Saudi Arabia

Gulf Capital Acquires Strategic Stake in #Saudi Arabia #Fintech Geidea

Asset management firm Gulf Capital has acquired a strategic stake in Saudi Arabian fintech company, Geidea. According to Gulf Capital, this deal with Geidea is the largest acquisition in the Saudi Fintech sector. Geidea was founded in 2008 and is the official distributor of Verifone and a payment solution company. Gulf Capital also reported that this deal is its fifth investment in the technology sector and is part of its efforts to develop the payment and digital financial transaction sector in the GCC. Dr. Karim El Solh, CEO of Gulf Capital, stated that this partnership was paving the way to adopt Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and move towards a cashless society.

SEDCO Holding Group Signs a Partnership Agreement with Saudi British Bank

SEDCO Holding Group signed a partnership agreement with the Saudi British Bank (SABB), for its Riyali Financial Literacy Program. The agreement was signed by Hasan Al Jabri, CEO of SEDCO Holding Group, and Naif Alabdulkareem, General Manager Retail Banking at SABB. The Riyali Financial Literacy Program attained the Ministry of Education’s endorsement to roll out the program in grade school as well as universities. The program aims to educate future generations on the importance and benefits of financial awareness. The program has already reached more than 400,000 beneficiaries and aims to reach 2 million beneficiaries by 2020.

Bidaya’s first #Sukuk issuance successful

Bidaya Home Finance has successfully closed its inaugural Sukuk issuance under the recently established SR500 Million Sukuk Issuance Programme. The total amount raised in relation to the Series 1 Sukuk was SR250 Million. Bidaya's CEO Mazin Al Ghunaim said this was a landmark transaction since Bidaya was the first housing finance company in Saudi Arabia to issue a Sukuk. Ashmore Investment Saudi Arabia acted as the Arranger with respect to the Sukuk Programme issuance, while Albilad Capital acted as the Dealer. Bidaya's Sukuk Programme is aimed at maximizing the utilization of capital markets, resulting in the diversification of the company's funding sources.

#Saudi issues new Islamic bond to finance budget

Saudi Arabia has completed the issuance of a new sukuk sale to help finance its budget deficit. The Kingdom raised $1.3 billion from the sale of sukuks in three tranches maturing in five, seven and 10 years. This was the second sukuk sale this year following a $4.8-billion issue it completed last month. The government debt level, both domestic and international, rose from 1.6% of gross domestic product in 2014 to 17.3 of GDP last year reaching $118 billion. During the same period, the government has drawn down some $245 billion from its fiscal reserves. Oil income made up more than 90% of public revenues before oil began to slide.

#Saudi- Finance Minister heads the Kingdom's delegation to the 43rd Islamic Development Bank board of governors Annual Meeting in Tunis

Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan will head the Kingdom's delegation to the 43rd Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the Islamic Development Bank between April 4-5 in Tunis. The Saudi delegation will include Dr. Ahmad Al-Khulaifi, Governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), Dr. Hamad Al-Bazie, Vice Minister of Finance, Eng. Yousef Al-Bassam, Vice President and Managing Director of the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD). The IDB annual meeting's agenda will comprise of discussion sessions about the 2017 IDB activities report, IDB's institutions annual report and the establishment of the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development (ISFD). The ISFD aims to alleviate poverty, develop capacity, and eradicate illiteracy, diseases and epidemics in member countries via funding various productive, social and service projects and programs.

Newly empowered #Saudi women to help drive growth at Al Rajhi Bank

Saudi Arabia's Al Rajhi Bank has opened 133 female-only branches and a car showroom for women to help them access car loans. Women have been allowed to attend mixed sporting events and will be able to drive from June. Al Rajhi Bank is a major provider of vehicle loans and has operated car showrooms since 2008. They were only for men until the bank opened its first women-only one late last year. Al Rajhi CEO Steve Bertamini said families usually have a large automobile already, so the cars for women tend to be smaller vehicles for commuting. He added that the bank would provide extended hours for women within existing car showrooms and increase the number of female bank branches in 2018. Women's increased economic activity will help the bank's loan growth outperform the 4% expected for the sector in 2018.

#Saudi tycoon auctions off 900 vehicles to clear debt

Thousands of people attended the first day of an auction of vehicles owned by indebted Saudi Arabian tycoon Maan al-Sanea. Officials say the sale will go towards repaying about 18 billion riyals (US$4.8 billion) owed to creditors. The businessman was detained by authorities last year for unpaid debt dating back to 2009 when his company, Saad Group, defaulted on payments. The first phase of the auction was launched this week, with around 900 vehicles including lorries, buses, diggers, forklift trucks and golf carts. Later stages of the process will include property, as well as machinery, ceramics and furniture. Prospective buyers were mainly businessmen from local construction companies and other contractors. Money raised from the first phase of the auction will go towards repaying creditors. Priority for the repayment will first go to repaying unpaid workers, vendors and other companies owed money will be given next priority, with banks at a later stage.

Bidaya Home Finance Issues Plans for Selling Islamic #Sukuk Bonds

Bidaya Home Finance revealed plans to sell Islamic sukuk bonds worth 500 million SAR. Bidaya Home Finance hired the services of Ashmore Investment Saudi Arabia to arrange the program.

Saudi Dar Al Arkan Real Estate hires banks ahead of 5-year dollar #sukuk deal

Dar Al Arkan Real Estate Development has mandated banks to arrange investor meetings ahead of a planned U.S. dollar five-year sukuk offering. If the deal goes ahead, Dar Al Arkan will be the first Saudi company to issue an international bond this year. The banks mandated are Alkhair Capital, Deutsche Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank, Emirates NBD Capital, Goldman Sachs International, Nomura, Noor Bank and Standard Chartered Bank, who will act as joint bookrunners of the deal.

#Saudi crown prince seeks solution to banks' $2.6 billion Islamic tax row: sources

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has directed the government to resolve a dispute with banks facing higher Islamic tax liabilities. The General Authority of Zakat and Tax (GAZT) is demanding tax for years going back as far as 2002. Banks are contesting the extra payments, which are estimated at around 9.8 billion riyals ($2.6 billion) across 11 of the kingdom’s 12 listed banks. Although Saudi banks and other firms generally do not pay corporate tax, they are subject to zakat, a 2.5% levy on each bank’s net worth. Lenders and the authorities have been at loggerheads over the amount of zakat they pay for more than a decade. The dispute has captured more attention recently as the kingdom seeks to attract billions of dollars of foreign investment from global equity indexes. Bankers say the way the tax is calculated is opaque and the heavy financial demands on banks threaten the stability of the banking sector and capital markets.

#Saudi will issue #sukuk as soon as market conditions allow-DMO chief

Saudi Arabia is committed to the sukuk market and will issue Islamic bonds as soon as market conditions allow. Fahad al-Saif, president of Saudi Arabia’s debt management office (DMO) said Saudi Arabia had a ratio of 65% to 35% for local to international issuance, plus or minus 10%. He added that the DMO aimed to develop the local market but not to crowd out the banks. Saudi Arabia started issuing debt in the international markets in 2016 when it issued $39 billion in bonds, including a $9 billion sukuk. Domestically, the government has raised a total of over 70 billion riyals ($18.67 billion) through monthly local currency sukuk issues. The kingdom has recently agreed the refinancing, extension and upsizing of a $10 billion loan it had raised in 2016. The loan has now been increased to $16 billion. Furthermore, a new dollar bond sale is expected over the coming weeks.

#Saudi Arabia expands $10b loan #refinancing to $16b, adds Islamic tranche

Saudi Arabia is expanding the refinancing of a $10 billion international loan to raise $16 billion. The kingdom is introducing a significant Islamic tranche to the transaction, supporting Saudi Arabia’s goal of becoming the leading centre for Islamic finance. A $16 billion facility would be one of the largest syndicated loans ever extended in emerging markets. The kingdom raised the original $10 billion loan from 14 core banks in 2016, in what was its first jumbo transaction after a slump in international oil prices. A further dollar debt issuance is also planned, which could be marketed over the next few weeks.

#Saudi prepares to auction detained billionaire’s property

Saudi authorities are preparing to auction billions of dollars of real estate and cars belonging to billionaire Maan al-Sanea. This is the latest signal that Saudi Arabia is serious about holding its elites to account. In an anti-corruption crackdown last November, authorities detained several senior officials on charges of alleged graft. The al-Sanea case is separate from the main anti-graft campaign. The businessman was detained for unpaid debt dating back to 2009 when his company, Saad Group, defaulted on debts. Creditors have spent the past nine years pursuing Saad for debt that some estimate to be between 40 billion riyals ($10.67 billion) and 60 billion riyals. Al-Sanea's real estate in Khobar was valued at around 4.4 billion riyals. Authorities are preparing an auction to sell his vehicles, equipment, a large quantity of building materials and some property before the month of Ramadan.

Dar Al Arkan meets bond investors for non-deal roadshow

Saudi Arabian real estate developer Dar Al Arkan met fixed income investors last week for a non-deal roadshow. The aim of the meeting was to update investors on the company’s business, so no concrete bond issue plan was discussed. The roadshow was held last week in Dubai and arranged by Emirates NBD. Dar Al Arkan issued $500 million (Dh1.8 billion) of sukuk last April with a profit rate of 6.875% per annum. It also has $450 million of sukuk due in June this year, $400 million of sukuk due in 2019 and a further $500 million of sukuk, those issued last year, maturing in 2022.

Saudi CMA approves Bank AlJazira's proposed rights issue

The Saudi Capital Markets Authority has announced its resolution approving Bank Aljazira’s request to increase its capital by way of rights issue valued at SAR 3,000,000,000. The offering price and the number of shares will be determined after market closing of the same day in which the extraordinary general assembly meeting is held. After reviewing the bank’s application in light of the governing regulatory requirements, the CMA has issued its resolution approving Bank Aljazira’s capital increase request. The CMA’s approval merely means that the legal requirements as per the Capital Market Law and its Implementing Regulations have been met.

Islamic Development Bank aims for $2.5bn Mega #Sukuk

Bandar Hajjar, president of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), announced that the bank would soon issue its largest sized Sukuk for $2.5 billion. IDB is a regular issuer of Sukuk having last issued in September 2017 with a $1.25 billion issuance which was priced at 2.261%. The bank has recently partnered with China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and plans to co-finance many projects in Africa. Africa has witnessed a growing share of mostly sovereign Sukuk issuances. Sudan, Gambia, Senegal, South Africa have all issued sovereign sukuk, the latest issuer is Cote d’Ivoire with its inaugural debut in 2015 of USD 260 million.

Chief executive of #Saudi-based ICD departs

The chief executive of the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) has stepped down to take a role with the Saudi government. Khaled Al-Aboodi joined the ICD in 2001 and took over as chief executive officer in 2007. Starting next month, he will join the Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Co (SALIC) as Managing Director. The ICD has appointed Mohammed Al Ammari to lead the multilateral body on an interim basis, until a new chief executive is selected. As the private sector arm of the Islamic Development Bank, the ICD is tasked with supporting economic development across its 53 member countries.

#Saudi developer plans debut #sukuk for social housing

Saudi developer Salman Abdullah Bin Saedan Real Estate Group is planning a debut sukuk issuance in the coming months. Proceeds from the sukuk would be used for Saedan’s social housing projects, which aim to address a shortage of affordable residential properties in Saudi Arabia. The $1 billion sukuk programme will be set up by Ibdar Bank, which was formed in 2013 through a three-way merger of smaller Islamic lenders. The bank's Director of Capital Markets Ikbal Daredia said the sukuk programme would be listed on the Irish Stock Exchange with a possible listing on Nasdaq Dubai. Ibdar Bank aims to bring on board one or two international banks and regional partners as joint lead managers for the deal.

#Saudi nationals warned against investments in #cryptocurrencies

Saudi nationals have been warned against embarking on hazardous investments in cryptocurrencies. According to the Capital Market Authority, there is no monetary oversight inside Saudi Arabia over digital currencies which involve high risks. It warned that digital currencies expose investors to speculative bubbles, loss of capital, fraud, high market volatility, cyber hacking and lack of transparent evaluative regulations. The Capital Market Authority also said that it would be difficult to protect investors as Saudi Arabia has no oversight on the digital currency.

#Saudi Arabia Weighing ‘Soft’ #Crypto #Regulation

Saudi Arabia is watching the cryptocurrency market closely. According to Mohammed ElKuwaiz, chairman of Saudi Arabia's Capital Markets Authority, the authority is still evaluating the appropriate response and some regulations might be coming soon. However, the regulator comments indicate we should not expect any ban on cryptocurrencies. This is because the local Bitcoin craze has not reached the proportions seen in China or South Korea. There are several cryptocurrency-oriented companies that provide services in the kingdom. Before imposing any regulations, Saudi Arabia would like to see how the new markets behave, so it has left the door open for pilot projects from startups that operate with emerging technologies. Local regulators have initiated a sandbox program to facilitate such activities.

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