PIF’s Alat, Lenovo forge $2bn partnership to establish manufacturing hub in Saudi Arabia 

PIF’s Alat, Lenovo forge $2bn partnership to establish manufacturing hub in Saudi Arabia 
The Public Investment Fund-owned firm’s investment in Lenovo will be in the form of a bond subscription agreement, with the electronics giant issuing $2 billion in convertible bonds. Shutterstock
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Updated 29 May 2024
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PIF’s Alat, Lenovo forge $2bn partnership to establish manufacturing hub in Saudi Arabia 

PIF’s Alat, Lenovo forge $2bn partnership to establish manufacturing hub in Saudi Arabia 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s pursuit of a sustainable manufacturing hub gains momentum as Alat partners with Lenovo Group to establish a facility and invest $2 billion through zero-coupon convertible bonds. 

As part of the agreement, the Chinese firm will set up a regional headquarters in Riyadh for the Middle East and Africa region, along with a new manufacturing hub in the Kingdom, to supplement its existing 30-plus production sites worldwide. The facility will prioritize smart, sustainable manufacturing and will initially cater to customers in the MEA region. 

The Public Investment Fund-owned firm’s investment in Lenovo will be in the form of a bond subscription agreement, with the electronics giant issuing $2 billion in convertible bonds. 

Amit Midha, CEO of Alat, said: “We are incredibly proud to become a strategic investor in Lenovo and partner with them on their continued journey as a leading global technology company.”   

He added: “With the establishment of a regional headquarters in Riyadh and a world class manufacturing hub, powered by clean energy, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, we expect the Lenovo team to further their potential across the MEA region.” 

This move aligns with the Saudi firm’s commitment to Vision 2030, supporting environmentally-conscious production powered by clean energy, creating new jobs in the industrial and electronics sectors, and capitalizing on regional economic growth opportunities. 

Through this investment, Alat anticipates creating 15,000 direct and 45,000 indirect jobs in Saudi Arabia, generating a cumulative gross domestic investment impact of $10 billion by 2030. 

Lenovo’s convertible bonds will be due three years after issuance and will convert to equity upon maturity at an initial conversion price of 10.42 Hong Kong dollars ($1.33) per share. 

“Through this powerful strategic collaboration, Lenovo will have significant resources and financial flexibility to further accelerate our transformation and grow our business by capitalizing on the incredible growth momentum in the MEA region,” said Yuanqing Yang, chairman and CEO of Lenovo. 

He added: “Looking ahead, Lenovo plans to build a tech and manufacturing hub in Saudi Arabia and will help define the future of the region as a center of innovation which Alat will benefit from. This is a huge vote of confidence in our company, our market leadership, and our future growth potential.”  

Moreover, the partnership between Alat and Lenovo aims to harness the transformative potential of digital technologies while establishing the region as a global innovation hub.  

This collaboration is expected to significantly impact the region’s journey toward a diversified, resilient, and technologically advanced future. 

Launched in February by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Alat aims to position Saudi Arabia as a global center for sustainable technology manufacturing, focusing on advanced technologies and electronics.  


Oil Updates – crude eases as strong dollar weighs on commodities markets

Oil Updates – crude eases as strong dollar weighs on commodities markets
Updated 24 June 2024
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Oil Updates – crude eases as strong dollar weighs on commodities markets

Oil Updates – crude eases as strong dollar weighs on commodities markets

SINGAPORE: Oil prices inched down on Monday as concerns of higher-for-longer interest rates resurfaced and lifted the dollar, offsetting support for oil markets from geopolitical tensions and OPEC+ supply cuts, according to Reuters.

Brent crude futures slipped 3 cents to $85.21 a barrel by 9:32 a.m. Saudi time, after settling down 0.6 percent on Friday. US West Texas Intermediate crude futures were at $80.71 a barrel, down 2 cents.

“The US dollar has opened bid this morning and appears to have broken higher following better US PMI data on Friday night and political concerns ahead of the French election,” said Tony Sycamore, a Sydney-based markets analyst at IG.

A stronger greenback makes dollar-denominated commodities less attractive for holders of other currencies.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against six major currencies, climbed on Friday and was up slightly on Monday after purchasing managers index data showed US business activity was at a 26-month high in June.

However, both benchmark crude contracts gained about 3 percent last week on signs of stronger oil products demand in the US, world’s largest consumer, and as cuts from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, known as OPEC+, kept supply in check.

US crude inventories fell while gasoline demand rose for the seventh straight week and jet fuel consumption has returned to 2019 levels, ANZ analysts said in a note.

ING analysts led by Warren Patterson said speculators have also become more constructive toward oil into summer and increased their net-long positions in ICE Brent.

“We remain supportive toward the oil market with a deficit over the third quarter set to tighten the oil balance,” the analysts said in a note.

Geopolitical risks in the Middle East from the Gaza crisis and a ramp-up in Ukrainian drone attacks on Russian refineries are also underpinning oil prices.

In Ecuador, state oil company Petroecuador has declared force majeure over deliveries of Napo heavy crude for exports following the shutdown of a key pipeline and oil wells due to heavy rains, sources said on Friday.

In the US, the number of operating oil rigs fell three to 485 last week, their lowest since January 2022, Baker Hughes said in its report on Friday. 


Saudi Arabia’s trade surplus hits yearly high of $11bn in April amid surge in non-oil exports

 Saudi Arabia’s trade surplus hits yearly high of $11bn in April amid surge in non-oil exports
Updated 24 June 2024
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Saudi Arabia’s trade surplus hits yearly high of $11bn in April amid surge in non-oil exports

 Saudi Arabia’s trade surplus hits yearly high of $11bn in April amid surge in non-oil exports

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s trade balance surplus hit a year-high of SR41.4 billion ($11.04 billion) in April, a 36 percent increase from the previous month, fueled by a surge in non-oil exports. 

According to the General Authority for Statistics, the Kingdom’s non-oil shipments rose by 12.4 percent in April compared to the same month last year. 

This comes as the Kingdom intensifies its efforts to boost non-oil exports to reduce its reliance on the energy sector and diversify its economy. The significant growth underscores Saudi Arabia’s commitment to strengthening other sectors and achieving a more balanced economic structure. 

National non-oil exports, excluding re-exports, saw a modest rise of 1.6 percent in April this year compared to April 2023, while re-exported goods experienced a substantial increase of 56.4 percent over the same period. 

In contrast, overall outbound merchandise supply fell by 1.0 percent, primarily due to a 4.2 percent decline in oil exports. As a result, the proportion of oil in total outbound supply decreased from 80.6 percent in April 2023 to 78.0 percent in April this year. 

Imports also saw a slight decline of 1.3 percent, and the merchandise trade balance surplus dropped by 0.5 percent compared to the previous year. 

Month-over-month comparisons show a decrease in the value of merchandise exports by 1.7 percent, non-oil exports by 6.3 percent, and imports by 17.4 percent. However, the Kingdom’s trade balance still saw a substantial increase. 

The ratio of non-oil merchandise exports to imports improved significantly, rising to 37.1 percent in April from 32.6 percent in April 2023. This improvement is attributed to the increase in non-oil exports and the decrease in imports. 

Plastics, rubber, and their products were among the top non-oil exports, making up 26.2 percent of the total and growing by 20.5 percent compared to April 2023. 

Chemical products also constituted a significant portion, accounting for 25.7 percent of non-oil exports, although they saw a 13.8 percent decrease from the previous year. 

On the import side, machinery, electrical equipment, and parts were the leading category, representing 26.6 percent of total imports and increasing by 32.4 percent compared to April 2023. 

Transportation equipment and parts followed, making up 11.7 percent of imports but decreasing by 24.5 percent from the previous year. 

China remained Saudi Arabia’s largest trading partner, receiving 16.6 percent of total exports in April 2024. Japan and India followed with 9.2 percent and 8.1 percent of total exports, respectively. 

These top three countries, along with South Korea, the UAE, and the US, alongside Poland, Bahrain, Malaysia, and Singapore, collectively accounted for 65.6 percent of the Kingdom’s total exports. 

China also led in imports to Saudi Arabia, constituting 22.4 percent of total imports. The US and India followed, with 8.3 percent and 6.6 percent of total imports, respectively. 

Imports from the top ten countries made up 62.2 percent of the total. 

The main entry points for imports into the Kingdom included King Abdulaziz Sea Port in Dammam with 29.7 percent, Jeddah Islamic Sea Port with 18.4 percent, and King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh with 14.3 percent. 

Other ports included King Abdulaziz International Airport with 7.6 percent and King Fahad International Airport in Dammam with 5.9 percent. 

Together, these five ports handled 76.0 percent of Saudi Arabia’s total merchandise imports. 

These statistics are based on administrative records from the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority and the Ministry of Energy, with classifications according to the Harmonized System maintained by the World Customs Organization. 


Oman’s capital market draws 135 nationalities; foreign investments up 19%: MSX data

Oman’s capital market draws 135 nationalities; foreign investments up 19%: MSX data
Updated 23 June 2024
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Oman’s capital market draws 135 nationalities; foreign investments up 19%: MSX data

Oman’s capital market draws 135 nationalities; foreign investments up 19%: MSX data

RIYADH: Oman’s capital market has attracted investors from 135 nationalities, up from 67 in 2023, supported by favorable policies including low tax rates and flexible capital transfer options. 

Newly released statistics from the Muscat Stock Exchange reveal a 19 percent increase in foreign investments as of May, including participants from the Gulf Cooperation Council, Arab countries, and beyond. 

Oman’s capital market has implemented policies favoring foreign investments, including unrestricted profit repatriation and exchange operations. This trend aligns with the nation’s economic resurgence and growing institutional confidence in government strategies aimed at reducing public debt, increasing investment in essential services, and launching infrastructure projects to bolster private sector participation. 

The MSX data also indicates that foreign investments are predominantly focused on the industrial and service sectors, accounting for 15.8 percent and 15.7 percent respectively. 

Gulf investors are particularly focused on the services sector, accounting for 15.4 percent, and the financial industry at 8.5 percent. 

Conversely, non-Gulf Arab investments are primarily directed toward the financial sector, comprising 3 percent. 

Local investments heavily favor the financial industry at 87.6 percent, followed by the industrial sector at 75.6 percent and the services sector at 67.7 percent. 

The first half of this year has seen significant growth in trading activity at MSX, underscoring heightened market dynamism.  

Trading volumes surged to 3.1 billion securities, surpassing 517 million Omani rials ($1.3 billion) in value by the end of May, marking a notable 38.4 percent increase from the previous year.

Executed transactions also rose, reflecting increased market participation and liquidity. 

The exchange is expanding its database on listed companies to enhance transparency and advocate for disclosure standards among publicly traded entities, the Oman News Agency reported.  

Additionally, efforts are underway to encourage government and family-owned businesses to transition into privately held entities, enriching market diversity and investment opportunities. 

Foreign investors can invest in shares of MSX-listed companies or investment funds without prior permission, under the oversight of an independent supervisory body ensuring market fairness, investor protection, and transparency.  

Foreign investment in MSX-listed public joint-stock companies is permitted up to 100 percent, with significant interest observed in the industrial and services sectors, highlighting diversified investor preferences. 

Reflecting positive sentiment, the market capitalization of MSX-listed public joint-stock companies reached 9.4 billion rials by May’s end, up 448.5 million rials since the start of the year.  

The broader market value of all MSX-listed securities rose to 24.48 billion riyals, a gain of 676 million riyals year-over-year, bolstered by contributions from closed companies and the bond and sukuk market. 

Market indices reflected this growth, with the main index climbing to 4845 points by May’s close, up 331 points from the previous period.  

Successful IPOs by entities like Abraaj Energy Services and OQ Gas Networks have attracted new investors and boosted market liquidity, with OQ considering IPOs for two more subsidiaries this year, according to Bloomberg. 

This upward trend underscores investor confidence in MSX’s growth potential, supported by Oman Investment Authority’s plans to offer additional companies for public subscription in the coming years.  

The OIA reported a 7.4 percent year-on-year increase in Oman’s sovereign wealth fund assets, reaching 19.24 billion rials in 2023, with a 9.95 percent return on investment, as disclosed in a statement on X. 

This performance underscores the authority’s pivotal role in fostering economic growth and stability in the Middle Eastern country.  

The robust results also reflect the OIA’s strategic investment approach and effective management of its diverse portfolio, in line with its mandate to manage national funds and assets, build financial reserves, and advance targeted economic sectors through government policies. 

At a media briefing in Muscat earlier this month, the authority affirmed its commitment to contributing over 6 billion rials annually to the state’s general budget from 2016 through 2023.  

The statement further outlined the OIA’s plans to geographically diversify its new foreign and local investments across various sectors, while facilitating technology transfer and modern techniques to bolster targeted local industries. 

Looking ahead, MSX aims to strengthen its regulatory framework, expand investor outreach initiatives, and cultivate an environment conducive to sustainable economic growth, the Oman News Agency reported.  

By enhancing its reputation as a gateway for international investment and adhering to global best practices in financial markets, MSX aims to maintain its position as a leading choice for investors interested in opportunities in Oman’s dynamic capital market, it added.


Closing Bell: Saudi main index rose to close at 11,729

Closing Bell: Saudi main index rose to close at 11,729
Updated 23 June 2024
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Closing Bell: Saudi main index rose to close at 11,729

Closing Bell: Saudi main index rose to close at 11,729

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index rose on Sunday, gaining 231.04 points, or 2.01 percent, to close at 11,729.97.

The total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR5.18 billion ($1.38 billion) as 79 of the stocks advanced, while 151 retreated.

Similarly, the Kingdom’s parallel market Nomu gained 71.63 points, or 0.27 percent, to close at 26,825.62. This comes as 32 of the listed stocks advanced while 36 retreated. 

Meanwhile, the MSCI Tadawul Index also gained 38.14 points, or 2.65 percent, to close at 1,475.68.

The best-performing stock of the day was Rasan Information Technology Co. The company’s share price surged 10.60 percent to SR53.20. 

Other top performers include ACWA Power Co. as well as Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair Co.

The worst performer was Batic Investments and Logistics Co., whose share price dropped by 5.81 percent to SR3.08. 

Other worst performers were Etihad Atheeb Telecommunication Co. as well as Saudi Manpower Solutions Co.

On the announcements front, Yanbu Cement Co. has announced the signing of a non-binding memorandum of understanding with Southern Province Cement Co. to evaluate the feasibility of merging the two companies.

According to a Tadawul statement, both firms will commence the process of due diligence, examining operational, technical, and financial as well as legal and actuarial aspects. 

They will also engage in non-binding discussions regarding the details of the terms and conditions for the proposed merger.

The MoU shall terminate upon the signing of the merger agreement by both companies or upon the expiration of 12 months from the date of its signing. It may also be extended with the approval of both firms jointly.

Additionally, either company may terminate the MoU by providing written notice to the other party in this regard.

Moreover, Edarat Communication and Information Technology Co. has announced the receipt of a letter of award from Almoammar Information Systems Co. to provide facility management support services for Sahayeb Data Centers.

A bourse filing revealed that, under the terms of the agreement, Edarat will provide support services, including managing, operating, and maintaining Sahayeb Data Centers located in Riyadh and Dammam, starting in the second quarter of 2024 and continuing until the end of 2025.


Saudi Arabia’s FDI soars to $65bn post-pandemic, among top in West Asia: report

Saudi Arabia’s FDI soars to $65bn post-pandemic, among top in West Asia: report
Updated 23 June 2024
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Saudi Arabia’s FDI soars to $65bn post-pandemic, among top in West Asia: report

Saudi Arabia’s FDI soars to $65bn post-pandemic, among top in West Asia: report

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia attracted $65.1 billion in foreign direct investment in the three years post-pandemic until 2023, placing it among West Asia’s top recipients, according to new data.  

According to the latest World Investment Report by the UN Conference on Trade and Development, the Kingdom's FDI outflows totaled $73.1 billion over the same period, with $16 billion recorded last year alone. This places Saudi Arabia among the top 20 economies globally for FDI outflows, ranking 16th. 

In accordance with the goals set out in the National Investment Strategy and Vision 2030 targets, Saudi Arabia has enacted substantial legal, economic, and social reforms aimed at stimulating inflows of foreign direct investment.

Launched in 2021, NIS looks to develop comprehensive investment plans across various sectors such as manufacturing, renewable energy, transport and logistics, tourism, digital infrastructure, and healthcare.

Furthermore, it aims to increase annual FDI flows to over $103 billion and boost annual domestic investment to more than $453 billion by 2030.

The UN report also noted a 55 percent annual increase in the value of international project finance deals in Saudi Arabia in 2023, reaching $22 billion. 

Last year, the nation witnessed 19 deals, marking a 90 percent growth compared to the previous year. 

Additionally, Saudi Arabia saw 389 announced greenfield projects in 2023, totaling $29 billion, reflecting a 108 percent annual increase in value. 

On a global level, FDI experienced a marginal yearly decline of 2 percent in 2023, dropping to $1.3 trillion.  

The analysis highlighted that the overall figure was significantly influenced by substantial financial flows through a few European conduit economies. 

Excluding the impact of these conduits, global FDI flows were more than 10 percent lower than in 2022. 

Conduit economies refer to countries that act as intermediaries for financial flows, especially foreign direct investment. 

These economies attract multinational corporations with favorable tax laws and regulatory environments, allowing funds to pass through on their way to final investment destinations, often for tax optimization and regulatory benefits. Examples include the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Switzerland, as well as Cyprus and Ireland.  

The challenges  

UNCTAD stated that the global landscape for international investment remains challenging in 2024. Factors such as declining growth prospects, economic fragmentation, and trade and geopolitical tensions are influencing FDI patterns. Industrial policies and the diversification of supply chains also present limitations.  

These factors have prompted many multinational enterprises to adopt a cautious approach to overseas expansion.  

“However, MNE profit levels remain high, financing conditions are easing and increased greenfield project announcements in 2023 will positively affect FDI. Modest growth for the full year appears possible,” the report stated.  

International project finance and cross-border mergers and acquisitions were particularly weak in 2023.  

M&As, which predominantly impact FDI in developed countries, fell in value by 46 percent, while project finance, a crucial factor for infrastructure investment, was down 26 percent.  

According to the report, the principal causes of this decline included tighter financing conditions, investor uncertainty, volatility in financial markets, and increased regulatory scrutiny for M&As.  

In developed countries, the 2023 trend was significantly influenced by MNE financial transactions, partly driven by efforts to implement a minimum tax on the largest MNEs.  

Regional deep dive  

Due to volatility in conduit economies, FDI flows in Europe shifted dramatically from negative $106 billion in 2022 to positive $16 billion in 2023.  

Inflows to the rest of Europe declined by 14 percent, while inflows in other developed countries stagnated, with a 5 percent decline in North America and significant decreases elsewhere.  

FDI flows to developing countries fell by 7 percent to $867 billion, primarily due to an 8 percent decrease in developing Asia.  

Flows fell by 3 percent in Africa and 1 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean. The number of international project finance deals dropped by a quarter.  

Although greenfield project announcements in developing countries increased by over 1,000, these initiatives were highly concentrated in specific regions.  

Greenfield project announcements refer to the initiation of new investment undertakings where companies build operations from scratch on undeveloped land, leading to the construction of new facilities and infrastructure.  

South-East Asia accounted for almost half of these projects, West Asia for a quarter, while Africa saw a small increase, and Latin America and the Caribbean attracted fewer initiatives.  

FDI inflows to Africa declined by 3 percent in 2023 to $53 billion. Despite several megaproject announcements, including Mauritania’s largest worldwide green hydrogen project, international project finance in Africa fell by a quarter in the number of deals and half in value, negatively affecting infrastructure investment prospects.  

In developing Asia, FDI fell by 8 percent to $621 billion. China, the world’s second-largest FDI recipient, experienced a rare decline in inflows, with significant decreases recorded in India and West and Central Asia.  

The report stated that only South-East Asia held steady, with industrial investment remaining buoyant despite the global downturn in project finance.  

FDI flows to Latin America and the Caribbean were down 1 percent to $193 billion.  

The number of international project finance and greenfield investment announcements fell, but the value of greenfield projects increased due to large investments in commodity sectors, critical minerals and renewable energy as well as green hydrogen, and green ammonia.  

Conversely, FDI flows to structurally weak and vulnerable economies increased. FDI inflows to least developed countries rose to $31 billion, accounting for 2.4 percent of global FDI flows, the report stated.  

“Landlocked developing countries and small island developing states also saw increased FDI. In all three groups, FDI remains concentrated among a few countries,” the report added.  

The global downturn in international project finance disproportionately affected the poorest countries, where such finance is relatively more important.  

Industry trends showed lower investment in infrastructure and the digital economy but strong growth in global value chain-intensive sectors such as manufacturing and critical minerals.  

Weak project finance markets negatively impacted infrastructure investment, and digital economy sectors continued to slow down after the boom ended in 2022.  

The report further stated that global value chain-intensive sectors, including automotive, electronics, and machinery industries, grew strongly, driven by supply chain restructuring pressures. Investment in critical minerals extraction and processing nearly doubled in project numbers and values.