G4S downgrades revenue forecast amid slow trading in the Middle East and India

Shares in G4S have tumbled after it downgraded its revenue prospects for this year, citing a lack of growth in India and the Middle East. The global security firm said it expected its revenues to rise by 3-4pc this year, having said earlier in the year that it would be between 4pc and 6pc. Shares in the firm plummeted as much as 8pc to 257.2p on Tuesday morning on the back of the update, which also covered the firm’s performance in the nine months to September 30. G4S provides outsourced services such as security guarding, airport screening and mobile patrols across the world, employing more than half a million people across 100 countries. Slower trading in some international markets will come as a blow to the company, which has looked to reduce its reliance on its UK business in favour of overseas contracts. However, Ashley Almanza, chief executive of G4S, said trading for the period had been “in line with expectations”. “Organic revenue growth was 4.4pc, with all regions growing apart from the Middle East and India region,” he said. G4S said that it had an “encouraging” pipeline of work for the coming year, and its Cash360 system was continuing to sell well. The system reduces the need for employees to handle cash, limiting opportunities for theft at tills in shops. Having initially launched it in the US, it is now rolling out sales for Cash360 and other money-handling services in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia, it said. Kean Marden, analyst at Jefferies, said: “We still believe that revenue growth will accelerate in the first half of 2018 driven by improving emerging markets momentum, Cash360 wins, and pass-through of higher wage rate inflation but momentum has troughed at a lower level than expected in the second half of 2017.” The company will announce its full-year results for 2017 on March 8 next year. Continue Reading

Students Lead Struggles for Freedom in Middle East and North Africa

Students have put themselves on the front lines of the struggle in countries in the Middle East and North Africa to rid the region of monarchies and strongmen who have ruled, in some cases, for decades. Inspired by uprisings for freedom in Tunisia and Egypt, young people are taking on repressive regimes in hopes that their countries can be free from tyranny.Libya: Students, who participated in a movement that called for a "Day of Rage" on February 17, are seeing their friends killed by mercenaries that Leader Gaddafi has hired to protect him from losing power. In his rambling and incoherent speech on February 22, Gaddafi accused youth of taking “hallucinatory drugs” and destroying the country. He also compared the youth to “greasy rats and cats.” Al Jazeera reported on February 17 that Libya was threatening to withdraw government scholarships from students studying in the United States if they didn’t attend pro-government rallies. Students told Al Jazeera they received phone calls from the Libyan Embassy explaining they would pay for plane tickets, hotel rooms and food if they took part and, if they didn’t, the government would move to cut all financial support.  At the London School of Economics, students have launched an occupation against the school’s ties to the Libyan regime. Bahrain: Since Bahrainis held their “Day of Rage” on February 14, teachers have been encouraging students to go to Pearl Roundabout to camp out and protest King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa. This cable released by WikiLeaks titled, “Bahrain’s Youth: Worried About Jobs, Skeptical of Political Authority and Open to America” offers a window into the grievances fueling young people in Bahrain. Yemen: Without students, President Abu Abdullah Saleh would likely be facing a fairly insignificant uprising. Tom Finn, stringer for The Guardian who is in Yemen, reports University of Sanaa students have been holding an Continue Reading

Is WikiLeaks Driving Unrest in the Middle East and North Africa?

Has WikiLeaks influenced the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa? Media Fix’s Greg Mitchell thinks the organization’s diplomatic cables leaks have played a significant role in the past few months’ events in the region. Mitchell, author of the recently published book The Age of WikiLeaks: From Collateral Murder to Cablegate (and Beyond), joined Antiwar Radio this morning to talk about WikiLeaks’ savvy decision to release batches of cables from Bahrain and Libya, as it has done for Egypt and Tunisia in past weeks. Though the media may attack WikiLeaks on their editorial pages, Mitchell says many outlets depend on the cables for juicy details about Libya. Where else could we learn that US diplomats consider Qaddafi and Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez “revolutionary brothers”? For the latest on all things WikiLeaks, read Greg Mitchell’s live blog. —Kevin Gosztola Continue Reading

ISIS Is a Symptom, Not the Cause, of the Middle East’s Disintegration

We live in an age of disintegration. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Greater Middle East and Africa. Across the vast swath of territory between Pakistan and Nigeria, there are at least seven ongoing wars—in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and South Sudan. These conflicts are extraordinarily destructive. They are tearing apart the countries in which they are taking place in ways that make it doubtful they will ever recover. Cities like Aleppo in Syria, Ramadi in Iraq, Taiz in Yemen, and Benghazi in Libya have been partly or entirely reduced to ruins. There are also at least three other serious insurgencies: in southeast Turkey, where Kurdish guerrillas are fighting the Turkish army, in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula where a little-reported but ferocious guerrilla conflict is underway, and in northeast Nigeria and neighboring countries where Boko Haram continues to launch murderous attacks. All of these have a number of things in common: They are endless and seem never to produce definitive winners or losers. (Afghanistan has effectively been at war since 1979, Somalia since 1991.) They involve the destruction or dismemberment of unified nations, their de facto partition amid mass population movements and upheavals—well publicized in the case of Syria and Iraq, less so in places like South Sudan where more than 2.4 million people have been displaced in recent years. Add in one more similarity, no less crucial for being obvious: In most of these countries, where Islam is the dominant religion, extreme Salafi-Jihadi movements, including the Islamic State in Syria (ISIS), Al Qaeda, and the Taliban are essentially the only available vehicles for protest and rebellion. By now, they have completely replaced the socialist and nationalist movements that predominated in the 20th century; these years have, that is, seen a remarkable reversion to religious, ethnic, and tribal identity, to movements that seek to establish their own exclusive Continue Reading

Funding squeeze hastens take-off of non-bank lending in Middle East

By Tom Arnold and Davide Barbuscia DUBAI (Reuters) - Middle East investment companies are ramping up their lending to businesses, providing a lifeline for small and medium-sized firms struggling to secure finance from banks that tightened credit after a suffering rise in bad loans. Industry participants estimate non-bank lenders in the region could provide around $1 billion over the next three to five years, including secured loans, mezzanine debt, preferred shares and convertible loans and bonds. That's a small slice of the global industry; private debt funds, the other name for non-bank lenders, distributed $58 billion in capital worldwide in the first half of 2016, according to financial data firm Preqin. But a growing number of Middle Eastern borrowers are considering non-bank finance, alongside other "shadow banking" options such as private equity, venture capital funds and peer-to-peer lending. In the Gulf, "low oil prices have caused lower liquidity in the market, and combined with more onerous capital requirements for banks, this has led to a decline in the financing available to mid-market companies," said Mirza Beg, managing director of private debt at Waha Capital. "This situation is creating more opportunities for private debt players like us." United Arab Emirates-based asset management firm Waha branched into private debt last year, offering conventional and sharia-compliant finance for healthcare, logistics, consumer and business services firms in the Middle East, Africa and Turkey. Many banks in the Gulf have tightened their policies on lending in the past two years as low oil prices and sluggish economic growth aggravate non-performing loans. Some banks have also become less able to lend because of pressure on their balance sheets from new regulations, including global Basel III requirements from the Bank of International Settlements and the International Financial Reporting Standards Board's IFRS 9 accounting rule. New Continue Reading

Homeland Security rolls out electronics ban on flights coming from 10 airports in Middle East, North Africa

The Trump administration is imposing an electronics ban for passengers at 10 airports in eight countries from North Africa and the Middle East. U.S.-bound travellers carrying anything larger than a cellphone — such as a laptop, tablet or portable DVD player — will now have to store the device in a checked bag if they’re flying nonstop out from affected Muslim-majority nations, several of which are U.S. allies. Great Britain announced later Tuesday it would take similar steps, but covering fewer countries.   The airports are in Amman, Jordan; Cairo; Kuwait City, Kuwait; Doha, Qatar; Dubai and Abu Dhabi, both in United Arab Emirates; Istanbul; Casablanca, Morocco; Riyadh and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Officials said the ban isn’t related to President Trump’s revised executive order blocking citizens of other Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for 90 days. A Homeland Security spokeswoman said the agency “did not target specific nations. We relied upon evaluated intelligence to determine which airports were affected.” The electronics ban impacts nine airlines flying into the U.S. on a daily basis. U.S.-based airlines are not impacted because they don’t fly directly in or out of the cities, officials said. The affected airlines have until Friday to begin complying with the new order, according to the government. U.S. citizens, however, are subject to the electronics ban, which DHS said will “remain in place until the threat changes.” Airline workers are exempt from the rules, and large medical devices aren’t subject to the ban. DHS could also expand the ban to airports in more cities. The ban comes after reports that terror groups plan to smuggle explosives in everyday electronic devices, as well as target commercial airlines. The ban “seeks to balance risk with impacts to the traveling public and Continue Reading

New Intel: Al Qaeda Growing Stronger Throughout Middle East, North Africa

Chief Intelligence Correspondent Catherine Herridge reported this afternoon on the current state of al Qaeda, as new assessments point to the terror network and its affiliate groups becoming stronger and operating in at least 12 countries. These groups are blamed for more murders in the final quarter of 2013 than in all of 2012. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) told Fox News that new information indicates that the more moderate groups in Syria are joining up with extremist networks with ties to al Qaeda after the U.S. and its allies declined to intervene in the conflict. The FBI director said last month that there is increasing communication between al Qaeda leadership and affiliate groups throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Watch the full report above. Continue Reading

McLaren 12C takes ‘Car of the Year’ title at Middle East Motor Awards

McLaren, the British-built supercar, beat 17 other category winners to the night's top honor at the Middle East Motor Awards this week. The Middle East Motor Awards are the region's most prestigious automotive accolades, and are judged by a jury panel that includes 17 of its leading motoring journalists. At the presentation in Dubai Wednesday, the McLaren 12C was named ‘Best Supercar' but then went on to also be named the car of the year, beating 50 vehicles that had been considered overall for each of the 17 award categories. What makes the award so impressive is that the McLaren has only been on sale for one year and 2011-2012 marks the company's first year as a true production-car manufacturer. Of the award, Mark Harrison, Regional Director for Middle East and Africa said: "To win ‘Best Supercar' in the Middle East is an amazing achievement coming in our very first full year as a luxury sports car manufacturer. But to win the overall ‘Car of the Year' title is unbelievable." In explaining the jury's decision, the ceremony's organizer, Saif Al Midfa said: "The 12C is a clear winner for ‘Car of the Year'. McLaren's debut model is a stunning car and worthy of making the ultimate wish list for any automotive fan." One thousand McLaren MC12s have been sold since its worldwide launch in 2011, 10 percent of which have found homes in the Middle East -- an automotive client region famed for its love of and expertise in supercars. To capitalize on its fast-growing customer bases in both the Middle East and China, McLaren launched a Special Operations division in August that is responsible for the delivery of bespoke features, options or larger-scale projects for new and existing McLaren sportscar owners. AFP/Relaxnews Did you find this article helpful? If so, please share it using the "Join the Conversation" buttons below, and thank you for visiting Daily News Autos. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Laptop ban begins Tuesday in cabins of nine airlines flying non-stop to U.S. from Mideast and Africa

Corrections and clarifications: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Royal Air Maroc.WASHINGTON — The U.S. government began notifying nine foreign airlines in the Middle East and Africa at 3 a.m. ET Tuesday that personal electronics larger than cellphones will be banned indefinitely in the cabins of about 50 direct flights daily to the U.S.The secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, John Kelly, and the acting head of the Transportation Security Administration, Huban Gowadia, decided that greater security was needed based on intelligence about airlines that fly non-stop from 10 airports to the U.S., according to four senior administration officials who spoke to reporters on background to discuss security measures.“Evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorists continue to target commercial aviation and are aggressively pursuing innovative methods to undertake their attacks, to include smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items,” said a senior administration official.The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, fully supported the security precautions Tuesday after being briefed about them during the weekend."These steps are both necessary and proportional to the threat," Schiff said. "The global aviation system remains a top target and proper security requires that we continually adapt our defenses."TODAY IN THE SKY: What fliers need to know about the airline laptop and electronics banNo imminent threat was reported. But the targeted airlines will have 96 hours to ensure that passengers stow all of their tablets, e-readers, DVD players, cameras, game units, travel printers and scanners — any electronics larger than a cellphone — in checked luggage rather than in carry-on.The officials wouldn’t disclose why it was safer to have the electronics in cargo than in the cabin.If an airline ignores the restrictions, security officials Continue Reading

Oil prices rise over $100 a barrel amid chaos in Middle East, North Africa

Oil prices topped $100 a barrel Thursday for the first time since 2008 as traders eyed growing chaos in the Middle East and North Africa. In Libya, which has the biggest oil reserves in Africa, the popular rebellion against Col. Moammar Khadafy was disrupting the flow of crude. There were widespread reports that Khadafy had ordered the destruction of oil fields and refineries, though no evidence surfaced of such attacks. But foreign companies that are pulling out cut production. Libya's biggest oil producer, Eni, idled operations and French oil giant Total, Germany's Wintershall, Spain's Repsol-YPF and Austria's OMV all suspended operations and evacuated workers and their families. Barclays Capital estimated 1 million barrels per day of Libya's production has been shut down. Most of Libya's oil goes to Europe, but any disruption affects the global market. The International Energy Agency and Saudi Arabia have pledged to cover any shortfall in world supplies, but that hasn't eased tensions in oil markets. Analysts say violence in the region has added a "fear premium" of about $10 per barrel of oil. The average price of gasoline in the city Wednesday was $3.49 a gallon, according to the website, newyorkgasprices.com.   Join the Conversation: Continue Reading