Zain Group boss is top Kuwait-based CEO on Forbes Middle East list of top executives

Zain Group boss is top Kuwait-based CEO on Forbes Middle East list of top executives
Bader Nasser Al Kharafi has been the CEO of Zain Group since 2014. (Zain Group))
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Updated 06 July 2022

Zain Group boss is top Kuwait-based CEO on Forbes Middle East list of top executives

Zain Group boss is top Kuwait-based CEO on Forbes Middle East list of top executives
  • The magazine ranked Bader Nasser Al-Kharafi in 35th place on its list of the top 100 CEOs in the region

LONDON: Forbes Middle East has named Bader Nasser Al-Kharafi, the CEO of Zain Group. as one of the top 100 CEOs in the Middle East for 2022.

He is ranked 35th and leads a number of other Kuwait-based executives on the list, including Sheikha Dana Al-Sabah of the KIPCO Group, Essam Al-Sager of the National Bank of Kuwait, Tareq Al-Sultan of Agility, Elham Mahfouz of the Commercial Bank of Kuwait, Mohammed Al-Osaimi of Boursa Kuwait, and Talal Al-Ajmi of VI Markets.

Al-Kharafi was appointed vice chairman of Zain Group in 2014 and CEO in 2017. He is also the chairman of the board for the executive committee of Boursa Kuwait, a board member of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and a founder of BNK Holding, a privately held shareholding company.

The CEOs ranked on the Forbes list come from 26 countries in the region. Companies in the UAE leads the way with 19 entries, followed by Egypt with 16 and Saudi Arabia with 15.

In 2021, the bosses on the list managed more than $1 trillion in revenues and the combined worth of their companies is more than $5 trillion. The sector with the most CEOs on the list is banking and financial services, with 27, followed by telecoms with eight, and energy and logistics with seven.

“Irrespective of the economic environment, market conditions, and other factors, it is the CEO who bears most of the responsibility for the success or failure of the company they lead,” Forbes Middle East wrote.

“This is becoming more apparent in the Middle East, where corporate governance has been improving for several years. There is now a clear separation between ownership and management in companies throughout the region.

“This trend is particularly strong in government-owned businesses, with even sectors such as defense and utilities now being incorporated and even being listed on stock exchanges. This has made CEOs focus more on long-term benefits that stem from innovation, technology, and ESG (environmental, social and governance) initiatives.”

In 2021, when Forbes Middle East published its first list of the top CEOs in the region, the magazine found that the mood among executives was focused on safety and the protection of business.

“This year has seen a reversal in fortunes, with record profits, new investments, large IPOs (initial public offerings), and mega deals taking center stage,” according to the magazine.

“For example, so far in 2022 Amin H. Nasser has led Saudi Aramco to become the world’s most valuable company by market value again, usurping Apple. Meanwhile, Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber led ADNOC as it took three of its subsidiaries — ADNOC Drilling, Fertiglobe and Borouge — public, with Borouge’s $2 billion IPO becoming Abu Dhabi’s largest-ever IPO.”

The CEOs were ranked based on the effects they have had on the region, their country and the markets that they serve; their overall experience and time spent in their current role; the size of the company in terms of revenues, assets and market cap; their achievements and performance in the past year, and the innovations and initiatives they are responsible for.

To create the rankings, Forbes Middle East sent questionnaires and gathered data from stock market disclosures, industry reports, annual reports and financial statements, among other primary sources.


Alkhair Capital among Kingdom’s top 10 financial firms with $3.6bn assets

Alkhair Capital among Kingdom’s top 10 financial firms with $3.6bn assets
Updated 11 sec ago

Alkhair Capital among Kingdom’s top 10 financial firms with $3.6bn assets

Alkhair Capital among Kingdom’s top 10 financial firms with $3.6bn assets

RIYADH: Alkhair Capital has seen the value of its assets under management rise to SR13.42 billion ($3.6 billion) in the first quarter, making it one of Saudi Arabia’s top ten financial institutions.

The Riyadh-headquartered investment firm reported a 34.6 percent increase in assets under management in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the year-ago period, according to the Capital Market Institutions Report.

“Alkhair Capital is a pioneer in providing Islamic products, and the recent ranking by the Capital Market Institutions confirms our strong track record and operational excellence,” said Abdullah Al Shilash, CEO of Alkhair Capital Saudi Arabia.

Most recently, Alkhair Capital acted as the financial advisor and underwriter to two Saudi-listed companies’ rights issue offerings.

The first was a SR173 million capital raise for Saudi Industrial Export Co. and the second was Amana Cooperative Insurance Co.’s SR300 million capital hike plan.


Saudi paper manufacturer MEPCO posts 216% leap in profit on higher revenues

Saudi paper manufacturer MEPCO posts 216% leap in profit on higher revenues
Updated 17 min 21 sec ago

Saudi paper manufacturer MEPCO posts 216% leap in profit on higher revenues

Saudi paper manufacturer MEPCO posts 216% leap in profit on higher revenues

RIYADH: Saudi papers maker MEPCO has posted a 216 percent leap in profits during the first half of 2022 fueled by higher revenues.

Profits of the company, formally known as Middle East Paper Co., rose to SR192 million ($51 million) in the first half, up from SR60 million in the prior year period, it said in a bourse filing.

This was coupled with a 45 percent increase in revenue to SR652 million during the same period owing to higher demand and pricing.


 


Saudi dairy giant Almarai re-appoints chairman and vice chairman

Saudi dairy giant Almarai re-appoints chairman and vice chairman
Updated 28 min 28 sec ago

Saudi dairy giant Almarai re-appoints chairman and vice chairman

Saudi dairy giant Almarai re-appoints chairman and vice chairman

RIYADH: Saudi-based dairy giant Almarai has re-elected Prince Naif bin Sultan bin Mohammed bin Saud Al-Kabeer as board chairman and Suliman Al Muhaideb as vice chairman.

The new term takes effect from Aug. 7 and will last for three years, according to a bourse filing.

Last month, the dairy giant announced strong results as it recorded an 8.4 percent increase in profit for the first half of 2022 to SR940 million ($250 million).


 


GCC needs to secure its investment landscape: Report

GCC needs to secure its investment landscape: Report
Updated 07 August 2022

GCC needs to secure its investment landscape: Report

GCC needs to secure its investment landscape: Report
  • Call to focus on frontier sectors based on emerging technologies to attract FDI

CAIRO: Real and perceived political risks, the lack of focus on non-oil sectors, laxity in regulatory policies and a restrictive business environment are some of the factors impeding the growth of foreign direct investment in the Gulf Cooperation Council region, said a recent study.

According to Oliver Wyman’s recent report titled “De-risking the Investment Landscape: High-impact FDI Policies for the GCC,” the region needs to prioritize regulations and policies to de-risk investment. 

This approach should help them attract additional FDIs, the report recommended.

“The best way to attract FDI may be to focus on frontier sectors, which are based on emerging technology, generate high growth, and have few incumbent players to disrupt,” the report stated.

The policies adopted earlier in the GCC were unfocused and aimed to attract all possible investments in all potential sectors, which proved unsuccessful, according to the report.

Although most Gulf countries have been proactive in developing initiatives to stimulate FDI, few have successfully attracted foreign investment in the region.

“Historically, FDI into GCC economies has fluctuated with the rise and fall of commodity prices,” explained Wyman’s report. “However, it has failed to materialize as a consistent driver of economic opportunity in non-oil economic sectors.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• Oman and Bahrain are the only two GCC economies that saw FDI inflows over outflows in each of the years from 2016 to 2021.

• While Kuwait registered FDI outflows totaling $3.6 billion in 2021, it saw a sharp drop from $8 billion in the previous year.

“With such readily available domestic capital, many GCC states have historically not needed to prioritize FDI as a source of development finance,” it added.

The report further revealed that GCC states are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of FDI and its potential impact on their economies, which could enhance productivity.

Foreign investment provides a good source of finance, promotes interactions of local suppliers and consumer markets, and stimulates human capital by training local workers and employing foreign ones.

As stated by the report, an increased level of private competition, an enhancement in technological know-how and a surge in cross-border activity are additional favorable consequences that arise from increased FDI.

The UN Conference on Trade and Development recently released the “World Investment Report 2022,” which showed that Saudi Arabia and the UAE, two of the largest economies in the GCC, saw 2021 FDI outflows exceed FDI inflows by $4.6 billion and $1.9 billion, respectively. 

The difference for all GCC members stood at $6.4 billion, although a noticeable improvement from 2019 and 2020, where the differences were $11.1 billion and $8.3 billion, respectively.

Oman and Bahrain are the only two GCC economies that saw FDI inflows over outflows in each of the years from 2016 to 2021, according to the UNCTAD report.

In comparison, FDI inflows to Indonesia in 2021 surpassed the outflows by $16.5 billion. Similarly, FDI inflows to Vietnam and Malaysia trumped outflows by $15.4 billion and $6.9 billion, respectively, UNCTAD data show.    

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia witnessed the highest FDI outflows in the GCC in 2021. It recorded $23.9 billion in net outflows in 2021 compared to only $4.9 billion in 2020. It is worth mentioning the Kingdom’s FDI inflows stood at $5.4 billion in 2020.

 The UAE came in second with $22.5 billion worth of FDI outflows in 2021 compared to $18.9 billion the year before, the UNCTAD data showed.

While Kuwait registered FDI outflows totaling $3.6 billion in 2021, it saw a sharp drop from $8 billion in the previous year, the report stated.


Saudi Arabia targets $3.3tr of cumulative investments till 2030, says deputy minister

Saudi Arabia targets $3.3tr of cumulative investments till 2030, says deputy minister
Updated 07 August 2022

Saudi Arabia targets $3.3tr of cumulative investments till 2030, says deputy minister

Saudi Arabia targets $3.3tr of cumulative investments till 2030, says deputy minister
  • Saudi Arabia’s regulatory transformation is directly impacting the base economy, Al-Shahrani says

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has enacted over 600 economic reforms since the launch of the Vision 2030 blueprint in a bid to attract SR12.4 trillion ($3.3 trillion) of cumulative investment and SR1.8 trillion in foreign direct investment inflows between 2021 and 2030 as part of the National Investment Strategy, said a deputy minister from the investment ministry. 

Speaking to Arab News Saad Al-Shahrani, the acting deputy minister for investment promotion in the Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia, said the Kingdom achieved an 18 percent increase in foreign direct investment in 2020, even as the global FDI declined by 35 percent due to the pandemic. 

FDI flow in 2021 increased by 257 percent compared to 2020 largely driven by a SR46.5 billion infrastructure deal closed by Aramco with a global investor consortium in Q2 2021.

If Aramco's huge deal is excluded, the Kingdom attracted SR5.3bn in Q2 last year.

Al-Shahrani added that the NIS launched in 2021 is a blueprint for turning the Kingdom into a global hub for business and talent. 

Saad Al-Shahrani

During the interview, the minister revealed that FDI flow in the first quarter of 2022 increased 10 percent to SR7.4 billion compared to the same period last year.

He further stated that NIS helped MISA achieve 49 investment deals valued at SR3.5 billion in the second quarter of 2022, creating 2,000 jobs across industries. 

“These figures are a testament to the sound execution of the government’s strategy and the impact of new reforms, initiatives and investment opportunities,” said the deputy minister. 

He added: “The Kingdom has achieved remarkable progress in many economic and investment indicators, ranking third in Ease of Protecting Minority Investors Index out of 132 countries, for the year 2021.”

Fastest growing among G-20 countries

The deputy minister further noted that the Kingdom achieved the top spot among 22 countries in the May 2022 Ipsos’ Global Consumer Confidence Index. 

Citing the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook 2022, Al-Shahrani said that the Kingdom is now the fastest-growing nation among the Group of 20 countries, with a growth rate of 7.6 percent. 

“Saudi Arabia’s regulatory transformation is directly impacting the base economy. Alongside healthy demand and investor interest in the oil sector, our non-oil economy has shown strong growth,” he added. 

The deputy minister said that flash estimates of real growth in the gross domestic product in the second quarter showed 11.8 percent year-on-year growth, the highest rate since 2011, supported by the growth in real GDP of oil and non-oil activities by 23.1 percent and 5.4 percent, respectively.

Industrial production on the rise

Commenting on the rise in Industrial Production Index, Al-Shahrani said: “The IPI expanded by 24 percent year on year in May 2022, with manufacturing growing by over 28 percent. These figures are a direct consequence of the government’s active diversification efforts.” 

He also asserted that the Kingdom will become one of the world’s most competitive economies and attractive investment destinations by 2030. 

The deputy minister further noted that digital transactions are rising in Saudi Arabia, aligning with the government’s goal of having 70 percent of all transactions are digital by 2025.

“Policymakers have listened to the needs of investors and have responded appropriately to create an investment ecosystem that rivals the best in the world,” he continued.

Saudi Arabia’s future is tourism

The deputy minister further conveyed that tourism will soon become one of the prime drivers of the Saudi economy as the economic diversification effort continues. 

He revealed that the Kingdom has already issued over 3,500 tourism investment licenses, a crucial leap to achieving 10 percent of the national GDP from tourism by 2030. 

Al-Shahrani added that the Kingdom will welcome over 100 million tourists by 2030 and generate one million jobs in the sector. 

“NEOM, The Red Sea Project, AlUla, Soudah, AMAALA and Diriyah Gate are massive opportunities for investors,” he continued. 

The deputy minister further divulged that the Kingdom’s flag carrier SAUDIA will add 94 new destinations to bring visitors to the Kingdom by 2030. 

Apart from tourism, MISA is also signing deals with companies in the renewables, logistics, and pharmaceutical sectors, the deputy minister added. 

“It is quite clear that the headwinds souring global investor appetite are not blowing in the direction of Saudi Arabia. Government strategy, inspired leadership, talent at every level, well-executed reforms and a clear vision for the future have combined to make the Kingdom an investment powerhouse,” Al-Shahrani said.