Saudi Arabia signs $1.86bn deal with Nestle to invest in food industries over 10 years

Update Saudi Arabia signs $1.86bn deal with Nestle to invest in food industries over 10 years
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Saudi Ministry of Investment and Nestle signed an agreement to invest $1.86 billion over 10 years. (Twitter/@MISA)
Update Saudi Arabia signs $1.86bn deal with Nestle to invest in food industries over 10 years
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Saudi Ministry of Investment and Nestle signed an agreement to invest $1.86 billion over 10 years. (Twitter/@MISA)
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Updated 24 November 2022

Saudi Arabia signs $1.86bn deal with Nestle to invest in food industries over 10 years

Saudi Arabia signs $1.86bn deal with Nestle to invest in food industries over 10 years

RIYADH: Nestle will invest $1.86 billion in Saudi Arabia over the next decade, a tweet released by the Kingdom's Ministry of Investment's official account announced on Wednesday. 

In a move which aligns with the company's expansion strategy in the Kingdom, the food manufacturing giant's initial investment of SR375 million will see the establishment of a manufacturing plant set to open in 2025, followed by a regional center with a research and development program, and its first business incubator for small and medium-sized companies and start-ups, according to a press release by the company. 

A primary focus of the company is uplifting regional talent and Nestlé’s investments in Saudi Arabia over the next decade are predicted to generate 3,500 direct and indirect employment opportunities in the Kingdom, the release said.

“This strategic plan was developed together with the Saudi Ministry of Investment’s food department, reflecting solid investor confidence in the Kingdom and its long-term prospects,” said Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih. “We more than welcome Nestlé’s investments which will contribute to food security and the development of local businesses, fuel local innovation, and create jobs for youth and professionals – all objectives of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 which the Kingdom is rapidly progressing with.” 

Nestle is the largest food and beverage company in the world. It was established more than 140 years ago and sells over a billion products every day to millions of consumers across the globe.

Nestlé’s presence in the Kingdom dates back to 1955 with various distribution and agency contracts signed in Saudi Arabia. With the development of the Saudi economy, Nestlé decided to increase its stake in Saudi Arabia becoming the first leading multinational Fast Moving Consumer Goods to operate directly in the country in 2011.

Saudi Arabia's prominence as an attractive and fruitful market for foreign investments was underlined by 53 deals with global investors signed during the third quarter of 2022.

Deals were made across communications, energy and health industry sectors and have presented new opportunities in green energy, technology, healthcare, biotechnology, transport and logistics and innovative startups.

Saudi Arabia also launched the Global Supply Chain Resilience Initiative last month to strengthen the country’s global networks while advancing production potential.

According to a MISA report, the GSCRI is expected to attract $10.7 billion in foreign direct investment within the first two years and $2.7 billion worth of incentives to be disbursed through the initiative.

“By introducing GSCRI, Saudi Arabia looks to enhance the investment ecosystem further, integrating cost leadership with supply chain security and sustainability,” said Al-Fatih in a statement.

“GSCRI has been designed to bolster key export-oriented industrial sectors by incentivizing investment and guiding investors through their investment lifecycle, also aiding in tailoring specific incentives under the National Investment Strategy,” he added.

The report described 2022 as a turning point in the Kingdom’s economic history as vital economic sectors continue to grow.

According to the International Monetary Fund, Saudi Arabia is expected to take the lead as the fastest-growing economy in 2022.

The Kingdom’s real gross domestic product is forecast to grow by 7.6 percent at the end of this year; its non-oil sector real GDP to grow 4.2 percent, and its current account to witness a 17.2 percent surplus.

“The Kingdom’s transformation keeps unlocking the vast potential for investment in a market that is experiencing consistent growth and leading economic development among the G-20,” stated Al-Fatih.


Saudi Arabia explores opportunities with Netherlands on energy, circular economy in key meeting

Saudi Arabia explores opportunities with Netherlands on energy, circular economy in key meeting
Updated 15 sec ago

Saudi Arabia explores opportunities with Netherlands on energy, circular economy in key meeting

Saudi Arabia explores opportunities with Netherlands on energy, circular economy in key meeting

RIYADH: Senior officials and business leaders from Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands have met to discuss potential collaborations regarding the energy and circular economy fields.

The Kingdom’s National Competitiveness Center hosted a meeting in its Riyadh headquarters attended by representatives from Dutch embassies across the Gulf Cooperation Council region, and officials from major firms such as global consumer goods company Unilever, multinational conglomerate corporation Philips, and lighting company Signify.

From Saudi Arabia, the Deputy Minister of Commerce and CEO of the Center Iman Al-Mutairi attended, as well as representatives from the Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Resources Human and Social Development, and executives from the Saudi Investment Company for Recycling.

During the meeting, prospects between both countries were discussed, including cooperation between business sectors in the fields of energy and its transportation as well as discussions of partnership in the circular economy.

The meeting also shed light on potential opportunities in the Kingdom, specifically in addition to discussions on the development in the labor market and women’s participation in the workforce.

By building a Saudi economy based on inclusiveness, the NCC aims to achieve competitiveness in its broadest sense, according to Mutairi.

Moreover, companies should be aware of any offers through what is referred to as the “Istiqla” platform which allows opinions to be taken on laws and regulations prior to their approval, the CEO of the center stressed.

Through the meeting, the NCC sought to emphasize the importance of the Saudi and Dutch business sectors to enhance economic cooperation between both countries.

Since its establishment in 2019, the NCC monitors the challenges facing the Kingdom’s private sector from various channels.

It works in integration with more than 60 government entities in order to address them in line with best practices that keep pace with global developments.

The NCC also helps both the public and private sector adopt new innovations, establish sustainability, create growth methods, and effectively use their resources.


Saudi Arabia Vision 2030 ‘winners’ need more private sector funding: S&P Global

Saudi Arabia Vision 2030 ‘winners’ need more private sector funding: S&P Global
Updated 29 min 36 sec ago

Saudi Arabia Vision 2030 ‘winners’ need more private sector funding: S&P Global

Saudi Arabia Vision 2030 ‘winners’ need more private sector funding: S&P Global

RIYADH: Transport, tourism, and technology are among the sectors set to benefit from massive investments as Saudi Arabia pushes ahead with its Vision 2030 economic diversification plan, according to a report from S&P Global.

The ratings agency argues these industries, as well as healthcare and energy, will see significant spending growth over the medium and long term. 

However, in line with previous reports, S&P Global warned that the banking sector and the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund will not be able to provide all the investments required, with debt-capital markets needed to step in.

“It will fall to the debt-capital markets to support a large portion of these new opportunities, as the government and the banking sector alone will not be able to meet all the required funding needs,” said the report.

In its analysis of individual sectors, the report says that as one of the region’s largest countries, and with a significant young population, Saudi Arabia has planned out massive investment in the real estate sector as it continues to launch new programs to provide local housing. 

This is supplemented by a similar focus to develop the business and financial sectors through investments in commercial real estate as the Kingdom wants to become a regional industrial hub.  

On energy supply, the report says: “Utilities face the mammoth task of reducing Saudi Arabia’s fossil fuel dependency and meeting 70 percent of energy needs from renewables by 2030. We expect more public-private partnerships (PPPs) and significant investments in the country's grids.”

The Kingdom’s goal to become a technology hub will see digital infrastructure becoming a key enabler of transformational growth, with telcos staying at the heart of investments, stated the report, adding that high speed broadband, 5G, and a strategic digital hub will drive this change.  

Saudi Arabia’s push to become self-sufficient on food will see investments in the agriculture sectors as the Kingdom aims to increase local production and adopt modern farming techniques.  

“Despite strong demand and price increases, profitability in these sectors remains lower than before the pandemic, with rising input costs obscuring the path to recovery,” said the report.

The report also highlighted the developing tourism sector, “which has already received a substantial boost via aviation developments as well as projects intended to help attract 100 million visitors per year by 2030”. 

In the sector of healthcare, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health will soon assume a regulatory role, stated the report, adding that the private sector is expected to play a more important part in this sector, attracting more than $65 billion in investments.  

“We do not anticipate taking any immediate rating actions on Saudi corporates — even as they carve out significant capital spending budgets over the next two-to-five years — given their healthy balance sheets and strong liquidity,” said the agency, adding: “Over time, however, we will reassess our ratings as projects are executed.”


TASI sheds 304 points as investors’ fears continues pushing the market to ‘red’

TASI sheds 304 points as investors’ fears continues pushing the market to ‘red’
Updated 05 December 2022

TASI sheds 304 points as investors’ fears continues pushing the market to ‘red’

TASI sheds 304 points as investors’ fears continues pushing the market to ‘red’

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index slipped 304 points on Monday, as investors shied away from the market due to dampening business sentiments, inflationary pressures, and looming uncertainties surrounding the future of the global economy. 

The Tadawul All Share Index, known as TASI, was down 2.84 percent at 10,419 on Monday, while the parallel market Nomu shed 44 points or 2.98 percent to 1441. 

TASI slipped below 11,000 on Nov. 21 and has been hovering under that mark since then.

On Monday, of the 219 listed companies on TASI, 190 retreated, while 20 advanced. 

Etihad Atheeb Telecommunication Co. rose 2.88 percent to lead the gainers, followed by Saudi Industrial Investment Group and Theeb Rent a Car Co., whose share prices surged 2.09 percent and 1.60 percent respectively. 

Prior to the market opening Saudi Industrial Investment Group declared a 7.5 percent cash dividend, at SR0.75 ($0.20) per share, totaling SR566.1 million. 

Saudi Enaya Cooperative Insurance Co. led the fallers, as it was down 9.93 percent at the end of Monday’s trading session. 

Other top fallers were Saudi Arabia Refineries Co., Al-Rajhi Company for Cooperative Insurance, Riyad Bank, and Dr. Sulaiman Al Habib Medical Services Group. 

In the banking sector, Alinma Bank and Al Rajhi Bank fell 3.03 percent and 3.75 percent respectively. 

Saudi Aramco, one of the biggest energy producers in the world slipped 2.12 percent when the session closed on Monday. 

In the food and beverage sector, Almarai Co. went down 2.43 percent. 

Meanwhile, Jeddah-based Middle East Paper Co. announced it had restored the production capacity and operations of its plant in Al Khumrah on Dec. 1, ahead of the previously projected date to complete restoration works. 

Last week, MEPCO revealed the record rainfall in Jeddah had resulted in a stoppage of work at the plant on Nov. 24.

According to a statement, MEPCO incurred a decline in sales worth SR18 million, which equals to almost 7 percent of the projected figures for the fourth quarter. 

In another major development, Al-Saif Stores for Development & Investment Co., known as Alsaif Gallerym announced the successful completion of the book-building process for institutional investors, where the final offer price was set at SR115 per share, with a coverage ratio amounting to 1550 percent of the total offer shares. 


UAE In-Focus — UAE, Japan to set up joint business council; Dubai Future Labs signs 3 deals 

UAE In-Focus — UAE, Japan to set up joint business council; Dubai Future Labs signs 3 deals 
Updated 05 December 2022

UAE In-Focus — UAE, Japan to set up joint business council; Dubai Future Labs signs 3 deals 

UAE In-Focus — UAE, Japan to set up joint business council; Dubai Future Labs signs 3 deals 

RIYADH: In an effort to increase trade ties, the UAE and Japan agreed to set up a joint business council that will promote cooperation and facilitate greater movement of business communities between both countries.   

The Federation of UAE Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and Japan External Trade Organization in Dubai, also known as JETRO Dubai, signed an agreement to set up the proposed bilateral business council by the first quarter of 2023, the Emirates News Agency reported.

The council will work toward developing joint projects and exchanging the expertise of the two sides. 

This came during a meeting that brought together Humaid Mohammed bin Salem, secretary general of FCCI, and Masami Ando, managing director of JETRO Dubai, in the presence of officials from both sides. 

Bin Salem urged Japanese companies to invest in the UAE and take advantage of government incentives, as well as the favorable investment climate and legislation. He called on Emirati and Japanese businesses to explore business opportunities in the two countries and develop active partnerships to boost trade exchange. 

Dubai Future Labs signs 3 deals  

Dubai Future Labs, a part of Dubai Future Foundation, signed three agreements with Emirates, DP World, and dnata to deploy advanced future technologies across aviation and logistics – two vital non-oil sectors for Dubai and the UAE. 

These national partnerships aim to activate the Dubai Robotics and Automation Program that was launched last September to boost the development, testing and adoption of robotics and automation and accelerate its deployment in key economic sectors, WAM reported. 

Dubai Future Labs’ deal with DP World will include developing smart, autonomous electric vehicles for terminal operations that can serve as a more sustainable, reliable, efficient and safer alternative. 

Its agreement with Emirates work will facilitate various innovative pilot projects including a robot check-in agent that leverages facial recognition and interacts with passengers as well as a robot waiter serving in airport lounges.  

Whereas the deal between Dubai Future Labs and dnata will promote research, development and trial innovations to further improve safety, efficiency and sustainability across the company’s ground handling and cargo operations at Dubai International and Dubai World Central airports. 

Integrated platform for investment 

Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum approved the establishment of an integrated national platform that highlights opportunities for investors in various sectors, such as financial technology, tourism, manufacturing, and renewable energy.  

The platform will be supervised by the Ministry of Economy. 

He also approved the national building regulations and standards, which includes sustainability standards for roads, buildings, and housing, to decrease the consumption of natural resources and reduce the carbon footprint of the UAE. 

The UAE Cabinet meeting also approved the foreign investor compass project, which represents one of the transformative projects of the Ministry of Economy, WAM reported. 

The new project includes an electronic platform, guides and promotional tools that highlight various opportunities for foreign investors in the sectors of financial technology, agricultural technology, healthcare, education among others. 


Egypt’s output falls sharply amid inflationary pressure as PMI drops to 45.4: S&P Global

Egypt’s output falls sharply amid inflationary pressure as PMI drops to 45.4: S&P Global
Updated 05 December 2022

Egypt’s output falls sharply amid inflationary pressure as PMI drops to 45.4: S&P Global

Egypt’s output falls sharply amid inflationary pressure as PMI drops to 45.4: S&P Global

RIYADH: Egypt’s non-oil businesses witnessed a marked contraction in operating conditions in November, resulting in output falling at the sharpest rate since the early pandemic as the country continues to face inflationary pressure amid the weakening Egyptian pound, according to S&P Global. 

The impact of this was visible in Egypt’s Purchasing Managers’ Index which fell from 47.7 in October to 45.4 in November — the second lowest since June 2020, the report noted.

The rating agency said that the new low extends the current sub-50.0 sequence to two years.

The key reason for this downturn was a rapid decrease in business activity, with S&P research revealing that companies were forced to cut output as they faced accelerated cost rises. 

“Egyptian firms faced an immediate hit to demand from a rapid depreciation of the pound since late October, with the November PMI results signaling the worst drops in output and new orders since May 2020,” said David Owen, an economist at S&P Global Market Intelligence.  

He said the pound's depreciation against the US dollar led to a marked increase in prices paid for raw materials, which have already been exacerbated by import restrictions since early 2022.  

According to S&P Global, Egypt’s purchase price inflation hit a 52-month high, leading 42 percent of surveyed firms to report a rise in total input costs over the month. 

While new orders continued to fall rapidly for firms, Egypt saw employment levels still expanding for the fourth time in five months as business confidence recovered slightly from October's series low. 

But S&P said the rate of decline in new orders deepened in November, amid reports of spending cuts at customers due to rapid inflation and elevated interest rates. 

"The latest downturn also came in the midst of an emergency 2 percent hike in interest rates, amid continued efforts to bring inflation down from its current four-year high of 16.2 percent,” said Owen.  

While the latest FX move signals a further rise in inflation in November, he said it is hoped that slowing demand and falling commodity prices will start to alleviate price pressures in the medium- to long-term. 

Looking ahead, the report noted that Egyptian firms were slightly more optimistic about future output in November, albeit following a series record low in October. However, it added that concerns about high inflation, rising interest rates, currency weakness and a global economic slowdown remained dampeners on sentiment.