Red Sea Global’s CEO doesn’t rule out an IPO as it rebrands for expansion

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Updated 26 October 2022

Red Sea Global’s CEO doesn’t rule out an IPO as it rebrands for expansion

Red Sea Global’s CEO doesn’t rule out an IPO as it rebrands for expansion

RIYADH: The CEO of Saudi Arabia’s most ambitious tourism project doesn’t rule out an initial public offering for the giga project, as it gears up for expansion under a global new brand.

Speaking to Arab News at the 6th edition of the Future Investment Initiative Forum in Riyadh on Oct. 25, John Pagano didn't say when his company — formally known as The Red Sea Development Co. — will list publicly, while indicating that this is more of a future option to secure any additional funding.  

The Red Sea project, which is part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 program, will start to become reality next year when the Kingdom’s newest tourist destination opens its first three resorts by late spring, according to the CEO.

The project is ready to welcome “people from around the world.”

The resorts set to open are St. Regis and the Ritz Carlton Reserve and Six Senses.

“It's the first step in the realization of Vision 2030. We have a lot of work to do," Pagano said.

RSG's CEO revealed they will open the airport to serve the first opening of the hotels, with a seaplane terminal that will be operational to welcome the guests. 

“We have another 13 resorts that are under development right now that will open a year later. So in 2024, we will complete the first phase of Red Sea, which is a total of 16 hotels,” said Pagano, adding: “We've announced the brands over time. We have 12 hotel management agreements in place; a couple of the hotels, we're going to brand ourselves and build the Red Sea hospitality brand around that.”

Regarding Amaala, Pagano highlighted the luxury development has eight resorts under construction that will also be completed at the end of 2024. 

“The opening next year is a hugely important milestone. But the real focus continues to be completing the first phase of both Red Sea and Amaala to really open and launch the destination on a really, truly global scale,” he said.

RSG announced its new name on the sidelines of the first day of FII. The rebranding is part of its global vision to lead the narrative transition toward regenerative development.

“I think it's appropriate that we change our name to reflect our global ambitions, our ambition to really change the way we do things, not just here in Saudi Arabia, but would actually lead the world in that transformation,” John Pagano told Arab News.

“I think that is the real essence behind why we're doing it. We're a company that wants to do better for people and for the planet. And Red Sea Global is the right positioning and branding for our new global ambitions,” he added.

“I'm thinking about next year, but I got the rest of this year to concern myself with a huge amount of effort going into preparing the destination to welcome our first guests from getting our mobility strategy working,” Pagano said.

“I mean, actually realizing the mobility strategy, commissioning our electric vehicles, we have hydrogen-powered boats that are under production. Now, our seaplane businesses are coming — all of this is coming together so that when we open our doors in late spring, next year. We're going to be fully ready to open our arms and welcome people from around the world,” he added.

Aramco-Total JV SATORP ends 2022 with a $2.4bn profit  

Aramco-Total JV SATORP ends 2022 with a $2.4bn profit  
Updated 15 sec ago

Aramco-Total JV SATORP ends 2022 with a $2.4bn profit  

Aramco-Total JV SATORP ends 2022 with a $2.4bn profit  

RIYADH: SATORP, a joint venture between oil giant Saudi Aramco and France’s Total Oil Co., swung into profits of SR9 billion ($2.4 billion) in 2022 as a result of improved refining and petrochemicals margins compared to a year earlier.   

The company managed to hit an impressive gross profit of SR12.6 billion in 2022, compared to SR346.8 million reported in the same period a year earlier.   

Its sales also almost doubled to nearly SR76.8 billion in 2022, from SR41.7 billion in 2021, according to a bourse filing.   

The company’s earnings per share stood at SR10.95 in 2022, compared to a loss per share of SR1.1 during the same period a year earlier. 

Formally known as Saudi Aramco Total Refining and Petrochemical Co., SATORP is 62.5 percent owned by Saudi Aramco and 37.5 percent owned by Total.   

SATORP aspires “to be the Middle East and Asia's leading performer in refining and petrochemicals with a passion for the environment,” according to its official site.   

Saudi investment funds hit record high after 25% surge: CMA

Saudi investment funds hit record high after 25% surge: CMA
Updated 17 min 39 sec ago

Saudi investment funds hit record high after 25% surge: CMA

Saudi investment funds hit record high after 25% surge: CMA

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s investment potential is being recognised by traders with the number of funds operating in the Kingdom hitting an all-time high, according to the Capital Market Authority.

The organization’s latest bulletin revealed that in the final three months of last year, the number of investment funds in the Kingdom hit 941 – a surge of 25 percent compared to the same period in 2021.

While the number of public funds reached 255, the number of private funds amounted to 686, compared to 256 and 495 funds respectively in the same quarter a year before.

Securing more funds into Saudi Arabia is a key part of the Vision 2030 initiative, with the Kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman previously saying: “Our nation holds strong investment capabilities, which we will harness to stimulate our economy and diversify our revenues.”

The number of subscribers in both public and private investment funds increased by 26 percent to hit 677,155 subscribers in the final three months of 2022, compared to 536,405 subscribers a year earlier.

The largest number of participants in both the public and private funds were concentrated in funds operating in the real estate sector.

On the other hand, the number of firms listed on the Saudi main stock market, also known as Tadawul, has reached 223 firms by the end of December 2022, reflecting a 6 percent surge on a year earlier.

As for the parallel market, also referred to as Nomu, the number of companies listed in the same period reached 46, reflecting an increase of 229 percent when compared to the 14 companies listed in the final three months of 2021.

During the last quarter of 2022, the CMA approved seven firms in the main market and 20 companies in the parallel market. 

In addition to this, the CMA also received four requests for offerings and listings in the main market as well as 79 similar requests in the parallel market, all of which were under study during the period.

The bulletin further noted that the ownership value of foreign investors eligible to invest in the stock market increased by 10 percent to reach SR270.97 billion ($72 billion), compared to SR245.9 billion in the same quarter a year before.

Regarding the classification of investors, according to investment behavior, the ownership percentage of institutional investors in the main market increased to 96.2 percent, compared to 95.84 percent in the same period in 2021.

The CMA’s quarterly bulletin poses a method of making statistical information and market data available to dealers, analysts, researchers, students, and academics in the Saudi financial market with the aim of raising the level of transparency and disclosure as well as stimulating and further developing investments in the financial market.

UAE Central Bank launches digital currency strategy  

UAE Central Bank launches digital currency strategy  
Updated 23 March 2023

UAE Central Bank launches digital currency strategy  

UAE Central Bank launches digital currency strategy  

RIYADH: The Central Bank of UAE has launched its digital currency implementation strategy, a part of the bank’s Financial Infrastructure Transformation initiative, as the emirate aims to become a regional financial hub.  

Aimed at developing the proper infrastructure and technology needed to implement cyber cash, the bank signed new deals with cloud computing company Group 42 Cloud and financial digitization provider R3.  

The first phase of the strategy is set to be completed in 12 to 15 months and will comprise three significant pillars, including the soft launch of mBridge which helps facilitate real value cross-border central bank digital currency transactions.  

The second pillar is to create a proof-of-concept for bilateral digital currency bridges with India, which is one of the UAE’s top trading partners, while the third aspect is to prove efficiency for domestic issuance in wholesale and retail sectors.  

“Central bank digital currency is one of the initiatives as part of the Central Bank’s FIT program, which will further position and solidify the UAE as a leading global financial hub,” Khaled Balama, Governor of UAE Central Bank, said. 

The FIT program is a set of nine initiatives that aim to help the UAE become a regional financial hub. The implementation of the program is divided into three phases and will be fully completed by 2026.  

In its first phase, the program aims to boost the UAE’s financial sector by enabling digital currency, launching a card domestic scheme, and establishing an instant payment platform.  

“The launch of our digital currency strategy marks a key step in the evolution of money and payments in the country. Central Bank Digital Currency will accelerate our digitalization journey and promote financial inclusion. We look forward to exploring the opportunities that CBDC will bring to the wider economy and society,” Balama added.  

Implementing digital currency will support the UAE in serving a secure and cost-effective form of payment.  

The strategy will further strengthen the country’s payment infrastructure by providing additional payment channels and ensuring a reliable financial system. 

SAMA and GCC banks follow Fed’s 25 bps interest rate hike 

SAMA and GCC banks follow Fed’s 25 bps interest rate hike 
Updated 23 March 2023

SAMA and GCC banks follow Fed’s 25 bps interest rate hike 

SAMA and GCC banks follow Fed’s 25 bps interest rate hike 

RIYADH: The Saudi Central Bank has increased its interest rate by 25 basis points to 5.5 percent, echoing Wednesday’s move by the US Federal Reserve to curb inflation. 

A statement from the bank, also known as SAMA, noted its Reverse Repo rate has also increased to 5 percent.   

While inflation is still on the rise in the Kingdom, the annual rate eased to 3 percent in February, down from 3.4 percent the previous month.  

The Fed’s quarter-point interest rate hike follows months of larger increases, as it hiked 25 basis points in February, 50 basis points in December, and 75 basis points in November, September, July and June. 

While the US Central Bank’s decision was driven by its desire to lower high inflation, this played a part in driving the Gulf region’s monetary policy, as most of the region’s currencies are pegged to the dollar.  

Following the US Fed’s decision, regional central banks also swung into action to raise their interest rates.  

Furthermore, the UAE's central bank increased its base rate to 4.9 percent, effective on Thursday. 

Bahrain also raised its main rate by 25 basis points, with its one-week deposit facility rate rising to 5.75 percent, while the overnight deposit rate hit 5.5 percent.  

Qatar’s central bank, which had kept its rates unchanged last month, increased its lending and deposit rates to 5.75 percent and 5.25 percent respectively.  

Inflation in the GCC region is higher than it was in almost 10 years, but still lower than numerous western countries, ranging between 5 and 6 percent last year. 

Despite recent signs of a slow-down in the US economy, prices are running at their highest level since the early 1980s.  

Rising interest rates increase the cost of borrowing for consumers, leading to more expensive mortgage bills and loan repayments – something that can lead to reduced spending on other items as people try to reduce costs. 

However, savers benefit from the interest rates rise, with money stored away gaining a greater return. Yet, with inflation across the globe still running hot, any extra interest gained by savings is lower than the rising cost of goods and services.

Oil Updates — Crude dips; China plans to use renewable energy to help boost gas and oil output

Oil Updates — Crude dips; China plans to use renewable energy to help boost gas and oil output
Updated 23 March 2023

Oil Updates — Crude dips; China plans to use renewable energy to help boost gas and oil output

Oil Updates — Crude dips; China plans to use renewable energy to help boost gas and oil output

RIYADH: Oil prices fell on Thursday following three sessions of gains, after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell highlighted banking sector credit risks for the world’s largest economy, while US crude stocks rose more than expected.

Brent crude futures had fallen 42 cents, or 0.55 percent, to $76.27 a barrel at 11.00 a.m. Saudi time, while US West Texas Intermediate crude dropped 50 cents, or 0.71 percent, to $70.40.

Both crude benchmarks settled on Wednesday at their highest closes since March 14 after the dollar slid to a six-week low.

Powell said on Wednesday that banking industry stress could trigger a credit crunch, with “significant” implications for an economy that US central bank officials projected would slow even more this year than previously thought.

Meanwhile, US crude oil stockpiles rose unexpectedly last week to their highest in nearly two years, the latest data from the Energy Information Administration showed.

US Crude inventories rose in the week to March 17 by 1.1 million barrels to 481.2 million barrels, the highest since May 2021. 

China plans to use renewable energy to help boost gas and oil output

China plans to use renewable energy sources such as wind and solar to provide onsite power for enhanced oil and gas recovery techniques, according to the National Energy Administration.

Gas output could be increased by 3 billion cubic meters through pressure-boosted mining techniques, the NEA said in an action plan for 2023-2025 issued late on Wednesday.

Crude oil production could be lifted by more than 2 million tons through renewable-powered carbon dioxide flooding and thermal recovery techniques, it added.

In addition to enhancing output at existing sites, the NEA proposed increased exploration of both onshore and offshore oil and gas that would also draw on renewable power sources.

The development of renewable-supported oil and gas facilities has particular potential in northern and western parts of the country such as Xinjiang, Gansu and Heilongjiang, it said.

The blueprint for an “integrated development” of renewable and conventional energy resources comes as Beijing increasingly stresses the country’s need for energy security, including a new emphasis on a continuing role for coal.

Despite a massive rollout of renewable power sources — renewables accounted for 76.2 percent of newly installed energy capacity last year — traditional fuel sources form the backbone of the country’s energy supply.

Coal power accounted for 56.2 percent of China’s energy consumption last year, while oil provided 17.9 percent and gas 8.5 percent, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.

The NEA also highlighted the importance of demand-side reforms, such as reducing power usage at peak times, as well as increasing energy storage and ‘smart grid’ systems.

Energean sees output of up to 158,000 boed this year

Eastern Mediterranean-focused gas producer Energean on Thursday forecast its 2023 output would reach 131,000-158,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day after the start-up of its flagship Israeli Karish field.

Karish, which uses a floating production, storage and offloading vessel, is set to deliver 4.5-5.5 billion cubic meters of gas to Israel this year, with Energean ramping up capacity to 8 bcm.

It expects its production to reach 200,000 boed by the second half of 2024.

Energean’s previous production stood at around 41,000 boed.

(With input from Reuters)