PIF Secures Record-Breaking $17bn Senior Unsecured Term Loan

An agreement to establish the largest solar photovoltaic plant in the Middle East, in Makkah, west Saudi Arabia (SPA)
An agreement to establish the largest solar photovoltaic plant in the Middle East, in Makkah, west Saudi Arabia (SPA)
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PIF Secures Record-Breaking $17bn Senior Unsecured Term Loan

An agreement to establish the largest solar photovoltaic plant in the Middle East, in Makkah, west Saudi Arabia (SPA)
An agreement to establish the largest solar photovoltaic plant in the Middle East, in Makkah, west Saudi Arabia (SPA)

Badeel has announced a partnership to establish the largest solar photovoltaic plant in the region, while Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) announced that it has secured a $17 billion seven-year senior unsecured term loan (63.7 billion Saudi riyals).

The loan is the largest-of-its-kind general corporate-purpose loan worldwide.

While the new transaction recorded the support of 25 financial institutions across Europe, America, the Middle East, and Asia, the $11 billion loan of 2018 was supported by 15 financial institutions.

The new loan also aligns well with the PIF’s medium-term capital raising strategy as well as its 2022 Annual Capital Raising Plan.

“It is a significant achievement for PIF, raising a record-sized term facility in the longest tenor ever for a loan of its size that is subscribed to by an unprecedentedly diversified number of lenders. PIF will continue to explore a variety of debt funding sources as it delivers on its strategic objectives,” said the Head of the Global Capital Finance Division at PIF Fahad AlSaif in a statement.

Meanwhile, Badeel and ACWA Power signed an agreement to develop the largest solar photovoltaic plant across the Middle East and North Africa in Makka, in the west of Saudi Arabia.

The 2,060 MW solar photovoltaic plant will be built in Al Shuaibah, Makkah province, and is expected to begin commercial operations by the fourth quarter of 2025.

Badeel will jointly own the project with ACWA Power, with both companies holding a 50 percent equity stake each.

The project will be executed through a newly formed joint company called Shuaibah Two Electrical Energy Co..

In this regard, the Shuaibah Two Electrical Energy Co. signed a power purchase agreement with the Saudi Power Procurement Co..

The project is part of Saudi Arabia’s energy transition strategy, highlighting how a giga-scale development in sustainable energy will play a key role in translating Vision 2030 goals.

Yazeed A. Al-Humied, deputy governor and head of MENA Investments at PIF, said: "This marks a key achievement toward PIF’s commitment to developing 70 percent of Saudi Arabia’s renewable energy by 2030.

“Utilities and renewables are one of PIF’s priority sectors as part of its domestic strategy, which focuses on unlocking the capabilities of promising sectors to enhance Saudi Arabia’s efforts in diversifying revenue sources.”

“Saudi Arabia continues to accelerate its ambitious plans for diversifying its energy mix to include renewable energy. It is a great honor to partner with Badeel and SPPC in developing this milestone project which will set a benchmark for sustainable energy development in the region,” said Mohammad Abunayyan, chairman of ACWA Power.

He said solar power is a key component in unlocking positive economic, environmental, and social outcomes, adding: “We remain committed to developing local capabilities in technology, supply chain, and talent and ensure they are realized to their fullest potential.”

Badeel and ACWA Power will build, own, and operate Al Shuaibah 2 facility and the electricity produced will be sold to SPPC. The project is expected to power 350,000 homes.

Shuaibah 2 is ACWA Power’s sixth solar energy facility in Saudi Arabia, with its portfolio comprising 13 power, water desalination, and green hydrogen plants.

Badeel and ACWA Power are also developing the Sudair Solar PV 1500 MW project; which was the first cornerstone renewable energy project in PIF’s program.



Saudi Arabia’s National Carrier Orders More than 100 New Airbus Jets

Saudia said it is increasing flights and seat capacity across its existing 100-plus destinations to meet the country's goal of attracting more than 150 million tourists by 2030. (AFP file)
Saudia said it is increasing flights and seat capacity across its existing 100-plus destinations to meet the country's goal of attracting more than 150 million tourists by 2030. (AFP file)
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Saudi Arabia’s National Carrier Orders More than 100 New Airbus Jets

Saudia said it is increasing flights and seat capacity across its existing 100-plus destinations to meet the country's goal of attracting more than 150 million tourists by 2030. (AFP file)
Saudia said it is increasing flights and seat capacity across its existing 100-plus destinations to meet the country's goal of attracting more than 150 million tourists by 2030. (AFP file)

Saudi Arabia's national airline ordered more than 100 new Airbus jets, it said on Monday.

Saudia Group, which represents the Saudia airline and its budget carrier Flyadeal, said it ordered 105 aircraft from the French aerospace company's A320neo family of jets, including 12 A320neos and 93 A321neos. That brings Saudia Group's Airbus aircraft order backlog to 144 of the A320neo family planes.

Saudia said it is increasing flights and seat capacity across its existing 100-plus destinations to meet the country's goal of attracting more than 150 million tourists by 2030.

In February, Airbus reported healthy results for its commercial aircraft business in its latest annual earnings report and set a target of 800 commercial aircraft deliveries, 67 more than in 2023.

Airbus’s fortunes contrast with struggles at US rival Boeing, which seemed finally to be recovering from two crashes of Max jets in 2018 and 2019 that killed 346 people in Indonesia and Ethiopia. But on Jan. 5, a door plug blew out of an Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9, and the company has been reeling ever since.

Airbus has benefitted from its decision to launch the A321neo, a single-aisle aircraft with 180 to 230 seats. “Neo” stands for new engine option, meaning highly fuel efficient engines that save airlines money on one of their biggest costs.

Boeing rushed to match it with the Max, a 737 equipped with new, more efficient engines, only to run into a myriad of technical issues.


Saudi Arabia Crude Exports Rise to 6.413 Mln bpd in March

FILE PHOTO: A gas flame is seen in the desert near the Khurais oilfield, about 160 km from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia June 23, 2008. REUTERS/Ali Jarekji/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A gas flame is seen in the desert near the Khurais oilfield, about 160 km from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia June 23, 2008. REUTERS/Ali Jarekji/File Photo
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Saudi Arabia Crude Exports Rise to 6.413 Mln bpd in March

FILE PHOTO: A gas flame is seen in the desert near the Khurais oilfield, about 160 km from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia June 23, 2008. REUTERS/Ali Jarekji/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A gas flame is seen in the desert near the Khurais oilfield, about 160 km from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia June 23, 2008. REUTERS/Ali Jarekji/File Photo

Saudi Arabia's crude oil exports in March rose to 6.413 million barrels per day (bpd) from 6.317 million bpd in February, official data showed on Monday.
Monthly export figures are provided by Riyadh and other members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to the Joint Organizations Data Initiative (JODI), which published them on its website, Reuters said.


ADNOC Buys Stake in NextDecade's Rio Grande LNG, Inks Supply Deal

FILE PHOTO: Logos of ADNOC are seen at Gastech, the world's biggest expo for the gas industry, in Chiba, Japan, April 4, 2017.    REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Logos of ADNOC are seen at Gastech, the world's biggest expo for the gas industry, in Chiba, Japan, April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo
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ADNOC Buys Stake in NextDecade's Rio Grande LNG, Inks Supply Deal

FILE PHOTO: Logos of ADNOC are seen at Gastech, the world's biggest expo for the gas industry, in Chiba, Japan, April 4, 2017.    REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Logos of ADNOC are seen at Gastech, the world's biggest expo for the gas industry, in Chiba, Japan, April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) on Monday said it has acquired an 11.7% stake in phase 1 of NextDecade's Rio Grande LNG export facility.

ADNOC and NextDecade have also entered into a 20-year supply agreement for 1.9 million tons per annum (mtpa) of LNG.


Aramco Signs Agreement with Pasqal to Deploy 1st Quantum Computer in Saudi Arabia

As per the agreement, Pasqal will install, maintain, and operate a 200-qubit quantum computer, which is scheduled for deployment in the second half of 2025. SPA
As per the agreement, Pasqal will install, maintain, and operate a 200-qubit quantum computer, which is scheduled for deployment in the second half of 2025. SPA
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Aramco Signs Agreement with Pasqal to Deploy 1st Quantum Computer in Saudi Arabia

As per the agreement, Pasqal will install, maintain, and operate a 200-qubit quantum computer, which is scheduled for deployment in the second half of 2025. SPA
As per the agreement, Pasqal will install, maintain, and operate a 200-qubit quantum computer, which is scheduled for deployment in the second half of 2025. SPA

Saudi Aramco announced on Monday that it has signed an agreement with Pasqal, a global leader in neutral atom quantum computing, to install the first quantum computer in the Kingdom.
As per the agreement, Pasqal will install, maintain, and operate a 200-qubit quantum computer, which is scheduled for deployment in the second half of 2025.
According to the statement, the quantum computer will initially use the "analog mode" approach. Within the following year, the system will be upgraded to the more advanced hybrid "analog-digital mode", which is more powerful and able to solve even more complex problems.

"Aramco is delighted to partner with Pasqal to bring cutting-edge, high-performance quantum computing capabilities to the Kingdom. In a rapidly evolving digital landscape, we believe it is crucial to seize opportunities presented by new, impactful technologies and we aim to pioneer the use of quantum computing in the energy sector,” said Aramco Executive Vice President of Technology and Innovation Ahmad Al-Khowaiter.

Pasqal CEO and Co-founder Georges-Olivier Reymond said that the era of quantum computing is no longer "confined to theory, it is transitioning to real-world applications, empowering organizations to solve previously intractable problems at scale.”

Through this agreement, he added, the commercial adoption of this transformative technology in Saudi Arabia will be accelerated.

According to the statement, Pasqal and Aramco intend to leverage the quantum computer to identify new use cases, and have the ambitious vision of establishing a powerhouse for quantum research in the Kingdom. This would involve leading academic institutions with the aim of fostering breakthroughs in quantum algorithm development — a crucial step for unlocking the true potential of quantum computing.

The agreement also increases Pasqal's activity in Saudi Arabia; it established an office in the Kingdom in 2023, and in 2022, Aramco and Pasqal signed an MoU to collaborate on quantum computing capabilities and applications in the energy sector. In 2023, Aramco's Wa'ed Ventures also participated in Pasqal's Series B fundraising round, said the statement.


Saudi E-commerce Set to Reach $44 Bln by 2030

The BIBAN e-commerce gathering in Saudi Arabia (SPA)
The BIBAN e-commerce gathering in Saudi Arabia (SPA)
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Saudi E-commerce Set to Reach $44 Bln by 2030

The BIBAN e-commerce gathering in Saudi Arabia (SPA)
The BIBAN e-commerce gathering in Saudi Arabia (SPA)

Saudi Arabia is working to improve its investment climate for e-commerce, aiming to attract more local and international companies to tap into this rapidly growing market, projected to reach $44 billion by 2030.

Enhancing the e-commerce sector is a key goal of the National Transformation Program, supporting Saudi Arabia’s “Vision 2030.”

This move is vital for boosting the national economy, as the Kingdom ranks among the top 10 fastest-growing countries in e-commerce.

The program plays a crucial role in empowering the private sector and improving government efficiency to drive the country's transformation and meet the vision's targets.

Experts emphasize the importance of e-commerce for large companies, both locally and globally, as they increasingly turn to online platforms to expand their businesses.

Saudi Arabia is creating a competitive environment for both local and foreign companies by adopting new technologies, which is energizing the Saudi market.

Dr. Mohammed bin Duleim Al-Qahtani, an economic analyst and academic at King Faisal University, predicts a 13.5% annual growth in Saudi Arabia's e-commerce sector, surpassing the global average of 11.2%.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, he expected the sector, currently valued at $21 billion, to exceed $30 billion by 2027 and reach around $44 billion by 2030.

Al-Qahtani highlighted Saudi Arabia’s focus on digital infrastructure and e-commerce, leveraging its strategic location.

He stressed the importance of expanding e-commerce and digital banking, suggesting internationalizing branches of major local banks.

Al-Qahtani also emphasized global efforts, led by G20 nations like Saudi Arabia, to address e-commerce challenges and ensure cyber and financial security.


ECB Pressures Banks to Speed Up Russia Exits

The logo of Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) is seen on their headquarters in Vienna, Austria, March 14, 2023. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo
The logo of Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) is seen on their headquarters in Vienna, Austria, March 14, 2023. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo
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ECB Pressures Banks to Speed Up Russia Exits

The logo of Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) is seen on their headquarters in Vienna, Austria, March 14, 2023. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo
The logo of Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) is seen on their headquarters in Vienna, Austria, March 14, 2023. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo

The European Central Bank has told all Eurozone lenders with operations in Russia to speed up their withdrawal plans because of fears they could be hit by US punitive measures.

The ECB has written to lenders in recent weeks asking for detailed plans on their exit strategies, according to several people with knowledge of the communication, the Financial Times wrote.

Lenders need to provide the regulator with an “action plan” for their Russian business as early as June, some of the people said.

Last week, Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank International was forced to abandon a deal to swap assets in Russia for ones in Europe after pressure from US authorities.

The US intervention has led to concern at the ECB that RBI and other lenders could be targeted in future crackdowns.

“This could lead to serious damage to the banking system if the US authorities take sanctions,” said a person briefed on the ECB’s position.

The letters underline the increasing pressure from Washington over European groups that might support Russia’s war in Ukraine more than two years after the invasion.

“The ECB’s response to the US interventions shows the big dependency of Europe on the US,” said an adviser to the banks with Russian subsidiaries.

“We are more followers than leaders on judgments involving European companies.”

The US Treasury did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The person briefed on the ECB’s position said supervisors there wanted to avoid European banks facing a similar fate as ABLV, a Latvian bank that was shut down after the US Treasury department accused it of “institutionalized money laundering” as well as breaches of North Korean sanctions and cut off its access to the US financial system in 2018.

The central bank has been calling on Eurozone banks to look for an exit from Russia since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

At one extreme, RBI, which has the biggest exposure to Russia among the European lenders, has been told to reduce its lending in the country by two-thirds from its current level by 2026.

The bank, which faces potential fines by the ECB if it fails to comply, has already shrunk its Russian loan book by 56% since the war began.

Meanwhile, other banks including Italy’s UniCredit — the lender with the second-biggest exposure — have been asked to provide the ECB with a detailed breakdown of their plans for their operations. UniCredit has been given a deadline of June 1 to respond.

Last Thursday, a Russian court ordered that UniCredit's assets, accounts and property, as well as shares in two subsidiaries, be seized as part of a lawsuit over an aborted gas project involving the Italian bank, court documents showed.
UniCredit and OTP — the Hungarian bank that is not under direct supervision of the ECB — have in the past year started to repatriate profits from their Russian subsidiaries in the form of quarterly dividend payments.


Kuwait to Buy 500MW of Power Through GCC Interconnection Authority

Kuwaiti Electricity Ministry's acting undersecretary, Haitham Al-Ali, and CEO of the GCC Interconnection Authority, Engineer Ahmed Al-Ebrahim, sign the contracts on Sunday (KUNA)
Kuwaiti Electricity Ministry's acting undersecretary, Haitham Al-Ali, and CEO of the GCC Interconnection Authority, Engineer Ahmed Al-Ebrahim, sign the contracts on Sunday (KUNA)
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Kuwait to Buy 500MW of Power Through GCC Interconnection Authority

Kuwaiti Electricity Ministry's acting undersecretary, Haitham Al-Ali, and CEO of the GCC Interconnection Authority, Engineer Ahmed Al-Ebrahim, sign the contracts on Sunday (KUNA)
Kuwaiti Electricity Ministry's acting undersecretary, Haitham Al-Ali, and CEO of the GCC Interconnection Authority, Engineer Ahmed Al-Ebrahim, sign the contracts on Sunday (KUNA)

Kuwait on Sunday signed contracts to buy 500 megawatts (MW) of electricity through the Gulf Cooperation Council Interconnection Authority (GCCIA) to avoid summer blackouts.
The contracts are for 300 MW from Oman and 200 MW from Qatar, the electricity ministry's acting undersecretary, Haitham Al-Ali, told reporters at the signing event, adding that the contracts would last from June 1 to Aug. 31.
Al-Ali explained that the contracts were signed directly with the Gulf Interconnection Authority, which coordinates these transactions with Oman and Qatar on behalf of Kuwait.
He said this brings technical and economic benefits to Kuwait, especially with the proximity of the offers submitted for energy purchase prices to the cost of production.
The GCC Electricity Interconnection Authority oversees the management of a transmission system that integrates the power grids of all six member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
The CEO of the GCC Interconnection Authority, Engineer Ahmed Al-Ebrahim, said in a similar statement that the energy market is one of the most efficient markets in the region.
He noted that the Gulf Electricity Market enables GCC countries to enter into bilateral agreements through a platform, which is responsible for the settlement and billing system that covers the needs of traders.
El-Ebrahim pointed out that the Ministry and the Gulf Interconnection Authority have agreed on the offers submitted for the supply of electric energy to Kuwait during the coming June so that they can be renewed during the coming July and August according to the conditions and needs of interconnected networks from member states.
The State of Kuwait owns 26.7% of the founding shares of the Gulf Interconnection Authority, a joint stock company registered by GCC member states to create an interconnection of power grids between its members, ensure energy supply to the networks of GCC member states, invest and achieve economic benefits in the areas of energy exchange and to diversify the sources of their energy imports.


Aljadaan Heads Kingdom's Delegation to Saudi-Chinese Meetings in Beijing

Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed Aljadaan. SPA
Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed Aljadaan. SPA
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Aljadaan Heads Kingdom's Delegation to Saudi-Chinese Meetings in Beijing

Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed Aljadaan. SPA
Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed Aljadaan. SPA

The Saudi Minister of Finance, Mohammed Aljadaan, heads the Kingdom's delegation participating in the two-day Saudi-Chinese meetings to be held on Monday in Beijing.

The Saudi delegation includes the Vice Minister of Finance Abdulmuhsen Alkhalaf, as well as officials from the Ministry of Finance; the National Center For Privatization (NCP); the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA); the Saudi Capital Market Authority (CMA); the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority (ZATCA); the National Development Fund (NDF); the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD); and the National Infrastructure Fund.

Aljadaan and the Chinese Minister of Finance, Lan Fo'an, will co-chair the third meeting of the Financial Sub-Committee for the High-level Chinese-Saudi Joint Committee.

Aljadaan will also participate in a roundtable meeting organized by the Saudi National Center for Privatization in cooperation with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

Alkhalaf and the Chinese Vice Minister of Finance, Liao Min, will co-chair a roundtable meeting hosted by the Chinese Ministry of Finance, and organized by China Development Bank (CDB) and China Investment Corporation (CIC).

Aljadaan will also meet with several Chinese ministers, officials, and investors to discuss the latest economic and financial developments, topics of common interest, as well as investment opportunities in Saudi Arabia in light of Saudi Vision 2030.

These meetings come as an extension of efforts to strengthen cooperation and enhance relations between Saudi Arabia and China in various fields to promote global economic growth.


Gold Hits Record Peak, Silver Jumps

FILE PHOTO: A saleswoman picks gold necklaces to show it to a customer inside a jewelry showroom on the occasion of Akshaya Tritiya, a major gold buying festival, in Kochi, India, May 7, 2019. REUTERS/Sivaram V/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A saleswoman picks gold necklaces to show it to a customer inside a jewelry showroom on the occasion of Akshaya Tritiya, a major gold buying festival, in Kochi, India, May 7, 2019. REUTERS/Sivaram V/File Photo
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Gold Hits Record Peak, Silver Jumps

FILE PHOTO: A saleswoman picks gold necklaces to show it to a customer inside a jewelry showroom on the occasion of Akshaya Tritiya, a major gold buying festival, in Kochi, India, May 7, 2019. REUTERS/Sivaram V/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A saleswoman picks gold necklaces to show it to a customer inside a jewelry showroom on the occasion of Akshaya Tritiya, a major gold buying festival, in Kochi, India, May 7, 2019. REUTERS/Sivaram V/File Photo

Gold prices hit an all-time high on Monday as a slowing US inflation trend boosted expectations that the Federal Reserve could deliver its first interest rate cut soon, while silver scaled a more than 11-year peak.
Spot gold was up 0.9% at $2,436.76 per ounce, as of 0340 GMT after hitting a record high of $2440.49 earlier in the session.
US gold futures rose 1% at $2,440.60, Reuters reported.
The main driver for gold is that there is a soft US dollar and sentiment is being boosted on the basis that the Federal Reserve is expected to cut rates soon, said Kyle Rodda, a financial market analyst at Capital.com. The dollar index> remained subdued, making greenback-priced bullion more attractive to buyers holding other currencies. Data last week showed signs of cooling inflation and traders now expect a 65% chance of a US rate cut by September.
Bullion is known as an inflation hedge, but higher rates increase the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding gold.
Minutes of the Fed's last policy meeting due on Wednesday along with comments from a slew of Fed speakers will be on investors' radar for this week.
"Gold prices sneaked in a cheeky record high ahead of China's (market) open on Monday. Yet as the move has not been confirmed with by a weaker US dollar, it seems to have been caught a tailwind from higher metals futures on China's exchanges," said City Index senior analyst Matt Simpson.
China, the top consumer of bullion and a majority of industrial metals, announced "historic" steps on Friday to stabilize its crisis-hit property sector.
According to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao, spot gold may test resistance at $2,447 per ounce, a break above could trigger a gain to $2,455.
Spot silver rose 2.5% to $32.28 after hitting an over 11-year high.
Platinum rose 0.7% to $1,088.75, after hitting its highest since May 12, 2023. Palladium dropped 0.5% to $1,013.56.


Qatar Posts $549 Mln First-quarter Budget Surplus

Qatari flag flutters in Doha - AAWSAT/File
Qatari flag flutters in Doha - AAWSAT/File
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Qatar Posts $549 Mln First-quarter Budget Surplus

Qatari flag flutters in Doha - AAWSAT/File
Qatari flag flutters in Doha - AAWSAT/File

Qatar, the world's second-largest LNG exporter, achieved a budget surplus of 2 billion riyals ($548.9 million) in the first quarter of 2024, which was used to reduce public debt, the finance ministry said on Sunday.

The state's total revenue for the period amounted to 53.4 billion riyals, down 22.1% from a year earlier, the ministry said, Reuters reported.

Qatar also recorded total public spending of 51.4 billion riyals in the quarter, up 5% year on year, the ministry added.