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Abu Dhabi's ADQ in talks to invest $500 million in Flipkart

Retail|: Dubai: Abu Dhabi sovereign fund ADQ is in talks to invest about $500 million in India's Flipkart, according to people familiar with the matter, as the Walmart Inc.-backed e-commerce firm raises funds ahead of a potential initial public offering next year. The emirate's newest state investment company is discussing an injection of funds that would value Flipkart between $35 billion and $40 billion, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. The fundraising would come ahead of a planned IPO that could take place as soon as 2022, they said. Flipkart is seeking to raise at least $3 billion and could decide to increase the amount to as much as $3.75 billion, as investors have shown significant interest, the people said. Considerations are ongoing and the talks could fall apart, the people said. Representatives for Flipkart didn't immediately respond to a request for comment made outside business hours in India. An ADQ representative was not immediately available to comment. Flipkart is seeking to raise at least $3 billion from a group of investors including SoftBank Group Corp., Singapore's GIC Pte and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Bloomberg News reported June 7 citing people familiar with the matter. The group also includes the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the emirate's largest sovereign wealth funds, the people said at the time. ADQ, formerly known as Abu Dhabi Development Holding Co., has been one of the most active investors in the Middle East since its inception in 2018. It oversees about $110 billion in assets, according to a report from Global SWF. That would make it the third largest of Abu Dhabi's state investors, after ADIA with roughly $700 billion and Mubadala Investment Co. with about $230 billion. The upstart firm has become a prolific dealmaker. In November 2020, ADQ agreed to buy a 45% stake in agricultural trader Louis Dreyfus Company BV, with a minimum of $800 million in proceeds from the sale to be invested in the firm. Bausch Health Cos. agreed to sell Egyptian drugmaker Amoun Pharmaceutical Co. to ADQ in March for $740 million, the Canadian firm said.

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Driven in the UAE: Aston Martin DBX

The Aston Martin Valkyrie is an out-of-this-world hypercar. It’s a sublime distillation of the storied marque’s heritage into an ethereal looking capsule that’s raring to race into the future at warp speed. Equally otherworldly is the smaller Valhalla, another limited edition hypercar that fans of the Gaydon carmaker have their eyes peeled for. However, remarkable as these two visceral machines are, the British brand has been hitting roadblocks, one after the other, in the path to getting them on the road. This isn’t a predicament without precedent. Porsche has been there long back; so has Jaguar, BMW, Maserati, Lamborghini and many others. The sheer amount of money that’s required for research and development before a supercar or a sportscar is put into production is mindboggling, and the only way these companies could raise such resources is by building and selling less glamorous money-spinners. While all of the above mentioned performance brands have cashed in on the SUV segment, Aston Martin remained a reluctant straggler for many years. But when it actually did come out with an SUV, it forced the motoring world to sit up and take notice. Despite the significantly inflated girth, it manages to look as striking as any other model from the stable. Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque The DBX, Aston Martin’s first ever SUV in its century-long existence, is an absolute stunner. Despite the significantly inflated girth, it manages to look as striking as any other model from the stable. With the legacy DB grille and the seductively flowing lines, the heritage and the DNA are written all over the DBX. Whether you look at it head on, in profile or from the back, this is one handsomely proportioned SUV. Whether you look at it head on, in profile or from the back, the DBX is one handsomely proportioned SUV. Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque Step inside, and you’ll realise the quality of materials and workmanship are ages better in comparison to the interior quality of Aston Martins of yore. The seats are remarkably comfortable, and getting into a comfortable driving position behind the steering is a breeze. While most of the buttons and controls are ergonomically placed, one conspicuous exception is the placement of the D (Drive) button on the centre stack. Rather than keeping it closer to the driver, Aston Martin has chosen to position it closer to the front passenger, making it a potential stretch for anyone with a below average arm length. Another quirk is the bonnet release button, which is placed on the passenger side! I suspect these two oddities are a result of Aston Martin trying to cut some corners while converting the original right hand drive layout to left hand drive for other markets. Materials and workmanship in the cabin are way better than what used to be in Aston Martins of yore. Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque The 12.1-inch digital display behind the steering wheel is easy to read at a glance, even while driving, and the 10-inch multimedia touchscreen offers an intuitive interactive interface. Aston Martin has not skimped on practicality and comfort at the back either with enough room for two adults. The raised transmission tunnel and a rounded centre portion of the rear seat make the DBX a four-seater effectively. However, for the two occupants of the rear quarters, there’s plenty of leg- and headroom with the sense of airiness enhanced by the panoramic sunroof. The 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 is sourced from Mercedes-Benz AMG. Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque While the interior appointments and luxury trimmings could lull you into a sense of being in a tame family car, all you need to wake up into reality is press the engine start button. The 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 sourced from Mercedes-Benz AMG comes to life with a mighty roar, before settling down to an assertive growl on idle. It’s the same block that powers the DB11 and the Vantage, but in the DBX, it spews 550 horsepower and 700Nm of torque to hurtle the SUV from 0-100kph in just 4.5 seconds. The DBX handles with litheness that belies its heft. Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque Acceleration is immediate and the V8 pulls hard abruptly past the 3,000 rpm mark, throwing the floodgates of adrenaline wide open with the intoxicatingly full-throated exhaust note adding to the heady mix. Unless you keep an eye on the speedometer regularly, it’s quite easy to rack up speeding fines in the thousands on highways. This is an SUV that needs to be enjoyed around a race track. It corners flat on fast bends, as planted and composed as a tarmac-hugging sportscar. The DBX handles with a verve that belies its heft, with the car shrinking around you as its telepathic steering lets you carve corners with ease. Aston Martin might have come to the SUV party quite late. However, what they have brought with them is a fabulous showstopper. Quite possibly, the best high end performance SUV in the world.

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Real estate deals worth Dh962m concluded today in Dubai

Property|: Dubai: Real estate transactions worth Dh962 million have been concluded in the emirate today. According to the Dubai Land Department, 317 sale deals worth Dh776.38 million, including 17 land sales worth Dh145.08 million, and 300 sales of apartments and villas that sold for Dh631.3 million. The most important land sales worth Dh63 million was for a land plot in Al Hebiah First, followed by a land sold for Dh20 million in Al Thanyah Fourth and a Dh15 million was paid for a land in Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Gardens. Al Hebiah Fourth came first in terms of the number of sales, with 4 sales worth Dh22 million, followed by Al Hebiah Third, with 4 sales worth Dh8 million, while the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Gardens came third with two sales worth Dh21 million. As for the most important sales of apartments and villas, a sale deal of Dh120 million was struck in The Palm Jumeirah followed by a Dh21 million deal in Burj Khalifa and finally a transaction worth Dh16 million in Me'aisem First. The Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Gardens saw 63 sales of apartment and villas for Dh111 million, followed by Burj Khalifa that registered 33 sales worth Dh100 million, while Dubai Marina saw 31 sales worth Dh80 million. The value of mortgages amounted to Dh147.66 million, of which 13 mortgages of lands valued at Dh34.04 million, and 58 mortgages for villas and apartments valued at Dh113.62 million. The most important of which was concluded in Al Thanyah Fourth for a mortgage of Dh15 million, and another one in the Mohammed bin Rashid Gardens with a value of Dh14 million. As for the grants, 18 grants valued at Dh38.85 million were registered across Dubai, the most important of which was in the Palm Jumeirah area, with a value of Dh11 million, and another in Al Safa Second, with a value of Dh9 million.

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Safe Care meets the needs for medical consumables in UAE and beyond

Business|: When and why did Safe Care set up base in Kizad? Safe Care was set up in 2014 as we identified an opportunity to establish a dedicated medical consumable manufacturing facility in the UAE. Considering the havoc caused by a pandemic like Covid, I believe that a well-entrenched, mature, and homegrown medical consumable sector in the UAE reduces our reliance on other foreign countries for critical goods and durables. The Polymers Park is still a relatively fresh entity but I do believe that in time more companies that are entrenched in the plastic industry will start to set up over here, creating a supply network that will boost the industry efficiently. Kizad’s support system has been improving with time and the manner in which they are aiding new SMEs gain all the required support from different governmental organisations is commendable Omar Alikunju, CEO, Safe Care Currently, the UAE has been airlifting all medical goods from across the world. By setting up Safe Care, our intention is to bring in more revenue for the UAE through export. Usually, the UAE exports basic plastic goods to other countries, who reprocess them into products which the UAE then imports at a premium. Being one of the world’s leading plastic exporters, the UAE has the prospect to establish a robust plastic industry. Kizad being a port and conveniently located right in the middle of Abu Dhabi and Dubai was therefore perfect for us to set up our facility. What are the advantages that the Polymers Park offers SMEs such as Safe Care in setting up a successful business? The Polymers Park is still a relatively fresh entity but I do believe that in time more companies that are entrenched in the plastic industry will start to set up over here, creating a supply network that will boost the industry efficiently. Kizad’s support system has been improving with time and the manner in which they are aiding new SMEs gain all the required support from different governmental organisations is commendable. Safe Care facilities ensure the manufacture of top-notch medical accessories and consumables Image Credit: Supplied What are the challenges you surmounted while setting up base? How can Kizad improve on its value offerings? Initially, Kizad being a new entity in the capital, it was difficult to gather support from other Abu Dhabi government agencies as Kizad was the first entity of its kind in the Capital. However, things have drastically improved since and the Kizad management is much more proactive when it comes to supporting the needs of its clients. Again, the rental rates are not something that would attract the average investor and Kizad can improve its value proposition by possibly reevaluating these rates. Kizad also needs to provide more support to its clients in terms of government agency approvals. Allowing clients to own plots within the Park would also help drum up more interest from current and prospective clientele and encourage more international companies to set up base in this region. What’s in the offing for Safe Care at Kizad in future? We have currently completed constructing our facility using up to 50 per cent of the area allocated to us at the Park and expansion activity on the remaining land has already started. We plan to acquire more area in due course as we see a huge potential in the market for the medical consumables sector.

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KIZAD a brilliant business proposition for Al Dewan Pack

Business|: When did Al Dewan Pack decide to set up its distribution centre at the Polymers Park in Kizad? How easy was it to set up your distribution centre? Al Dewan Pack has been in operation at the Mina Zayed free port since 2006. Our goal was to increase our investment in this business and to grow in parallel with the economy of the UAE. One of our priorities was to find the right location as well as proper facilities to achieve the company’s goal for the coming future. In 2016 we were contacted by the sales and marketing department of Kizad, who offered the opportunity to move us to the Polymers Park. The Polymers Park at Kizad has helped us in many ways to grow our business in the last few years. Kizad was not just responsible for setting up outstanding logistical access to road and sea transport, the entity also helped companies like ours by offering the exemptions in fees we received, the installments in due out payments, and essentially tailoring and curating facilities in order to meet our requirements and needs Osama El Safah, General Manager, Al Dewan Pack Making mention of all the benefits and advantages that such a move would help bring about, Kizad briefed us on the many government fee exemptions, as well as help in the form of an excellent logistics network at the entity’s disposal. Convinced that this would be the right move in our bid to expand our horizons, we accordingly took the decision to relocate to Kizad. I am happy to note that we managed to find everything that we were looking for, here at the Polymers Park. Please share some information on the types of products that Al Dewan Pack sources and distributes from around the world. Al Dewan Pack deals with everything related to disposable items, which currently exceeds 2,200 product types. We import these products from different sources based in more than 10 countries around the world including the GCC. We also source some of our products from the UAE. Our products are very essential and used by almost everyone in today’s world. We distribute these products to different entities, which includes government departments, hospitals, catering companies, labour camps, restaurants, hotels and more. Many of our products are friendly to the environment and can be recycled. The Al Dewan Pack storage facility at the Polymers Park in KIZAD Image Credit: Supplied With the rapid widespread of COVID-19 these days, a big range of the disposable items are highly in demand. This includes the gloves, masks and many more. How has the Polymers Park helped entities such as Al Dewan Pack expand its operations? The Polymers Park at Kizad has helped us in many ways to grow our business in the last few years. Kizad was not just responsible for setting up outstanding logistical access to road and sea transport, the entity also helped companies like ours by offering the exemptions in fees we received, the installments in due out payments, and essentially tailoring and curating facilities in order to meet our requirements and needs. The smooth cooperation between the port authorities and the Kizad team when we import our products with companies operating in the Polymers Park has helped the business to expand without interruptions. What are the challenges Al Dewan Pack faced while setting up base at the Polymers Park? How can Kizad add value to its current client offerings at the Park? Kizad as an entity is well developed and presents an attractive proposition for businesses to operate from. In the beginning the main challenge was the slightly far location of the Polymers Park from Abu Dhabi, where most of our customers are located. And the second challenge was related to the infrastructure such as the phone and internet connections, which were under installation since we were among the first to set up base at the Park. However, continuous help and the close follow-ups conducted by the Kizad team helped us overcome all these obstacles. The upgraded roads and the highways and bridges in the area made us reach our customers fast and opened doors for us for to customers in Dubai and other emirates as the location of Polymers Park proved to be very critical. Indeed, as I mentioned earlier, the Kizad area is well developed and very attractive for business. Are there any expansion plans for Al Dewan Pack at the Polymers Park in the near future? The future of business in the UAE looks bright and our area of business mainly revolves around the food vertical. The business is growing very rapidly, not to mention the other areas like the health sector, and the UAE population is steadily growing. Accordingly, we at Al Dewan Pack are looking forward to expand our operations in the near future and with the facilities and the continuous improvement offered by the Abu Dhabi Authorities and Kizad including the Polymers Park team, I think this will happen faster than expected.

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Airline industry sees long-term rebound for sector

Aviation|: Paris: After flying into the financial turbulence of the Covid pandemic, the airline sector expects passenger traffic to take off despite concerns about the industry's impact on climate change. In its latest look at trends for the sector, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said it doesn't expect world air traffic to resume to its pre-pandemic level before 2023. But over 20 years, air traffic should almost double, from 4.5 billion passengers in 2019 to 8.5 billion in 2039. That is, however, a drop of one billion passengers from IATA's pre-crisis forecast. Nevertheless that will be good news for aircraft manufacturers, who slowed down production during the crisis as airlines cancelled orders to stay financially afloat. Airbus has already announced it plans to step up the manufacturing cadence of its best-selling A320 single-aisle aircraft and should reach a record level already in 2023. Boeing, for its part, forecasts that airlines will need 43,110 new aircraft through 2039, which will result in a near doubling of the global fleet. Asia alone will account for 40 percent of that demand. As with the September 11 attacks or the global financial crisis of 2007-2009, "the industry will prove resilient again," Darren Hulst, vice president of marketing at Boeing, said last year. Marc Ivaldi, research director at the Paris-based School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, noted that only one percent of the population currently uses air travel. "With the simple demographic rise and the fact that people become richer there will be rising demand for air travel and thus for aircraft," he told AFP. If the biggest aircraft fleets are currently in the United States and Europe, the biggest increases are expected in Asia and the Middle East, the consulting firm Oliver Wyman said in a recent study. Flight shaming Airbus delivered 19 percent of its planes to China, more than the United States, and this trend is not expected to change. In many emerging countries where the middle class is expanding air travel is becoming possible for more and more people. "Among Asia's emerging nations, one of the greatest aspirational goals is simply the ability to fly internationally," said the Center for Aviation (CAPA). "It is a sign of social and economic maturity and permits experiences which were unthinkable for their parents." It noted that these people were unlikely to share the growing sentiment among some people in the West towards reducing air travel to reduce one's carbon footprint. "For these new would-be flyers, the whole concept of 'flight shaming' at a grass roots level is grossly alien," said CAPA. "Consequently, in Asia flight shaming is unlikely to gain much traction," it added. The "flight shaming" or "flygskam" movement took off in Sweden in 2018 to challenge the growing popularity of air travel, which had boomed in Europe thanks to budget airlines that made weekend getaways across the continent affordable to a wider public. In 2019, air traffic declined by four percent in Sweden - but it hit a record across Europe, according to the air traffic control body Eurocontrol. EHESS's Ivaldi believes flight shaming will have little long-term impact. "Someone who makes one flight per year in a plane, do you really believe that they will say that it is too polluting and give it up?" he said. But countries like Sweden have begun to reintroduce night trains to give travellers greener options to travel. France, which is boosting its night trains, is also cutting domestic flights when it is possible to make the journey by train in under two and a half hours. Ivaldi believes that to be a largely empty gesture as fast trains have already taken most of the market on such routes. The air sector has pledged to cut its carbon emissions in half by 2050 from their level in 2005. Airlines have an economic incentive to do so, as adopting more fuel efficient planes reduces operating costs.

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Saudi wealth fund makes senior hires, including Goldman banker

Markets|: Saudi Arabia's $430 billion sovereign wealth fund made three senior hires, including Goldman Sachs Group's head of investment banking in the kingdom, as it expands deal-making. Goldman banker Eyas AlDossari will head investment advisory within the MENA Investments Division of the fund, according to a statement. Omar AlMadhi, who previously worked with Saudi Aramco and Volkswagen AG, will join him at the division as co-head of direct investments. The fund also appointed Abdullah Shaker, who previously worked for Saudi AlBaraka Banking Group and HSBC Holdings Plc, as the head the capital finance advisory and planning department at its Global Capital Finance Division. The PIF has been on an aggressive hiring spree over the past six years as it looks to transform from a domestically focused holding company, into the world's largest sovereign wealth fund. Last week, the fund appointed Turqi Alnowaiser and Yazeed Alhumied as deputy governors. The wealth fund is a key lever for the kingdom's efforts to revive growth after a recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic and lower oil prices. Chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the fund has outlined a plan to grow its assets under management to over $1.1 trillion by 2025, while investing $40 billion annually into Saudi Arabia's economy. Since 2015, the PIF has grown assets under management to $430 billion from about $150 billion. It has taken stakes in Uber Technologies, put $45 billion into SoftBank's Vision Fund, and backed electric vehicle maker Lucid. It also increased headcount to more than 1,100 from about 40.

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Saudi Arabian hospitality firms weigh $2.4 billion merger

Tourism|: Dubai: Taiba Investment Co. and Dur Hospitality Co. are in talks to combine their businesses, potentially forming a company with a market value of about $2.4 billion in Saudi Arabia's real estate, hospitality and investment industry. Taiba, which has a market capitalisation of 5.5 billion riyals ($1.5 billion), operates as an investment company in sectors ranging from real estate and tourism. Dur, valued at 3.5 billion riyals, is mainly focused on operating resorts, housing compounds, and restaurants in Saudi Arabia. Assilah Investment is the top shareholder in both companies. Opening up to tourism is a key plank of Saudi Arabia's plans to diversify its economy. The kingdom's plans include the Red Sea Development, which will oversee a luxury tourism zone equivalent in size to Belgium, an entertainment hub near the capital, and a new city in the north-west called Neom that's expected to cost $500 billion to build. Taiba and Dur said the discussions are preliminary and may not lead to a combination. The Public Investment Fund holds stakes in both companies and is part of a push to get firms to combine, creating bigger and more efficient entities. Last year, the powerful sovereign wealth fund was involved in the merger of National Commercial Bank and Samba Financial Group, the biggest banking takeover of 2020. And earlier this year it consolidated all its stakes in three food companies - Almarai Co., National Agricultural Development Co and Saudi Fisheries Co. - into a wholly owned unit as part of efforts to boost food security. PIF, as the fund is known, appointed two deputy governors earlier this month as it embarks on a plan to grow its assets under management to $1.1 trillion by 2025 from $430 billion, while also investing $40 billion a year into the domestic economy. The fund holds stakes worth about $100 billion in listed Saudi companies, including in firms like Saudi Telecom Co., Saudi Arabian Mining Co., and Riyad Bank. It also owns the Red Sea Development, which will target 1 million visitors a year when the entire project is completed in 2030.