Dubai's MAF explores partial credit card business sale in review

Majid Al Futtaim operates the Middle East franchise of French retailer Carrefour. (AFP)
Updated 10 October 2019

Dubai's MAF explores partial credit card business sale in review

  • MAF hired US investment bank Moelis & Co at the start of the summer to advise and manage the partial sale of its Najm credit cards, said the sources
  • The company said it continues to explore and evaluate opportunities that support the sustainable growth of its business

DUBAI: Dubai's Majid Al Futtaim, which operates the Middle East franchise of French retailer Carrefour, is exploring options for its credit card business including enlisting partners to manage unsecured credit risk, two banking sources told Reuters.
The economy in Dubai is suffering from sluggish growth due to a real estate downturn and slowing global trade, hitting white-collar jobs and consumer spending.
MAF, a holding company which also owns and operates shopping centres in the Middle East and North Africa, hired US investment bank Moelis & Co at the start of the summer to advise and manage the partial sale of its Najm credit cards, said the sources, who declined to be named.
Should a transaction follow, MAF would hold on to the data portion of the card business and its loyalty programme, while the banks would acquire the loan portfolio, the sources said.
MAF said it continues to explore and evaluate opportunities that support the sustainable growth of its business.
"We are evolving our consumer finance business, Najm, to ensure that it meets the changing needs of its customers and the growing demand for its products," it said in a statement.
"We believe that consumer finance has a strong runway for growth and fully intend to leverage this for the benefit of our customers and partners," it added.
US lender Citigroup, and UAE lenders Mashreq Bank and First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) have been shortlisted as bidders for the business, which is valued between $200 million and $250 million, one of the sources said.
Citi and Moelis declined to comment, while FAB and Mashreqbank were not immediately available to comment on Thursday.
The move would help MAF bring in a partner that is expert in managing credit risk, while the retail conglomerate can continue to hold onto loyalty and customer data, two sources said.
The deal could also help potentially outsource some of the IT and back office work, one of the sources said.


Saudi business chiefs back 2020 budget

Updated 11 December 2019

Saudi business chiefs back 2020 budget

  • 2020 spending plan hailed as a positive driver in boosting country’s economy

RIYADH: Saudi businesses have welcomed spending plans of SR1.02 trillion ($272 billion) next year, announced by King Salman.

The Council of Saudi Chambers praised the efforts of the monarch, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and others in reaching an agreement on the 2020 budget.

The government has predicted revenues of SR833 billion and a deficit of SR187 billion for next year, considered an indicator of the success of the Kingdom’s economic policies amid a bleak global economic backdrop.

Chairman of the Council of Saudi Chambers Dr. Sami Abdullah Al-Abaidi said that the Saudi business sector was optimistic about the new spending plans.

“These figures reflect the effective impact of the economic reform measures, the economy’s restructuring and diversification of sources of income,” he added.

Al-Abaidi praised the king and the crown prince for supporting the Saudi economy through numerous projects and initiatives aimed at boosting the business sector.

He said the most notable were business performance improvement initiatives, privatization, private-sector stimulation and local promotion programs.

“This has paved the way for the Kingdom to get the best international classifications, including its first world ranking in business environment reforms, which made it a hub for investments,” Al-Abaidi added.

The business chief reiterated King Salman’s determination to continue implementing reforms, diversifying sources of income, making optimal use of resources, empowering the private sector, and improving transparency and efficiency in government spending to boost growth rates.

“These trends are one of the most important requirements for achieving the Kingdom’s Vision 2030,” he said.

The council’s vice chairman, Muneer bin Saad, said the budget for the new year focused on investing in the human element and sectors that directly affected the lives of citizens, including the development of services.

Saad added the monarch had directed to extend the disbursement of the cost of living allowance until the end of 2020.

Council member Abdullah Al-Odaim said the budget met the expectations of Saudi citizens, and strengthened the confidence of international investors, as figures showed the determination of the state to move forward in its policies to raise the efficiency of government spending.

They also showed increases in non-oil revenues, projected to grow more in light of the improvement of economic activity.

The delegated secretary-general of the Council of Saudi Chambers, Hussain Al-Abdulqader, said the Saudi business sector welcomed the budget which through
its projects and programs would help improve investment opportunities as well as the Saudi economy, ultimately strengthening the Kingdom’s global economic standing.