China In-Focus — Stocks fall; Premier African Minerals to send lithium shipments to China

China In-Focus — Stocks fall; Premier African Minerals to send lithium shipments to China
The CSI300 index fell 1.9 percent to 4,344.26 at the end of the morning session (Shutterstock)
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Updated 11 July 2022

China In-Focus — Stocks fall; Premier African Minerals to send lithium shipments to China

China In-Focus — Stocks fall; Premier African Minerals to send lithium shipments to China

RIYADH: China stocks fell on Monday as a rise in domestic cases of COVID-19 dented sentiment, while concerns over policymakers exiting crisis-mode monetary easing also weighed.

The CSI300 index fell 1.9 percent to 4,344.26 at the end of the morning session, while the Shanghai Composite Index lost 1.5 percent to 3,307.23.

The Hang Seng index dropped 2.7 percent to 21,130.67. The Hong Kong China Enterprises Index lost 3 percent to 7,324.46.

Auto sales surged in June

China’s auto sales surged 23.8 percent in June from a year earlier, the first increase in four months after authorities cut taxes and offered subsidies to encourage car purchases as COVID-19 restrictions eased.

Sales in the world’s biggest car market rose to 2.5 million vehicles in June, data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers showed on Monday.

Sales for the first half of the year, hit hard by stringent lockdowns in Shanghai and other Chinese cities between March and May, were 6.6 percent lower than the same period in 2021.

June sales were up 34.4 percent from May, with sales of new energy vehicles such as electric vehicles, plug-in petrol-electric hybrids and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles climbing 129.2 percent from the previous year.

However,  a slump in commercial-vehicle demand led China’s automobile industry association on Monday to downgrade its sales forecast, as anti-pandemic measures weighed on the economy and its car market, the world’s largest, according to Reuters.

Premier African Minerals to ship spodumene to China

Premier African Minerals will start shipping spodumene concentrate from its Zulu lithium mine in Zimbabwe to China by March 2023 after signing an offtake deal with Suzhou TA&A Ultra Clean Technology Co., its CEO George Roach told Reuters.

Zimbabwe holds some of the world’s biggest hard-rock lithium deposits, and Suzhou joins a growing list of Chinese firms that have invested in the southern African country’s battery minerals projects, including Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt and Sinomine Resource Group.

Roach said Suzhou is injecting $35 million for constructing a high-capacity pilot plant at Zulu, with an output of nearly 50,000 tons of spodumene concentrate annually.

The plant aims to ship the mineral by March next year and ramp up production to around 48,000 tons of spodumene concentrate a year.

In March, Suzhou became a 13.38 percent shareholder in Premier through a private placement in which it injected 12 million pounds ($14.37 million) into the company. 

The deal secures spodumene concentrate supply for Yibin Tianyi, China’s leading lithium chemicals producer, which Suzhou jointly owns with Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., the world’s largest electric vehicle battery maker.

The prices of lithium minerals, critical components in the manufacture of electric batteries, have soared in recent months thanks to a growing demand for clean energy sources. Zimbabwe, starved of investment for more than two decades, hopes its lithium resources will recharge its moribund economy.

(With input from Reuters)


Americana Restaurants reveals IPO date in first dual listing on Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia markets

Americana Restaurants reveals IPO date in first dual listing on Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia markets
Updated 19 sec ago

Americana Restaurants reveals IPO date in first dual listing on Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia markets

Americana Restaurants reveals IPO date in first dual listing on Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia markets

RIYADH: The restaurant group that runs KFC, Pizza Hut, Krispy Kreme and others across the Middle East has announced share allocation to investors as well as the scheduled date for its initial public offering in Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia, according to a statement.

Americana Restaurants’ IPO poses the first simultaneous dual listing process on the Abu Dhabi Stock Exchange and the Saudi Stock Exchange, also known as Tadawul.

Taking into consideration obtaining all the required regulatory approvals, the IPO’s listing and trading process is set to commence on Dec. 12.

As of Nov. 24, the firm disclosed that the final share price to be offered for subscription stands at 2.62 dirhams ($0.71) per share in the UAE and SR2.68 ($0.71) per share in the Kingdom respectively.

Subscription requests hit $105 billion garnered from several qualified and eligible institutional investors across diverse countries including both the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Apart from that, other investors belonged to what is known as an “individual segment” in both the UAE and the Kingdom respectively.

Subscription requests for individuals in the UAE and Saudi Arabia exceeded 48.2 times and 2.8 times, respectively. On the other hand, subscription requests for qualified institutions exceeded 65.5 times.

A total of 283,245 individual investors in Saudi Arabia subscribed to the IPO. 

“We are looking forward to the next step of our growth journey and working towards future value creation. We are equally proud to have taken the final step towards a historic first-ever concurrent dual listing on ADX and the Saudi Exchange – further enhancing the depth and maturity of the UAE and Saudi capital markets. We look forward to welcoming our new shareholders in December,” said Chairman of Americana Restaurants Mohamed Ali Rashed Alabbar in a statement.

While 80 percent of the normal shares were allocated to a qualified institutional tranche, 10 percent were allocated to individual tranches in the UAE, and 10 percent were allocated to the individual tranche in the Kingdom.

In addition to this, the food and beverages firm also allocated over 1,000 shares for each subscriber in the retail segment in the UAE and more than 892 shares for each subscriber in the retail segment in Saudi Arabia.

The remaining shares were allocated on a pro-rata basis to the retail tranche in the UAE and an allocation percentage of 0.01 percent to the retail tranche in the Kingdom.

The shares have been allocated to the tranche of eligible constitutions in consultation with financial advisors as well as international coordinators.

 As per the updated schedule, any surplus subscription amounts are set to be returned to retail investors in the UAE on Nov. 30 and prior to Dec. 8 for those in the Kingdom.


Abu Dhabi overcomes global challenges registering 11.2% GDP growth in H1: SCAD

Abu Dhabi overcomes global challenges registering 11.2% GDP growth in H1: SCAD
Updated 28 November 2022

Abu Dhabi overcomes global challenges registering 11.2% GDP growth in H1: SCAD

Abu Dhabi overcomes global challenges registering 11.2% GDP growth in H1: SCAD

RIYADH: Reflecting Abu Dhabi’s robust performance and the ability of the economy to sustain growth despite global economic challenges, data released by the Statistics Centre – Abu Dhabi, shows expansion of the emirate’s gross domestic product in the first half of 2022 to 11.2 percent compared to the same period last year. 

The quarterly GDP growth rate reached its highest value in six years during the second quarter of 2022 when it hit 11.7 percent compared to the same quarter last year, according to estimates reported by SCAD. 

At the end of the first half of 2022, the real GDP value (at constant prices) exceeded 543 billion dirhams ($148 billion), and the value of the non-oil sectors’ GDP increased 28.4 billion dirhams compared to the same period last year to reach 273 billion dirhams in total. 

Furthermore, the statistical estimates reveal that all non-oil economic activities and sectors showed positive growth rates at constant prices during the first half of 2022, most notably, the health and social work activity rising at a rate of 29.9 percent. This was followed by accommodation and food services at a rate of 29.3 percent, and professional, scientific and support services at a rate of 27.2 percent. The emirate's wholesale and retail trade activity also recorded a positive growth at a rate of 23.7 percent, whereas real estate activities grew at a rate of 19.1 percent. Abu Dhabi's electricity, gas, water, and waste management registered a growth rate of 18.0 percent, followed by 13.8 percent for transportation and storage. 

The leading economic activities that contributed to the GDP of Abu Dhabi at constant prices during the first half of 2022 included manufacturing activities with the contribution of 8.1 percent, while showing a growth rate of 10.2 percent, according to the results.
In addition, the construction and building activity contributed to the real GDP with 7.7 percent, and achieved a growth rate of 6.9 percent, followed by the wholesale and retail trade activity that contributed 5.9 percent to the GDP.
The financial and insurance activities contributed 5.5 percent to the GDP, with a growth rate of 9.1 percent during the first half of 2022 compared to the same period last year. 

Mohamed Ali Al Shorafa, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, said, “Economy’s positive growth rates in Abu Dhabi reflect the profound strength and success of the economic diversification policy, which contributed to the economy’s resilience and ability to address global changes posed by geopolitical and economic factors that directly affected strategic sectors such as energy and international trade.” 

He added: “The Abu Dhabi economy continues to reap the benefits of the effective policies guided by the wise leadership to strengthen the pillars and foundations of the economy, maintaining a competitive performance while attracting investments with more initiatives to achieve the strategic objectives of Abu Dhabi.” 

According to data released by SCAD, the mining and quarrying activities (including crude oil and natural gas) contributed 49.7 percent to the real GDP of Abu Dhabi during the first half of 2022, which means non-oil activities contributed 50.3 percent at constant prices defying the noticeable increases of global oil prices during the same period.
The increase in the non-oil sector’s contribution to the real GDP bears testimony to the success of the ambitious strategic plans for diversifying the economic base in Abu Dhabi. 


TVTC zeroes in on tourism with more than 6k Saudis training for roles in key Vision 2030 sector

TVTC zeroes in on tourism with more than 6k Saudis training for roles in key Vision 2030 sector
Updated 28 November 2022

TVTC zeroes in on tourism with more than 6k Saudis training for roles in key Vision 2030 sector

TVTC zeroes in on tourism with more than 6k Saudis training for roles in key Vision 2030 sector

RIYADH: More than 6,000 Saudis are currently being trained up for technical roles in the Kingdom’s growing tourism industry, according to the government agency leading the charge.

Saudi Arabia's Technical and Vocational Training Corp. has announced it is currently training 6,189 people in preparation for jobs in the tourism and hotel industries.

The Kingdom’s tourism sector continues to grow, with the Kingdom expecting to attract 100 million annual visitors and creating one million jobs by 2030.

TVTC spokesperson Fahad Alotaibi said the entity focuses on designing and providing specialized training programs to train citizens to work in this sector and lead its facilities through diversified training programs in the tourism and hospitality fields.

TVTC's aims align with Saudi Vision 2030, under which efforts are exerted to cut the unemployment rate in the Kingdom from 11.6 percent to 7 percent by 2030.

In August this year, TVTC announced that it had received more than 230,000 trainees — new starters and returnees — in over 260 training facilities and partnership institutes distributed throughout the Kingdom.

To achieve its Vision 2030 goals, Saudi Arabia is not only encouraging the recruitment of nationals to private sector jobs, but is also encouraging adequate investment in their future to ensure their retention by employers as well as their contribution to a vibrant and diverse economy.

Saudization, officially known as the Saudi nationalization scheme, or Nitaqat, is considered a crucial step towards economic success.

Saudi Arabia launched the ‘Saudization’ labor market strategy to enhance the economic participation of its citizens, with the aim of reaching 60 percent by 2030.

Although the process of Saudization has been going on since 1985, major regulatory and economic reforms have accelerated in recent years under the Vision 2030 agenda, with the aim of increasing the participation of young Saudis in the economy, promoting non-oil sectors and improving the overall quality of life.

According to Saudi Arabia's Central Department of Statistics and Information, the unemployment rate in the Kingdom decreased to 5.80 percent in the second quarter of 2022 from 6 percent in the first quarter of 2022.

Vision 2030 promotes Saudi women as an important part of the Kingdom’s strength. It aims to develop their talents, invest their energies, and provide them with the right opportunities to build their futures, contributing to the development of society.

Saudi women now comprise 33.6 percent of the Saudi workforce as of March 2022, according to the General Authority for Statistics. That figure is up from 17.4 percent just five years ago.

The unemployment rate of women was the lowest in 20 years as of the first quarter of 2022, falling to 20.2 percent from 22.5 percent during the fourth quarter of 2021.


WTTC members to invest $10.5bn in Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector over next 5 years

WTTC members to invest $10.5bn in Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector over next 5 years
Updated 11 min 13 sec ago

WTTC members to invest $10.5bn in Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector over next 5 years

WTTC members to invest $10.5bn in Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector over next 5 years

RIYADH: The World Travel and Tourism Council members will invest $10.5 billion in Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector, as the Kingdom steadily evolves as a global tourist destination in line with the goals outlined in Vision 2030, according to Julia Simpson, president and CEO of WTTC. 

Speaking at a press conference ahead of the WTTC Global Summit in Riyadh on Nov. 28, Simpson noted that Saudi Arabia is showing incredible commitment to developing the tourism sector, and is planning to attract 100 million visitors globally by 2030. 

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Tourism Ahmad Al-Khateeb said the sector is still recovering from the pandemic, but the number of international arrivals in the Kingdom has already climbed to 70 percent of pre-COVID-19 levels. 

“I am proud of the progress we made in building resilience in this sector. We believe in the power of partnership, and we want to bring the global community together. Saudi Arabia is the fastest growing destination in the world,” said Al-Khateeb. 

WTTC also announced that American actor, environmentalist and entrepreneur Edward Norton will be a keynote seeker at its global summit in Riyadh on Nov. 30.

Norton, who has been a long-time advocate for sustainable business practices, will speak about the vitality of maintaining healthy environmental operational standards in the tourism sector as he will be in a conversation with Saudi Tourism Authority CEO Fahd Hamidaddin during the event, according to a press release.

“It is clear that people who have such a global platform as Edward Norton help to transcend borders and reinforce the work that we do in promoting sustainable development strategies and we are delighted he is with us at the WTTC Summit in Riyadh,” said Hamidaddin.

This year’s WTTC Global Summit is being organized at the King Abdul Aziz International Conference Center under the theme “Travel for a Better Future.”

Some other prominent personalities who will speak at the summit include former UK Prime Minister Theresa May, Jerry Inzerillo — Group CEO of Diriyah Gate Development Authority, and Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai International Airports. 

Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon will also address delegates in person during the event. In October, Al-Khateeb said that Riyadh is set to become the capital of the global tourism industry, and the tourist destinations in the Kingdom are being built and will operate in a sustainable manner. 

“We have the vision, we put the plan, and we put all the resources, especially the financial resources to deliver the plan,” said Al-Khateeb.


King Salman International Airport masterplan announced by Crown Prince

King Salman International Airport masterplan announced by Crown Prince
Updated 56 min 57 sec ago

King Salman International Airport masterplan announced by Crown Prince

King Salman International Airport masterplan announced by Crown Prince

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is set to build one of the world’s largest airports in what will be a huge boost for the Kingdom’s ambition to become a global hub for trade and tourism, according to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz.

The King Salman International Airport, located in Riyadh, will have six parallel runways, and is expected to contribute SR27 billion ($7.18 billion) annually to Saudi Arabia’s non-oil gross domestic product.

The airport will help drive annual passenger traffic in Saudi Arabia from the current 29 million to 120 million travelers by 2030 and 185 million by 2050, with aircraft traffic in the Kingdom increasing from 211,000 to more than 1 million flights per year.

With sustainability at its core, the new airport will achieve LEED Platinum certification by incorporating cutting edge green initiatives into its design and will be powered by renewable energy, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

The development, set to be built by the Public Investment Fund, will include the existing terminals named after King Khalid, with the capacity to process 3.5 million tons of cargo by 2050.

The SPA report added it will become an aerotropolis centered around a seamless customer journey, world-class efficient operations, and innovation. Riyadh’s identity and the Saudi culture will be taken into consideration in the airport’s design to ensure a unique travel experience for visitors and transit travelers.

"The airport project is in line with Saudi Arabia's vision to transform Riyadh to be among the top ten city economies in the world and to support the growth of Riyadh's population to 15–20 million people by 2030," SPA said.

It added King Salman airport would create 103,000 direct and indirect jobs.

The new airport is part of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 drive (PIF)

It did not give details on the planned investments but a person familiar with the plans has told Reuters the PIF's aviation department is getting hefty funds to create an ecosystem of cargo and passenger airlines, repair companies and airports.

The 77-year-old state airline Saudia will be based out of the Red Sea city Jeddah under the transportation strategy that calls for the establishment of the two hubs.

The kingdom is already in talks with planemakers Airbus SE and Boeing Co on orders for the two carriers Saudia and RIA.

The announcement comes on the eve of the World Travel and Tourism Global Summit, set to begin in Riyadh on Nov. 28.

Touted to be one of the biggest tourism events of the year, the global summit is being organized at the King Abdul Aziz International Conference Center under the theme “Travel for a Better Future."

During the event, industry leaders will share their thoughts about the future of the sector and the challenges that should be addressed to ensure a safer, more resilient, inclusive, and sustainable travel and tourism industry.