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Financial Results For The Three Months Ended 31 March 2017

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QNB Group, the largest financial institution in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, announced its results for the three months ended 31 March 2017.

For the three months ended 31 March 2017, Net Profit reached QAR3.2 billion (USD0.9 billion), up by 12% compared to previous year, delivering a consistently high profitability.

Total assets increased by 35% from March 2016 to reach QAR743 billion (USD204 billion). This was driven by a growth rate of 33% in loans and advances to reach QAR536 billion (USD147 billion). QNB Group was successful in attracting new customer deposits to comply with the cap on loans to deposit ratio of 100% set by QCB, which is effective from the end of 2017. These deposit mobilisation efforts resulted in increased customer funding by 34% to reach QAR541 billion (USD149 billion) from March 2016. This led to the Group’s loan to deposit ratio reaching 99%.

The Group’s prudent cost control policy and strong revenue generating capability allowed it to maintain an efficiency ratio (cost to income ratio) of 28.9%, which is considered one of the best ratios among financial institutions in the region.

QNB Group was able to maintain the ratio of non-performing loans to gross loans at 1.8% and coverage ratio at 114% as at 31 March 2017, a level considered one of the best amongst financial institutions in the MEA region, reflecting the high quality of the Group’s loan book and the effective management of credit risk.

Total Equity increased by 17% from March 2016 to reach QAR71 billion (USD20 billion) as at 31 March 2017. Earnings per Share reached QAR3.5 (USD 1.0), compared to QAR3.1 (USD 0.9) in March 2016.

Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) calculated as per the QCB and Basel III requirements stood at 15.7% as at 31 March 2017, higher than the regulatory minimum requirements of the Qatar Central Bank and Basel Committee. The Group is keen to maintain a strong capitalisation in order to support future strategic plans.

In March 2017, QNB launched its operations in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. This branch is a significant milestone in QNB Group’s strategy of international expansion.

Based on the Group’s continuous stellar performance and its diversified international presence, QNB is now the most valuable banking brand in the MEA region, with  the value of its brand increased to USD3.8 billion to rise to the 60th place globally, in addition to attaining the highest rating of AA+ in brand strength.

QNB Group is present, through its subsidiaries and associate companies, in more than 30 countries and 3 continents providing a comprehensive range of products and services. The total number of staff for the Group is more than 28,000 operating from 1,250 locations and 4,300 ATMs serving more than 21 million customers.

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DAE Reports Full Year 2016 Financial Results Revenue and Net Income from Continuing Operations at record levels

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Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) Ltd. reported financial results for full year 2016.

  • Total Revenue: US$417.8 million (AED 1,534 million) for full year 2016, an increase of 22% from US$341.7 million (AED 1,255 million) for full year 2015.
  • Net Income from Continuing Operations: US$124.9 million (AED 459 million) for full year 2016, an increase of 323% from US$29.5 million (AED 108 million) for full year 2015.
  • Total Net Income: US$199.0 million (AED 731 million) for full year 2016, a decrease of 67% from US$610.4 million (AED 2,241 million) for full year 2015. (2015 results included a gain on the sale of StandardAero.)

Results for 2015 included amounts reclassified from continuing operations to discontinued operations for the impact of the FALCON 2017-1 ABS transaction.

DAE Managing Director Khalifa H. AlDaboos said: “DAE continued its journey to becoming an established industry player with many significant achievements in 2016. There is a sizeable opportunity to expand within the aerospace sector in the UAE and the Middle East. DAE’s growth ambitions will focus on expanding its presence broadly in the sector and in the region.”

DAE Chief Executive Officer Firoz Tarapore said: “Our accomplishments in 2016 underscore our single-minded focus on building DAE as a trusted provider of aircraft leasing and engineering solutions to our clients on a global basis.

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UPC Partners with Real Estate Developers to Launch Year of Giving 2017 Initiative

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  • New community areas to be built throughout Abu Dhabi under the UPC’s ‘CSR Year of Giving Initiative’.

The Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC) has unveiled a major community initiative for the Year of Giving 2017 in partnership with ten of the UAE’s leading property businesses.

The ‘CSR Year of Giving Initiative’ will see the UPC work with real estate developers to establish new community amenities such as mosques, parks, playgrounds and sports facilities throughout the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

The UPC led a workshop on Monday (April 10) to activate the private sector’s role in contributing to Abu Dhabi’s urban development and supporting the objectives of the ‘CSR Year of Giving Initiative’.

The seminar at the Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi on Al Maryah Island was attended by executives from Aldar Properties, Manazel Real Estate, Tamouh, TDIC, Al Qudra Holding, Bloom Holding, National Investment Corporation, Miral Asset Management, Lead Development and Project Management Consultants, and Trojan Holding.

Full details of the campaign, including the exact location of new community facilities, are to be released during a signing ceremony at Cityscape Abu Dhabi on April 18-20, 2017. The Abu Dhabi community is being encouraged to share their ideas and suggestions via social media channels using the hashtag #feykum_alkhair. which is Arabic for ‘You Have Good in You’.

The ‘CSR Year of Giving Initiative’ is the UPC’s principal CSR initiative this year and fulfils one of the key objectives of the UAE’s Year of Giving 2017.

The UAE’s President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, declared 2017 as the Year of Giving to inspire people and organisations to make a positive difference to individual lives, society, and the nation as a whole. 

Under the initiative, the Government is facilitating opportunities for private sector businesses to benefit society through sponsorship programmes, constructing community facilities, across Abu Dhabi regions. 

In his opening speech at the workshop, H.E. Falah Al Ahbabi, Director General of the UPC, said: “The UPC is fully committed to fulfilling the objectives of Year of Giving. As such we have sought ways of engaging the private sector to make positive contributions to UAE society. 

“We are delighted to receive such a strong show of commitment from our partners. Their ongoing support is vital to our objective of building safe, secure and sustainable communities throughout Abu Dhabi.”

The brainstorming session was attended by more than 70 property developer representatives and urban development specialists at the UPC.

The session opened with a short video that showed the vision of the UAE’s Founding Father, Sheikh Zayed, and the commitment of today’s leadership to implementing the three main themes of the Year of Giving 2017 – strengthening social responsibility in the private sector, promoting a spirit of volunteering and strengthening the concept of serving the nation in new generations of Emiratis and expatriates.

After more than four hours, participants identified plots throughout the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to build new community amenities, including mosques, parks, childrens’ playgrounds, and sports facilities. They also discussed ways of creating lasting tributes to honour the UAE’s Heroes.

Mohamed Al Khadar, the UPC’s Executive Director for Urban Planning & Estidama, said: “Today we worked together to put in place the first stages of the ‘CSR Year of Giving Initiative’.  We identified plots of land throughout the Emirate that require new community amenities, before discussing the type of project that would best benefit the public.”

Hamdah Al Shamsi, Research and Development Feasibility Manager and Chairman of the CSR Committee at the UPC, said: “It was a very productive session and great to see so many people from different organisations working together to achieve the goals of Year of Giving. We plan to consolidate the huge bank of information and suggestions we received today into practical steps that can benefit communities throughout Abu Dhabi. We look forward to revealing full details of the campaign at Cityscape Abu Dhabi.”

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China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) to open regional headquarters in Jebel Ali Free Zone

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  • Sultan Ahmad Bin Sulayem: CNPC’s move reinforces the company’s presence in Middle East markets and consolidates Jafza’s position as a regional hub for the oil and gas sector.
  • Zhu Junfeng: New headquarters brings together 16 organisations in CNPC Group under one roof

Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza), a DP World Company and the UAE’s flagship trade and logistics hub for the Middle East region and Africa and the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), the largest integrated energy company in China, have signed an agreement to establish CNPC’s regional headquarters in Jafza to serve its customers in the Middle East.

The agreement was signed between Mohammed Al Muallem, CEO of Jafza and Senior Vice President and Managing Director of DP World, UAE and Zhu Junfeng, CEO of CNPC Middle East in the presence of senior officials. The new headquarters covers 55,000-square metres and include a 10,000-square metre multi-storey office and warehouse facility for storage, maintenance and repair of oil and gas equipment.

Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO of DP World and Chairman of Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation, said: “CNPC’s headquarters in the UAE reinforces its presence as a key player in the region’s energy sector.  Jafza is working in line with the directives of our leadership to provide an attractive business environment for foreign companies and to diversify Dubai’s economy. We will support CNPC in their ambitious growth plans by providing favourable business processes, services and facilities that compare with international standards.”

Jafza has established its position as a regional hub for the oil, gas and petrochemical industry with more than 850 companies from 77 countries in the sector. Its strategic logistical advantage of close proximity to air, sea and land routes is a major factor in its success, backed by the global network of DP World, with 77 marine and inland terminals in 40 countries.

Zhu Junfeng, CEO of CNPC Middle East, said: “This regional headquarters brings together all of our 16 listed companies in Jafza under one roof to help us better serve our customers. It will also support our expansion plans in the UAE and the Middle East following our acquisition of an 8% stake in the Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (ADCO) for $1.8 billion. We will now be able to provide operational support throughout the Middle East   with room to grow our portfolio while increasing demand for our services. CNPC is one of the world’s leading energy companies and has become a trademark of innovation and excellence thanks to our knowledge of regional markets and the growth of our operations.”

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First International bank to launch video banking in the UAE

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Standard Chartered Bank announced today the launch of its Video and Chat Banking service for clients in the UAE, a first for an international bank. The launch follows the successful roll-out of the service in Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan in 2016 and Hong Kong and China Q1 of 2017.The Bank is now bringing its Video and Chat Banking service to more than five million clients across Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Now clients can connect with banking agents via a secure video connection – or through chat or audio channels if they prefer – and change an address, ask questions about products. Agents can share screens and send links to websites and they’re fully briefed to offer service that meets each individual’s needs. Instead of jumping in the car and driving to a branch, clients can do this from home or even sitting in a coffee shop.

“Standard Chartered is constantly innovating to bring easy, convenient banking to clients,” said Shehzad Hameed, Head of Retail Banking, Standard Chartered UAE. “From the introduction of our Mobile Banking app in 2012 to the launch of the award-winning Retail Workbench last year, we have reached another milestone today with the launch of video banking. Not only will video banking transform the way we deliver client service, but it also provides opportunities to our staff for upskilling and retraining to stay abreast of the latest technologies in the industry.”

 “Video banking is about giving our clients more choice and more convenience,” said Karen Fawcett, the bank’s CEO of Retail Banking. “Now you don’t have to come in to a branch to talk to somebody face-to-face. We are investing in technology that makes banking secure, simple and personal for our clients.

To support this ambition, in 2015 the Bank has announced an investment of USD3 billion in technology and systems over the coming three years, including investments in its regional client contact centres.

In addition to the roll-out of video banking, Standard Chartered launched a new mobile and online banking platform for clients in eight African markets last year and brought ‘Retail Workbench’, an iPad-based digital sales and service tool, to eight new markets across Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Earlier this month, Standard Chartered Bank won the “Industry Disrupter Award” at the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) Conclave, sponsored by Oracle and organised by UMS Conferences and Bloomberg Businessweek Middle East, as their media partner.

The Bank has also been named “The World’s Best Consumer Digital Bank” by Global Finance for the sixth consecutive year, beating out competition from 261 banks from around the world and dominated the Global Sub-category Awards. The Bank has also won “The Best Regional Consumer Digital Bank for Middle East & Africa” by the same magazine for the fifth consecutive year, sweeping up awards for “The Best Global Consumer Mobile Banking App and “The Best Global Information Security Initiatives.”

The awards represent industry recognition of Standard Chartered’s position as a leader in the digital arena.

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DMS rolls-out brand makeover and renewed brand mantra

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  • Timely rebranding expresses DMS’ stance as the voice of independent media

Making the announcement at the opening of the STEP Conference 2017, held on April 5-7, Digital Media Services (DMS), which serves as the digital arm of Choueiri Group, revealed their new brand identity and renewed brand mantra “Tap the full potential of your story”, amidst much fanfare at the highly-attended digital innovation and technology industry event.

Speaking on the DMS Stage at STEP 2017, DMS’ Chief Operating Office Michel Malkoun stated that “The DMS media stage will be featuring the top most speakers from our industry, along with the best talks, which hopefully everyone can get something positive out of. You must have noticed the new DMS re-brand on your way in. We couldn’t have chosen a better stage, nor a better time, to launch our new brand”.

Elaborating further on DMS’ renewed brand promise, he went on to say that “DMS represents the true voice of the independent media: from making Publishers’ voices heard, to monetizing their professional stories, written by real journalists and accredited by other credible voices. What’s equally important, is that DMS’ Publishers leverage the best of what the international market offers in terms of technologies, which are used to distribute to real people, when it matters and where it matters most. Our Publishers extend stories which readers value”.

Following an extensive engagement with their brand partners MullenLowe MENA, DMS underwent a deep dive strategy exercise to define the brand’s dynamic personality, along with a brand refresh, which reflects on how DMS will look and live in the ever-evolving digital world. Working with an agile team of creative strategists, Mounir Harfouche, CEO of MullenLowe MENA said that “We have tried to capture the freedom that comes with a self-sufficient enterprise like DMS. The irreverence and forward-thinking spirit of the team is what we’ve tried to embody in this new look for the brand.”

Sharing his views on the vision and rationale behind the move, Choueiri Group’s Chief Marketing Officer, Walid Yared said that “Aligned with DMS’ commitment to innovation and always remaining at the forefront of the region’s digital landscape, we decided it was time to take a deeper look at how we define ourselves and how we can truly express the difference which we deliver to our publishers as well as our advertising partners. With DMS’ new brand identity, I believe we have succeeded on both fronts”.

Pierre Choueiri, Chairman and CEO of Choueiri Group, also joined in the discussion to reiterate the new brand mantra, saying that “In today’s world, stories have become increasingly commoditized and that is what DMS aims to change. To value the stories, not on secondary analytics and data, but with the independent spirit of a homegrown set up like ours. While DMS has always been an autonomous digital service enterprise, the new identity captures this independent spirit in a bold and youthful way”.

DMS is at the cusp of a fairly productive crossover to being revitalized and ready to hit the market with this new outlook. This development is aligned with Choueiri Group’s ongoing commitment to and focus on digital. The timing of the rebrand coincides with a market transformation, where clients, publishers and agencies have finally woken up and started demanding transparency on reporting from the digital industry.

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Pakistan’s leading Sufi Group makes its foray into UAE frozen food market

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  • Introduces Simply Sufi range of ready-to-cook and fully cooked chicken products. Traditional flavours and unique recipes to tickle the Asian taste buds.
  • Convenience and increasing number of working population to drive the category growth
  • Available at a Safeer, Nesto, Pakistan Super Markets and Union Co-op amongst others.
  • Brand to hit Lulu Hypermarkets and Carrefour stores soon.

A household name in Pakistan and amongst the top 5 business conglomerates of the country, Sufi Group of Companies has now launched its popular Simply Sufi range of ready-to-cook and fully-cooked chicken products in the UAE. The wide range of delicacies– numbering 21 in total – especially caters to Asian taste buds with products ranging from Shami Kebab to Seekh Kebab, Gola Kebab and Reshmi Tikka in its fully cooked category and Chicken Rollers, Chicken Fries, Chicken Nuggets, Burger Patties, Chicken Patties, Badami Kofta, Cheese Balls, Chapli Kebab and Chicken Samosa in the ready-to-cook range.

Currently, the Simply Sufi ready-to-eat and fully-cooked products are available at Safeer Group Hypermarkets, Nesto Hypermarkets, Pakistan Super Markets, Medina Super Store, Sharjah and Union Co-op, Dubai stores. The brand will also be available at Lulu Hypermarkets and Carrefour Stores soon.

“The Simply Sufi range has tasted huge success in Pakistan, and now we look forward to repeating the same success story here,” said Mr Tariq Ullah Sufi, CEO, Sufi Group of Companies, “The UAE is a great market to start with, not just because of the diversity it promises, but also for its reputation as the gateway to the rest of the world. Moreover, the population make-up of the country is such that there is a significant number of single expatriate workers and families with both partners working who are always looking for ready-to-cook and eat options. We also feel that consumers are becoming more price conscious, preferring discounts and bundle offers when shopping for packaged food products.With Simply Sufi’s unique blend of wholesome meals, we’re confident that the brand is a great addition.Already since its soft launch 10 months ago, we have seen a growth in its demand and popularity which has been very encouraging.

“There is a growing demand for quick and easy cook meal solutions and convenience seems to be the biggest driver of the growth along with the price proposition that it offers. Whether it’s a large gathering, a simple get-together or the urge for a delicious lavish meal, we are able to fulfil all this at a fraction of the cost that one would normally pay eating out. Additionally, our unique traditional flavours, spices and recipes will particularly cater to the taste buds of the Asian community while the short shipping distance from Pakistan guarantees freshness”, further commented Mr Tariq.

Commenting on the thriving ready-to-eat range of products in the UAE market, Mr Hamza Tariq Sufi, Director, Sufi Group of Companies, UAE, said:“While it is true that there are a number of such products in the category available in the UAE market, I believe our biggest differentiating factor is the unique flavours that we are introducing, for example, Badami Kofta, Chapli Kabab, Gola Kabab and Reshmi Tikka, are certain to tickle the taste buds of Pakistani and Indian population here. Our food is not just delicious, but just as nutritious, hygienic and MSG free. All our products are halal and maintain highest quality standards. With utmost commitment to brand values of quality, the company has championed customer satisfaction and quality assurance emerging as one of the FMCG leaders in Pakistan”.

With the objective of reaching out to maximum consumers in the UAE, Sufi Group of Companies plans to establish a wider distribution channel for ready availability of Simply Sufi products. In the long term the company is looking to expand to other GCC countries and eventually to Europe, and Northern America.

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DAMAC Towers by Paramount Hotels & Resorts over 85% complete

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DAMAC Properties, one of the region’s largest luxury real estate developers, has announced that its luxury hotel and serviced residences, DAMAC Towers by Paramount Hotels & Resorts, located in Dubai’s Burj area, is over 85% complete.

Developed by DAMAC Properties in collaboration with Paramount Hotels & Resorts, the project continues to make good progress with superstructure works 100% complete, and internal finishes, façade works, MEP works, carpentry and joinery works nearing completion.

The complex comprises four towers stretching 250 metres high and will feature one-, two- and three-bedroom luxury serviced branded apartments, offering an ambience and reflection of the Hollywood glamour and the California ‘cool’ lifestyle, synonymous with Paramount Pictures over the past 105 years.

Niall McLoughlin, Senior Vice President, DAMAC Properties said: “Bringing a Hollywood-inspired lifestyle to Dubai to an iconic development in the heart of the city, DAMAC Towers by Paramount Hotels & Resorts offers everything that discerning residents look for in a premium and fashionable living space – from easy access to high-end shopping and dining experiences, to all the luxuries that come as part of the Paramount brand. We are excited to see this exquisite development take final shape, and upon completion, further elevate the style quotient of the sophisticated and glamorous Burj neighbourhood.”

From exclusive access to landscaped and pool areas, numerous health facilities, on-site parking and a variety of high-end dining establishments, the project has been designed to offer over 1,900 units (including the hotel) with a total saleable area of approximately 2 million square feet. DAMAC Properties is currently selling units in three of the towers to be operated under its DAMAC Maison brand, with the development having an estimated sales value of USD 1.35 billion.

In addition, one tower will contain a five-star hotel complex to be operated by Paramount Hotels & Resorts, which will have over 800 rooms. Hotel rooms will be managed under a rental pool scheme.

Among the numerous awards the DAMAC Towers by Paramount Hotels & Resorts project has won is the ‘Tower Project of the Year’ accolade at the Construction Week Awards in 2016, in recognition of construction best practice, safety and use of innovative technologies.

The successful collaboration between DAMAC Properties and Paramount extends across various projects, including the USD 500 million Paramount Tower Hotel & Residences strategically located on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai, with China State Construction Engineering Corporation (Middle East) LLC awarded a AED 554 million contract to build the 27 floors that comprise the collection of luxury residences.

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Andersen Tax & Legal Debuts in Italy

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Andersen Tax & Legal debuts in Italy with the Italian member firm of Andersen Global, Noda Studio, formally adopting the Andersen name. They will operate as Andersen Tax & Legal and are the third member firm to assume the Andersen name in Europe. Andersen Tax & Legal debuted in Spain in March 2017.

“I have been working with the professionals at Andersen for many years, and I look forward to further strengthening that history as we adopt the Andersen name. We share the same values, concern for reputable behavior, and are likeminded in our approach to stewardship and transparency,” the Office Managing Director of Andersen Tax & Legal in Italy, Andrea De Vecchi, said. “We remain committed to providing quality, tailor-made service.”

As Andersen Tax & Legal, the firm will continue to provide tax, financial, accounting, and labor law consultancy for both domestic and foreign companies and individuals.

“The adoption of the Andersen name by our Italian colleagues is very natural,” added Andersen Tax CEO, Mark Vorsatz. “We have been working with Andrea and the team in Italy for several years now and they truly embody all the values of our organization.”

Andersen Tax & Legal in Italy has offices in Milan, Rome, Venice, Brescia, and Monza and a presence in 62 locations globally through the member firms and collaborating firms of Andersen Global. Andersen Global is an international association of member firms with more than 1,800 professionals worldwide.

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Workshop details criteria and requirements of acclaimed CSR award

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  • Arabia CSR Awards Clinic draws in interested businesses and government bodies

In a half day workshop held today in the Millennium Plaza Hotel in Dubai, the organisers, jury and applicants of the Arabia CSR Awards met to discuss the key points of the award. The Arabia CSR Awards is a globally known CSR and Sustainability award that has been launched from the Region by Arabia CSR network but has already become known around the world for its high standards.  With a criteria developed to reflect international frame works and standards (UN Global Compact, GRI, EFQM), only the most committed CSR practitioners are able to make it to the top. Such is the reputation of the award that global experts have called it the most rigourous CSR award in the world. The award is organised in cooperation with United Nations Environment Programme. It has eleven categories from which organisations can choose from, and the deadline for application is on the 31st of May.

The aim of the clinic was to shed light on the award’s criteria, as well as the methodology and requirements related to the application process. The President & CEO of Arabia CSR Network Mrs. Habiba Al Marashi said at the clinic, “The objective of this event is to help registered applicants and potential applicants fully understand the details and requirements of the application.” Joining her was Mrs. Karin Ireton, a member of the award jury, who explained the key points. A panel of speakers comprising of the winners of the 2016 cycle of the awards, shared their experiences, perspectives and insights. Among the speakers were key representatives of Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC) and Interserve. Their presentations highlighted the main elements required to focus on in order to develop award winning applications.

The workshop ended with the official release of the Arabia CSR Best Practices, a publication brought out annually by the Arabia CSR Network. It features a group of winners of the previous cycle of the award and traces their best practices and achievements in CSR and sustainability.

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