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Thursday, 16 May 2019

Region watch: KSA residency for foreigners, Majid Al Futtaim’s green corporate sukuk, and the US embassy is (partially) shutting down in Baghdad

A handful of regional stories worth knowing about as we all prepare to head into the weekend:

Saudi Arabia is launching two new residency categories to attract skilled foreign workers. One will offer a form of permanent residency, while the other will include annually renewable work permits in a move that could allow some foreigners to live and work in the country without local sponsorship. Details of the two categories are expected within 90 days. Bloomberg and the FT have the story.

UAE’s Finablr began trading on the London Stock Exchange yesterday, with shares in the payments platform changing hands at GBP 1.75 apiece, our friends at EFG Hermes announced. The share price gave Finablr “an implied market value at the opening bell of GBP 1.23 bn.” Finablr had cut earlier this week its IPO price amid weak investor demands, after having initially planned to list its share on the LSE at GBP 2.10-2.60 per share. EFG Hermes served as joint bookrunners on the GBP 337 mn transaction, which was led by JPMorgan, Barclays, and Goldman Sachs.

Majid Al Futtaim issues USD 600 mn corporate green sukuk in regional first: Majid Al Futtaim brought to market the region’s first USD 600 mn benchmark corporate green sukuk issuance yesterday, according to a company statement (pdf). The shariah-compliant bond issuance “will be used to finance and refinance Majid Al Futtaim’s existing and future green projects, including green buildings, renewable energy, sustainable water management, and energy efficiency.” Majid Al Futtaim CEO Alain Bejjani noted, “We are extremely proud to list the world’s first benchmark corporate green sukuk. The widespread interest from global investors in the bond indicates their confidence in our ESG rating, BBB credit rating, and prudent financial and risk management approach.”

The US has ordered the partial evacuation of its embassy in Baghdad “responding to what the Trump administration said was a threat linked to Iran, one that has led to an accelerated movement of American ships and bombers into the Gulf,” per the New York Times reports. British defense officials aren’t on the same page, saying there is no elevated threat from Iran, according to the Guardian.

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