‘The right vision lays the foundations of a terrific future’ in Saudi Arabia, says Investcorp co-CEO

‘The right vision lays the foundations of a terrific future’ in Saudi Arabia, says Investcorp co-CEO
Investcorp co-CEO Hazem Ben-Gacem. (Supplied)
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Updated 27 May 2022

‘The right vision lays the foundations of a terrific future’ in Saudi Arabia, says Investcorp co-CEO

‘The right vision lays the foundations of a terrific future’ in Saudi Arabia, says Investcorp co-CEO
  • Investcorp co-CEO Hazem Ben-Gacem discusses Saudi and regional economy plus future plans

DAVOS: With Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan to diversify the Kingdom’s economy away from oil dependence, Investcorp co-CEO Hazem Ben-Gacem has only one way to look — up.

“Today when you have the right vision, you have the right local infrastructure and local people, as well as the capital to go with that, these are the foundations of hopefully a terrific future,” he told Arab News at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos.

“Saudi specifically has a very terrific, audacious plan for growth in the economy, driven by the 2030 vision, and that requires the capital that requires the resources to diversify and grow the economy way beyond the fossil fuel economy.”

Investcorp is one of the biggest and oldest global asset management companies in the region, specializing in alternative investments across sectors including private equity, real estate, credit and infrastructure.




Investcorp is one of the biggest and oldest global asset management companies in the region. (Supplied)

Founded in Bahrain in 1982, the company has global investments in the US and Europe, as well as the Middle East, India, Southeast Asia and China.

Investcorp has more than $42 billion in assets under management and has been a major investor in the region, especially in Saudi Arabia where it has been heavily investing over the past 15 years, Ben-Gacem said.

The company, however, hopes to increase its assets to up to $200 billion and bring in investors from the Kingdom and other countries in the region.

Investcorp’s Saudi investments include Leejam, the biggest fitness group in the country; BinDawood Holding, the largest supermarket chain; Theeb, one of the largest car rental businesses; and Al Borg, the largest medical testing center.

Investcorp are currently raising two specific funds for Saudi Arabia.




Investcorp is one of the biggest and oldest global asset management companies in the region. (Supplied)

The first one is the Saudi Pre-IPO Fund, a private equity fund investing in Saudi domiciled businesses, which will be prepared for a listing on the Tadawul Stock Exchange, Ben-Gacem explained.

The second one is an infrastructure fund that will focus on the social infrastructure investments in the region.

Ben-Gacem said that he was “very proud” that no other private equity firm has had as many listings as Investcorp has had on the Tadawul.

“I like to think that’s the beginning and there’s even more to come in the near future,” he said.

On new investment developments in Saudi Arabia, Ben-Gacem said that the company was a big fan of technology and hopes to soon announce a substantial investment in one of the largest technology businesses in Saudi Arabia.

The company hopes to support that business to expand globally. “That’s what Investcorp is good at, taking businesses global,” he said. “I think it’s about time Saudi businesses started to think global and started to act and sell their products and their services in a global manner.”

He added: “They have the competence, they have the products, the services, the people, and we are happy and proud to be supporting those businesses to do that.” 

 


Commodities Update — Gold prices fall; Indonesia to raise palm oil export quota; Russia reduces grain export taxes

Commodities Update — Gold prices fall; Indonesia to raise palm oil export quota; Russia reduces grain export taxes
Updated 13 sec ago

Commodities Update — Gold prices fall; Indonesia to raise palm oil export quota; Russia reduces grain export taxes

Commodities Update — Gold prices fall; Indonesia to raise palm oil export quota; Russia reduces grain export taxes

RIYADH: Gold prices fell on Friday as a firm dollar and looming rate hikes soured appetite for the non-yielding asset, while India’s import tax hike on bullion also dampened its demand prospects.

Spot gold is currently priced at $1,811.43 per ounce, while US gold futures settled down at $1,801.50. 

Silver, Platinum fall

Spot silver is priced at $19.67 and has dropped about 6.5 percent this week, its biggest weekly fall since January 2022.

Spot platinum is priced at $892.73 per ounce, on course for its fourth consecutive weekly fall, while palladium is at $1,959.58, gaining about 4.5 percent this week.

Indonesia looks to raise palm oil export quota

Indonesia proposed raising palm oil export quotas on Friday and is considering increasing mandatory levels of biodiesel in fuel mixes to prop up prices for farmers when domestic palm oil inventories are high, a senior minister said on Saturday.

Palm oil inventories ballooned, and mills limited purchases of fresh fruit bunches from farmers after Jakarta stopped exports of crude palm oil and some other derivatives for three weeks to May 23 in a bid to contain soaring domestic cooking oil prices.

Indonesia replaced the ban with a domestic market obligation, requiring companies to supply a portion of their products to the domestic market through the government’s bulk cooking oil program and linked DMO volumes to companies’ export permits and quotas. 

DMO volumes as of the end of June were around 270,000 tons, the government said.

The government will now allow palm oil companies to export seven times the amount of their sales from currently five times, senior minister Luhut Pandjaitan said.

“I asked the Trade Ministry to increase the export multiplication factor to seven times starting July 1, with the main objective to increase farmer’s FFB prices significantly,” Luhut said in a statement.

Russia reduces grain export taxes to support exports

Sanctions-hit Russia has sharply reduced its grain export taxes after changing the formula it uses for calculating them to support shipments in the July-June marketing season, the agriculture ministry said on Friday.

Russian farmers are expected to harvest a massive wheat crop this summer, bringing a record exportable surplus in the 2022-2023 season. 

However, shipments are complicated by high export tax, a strong rouble and sanctions-inflated costs for freight and insurance.

The ministry said that the new base price for calculating the wheat export tax is set at 15,000 roubles ($283.68) per ton.

It was previously in US dollars at $200 a ton. The agriculture ministry used the base price and price indicators reported by traders to determine the level of tax weekly.

The wheat export tax is set at 4,600 roubles ($85.8) per ton from July 6-12 against $146.1 per ton from June 29 to July 5, the ministry said in a separate note.

President Vladimir Putin said this week that Russia is the world’s largest wheat exporter and aims to remain so. Despite disrupting the Black Sea supply chains, it continues to supply its traditional markets in the Middle East and Africa.

(With inputs from Reuters)


Careem acquires money transfer technology platform Denarii

Careem acquires money transfer technology platform Denarii
Updated 41 min 18 sec ago

Careem acquires money transfer technology platform Denarii

Careem acquires money transfer technology platform Denarii

RIYADH: Careem, the ride-hailing and e-commerce platform, has acquired Denarii, a Dubai-based money transfer platform, in its second acquisition this month.

While the company has not disclosed the value of the deal, this acquisition will allow Careem to integrate Denarii’s technologies and assets into its platform.

Some key members of the Denarii team will also join Careem as part of the acquisition, MAGNiTT reported. 

Careem will use Denarii’s technology for its Careem Pay feature, to connect customers and Captains with remittance services provided by licensed providers. 

“Denarii’s innovative API will accelerate our journey to offering simple and affordable international remittance services, adding to the wide variety of services already available through Careem Pay,” Mudassir Sheikha, CEO and co-founder of Careem said. 


JPMorgan warns oil may hit $380 a barrel if Russia begins retaliatory production cuts

JPMorgan warns oil may hit $380 a barrel if Russia begins retaliatory production cuts
Updated 43 min 29 sec ago

JPMorgan warns oil may hit $380 a barrel if Russia begins retaliatory production cuts

JPMorgan warns oil may hit $380 a barrel if Russia begins retaliatory production cuts

RIYADH: Amid ongoing geopolitical tensions and skyrocketing energy rates, global oil prices may hit $380 a barrel if the US and European curbs compel Russia to inflict retaliatory crude output cuts, Bloomberg reported citing analysts at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

It was after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that the Western allies led by the US imposed several sanctions, and worked out a complicated mechanism to cap the price fetched by Russian oil.

According to JPMorgan analysts including Natasha Kaneva, currently Russia enjoys a strong financial position and it can afford to slash daily crude production by 5 million barrels.

The analysts noted that Russia’s crude production cuts could be disastrous for the world, as a cut of 3 million barrels will elevate London crude prices to $190. In the worst-case scenario, if the output is cut by 5 million barrels, the price could reach as high as $380 a barrel.

“The most obvious and likely risk with a price cap is that Russia might choose retaliate by reducing exports as a way to inflict pain on the West,” wrote the analysts.


SABB appoints new CEO to lead corporate and institutional banking

SABB appoints new CEO to lead corporate and institutional banking
Updated 55 min 59 sec ago

SABB appoints new CEO to lead corporate and institutional banking

SABB appoints new CEO to lead corporate and institutional banking

RIYADH: The Saudi British Bank has appointed Yasser Ali Al-Barrak as its new CEO for corporate and institutional banking from this month.

The appointment of Al-Barrak will take effect on July 1, the bank said in a press statement.

Al-Barrak joined SABB in 2012 and has held many leadership positions, most recently being the general manager of global corporate and institutional banking, the statement said.

“The appointment of Yasser is a testament to the success of career growth plans at SABB, which is a major player in managing our most valuable assets, our people,” said SABB Managing Director & CEO Tony Cripps.

Established in 1978, SABB is an associate of the HSBC Group and a Saudi joint-stock company. It was named Saudi’s best bank for 2022, the statement added.

The bank provides retail, corporate, investment, private, and treasury services and has a paid-up capital of SR20.5 billion ($5.46 billion).


Crypto Moves — Bitcoin slips; Voyager Digital suspends operations

Crypto Moves — Bitcoin slips; Voyager Digital suspends operations
Updated 03 July 2022

Crypto Moves — Bitcoin slips; Voyager Digital suspends operations

Crypto Moves — Bitcoin slips; Voyager Digital suspends operations

RIYADH: Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency worldwide, traded lower on Sunday, falling by 0.93 percent to $19,033.92 at 9 a.m. Riyadh time.

Ethereum, the second most traded cryptocurrency, was priced at $1,057.11, rising by 1.15 percent, according to data from CoinDesk.

Voyager Digital suspends withdrawals and deposits 

To preserve its platform’s value, Voyager Digital on Friday announced it had suspended withdrawals, trading, and deposits, according to Reuters. 

A default notice was issued to embattled hedge fund Three Arrows Capital just days earlier for the fund’s failure to make required payments.

According to Voyager CEO Stephen Ehrlich, the move gives the company more time to consider strategic alternatives with various interested parties while preserving its value.

The company announced that it had hired financial advisers Moelis & Co., Consello Group, and legal advisers Kirkland & Ellis LLP “to support its exploration of strategic alternatives.”

Voyager’s crypto assets are worth $685 million, compared to the more than $1.12 billion it has lent in crypto assets. The company said it lent $350 million and 15,250 bitcoins to 3AC. 

Voyager’s move comes less than a month after Celsius Network suspended withdrawals due to extreme market conditions. Customers of Celsius have not yet been able to withdraw money again.

(With inputs from Reuters)