US targets Iranian oil and petrochemical trade network

A picture shows an oil facility in the Khark Island, on the shore of the Gulf. (File/STR/AFP)
A picture shows an oil facility in the Khark Island, on the shore of the Gulf. (File/STR/AFP)
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Updated 06 July 2022

US targets Iranian oil and petrochemical trade network

US targets Iranian oil and petrochemical trade network
  • The US Treasury Department said the network used a web of front companies based in the Gulf
  • The US State Department announced it was imposing parallel sanctions on 15 individuals and firms

WASHINGTON: The US Treasury Department said Wednesday that it has sanctioned a group of front companies and individuals tied to the sale and shipment of Iranian petroleum and petrochemical products to East Asia.
Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed the sanctions on several companies, including Iran-based Jam Petrochemical Co., which has exported hundreds of millions of dollars worth of products to countries throughout Asia, including China.
The administration uses an August 2018 executive order signed by then-President Donald Trump as its authority to impose the sanctions.
The order addresses “threats posed by Iran, including Iran’s proliferation and development of missiles and other asymmetric and conventional weapons capabilities, its network and campaign of regional aggression,” and other issues.

Brian E. Nelson, Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement that “while the United States is committed to achieving an agreement with Iran that seeks a mutual return to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, we will continue to use all our authorities to enforce sanctions on the sale of Iranian petroleum and petrochemicals.”
Washington had earlier imposed sanctions on Iranian petrochemical producers in mid-June, as well as on Chinese and Indian brokers, expanding pressure amid a deadlock in negotiations on restoring a 2015 deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program.
Iran is nursing a battered economy, with its currency hitting its lowest value ever, after the US withdrew from the nuclear deal in May 2018.
President Joe Biden’s administration has been working to renew the agreement, which placed curbs on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in sanctions relief, which Iran insists it has never received.
In June, Iran said it is ready for new indirect talks to overcome the last hurdles to revive its tattered 2015 nuclear deal amid a growing crisis over the country’s atomic program.
Treasury also designated UAE-based Iranian nationals Morteza Rajabieslami and Mahdieh Sanchuli for sanctions.
Also on Wednesday, the State Department imposed penalties on five entities and 15 people located in Iran, Vietnam, Singapore, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates.
“The United States has been sincere and steadfast in pursuing a path of meaningful diplomacy to achieve a mutual return to full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
“It is Iran that has, to-date, failed to demonstrate a similar commitment to that path.”
He added: “Absent a commitment from Iran to return to the JCPOA, an outcome we continue to pursue, we will keep using our authorities to target Iran’s exports of energy products.”
Wednesday’s announcement came ahead of a highly anticipated visit next week by President Joe Biden to Israel and Saudi Arabia when efforts to contain the nuclear threat from Iran will be top of the agenda.
(With AP and AFP)


SoftBank to book $34bn gain by cutting Alibaba stake to 14.6%

SoftBank to book $34bn gain by cutting Alibaba stake to 14.6%
Updated 12 sec ago

SoftBank to book $34bn gain by cutting Alibaba stake to 14.6%

SoftBank to book $34bn gain by cutting Alibaba stake to 14.6%

TOKYO: SoftBank Group Corp. on Wednesday said it will book an estimated gain of 4.6 trillion yen ($34.08 billion) on settling prepaid forward contracts using shares in Alibaba Group Holding, reducing its stake to 14.6 percent from 23.7 percent.

SoftBank on Monday booked a record quarterly net loss due to sliding valuations at its Vision Fund investment arm, with Chief Executive Masayoshi Son pledging to further reduce investment activity and cut costs.

The estimated gain announced on Wednesday includes 2.4 trillion yen from the revaluation of shares in the Chinese e-commerce giant and a derivative gain of 0.7 trillion yen, SoftBank said in a filing.

The transaction “will be able to eliminate concerns about future cash outflows, and furthermore, reduce costs associated with these prepaid forward contracts,” SoftBank said.

“These will further strengthen our defense against the severe market environment,” SoftBank added.

Son bought into Alibaba for $20 million in 2000 and the Chinese company’s growth that made it one of the world’s biggest e-commerce companies helped to burnish his tech investor credentials.

But Alibaba has lost more than two thirds of its value from highs in late 2020, hit by Beijing’s crackdown on the tech sector and its scrutiny of founder Jack Ma.

The SoftBank transaction is not expected to result in additional sales of Alibaba shares on the market as the shares were hedged at the time of the original monetization, SoftBank said.

Ties between the two companies have weakened, with Ma leaving SoftBank’s board in 2020 and Son stepping down from Alibaba’s board the same year.

The Japanese billionaire, who has also bet on ventures such as ridehailer Didi Global, has sought to emphasize the decreasing size of China tech in his portfolio as market turmoil has hit valuations and US-China tensions have increased.


Saudi Arabia implemented over 600 reforms to improve business environment, says deputy minister

Saudi Arabia implemented over 600 reforms to improve business environment, says deputy minister
Updated 10 min 41 sec ago

Saudi Arabia implemented over 600 reforms to improve business environment, says deputy minister

Saudi Arabia implemented over 600 reforms to improve business environment, says deputy minister

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has implemented over 600 structural and legislative reforms that contributed to accelerating and improving the country’s business environment, deputy minister at the Ministry of Investment told CNBC Arabia. 

Saad Al-Shahrani said (the reforms) included facilitating the procedures for issuing investment licenses, whether from inside or outside the Kingdom.

He noted that a total of 150 deals, valued at SR19 billion ($5 billion), were signed during the first half of 2022, reflecting the attractiveness of Saudi Arabia for investors. 

This comes as part of the ministry’s efforts to enhance the Kingdom’s competitiveness as a regional business hub through a series of incentives and initiatives, Al-Shahrani added. 


Saudi agricultural fund signs $40m deal to finance import of 130K tons of barley

Saudi agricultural fund signs $40m deal to finance import of 130K tons of barley
Updated 13 min 41 sec ago

Saudi agricultural fund signs $40m deal to finance import of 130K tons of barley

Saudi agricultural fund signs $40m deal to finance import of 130K tons of barley

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Agricultural Development Fund has signed a SR150 million ($39.8 million) contract to finance the import of around 130,000 tons of barley.

It is part of the fund’s initiative to finance the import of agricultural products, according to the Saudi Press Agency. 

The fund aims to enhance the strategic stock of agricultural products and compensate for any agricultural commodities’ supply shortages, as well as ensuring the stability of food supply chains.


Saudi healthcare provider Naba Alsaha reports 24% profit growth ahead of IPO

Saudi healthcare provider Naba Alsaha reports 24% profit growth ahead of IPO
Updated 22 min 49 sec ago

Saudi healthcare provider Naba Alsaha reports 24% profit growth ahead of IPO

Saudi healthcare provider Naba Alsaha reports 24% profit growth ahead of IPO

RIYADH: Naba Alsaha Medical Services Co. has posted 24 percent profit growth for the first half of 2022, ahead of an initial public offering on Saudi Arabia’s stock market.

This was coupled with a year-on-year revenue jump of 13 percent, CEO Nathir Al-Jishi told Argaam.

The executive noted that Naba Alsaha will open a new pharmacy in Riyadh, adding that it’s studying opening new branches in other neighborhoods.

The company is also looking to expand in non-medical operation segments by providing medical maintenance services as well as cleaning healthcare facilities and complexes, Al-Jishi said.

This comes amid plans to float 1.4 million shares on Saudi Exchange’s parallel market. With an IPO price of SR57 ($15), the subscription period is currently in progress and will end on Aug. 14.


Green bond sales drop 19-month low to $24bn amidst tight issuance windows: Bloomberg 

Green bond sales drop 19-month low to $24bn amidst tight issuance windows: Bloomberg 
Updated 38 min 40 sec ago

Green bond sales drop 19-month low to $24bn amidst tight issuance windows: Bloomberg 

Green bond sales drop 19-month low to $24bn amidst tight issuance windows: Bloomberg 

RIYADH: Global sales of green bonds, the largest category of sustainable debt by amount issued, fell to a 19-month low in July. 

According to data compiled by Bloomberg, green bond sales fell to about $24 billion in July from more than $45 billion the previous month. 

This is the lowest since December 2020, when companies and governments issued about $7.7 billion in green debt.

This happened as opportunistic borrowers have also preferred traditional bond offerings that are faster to complete, Bloomberg reported. 

This is also because July, August and December are historically considered the slowest issuance months for green bonds.