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SAUDI ARABIA [IntelliNews - Weekly Reports]
[January 25, 2013]

SAUDI ARABIA [IntelliNews - Weekly Reports]

(IntelliNews - Weekly Reports Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) SAUDI ARABIASaudi Mobily's net profit rises 18% y/y to USD 1.6bn in 2012 Saudi telecom operator Etihad Etisalat's (Mobily) net profit increased 18% y/y to SAR 6.02bn (USD 1.6bn) in 2012 boosted by a fast growth of data revenue, stronger business activity and higher sales of smartphones, the company said in a bourse statement. Total revenue also rose 18% y/y to SAR 23.64bn. Mobily said earnings per share for 2012 grew to SAR 8.6 from SAR 7.26 in 2011. In Q4 2012, Mobily saw its net income increase 11% y/y to SAR 1.878bn while total revenue expanded 17% to SAR 6.77bn. On a quarterly basis, net income climbed 24% q/q due to stronger roaming demand during the Hajj season. Saudi Telecom Company (STC), Mobily and Zain are the three main mobile operators in Saudi Arabia. STC and Mobily are said to control 80% of the market.

Saudi Savola launches USD 400mn sukuk Saudi Savola Group, the kingdom's largest food conglomerate, launched successfully a SAR 1.5bn (USD 400mn) seven-year Islamic bond that lured SAR 4bn of offers and earned 110bps above SIBOR, according to a bourse statement. The sale is the first tranche of Savola's recently announced SAR 5bn sukuk program. The sukuk was offered through a private placement to a number of investors including government entities, banks, insurance companies and mutual funds, Savola stated. The firm's net profit increased 17% y/y to SAR 1.4bn in 2012, boosted by strong performance by foreign units. Savola, which is said to own the Middle East's biggest sugar refining business, forecast a SAR 1.5bn net profit in 2013.

Saudi unemployment rate retreats to 6.1% at end-2012- labour minister The unemployment rate among Saudi nationals declined to 6.1% at end-2012 from a previous estimate of 10.5% due to the government efforts to boost saudisation in local companies, ArabNews reported citing labour minister Adel Faqih. Unemployment among Saudi women, however, remains high at 35%, he added. Faqih claimed that local firms avoid recruiting Saudi nationals. No Saudi national is employed in 342,000 small firms run by expatriates, Faqih said. The minister, however, said that some 588,000 Saudi men and women have found jobs over the past 18 months thanks to the so-called Nitaqat Saudization Program.

The Nitaqat program gives incentives to firms that employ Saudi nationals. Nitaqat is a quota system imposing minimum numbers of Saudi employees on private-sector companies depending on their size and sector.

The government aims at creating 3mn jobs for Saudi nationals by 2015 and 6mn jobs by 2030. The target will supposedly be reached through the 'Saudisation' of work now being done by expatriates. The total workforce of Saudis and expatriates is estimated at 9mn.

Saudi SABIC's net profit shrinks 16% y/y to USD 6.6bn in 2012 State-controlled Saudi Basic Industries (SABIC), the world's largest chemical producer by market value, saw its net profit drop 15.5% y/y to SAR 24.72bn (USD 6.6bn) in 2012, the firm said in a bourse statement. Higher sales cost and lower output prices for some products were the main reasons for the negative reading despite higher sales and production volumes and falling financial charges, SABIC said. In Q4, net profit increased 11% y/y to SAR 5.83bn due again to higher sales volumes and sales prices for certain products.

The earnings per share for 2012 declined to SAR 8.24 from SAR 9.75 in 2011. But SABIC's board of directors decided to distribute a cash dividend for H2 2012 amounting to SAR 9bn, at a rate of SAR 3 per share. An interim cash dividend of SAR 6bn was distributed to the company's shareholders for H1 2012. Petrochemicals and plastics produced by conglomerates like SABIC make up roughly 50-55% of non-oil Saudi exports, according to official data.

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