Qatar looks to Asia for investment in its new post-blockade era

– Yousuf Mohamed Al-Jaida, the CEO of the Qatar Financial Center, a business and financial center located in Doha, told CNBC that the country has moved to attract foreign investment by making it easier to get business visas and buy real estate.
– Qatar is looking for new partners, new alliances, so we are moving on, he said.

Qatar is looking to Asia for foreign investment in a “new era” for the country, following the blockade by a number of major Arab nations in June last year.

Yousuf Mohamed Al-Jaida, the CEO of the Qatar Financial Center, a business and financial center located in Doha, told CNBC Friday that the country has moved to attract foreign investment by making it easier to get business visas and buy real estate.

“Qatar is looking for new partners, new alliances, so we are moving on,” he said.

“Our presence in Hong Kong speaks a lot. We’re going to be doing a lot of more tours in Asia, Thailand, Vietnam, within the next two months,” he added.

Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt imposed trade and travel bans on Qatar in 2017, blaming the country for supporting terrorism.

The Qatar Financial Center, which aims to foster investment in Qatar, has been explaining to foreign investors that, after the deterioration of relations between Qatar and other Arabic countries, the country has been putting forward a slew of reforms to adapt to a “new reality.”

“The appetite is good, I think we have to do a lot more of awareness as to what the blockade means. What we are trying to pitch in terms of the blockade is that this is a new era for Qatar,” Al-Jaida said.

Source: CNBC

Philippines fastest-growing economy in developing Asia

The Philippine economy grew at its fastest pace in three years last quarter, underscoring the nation’s resilience to global risks as investment surged and consumers spent more.

Gross domestic product increased 7.1% from a year earlier, the Philippine Statistics Authority said in Manila on Thursday. The median estimate of 15 economists surveyed by Bloomberg was 6.7%.

Compared with the previous quarter, GDP rose 1.2%, in line with economists’ estimates

Undeterred by risks such as Donald Trump’s protectionist ambitions and President Rodrigo Duterte’s rants against the US, the Philippine economy is set to expand more than 6% until 2018 to rank among the fastest-growing in the world, accordng to economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

Last quarter’s growth exceeded China’s 6.7% and Vietnam’s 6.4% in the same period. India, which posted growth of 7.1% in the second quarter, is yet to publish GDP data for the three months through September.

Gifted with a young population and backed by $50 billion of revenue from remittances and outsourcing, the Philippines is getting an additional boost from Mr Duterte’s $160-billion infrastructure plan aimed at creating jobs. Projects include at least $1 billion of contracts to build an airport and a railway to transform a former US military base into a commercial hub.

Philippine stocks rose a second day, climbing as much as 2.2%. They were up 1.1% as of 1101am in Manila.

The peso was little changed at 49.32 per dollar.

“Philippines will remain an outperformer in the region,” said Rahul Bajoria, a senior economist at Barclays Plc in Singapore. “It is domestically driven, with consumption holding up quite well and the fiscal spending being planned. The global risks we’re seeing including to trade won’t fundamentally alter its prospects.

“In the short term at least, we expect the economy will continue growing at a decent pace,” Gareth Leather, senior Asia economist at Capital Economics Ltd in London, said in a note. “The foundations are in place for growth to remain strong, but recent political events, both in the US and domestically, have made the outlook much less certain.”

“Putting money on infrastructure-related stocks is the smart bet and it’s exactly what I am doing,” said John Padilla, who helps manage about $9.1 billion at Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co, the Philippines third-largest money manager. “This growth poses now more challenge for President Duterte to keep the pace. It supports the view that Philippines needs infrastructure to sustain this growth.”

Household spending, which makes up about 70% of GDP, rose 7.3% from a year earlier. Government spending gained 3.1% and investment surged 20%.


ADB trims developing Asia growth forecast; India on track

ADB today marginally cut economic growth projection for Asia and Pacific region for 2016, though India is likely to meet 7.4 per cent and 7.8 per cent growth forecast for this and the following year.

Asian Development Bank said it has cut its 2016 growth projection for developing economies in Asia and the Pacific to 5.6 per cent from earlier forecast of 5.7 per cent.

“South Asia, meanwhile is expected to be the fastest growing subregion, led by India, whose economy has shrugged off global headwinds and is on track to meet ADB’s March fiscal year 2016 (year to March 2017) projected growth target of 7.4 per cent, supported by brisk consumer spending and an uptick in the rural economy”, ADB said in a supplement to its Asian Development Outlook 2016 report.

“Although the Brexit vote has affected developing Asia’s currency and stock markets, its impact on the real economy in the short term is expected to be small,” said Shang-Jin Wei, ADB’s Chief Economist.

However, in light of the tepid growth prospects in the major industrial economies, policy makers should remain vigilant and be prepared to respond to external shocks to ensure growth in the region remains robust,” Wei said.

ADB said it now forecasts 2016 growth for the developing economies at 5.6 per cent, below its previous projection of 5.7 per cent. For 2017, growth is seen unchanged at 5.7 per cent.

Growth in 2016 and 2017 is led by South Asia, and India in particular, which continues to expand strongly, while China is on track to meet earlier growth projections, it said.

In Southeast Asia, growth projections for the subregion in the 2016 and 2017 remain unchanged at 4.5 per cent and 4.8 per cent, respectively with solid performances by most economies in the first half of 2016 driven by private consumption.

The exception was Vietnam where the economy came under pressure from a worsening drought that caused a contraction in the agriculture sector, it added.

ADB said growth in Asia and the Pacific’s developing economies for 2016 and 2017 will remain solid as firm performances from South Asia, East Asia and Southeast Asia help offset softness from the US economy, and near-term market shocks from the Brexit vote.

It has projected inflation for developing Asia at 2.8 per cent for 2016 and 3 per cent or 2017- a 0.3 percentage point rise for each year from the previous forecasts.

“The rise is largely due to a recovery in oil and food prices,” it added.

The Manila headquartered ADB is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. In 2015, ADB assistance totalled $27.2 billion, including co-financing of $10.7 billion.

Source :

Sumitomo likely to acquire 44% stake in Excel Crop Care

Japanese conglomerate Sumitomo is at an advanced stage of negotiations to acquire a substantial equity stake in Excel Crop CareBSE -0.87 % , a Mumbai-headquartered listed company. The proposed deal could pave the way for the Japanese group to own about 44% shares of the pesticides and agrochemicals company for a total consideration ofRs 1,200-1,300 crore.

Sumitomo plans to buy out stake of Excel promoters — the Shroff family — holding 24.7% equity as well as two financial investors together owning close to 19% of the shares. ET’s email to Dipesh Shroff, managing director of Excel Crop Care, and Sumitomo Chemical went unanswered.

There have been several rounds of talks between officials of Sumitomo Chemical and the Excel management, and indications are that the deal may be signed in June. Nufarm, the Australian crop protection and specialist seeds company, owns more than 14% and is likely to retain its strategic stake in Excel Crop Care.

According to a report by Avendus Capital, global players are looking at India to increase their market share, add to their product portfolio , and strengthen their supply base in specialty and agrochemicals. “The Indian agrochemicals market is expected to grow rapidly (about 12% CAGR over 2014-19) with increase in farmer awareness, improvement in rural income and increase in pressure for improving productivity,” said Preet Mohan Singh, executive director, Avendus Capital.

The Shroffs are also the promoters of Excel Industries, a specialty chemicals company, and co-promoters of Aimco Pesticides in which they control a little over 25%. Before entering into any agreement with Sumitomo, the Shroffs are expected to conclude the inter se transfer of their holding to the other promoter family of Aimco. Excel Crop Care has 1.13% equity interest in Excel Industries.

Besides Shroffs, the other two shareholders of Excel Crop Care who may sell their shares to Sumitomo are Ratnabali Capital Markets (holding 14.99%) and Ratnabali Investments (3.95%). Among the institutional shareholders of Excel Crop Care are Life Insurance Corporation (6.58%) and DSP Blackrock (1.92%).

Excel Crop Care’s consolidated net profit for the quarter ended March 31, 2016 was Rs 7.6 crore as against Rs 1.7 crore in the year ago period, on total income of Rs 188.6 crore (Rs 205.6 crore). The Excel Crop Care stock has been trading at around Rs 1,109, against 52-week high and low of Rs 1,247 and Rs 750, respectively.

M&A activities in sectors like agro and specialty chemicals is expected to pick up, said Avendus, adding that the stride towards food security will also increase the significance of agrochemicals. An estimated 85% of India’s crop loss (worth close to $20 billion) is caused by pest infestation, disease and weeds and is prevented by the use of agrochemicals.

India exports agrochemicals to countries like the us , France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Brazil, Colombia, China, Vietnam and Indonesia.