ABK launches the latest mobile banking application

Ali Alghanim & Sons Automotive among first car
dealerships in Kuwait to offer valet parking service
KUWAIT: With a constant focus on providing
enhanced customer experience, Ali Alghanim &
Sons Automotive (AAS), the exclusive importer for
BMW, MINI, Rolls-Royce, Land Rover and McLaren,
becomes one of the first automotive dealerships in
Kuwait to offer valet parking services and make it
even more enjoyable for car enthusiasts to shop
for the car of their dreams.
Through its latest partnership with Parking Pal,
the valet parking service provider for some of
Kuwait’s luxurious shopping destinations as well
as hotels, all customers who come and visit the Ali
Alghanim & Sons showroom will now relish the
comfort and convenience of not having to worry
about having to park their cars.
“We at Ali Alghanim & Sons Automotive always
put the customer first in our list of priorities,” said
Yousuf Al-Qatami, General Manager of Ali
Alghanim & Sons Automotive. “By doing so, we
ensure an unrivalled customer experience right
from the moment they arrive at our showroom”.
“To enable them to enjoy the widest range of
choices from some of the world’s foremost car
brand manufacturers, we make sure that their cars
are properly parked only by the finest valet parking service available in the market today,” he
For his part, Walid Asaloa, GM and founder of
Parking Pal company commented: “We are happy
to be working together with Ali Alghanim & Sons
Automotive in providing the best valet parking
ser vice. Using the latest technology, which
includes the auto request via text messages or IVR
system or the scanning of the Q-R code, we are
truly proud of this collaboration as we always
strive to improve our services and exceed the
expectations of our valued customers.”
ABK launches the latest
mobile banking application
KUWAIT: Al-Ahli Bank of Kuwait
launched a new Mobile Banking
application that customers can
download for a secure and unique
banking experience.
Sawsan Ali, Senior Manager,
Alternative Delivery Channels stated, “ABK wanted to provide a distinctive mobile banking experience to meet a growing demand
to make banking easy, convenient
and accessible at all times. At the
same time the mobile banking
had to be a smooth and secure
experience. We are happy that this
newly launched app meets all criteria, riding on the wave of new
technology to deliver a safe and
fast means of banking to the customer.”
She elaborated that the updated application allows customers
to keep track of their account balance, transfer money locally and
internationally, settle credit card
payments and calculate their
She added, “Customers can
instantly access the latest promotions offered by ABK on this
application, in addition to locating ABK’s ATM machines, and
currency exchange rates, along
with several other services and
banking possibilities round the
Sawsan Ali
LOS ANGELES: A house for sale in Los Angeles. The National Association of Realtors reports on sales of existing homes in
November yesterday. — AP
US existing home sales hit
6-month low, inventories low
Median house price rises 5.0% from a year ago
WASHINGTON: US home resales tumbled to a six-month low
in November after two straight months of strong increases,
underscoring the uneven nature of the housing market recovery. The National Association of Realtors said yesterday existing home sales dropped 6.1 percent to an annual rate of 4.93
million units, the lowest level since May. November’s steep
decline probably does not signal the start of a weakening
trend and in part reflected stubbornly low inventories, which
touched an eight-month low, giving buyers limited options.
Sales were up 2.1 percent from a year ago.
“The report suggests that the housing market remains on a
somewhat rocky footing as data remains quite choppy,” said
Gennadiy Goldberg, an economist at TD Securities in New
Housing has struggled to shift into higher gear after stagnating in the second half of 2013 in the wake of a jump in
mortgage rates, which have since pulled back from their
peaks. It has lagged an acceleration in economic activity as
tepid wage growth, a shortage of properties available for sale
and higher home prices sidelined first-time buyers.
But there optimism that a broadening of job gains will
translate into stronger wage growth in 2015 and stimulate
demand for housing. Household formation, a key ingredient
for a healthy housing market, is running at about 500,000 a
year, well below the more than one million that is considered
ideal. Economists polled by Reuters had expected sales to fall
only to a 5.20-million unit pace.
The dollar slipped against a basket of currencies after the
report. US stocks held their gains, though the housing index
was trading down 0.3 percent. Prices for US Treasury debt
were little moved. First-time buyers are wading back into the
market, accounting for 31 percent of transactions last month.
That was the biggest share since October 2012 and was up
from 29 percent in October. Economists and real estate agents
say a share of 40 percent to 45 percent is required for a strong
housing recovery. Investors, who had supported the market,
continued to withdraw in November. They accounted for 15
percent of transactions last month, down from 19 percent in
November 2013.
The inventory of unsold homes on the market fell 6.7 percent from a year ago to 2.09 million. At November’s sales pace,
it would take 5.1 months to clear houses from the market,
unchanged from October. A six months’ supply is viewed as a
healthy balance between supply and demand.
With supply declining, house price gains remained elevated, though the pace of increases is slowing. The median
home price increased 5.0 percent in November from a year
ago. — Reuters
S Korea lowers outlook
on weak private sector
SEOUL: South Korea lowered its growth forecast for next year, citing persistently weak sentiment among consumers and businesses. But the government predicted that overall economic conditions will improve from this
year thanks to government measures, recovery in the US economy and the
fall in oil prices. The finance ministry said yesterday that Asia’s fourthlargest economy will expand 3.8 percent in 2015. Six months ago, it forecast growth of 4.0 percent. It also lowered its forecast for this year to 3.4
percent growth from the previous forecast of 3.7 percent. In 2013, South
Korea’s economy expanded 3.0 percent. The downward revision, which still
represents an improvement from the growth estimated for this year, shows
the government’s challenge in encouraging consumers to spend more and
businesses to boost investment despite its expansionary policies and the
central bank’s two rate cuts this year.
Director-General Lee Chanwoo said the recovery in consumer spending
and capital expenditure remained weaker than expected in the last two
months as consumers and businesses still have great uncertainties about
next year. The economic improvement in the last quarter stemmed mostly
from the government policies. The government will introduce measures
next year to boost wages and to push businesses to use their cash reserves
to create jobs and increase investment, he said. As one of those measures,
the country’s national pension fund will play a more active role as a shareholder to pressure companies to increase dividends. The government will
also seek to increase minimum wages and spend nearly 60 percent of its
annual budget during the first half of next year. Lee said these measures
will boost domestic demand and also reduce the economy’s reliance on
exports. South Korea’s growth was mostly driven by exports of goods, such
as cars and televisions, but the government has been trying to boost
domestic demand. Next year, the contribution of domestic demand to
growth will outpace that of exports according to Lee.—AP
Tesco masterplan? New boss keeps investors guessing
LONDON: When Phil Clarke was sacked as Tesco’s
CEO, senior executives hoped his 0700 strategy
meetings would go with him. They did - new
boss Dave Lewis starts his at 0630.
Parachuted in from Unilever in September,
Lewis soon faced the task of making the shock
announcement that a 250 million pound ($391
million) hole had been found in Tesco’s profits, in
an accounting scandal that led to the departure
of several senior executives.
Now the CEO - despite having no direct retail
experience - is keeping management on a tight
rein and personally taking charge of key areas of
the business, sources say. And as he conducts a
vast review of Tesco’s operations to come up with
a strategy to revive its fortunes, he is giving little
away - even to insiders. The 49-year-old has
promised to give some details on Jan. 8 about
the measures he plans to take, but all the contents of his blueprint have not yet even been
seen by senior management at the firm, according to a source close to the situation.
In fact the only member of the leadership
team to be consulted on the new strategy is
another newcomer to the firm, Chief Financial
Officer Alan Stewart, the source said.
Key internal talks around financials, customer
issues and products have been kept to separate
teams, with all big decisions taken by Lewis and
Stewart, the former finance chief at Marks &
“He tends to operate keeping everything
compartmentalised, so he keeps his own counsel
on the masterplan,” said the source, who did not
wish to be named. “He doesn’t have a core five or
six people that he discusses everything with.”
Tesco declined to comment for this story.
Lewis arrived in the worst crisis in the grocer’s 95year history. Nicknamed “Drastic Dave” after fixing units of Unilever with cost cuts and innovative marketing, he will have to show similar
resolve to improve Tesco’s competitiveness and
strengthen the balance sheet of the firm which
issued its fourth profit warning in five months
two weeks ago.
After two decades of growth, Tesco has lost its
way - distracted by an expensive overseas expansion strategy when it needed to respond to the
rise of discount grocers; and wrong-footed by a
boom in convenience stores and online shopping.
‘In the gang’
Lewis has said there is no quick fix, and favors
steady customer-focused improvements. Price
cuts, major asset disposals and a cash call to fix
creaking finances are all options. His decision to
take over temporarily the day-to-day leadership
of the UK operation - whose boss left after the
accounting scandal - is illustrative of his hands-on
approach, punctuated by emails fired off to staff
around the clock.
Earlier this month, according to an industry
source, he personally took charge of meetings
with Tesco’s top 25 suppliers, instead of newly
promoted commercial director Jason Tarry, to the
surprise of some attendees. Incorrectly booking
payments from suppliers was at the centre of the
accounting debacle, which is being investigated
by Britain’s accounting watchdog and Serious
Fraud Office.
With Tesco’s share price having halved in a
year, the spotlight is on what it must do to revitalize a business still the UK market leader but now
steadily losing share. However, company insiders
say challenges also lie much closer to Lewis at his
head office in Cheshunt, north of London. During
Clarke’s disastrous three-year-and-a-half year
tenure, Tesco’s management talent pool was irresponsibly reduced, according to former company
Lewis now heads a team depleted further still
by suspensions and exits, and retaining talent
could be a difficult task. “Him keeping ... everyone
sort of slightly in the dark feeds uncertainty.
Nobody is quite sure whether they are in the
gang or not,” the source close to the situation
Investors will hope that in his Jan. 8 update
Lewis will ditch the corporate jargon which despite an army of PR advisors - has proved a hindrance both internally and externally.
The Financial Times this month ran a “Dave
Lewis jargon-buster” to help readers decipher
phrases such as “rebasing relationships with suppliers”.
Analysts, drawing parallels with Tesco’s current
plight, say when Lewis returned to Unilever UK in
2005 it was suffering from declining market
share, had an uncompetitive cost base and a
weak image with customers. Nine years on, it’s
revitalized. One unnamed former UK Tesco director, who knows Lewis, said he was a “formidable”
fighter. “I think he’s getting a good grip of things
and I think he’ll do a decent job,” he told Reuters.
“The big issue is how he sets his stall out for the
next two to three years, not the current focus on
profits.” — Reuters
Moscow set to
ailing ruble-hit
MOSCOW: Moscow is to set to step in to
support troubled Russian airlines badly
hit by the collapse of the ruble and falling
passenger numbers. Deputy Prime
Minister Arkadi Dvorkovitch said Monday
he was considering credit guarantees and
subsidies worth up to 28 million euros
($34 million) to support struggling airlines.
He told the business daily Vedomosti
that two of the top three domestic airlines, Transaero and UTair, were already in
difficulty. “Firstly (we are looking at giving) companies credit guarantees which
are very powerful because they give
banks an interest in resolving the problem,” he said.
“Second comes subsidies for domestic
flights. We are ready to widen the number
of subsidized routes to make connections
viable,” he added. The newspaper said
Transaero will begin to benefit from credit
guarantees this week.
Airlines have been among the first hit
by the currency crisis because of the
international nature of their business and
the landing charges they must pay in foreign currency. The price of air tickets has
jumped twice by 12 percent and then 14
percent as the ruble has tumbled against
the euro and the dollar.
With rising prices, passenger numbers
have dropped back sharply in recent
months. On Sunday the TASS official
news agency said Transaero, the country’s
second airline, had asked for state help
claiming there was “a risk of flights being
suspended before the end of the year
because the company did not have the
money to pay its sub-contractors.”
The company denied it was about to
cut flights, claiming there was a campaign
to “discredit” it, but admitted that as during the crisis of 2008-2009, public help
was needed.
The leading regional carrier UTair is
having trouble repaying its debts to
Russia’s Alfa Bank, which took it to court
in early December and threatened to
seize part of its fleet. The company claims
it is working normally despite the legal
action. The airline made world headlines
in November when passengers on one of
its flights from Siberia had to get out and
push their plane in temperatures of minus
52 degrees Celsius after the parking brake
froze shut. — AFP