King Salman has reorganized his cabinet, removed princes from government roles, merged ministries and realigned succession since ascending to the throne in January. As a consequence, Saudi companies have yet to market a single security in 2015, making it the country’s quietest start for Islamic sales in nine year. The companies need some stability before they start looking at sukuk-type issuance. Saudi Arabia is pursuing a $130 billion spending plan to diversify its economy away from oil, and has vowed to invest in major infrastructure projects. King Salman’s changes will impact many areas, especially financial markets.
At its annual "Multaqa Sedco 2015", Sedco Holding Group has unveiled its growth strategy for 2025 through expansion of its investment ventures across the globe. The event gathered the Group's upper management, the heads of its operating companies, CEOs and senior executives, management boards, their partners along with the administrative cadre. Under the theme "Imagine Our Future with Synergy", the Group's thrust for the next decade was laid down with emphasis on teamwork, creativity and professional excellence as key to continuous growth and achievement of defined goals as enshrined in the company's "six values".
Saudi Arabia's Capital Market Authority (CMA) is studying plans to introduce rules governing the listing of real estate investment trusts (REITs). The regulator has approached market participants in recent weeks about forming a panel which will report to it on areas including how REITs work in international markets. The CMA was not available to comment. Given the early stage of the plans and the slow pace of regulatory progress in the kingdom, it is likely to take some time to draw up even draft rules for REITs, securities which trade on stock markets but which invest directly in properties and distribute profits as dividends.
Al Rajhi Bank, Saudi Arabia’s second largest bank by assets, is to replace its chief executive, with the new head’s priority likely to be reversing its fortunes after seven straight quarterly profit drops. Suleiman bin Abdul Aziz al-Zabin resigned as chief executive for personal reasons, effective May 17, it said on Sunday in a statement. His replacement would be Steve Bertamini, who had been appointed chief executive, effective from May 18, it said. The bank’s consumer business has been hit by new rules and tougher competition from other lenders in the kingdom. It has one of the highest exposures in the financial sector to the retail segment.
Alkhabeer Capital , an asset management and investment firm based in Saudi Arabia, announced the launch of its "Waqf" (endowment) program, intended to provide advisory services for structuring Waqf entities and managing its assets. Through its Waqf program, Alkhabeer is targeting educational and charitable institutions, family offices, high net worth individuals and other philanthropists who aspire to establish Waqf entities. The program addresses the challenges of traditional Waqf by providing Waqf structures in compliance with best standards of governance, disclosure and independent supervision to ensure the management of the Waqf affairs in accordance withterms of the Waqif (Waqf founder).
Saudi British Bank (SABB) is planning to sell a riyal-denominated sukuk that will boost its capital reserves, with an announcement set to be made as early as next week. The issue will boost SABB's Tier 2, or supplementary, capital and will be arranged by HSBC's Saudi Arabian unit. The sukuk could be worth 1.5 billion riyals ($400 million) and will have a 10-year lifespan but a clause that will allow the bank to redeem the issue at the end of the fifth year. Riyad Bank announced plans to issue a 4 billion riyal bond to boost its capital base earlier this week. It will have the same 10-year, non-call five, structure that SABB is planning to offer.
The tenth edition of Euromoney Saudi Arabia conference concluded on Wednesday with a firm belief that multisectoral reforms to diversify the Kingdom's economy an approach to look beyond the oil sector will add value to the local market with financial dynamism. Experts in the first session of the concluding day on sovereign bonds and sukuk referred to the intersection of ethical investment and Islamic finance in the wake of the Tadawul opening up to foreign investors for the first time. The panelists observed that in the context of the global financial crisis Islamic finance is seen as a significant option in international market which is good for the Kingdom that plays a leadership role.
Saudi Arabia will remain a favoured destination for private equity investment in the coming years in spite of volatile oil prices and instability in neighbouring Yemen, investment professionals said. Lower oil prices in the past year are unlikely to affect the growth in consumer-facing sectors such as health care and retail, making companies operating in such sectors attractive targets, according to Huda Al Lawati, a partner with Abraaj Capital in Dubai. But sustained lower oil prices may have an impact on deals in infrastructure and construction sectors, according to Sameer Nawaz, the managing director and co-head of investment banking at Saudi Fransi Capital in Riyadh.
The CMA announced on Monday rules allowing foreign institutions to begin investing directly in the stock market, subject to restrictions such as a 10 percent cap on combined foreign ownership of the market. On the other hand, foreigners will be allowed to buy directly into initial public offers of shares in Saudi Arabian companies on a case-by-case basis. IPOs are a special matter because they are usually priced in Saudi Arabia well below market value, as a way to spread the kingdom's oil wealth among its citizens. Letting foreign investors buy directly into the offers could be politically sensitive.
A number of Saudi insurance firms have been loss-making for years because of severe competition in the market, where large companies with capital of some SR1 billion ($267 million) dominate small firms capitalized at around SR200-SR400 million, which find it hard to compete. That's why Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) would welcome mergers among local insurance companies as long as they were positive for all parties, said Governor Fahad Al-Mubarak. He said SAMA was working hard with the managements of insurance firms to study their internal situations and develop restructuring plans so they could return to profitability.
The Islamic banking industry in Saudi Arabia is set to achieve $683 billion of Shariah-compliant assets by 2019, according to EY’s World Islamic Banking Competitiveness report. A strong demand from customers, both retail and corporate, has led to significant growth in Islamic banking in Saudi Arabia resulting in 54 percent of all financing being Shariah-compliant in 2013. Overall, the size of Islamic banking assets in Saudi Arabia has nearly doubled from 2009-2013. One in three of the positive sentiments analyzed in the kingdom were about branch experience, indicating that customers were generally satisfied in this area of service. While online and mobile banking services has taken off well in Saudi Arabia, it’s sustainability remains a cause of concern.
The Capital Markets Authority (CMA) is planning to allow in foreign investors from June 15. Mohammad Al Jadaan, chairman of CMA, expects a lot of benefits from the entry of foreign players into its stock markets. It is expected that the level of studies, research and evaluation done on the market in general and on the listed companies in particular would be higher which would provide more accurate information and more fair assessments, he said. This would also help to raise the level of the research and studies on the Saudi capital market, he added. The CMA is expected to publish the rules for foreign institutions on May 4, while rules will be effective June 1, and the QFIs will be allowed to invest in listed shares starting from June 15.
With the easing of economic sanctions against Iran, the country is expected to unleash its enormous potential of Islamic finance and enter the global stage with new Shariah-compliant products at a size that could threaten the dominance of Malaysia and Saudi Arabia in the sector. Iranian banks represent the world’s largest financial system based on Shariah law. However, due to the sanctions, the country has so far only marginally participated in the global Islamic finance sector and thus did not benefit from the rapid global growth of Islamic finance in the recent past. The entire banking system in Iran is Shariah-compliant, and there are no conventional banks to compete with.
Saudi Electricity Co (SEC), the Gulf's largest utility firm, has reported its net loss for the first quarter more than doubled. It lost 1.94 billion riyals ($517.4 million) during the three months to March 31, compared to a loss of 913 million riyals during the corresponding period of 2014. The utility cited the costs of implementing an order from the electricity regulator on power usage by top manufacturers, as well as other expenses, for the decline in earnings. It did not elaborate. During the first quarter, the firm paid 545 million riyals to employees in bonuses as part of a scheme to celebrate the Saudi royal succession. Besides, SEC's results are highly seasonal because of the big swing between power demand in winter and in summer.
Investors are no closer to understanding how the opening of Saudi Arabia’s stock market will work than they were in August, when the country published draft rules on the plan. Eleven weeks before the deadline that the Middle East’s largest bourse set itself to give foreigners direct access to the market, the Riyadh-based Capital Market Authority has yet to explain how it will square the new rules with existing restrictions on foreign involvement in Saudi businesses. The lack of clarity underscores the difficulty the world’s biggest oil exporter has in giving outsiders greater influence. The kingdom is seeking to attract increased investment to the $521 billion stock market without angering conservatives dedicated to preserving the nation’s Islamic roots.
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has met with President of the Islamic Development Bank Group Ahmad Mohamed Ali in Jeddah. They expressed their satisfaction with the cooperation between Azerbaijan and the Islamic Development Bank. It was noted that the ongoing development processes in Azerbaijan gave a push to the expansion of the bilateral relations. Azerbaijan and the IDB cooperate in the fields of oil and gas, power industry, water supply, road construction, implementation of infrastructure projects, agriculture and industry, and investment making. The parties exchanged views over the issue of involving other partners in the bilateral cooperation.
Saudi Arabia’s Bank Aljazira has appointed the investment banking arms of Gulf International Bank and Riyad Bank to advise it on a SAR3 billion ($800 million) rights issue. The price and number of shares to be issued under the offering, which will be arranged by GIB Capital and Riyad Capital, is still pending approval from the relevant authorities and shareholders, the bank said in a bourse filing. The rights issue by one of the Kingdom’s smaller lenders by assets will be used to strengthen its capital base and finance its activities, the bank added.
Jadwa Investment has announced the acquisition of a majority stake in Saudi Mechanical Industries (SMI) by the Jadwa Mechanical Opportunities Fund along with Arab Petroleum Investments Corporation (Apicorp). The investment in SMI marks Jadwa’s eighth private equity deal. In 2014, Jadwa completed two major Tadawul listings with Abdulmohsen Al Hokair Group and Al Hammadi Company for Development and Investment, and a full exit via a trade sale with Gulf United Foods Company. Jadwa also announced in September 2014 the full acquisition of Global Environmental Management Services.
Saudi mining and metals company Ma'aden has partnered again with the GCC Board Directors Institute ("BDI") in committing to high corporate governance standards, with the official signature of a sponsorship agreement in Riyadh. The signature of this new agreement also embeds a training platform for Ma'aden employees to access in order to always be well-informed of the latest best practices, be local or international, as well as networking opportunities with other board members across the Gulf. This month, BDI also inaugurated new half-day Focused Sessions for its members.
Arab Petroleum Investments Corp (APICORP) has signed a two-part sharia-compliant facility worth $950 million that it will use to finance investments in regional energy projects, it said in a statement on Sunday. The bulk of the financing consisted of a SAR3 billion ($800 million) Islamic loan of five years duration that was provided by five Saudi banks: Banque Saudi Fransi, National Commercial Bank, Riyad Bank, Samba Financial Group and Saudi British Bank. The remainder was provided on a three year basis by First Gulf Bank, HSBC and National Bank of Abu Dhabi , the statement added.