Heathrow owner Ferrovial studies options for stake in Britain’s biggest airport: Sources

The early stage discussions come amid interest in Ferrovial’s stake from private equity firm Ardian, which has held talks with its own advisers on a possible joint proposal with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. Reuters/File
The early stage discussions come amid interest in Ferrovial’s stake from private equity firm Ardian, which has held talks with its own advisers on a possible joint proposal with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. Reuters/File
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Updated 09 August 2022

Heathrow owner Ferrovial studies options for stake in Britain’s biggest airport: Sources

Heathrow owner Ferrovial studies options for stake in Britain’s biggest airport: Sources

LONDON: Spain’s Ferrovial is looking at options for its 25 percent stake in London’s Heathrow, two sources told Reuters, and has held preliminary talks with external advisers on the future of its holding in Britain’s biggest airport.

The early stage discussions come amid interest in Ferrovial’s stake from private equity firm Ardian, which has held talks with its own advisers on a possible joint proposal with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, these sources and another person familiar with the matter said.

Ferrovial has yet to take a final decision and the discussions may not result in a sale, all the sources said.

HIGHLIGHTS

Heathrow is worth about €24.3 billion ($25 billion), including debt.

Qatar Investment Authority, which has a 20 percent stake in Heathrow, is the second biggest investor in the busy British airport.

Shares in the Madrid-listed firm rose as much as 4.2 percent on the Reuters report. At market close they were up 3.7 percent, scoring their second best day in five months and making them the third best performing stock across the pan-European STOXX 600 index.

Ferrovial and Ardian both declined to comment while PIF did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Heathrow is worth about €24.3 billion ($25 billion), including debt, JPMorgan analysts calculated in May. By JPMorgan’s estimates, Ferrovial's Heathrow holding has an equity value of €611 million.

But Insight Investment Research analyst Robert Crimes had a less conservative approach and told Reuters the equity value of Ferrovial’s 25 percent stake in Heathrow could be close to €2 billion, well above analysts’ consensus. He said Ferrovial’s stock has yet to reflect the post-pandemic recovery in traffic volumes and inflation-linked returns.

Heathrow, which Aviation data firm OAG said was the world’s fifth busiest airport in July, was hard hit by coronavirus lockdowns, but raised its 2022 traffic forecast to 54.4 million passengers in June after a travel rebound.

Last month Heathrow, like some other airports in Europe, asked airlines to stop selling tickets for summer departures and capped passenger numbers to limit queues, baggage delays and cancellations as it struggled with pent-up demand.

Madrid-based Ferrovial, which controls Spanish transport infrastructure developer Cintra and has stakes in motorways in the US and Canada, has been invested in Heathrow airport for 16 years and ranks as its single largest investor.

Qatar Investment Authority, which has a 20 percent stake in Heathrow, is the second biggest investor in the busy British airport, while Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, Singapore’s wealth fund GIC and China Investment Corp. also have sizeable holdings.

QIA declined to comment while CDPQ, GIC and China Investment Corp. were not immediately available.

 


Gas from Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline leaks into Baltic Sea

Gas from Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline leaks into Baltic Sea
Updated 27 September 2022

Gas from Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline leaks into Baltic Sea

Gas from Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline leaks into Baltic Sea
  • President Vladimir Putin in September chided the West for keeping Nord Stream 2 shut

BERLIN/COPENHAGEN: Danish authorities on Monday asked ships to steer clear of a five nautical mile radius off the island of Bornholm after a gas leak overnight from the defunct Russian-owned Nord Stream 2 pipeline drained into the Baltic Sea.
The German government said it was in contact with the Danish authorities and working with local law enforcement to find out what caused pressure in the pipeline to plummet suddenly. Denmark’s energy ministry declined to comment.
On Monday evening, the operator of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which ran at reduced capacity since mid-June before stopping supplies altogether in August, also disclosed a pressure drop on both lines of the gas pipeline.
“The reasons are being investigated,” Nord Stream AG said on its website, without disclosing further information.
The pipeline has been one of the flashpoints in an escalating energy war between Europe and Moscow since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February that has pummelled major Western economies and sent gas prices soaring.
“A leak today occurred on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the Danish area,” said Denmark’s energy agency in a statement.
The German network regulator president, Klaus Mueller, said on Twitter the pressure drop in both pipelines “underscores the German network regulator’s assessment that the situation is tense.”
The regulator said it was currently not known what had caused the pressure drop, adding the event had no impact on security of supply in Germany and that the country’s gas storage levels were around 91 percent.
Danish maritime authorities had issued a navigation warning and established a zone around the Nord Stream 2 pipeline “as it is dangerous for ship traffic,” it added.
Nord Stream 2’s operator said pressure in the pipeline, which had contained some gas sealed inside despite never becoming operational, dropped from 105 to 7 bars overnight.
The pipeline, which was intended to double the volume of gas flowing from St. Petersburg under the Baltic Sea to Germany, had just been completed and filled with 300 million cubic meters of gas when Germany canceled it days before the invasion.
NO CLARITY
“Overnight the Nord Stream 2 landfall dispatcher registered a rapid gas pressure drop on Line A of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline,” Nord Stream 2’s operator said in a statement.
“Investigation is ongoing.”
European countries have resisted Russian calls to allow the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to operate and accused Moscow of using energy as a weapon. Russia denies doing so and blames the West for gas shortages.
“We are currently in contact with the authorities concerned in order to clarify the situation. We still have no clarity about the causes and the exact facts,” said a statement from the German economy ministry.
The Swiss-based operator, which has legally been wound up, said it had informed all relevant authorities about the leak.
Russian gas exporter Gazprom referred questions about the incident to the Nord Stream 2 operator.
Russia has cut off gas supplies to several countries and also halted flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, blaming Western sanctions for hindering operations.
President Vladimir Putin in September chided the West for keeping Nord Stream 2 shut.
Monday’s gas leak happened a day before the ceremonial launch of the Baltic Pipe carrying gas from Norway to Poland.
The project is a centerpiece of Warsaw’s efforts to diversify from Russian gas. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen is due to travel to Poland on Tuesday to mark the occasion.
Nord Stream 2 was widely unpopular among Danish lawmakers and the country in 2017 passed a law which allowed it to ban the project from passing through its territorial waters on security grounds.
But Nord Stream 2 later changed the original route to steer it through Denmark’s exclusive economic zone, where this veto could not be applied.

 


ECB eyes blockchain for settling bank transactions, says official

ECB eyes blockchain for settling bank transactions, says official
Updated 26 September 2022

ECB eyes blockchain for settling bank transactions, says official

ECB eyes blockchain for settling bank transactions, says official
  • The ECB is among a number of central banks around the world working on digital versions of their currency in response to the popularity of digital tokens

FRANKFURT: The European Central Bank is studying ways of settling transactions between banks on a blockchain in a bid to keep control of money even if lenders switch to distributed ledgers, ECB board member Fabio Panetta said on Monday.

The ECB is among a number of central banks around the world working on digital versions of their currency in response to the popularity of digital tokens such as Bitcoin and the blockchain technology that powers them.

This distributed ledger technology is predicated on market participants verifying transactions and keeping a copy of them rather than relying on a trusted party, such as a central bank.

On top of a digital euro for consumers, the ECB is looking at how it could let banks settle wholesale transactions between them on a distributed ledger, rather than the central bank’s own.

“Despite the uncertainties surrounding DLT’s potential, we want to be prepared for a scenario where market players adopt DLT for wholesale payments and securities settlement,” Panetta said. 

We want to be prepared for a scenario where market players adopt DLT for wholesale payments and securities settlement.

Fabio Panetta, ECB official

He added letting banks settle among themselves or use stablecoins, which are crypto tokens pegged to a conventional currency, would result in “trading and liquidity becoming fragmented.”

Meanwhile, giving stablecoins the ECB’s backing would “outsource the provision of central bank money to private entities, endangering monetary sovereignty,” Panetta said.

As a possible solution, Panetta said the ECB might build a bridge between the private sector’s blockchain platforms and its own Target 2 settlement system.

Alternatively, it could make central bank money — the claim against the ECB in which wholesale transactions are settled — available on those platforms or create its own, he added.


PIF’s Jada signs MoU with Invest Seoul to boost startups, SMEs

PIF’s Jada signs MoU with Invest Seoul to boost startups, SMEs
Updated 26 September 2022

PIF’s Jada signs MoU with Invest Seoul to boost startups, SMEs

PIF’s Jada signs MoU with Invest Seoul to boost startups, SMEs

RIYADH: Fund of Funds Company, known as Jada and owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Invest Seoul Agency to promote startups and SMEs in both countries.

In a statement posted on Jada’s website, the MoU signed between the two parties seeks to exchange information on entrepreneurial policies and best practices and support startups aspiring to enter the Saudi or Korean markets. 

Invest Seoul Agency is a foreign investment promotion agency established by the Seoul Metropolitan Government.

Mazin Al-Shanbari, director of venture capital, Jada, said the MoU will “contribute to developing the business ecosystem for startups” and support the entry of SMEs “that aim to conduct business in the other country.

As per the MoU, the PIF’s Jada and the Korean agency will facilitate exchange of personnel and organize events such as roadshows, conferences and exhibitions to help entrepreneurs from both sides explore opportunities and help them start business.


Moody’s downgrades MEDGULF KSA’s insurance financial strength rating to Ba2

Moody’s downgrades MEDGULF KSA’s insurance financial strength rating to Ba2
Updated 26 September 2022

Moody’s downgrades MEDGULF KSA’s insurance financial strength rating to Ba2

Moody’s downgrades MEDGULF KSA’s insurance financial strength rating to Ba2

RIYADH: Moody's Investors Service has downgraded the Mediterranean and Gulf Cooperative Insurance and Reinsurance Co insurance financial strength rating to Ba2 from Ba1. 

The firm, also known as MEDGULF KSA, is a Saudi joint stock company, and has seen its outlook changed from positive to negative.  

This reflects the challenges MEDGULF KSA faces in improving its underwriting performance and continued pressures on its capitalisation. 

In addition, Moody’s expects the company’s financial flexibility to become more constrained since its rights issue in 2021 with greater uncertainty around its ability to access additional external capital given persistent underwriting losses.

Meanwhile, Moody's has also downgraded the local and foreign currency long-term issuer ratings of Sharjah Islamic Bank to Baa2 from Baa1. 

In addition, the bank's baseline credit assessment was downgraded to ba2 from ba1, while the outlook on its long-term issuer ratings changed to stable from negative.

Moody's says that the downgrade of the bank’s long-term ratings captures the downgrade of the bank’s BCA to ba2 from ba1 and reflects primarily the deterioration in the bank's asset quality.


UAE In-Focus — Arada to open $1.7bn Sharjah office park

UAE In-Focus — Arada to open $1.7bn Sharjah office park
Updated 26 September 2022

UAE In-Focus — Arada to open $1.7bn Sharjah office park

UAE In-Focus — Arada to open $1.7bn Sharjah office park

DUBAI: Sharjah property developer Arada is boosting its portfolio with a 6.3 billion dirham ($1.71 billion) office park and five new residential projects in the UAE.

Arada CBD is spread over 4.3 million sq. feet of prime leasable space located in 40 smart office blocks. 

It will meet demand for a contemporary business district in Sharjah and will cater to the needs of companies throughout the UAE and beyond in the future, Emirates News Agency WAM reported.

According to analysis firm Oxford Economics, the Sharjah economy is projected to grow at a rate of 5 percent annually for the medium-term due to the launch of Arada CBD.

With 96 percent of its gross domestic product derived from non-oil sectors, the Emirate attracted 808 million dirhams in foreign direct investment in 2021, making it one of the most vibrant and diverse economies in the region.

Arada CBD’s first cluster is scheduled to break ground in 2023 and will feature 812,000 sq. feet of Grade A and Grade B leasable space spread across eight buildings.

There are also 1,666 parking spaces, 76,000 sq. feet of landscaped green space, and 26,500 sq. feet of retail space in the cluster.

Arada will relocate its headquarters to the first building of Arada CBD.

When Arada CBD’s first cluster is ready in 2025, the Aljada community will already have 20,000 residents.

Aljada, Sharjah’s largest ever project, covers 24 million sq. feet and will transform the Emirate.

There are numerous residential districts in Aljada, as well as extensive retail, hospitality, entertainment, sports, educational, and health care facilities, all integrated into a green urban master plan.

Approximately 1,500 homes have already been built at Aljada, and 6,000 more are currently being built.

Abu Dhabi and Dubai are the top most liveable cities in the Middle East and Africa

A massive vaccination drive against the COVID-19 pandemic made Abu Dhabi and Dubai among the safest and fastest to recover from the pandemic in the Middle East and Africa, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Both cities remain the most liveable in the region.

As a result of the vaccination campaign, the country avoided a full-scale lockdown in 2021 and, so far, in 2022, EIU said.

The report, published on Sept. 26, marks 1,000 days since the first COVID-19 case was announced to the World Health Organization in December 2019.

According to EIU, Abu Dhabi and Dubai have largely remained open for business since the first wave in 2020.

All target groups were vaccinated against COVID-19 by the UAE in June. Dubai was one of the first major cities to reopen during the pandemic.

Authorities implemented strict policies to contain the pandemic and reopen the city earlier.

As a result of strong trust between the two emirates, Dubai Airport handled 7.12 million passengers while Abu Dhabi Airport handled 6.3 million.

This year, Dubai’s population crossed the 3.5 million mark for the first time.

The region’s top cities to live in include Tel Aviv, Kuwait City, and Bahrain after the two emirates. Damascus, Lagos, Tripoli, Algiers, and Harare are the least liveable cities.