Brazil seeks Arab investors who want to fund infrastructure projects

Brazil seeks Arab investors who want to fund infrastructure projects
The South American country is the largest exporter of halal protein in the world, so partnerships with Gulf nations to improve Brazil’s logistical systems would be only natural. (Supplied)
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Updated 28 February 2023

Brazil seeks Arab investors who want to fund infrastructure projects

Brazil seeks Arab investors who want to fund infrastructure projects
  • Talks were held between Brazilian officials and Gulf ministers and business leaders in January in Davos

SAO PAULO: With new state governors and a new president, Brazil is expected to become fertile ground for international investors who want to fund infrastructure projects. Gulf nations are well-positioned to take part in that process.

Various reasons make Brazil a good destination for investments at this time. Not only does it need to urgently develop its logistical systems and energy production infrastructures, but its authorities also learned over time that they need to work with public-private partnerships if they want to have access to the necessary funds and stimulate change.

During the World Economic Forum in January in Davos, Brazil’s Finance Minister Fernando Haddad met with Saudi Investment Minister Khalid Al-Falih and discussed potential partnerships.

“They have investment funds and are paying attention to the calls for partnerships that the Brazilian government, the states and the municipalities will open from now on. That is good because it will make available a significant volume of funds,” Haddad said after the meeting.

Sao Paulo’s Gov. Tarcisio de Freitas also met with Al-Falih and presented to him and to Bandar Alkhorayef, Saudi minister of industry and mineral resources, the state’s asset portfolio.

During the forum, the governor also held talks with Mansoor bin Ebrahim Al-Mahmoud, CEO of the Qatar Investment Authority, and Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, chairman and CEO of Emirati multinational logistics company DP World. 

Sao Paulo’s Governor, Tarcisio de Freitas discusses potential partnerships with Saudi Investment Minister Khalid  at the World Economic Forum in January. (Supplied)

Guilherme Schmidt, a partner in law firm Schmidt Valois Advogados and an expert in infrastructure projects, told Arab News: “This is an interesting moment for potential investments given that the first years of government usually bring new possibilities.

“And fortunately, Brazil learned from its past errors and will avoid repeating them and driving away investors.”

The country opened the door for private investment in the public sector over the past 30 years, and now there are no political risks for foreign agents in the country, said Armando Castelar, an economist and expert in infrastructure.

“The federal government won’t create any disturbances in that matter. Brazilian society already understands the significance of private investment,” he told Arab News.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s Workers’ Party was critical of the privatization policies advanced by former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1995-2003).

But during Lula’s first two tenures (2003-2010) and President Dilma Rousseff’s administrations (2011-2016), Brazil’s government largely worked side by side with the private sector.

“We shouldn’t wait for the privatization of state-run companies during Lula’s tenure, but we’ll have several concession agreements. Rousseff, for instance, opened concessions for airports,” Castelar said.

Many partnership opportunities will emerge in renewable energy, and Brazil already has a solid concession model.

Projects are being developed to produce biofuels, bidding rounds for wind power plants will keep being opened, and solar energy will see larger growth. 

Brazil already has a solid concession model in renewable energy. (Supplied)

But expectations are higher when it comes to logistical infrastructure. In January, Transport Minister Renan Filho announced that he wanted to raise the participation of railways in Brazil’s logistical system from 20 to 40 percent by 2035.

In April, he said, the government will launch the auction of a new part of the West-East Integration Railway concession in Bahia state.

He also intends to resume the Ferrograo project, a railway that will connect Mato Grosso state, Brazil’s agribusiness epicenter, to Para state, from where shipments can reach the Atlantic via the Tapajos River.

Plans for the project were suspended due to environmental concerns, but Filho hopes that such obstacles can be solved now, and will discuss the issue with Environment Minister Marina Silva.

“The area of transport brings additional challenges given that conceding projects to the private sector is something rather new and, at times, there are no established models to do it in Brazil,” Castelar said.

Ports are another promising field. De Freitas has been pushing the federal government to allow him to privatize the Port of Santos, the most important in the country.

Lula’s Chief of Staff Rui Costa seems willing to debate that possibility, while Minister of Ports and Airports Marcio Franca rejects the idea.

But Franca believes that a number of services in the ports, such as dredging, can be privatized.

“Brazil has dozens of ports that could potentially be modernized with the help of the private sector,” Tamer Mansour, secretary-general of the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, told Arab News.

“We’ve been facing great difficulties given that the ports of Santos and Paranagua can’t tend anymore to the needs of trade between Brazil and the Middle East.”

The South American country is the largest exporter of halal protein in the world, so partnerships with Gulf nations to improve Brazil’s logistical systems would be only natural, Mansour said, adding that now is a good time for such investments.

Over the past four years, during President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration, Brazil strengthened its ties with the Gulf.

Bolsonaro met with Gulf authorities on different occasions and signed important agreements. Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, for example, announced $10 billion in investments in different areas in Brazil after Bolsonaro visited the Kingdom in 2019.

“I’m even more optimistic with the current administration,” said Mansour, adding that Lula “was a great partner of Arab nations during his previous administrations. He’ll certainly work to intensify partnerships and investments.”

Brazil’s government is now more prepared to raise its projects’ transparency, presenting them with all the details needed in due time, he said.

“I think Arab nations are ready to invest more in countries like Brazil. There’s more stability now and the right mindset to work on partnerships,” Mansour added.

One of the successful cases of cooperation between Gulf nations and Brazil in infrastructure was the participation of the UAE’s Mubadala Capital in Rio de Janeiro’s subway system.

The fund acquired part of the company in charge of the subway in 2017, and assumed full control in 2021.

“The Arab investor was very professional and did a superb job. Since then, it has been consulted regarding many other endeavors,” Guilherme Schmidt, who worked on that project, told Arab News.

Among the Brazilian states, not only Sao Paulo but also Parana, Rio Grande do Sul and Goias will probably take the lead and launch infrastructure projects to be funded by the private sector, Castelar said. “Those are states that had more progress in structuring public-private partnership models,” he added.

Mansour said some state governors attended Expo 2020 in Dubai and opened conversations with Arab authorities.

“Now they were re-elected, so their administrations’ structure is unaltered — something that may give investors more confidence,” he added.

Mansour said Brazil currently has many local agents that can bring additional reliability for international investors.

“When we talk about megaprojects, local partners are always needed to take part in the investment, directly or indirectly. Brazil has strong financial institutions that have been playing that role,” he added.

Qatar In-Focus: National real estate funding strategy proposed to boost the sector 

Qatar In-Focus: National real estate funding strategy proposed to boost the sector 
Updated 07 June 2023

Qatar In-Focus: National real estate funding strategy proposed to boost the sector 

Qatar In-Focus: National real estate funding strategy proposed to boost the sector 

RIYADH: A national real estate funding strategy for Qatar is needed to boost the sector, according to proposals put forward at a dedicated event held in the country. 

The Ministry of Municipality announced the recommendations following the Qatar Real Estate Forum, which saw the participation of 1,500 leaders, decision-makers, and executives from across the world. 

In order to develop the sector, the country’s real estate strategy should provide investors with incentives, as well as develop creative housing financing options and open ownership for foreigners, according to a release from Qatar’s state news agency. 

It was also noted that the real estate sector across the Gulf Cooperation Council countries shows great promise due to the region’s favorable conditions, such as geographic diversity, easy access, availability of security, and tourist attractions.   

The forum — the first-of-its-kind in the country — saw 35 keynote speakers take part in a wide range of real estate topics, as well as 12 panel discussions and workshops across the two-day event.   

Qatar and Kyrgyzstan trade boost 

Bilateral trade between Qatar and Kyrgyzstan is set to grow after an agreement was reached to enhance economic cooperation, according to the Gulf country’s Minister of Commerce and Industry.   

Mohammed Al-Thani highlighted the importance of fostering cooperation relations with the Kyrgyz Republic while visiting its capital city, Bishkek.   

This visit marks a new phase of developing trade relations for both countries’ mutual benefit, according to the minister.   

Additionally, two-sided investment opportunities are to arise from this partnership, according to a statement he made to the Qatar News Agency. 

Over the past few years, Qatar has been focusing on economic openness, global market engagement, and building partnerships in non-oil sectors for development, added Al-Thani.  

The achievement of the Qatar National Vision 2030 and the diversification of sources of income away from oil and gas are the cornerstones of strategic orientation.   

Therefore, along with food security, agriculture, green economy, and energy, renewable and clean energies are among the attractive areas of cooperation with Qatar’s international partners, including the Kyrgyz Republic. 

NEOM ropes in IGY Marinas to develop luxury yachting at Sindalah  

NEOM ropes in IGY Marinas to develop luxury yachting at Sindalah  
Updated 07 June 2023

NEOM ropes in IGY Marinas to develop luxury yachting at Sindalah  

NEOM ropes in IGY Marinas to develop luxury yachting at Sindalah  

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s futuristic city NEOM has entered into an agreement with international luxury yachting solution provider IGY Marinas to develop and operate a harbor at the giga-project’s luxury island destination Sindalah.  

The island which will be the closest superyacht marina to Europe and the Mediterranean is projected to become an iconic destination for the world’s yachting community.   

With as many as 86 berths for yachts up to 50 meters, the facility will also provide additional serviced offshore buoys for superyachts up to 180 meters as Sindalah 

“Sindalah will be one of the most alluring and vibrant yachting destinations in the world, thanks to its strategic location, outstanding amenities and stunning natural landscapes,” said Antoni Vives, head of urban development at NEOM, in a statement.  

“This partnership with IGY is one of many steps we are taking to achieve our vision of reshaping the global yachting calendar,” he added.  

Once completed, the marina will join IGY’s international superyacht network of 23 marinas across 12 countries.  

Furthermore, the marina will also have IGY’s exclusive superyacht membership program, IGY Trident.  

“Sindalah perfectly integrates with IGY’s global vision to connect the world’s most incredible yachting destinations across our growing marina network,” said Tom Mukamal, CEO of IGY Marinas, in the statement.  

Last month, Sindalah received a SR3 billion ($800 million) boost thanks to a partnership with Riyad Bank.    

The Saudi bank which announced the funding deal in a tweet said the money will help in achieving the goal of having $1 trillion invested in the Kingdom’s tourism industry as it eyes 100 million tourists annually by 2030.  

The Sindalah development is estimated to generate 3,500 jobs in the tourism, hotel, and leisure sectors, and travelers are expected to begin arriving on the island in early 2024.    

Speaking about Sindalah in December, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said: “This is another significant moment for NEOM and a major step in the Kingdom realizing its tourism ambitions under Vision 2030.”    

He added: “Sindalah will be NEOM’s first luxury island and yacht club destination in the Red Sea, providing a scenic gateway to the Red Sea that will become the region’s most exciting and attractive tourism location.” 

PIF-owned aircraft lessor AviLease raises $1.1bn to expand fleet

PIF-owned aircraft lessor AviLease raises $1.1bn to expand fleet
Updated 07 June 2023

PIF-owned aircraft lessor AviLease raises $1.1bn to expand fleet

PIF-owned aircraft lessor AviLease raises $1.1bn to expand fleet

RIYADH: Aiming to procure 45 aircraft by the end of 2023, AviLease, an aircraft financing and leasing company owned by the Public Investment Fund, has garnered $1.1 billion in its inaugural financing.  

The unsecured five-year facility will be predominantly used to acquire additional aircraft, thereby enhancing the company’s premier portfolio.  

“We are very pleased to announce the successful closing of our debut $1.1 billion unsecured term financing facility, supported by a syndicate of banking partners locally, regionally and across the world,” AviLease CEO Edward O’Bryne said in a statement.  

The financing is split into two segments — a conventional funding section of $850 million and an imminent Shariah-compliant tranche of $250 million.   

The financing request spurred substantial interest locally, regionally, and internationally, with an oversubscription rate of 3.3 times, according to the press release.  

“We thank the lenders for their support and long-term confidence in AviLease. The quality and breadth of demand for the debut funding far exceeded our expectations, and we are thankful to our banking partners and advisers for their support in achieving this outcome,” O’Bryne commented.  

With plans to augment its fleet to roughly 300 aircraft by 2030, the company is targeting to position itself among the world’s leading aircraft leasing firms. It has already acquired or committed to acquiring 45 aircraft by the end of 2023, amounting to a book value of $2.4 billion.  

“It is crucial for us to work with a wide variety of international financial partners with strong balance sheets, who can provide incremental funding to support our growth objectives,” O’Bryne said.  

Citibank, Riyad Bank, First Abu Dhabi Bank, Gulf International Bank and Saudi Awwal Bank functioned as the mandated lead arrangers for the transaction.   

Meanwhile, Banque Saudi Fransi, Saudi Investment Bank, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and HSBC Middle East served as mandated lead arrangers for the conventional tranche.  

Dubai Islamic Bank, Al Rajhi Bank, Bank AlJazira, and Saudi National Bank will serve as mandated lead arrangers for the Shariah-compliant tranche.  

Moreover, Citibank functioned as the financial adviser for AviLease, with Allen & Overy acting as its counsel, while Clifford Chance provided advisory services to the lenders.  

Headquartered in Riyadh, AviLease invests in the latest generation aircraft via purchase and lease-back transactions, portfolio trades and direct orders from aircraft manufacturers.  

Masdar-led consortium secures land for $10bn wind project in Egypt  

Masdar-led consortium secures land for $10bn wind project in Egypt  
Updated 07 June 2023

Masdar-led consortium secures land for $10bn wind project in Egypt  

Masdar-led consortium secures land for $10bn wind project in Egypt  

RIYADH: Egypt’s $10-billion wind energy project announced last year moved one step closer to its execution after the consortium responsible for the renewable project signed a deal on June 6 to secure the required land.

Led by the UAE government-owned renewable energy company Masdar, the consortium signed an agreement with Egypt’s New and Renewable Energy Authority to secure a site for the construction of the 10-gigawatts capacity onshore wind farms in the country.

The consortium also includes Infinity Power, which is Africa’s largest renewable energy developer, and Egypt’s Hassan Allam Utilities, an investment platform for power, renewables and water-related opportunities.

The deal will help Egypt move toward achieving its annual goal of slashing carbon emissions by 9 percent as the onshore wind farms will produce 47,790 GWh of clean energy per year while displacing 23.8 million tons of carbon dioxide.

The North African country has set a goal of sourcing 42 percent of its energy from renewables by 2030. That said, the new plant is estimated to save Egypt an estimated $5 billion in natural gas costs on a yearly basis.

Masdar said the deal cements its commitment toward supporting African nations such as Egypt to meet their ambitious renewable energy objectives.  

“This 10 GW onshore wind project is set to be one of the largest wind farms in the world, and largest on the African continent,” said the UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, Chairman of Masdar and COP28 President-Designate, Sultan Al-Jaber.

He added: “It is a sign of the strong partnership between the UAE and Egypt, with great potential to create jobs, cut emissions and power homes with clean electricity at competitive economical costs.”   

From Egypt’s side, Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy Mohamed Shaker Al-Markabi stressed that renewable energy in the country has the potential to attract direct foreign investments.

“National Egyptian entities play a vital role in creating an environment that is supportive of investment with low risks, and high interaction with the financing institutions and development partners,” he explained.

During COP27 last year, Masdar, Infinity Power and Hassan Allam Utilities also signed agreements with several Egyptian state-backed organizations to develop green hydrogen and derivatives’ production facilities.

Closing bell: Saudi benchmark index continues upward movement

Closing bell: Saudi benchmark index continues upward movement
Updated 07 June 2023

Closing bell: Saudi benchmark index continues upward movement

Closing bell: Saudi benchmark index continues upward movement

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index edged up 55.96 points, or 0.49 percent, to close yet another session up on Wednesday.

The trading turnover of the Tadawul All Share Index reached SR6.92 billion ($1.85 billion) as 115 stocks advanced while 86 retreated. The index continued to enjoy a steady week to close at 11,372.83.

While Nomu, the parallel equity market, gained 52.80 points to 21,481.58, the MSCI Tadawul Index went up by 0.62 percent to close at 1,506.94.

Etihad Atheeb Telecommunication Co. emerged as the top performer with its share price rising 7.57 percent to SR78.20.

Middle East Healthcare Co. and Theeb Rent a Car Co. were the other top gainers whose share prices surged by 6.69 percent and 6.59 percent respectively.

Abdullah Al Othaim Markets Co. was the worst performer of the day, as its share price edged down by 2.97 percent to SR14.36.

Meanwhile, Almuneef Co. for Trade, Industry, Agriculture, and Contracting started trading on the parallel market. The company which opened its trading with a share price of SR70 ended the session at SR64.70, down by 7.57 percent.

On the announcements front, Watani Iron Steel Co. said that its shareholders approved increasing the company’s capital by 50 percent through a one-for-two bonus share distribution.

According to a Tadawul statement, the capital will be raised to SR181.65 million by distributing one bonus share for every two shares held through the capitalization of SR60.55 million of retained earnings. Its share price edged down by 0.99 percent to SR35.