China In-Focus — Yuan weakens; Lenovo reports slowest revenue growth in eight quarters

China In-Focus — Yuan weakens; Lenovo reports slowest revenue growth in eight quarters
Total revenue during the period was $16.96 billion, up 0.2 percent from the same quarter a year ago (Shutterstock)
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Updated 10 August 2022

China In-Focus — Yuan weakens; Lenovo reports slowest revenue growth in eight quarters

China In-Focus — Yuan weakens; Lenovo reports slowest revenue growth in eight quarters

RIYADH: The yuan eased on Wednesday, weighed down by signs that China’s COVID-19-hit economy is struggling to regain momentum and by lingering concerns over heightened Sino-US tensions over Taiwan.

The currency’s losses were limited, however, by caution ahead of US inflation data later in the global day, which could provide hints to the Federal Reserve’s plans for future monetary tightening and the direction of the dollar.  

The People’s Bank of China set the midpoint rate at 6.7612 per dollar prior to the market open, weaker than the previous fix of 6.7584. 

Factory inflation at 17-month low

China’s factory-gate inflation eased to a 17-month low in July, defying global cost pressures as slower domestic construction weighed on raw material demand, although consumer prices picked up pace, driven mostly by tight pork supplies.

The producer price index rose 4.2 percent year-on-year, the National Bureau of Statistics, said on Wednesday, after a 6.1 percent uptick in June and missing analyst forecasts for a 4.8 percent increase.

China’s producer price growth has slowed from a 26-year high hit in October last year, giving policy makers some leeway to stimulate the flagging economy even as central banks elsewhere scramble to hose down rampant inflation with aggressive interest rate hikes.

China’s Lenovo reports slowest revenue growth in eight quarters

Lenovo Group, the world’s biggest maker of personal computers, reported flat revenue for the April to June quarter when many Chinese cities were hit by COVID-19 lockdowns, marking its most subdued result in eight quarters.

Total revenue during the period was $16.96 billion, up 0.2 percent from the same quarter a year ago though it was in line with an average Refinitiv estimate of $16.87 billion drawn from seven analysts. That was the smallest quarter-on-quarter increase since the period ending in March 2020.

However, Lenovo has made big strides in expanding into other higher-margin businesses such as server operation, information technology services and mobile devices, with Lenovo’s non-PC business now accounting for 37 percent of the company’s revenue. For the quarter, net income attributable to shareholders rose 11 percent to $516 million.

Yang Yuanqing, Lenovo’s chairman and CEO, said the company is “diversifying from a pure PC business to a company that offers a broad range of intelligent products and solutions.”

(With input from Reuters)

 


China launches $28bn loan facility to support manufacturers

China launches $28bn loan facility to support manufacturers
Updated 28 September 2022

China launches $28bn loan facility to support manufacturers

China launches $28bn loan facility to support manufacturers
  • Yuan ends at weakest since global financial crisis, hits record low

BEIJING, SHANGHAI: China’s central bank said on Wednesday it has set up a relending facility worth more than 200 billion yuan ($27.59 billion) to help manufacturers and other companies upgrade their equipment, as part of a push to revive flagging demand.

The People’s Bank of China said in a statement that it will provide low-cost funds to financial institutions and guide them to lend to firms to support such upgrades. The loans will be issued on a monthly basis, and the interest rate for qualified firms will be no higher than 3.2 percent from Sept. 1, 2022 to Dec. 31, 2022, the central bank added. China’s one-year loan prime rate is currently 3.65 percent.

The lending facility will support sectors including education, health, culture, tourism and sports, electric vehicle chargers, urban underground facilities, new infrastructure and industrial digital transformation, the central bank said.

The PBoC has increasingly relied on structural, or targeted policy tools, including low-cost loans, to support the slowing economy, as it faces limited room to cut interest rates for fear of fueling capital flight and inflation.

The PBoC has rolled out relending facilities to support the transport, logistics and storage sectors that have been hit hard by COVID-19, as well as carbon emission reduction, tech innovation and elderly care.

On Sept. 14, China’s Cabinet announced steps to support equipment upgrades by companies, extending a raft of measures to bolster the COVID-ravaged economy.

Onshore yuan

China’s onshore yuan extended losses on Wednesday to end the domestic session at its lowest level against the dollar since the global financial crisis of 2008, while the offshore yuan hit a record low, pressured by expectations of more US rate hikes.

Currency traders said the yuan was reacting to broad greenback strength in global markets as the dollar hit a fresh two-decade peak against a basket of currencies, buoyed by safe-haven demand and a hawkish Federal Reserve.

In onshore markets, the yuan finished the domestic trading session at 7.2458 per dollar, its weakest such close since January 2008 and down 658 pips or 0.91 percent from previous late night close of 7.18.

The offshore yuan followed suit and weakened 1.15 percent on the day to trade at 7.2635 around 0830 GMT.

Fuel export

China may tweak a proposed sharp increase in refined fuel export quotas for this year by extending the plan into next year, as it weighs the benefits to the economy of higher exports against low domestic stocks and operational challenges, four sources told Reuters.

However, the four sources with direct knowledge of the matter — and three others — said the government was still reviewing the matter.

The market has been widely expecting China to release a fifth batch of fuel export quota of up to 15 million tons for the rest of the year, which would be its largest so far in 2022 and lift China’s sagging exports.

The proposal from refiners’ planning departments, following a government call to boost trade, has led some refiners to ready an increase in output to take advantage of the quota.


Consultancy agreement signed to launch Jordanian-Iraqi economic city

Consultancy agreement signed to launch Jordanian-Iraqi economic city
Updated 28 September 2022

Consultancy agreement signed to launch Jordanian-Iraqi economic city

Consultancy agreement signed to launch Jordanian-Iraqi economic city
  • Industries on the site will benefit from free trade agreements and have access to over 1bn consumers without customs restrictions

AMMAN: The Jordanian-Iraqi Industry Company and the Coalition for Engineering Consultancy have signed a contract for the provision of services for a Jordanian-Iraqi border economic city project, Jordan News Agency reported.

The engineering consultancy firm will be involved in all stages of finding a developer to carry out the project, including the creation of tender documents, according to the agreement. 

Following the signing ceremony, the company, which is owned by Jordan and Iraq, announced the start of administrative and procedural steps for the project. 

The economic city will strengthen Jordanian-Iraqi business cooperation, and spur development in western Iraq and eastern Jordan. 

The company said in a statement that industries operating in the economic city will benefit from free trade agreements signed by Jordan with many countries, and have access to more than 1 billion consumers without technical or customs restrictions.

It added that the project “constitutes an opportunity to build Jordanian-Iraqi economic integration in many fields, especially industrial ones.”

The joint economic city will be built on the Jordan-Iraq border, with both countries making land available for construction.

 


Bahrain-based Eat App raises $11m in a series B funding

Bahrain-based Eat App raises $11m in a series B funding
Updated 28 September 2022

Bahrain-based Eat App raises $11m in a series B funding

Bahrain-based Eat App raises $11m in a series B funding

RIYADH: Bahrain-based restaurant reservation platform, Eat App, raised $11 million in a series B funding round.

The funding round included venture capital firms MEVP, 500 Startups, Derayah VC, Dalah Albaraka, Ali Zaid Al-Quraishi and Brothers, and Rasameel Investment Company.

The firm seeks expand globally and invest in product development to support restaurants and guest experience.

“Looking back, the pandemic impacted Eat App greatly. While it caused a drop in revenue, it was also one of the largest accelerators of the business, as restaurants were forced to implement digital tools,” Nezar Kadhem, co-founder and CEO of Eat App, said in a statement.

Founded in 2015, Eat App currently operates in Bahrain, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Doha, with more than 800 restaurants on its platform.


Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures leads French AI firm Alteia’s funding round

Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures leads French AI firm Alteia’s funding round
Updated 28 September 2022

Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures leads French AI firm Alteia’s funding round

Aramco’s Wa’ed Ventures leads French AI firm Alteia’s funding round

RIYADH: Alteia, a European artificial intelligence and industrial software company, announced that it closed its latest funding round led by Wa’ed Ventures, Saudi Aramco’s venture capital arm.

Alteia will utilize its funding to increase its presence in the Kingdom by opening an office in Dhahran to support companies in the region as well as invest in research and development.

“To have the world’s leading energy company invest in Alteia through its investment arm is a strong show of faith in our trajectory, and weighs in the value of contextualized, actionable visual data as the foundation to shape a more efficient, more sustainable industrial future,” Benjamin Benharrosh, co-founder of Alteia, said in a statement.


Egypt B2B marketplace Mazaya raises $5m in pre-seed round

Egypt B2B marketplace Mazaya raises $5m in pre-seed round
Updated 28 September 2022

Egypt B2B marketplace Mazaya raises $5m in pre-seed round

Egypt B2B marketplace Mazaya raises $5m in pre-seed round

RIYADH: Mazaya, an Egypt-based B2B e-commerce marketplace, raised $5 million in a pre-seed round, said a statement issued on Tuesday.

The funding round was led by financial investment firm Raya Trade and Distribution, it added.

The company will use the funds to boost its operation in Egypt as well as expand into new markets and other verticals.

“The funds raised will allow us to quickly scale our operations and expand to other markets beyond Egypt, we have plans to launch our services in Nigeria before this year-end,” Amir Aboul Fotouh, Mazaya co-founder, said.

The Mazaya app provides retailers and merchants of electronic goods and home appliances the ability to procure inventory for their stores from all major brands.

“The platform conveniently supports merchants, particularly small merchants who do not receive adequate services, with the ability to scale their business through a superior level of service and a wide range of electronic devices from all international and local brands at the click of a button,” Bassem Megahed, CEO of Raya Trade and Distribution, said in a statement.

The company also plans to offer financial services and support to their retailers by offering credit facilities and flexible payment options.