Saudis reportedly in talks over stake in luxury car manufacturer Aston Martin

Saudis reportedly in talks over stake in luxury car manufacturer Aston Martin
Aston Martin is increasingly focusing on the launch of new models starting next year. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 30 June 2022

Saudis reportedly in talks over stake in luxury car manufacturer Aston Martin

Saudis reportedly in talks over stake in luxury car manufacturer Aston Martin
  • The Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund is said to be considering taking a $243.5m stake in the British company that make the vehicles favored by movie spy James Bond

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund is reportedly in talks with Aston Martin over acquiring what the Financial Times newspaper said would be a $243.5 million stake in the luxury carmaker.

The British manufacturer refused to confirm or deny the reports but following the news on Thursday, a fall in the company’s share price was reduced to nine percent from a 20 percent drop earlier in the day.

Since its initial public offering in 2018, the carmaker — whose vehicles frequently appear in James Bond movies — has struggled, with the share price falling by nearly 68 percent this year alone.

In January, Aston Martin blamed lower-than-expected profits on delays in shipments of its limited edition Valkyrie sports car, but the company said on Thursday that production of the model has started to pick up pace.

In a further effort to reassure investors, it added that its management team, led by new boss Amedeo Felisa, is increasingly focusing on the launch of new models beginning in 2023.

Citing four sources said to be close to the PIF investment talks, the FT said Aston Martin is seeking to raise additional funding for its new range of cars. Autocar magazine reported that the manufacturer is also in talks with a US-based investment fund as it looks to raise capital.


Russian consumer prices dip for 6th straight week

Russian consumer prices dip for 6th straight week
Updated 17 August 2022

Russian consumer prices dip for 6th straight week

Russian consumer prices dip for 6th straight week

MOSCOW: Consumer prices in Russia declined for the sixth week running, data showed on Wednesday, as the rubles appreciation in the past few months and a drop in consumer demand weighed on the pace of price growth.

The consumer prices index dipped 0.13 percent in the week to Aug. 15 after easing 0.08 percent a week earlier, the federal statistics service Rosstat said.

Inflation remains high but is slowing after prices of nearly everything, from vegetables and sugar to clothes and smartphones, have jumped sharply since Feb. 24 when Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine.

The CPI extended its decline even after the central bank slashed its key rate by 150 basis points to 8 percent last month and indicated it was ready to consider further monetary easing to limit the depth of economic recession.

A separate set of Rosstat’s data showed on Wednesday that the producer price index, the gauge of prices that suppliers are charging their clients, fell sharply in annual terms to 6.1 percent in July from 11.3 percent in June, well below levels above 30 percent seen in April.

High inflation has been the key concern among households for several years as it dents living standards, something that this year will be aggravated by recession in the economy.

Russia’s economy will contract less than expected and inflation will not be as high as projected three months ago, the Economy Ministry forecasts seen by Reuters showed, suggesting the economy is dealing with sanctions better than initially feared.

So far this year, consumer prices have risen 10.72 percent compared with a 4.69 percent increase in the same period of 2021, Rosstat data showed. 


Emirates steps up plans for ‘biggest-ever’ fleet retrofit

Emirates steps up plans for ‘biggest-ever’ fleet retrofit
Updated 17 August 2022

Emirates steps up plans for ‘biggest-ever’ fleet retrofit

Emirates steps up plans for ‘biggest-ever’ fleet retrofit
  • Multibillion-dollar project will aim to refurbish four aircraft per month over next two years

DUBAI: Emirates has moved forward with plans to revamp the interior cabins of 120 Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft, two of the largest commercial aircraft types in service today.

The multibillion-dollar project will begin in November and will be managed entirely by Emirates Engineering, which aims to totally refurbish four aircraft each month over the next two years.

On completion in April 2025, almost 4,000 new premium economy seats will be installed, 728 first-class suites refurbished and over 5,000 business-class seats  upgraded to a new style and design.

Carpets and stairs will also be upgraded, and cabin interior panels will be given new tones and design motifs, including the ghaf trees native to the UAE.

Emirates said that no other airline has attempted an in-house retrofit of this magnitude. 

Engineering teams have carried out extensive planning and testing to streamline processes, and anticipate any potential roadblocks. 

Trials began on an A380 in July, with engineers disassembling each cabin piece by piece and logging every step.

“From removing seats and paneling to bolts and screws, every action was tested, timed and mapped out,” the airline said on Wednesday.

A cross-disciplinary team has been assembled to monitor the planning process until the start of the project in November.

 


Saudi Arabia’s jewelry sector tops economic activities, with 36% jump in sales in Q2

Saudi Arabia’s jewelry sector tops economic activities, with 36% jump in sales in Q2
Updated 17 August 2022

Saudi Arabia’s jewelry sector tops economic activities, with 36% jump in sales in Q2

Saudi Arabia’s jewelry sector tops economic activities, with 36% jump in sales in Q2

RIYADH: Sales in Saudi Arabia’s gold and jewelry sector witnessed a jump of 36 percent, as the economy continues to recover from the pandemic-induced recession, Al-Watan reported.
Consumer spending in the Kingdom also rebounded in the second quarter exceeding SR124 billion ($33 billion) with an annual growth rate of 7 percent, the report added.
Citing recent data issued by the Jazan Chamber of Commerce, the report said the gold and jewelry sector was followed by clothing and footwear, which grew by 24 percent.


KSA’s drive to localize livestock sector successfully underway: Top official

KSA’s drive to localize livestock sector successfully underway: Top official
Updated 17 August 2022

KSA’s drive to localize livestock sector successfully underway: Top official

KSA’s drive to localize livestock sector successfully underway: Top official

RIYADH: The success rate of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture localization initiatives has exceeded 50 percent, a top official told Al-Ekhbariya. 

The ministry’s director of localization initiatives, Mosa Al-Kinani, said work is underway to localize professions of beekeeping, fishing, and livestock breeders.

The ministry’s strategy is yielding results as more Saudis are joining the above-mentioned professions.

Kinani said his ministry is working with the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development to develop appropriate plans to boost the success of the localization drive.


Oil edges off low as strong export demand drains US crude stocks

Oil edges off low as strong export demand drains US crude stocks
Updated 17 August 2022

Oil edges off low as strong export demand drains US crude stocks

Oil edges off low as strong export demand drains US crude stocks

HOUSTON: Oil edged 1 percent higher after earlier hitting a six-month low on Wednesday, as a steeper-than-expected draw down in US crude stocks outweighed concerns over rising output, Russian exports and recession fears.

US crude stocks fell by 7.1 million barrels in the week to Aug. 12 to 425 million barrels, Energy Information Administration data showed, compared with analysts’ forecasts for a 275,000-barrel drop in a Reuters poll.

Brent crude rose $1.09, or 1.1 percent, to $93.45 per barrel by 12:23 p.m. ET (1723 GMT). Earlier in the day, recession worries had pushed the benchmark price to its lowest since February at $91.51. US West Texas Intermediate crude rose $1.39, or 1.6 percent, to $87.92 per barrel.

US crude exports hit 5 million barrels per day, the highest on record, according to EIA data, as WTI has traded at steep discount to Brent, making purchases of US crude ore attractive to foreign buyers. In a sign of strong demand, gasoline stocks also drew 4.6 million barrels, much higher than the expected 1.1 million barrel draw.

“It was expected to be a friendly report and it was pretty much across the board. Some of those demand destruction concerns that the market was going through seem to be alleviated a little bit,” said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures group.

The American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday had flagged a 448,000 barrel draw in crude stocks and 4.5 million barrels in gasoline inventories, according to sources.

Oil has soared in 2022, coming close to an all-time high of $147 in March after Russia's invasion of Ukraine exacerbated supply concerns.

However, Russia has started to gradually increase its oil production after sanctions-related curbs and as Asian buyers have increased purchases, leading Moscow to increase its forecasts for output and exports until the end of 2025, an economy ministry document seen by Reuters showed.

Russia’s earning from exports

Russia’s earnings from energy exports are expected to rise 38 percent this year partly due to higher oil export volumes, according to the document, in a sign that supply from the country has not been impacted as much as markets originally expected.

The prospect of recession has also more recently weighed on oil prices. 

Political developments

On the oil supply front, the market is awaiting developments from talks to revive Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which could eventually lead to a boost in Iranian oil exports if a deal is reached.

The EU and US said on Tuesday they were studying Iran’s response to what the EU has called its “final” proposal to save the deal.

Analysts at Goldman Sachs said a return of Iranian crude supply would reduce their 2023 forecast by $5-10 per barrel from $125 per barrel.