UBS in talks to buy embattled Swiss rival Credit Suisse, FT says

UBS in talks to buy embattled Swiss rival Credit Suisse, FT says
Switzerland's national flag flies above a logo of Swiss bank Credit Suisse in front of a branch office in Bern, Switzerland.m (Reuters)
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Updated 18 March 2023

UBS in talks to buy embattled Swiss rival Credit Suisse, FT says

UBS in talks to buy embattled Swiss rival Credit Suisse, FT says

UBS Group AG is in discussions to take over all or part of Credit Suisse, the Financial Times reported on Friday, after an emergency funding lifeline failed to restore investor confidence in the smaller Swiss bank.
The boards of Switzerland’s two biggest lenders are set to meet separately over the weekend to discuss a deal, the FT said, citing multiple people briefed on the talks.
A source with knowledge of the matter said that Swiss regulators are encouraging UBS and Credit Suisse to merge, but that both banks do not want to do so. The regulators do not have the power to force the merger, the person said.
Credit Suisse shares jumped 9 percent in after-market trading following the FT report. Credit Suisse and UBS declined to comment on the report.
Credit Suisse, a 167-year-old bank, is the biggest name ensnared by market turmoil unleashed by the collapse of US lenders Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank over the past week, forcing it to tap $54 billion in central bank funding.
Credit Suisse executives were due to hold meetings over the weekend to chart a path forward for the ailing Swiss bank, people familiar with the matter have previously said.
In the latest sign of its mounting troubles, at least four major banks including Societe Generale SA and Deutsche Bank AG have put restrictions on their trades involving the Swiss lender or its securities, according to five sources with direct knowledge of the matter.
“Credit Suisse is a very special case,” said Frédérique Carrier, head of investment strategy at RBC Wealth Management. “The Swiss central bank stepping in was a necessary step to calm the flames, but it might not be sufficient to restore confidence in Credit Suisse, so there’s talk about more measures.”
The frantic efforts to shore up Credit Suisse come as policymakers including the European Central Bank and US President Joe Biden have sought to reassure investors and depositors that the global banking system is safe. But fears of broader troubles in the sector persist.
Already this week, big US banks had to swoop in with a $30 billion lifeline for smaller lender First Republic, while US banks altogether sought a record $153 billion in emergency liquidity from the Federal Reserve in recent days.
That surpassed a previous high set during the most acute phase of the financial crisis some 15 years ago.
This reflected “funding and liquidity strains on banks, driven by weakening depositor confidence,” said ratings agency Moody’s, which this week downgraded its outlook on the US banking system to negative.
In Washington, focus turned to greater oversight to ensure that banks — and their executives — are held accountable.
Biden — who earlier this week promised Americans that their deposits are safe — on Friday called on Congress to give regulators greater power over the banking sector, including leveraging higher fines, clawing back funds and barring officials from failed banks, a White House statement said.
A group of Democratic US lawmakers also asked regulators and the Justice Department for a probe into the role of Goldman Sachs in the collapse of SVB, the office of US Representative Adam Schiff said on Friday.
Banking stocks globally have been battered since Silicon Valley Bank collapsed, raising questions about other weaknesses in the wider financial system.
Shares in Credit Suisse, Switzerland’s second-largest bank, closed down 8 percent on Friday, with Morningstar Direct saying Credit Suisse had seen more than $450 million in net outflows from its US and European managed funds from March 13 to 15.
Analysts, investors and bankers think the loan facility from the Swiss central bank — which made it the first major global bank to take up an emergency lifeline since the 2008 financial crisis — only bought it time to work out what to do next.
US regional bank shares were fell sharply on Friday and the S&P Banks index tumbled 4.6 percent, bringing its decline over the past two weeks to 21.5 percent, its worst two-week calendar loss since the COVID-19 pandemic shook markets in March 2020.
First Republic Bank ended Friday down 32.8 percent, bringing its loss over the last 10 sessions to more than 80 percent.
While support from some of the biggest names in US banking prevented its collapse this week, investors were startled by First Republic’s late disclosures on its cash position and just how much emergency liquidity it needed.
“It appears that maybe the damage has been done to the brand reputation of First Republic. (It) is a shame because it was a high quality, well run bank,” said John Petrides, portfolio manager at Tocqueville Asset Management.
Earlier on Friday, SVB Financial Group said it had filed for a court-supervised reorganization, days after its former banking unit SVB was taken over by US regulators.
Regulators have asked banks interested in buying SVB and Signature Bank to submit bids by Friday, people familiar with the matter have said. US regulators are willing to consider having the government backstop losses at SVB and Signature Bank if it helps push through a sale, the Financial Times reported on Friday, citing people briefed on the matter.
Authorities have repeatedly tried to emphasize that the current turmoil is different than the global financial crisis 15 years ago as banks are better capitalized and funds more easily available — but their assurances have often fallen on deaf ears.
In an unusual move, the ECB held an ad hoc supervisory board meeting, its second this week, to discuss the stresses and volatility in the banking sector.
The supervisors were told deposits were stable across the euro zone and exposure to Credit Suisse was immaterial, a source familiar with the meeting’s content told Reuters.
An ECB spokesperson declined to comment.

DP World in top 5 overseas investors since 2012

DP World in top 5 overseas investors since 2012
Updated 26 March 2023

DP World in top 5 overseas investors since 2012

DP World in top 5 overseas investors since 2012
  • Logistics company invested $320m in the last year

DUBAI: DP World has invested more than $10 billion in the global logistics sector since 2012, Emirates News Agency has reported. 

The figures make the UAE-based company one of the top five overseas investors during the time period, according to the most recent foreign direct investment data.

Despite the demand for logistics services slowing, along with the global economy, DP World invested $320 million in the last year. 

Other companies in the top five include Amazon, and Denmark’s AP Moller Maersk, making DP World the only company in the group not based in the US or Europe.

DP World CEO Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem said: “The data shared by ‘FDI Intelligence’ demonstrates where we stand globally within the logistics sector, not only in the last year but consistently over the last 10 years.

“DP World’s companies touch people’s lives around the world every day. Sometimes it is tangible, and sometimes we are in the background, making sure people and businesses get the goods they require.

“Our infrastructure opens untapped trade opportunities, grows economies and makes goods more affordable.

“Investing in developing economies helps trade go further, facilitates economic growth, attracts foreign investment and generates thousands of jobs — raising the quality of life for everyone.”

According to a study in January commissioned by DP World and led by Economist Impact, 96 percent of companies are changing their supply chains as a result of geopolitical events.

One of DP World’s priorities in 2022 was to expand its partnerships in order to realize this trade potential.

It strengthened its partnership with India’s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund to raise about $300 million, and it established a new platform with British International Investment to accelerate work in Africa.

The African continent has been a key focus area, with the construction of the Port of Ndayane in Senegal marking the start of a $1 billion investment.

Plans are also in the works to expand the capabilities of operations at Caucedo in the Dominican Republic, while the Callao Port expansion in Peru, when completed later this year, will reportedly create one of the single largest terminals in South America.

Another popular investment destination has been the UK. DP World has invested £2 billion ($2.44 billion) in the UK over the last decade, supporting thousands of jobs, WAM reported.

Standard Chartered agrees to sell business in Jordan

Standard Chartered agrees to sell business in Jordan
Updated 26 March 2023

Standard Chartered agrees to sell business in Jordan

Standard Chartered agrees to sell business in Jordan
  • Bank said in April that it was seeking to narrow its focus to faster-growing markets in the region, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

DUBAI: Standard Chartered plans to sell its Jordanian business to Arab Jordan Investment Bank (AJIB), the two parties said on Sunday, as the emerging markets-focused lender presses ahead with plans to exit seven markets in Africa and the Middle East.
The bank entered into an agreement with AJIB, subject to central bank approval, which will see Standard Chartered’s corporate, commercial and institutional banking, consumer lending and private banking businesses migrated to AJIB.
All Standard Chartered Bank employees in Jordan will be transferred to AJIB, it said an emailed statement.
Standard Chartered’s Africa and Middle East CEO Sunil Kaushal said the agreement is aligned with the banks global strategy “to deliver efficiencies, reduce complexity, as well as redirect resources within the Africa Middle East region to areas with the greatest potential to drive scale, grow and better support clients.”
AJIB said the purchase falls within the Jordanian lender’s strategy to grow its market share in the country, which continues to grow after it acquired HSBC’s banking business in Jordan in 2014 and National Bank of Kuwait’s banking business in Jordan in 2022.
Standard Chartered in April 2022 said it plans to leave seven markets, consisting of Angola, Cameroon, Gambia, Jordan, Lebanon, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe.
The bank said at the time it was seeking to exit markets where it is sub-scale and narrow its focus to faster-growing markets in the region, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Closing bell: Saudi benchmark index continues upward movement on promising market conditions

Closing bell: Saudi benchmark index continues upward movement on promising market conditions
Updated 26 March 2023

Closing bell: Saudi benchmark index continues upward movement on promising market conditions

Closing bell: Saudi benchmark index continues upward movement on promising market conditions

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index continued its upward trajectory on Sunday as it went up by 12.97 points or 0.93 percent to close at 10,459.36. The promising market conditions resulted in a rise in investor confidence, pushing the market up.

The parallel market, Nomu, also rose by 174.79 points or 0.92 percent to close at 19,231.63, while the MSCI Tadawul 30 Index gained 0.02 percent to reach 1,423.63 on Sunday. Total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR4.05 billion ($1.08 billion).

On Thursday, during the first session of Ramadan month, the main index gained 95.88 points and closed at 10,446.39.

Arab Sea Information System Co. emerged as the top gainer, as its share prices went up by 9.96 percent to SR78.40 followed by Al Kathiri Holding Co. whose share prices surged by 9.88 percent to SR55.60.

Zain KSA which reported a net profit of SR550 million in 2022, saw its shares surge 9.83 percent to SR11.84.

Thimar Development Holding Co. was the worst performer, dropping 9.95 percent to SR43.45, followed by Al Sagr Cooperative Insurance Co. whose share prices went down by 6.08 percent to SR12.66.

Meanwhile, Horizon Food Co., affiliated with Tabuk Agriculture Development Co. began trading on Nomu on Sunday with an opening price of SR37 per share and closed the session at SR44.95, up 21.49 percent.

On Sunday, Amwaj International Co. announced its financial results for 2022. In a statement issued to Tadawul, the company revealed that it recorded a 2.7 percent rise in net profit to SR29.02 million in 2022, compared to SR28.26 million in the year-ago period.

Sure Global Tech Co. reported a net profit of SR24.07 million in 2022, up 33 percent from SR18.12 million in 2021. In a bourse statement, the company attributed the rise in profit to a 12 percent increase in revenues driven by the product segment, adequately supported by the expansion of the customer base.

Sure Global Tech Co. also added that net profit increased in 2022 due to the revenue growth in infrastructure, professional and digital services segments. Despite the rise in net profit, the company’s share prices fell by 1.67 percent to close at SR53.10.

Arabian Pipes Co., also known as APC turned profitable in 2022, as the company reported a net profit of SR8.9 million, versus a net loss of SR60.1 million in 2021. According to a bourse statement, the net profit of the company rose in 2022 due to an increase in sales which went up by 37 percent.

Driven by the rise in profits, the share prices of Arabian Pipes Co. went up by 9.52 percent to SR42.

Another company that reported its financial results on Sunday was Saudi Ground Services Co. In 2022, the company trimmed its net losses to SR244.48 million, compared to SR254.41 million in 2021. Even though the company performed well in 2022 compared to 2021, its share prices dropped by 4.76 percent to SR22.

Saudi REDF deposits over $246m in Sakani accounts for housing projects  

Saudi REDF deposits over $246m in Sakani accounts for housing projects  
Updated 26 March 2023

Saudi REDF deposits over $246m in Sakani accounts for housing projects  

Saudi REDF deposits over $246m in Sakani accounts for housing projects  

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Real Estate Development Fund deposited more than SR925 million ($246.2 million) in the accounts of Sakani beneficiaries in March 2023.  

The Sakani program was launched in 2017 by the REDF to facilitate homeownership in the Kingdom, by developing new housing stock, allocating plots and homes to nationals and financing their purchase. 

The deposit, which also comes from the Ministry of Municipal, Rural Affairs and Housing and the REDF, is in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 which aims to increase the proportion of citizens who own a home to 70 percent.  

Mansour bin Madi, CEO of REDF, stated that the total amount deposited in the accounts of Sakani beneficiaries since the announcement of the transformation program in June 2017 until March 2023, exceeded SR46.2 billion.  

He also said that the total fund for the current month of March was allocated to support the profits of various housing contracts.  

Bin Madi explained that the fund launched the second phase of product governance and provided an electronic service that allows the beneficiaries with self-construction projects to update the stages of building their homes.  

This is to emphasize the importance of the beneficiaries' commitment to direct the stages of building their housing and follow up on the stages.  

He added this is to ensure that the fund supports and facilitates are provided to the beneficiaries during the time period specified in the financing contracts and housing support regulations. 

IMF says risks to financial stability have increased, calls for vigilance

IMF says risks to financial stability have increased, calls for vigilance
Updated 26 March 2023

IMF says risks to financial stability have increased, calls for vigilance

IMF says risks to financial stability have increased, calls for vigilance

RIYADH: International Monetary Fund chief Kristalina Georgieva said on Sunday that risks to financial stability have increased and called for continued vigilance although actions by advanced economies have calmed market stress.

Speaking during the first day of the China Development Forum, Georgieva noted that 2023 poses yet another challenging and thought-provoking year with an expected global growth rate slowing to below 3 percent.  

This is mainly attributed to the repercussion of the pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine war, as well as monetary tightening, the IMF chief explained.  

Even though progressive economies have attempted to compose market stress, the overall outlook for 2024 remains weak with the growth rate estimated to stand below the historic average of 3.8 percent, she pointed out.

"So, we continue to monitor developments closely and are assessing potential implications for the global economic outlook and global financial stability," Georgieva reassured. 

Moreover, when it comes to vulnerable and low-income countries with high levels of debt, she emphasized that the IMF is paying close attention to those in order to further support them.  

In addition to this, there is a risk of the world splitting into rival economic blocs, resulting in "a dangerous division that would leave everyone poorer and less secure," as a consequence of geo-economic fragmentation, Georgieva warned. 

That said, China has a significant role to play with regard to minimizing the risks of financial instability. It has been forecasted that every one percentage point boost in China’s gross domestic product results in a 0.3 percentage point rise in growth in other Asian economies, she said. 

Consequently, policymakers in China are urged to focus on further raising productivity while rebalancing the economy and shifting away from investment while moving towards more sturdy consumption-driven growth.

According to conjectures, such reforms are capable of lifting real GDP by as much as 2.5 percent by 2027, and by around 18 percent by 2037, explained. 

The China Development Forum is an annual high-level global conference held in China right after the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference each year. 

This year, the forum is taking place from March 25 up until March 27 under the theme “Economic Recovery: Opportunities and Cooperation.” 

The conference poses an opportunity for participants to connect with political, economic, and significant decision-makers in the Asian country.