Exxon smashes Western oil majors’ profits with $56bn in 2022

Exxon’s results far exceeded the then-record $45.2 billion net profit it reported in 2008, when oil hit $142 per barrel, 30 percent above last year’s average price. Reuters
Exxon’s results far exceeded the then-record $45.2 billion net profit it reported in 2008, when oil hit $142 per barrel, 30 percent above last year’s average price. Reuters
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Updated 31 January 2023

Exxon smashes Western oil majors’ profits with $56bn in 2022

Exxon smashes Western oil majors’ profits with $56bn in 2022

HOUSTON: Exxon Mobil Corp. posted a $56 billion net profit for 2022, the company said on Tuesday, taking home about $6.3 million per hour last year, and setting not only a company record but a historic high for the Western oil industry.

Oil majors are expected to break their own annual records on high prices and soaring demand, pushing their combined take to near $200 billion. The scale has renewed criticism of the oil industry and sparked calls for more countries to levy windfall profit taxes on the companies.

Exxon’s results far exceeded the then-record $45.2 billion net profit it reported in 2008, when oil hit $142 per barrel, 30 percent above last year’s average price. Deep cost cuts during the pandemic helped supercharge last year’s earnings.

“Overall earnings and cash flow were up pretty significantly year on year,” Exxon Chief Financial Officer Kathryn Mikells told Reuters. “So that came really from a combination of strong markets, strong throughput, strong production, and really good cost control.”

Exxon said it incurred a $1.3 billion hit to its fourth quarter earnings from a EU windfall tax that began in the final quarter and from asset impairments. The company is suing the EU, arguing that the levy exceeds its legal authority.

Excluding charges, profit for the full year was $59.1 billion. Production was up by about 100,000 barrels of oil and gas per day over a year ago to 3.8 million bpd. Adjusted per-share profit of $3.40 beat consensus of $3.29 per share, according to Refinitiv data. Shares were up about 1 percent at $114.70.

“It’s a headline beat,” Biraj Borkhataria from RBC Capital said in a note, despite lower chemical margins, lower-than- expected downstream gains and plans for higher maintenance works in refineries this quarter.


Former US secretary of treasury calls for bipartisan legislation to ensure safety of depositors

Former US secretary of treasury calls for bipartisan legislation to ensure safety of depositors
Updated 01 April 2023

Former US secretary of treasury calls for bipartisan legislation to ensure safety of depositors

Former US secretary of treasury calls for bipartisan legislation to ensure safety of depositors
  • During the event, Steven Mnuchin discussed responsibilities, solutions after Silicon Valley Bank collapse

MIAMI: Former US Secretary of Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin has called for greater clarity and bipartisan legislation after the collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank.

“We don’t know if there’s another bank failure whether the government will or won’t guarantee all the depositors,” Mnuchin said at the Future Investment Finance forum in Miami.

“You could be a well-run midsize or regional bank today and you’re at a complete disadvantage because people are moving money to the money center panic. So, I think we need bipartisan legislation.”

“We shouldn’t have unlimited insurance, but we now need clarity because it’s unfair,” he said.

Talking about the recent collapse of SVB and the shockwaves experienced throughout the banking industry, Mnuchin explained that compared to the 2008 financial crisis, which “was about credit, a much more complicated issue to work through,” this event was a result of many missteps that could have been avoided.

“This banking crisis is all about interest rate risk, and this is simple, basic risk management 101.”

During the panel, Mnuchin discussed several key points about recent events in the sector, including the potential risk of a financial crisis caused by the Fed’s interest rate hikes and how this would impact the economy.

“The problem is most of the people we have in the financial markets in the US have never seen, quote, high-interest rates,” he said.

“Most people have been used to interest rates, short-term interest rates between zero and 2 percent. So you know, 4 percent, 5 percent is high on a relative basis.

“The economy is going to adjust pretty significantly. But as I said earlier, this is risk management 101 that a lot of people just got used to having low-interest rates forever.”

The discussion also covered the relationship between the US and China, including the need for better communication and coexistence.

“China is the second largest economy in the world. We have a responsibility to figure out how we deal with China in a proactive way,” Mnuchin said.

He added that although there were “legitimate national security issues with China, there’s a whole bunch of things that we should be doing with China, and we need to figure out how to coexist in the proper way.”


Saudi Arabia, Miami share similarities in quality of life standards experts tell FII Priority

Saudi Arabia and Miami have a lot in common when it comes to quality of life and business opportunities, experts said
Saudi Arabia and Miami have a lot in common when it comes to quality of life and business opportunities, experts said
Updated 31 March 2023

Saudi Arabia, Miami share similarities in quality of life standards experts tell FII Priority

Saudi Arabia and Miami have a lot in common when it comes to quality of life and business opportunities, experts said
  • Kingdom made quality of life a priority in Saudi Vision 2030
  • Cities should invest in arts and culture, panelists say

MIAMI: Saudi Arabia and Miami have a lot in common when it comes to quality of life and business opportunities, experts said at the FII Priority conference in Miami on Thursday.

Both cities have, in the last few years, they said, promoted better living standards for their citizens through socio-economic policies.

“Miami had this incredibly welcoming spirit. It was set up for success from the top down,” said Jeff Zalaznick, restaurateur and managing partner of hospitality company Major Food Group. “I’ve really gotten to understand — with Vision 2030 and the things that they (Saudi Arabia) are looking for — that there are a lot of similarities between the quality of life and business (policies) in Miami and what’s happening in Saudi Arabia.”

The Kingdom made quality of life a priority in Saudi Vision 2030 and is one of the few countries in the world to have a minister dedicated to improving quality of life for its residents.

“Everything we do is based on quality of life. It is so important to the crown prince that he set up its own ministry,” said Jerry Inzerillo, group CEO of Diriyah Gate Development Authority, adding that “positivity and optimism” are the “fuel of that country.”

In the latest World Happiness Report, Saudi Arabia was ranked No. 2 in the Arab World, and 30th in the world.

Barry Sternlight, chairman and CEO of Starwood Capital Group, pointed out that cities that have not not invest in their citizens’ quality of life have seen their population decline.

“I think that quality of life is driving market share,” he said. “It’s driving the success of cities that are focused on improving the lives of their citizens.”

Sternlight observed that the parameters individuals use to determine quality of life are evolving and are no longer entirely centered on economic concerns.

“People are looking for meaning and purpose, and whether it’s sustainable development,” he said.

Sternlight added that people consider art and culture to be key aspects of quality of life in cities and emphasized that having museums, galleries, and artistic offerings as part of the fabric of a city is essential to its success.

The CEO of real estate development firm Daccra, Craig Robins, said that building an ecosystem around art and culture is crucial and should include supporting artists, small galleries, and other related businesses.

He cited Miami Design District as an example, and explained that since its launch in the early 2000s, the neighborhood has become a center of creativity and a thriving hub for culture and business — not only for Miami but the world.

“The goal was to create a sense of community that people would really love — something that was different, and something that could be a resource for all,” Robins said.


Saudi Arabia, UAE ‘play critical role in space exploration’

Saudi Arabia, UAE ‘play critical role in space exploration’
Updated 31 March 2023

Saudi Arabia, UAE ‘play critical role in space exploration’

Saudi Arabia, UAE ‘play critical role in space exploration’
  • Investment firm boss Brian Hook tells forum that people and funding will drive growth
  • Panel discussion hears ‘third space revolution’ is inspiring younger generations

MIAMI: Saudi Arabia and the UAE are playing a “critical role” in the future of space exploration, the boss of a major investment firm has told a panel of industry experts in Miami.

Brian Hook, the vice-chairman of Cerberus, told the FII forum that countries like the Kingdom and the UAE had greatly accelerated a new space race. “By putting both their people and their funding behind (it), they brought into existence this sort of new space economy,” he said.

He and other panelists examined the potential for development and investment in the space industry, and spoke about the breakthroughs and dynamics that make it appealing to the general public, investors and enterprises.

Hook said that allowing the private sector into the market had gained fresh momentum, and the overall market value was expected to surpass $1 trillion in the coming years.

“Private equity and venture capital have been funding and enabling some of the most innovative companies for space exploration,” he said.

Helene Huby, CEO of The Exploration Company, which wants “affordable, sustainable and open” space exploration, said there had been a renaissance in the industry in the last few years.

“We are living in the third revolution. The first was the Apollo mission, which was about access. The second was the industrialization of space exploration with the International Space Station,” Ruby said.

“And what we see now is a revolution that is not about access, it’s not about costs and industrialization. It’s about staying in space.”

Speakers said that current enthusiasm around space exploration and increased investments would play a critical role in addressing some of the world’s most pressing challenges, including climate change, food shortages and droughts.

“One of the things that people don’t consider is the effect that human spaceflight has not only on the people that fly but also the people on the ground,” said Jane Pointer, founder of carbon-neutral spaceflight company Space Perspective.

“Space is a great contribution to humanity,” added Alan Pellegrini, CEO of Thales North America, a defense and aerospace company.

“I was young at the time but Neil Armstrong’s landing on the moon transformed my life and inspired me to a career in aerospace. And I think it is having the same effect on younger generations today.”

“Space has always been a place where you can collaborate regardless of which nation you belong to, and I really hope that that spirit continues,” he added.

 


Medina Capital founder delivers cybercrime warning at FII Priority conference

Medina Capital founder delivers cybercrime warning at FII Priority conference
Updated 31 March 2023

Medina Capital founder delivers cybercrime warning at FII Priority conference

Medina Capital founder delivers cybercrime warning at FII Priority conference
  • Basic ‘common sense stuff’ will help people protect themselves, says Manuel Medina

MIAMI: Almost half of organizations globally will have experienced a cyberattack on their software supply chains by 2025, according to analyst firm Gartner.

As Manuel Medina, founder and managing partner of Medina Capital, said: “There are only two types of enterprises and government agencies today: the ones that have been hacked and the ones that are going to be hacked.”

Speaking at the FII Priority conference in Miami, Medina highlighted the risk of cyberattacks, and said: “The internet was not designed to do what it’s doing today.”

Globalization and technological advances, such as cloud computing, mobility and virtualization, have made the internet less secure.

Companies across a host of industries are spending billions digitizing their infrastructure, but that infrastructure is difficult to protect, he said.

On an individual level, it mostly comes down to common sense, Medina added.

Social media companies do not charge users on their platforms because they are monetizing the users themselves, and by sharing copious amounts of personal information, users are only making it easier for both social media companies and potentially hackers to access their data, he said.

“They (social media companies) take your personal identity, and everything that they do is (about) how they track you in order to get commerce and sell you stuff. So, that’s totally contradictory to protecting you.”

Medina Capital, which hires “elite hackers,” has a motto of not liking people, because “people are the weak link,” Medina said.

“You are as strong as your weakest link.”

He added: “You can have the best software and the best systems,” but “human weakness” is the reason for the collapse of a security system.

Cybercriminals do not need weapons, politics or strategy; all they need is a laptop and a network connection, and governments need to evolve and cooperate to tackle this kind of criminal, Medina said.

Prosecuting cybercriminals is difficult because of globalization and innovation whereby it is possible for some evidence or information to be stored on a server located in a different country than the one where the criminal is being prosecuted, he said.

“The system today is the same system that it was 80 years ago. So, one of the things that we need to do is bring ourselves up to date.”

Individuals, too, need to do some basic “common sense stuff” to protect themselves, such as using multifactor authentication and storing their passwords in a secure digital wallet, he said.

“You have to sacrifice a little bit of convenience in order for you to be able to sleep better at night.”


GCC banks to see ‘limited impact’ from global banking worries prompted by SVB collapse: Kamco

GCC banks to see ‘limited impact’ from global banking worries prompted by SVB collapse: Kamco
Updated 31 March 2023

GCC banks to see ‘limited impact’ from global banking worries prompted by SVB collapse: Kamco

GCC banks to see ‘limited impact’ from global banking worries prompted by SVB collapse: Kamco

RIYADH: Banks in the Gulf Cooperation Council region are set to see a limited impact from the banking crisis hitting the US and Europe, according to a report from Kamco Invest.

The investment banking subsidiary of Kuwait Projects Company argues that financial institutions in the GCC had limited exposure to Silicon Valley Bank – the US firm that collapsed in March prompting concerns of contagion sweeping across the world in the manner of the 2008 global crash.

The report says balance sheets of the banks in the region remain strong, and in the final quarter of 2022 both aggregate lending and customer deposits remained strong.

“The broader GCC banking sector is expected to see only a limited indirect impact from the ongoing banking sector crisis in the US and Europe,” said the report, adding: “Shares of banks globally and in the region, especially, were affected due to fears of a contagion as the collapse of SVB was the biggest lender failure since the global financial crisis of 2008. 

“However, the collapse had only marginal impact with minimal exposure of banks only in the UAE, while most of the other countries in the GCC remained unaffected. 

“The bulk of the exposure was from various startups and VCs that had accounts with SVB that may now bank with local banks, although under increased scrutiny.”

The report also shows that rising interest rates in the US and its almost full replication by most GCC central banks during 2022 resulted in higher aggregate net interest margin for the region’s banking sector. 

NIM for GCC banks averaged at a multi-year high of over 3 percent during the fourth quarter of 2022, despite partially reflecting the higher interest rates as bulk of the rate hikes were made during the second half of the year. 

Saudi Arabia’s banks reported the highest average margin of 3.2 percent during the quarter followed by UAE and Qatari banks with margins also above the 3 percent mark after several quarters.

Aggregate lending in the GCC remained strong during the final quarter of 2022, with  central bank data showing Qatari banks experienced the strongest lending growth during, while Bahrain and the UAE banks showed a slight decline. 

Customer deposits bounced back to a stronger growth over the same period, with a quarter-on-quarter increase of 2.5 percent to reach $2.2 trillion