently delivered from Russia to other countries, including India and Turkey, the French IT consulting group said on Wednesday in light of the conflict in Ukraine.

The feasibility of exiting Russia has required significant planning in terms of implications for business operations and employees based there, the company said in an earnings statement.

ONGC struggling to move Russian oil to Asia as sanctions bite




ONGC has a 20 percent stake in the Sakhalin 1 project. (AFP)

India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corp., also known as ONGC, is struggling to find a vessel to ship 700,000 barrels of crude from Russia’s Far East, in a growing sign that complex trades involving one of Moscow’s biggest partners are being interrupted by Western sanctions, sources said.

Several Indian companies including ONGC have stakes in Russian oil and gas assets, and India has been buying more Russian crude since Moscow invaded Ukraine, snapping up the popular Urals crude grade, while other buyers have shunned Russian exports.

ONGC has a 20 percent stake in the Sakhalin 1 project that produces a Russian grade known as Sokol, which ONGC exports through tenders. Sokol is mostly bought by North Asian buyers and loaded from South Korea.

However, Moscow’s ability to ship that grade, which requires vessels that can break through ice, is becoming harder due to concerns from shippers over reputational risk, and the increasing difficulty for Russian assets to find insurance coverage.

Shipping companies are also less willing to move Russian oil in Asia, fearing the potential reputational risks involved with charters, the shipping sources added.

(With inputs from Reuters) 


EDF’s nuclear power plant to cost an additional $3.7bn amid delays: NRG matters

EDF’s nuclear power plant to cost an additional $3.7bn amid delays: NRG matters
Updated 14 sec ago

EDF’s nuclear power plant to cost an additional $3.7bn amid delays: NRG matters

EDF’s nuclear power plant to cost an additional $3.7bn amid delays: NRG matters

RIYADH: On a macro level, Iran has finally agreed to carry its gas to Oman after almost two decades. Russia has officially stopped gas flow to Finland after it has decided to join NATO. On a micro level, nuclear electric power generation firms are either delaying or terminating work on nuclear power plants due to several reasons including the Russia-Ukraine war, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the supply chain crisis.

Looking through the bigger picture: 

·      After almost 20 years of delay, Iran’s oil minister Javad Owji has finally agreed to revive a pipeline project which aims to channel Iranian gas to Oman, Reuters reported, citing the Iranian state news agency. Oman plans to utilize the gas from Iran in energy-intensive industries as well as liquified natural gas export plants. 

·      Russia stopped natural gas flows to Finland on Saturday after the latter announced that it will be joining the intergovernmental military alliance the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Bloomberg reported, citing a filing by Finnish importer Gasum Oy. This makes Finland the third European country to lose gas flows from Russia after refusing to pay for the fuel in rubles.

Through a micro lens:

·      American nuclear electric power generation company Entergy Corp has announced that it had halted an 800 MW nuclear power station, also known as Palisades, located in Michigan, Reuters reported. This comes in spite of President Biden’s administration’s scheme to keep such plants running as they are known to generate electricity free of carbon emissions.  

·      French nuclear electric power generation corporation Electricite de France SA’s nuclear power plant located in Southwest England is projected to cost an additional 3 billion pounds ($3.7 billion) amid delays as a result of the Russia-Ukraine war, the COVID-19 pandemic, and supply chain constraints, Bloomberg reported. Also referred to as Hinkley Point C, the nuclear plant project is expected to range between £25 billion and £26 billion, up from a previous estimate ranging between £22 to £23 billion pounds. 


Zurich Insurance to exit Russia amid mounting sanctions 

Zurich Insurance to exit Russia amid mounting sanctions 
Updated 8 min 38 sec ago

Zurich Insurance to exit Russia amid mounting sanctions 

Zurich Insurance to exit Russia amid mounting sanctions 

RIYADH: Switzerland-based Zurich Insurance Group will sell its Russia business to 11 members of its team as it withdraws from the heavily-sanctioned country.

The business will run independently as part of a different brand, Bloomberg reported citing a statement.

Similarly, the Dutch investment firm Prosus is eyeing selling its $6 billion Russian classified ads business Avito.

This comes as part of the e-commerce firm’s plan to “decouple” itself from its biggest Russian asset two months ago, according to Bloomberg. 


Crypto Moves — Bitcoin & Ethereum rise; Portugal plans to implement crypto taxes

Crypto Moves — Bitcoin & Ethereum rise; Portugal plans to implement crypto taxes
Updated 18 min 16 sec ago

Crypto Moves — Bitcoin & Ethereum rise; Portugal plans to implement crypto taxes

Crypto Moves — Bitcoin & Ethereum rise; Portugal plans to implement crypto taxes

RIYADH: Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency internationally, traded higher on Sunday, rising by 0.36 percent to $29,364 as of 9:00 a.m. Riyadh time.

Ether, the second most traded cryptocurrency, was priced at $1,972.15 up by 0.35 percent, according to data from Coindesk.

Portugal to tax crypto 

The Portuguese finance minister said on Thursday the government is preparing to fill the legal gap that prevents the taxation of virtual assets, AFP reported. Investors are attracted to cryptocurrencies because of the lack of taxation.

During a meeting of foreign journalists in Lisbon, Fernando Medina said, “The government intends to legislate on this matter, we are not going to maintain this vacuum.” 

According to a 2016 ruling by the tax administration that remains in effect, Portugal is currently one of the few countries in Europe that do not tax crypto transactions because they do not qualify as foreign currencies or financial assets, the AFP report added.

Neither purchasers nor sellers of crypto assets are subject to the value added tax or capital gains taxes, and only business activity paid for with crypto assets is taxed.

The government plans to introduce “as soon as possible” a new legal framework that would balance fair taxation with international competitiveness, Medina said.

(With inputs from AFP)


MENA’s first animal vaccine facility in Saudi aimed at reducing cattle diseases to start in 2024

MENA’s first animal vaccine facility in Saudi aimed at reducing cattle diseases to start in 2024
Updated 34 min 38 sec ago

MENA’s first animal vaccine facility in Saudi aimed at reducing cattle diseases to start in 2024

MENA’s first animal vaccine facility in Saudi aimed at reducing cattle diseases to start in 2024

RIYADH: The Middle East North Africa region’s first animal vaccine facility aimed at reducing foot and mouth diseases, located in Saudi Arabia, is expected to be operational by 2024, according to one of the project’s owners.

The new plant, which is a joint venture between Argentina’s Biogenesis Bago and Saudi partners, is currently under construction in the eastern part of the Kingdom with a cost of $80 million.

The facility is capable of producing 200 million doses of vaccines a year at full capacity, covering the entire regional demand, said Esteban Turic, CEO of Biogenesis Bago in an exclusive interview with Arab News.
 
Biogenesis and its Saudi partner MAS are building the facility in Dammam industrial zone and it will eventually supply roughly three times more than the current demand of doses in Saudi Arabia, and 20 times more than in Jordan and Iraq, he added.

This new facility has a crucial significance, as the region is home to over one billion heads of cattle, goats, sheep and camelids. As foot and mouth diseases are very common in these animals, the new facility will significantly reduce the import of vaccines and crucially have vaccines in close proximity to react quickly if necessary.

Talking about selecting Saudi Arabia as the place for developing this facility, Turic said, “Saudi Arabia has one of the biggest domestic markets which demands the biggest volume of this vaccine. Secondly, because it’s in the middle of the GCC countries, and through the 2030 vision, the country provides a lot of incentives for the private sector.”

The vaccine plant which is expected to begin production by the second half of 2024 will start producing 50 million doses in the first year, and will reach the maximum production capacity within two years, added Turic.

Turic also revealed that the facility will create 300 direct jobs in Saudi Arabia, to include biochemists, biologists, and engineers. The indirect jobs will be in excess of 300, he added. 

He also made it clear that most of these direct and indirect jobs will be among Saudi Arabian nationals.


Egypt In-Focus: Ministry begins implementing digital transformation; EIB eyeing role in seawater desalination plan

Egypt In-Focus: Ministry begins implementing digital transformation; EIB eyeing role in seawater desalination plan
Updated 22 May 2022

Egypt In-Focus: Ministry begins implementing digital transformation; EIB eyeing role in seawater desalination plan

Egypt In-Focus: Ministry begins implementing digital transformation; EIB eyeing role in seawater desalination plan

RIYADH: Egypt’s Ministry of Public Enterprise Sector has announced that it has completed digital transformation projects in 15 companies. Digital transformation of 56 firms is currently underway, it added. In another development, healthcare startup Doxx has raised a significant amount in a seed funding round. Meanwhile, the European Investment Bank has expressed interest in taking part in the North African county’s seawater desalination plan. 

·      The Ministry of Public Enterprise Sector has announced that it has completed the digital transformation project for a total of 15 companies out of the 71 companies, local newspaper Youm 7 reported. According to sources, the ministry will continue implementation of the digital transformation project, also known as the Enterprise Resource and Planning and Management program, in the remaining firms. 

·      Egypt-based digital platform healthcare startup Doxx has secured $1.5 million in a seed round led by Egyptian healthcare-focused venture capital firm Elevate, local newspaper Daily News Egypt reported. The investment falls in line with Elevate’s goal of facilitating access to quality healthcare in the country.

·      The private sector is a key driver of economic relations between the US and Egypt, local newspaper Youm 7 quoted the head of the Egyptian-American Business Council, Omar Muhanna, as saying. Moreover, the partnership between both countries will result in the creation of various direct as well as indirect job opportunities in Egypt, Muhanna said.

·      The European Investment Bank is contemplating contributing to Egypt’s scheme to desalinate seawater in terms of financing, local newspaper Egypt Today reported, citing water expert at EIB Walid Salem. 

·      Egyptian banks’ net foreign assets are anticipated to recover post devaluation of the Egyptian pound, credit rating agency Fitch Ratings reported. This is mainly attributed to the increase in foreign investors’ confidence amid a more lenient exchange rate system as well as a new IMF program.