29 November 2007

Romania pushes Saudi investment in country

Saudi investors have made total investments of $2.2 billion in Romania up to date, the country's ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ion Dobreci told the press on Wednesday in Riyadh.

Dobreci said his country is all set to boost ties in different sectors with the kingdom and other Gulf states following its entry into the EU. Romania became a member of the EU at the beginning of this year.

The ambassador highlighted the success of the recent acquisition of a 63% stake in Romania's Electroputere Craiova by the Saudi Al-Arrab Contracting Company (ACC).

ACC, part of Mada Group, an industrial and commercial investment vehicle of the wealthy Al-Rajhi family, bought the controlling stake in the Romanian manufacturer of train engines, generators and electrical transformers in June for $174 million.

Mada intends to invest $1 billion through ACC to modernise the existing facilities of Electroputere Craiova and to turn it into a profitable company by 2009.

Mada is one of the four qualified consortiums working on the $4 billion cargo railway project in Saudi Arabia, and it is also working on the $5 billion high speed passenger railway project between Mecca and Medina, the two holly Muslim cities of Saudi Arabia.

Dobreci said the move to buy a majority stake in Electroputere was significant because Saudi Arabia intends to develop its railway infrastructure and the company's engines will help in achieving this.

Doberci said that $64 million debts Electroputere carries forced it to look for investors outside of Romania like ACC to bail it out.

There are many poor-performing state-owned companies like Electroputere in Romania that have been sold to foreign investors and seen their fortunes turn around.

Five years ago an Austrian-based bank bought Casa Agricola, a struggling state-owned Romanian bank, for $45 million and invested about $250 million in its modernisation. Today analysts estimate the bank could be sold for $2.5 billion.

Dobreci also said that the Saudi Zamil Group and Amiantit are also working to invest in Romania’s steel and pipe projects. He said a major housing project of 25,000 units in Romania is being developed by a Saudi-Romanian joint venture.

The economic growth and reforms made by Romania in the last two years have been praised by the World Bank.

The World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) ranked Romania 55th out of the 178 economies in its Doing Business 2007 Index, mainly due to the significant changes Romania made to its taxation system.

The IMF, the World Bank’s sister institution, however, warned that Romania is becoming too attractive to the extent that its economy might overheat.

Foreign investors have piled into Romania, attracted by its market of 20 million, Eastern Europe’s second largest after Poland, and opportunities to establish low-cost export bases.

The privatisation of state-owned enterprises helped in attracting foreign direct investment last year that exceeded 10 billion euros, the region’s highest.

The ambassador said Saudi businessmen can benefits from a flat tax rate with greater incentives offered by Romania.

Dobreci said that Romania’s large market, cheap labour and cheap utilities, as well as economic and political stability, were good reasons why Saudis should increase their investments in the country.

According to the embassy figures, the bilateral trade between Saudi and Romania stands at about $200 million annually.-(arabianbusiness)

1 comment:

Anthony said...

Totally random (but interesting) facts!

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Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.