Baidu’s $1bn green bond draws strong demand despite China crackdown

Men interact with a Baidu AI robot near the company logo at its headquarters in Beijing, China April 23, 2021. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 19 August 2021

Baidu’s $1bn green bond draws strong demand despite China crackdown

  • It was the first major debt fundraising by a Chinese tech firm since the latest onslaught of regulatory actions that began in July

HONG KONG: Baidu Inc. has raised $1 billion in a two-tranche US dollar sustainability bond, negotiating better-than-expected terms amid strong demand and despite concerns about China’s regulatory clampdown on the tech sector.
It was the first major debt fundraising by a Chinese tech firm since the latest onslaught of regulatory actions that began in July, and its success should give other issuers confidence there is still significant global investor interest in Chinese deals, bankers said.
Its 5.5-year tranche bond raised $300 million and the 10-year tranche secured $700 million, a company statement said.
Baidu’s dominance of China’s search market underpinned demand and the final price was significantly cheaper than when first flagged to investors on Wednesday. Demand from investors reached more than $5 billion, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the matter.
“It has been a very noisy environment in the tech sector. But Baidu was able to overcome that and the volatility in the market has been more pronounced in equities than it has been in the credit market,” said one of the sources who declined to be identified discussing private information.
Baidu, which plans to use the proceeds to pay down debt and fund ESG-related projects, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The shorter dated bond was priced at US Treasuries plus 83 basis points versus initial guidance of plus 115 basis points, while the longer dated issuance was priced at US Treasuries plus 113 basis points versus initial guidance of plus 150 basis points.
In its prospectus for the deal, Baidu noted it was unclear whether new Chinese rules requiring companies that plan to list overseas undergo a review by the Cyberspace Administration of China had similar implications for companies already listed abroad that intend to conduct further equity or debt offerings.
“We cannot predict the impact of the draft measures,” it said.
Chinese companies have raised $121.2 billion in US dollar debt funding so far in 2021, according to Dealogic data, slightly below the $126.6 billion raised during the same period last year.
Chinese authorities have upended their previously laissez-faire approach to the tech sector, launching a slew of antitrust probes, imposing fines and introducing new regulations. New rules were published this week aimed at tackling anti-competitive behavior and companies’ handling of data.

Technology revolution to transform 70% of global business practices, minister says

Updated 6 sec ago

Technology revolution to transform 70% of global business practices, minister says

RIYADH: Global estimates suggest that technology adoptions and expansion are set to transform 70 percent of business practices globally, according to a top official.

Speaking during the opening of the Human Capability Initiative held in Riyadh, Saudi Minister of Education Yousef bin Abdullah Al-Benyan highlighted that global estimates indicate a potential disruption of 40 percent of workers’ skills within the next four to five years thanks to these changes.

“During the next two days, over 250 global leaders and experts will join us to share their knowledge and insight on how to unleash potential for humankind capability and catalyzing international corporations to maximize resilience in times of uncertainty,” Al-Benyan said.

He added: “Technology adoptions and expansion are set to transform 70 percent of business practices globally. As economists continue to navigate these dynamic labor market landscape, it is more critical than ever to work inclusively to promote positive human capability outcomes.”

UAE economy to grow by 5% in 2024, minister reiterates 

Updated 34 min 16 sec ago

UAE economy to grow by 5% in 2024, minister reiterates 

RIYADH: The UAE’s economy is projected to grow by 5 percent in 2024, a leading member of the government has reiterated.

In an interview with Emirates News Agency, also known as WAM, Minister of the Economy Abdulla bin Touq Al-Marri said that more than 73 percent of the national economy is now non-oil, a historic first for the country.

His projection is in line with recent assessments by the Ministry of Finance and S&P Global, which forecast growth of 5.7 percent and 5 percent respectively.

“This achievement reflects the confidence of the private sector and investors around the world in the UAE’s investment environment,” Al-Marri said. 

The minister added that the private sector is a key pillar in the new economic and investment landscape and is at the heart of global changes and challenges. 

“And in implementation of the directives of the wise leadership, the UAE has identified the most sustainable and flexible economic sectors, which have reached more than 16 sectors, including health technology, agriculture, education, financial services, artificial intelligence, and other sectors that contribute to the sustainability of economic sectors and enhance the strength of the national economy,” Al-Marri highlighted.

More opportunities for women awaiting in the petrochemical industry: SABIC official

Updated 55 min 24 sec ago

More opportunities for women awaiting in the petrochemical industry: SABIC official

RIYADH: Saudi women should explore more opportunities in the petrochemical industry, as only 25 percent of the sector’s workforce are female, said a top official. 

Speaking at the Human Capability Initiative in Riyadh on Feb. 28, Faisal Al-Suwailem, executive vice president of corporate human resources at Saudi Basic Industries Corp., said that the industrial sector in the Kingdom has been witnessing a sharp rise in female employment over the past three years. 

“If we take a look at the petrochemical industry, in the last 20 years, I have seen a great increase in the participation of females in the petrochemical industry. However, if you look at the number of women in the petrochemical industry, it is still about 25 percent. So, I believe we still have room to grow,” said Al-Suwailem. 

He added: “In the industrial sector, the hiring of females has increased 93 percent over the last three years. We have right now over 63,000 females working in plants around the Kingdom.” 

Al-Suwailem further pointed out that Saudi Arabia has surpassed the female workforce target outlined in the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. 

“Let us first look at Vision 2030, and under the thriving economy for female participation in the labor market, the baseline target was set at 22.8 percent, and now we are at 34.5 percent,” said Al-Suwailem. 

He added that SABIC stands out as one of the companies offering structured training programs aimed at nurturing and enhancing the skills of young individuals.

Al-Suwailem also underscored that SABIC offers scholarship programs that provide equal opportunities for both men and women. 

“SABIC is a national champion for sure in petrochemicals, but it also has a proven record of being a national champion for development, job creation, learning and contribution to the gross domestic product,” said Al-Suwailem. 

He added: “SABIC’s scholarship program, which is meant for Saudi bright young talents, is right now equally split between men and women.” 

For her part, during the same panel discussion, Cabinet Secretary and Minister of Labor and Social Protection of Kenya Florence Bore said that the country is preparing its youth to adapt themselves to procure jobs in the international market. 

“Our focus currently is on labor migration, and even as you focus on labor migration, it is one of the areas where we get foreign remittances,” said Bore. 

She added: “Kenya has been undergoing lots of changes in the workplace. We have both the informal and formal jobs. The informal sector is really growing at a faster rate than the formal jobs. And because of that, you will find most of our Kenyans are now venturing out for jobs in the international market.”

Saudi Arabia’s tourism fund signs agreement with New Murabba  

Updated 28 February 2024

Saudi Arabia’s tourism fund signs agreement with New Murabba  

RIYADH: Financing and investment opportunities are set to rise in Saudi Arabia’s new downtown project, with the Tourism Development Fund signing an agreement with New Murabba Development Co.   

This memorandum of understanding aims to foster cooperation and contribute to the Kingdom’s social and economic growth by developing New Murabba, situated northwest of Riyadh.  

According to the agreement, the fund will explore direct financing or investment opportunities in the project through its partners, investors, or contractors, aligning with its policies and procedures, the Saudi Press Agency reported. 

The MoU was signed by Qusai Al-Fakhri, CEO of TDF, and Michael Dyke, CEO of New Murabba Development Co., a subsidiary of the Public Investment Fund. 

The collaboration will also include workshops to discuss potential cooperation opportunities, while New Murabba Development Co. will be responsible for qualifying the project’s infrastructure and foundation.  

Al-Fakhri emphasized the deal's significance in achieving the goals of Saudi Vision 2030, noting that New Murabba aims to provide an exceptional lifestyle, work, and entertainment experience.  

The MoU is an extension of several memoranda and cooperation agreements the fund has signed with the private sector, emphasizing the importance of collaborative work to achieve shared goals.   

Al-Fakhri noted that these agreements would support the TDF’s efforts to promote the tourism sector’s growth and diversity, attracting domestic and foreign investments to make tourist destinations a modern lifestyle model that attracts tourists and offers quality experiences.  

Dyke said that the deal aims to develop a modern downtown in line with Saudi Vision 2030’s goals noting that New Murabba’s design focuses on sustainability standards and life quality improvement, including green spaces, walking paths, and promoting health and sports concepts.   

He added that the project also aims to offer a unique living, working, and entertainment experience within a 15-minute walking radius, along with internal transportation means.  

Established in 2022 by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, New Murabba Development Co. plays a crucial role in realizing Saudi Vision 2030. It focuses on developing a modern downtown centered around the iconic Cube building, redefining Riyadh’s cityscape. 

This initiative is designed to be a cultural symbol for Riyadh, featuring hotel and residential units, office spaces, and entertainment facilities, all incorporating the latest digital technologies. 

Central Bank of Jordan introduces new Shariah-compliant monetary policy tools 

Updated 28 February 2024

Central Bank of Jordan introduces new Shariah-compliant monetary policy tools 

RIYADH: Liquidity management in Jordan’s cash market is set to undergo a significant transformation as the country’s central bank introduces new tools for monetary policy. 

Aligned with Shariah laws, the Central Bank of Jordan has introduced these instruments in collaboration with Islamic banks operating within the country. The goal is to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of liquidity management in the cash market, the Jordan News Agency reported. 

These new measures will not only assist Islamic banks in achieving more flexible liquidity management but also contribute to the establishment of an effective interbank market among them. 

Under the framework of these tools, the central bank will be able to provide Islamic banks with daytime liquidity, overnight liquidity, and liquidity extending up to one week.

This will be done based on the banks’ requests or at the apex bank’s initiative, allowing flexibility in terms of timing, amount, and duration. The Central Bank of Jordan will determine these parameters to align with its operational objectives in implementing monetary policy.  

This move by the central bank comes as part of its efforts to develop the operational framework of monetary policy and diversify the tools at its disposal. The decision is in line with the best practices of central banks and addresses the specific needs of the local cash and banking market, as reported by PETRA. 

In a related development, earlier in January, 16 Jordanian banks jointly launched the first private sector investment fund, committing $388 million to foster the growth of local businesses. 

The Jordan Capital and Investment Fund, established in 2021 with a capital commitment of 275 million dinars ($387.6 million), was officially registered under the 2022 Investment Environment Law, the state news agency reported. 

The instrument aims to inject money into emerging firms with growth, development, and expansion prospects, providing financing to enhance job opportunities and propel nationwide growth, as stated in an official statement reported by the Jordan News Agency. 

As the country’s first and largest private sector investment fund, it is designed to allocate funds to vital and promising sectors, such as food and health security, manufacturing, and information and communication technology. The objective is to harness Jordan’s potential in building the future, it added. 

At that time, Hani Al-Qadi, the chairman of the Jordan Capital and Investment Fund, had said the fund is crucial for achieving “accelerated growth” by fully leveraging Jordan’s economic potential.