DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s $620 billion sovereign wealth fund is expected to tap international debt markets for a debut green bonds issue as soon as next week, five sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The Public Investment Fund is at the center of Saudi Arabia’s ambitious reform plans being spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to wean the economy off oil.
The crown prince said in December that it would invest about $40 billion in the local economy this year, after spending about $22 billion last year.
Reuters reported in July last year that PIF was setting up a financing framework that would allow it to raise green bonds.
PIF in February announced a green finance framework that showed net proceeds from a debt sale would go toward eligible projects, including in renewable energy, clean transport and green buildings.
PIF has been monitoring the market for months to find a window to issue, three sources said, amid enduring volatility that has rattled markets for much of this year as central banks use aggressive tightening to try to tame decades-high inflation.
That window could come as soon as next week, depending on market conditions, or possibly in October, two of the sources said.
PIF declined to comment.
The deal is expected to raise billions of dollars, sources have said.
Fitch Ratings and Moody’s in February assigned PIF an ‘A’ and ‘A1’ credit rating, respectively.
The banks on the deal are expected to be ones that have lent to PIF, two sources said.
PIF started raising bank debt in 2018 with an $11 billion facility, followed in 2019 by a $10 billion loan which it then repaid in 2020.
Those loans were provided by what PIF has called its core banking group comprising Bank of America, BNP Paribas , Citi, Credit Agricole, HSBC, JPMorgan, Mizuho, MUFG, Standard Chartered and SMBC.
In March last year, the wealth fund raised $15 billion from 17 banks comprising most of the core banking group as well as Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, First Abu Dhabi Bank, Goldman Sachs, Intesa Sanpaolo , Morgan Stanley, Natixis and Societe Generale .
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund is reported to be the front-runner to buy a minority stake in Kuwaiti conglomerate Alshaya Group’s Starbucks Corp. franchise, according to Bloomberg.
The PIF is leading a consortium of investors competing for a stake in the business, people familiar with the matter were quoted as saying, asking to remain anonymous for information privacy.
This PIF-led consortium could reach an agreement in the coming weeks, the people added.
Private equity firms may invest in the company’s debt alongside the PIF, one of the people said.
Alshaya has valued the business at $15 billion, but prospective buyers are expected to bid at closer to around $11 billion, according to Bloomberg News.
No final decision has been made and representatives of PIF and Alshaya declined to comment.
As it seeks local economic diversification away from oil, the PIF has been investing in companies across a wide range of industries.
The fund set up the Saudi Coffee Co. in May and said it would invest more than $300 million over the next 10 years to raise the Kingdom’s annual coffee production to 2,500 tons from 300 tons.
The Starbucks business would offer the PIF instant access to around 1,700 outlets in 14 markets that span some of the biggest emerging economies, from Saudi Arabia to Turkey, Bloomberg said.
RIYADH: Egypt’s customs dollar has been raised to its highest level in history in a move that will see the price of imported goods rise.
The Egyptian Ministry of Finance decided on Sept. 8 to raise the price of the customs dollar to 19.31 Egyptian pounds with immediate effect.
This decision coincides with the restrictions imposed on the country’s imports, especially the documentary credit systems, which warns of new increases in the prices of some commodities.
Last April, the Ministry of Finance set the price of the customs dollar at 16 Egyptian pounds, to control the prices of imported products after the dollar prices rose in banks, until it decided to raise it in May to 17 Egyptian pounds.
In June, the Egyptian government released the customs dollar price, which was recorded at 18.64 pounds, at that time equal to the dollar price in banks.
Suez Canal, the revenues of which are one of the main sources of hard currency in Egypt, announced its highest monthly revenues of $744.8 million in August, a 32.4 percent increase compared to the same period last year.
LONDON: Russia warned the West on Friday that plans to try to cap the price of Russia’s oil and gas exports in retaliation for the war in Ukraine would fail and ultimately lead to the instability of the US and Europe.
The confrontation over Ukraine has prompted EU customers to reduce their purchases of Russian energy while both the G7 and the EU are trying to impose a price cap on Russian oil and gas.
Just before the EU announced a price cap on Russian gas on Wednesday, President Vladimir Putin threatened to sever supplies if such limits were imposed, warning the West it would freeze like the wolf’s tail in a fairy tale.
The Group of Seven major industrialized countries wants to impose an oil price cap that would deny insurance, finance and brokering to oil cargoes priced above a yet to be set price cap on crude and two oil products.
Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said the West did not understand how such steps would ultimately impact their own countries, which would ultimately slip up.
“The collective West does not understand: the introduction of a cap on prices for Russian energy resources will lead to a slippery floor under its own feet,” Zakharova said.
Russia’s top lawmaker said on Friday that the West’s plans would fail and that prices would soar far beyond their attempted artificial price ceiling.
“What G7 state officials call a price ‘ceiling’ will become a price floor,” Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament, the Duma, wrote on his Telegram channel. “The global market is not limited to seven countries.”
The remarks from Moscow indicate the depth of the confrontation with the West which Putin says is a declining US-dominated coalition which aims to shackle — or even destroy — Russia. The EU says it is in an energy war with Russia.
EU energy ministers met on Friday to try to find a way to protect citizens from sky-high energy prices and prevent power utilities from collapsing.
“We are in an energy war with Russia,” Czech Industry Minister Jozef Sikela said as he arrived at the emergency Brussels meeting.
Western attempts to punish the world’s biggest producer of natural resources ranging from oil and gas to gold, metals, coal and timber is not an easy task, especially when China, India and other consumers are still happy to continue buying.
Still, Putin’s threat to reorient flows of Russian oil and gas eastwards would amount to the biggest turn in Russian energy policy since the Soviets built gas pipelines westwards to Europe from Siberia in the early 1970s.
Russia is the world’s second largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia, the world’s top natural gas exporter. Europe usually imports about 40 percent of its gas and 30 percent of its oil from Russia.
Since the war began, EU customers have pledged to reduce their reliance on Russian energy while Russia has cut or shut down supplies on three of its biggest westward gas pipelines while oil supplies have been redirected eastwards.
Russia’s Gazprom has for years been studying the possibility for a major new gas pipeline — the Power of Siberia 2 — to travel through Mongolia taking Russian gas to China.
The proposed pipeline could carry 50 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year, Gazprom says — slightly less than the Nord Stream 1, the currently shutdown pipeline which links Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea.
The existing Power of Siberia pipeline, which runs from Russia to China, was launched at the end of 2019 with an annual capacity of 61 bcm per year. (Reporting by Reuters; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)
SINGAPORE: Bitcoin surged past the $20,000 barrier and was eyeing its best day in six weeks on Friday as the US dollar fell broadly and markets found reasons to be cheerful at the end of a dour week, according to Reuters.
Bitcoin, the biggest cryptocurrency by market value, rose more than 7 percent to $20,796, a two-week high. Ether, the second-biggest, rose 5 percent to also hit a two-week peak at $1,717. Bitcoin had been as low as $18,540 on Wednesday.
Market participants said there was no particular trigger for the gains beyond a broad upbeat mood in evidence across asset classes on Friday, led by a drop in the safe-haven dollar and a rally in Chinese stocks.
If the cryptocurrencies can hold their gains until Sunday’s close, Bitcoin could log a second weekly rise in a row, and its best week in about a month.
Ether’s weekend volatility may be heightened by a looming software upgrade known as the “merge,” due sometime between Sept. 10 and 20, with the exact timing uncertain.
The shift will radically change how transactions are processed and is supposed to slash energy consumption. Some exchanges plan to pause deposits and withdrawals while the upgrade occurs.
RIYADH: Sales growth in Dubai’s non-oil sector hit a 38-month high in August, while output rose at the sharpest rate for just over three years, S&P Global reported.
The sales increase was encouraged by firms reducing output prices thanks to a reduction in expenses, according to the US-based analytics firm.
The non-oil private sector reported a fall in overall input costs for the first time in 19 months during August, driven by a moderation of fuel prices following recent inflationary trends.
The Purchasing Managers Index — a measure of business activity and performance in the non-oil sector — increased to 57.9 in August from 56.4 in July to its highest reading since June 2019.
Among the three key sectors of Dubai, travel & tourism showed the highest growth in August, followed by wholesale & retail.
David Owen, an economist at S&P Global Market Intelligence, said: “The latest PMI data suggested that input costs at Dubai non-oil businesses had swiftly changed their direction in August, falling for the first time since the start of 2021 and at the quickest pace since the survey began almost 13 years ago.
“Recent drops in commodity prices helped to ease the burden on companies, particularly through a moderation of fuel prices.”
The upturn encouraged renewed stockpiling of inputs and a pick-up in employment growth to the highest for eight months, S&P reported.
The rate of job creation was the fastest seen in the year to-date. The weakening outlook for future activity, which dropped to the second lowest so far in 2022, was one factor that kept job creation low.
Surveyed firms cited headwinds to the global economy from high inflation, despite some positivity that domestic consumer demand will continue to improve, partially due to lower fuel prices.
Business expectations slipped to the weakest since May, amid uncertainty surrounding the global economic outlook.