Saudi Arabia, Pakistan ‘to sign deals worth up to $20 billion’

Pakistan army trucks park outside a presidential palace as security is beefed up in Islamabad ahead of the visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)
Updated 17 February 2019

Saudi Arabia, Pakistan ‘to sign deals worth up to $20 billion’

  • More than 30 public and private companies are poised to invest in Pakistan, including Saudi Aramco, SABIC and ACWA Power
  • The sectors targeted for Saudi investment include oil refining, petrochemical, mining, construction, power generation, agriculture and glass

KARACHI: Saudi Arabia is expected to announce investments in Pakistan worth between $15 billion and $20 billion during Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s official visit, according to the head of Pakistan’s Board of Investment.

The Kingdom and the UAE in recent months have offered Pakistan more than $30 billion in loans and investments to tackle a soaring current-account deficit. The Saudi crown prince is due to sign off on his country’s deals, including one for a $10 billion oil refinery in Pakistan’s Gwadar Port.

“We are expecting Saudi investment in the range of $15 billion to $20 billion based on the interest investors have expressed so far,” said Haroon Sharif, minister of state and chairman of the Board of Investment.

Sharif previously said that Pakistan expected investments worth about $15 billion from Saudi Arabia over the next three years, and about $40 billion from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and China combined in the next three to five years.

Mian Mehmood, the Pakistani head of the Pakistan-Saudi Arabia Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said recently that in addition to the oil refinery project, a further $10 billion is expected to be invested in sectors other than oil and gas, bringing the total to $20 billion.

“About 25 to 30 agreements are expected to be finalized during the visit of the crown prince,” said Mehmood who recently led a business delegation to the Kingdom to explore bilateral investment and cooperation opportunities.

More than 30 public and private companies are poised to invest in Pakistan, including Saudi Aramco, SABIC and ACWA Power, he added.

The sectors targeted for Saudi investment include oil refining, petrochemical, mining, construction, power generation, agriculture and glass.

“Ten Saudi manufacturing companies working in construction and allied materials, and 10 companies interested in the food processing sector will come to sign agreements,” Mehmood said.

Speaking this month during a visit to Gwadar to inspect the site of the $10 billion oil refinery, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said: “Saudi Arabia wants to make Pakistan’s economic development stable through establishing an oil refinery and partnership with Pakistan in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.”

Work on the refinery is expected to begin within 18 months.

“Once the project starts production, the country would be able to save about $2 billion in foreign exchange on costly imports,” said Samiullah Tariq, the head of research at investment firm Arif Habib Limited.


Case against Ghosn excuse to get him out of Nissan, claim lawyers

Updated 13 November 2019

Case against Ghosn excuse to get him out of Nissan, claim lawyers

  • The former motor giant chief’s legal team has alleged that both his arrest and the prosecution efforts have been illegal

TOKYO: The drama surrounding the arrest of Carlos Ghosn, former boss of motor giants Nissan and Renault, has yet to reach its climax. Yet the plot continues to thicken with each new development.

On Monday, Ghosn’s defense lawyers unveiled court submissions highlighting the circumstances in which the 65-year-old executive was arrested and subsequently held in detention.

“We believe that Mr. Carlos Ghosn is innocent. We believe that the arrest and the prosecution efforts thus far are illegal and therefore Mr. Ghosn should be immediately released,” the head of his defense team, Junichiro Hironaka, said during a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan in Tokyo on Monday.

Hironaka claimed that Nissan wanted to kick out Carlos Ghosn from the company and therefore put together a team dedicated to searching around for something that would justify them to do that.

“This prosecution motion wasn’t initiated because the prosecution side believed that Mr. Ghosn had committed an illegal act. Fundamentally there is a problem with this being treated as a criminal act,” he said.

Hironaka further said that the prosecutor’s office is supposed to be acting in the public good for everyone and not behalf of a specific corporation.

“From the investigation level, there were various problems and mistakes with this case. Furthermore, the Japanese persecution office can’t reach overseas so they rely on Nissan employees to go into Mr. Ghosn’s offices and residences and removed objects illegally,” he said.

Hironaka said there is no evidence to support the alleged wrongdoing claim that Nissan made payments to SBA in Oman, and Ghosn re-directed that money to himself or his family.

“The amounts that were paid by Nissan matched exactly the amounts due to SBA,” he said.

The lawyer had a similar response to the reports connecting some donations by Ghosn to a school in Lebanon that would somehow benefit himself. “There is absolutely no evidence or factual basis for indicating that,” Hironaka said.

He said that his team is trying to access correct information and find out what evidence the prosecution might have.

“I have made an effort to share information with the media, including the foreign media, during this whole pre-trial motion,” he said.

Under the Japanese system, the prosecutors are not required to disclose all the evidence at their disposal. Japanese law requires that prosecutors must disclose anything related to any evidence related to the specific filings they make.

They must also disclose any evidence that is related to the filings that are made by the defense counsel. However, there is no requirement for them to disclose evidence from other parts.

Ghosn was arrested at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport on Nov. 19, 2018, on multiple charges related to his stewardship of the two companies.

The cases involved not only Nissan-Renault and Japan’s Mitsubishi Motors (part of the Franco-Japanese alliance), but also the Japanese and French governments along with various key players from Asia and the Middle East.

Nissan was on the brink of bankruptcy in March 1999, with about 2 trillion yen ($17.6 billion) in interest-bearing debt.

This is when it entered a capital partnership with major French automaker Renault SA. Ghosn has been credited for turning the company around dramatically since then.

However, fears that the high-profile CEO and chairman was planning to merge Nissan into a much larger multinational motor alliance appeared to have fueled speculation regarding the future of the company.

It was reportedly argued within Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government that the automaker would no longer be recognizably Japanese.

The case has larger ramifications and the two governments have routinely become involved in discussions related to its future.

According to news reports, when Macron and Abe met in Buenos Aires, the French president asked that the Franco-Japanese alliance be maintained.

On being asked by Arab News Japan about reports of a prosecution team visiting Saudi Arabia and Oman, Hironaka confirmed that the visit indeed took place after Ghosn’s arrest.

“However, we have not been given any access to any information that they may or may not have gathered there,” he said.