Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala buys En+ stake from billionaire Oleg Deripaska’s ex-wife

Deripaska's ex-wife now holds 2.58 percent of EN+. (file/AP)
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Updated 24 June 2021

Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala buys En+ stake from billionaire Oleg Deripaska’s ex-wife

  • Mubadala said to have paid $200 million for En+ stake
  • Abu Dhabi fund now owns 2.86 percent of power and aluminum company

RIYADH: The Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska’s ex-wife sold a 2.6 percent stake in the power and aluminum company En+ Group International to Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Co.

Mubadala is paying about $200 million for the stake in the company founded by Polina Yumasheva’s former husband, Bloomberg reported citing unidentified people familiar with the matter.

The acquisition increases Mubadala’s stake in En+ to 2.86 percent on a fully diluted basis, the fund said in a statement. Yumasheva’s stake in EN+ will decline to 2.58 percent after the sale, according to a separate statement on Wednesday.

“EN+ has made significant progress in recent years, and is well positioned to generate sustainable value for stakeholders,” said Faris Sohail Al Mazrui, head of Mubadala’s Russia & CIS investment program.

This deal is among the biggest in Russia for Mubadala, which has $243 billion of assets under management. It has about $2 billion in joint investments with the Kremlin-run Russian Direct Investment Fund.


CEOs, investors and policymakers to debate how to ‘invest in humanity’ at FII conference in Riyadh

Updated 26 October 2021

CEOs, investors and policymakers to debate how to ‘invest in humanity’ at FII conference in Riyadh

  • Future Investment Initiative summit to identify avenues for contributing in a way that creates both value and impact
  • Annual event provides platform for global leaders, investors and innovators to explore solutions to society’s challenges

RIYADH: At the first Future Investment Initiative (FII) forum in Riyadh in 2017, one of the attending billionaire entrepreneurs urged Saudi Arabia, then just embarking on the Vision 2030 strategy of transformation, to follow the example of Nike and “just do it.”

On Tuesday, at the start of the fifth FII, the Kingdom, and the FII itself, have certainly gone for “it” in a big way.

Despite the challenges of the pandemic and other global issues, in the past five years there has been a big change in the Saudi economic scene, with the pace of the Vision transformation accelerating as social, cultural and economic measures take effect in the Kingdom.

The FII itself has also undergone a transformation, becoming a permanent institute and a fixture on the international forum scene, though still under the auspices of the Public Investment Fund (PIF), Saudi Arabia’s multi-billion-dollar sovereign wealth fund.

At the first FII, as billionaires, entrepreneurs and senior policymakers from around the world made their way to the Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh, and the adjoining King Abdulaziz Conference Center, some smart commentator with an eye for a catch-phrase came up with “Davos in the Desert” to describe the scene.

Despite the annoyance of the World Economic Forum, which organizes the extravaganza in the Swiss mountains, the phrase stuck, and FII has increasingly taken on the trappings of the annual Alpine gathering.

Among the nearly 4,000 attendees were such luminaries as then-IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and Larry Fink, chief executive of giant investment group BlackRock, who remains a regular at FII — all inquisitive to learn details of the Vision 2030 strategy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had unveiled the previous year.

The crown prince set the tone for the event, and for subsequent years, with a keynote speech that unveiled the central message of what life would be like in the Saudi Arabia of the Vision 2030 era.

He promised a “return to moderate Islam that is open to all religions,” and to eradicate promoters of extremist thoughts, adding: “We are returning to what we were before — a country of moderate Islam that is open to all religions and to the world.”

The show-stealer of that first forum was Masayoshi Son, the chairman and CEO of Japan’s SoftBank. Earlier in the year, Son had unveiled the Vision Fund, the biggest start-up investment enterprise in the world, with a budget of $100 billion — including $45 billion from the PIF — to invest in cutting-edge technology that would transform the world.

Sharing a stage with Sophia the Android, the first robot to be “awarded” Saudi citizenship in a light-hearted ceremony, Son told the audience: “Every industry will be redefined. These computers, they will learn, they will read, they will see by themselves. That’s a scary future but anyway that’s coming,” he said.

The first FII was also notable for two other landmark announcements which have left an enduring mark on the Saudi economy and the global investment scene.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman unveiled the master concept of NEOM, the $500 billion city-of-the-future to be built in the northwest of the Kingdom, which has since become the flagship project of the Vision 2030 strategy.

Carbon neutral and sustainable, the new metropolis would be served by an army of robots and driven by state-of-the-art digital technologies and artificial intelligence.

It would also create a new urban hub for innovation and enterprise in an under-populated part of Saudi Arabia. Other mega-projects followed, like the Red Sea development, the Qiddiya resort complex, the AlUla desert oasis with its historic cultural roots, and the Diriyah Gate development on the outskirts of Riyadh.

The second big announcement of that first FII was the unveiling of a financial road map for the PIF, aiming to make it the biggest sovereign wealth fund, with a target of $2 trillion assets under management by 2030.

The PIF was to be the main vehicle for the implementation of the Vision 2030 transformation, and also raise significantly the Kingdom’s profile in the international financial community.

The second FII forum, in October 2018, was overshadowed to some degree by the tragic murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul earlier in the month, which led some top-level executives and media organizations to stay away, but for which regrets and condemnation were expressed by the crown prince from the stage at the opening keynote.

It was difficult for a visitor to see much difference. The attendance figures were as good as the inaugural launch; while some familiar faces were missing from the big set-piece plenary sessions, an army of more junior executives from many of the big banks, financial institutions and other global investors were happily doing deals at the event.

Some $60 billion in deals and Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) were signed in 2018, across a range of sectors including energy, housing, health and technology.

The 2018 event attracted eight heads of state, 20 international ministers and was watched by 2.8 million viewers worldwide.

By 2019, when Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the PIF governor, declared the FII to be “one of the top three gatherings in the world,” it was business as usual, with an even bigger turnout of around 6,000 at the event and millions more tuning in worldwide from more than 110 countries.

Like most international events of last year, FII 2020 was impacted by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which prevented it from being held in its customary October slot.

Instead, the fourth FII was held virtually in January this year, organized from Riyadh with the help of satellite hubs in New York, Paris, Beijing and Mumbai.

The theme was “The Neo Renaissance,” referring to the rebirth of global economic life after the shock of the pandemic the previous year. The event also developed what was to be an enduring theme, and a prominent element of the fifth event starting today in Riyadh: The importance of ESG — environmental, social and governance — standards in global finance.

In the five years since the first “Davos in the Desert,” much has changed. The FII itself is now a non-profit organization run by the PIF under Chief Executive Richard Attias, who is a prominent figure at the annual events.

Its one-item agenda consists of “Impact on humanity.” Meanwhile, the Saudi economy has developed and progressed with the FII.

It has emerged from the shock of the pandemic last year, and, in particular, Saudi Arabia has helped steer global energy markets through their most severe crisis for many years through its leadership, along with Russia, of the OPEC+ organization.

All the economic indicators in the Kingdom are heading in the right direction, with GDP this year forecast to show a strong recovery from the doldrums of the pandemic recession.

Higher oil prices will make a big contribution to stronger government revenues, which can also be used to finance the ongoing Vision 2030. Non-oil growth is also expected to rise sharply.

Despite the challenges of the past two years, the FII has become an integral part of the global investment scene and the international forums circuit.

The FII has “just done it,” and will do it again in Riyadh starting on Tuesday.

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US body seeks to explore more ‘green’ opportunities in KSA

Updated 25 October 2021

US body seeks to explore more ‘green’ opportunities in KSA

  • US Green Building Council plans collaboration with Saudi institutions to reduce carbon emissions

JEDDAH: The US Green Building Council plans to support the Saudi Green Initiative in terms of its goals in reduction of carbon emission, global warming, and carbon footprint, and achieving carbon neutrality by 2060. 

The USGBC certifies projects in Saudi Arabia under the LEED operating system (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), an internationally recognized certification system that certifies buildings that achieve innovation in sustainability and energy efficiency, water efficiency and better indoor environment quality and better quality of life.

The system also recognizes best-in-class buildings, cities and communities “to reduce carbon emissions through the built environment, which contributes to climate change especially in carbon emissions by almost 40 percent,” Mohammed Al-Surf, regional manager of the USGBC in the Kingdom, told Arab News.

FASTFACTS

• The USGBC certifies projects in Saudi Arabia under the LEED operating system.

• The system also recognizes best-in-class buildings, cities and communities to reduce carbon emissions.

• The council is also looking toward collaborating with different institutions such as financial institutions to establish green bonds.

“Our goal is to collaborate with the SGI through different platforms and different projects like the giga-projects to help minimize their emissions and mitigate climate change,” he added.

He said the council is also looking toward collaborating with different institutions such as financial institutions to establish green bonds and green loans to stimulate the economy as well. “These green projects will have investors investing in these projects to make the environment more sustainable,” he said.

The council’s collaboration with the SGI is on a project scale; individual projects, city projects or community plan phases, as well as in terms of education and awareness and capacity-building, he said.

“We’re going to see reports from different projects on how they have achieved the objectives of the SGI through LEED certification which is the main aim of the collaboration with the USGBC,” he added.

The council has certified over 1,500 projects in the Kingdom, including well-known ones such as King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Airport in Madinah, Princess Noura University campus, King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center, Ithra museum and the masterplan for the Red Sea Development project.


Saudi Arabia prioritizes tourism sector net zero target

Updated 25 October 2021

Saudi Arabia prioritizes tourism sector net zero target

  • With the global travel and tourism sector responsible for 8 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions, Saudi Arabia is giving priority to achieving net-zero emissions in the sector

RIYADH: The Sustainable Tourism Global Center launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the Saudi Green Initiative Forum on Saturday aims to modernize the sector with a focus on preserving nature and fighting climate change.

With the global travel and tourism sector responsible for 8 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions, Saudi Arabia is giving priority to achieving net-zero emissions in the sector.

Referring to the global emissions at the SGI event, Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb said: “This is expected to grow if we do not act now.”  

“Tourism is also a highly fragmented sector. Eighty percent of the tourism businesses are small and medium-sized enterprises that rely on guidance and support from sector leadership. The sector must be part of the solution,” he said.

Sustainable Tourism Global CenterThe center will support travelers, governments, and the private sector to ensure that tourism enables growth and creates jobs, while playing its part to achieve the climate goals laid out in the Paris Agreement, including contributing to keeping the global temperature rise to under 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The facility aims to be the “north star” for the tourism sector as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic and transitions toward a sustainable future.

Globally, tourism supports more than 330 million livelihoods – and pre-pandemic, it was responsible for creating one in four new jobs globally.

Al-Khateeb said: “Saudi Arabia, following the vision of the Crown Prince, is answering this vital call by working with partners to create a multi-country, multi-stakeholder coalition, that will lead, accelerate, and track the tourism industry’s transition to net-zero emissions.”

Details of the center and its functions will be  unveiled at the COP26 in Glasgow.

Gloria Guevara, the chief special adviser to the tourism minister, said: “For years and years, multiple players across the tourism sector have been working on different initiatives to accelerate the race to zero (emissions) — but we have been working in silos. The impact of the global pandemic on the tourism sector highlighted the vital importance of multi-country, multi-stakeholder collaboration. And now, Saudi Arabia is stepping up to bring stakeholders together to make tourism part of the solution to climate change.”


Saudi startup joins in national efforts promote green building

Updated 25 October 2021

Saudi startup joins in national efforts promote green building

  • Large number of people in the Kingdom are moving toward sustainable solutions

LONDON: As global leaders converge at the Middle East Green Initiative Summit on Oct. 25, the focus will be on new ideas and proposals to replace the wasteful and polluting ways in favor of environmentally-friendly methods. 

Meanwhile, there are set to be profound changes at the grass-roots level, in terms of sustainable living environments. A number of “green” startups have emerged in the Kingdom in recent years, offering products and services that aim to reduce carbon emissions while improving the quality of life for ordinary citizens.

One such company is Riyadh-based EIA Energy. Founded in 2020 with support from Monsha’at, the General Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises, EIA Energy is a 12-employee firm with a turnover of SR1.2 million and projected growth up to SR7.5 million by Q4 2022.

“EIA Energy was founded as an energy services company (ESCO) and has developed into a provider of end-to-end energy management services and solutions to reduce energy consumption and increase energy efficiency in client facilities,” CEO Abdullah Al-Othman told Arab News. 

As a certified ESCO, EIA Energy provides three kinds of service: First, energy consulting and energy monitoring in order to reduce costs; second is the obtaining of “green certification” for facility owners and managers; and third is guidance regarding green building techniques in terms of architecture, efficient water use, landscaping and eco-friendly transport solutions. 

EIA Energy describes its energy efficiency strategy as the “SMARRT Approach” – an acronym for Surveying, Monitoring, Analyzing, Reducing, Reviewing and Targeting.  

There will be a growing demand for this kind of consultancy in Saudi Arabia as builders and developers conform to new green regulations while satisfying the demand of modern families for a healthier and better way of life. 

“This is a good time for ESCOs right now,” says Al-Othman, “because we’re catching the beginning of the whole transformation that’s taking place, the cultural shift. There are a lot of government initiatives – Vision 2030, SGI, Green Riyadh — which stimulate the entire market and create a lot of opportunities.”

In the 1960s and 70s Riyadh and other cities in the Kingdom became the so-called “supergrids” of intersecting highways, filled in with buildings and concrete surfacing with only a small allowance for green spaces. Concrete absorbs and radiates heat in the summer months, while preventing ground absorption of rainwater during the winter — causing severe and sometimes fatal flooding. 

“We say no to concrete,” says EIA Energy GM Hamza Khan. “We prefer gravel because there has to be porous ground that allows rainwater to go back into the earth and replenish the groundwater sources.”

Builders, developers and facility operators have no choice but to move from words to action. “We are getting a lot of inquiries from apartment and compound owners, supermarkets, retail outlets and restaurants,” says Khan. “They all want to reduce their costs and their emissions – to offer something more sustainable and to stand apart from the competition.” 

Much of EIA Energy’s efforts are dedicated to enabling LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification from the US Green Building Council. This certification promotes a higher quality of life for building occupants in terms of energy and water efficiency and improvement of the living environment. It follows the principle of the triple bottom line of the 3Ps: People, planet and profit. This certification can be applied to any built-up area: residential facilities, office buildings, educational institutions and hospitals.

EIA Energy relies on hardware and software supplied by its UK partner Best Energy. “But it is clear that the technologies we bring to Saudi Arabia should be manufactured or at least assembled here,” says Al-Othman. “And that would solve a major issue that we are facing now with the destruction of the global supply chain due to COVID-19 and other factors.” The company also has ambitions to develop its own proprietary solutions as it grows and expands. 

“Saudi Arabia is going green and is moving towards energy efficiency and reducing its carbon emissions,” says Al-Othman. “Green tech startups and ESCOs have a major part in this. We are benefiting from new government initiatives, and we just want to keep improving and introducing more services — in line with Vision 2030, which says that SMEs should play a key role in the future Saudi economy.”

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MGI: Charting a regional road map for sustainable living

Updated 25 October 2021

MGI: Charting a regional road map for sustainable living

  • Saudi initiatives demonstrate Kingdom’s willingness to address environmental challenges

JEDDAH: The final event of the Saudi Green Initiative, the Middle East Green Initiative, is taking place today to create a sustainable road map for the region and highlight green transition, green policy solutions, the finance sector’s contribution to the goals of the SGI as well as insight from an international perspective.

It will be attended by several heads of state, with key speakers including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, UN Deputy Secretary Amina Mohammed,  BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, HSBC Group Chief Executive Noel Quinn, and André Esteves, senior partner, BTG Pactual, Brazil.

Earlier this year, the crown prince highlighted that the Saudi and the Middle East green initiatives are a continuation of the environmental efforts in the Kingdom over the past few years in line with Saudi Vision 2030.

The two initiatives demonstrate the Kingdom’s strong willingness to address the environmental challenges it has faced, from increase in temperatures and dust waves to low levels of rain and desertification.

The SGI and MGI are also aiming to collectively plant 50 billion trees as well as propel the Middle East region toward achieving more than 10 percent of global carbon emissions reduction targets.

The SGI aims to reach net zero emissions of greenhouse gases, mostly produced by burning fossil fuels, by 2060.

Saudi Arabia said the transition to net zero carbon emissions “will be delivered in a manner that preserves the Kingdom’s leading role in enhancing the security and stability of global energy markets.”

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Announcing a plan to reach “net zero” in carbon by 2060, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Saturday said the move was in line with the Kingdom’s development plans, “while preserving and reinforcing its leading role in the security and stability of global energy markets.”

The Kingdom has pledged to double the amount of carbon it will cut in its domestic economy, removing 278 million tons of the pollutant per year by 2030.

“As a region, we have always had to live with harsh climate conditions and we will have to continue to innovate in both mitigation and adaptation,” said Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al-Jaber, at a forum on COP26 in Riyadh.

“The UAE highly commends the leadership and the people of Saudi Arabia, particularly the youth, for such a landmark, bold and long-term strategic initiative. It represents a paradigm shift in ambition for this region,” the minister said.

The SGI aims to raise vegetation cover, reduce carbon emissions, combat pollution and land degradation, and preserve marine ecosystems.

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