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Matt Smith


Matt Smith is a former Reuters correspondent who has covered the Middle East and North Africa since 2006, specialising in various sectors including stock markets, telecoms, technology, banking and finance

Matt Smith
Men walk past an HSBC branch in Manama. HSBC Bank Middle East made pre-tax profit of $1.2bn in 2023

HSBC’s Middle East unit increases lending in Q4

HSBC’s Middle East subsidiary expanded its loan book in the fourth quarter, outperforming the bank’s other units. Customer lending at HSBC Bank Middle East was $20 billion on December 31, up $1.6 billion, or 8 percent, on three months earlier. Worldwide, HSBC’s customer lending fell by 2 percent over the same period. The Middle East […]

Shorooq partner Tamer Azer says the VC firm is excited about investing in a 'different generation' of companies in sectors such as gaming

VC firm Shorooq focuses on AI, biotech and gaming

Venture capital company Shorooq Partners will target companies specialising in sectors such as artificial intelligence, biotech and gaming, a senior executive told AGBI. Shorooq is based in Abu Dhabi and manages about $350 million in assets and invests in startups in the Middle East and North Africa and beyond. It is focused on on fintech […]

The sale of 'everything app' Careem to Uber for $3.1 billion has distorted the mean value of Mena VC exits

Mena VC exit route remains uncertain in young sector

The Mena region’s venture capital industry has blossomed over the past decade as firms have raised $14.5 billion from investors since 2015 and spent a similar amount buying into early-stage companies over the same period. Yet returns on these outlays remain uncertain, and the sector is still in its infancy. From 2015 to September 30 […]

People speak in the lobby of the Dubai Financial Market. Strict IPO rules mean loss-making startups cannot go public

Tough IPO rules deter UAE tech startups from listing

The UAE’s burgeoning startup sector has helped it become a centre for tech innovation, yet almost none of these fledgling companies have gone public due to stock market regulations. Since 2021 the Dubai Financial Market (DFM) and Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) have welcomed a flurry of initial public offerings as part-privatised government-related companies diversify […]

Abu Dhabi's Advanced Technology Research Council announced its $200m tech fund at the World Governments Summit in Dubai

Abu Dhabi launches tech fund for developing countries

Abu Dhabi has launched a $200 million tech investment platform that it hopes will help developing countries catch up with wealthier nations. The emirate’s Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC), which unveiled the initiative at the World Government Summit in Dubai, will fund “resource and research costs” in six sectors, transport, healthcare, aerospace and space, food […]

Taking off: Emirates NBD ranked above all other businesses that have declared their 2023 dividends

Emirates NBD tops Gulf dividend yield rankings 

Emirates NBD, Dubai’s largest bank, has so far topped the Gulf list of dividend yield pay-outs awarded to shareholders in 2023, Refinitiv data shows. The government-controlled lender, whose shares are up 27 percent in the past 12 months, provides a dividend yield of 6.9 percent based on its closing stock price of February 8. The […]

A listing ceremony at Qatar Stock Exchange. 'You need more than [IPOs] to improve stock exchange liquidity,' said one market observer

Qatar sets up $200m fund to drive trade in Doha stocks

Qatar Investment Authority has launched a $200 million fund for Doha-listed stocks as part of plans to reinvigorate trading on the country’s bourse. Trading turnover on the Qatar Stock Exchange has dropped from QAR160.4 billion ($44.1 billion) in 2022, when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine boosted the prices of Gulf hydrocarbon exports, spurring local, regional and […]

Listing requirements for companies joining Nomu are less onerous compared to Saudi Arabia’s main market

Saudi stock market Nomu poised for listings flurry

Saudi Arabia’s lower-tier stock market, Nomu, is poised for a further flurry of new listings this year as an increasing number of the kingdom’s small and mid-sized companies opt to go public to raise money and improve corporate governance standards. Since launching in 2017, Nomu, which means growth in Arabic, has swelled to 79 listed […]

Retailer Lulu has branches across the Mena region, India and the Far East. It plans a billion-dollar IPO before the end of the year

Saudi Arabia and UAE to dominate Mena IPOs in 2024

Nearly 30 companies in the Middle East and North Africa plan to launch initial public offerings this year, despite mixed share price performance from many regional businesses that went public last year, a report has found. Businesses from Saudi Arabia and the UAE will again dominate Mena IPOs in 2024, according to the report by […]

Investors at the Dubai Financial Market. Executives believe 'international strategic' buyers will be the most active in the Middle East this year

Merger activity tipped to rebound in Middle East

Mergers and acquisitions executives are expecting activity in the Middle East to rebound this year, a survey has found. M&A deals slumped last year as rising borrowing costs, global recessionary fears and geopolitical uncertainty made prospective buyers more wary.  In the first half of 2023, there were 318 deals worth a combined $43.8 billion in […]

Quantum dot technology could be transformative for drones, robots and autonomous vehicles

Saudi startup’s infrared tech has ‘game-changing’ potential

A Saudi Arabian startup’s pioneering research will slash the cost of infrared sensors, enabling them to be used in a myriad of day-to-day applications and accelerating the development of fully autonomous vehicles, its founder told AGBI. Osman Bakr, founder and chairman of Quantum Solutions, is also head of the functional nanomaterials laboratory at Kaust (King […]

An investor in the Dubai Financial Market. 'Whether you’ve $10,000 or $1 billion to invest, you should have the same opportunities,' said Sarwa's CEO

Fintech Sarwa beefs up investment platform

Sarwa Digital Wealth, an Abu Dhabi-based fintech, will this year add several new asset classes including private equity and real estate to its robo-advisory platform, the company’s CEO told AGBI. This development is indicative of a broader trend among fintech companies in the region, which are evolving from addressing isolated banking challenges to diversifying their […]

National Bank of Kuwait mortgage reform

Kuwait banks boosted by likely mortgage law reform

Kuwait bank stocks are hitting highs as traders bet that a long-awaited liberation of  the country’s mortgage laws will come into force and provide a windfall for lenders. Currently only the government-controlled Kuwait Credit Bank (KCB) provides financing to Kuwaiti citizens and companies for them to buy real estate, and commercial banks are not permitted […]

A subsidiary of the logistics firm Agility provided a loan to Korek telecom in 2007

Iraqi Kurdistan ordered to pay $490m to Kuwaiti firm

Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) must pay Kuwaiti logistics company Agility $490 million after a Kuwaiti court rejected its appeal against an earlier award for the same amount, in the latest setback for the financially stricken administration. The KRG had guaranteed a $250 million loan that an Agility subsidiary, Alcazar Capital Partners, provided to Erbil-based […]

Iran suffers frequent power outages and this, combined with high energy costs, presents hurdles to bitcoin miners

Energy costs push bitcoin mining in Iran underground  

Rising energy costs and onerous government regulations are forcing much of Iran’s once-blossoming bitcoin mining sector to operate clandestinely, a top industry executive has told AGBI. Bitcoin’s price surged to $46,900 in early January ahead of the launch of bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in the US, up from a two-year low of about $15,800 in […]

Interest rate cuts in the US are likely to drive investors – particularly local investors – to put money into higher-yield bonds

Bonds to expand in 2024 as governments plug shortfalls

Gulf bond issuance this year will exceed that of 2023-24 as governments borrow to bridge budget shortfalls and tight spreads persuade more corporations to raise debt, according to experts. Gulf bond issuance in 2023 was $64.7 billion, up 74 percent year on year, according to data from Refinitiv. Yet last year’s total was still down […]

Gold vendors in Cairo. The Egyptian government will devalue the pound further in March

IMF ‘likely to drop currency demands for loans to Egypt’

The International Monetary Fund is likely to waive its demand that the Egyptian government make the pound free floating in order to receive additional loans, experts said on Tuesday. Cairo agreed a $3 billion IMF support package in December 2022, but received only an initial payment of $347 million. The original deal said Egypt should […]

Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell. The Fed has set its benchmark Effective Rate of interest at 5.33% but the markets expect a cut

Treasury yields fall as traders bet on US rate cuts

US 10-year treasury yields have slid from October’s 15-year highs as markets bet the Federal Reserve will start cutting its benchmark interest rate in 2024. Declining 10-year treasury yields, against which many sovereign and corporate bonds worldwide are priced, have led to lower borrowing costs. “We’re starting to see some more new issuance in 2024, […]

Asiacell store Baghdad Iraq telecoms

Iraq’s biggest telecoms firms tap into resurgent market

Lower taxes, improved political stability and troubles at a smaller rival have helped Iraq’s top two telecoms operators reverse a decline in earnings. Now the duo, Zain Iraq, a subsidiary of Kuwait’s Zain, and Asiacell, which is majority owned by the former Qatari telecom monopoly Ooredoo, should prosper further in 2024. Zain and Asiacell have […]

Dubai Mercantile Exchange will be rebranded as Gulf Mercantile Exchange to reflect its position as a regional commodities exchange

Korek Telecom fights $1.65 billion award to partners

A Dubai court will next month hear whether it should scrap a $1.65 billion award against an Iraqi telecom operator and its politically connected top shareholder. The long-running dispute underscores the risk that foreign investors face in Iraq, a country devastated by decades of conflict and sanctions and which is among the world’s most corrupt […]

Computer Hardware, Electronics, Hardware

Saudi Arabia and First Abu Dhabi tap bond markets

Saudi Arabia sold $12 billion of bonds this week in a three-part issuance that was heavily oversubscribed, while First Abu Dhabi Bank set final pricing for its latest sukuk. The Islamic and conventional bonds mark a strong start to 2024 for the Gulf’s fixed-income sector, which rebounded last year after a tough 2022. Saudi Arabia […]

Turkey manufacturing

Turkey’s manufacturing sector weakens for sixth month

Turkey’s manufacturing sector deteriorated for a sixth straight month in December although the industry fared slightly better than in November, data published on Tuesday showed. The Istanbul Chamber of Industry’s Turkey PMI Manufacturing Index registered 47.4 in December, up from 47.2 a month earlier. A figure below 50 indicates the sector is contracting, while above […]