FILE - A Saturday, July 22, 2017, file photo of Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho celebrating after scoring a goal during the final match against Leicester City FC at the Premier League Asia Trophy soccer tournament in Hong Kong. Coutinho is close to sealing a move to Barcelona from Liverpool. A person familiar with the deal tells The Associated Press that Liverpool and Barcelona have reached an agreement that will see the Brazil midfielder move to the Spanish team for a fee of 160 million euros ($192 million). Coutinho was traveling to Spain on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 and an announcement was expected on Sunday. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)
The Brazil midfielder will move to the Spanish team for a fee of 160 million euros ($192 million). AP Photo/Kin Cheung

Barcelona to sign €160 million Coutinho from Liverpool



Philippe Coutinho finally got his wish on Saturday when Barcelona agreed to sign the Brazilian star from Liverpool for €160 million (Dh707m).

"Barcelona and Liverpool have reached an agreement for the transfer of Philippe Coutinho. The player will sign a contract for the rest of the season and five more years with a release clause of 400 million euros," said a Barcelona statement.

The deal for the 25-year-old attacking midfielder will be the third biggest in football after the €222m Paris Saint-Germain paid Barcelona for Brazilian star Neymar last year and the €186m that Kylian Mbappe will eventually cost Paris Saint-Germain from Monaco once the French player's loan period with the Ligue 1 champions is completed.

"It is with great reluctance that we - as a team and club - prepare to say farewell to a good friend, a wonderful person and a fantastic player in Philippe Coutinho," Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp told the club's official website.

"It is no secret that Philippe has wanted this move to happen since July, when Barcelona first made their interest known.

"Philippe was insistent with me, the owners and even his teammates this was a move he was desperate to make happen."

Rio-born Coutinho arrived at Anfield from Inter Milan for £8.5 million (Dh42,350) in January 2013 and scored 54 goals for the club in all competitions, although he won no silverware during his five-year stay.

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Barcelona set to continue where they left off as they await Coutinho arrival

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Barcelona had tried to sign him in the summer, but his departure is a blow to Liverpool as the playmaker has just returned to top form after an injury-hit start to the season.

He scored six goals in the last seven games of 2017 to put his side firmly in the Uefa Champions League places.

Capturing Coutinho allows Barcelona to move on from the bitter experience of losing his Brazil teammate Neymar last summer.

Coutinho had stayed in Liverpool on Saturday while his teammates jetted off to Dubai for warm-weather training, fuelling speculation that he was set to leave the Premier League club.

He was then photographed giving a thumbs-up as he left London for Spain accompanied by his wife Aine.

Coutinho is expected to watch his new team host Levante on Sunday afternoon at Camp Nou.

Video posted on the club website showed a locker bearing his name had already been reserved for their new recruit.

Coutinho's age is highly attractive to Barca, whose three main stars, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta are all in their thirties. Iniesta, at 33, has shown signs of fatigue this season.

French sports daily L'Equipe reported on Saturday that Liverpool were lining up Leicester's Riyad Mahrez to replace Coutinho, although Britain's Press Association said the Anfield club had contacted Leicester to inform them that the reports were pure speculation.

Liverpool have also been strongly linked with Monaco forward Thomas Lemar, who Arsenal tried to sign before the season.

Coutinho played no role in Liverpool's 2-1 victory over city rivals Everton in the FA Cup on Friday.

Liverpool's winning goal was scored by Virgil Van Dijk, the Dutch defender signed last week from Southampton for £75 million ($101.7 million, 84.5 million euros).

Former Liverpool defender Phil Thompson said his old club had probably got the better deal.

"It's hard to get my head around what Philippe is going to gain because he can't play Champions League football for them, they are running away with the league, and he's got the World Cup at the end of the season," Thompson said on Sky Sports.

"Will he play regularly every week at Barcelona? I'm not too sure. Philippe could have carried on (at Liverpool). He could have been playing in the Champions League."

Meanwhile, later on Saturday, Liverpool said they will offer supporters who bought shirts bearing the name of Coutinho a £50 voucher to help offset the impact of the Brazilian star's departure.

"The offer follows today's announcement that Coutinho will join Barcelona and reflects the exceptional circumstances behind the player's departure," said the club.

"Supporters should present their 2017-18 Coutinho replica shirt at any official club store where the voucher will be issued ... the shirt will not be retained but proof of purchase will be required."

THE SPECS

Engine: Four-cylinder 2.5-litre

Transmission: Seven-speed auto

Power: 165hp

Torque: 241Nm

Price: Dh99,900 to Dh134,000

On sale: now

Company name: Farmin

Date started: March 2019

Founder: Dr Ali Al Hammadi 

Based: Abu Dhabi

Sector: AgriTech

Initial investment: None to date

Partners/Incubators: UAE Space Agency/Krypto Labs 

Our legal columnist

Name: Yousef Al Bahar

Advocate at Al Bahar & Associate Advocates and Legal Consultants, established in 1994

Education: Mr Al Bahar was born in 1979 and graduated in 2008 from the Judicial Institute. He took after his father, who was one of the first Emirati lawyers

Long read
Company Profile

Company name: Namara
Started: June 2022
Founder: Mohammed Alnamara
Based: Dubai
Sector: Microfinance
Current number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Family offices

The specs

Engine: 6-cylinder, 4.8-litre
Transmission: 5-speed automatic and manual
Power: 280 brake horsepower
Torque: 451Nm
Price: from Dh153,00
On sale: now

Non-oil trade

Non-oil trade between the UAE and Japan grew by 34 per cent over the past two years, according to data from the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre. 

In 10 years, it has reached a total of Dh524.4 billion. 

Cars topped the list of the top five commodities re-exported to Japan in 2022, with a value of Dh1.3 billion. 

Jewellery and ornaments amounted to Dh150 million while precious metal scraps amounted to Dh105 million. 

Raw aluminium was ranked first among the top five commodities exported to Japan. 

Top of the list of commodities imported from Japan in 2022 was cars, with a value of Dh20.08 billion.

HEY MERCEDES, WHAT CAN YOU DO FOR ME?

Mercedes-Benz's MBUX digital voice assistant, Hey Mercedes, allows users to set up commands for:

• Navigation

• Calls

• In-car climate

• Ambient lighting

• Media controls

• Driver assistance

• General inquiries such as motor data, fuel consumption and next service schedule, and even funny questions

There's also a hidden feature: pressing and holding the voice command button on the steering wheel activates the voice assistant on a connected smartphone – Siri on Apple's iOS or Google Assistant on Android – enabling a user to command the car even without Apple CarPlay or Android Auto

Padmaavat

Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Starring: Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor, Jim Sarbh

3.5/5

PROFILE OF SWVL

Started: April 2017

Founders: Mostafa Kandil, Ahmed Sabbah and Mahmoud Nouh

Based: Cairo, Egypt

Sector: transport

Size: 450+ employees

Investment: approximately $80 million

Investors include: Dubai’s Beco Capital, US’s Endeavor Catalyst, China’s MSA, Egypt’s Sawari Ventures, Sweden’s Vostok New Ventures, Property Finder CEO Michael Lahyani

If you go

The flights 

Emirates flies from Dubai to Funchal via Lisbon, with a connecting flight with Air Portugal. Economy class returns cost from Dh3,845 return including taxes.

The trip

The WalkMe app can be downloaded from the usual sources. If you don’t fancy doing the trip yourself, then Explore  offers an eight-day levada trails tour from Dh3,050, not including flights.

The hotel

There isn’t another hotel anywhere in Madeira that matches the history and luxury of the Belmond Reid's Palace in Funchal. Doubles from Dh1,400 per night including taxes.

 

 

WHAT IS THE LICENSING PROCESS FOR VARA?

Vara will cater to three categories of companies in Dubai (except the DIFC):

Category A: Minimum viable product (MVP) applicants that are currently in the process of securing an MVP licence: This is a three-stage process starting with [1] a provisional permit, graduating to [2] preparatory licence and concluding with [3] operational licence. Applicants that are already in the MVP process will be advised by Vara to either continue within the MVP framework or be transitioned to the full market product licensing process.

Category B: Existing legacy virtual asset service providers prior to February 7, 2023, which are required to come under Vara supervision. All operating service proviers in Dubai (excluding the DIFC) fall under Vara’s supervision.

Category C: New applicants seeking a Vara licence or existing applicants adding new activities. All applicants that do not fall under Category A or B can begin the application process through their current or prospective commercial licensor — the DET or Free Zone Authority — or directly through Vara in the instance that they have yet to determine the commercial operating zone in Dubai. 

Top investing tips for UAE residents in 2021

Build an emergency fund: Make sure you have enough cash to cover six months of expenses as a buffer against unexpected problems before you begin investing, advises Steve Cronin, the founder of DeadSimpleSaving.com.

Think long-term: When you invest, you need to have a long-term mindset, so don’t worry about momentary ups and downs in the stock market.

Invest worldwide: Diversify your investments globally, ideally by way of a global stock index fund.

Is your money tied up: Avoid anything where you cannot get your money back in full within a month at any time without any penalty.

Skip past the promises: “If an investment product is offering more than 10 per cent return per year, it is either extremely risky or a scam,” Mr Cronin says.

Choose plans with low fees: Make sure that any funds you buy do not charge more than 1 per cent in fees, Mr Cronin says. “If you invest by yourself, you can easily stay below this figure.” Managed funds and commissionable investments often come with higher fees.

Be sceptical about recommendations: If someone suggests an investment to you, ask if they stand to gain, advises Mr Cronin. “If they are receiving commission, they are unlikely to recommend an investment that’s best for you.”

Get financially independent: Mr Cronin advises UAE residents to pursue financial independence. Start with a Google search and improve your knowledge via expat investing websites or Facebook groups such as SimplyFI. 

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

Andor

Creator: Tony Gilroy
Stars: Diego Luna, Genevieve O'Reilly, Alex Ferns
Rating: 5/5


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