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.


Spike in tensions but no oil market shock, says IEA

Updated 17 January 2020

Spike in tensions but no oil market shock, says IEA

  • Strategic reserves play key role in minimizing disruption to global supply amid US-Iran face-off, agency says

PARIS: The brief spike in Middle East tensions as the US and Iran faced off has served as a reminder of the havoc disruptions in supply from the key oil-producing region could wreak on the global economy, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Thursday.

But it said ample stocks and production elsewhere mean the world is relatively well placed to react to a crisis.

Washington and Tehran are currently in a standoff after tit-for-tat military actions over the past two weeks that had sparked fears of a large-scale confrontation that could choke off the Strait of Hormuz through which 20 percent of global oil supplies flow.

“We cannot know how the geopolitical situation will play out over time, but for now the risk of a major threat to oil supplies appears to have receded,” the IEA said in its latest monthly report on oil markets.

It noted that oil prices have receded after jumping $4 per barrel, much as they did in September when a series of attacks on Saudi oil facilities briefly knocked out part of the production of the key exporter.

“Today’s market where non-OPEC production is rising strongly and OECD stocks are 9 million barrels above the five-year average, provides a solid base from which to react to any escalation in geopolitical tension,” said the Paris-based organisation, which advises industrial nations that are members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development on energy policy.

“As a back-up resource, the value of strategic stocks has once again been confirmed.”

The IEA was created in the wake of the 1973 oil shock provoked by an embargo imposed by OPEC and IEA members now hold reserves worth three months of net imports.

The oil market has been driven in recent years by a surge of non-OPEC production that has outstripped demand, with OPEC and its allies moving to restrain production to support prices.

The IEA’s forecasts see faster growth in demand for oil this year thanks to expectations that global growth will pick up as trade tensions diminish.

However, the 2.1 million barrels per day (mbd) growth in non-OPEC supplies will far outpace the increased demand of 1.2 mbd, putting further pressure on OPEC and its allies to further cut production.

During 2019, falls in OPEC production nearly completely offset a rise in production from countries outside the group.