Saudi Aramco declares $1.71 tn valuation in blockbuster IPO

News Network
November 17,2019

Riyadh, Nov 17: Saudi Arabia on Sunday put a value of up to $1.71 trillion on energy giant Aramco in what could be the world's biggest IPO, but missed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's initial target of $2 trillion.

Aramco said it would sell 1.5 percent of the company in a blockbuster initial public offering worth at least $24 billion.

"The base offer size will be 1.5 percent of the company's outstanding shares," the state-owned energy giant said in a statement that set the price range at 30-32 Saudi riyals per share ($8-8.5).

The much-delayed offering is scaled down from original plans, but it still rivals the world's biggest listing so far -- the $25 billion float of Chinese retail giant Alibaba in 2014.

Aramco had initially been expected to sell a total of five percent on two exchanges, with the first listing of two percent on the kingdom's Tadawul bourse, followed by a further three percent on an overseas exchange.

But the firm has said there are no current plans for an international stock sale, indicating that the long-discussed goal had been shelved for the time being.

Saudi Arabia is pulling out all the stops to ensure the success of the IPO, a cornerstone of de facto ruler Prince Mohammed's ambitious plan to diversify the economy by pumping funds into megaprojects and non-energy industries.

S&P Global Ratings said the stock market debut could enable the kingdom to strengthen its financial position.

"If subsequently effectively deployed, the funds raised could be used to support longer-term economic growth in Saudi Arabia," it said.

The government has reportedly pressed wealthy Saudi business families and institutions to invest, and many nationalists have labelled it a patriotic duty.

Even for the domestic listing though, there are reports the firm is struggling to attract foreign institutional investors, amid an uncertain outlook for the energy sector and questions over company disclosures and governance.

In its prospectus released last week, the company lists a variety of risks ranging from terrorist attacks to geopolitical tensions in a region dominated by Saudi-Iran rivalry.

One striking element was a warning that global oil demand may peak within the next 20 years, citing a forecast from industry consultant IHS Markit.

It also acknowledged that climate change concerns could reduce the demand for hydrocarbons.

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Kuwait's 91-year-old ruler 'successfully' undergoes surgery

Agencies
July 19,2020

Kuwait City, Jul 19: Kuwaiti ruler Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah has successfully undergone surgery early on Sunday, the emir's office said.

"His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah ... has undergone surgery this morning, with thanks to God for its success," the head of the emir's office Sheikh Ali Jarrah al-Sabah said, as quoted by state news agency KUNA.

The 91-year-old was admitted to hospital for a medical checkup.

Yesterday, a royal order was issued assigning Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmed al-Sabah, the emir's designated successor, "to take over some constitutional jurisdictions of His Highness the Emir temporarily"

In August 2019, Kuwait acknowledged the emir suffered an unspecified medical "setback" that required him to be hospitalised.

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UAE extends grace period on visit visas for another month

Agencies
August 10,2020

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Dubai, Aug 10: In the wake of delay in resumption of international fights, UAE’s Federal Authority of Identity and Citizenship has announced a month's extension of grace period on visit visas that expired after March 1. 

The authorities announced the extension on August 10, which was the initially announced deadline for these visit visa holders. The one month additional grace period is to start on August 11.

The tweet announcing the grace period stated: "The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship extends the grace period for holders of expiring entry permits, starting from 11 / 8 / 2020 for a period of one month, with the aim of enabling them to leave the country with exemption from all fines during this period."

Earlier, authorities had announced that holders of entry permits expired before March 1 would have to leave the UAE by August 18 - this remains unchanged as of now.

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Hajj pilgrims stay overnight in Muzdalifah

Agencies
July 31,2020

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Jeddah, Jul 31: Hajj 2020 pilgrims arrived in Muzdalifah Thursday night to rest after spending the day in Arafat.

Earlier, the pilgrims scaled Mount Arafat to pray and repent, as a highly unusual Hajj approached its climax. They listened to a sermon delivered by Sheikh Abdullah Al-Manea and prayed Dhuhr and Asr prayers together at the Al-Namirah Mosque in Arafat.

This year’s pilgrimage is the smallest in modern times, after the number of participants was greatly restricted to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. 

Tight security was in place around the foot of the rocky hill outside Makkah, also known as Jabal Al-Rahma or Mount of Mercy, in preparation for the high point of the annual ritual.

Video footage shown on state television showed the pilgrims setting off on their climb to the summit. They wore face masks and observed strict social-distancing rules imposed by Saudi authorities.As sprinklers sprayed water on them to provide relief from the summer desert heat, the pilgrims raised their palms as they climbed the slopes of the hill — the site of Prophet Muhammad’s last sermon. When they reached the top they recited holy verses and prayed for forgiveness for their sins.

Earlier, the pilgrims were taken in buses from Mina to Mount Arafat. Strict precautionary measures were in place, with each group accompanied by security teams, ambulances and civil defense vehicles. 

When they arrived, their temperatures were checked before they entered Namirah Mosque to hear a sermon that was translated into 10 languages.

“The camps were set up for pilgrims in Arafat early on,” said Minister of Hajj and Umrah Muhammad Salih Bentin. The sermon at Namirah Mosque was delivered by Sheikh Abdullah Al-Manea, who led the pilgrims in noon and afternoon prayers.

“During Hajj this year, we reiterate that it is essential for pilgrims, as well as everyone assisting them, to adhere to the precautionary regulations that have been implemented,” Al-Manea, a member of the Council of Senior Scholars, said during his sermon. “This is to be done for their own safety.

“Precautions have been put in place to protect lives against the damage that the pandemic can cause, and also to actualize Islam’s teachings pertaining to safeguarding human life by Allah’s permission.”

The stay in Arafat is described as the pinnacle of Hajj and Muslims around the world reflect the actions of pilgrims by asking for forgiveness and praying for their deepest desires.
Pilgrims left Arafat in coaches for Muzdalifah after sunset and will pray the Maghrib and Isha prayers there.

After sunset prayers, the pilgrims made their way down Mount Arafat to Muzdalifah, where they will spend the night before the final Hajj ritual, the symbolic stoning of the devil. 

This year, each pilgrim received sanitized pebbles in advance of the event on Friday, which is the first day of Eid Al-Adha.
This year the Kingdom faced the unprecedented challenge of ensuring pilgrims attending Hajj were protected as much as possible from the risks of the coronavirus.

They will then sleep, pray the Fajr prayer there tomorrow and then leave for Mina.

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