world-news (12)

Here's some fizzy water with a kick… Coca-Cola has launched an alcoholic version of the drink.

The South African government should take a full inventory of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and divest or liquidate those that are no longer relevant – or which are failing to meet their objectives.

The United Kingdom has approved the use of a drug to treat people at high risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms, which the manufacturers say appears to be effective against the new Omicron variant.

KPMG LLP was sued for at least $600 million over its role in the insolvency of Dubai private-equity firm Abraaj Group, the latest in a string of complaints of sloppy auditing made against the Big Four firm.

The claimants, two units of Abraaj now in liquidation, allege that KPMG accountants “failed to maintain independence and an appropriate attitude of professional skepticism,” and breached their duty of care when auditing the private-equity firm, according to court documents filed in Dubai on November 3.

If KPMG and its local Lower Gulf subsidiary had complied with their duties, then “irregularities” relating to the firm’s financial statements would’ve been identified sooner, the claimants said.

The allegations are the latest to hit one of the Big Four accountancy firms over poor auditing work. In July, the Malaysian government, 1MDB and their units filed a lawsuit seeking more than $5.6 billion from 44 KPMG Malaysia partners for their role in auditing the state investment fund.

Other Big Four firms have also been embroiled in scandal. Ernst & Young faces accusations it “actively concealed” a six-year fraud from investors over its auditing for hospital operator NMC Health.

A spokesperson for KPMG Lower Gulf said it disputes and will defend the Dubai court’s judgment. The firm undertook “comprehensive actions” to “strengthen our culture, governance and compliance processes,” the spokesperson said. 

Collapse into insolvency

Abraaj, which managed some $14 billion at its peak, collapsed into insolvency in 2018 after being accused of misusing investor funds. The firm’s founder and chief executive officer Arif Naqvi is alleged to have stolen more than $250 million by US prosecutors. He denies any wrongdoing. 

Naqvi, the firm’s founder and CEO, remains under house arrest in London and faces a maximum sentence of up to 291 years in jail if is extradited to the US and convicted. At least one other former employee has pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges.

KPMG was Abraaj’s auditor for six years, while Abraaj’s Chief Financial Officer Ashish Dave worked as a partner at KPMG between his two stints as CFO. He was recently hit with a $1.7 million fine by the Dubai Financial Services Authority for his involvement in the scandal.-moneyweb

Dubai plans to encourage private and family-owned businesses to list on its stock market as the business hub seeks to catch up with Abu Dhabi and Riyadh in the Middle East IPO rush.

The city merged its economic and tourism departments on Saturday, and one of the new entity’s main tasks is to prod private and family-owned businesses to sell shares on the Dubai bourse, according to a statement.

In the past week, Dubai has made a series of moves designed to attract listings to the city and catch up with regional rivals that have drawn billions of dollars over the past year. That included overhauling the board of the local stock exchange and plan to list state-owned utility DEWA -- one of 10 planned over the coming months.

Some of the well-known private firms and family-owned businesses in Dubai include Majid Al Futtaim Holding, the operator of Carrefour SA stores in the Middle East, and Al Khaleej Sugar Co., owner of the world’s largest port-based sugar refiner.

Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange is due to make its trading debut next month after starting the process to sell a 30% stake in an initial public offering, according to its chief executive officer. 

“We target to list the company in the first week of December,” Khalid Al Hussan said in an interview on Sunday. “The IPO is a continuation of our transformation,” he said, adding that the offering should give it a “better exposure and access to investors.”

The kingdom’s markets regulator last week signed off on Saudi Tadawul Group Holding’s offering of 36 million shares. SNB Capital, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup are the IPO’s global coordinators and underwriters.

The offering, which may be one of the biggest in the exchange sector since Euronext NV’s $1.2 billion listing in 2014, could value the bourse at between $3 billion and $4 billion, people familiar with the matter said last month.

The exchange will offer all shares to institutional investors, with a clawback to retail investors of up to 10% of shares. Al Hussan said IPO subscription for institutions will start on 21 November and for individuals on 30 November.

Separately, Al Hussan said the exchange’s clearinghouse was on course to be fully operational in early 2022.fin24

British bank Barclays on Monday said chief executive Jes Staley had quit ahead of contesting the outcome of a UK probe into historical links with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Facebook is re-christening itself Meta Platforms, decoupling its corporate identity from the eponymous social network mired in toxic content, and highlighting a shift to an emerging computing platform focused on virtual reality.

The combined net worth of Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos approached $500 billion on Wednesday, fueled by the unrelenting rally in Tesla Inc. shares and a broad surge in tech stocks that sent the Nasdaq 100 to an intraday record.

A blowout first quarter has brought Microsoft  back into contention in the race for the world’s most-valuable listed company.

Deloitte Africa has officially adopted a hybrid working model. All its staff members will be allowed to split their working time between any Deloitte offices, at their clients' premises or any remote location of their choice.

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