Global Response Aid (GRA) and Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories will begin selling the anti-viral drug Avigan® in Indonesia following a recent decision by the country’s National Agency of Drug and Food Control (NA-DFC) to approve the drug’s active ingredient, Favipiravir, for treatment of patients infected with COVID-19.
Numbers above are rounded
KUWAIT – August 15, 2020 – Agility, a leading global logistics provider, today reported first-half earnings of 8.47 fils per share on net profit of KD 16.2 million, a decrease of 61.3% over the same period in 2019. EBITDA declined by 20.1% to KD 75.8 million, and revenue declined 1.3% to KD 765.1 million.
Tarek Sultan, Agility Vice Chairman and CEO, said: “We entered 2020 with our business on sound footing, which is one reason that we were able to react quickly to the sweeping impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We acted immediately to protect employees, customers, and communities, including providing donated logistics support for local governments and NGOs around the world. We also took steps to bring operating expenses and other costs in line with the new environment. If the crisis has demonstrated anything, it is the essential value of logistics and supply chain providers in times of severe disruption.”
Sultan said the economic fallout from the pandemic has had an uneven effect on Agility businesses. “Our contract logistics business and logistics parks have weathered this reasonably well because demand for storage space has been steady or increased, especially as customers have looked to add to safety stock or support pandemic-driven increases in e-commerce sales. In many instances, we are experiencing accelerated adoption of disruptive and emerging technologies related to the COVID-19 pandemic or underlying CSR paradigms. Other Agility businesses, such as aviation and airport operations have been directly impacted by the decline in air travel and traffic and are now pivoting towards the development of pioneering new technologies that will be essential to the re-enablement of global travel.”
Agility Global Integrated Logistics (GIL)
Global Integrated Logistics’ first-half EBITDA was KD 28.8 million, a 1.3% increase from the same period in 2019. This was driven by strong Contract Logistics, Project Logistics, and Air Freight results, as well as a sharp focus on containing costs.
GIL’s H1 net revenue was KD 135.8 million, in line with last year’s performance. Net revenue increased in Contract Logistics, Project Logistics, and Air Freight, but fell in Ocean Freight and Fairs & Events. GIL gross revenue was KD 570.6 million, a 2.5% increase from same period in 2019.
Volumes were down in both Air Freight and Ocean Freight in the first half of this year, by 23.6% in Air Freight (tonnage) and 14.8% in Ocean Freight (TEUs), due to COVID-19 impact on demand due to lockdowns, production stoppages, and economic contraction across industries and geographies. However, H1 saw higher yields in Air Freight due to capacity shortages and a spike in demand for urgent shipments of PPE and other medical equipment. First-half Air Freight net revenue increased 17% vs. the same period a year earlier, while Ocean Freight net revenue decreased 16% vs. same period last year.
Contract Logistics achieved healthy growth (7% net revenue growth), mainly in the MEA Region (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia) as the result of the addition of new facilities and increased operating efficiencies. Project Logistics showed strong performance across all regions with 25% net revenue increase, driven by new capital projects and positive volume development from existing customers. Fairs & Events net revenue fell 46% with the cancellation and postponement of key events.
Starting in Q1, GIL introduced a range of both temporary and permanent cost reduction measures in response to the pandemic. The measures are intended to ensure continued strength of profitability performance during a period of falling and volatile global trade activity. GIL continues to focus on operational productivity as well as customer solutions to respond to the changing market environment.
Agility’s Infrastructure Companies
Agility’s Infrastructure group EBITDA declined 18% to KD 56 million for the first half of 2020. This decrease was driven mainly by UPAC, NAS and GCS entities, which experienced significant declines as a result of the pandemic. In contrast, Agility Logistics Parks (ALP) and Tristar proved to be resilient during the first half of the year. Infrastructure group net revenue fell 8.4% and gross revenue declined 10.2%.
ALP revenue grew 4.5% in the first half amid increased demand for warehousing space, mainly from suppliers of medical equipment and food. ALP also witnessed strong demand from e-commerce players as it is strategically placed to service the requirements of fulfilment providers. ALP accelerated delivery of a few projects to meet customer demand. Developments in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Africa are proceeding as planned, despite some interruptions due to lockdowns.
Tristar, a fully integrated liquid logistics company, posted a 10% revenue decline in the first 6 months. Despite that, Tristar’s contractual business model provided resiliency, allowing profitability to grow by double digits during the same period. The revenue decline in the first half of the year was primarily due to the sharp drop in fuel prices and volume slowdown from COVID-19 pandemic impacting Fuel and Road Transport and Warehousing (RTW) segments. The Maritime segment showed healthy growth due to the deployment of new vessels and strong market demand. With the Coronavirus outbreak, Tristar took measures to ensure no business interruption for its customers. Although uncertainty remains in market, we believe Tristar is positioned us for a successful second half of 2020. Tristar continues to execute and to look for opportunities to unlock additional value for its shareholders.
National Aviation Services (NAS) reported a revenue decline of 29%, despite performing well in January and February. In March, NAS revenue came under pressure as airlines and airports where it operates curtailed flights and related services, or in some cases, halted operations entirely. Despite the limited operations at many airports, NAS continued to serve evacuation flights, private jets, and cargo freighters. With airport and carrier activity resuming in some locations, NAS is seeing increased demand for its services. NAS’s focus for the remainder of 2020 will be on cash flow, reduction of costs in line with the two-year outlook for aviation, pursuit of new growth opportunities, and adjustment of policies and procedures to operate in a post-COVID world.
The pandemic impacted United Projects for Aviation Services Company (UPAC), which saw revenue fall 51.8% in the first half due to the cessation of operations at the Kuwait International Airport. In response, UPAC activated its business contingency plan and took steps to reduce the negative impact on its business.
At GCS, Agility’s customs modernization company, revenue fell 21%, due to precautionary measures taken by the Kuwait Government in response to COVID-19. Some border areas were closed temporarily starting March, curtailing trade and causing decreases in GCS revenue.
Sultan said: “In response to the COVID 19 crisis, all entities across the board activated their BCPs and cost alignment measures. And even during these difficult times, each business has contributed to several CSR activities including delivering food to families in Kuwait and supporting the Kuwait Red Crescent Society’s initiatives. Agility also provided free warehousing and local transportation services as part of its COVID-19 response. In Mozambique, we moved PPE for seven hospitals and arranged for storage at the newly built Agility Logistics Park in Maputo.”
Recap of Agility H1 2020 Financial Performance
- Agility’s net profit decreased 61.3% to KD 16.2 million. EPS was 8.47 fils vs. 21.89 fils a year earlier.
- Agility’s EBITDA decreased 20.1% to KD 75.8 million.
- Agility’s revenue declined 1.3%, to KD 765 million and net revenue decreased 3.7%.
- GIL revenue increased 2.5% to KD 570.6 million.
- Infrastructure’s revenue declined 10.2% to KD 202.8 million.
- Agility enjoys a healthy balance sheet with KD 2.2 billion in assets. Net debt was KD 143.1 million as of June 30, 2020. Reported operating cash flow was KD 93.6 million for the first half of 2020, an increase of 128.2%.
“The full impact of COVID-19 is not yet clear – there are many possible scenarios and many unknowns – but we are taking steps to weather the storm and emerge stronger. We are adjusting to the reality on the ground within each respective business, and bringing the cost structure in line with the new levels of business we are seeing. We have a strong focus on cash, with a view to having ample liquidity to cover us for the foreseeable future,” Sultan said.
“Ultimately, we feel that our long-term vision of infrastructure growth in emerging markets, our growing focus on disruptive technologies and digital enablement for logistics, and expansion into new market segments like e-commerce, is more important than ever. We would like to thank our employees, customers and shareholders for their support during this difficult period. We are confident that together, we can build back stronger and better,” Sultan said.
Agility facility to be leading retailer’s central warehouse and distribution center
CDCI, which operates supermarkets in Cote D’Ivoire, will use the ALP facility as a central distribution center to hold stock and distribute a wide range of food and non-food consumer products to support its retail operations across Cote D’Ivoire.CDCI chose to lease at the Agility Logistics Park because of it offers secure, international-standard warehousing and facilities and services available to support CDCI’s expanding business across the country.
The Agility Logistics Park location, on the main highway between Abidjan and Yamoussoukro at PK24, was also a key consideration for CDCI. The location provides the ideal geographic center for supporting CDCI’s Abidjan stores as well as its network of stores across the country.
Hicham Kitane, CDCI Supply Chain Head, said: “A resilient, secure and efficient distribution network is fundamental to our business model. By choosing the Agility Logistics Park, CDCI has addressed one of the biggest constraints to companies doing business in West Africa – the lack of high standard logistic infrastructure. This project is one of the key milestones in our new supply chain strategy, which will support our business steady growth.”
Kitane said CDCI was also attracted to the ALP facility because it meets international environmental standards and features eco-friendly construction materials. Agility used energy- efficient roof and side insulated panels; wind-driven roof fans; skylights for natural lighting; LED and energy-saving bulbs; and solar-powered streetlights. The ALP recycles paper, plastic, metal, and carton waste. It provides eco-friendly waste management services and carbon footprint reporting.
The Agility Logistics Park in Abidjan is part of a network of international-standard logistics parks that Agility is funding and developing across key markets in Africa to support the development of domestic and regional trade.
Geoffrey White, CEO Agility Africa, said, “We believe that the provision of international-standard warehouses in Africa for storage, distribution and light manufacturing is one of the fundamental building blocks necessary for economic growth. The Agility Logistics Parks enable companies, whether multinationals such as CDCI, or small and medium enterprises, to access quality infrastructure easily, quickly and cost effectively.”
New Bee3kw.com portal helps sellers build online stores, manage payments and logistics
KUWAIT – July 29, 2020 – The National Fund for Small and Medium Enterprise Development and Agility, a leading global logistics provider, and the today announced the launch of the Bee3kw.com, a portal that offers small businesses quick access to resources they need to build an electronic store and grow their digital sales.
Bee3kw.com grew out of an initiative by the Kuwait National Fund and Agility to help small businesses move from offline to online sales quickly.
Manaf Almenaifi, Director General of the National Fund for Small and Medium Enterprise Development, said the National Fund is keen to provide new services of the highest standards for entrepreneurs to benefit from while also taking into consideration the developments in the local and global markets.
He said the National Fund aims to provide digital services that proved to be strong performers before the current crisis. He urged entrepreneurs to take advantage of the Bee3kw.com initiative so they could begin their e-commerce journeys with the tools they need to succeed.
Almenaifi said this initiative is the beginning of the National Fund’s collaboration with the private sector in e-commerce and welcomed more cooperation with service providers from local companies who wish to provide special offers and services to Kuwaiti entrepreneurs, who will be major contributors to national economic growth in the future.
Merchants joining Bee3kw.com will get six-month free trials with leading Middle East e-commerce enablers ExpandCart and Zid. ExpandCart and Zid, both Agility partners, allow merchants and social sellers with no technical expertise to establish online stores in as little as a couple of hours and choose their own payment gateway, shipping, fulfilment and delivery solutions. In addition, online payment partners to this initiative, TAP and Myfatoorah, will help business owners with payment solutions that can support their business as they set up their new digital store. Through Shipa Delivery, merchants will get on-demand same-day, next-day or cross-border delivery in Kuwait and across the Arabian Gulf.
Henadi Al-Saleh, Agility Chairperson and leader of Agility’s logistics venture strategy, said: “Because of the current crisis, online selling is key to both growth and survival for many small businesses. Consumers have turned to e-commerce and this shift in buying patterns could be permanent. The faster merchants adapt by building attractive, efficient, low-cost, easy-to-use digital stores, the more likely they are to thrive in the current environment and in the future.”
Through Bee3kw.com, small and medium businesses will benefit from more than 10 training sessions on various topics that will help them move online. The topics will cover switching to e-commerce, online payment solutions, branding, digital marketing, and more. The sessions will be conducted online and led by experts from Bee3kw.com partner companies.
Fahad Alshatti, SVP Agility Corporate Venture team, added: “Supporting small and medium-sized businesses is crucial during these times. Efforts by Agility and the National Fund towards this segment, especially during COVID-19, demonstrate our joint commitment to nurturing local talents and helping them grow despite challenges they may be facing. We are providing all the things they require to help them on their online journey. At Agility Ventures, our goal is to develop and grow the e-commerce ecosystem to benefit both businesses and consumers in our market.”
Agility’s Michael Blaufuss on capacity, volatility and what lies ahead in the air freight market.
Large Phase 3 Trials to be Announced by GRA and Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories
DUBAI – July 15, 2020 – Healthcare solutions provider Global Response Aid (GRA) said the anti-viral drug Avigan® produced encouraging results in a recent multi-center clinical study led by Japan’s Fujita Health University, showing a discernible trend in reducing fevers and viral loads in early-stage COVID-19 patients.
Fujita Health University’s principle investigator for the study described in a published statement the challenging scenario in which eligible patient recruitment was hindered by reductions in new patient presentations, leading to a limited sample of 89 patients. This ultimately prevented the study from achieving statistical significance, despite the relatively positive trends observed.
The study included two arms. Patients in the first arm received Avigan® early in the progress of their illness; and patients in the second arm, received the drug later than those in the first arm. More than 94% of the patients in the group receiving early treatment with Avigan® had a significant and rapid reduction in viral loads (dropping them below 50%) and alleviation of fevers within 2.1 days on average.
GRA believes these results highlight the drug’s potential to prevent COVID-19 patients from progressing to more severe or critical clinical stages of the disease, along with the possibility of treating patients with mild or moderate cases of COVID-19 in outpatient settings. Additional studies designed to validate these potential uses are currently underway and will represent a breakthrough in the fight against COVID-19 if they yield similar positive results.
“The findings from this university-led study are highly encouraging,” said Mitch Wilson, CEO of GRA. “We will soon be announcing a large, company-sponsored, Phase-3 double-blind randomized clinical trial with up to 1,000 patients.”
Avigan®, which contains the active ingredient Favipiravir, is the subject of clinical studies and trials in COVID-19 patients in several countries. It was used to treat COVID-19 patients in studies in China’s Hubei province, led by the China-Japan Friendship Hospital. Fujifilm is conducting a multi-site Phase 2 trial in the United States involving initially hospitalized patients. Avigan® also is the subject of an investigator-initiated Phase 2 trial in subjects with mild or asymptomatic COVID-19 being conducted by the Stanford University School of Medicine. The drug is also being considered for large-scale testing in a number of countries and we expect the announcement of a second Phase-3 double-blind randomized clinical trial with up to 1,500 patients.
GRA, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, and FUJIFILM Toyama Chemical recently entered a global licensing agreement covering the production, marketing and distribution of Avigan®. FUJIFILM Toyama Chemical is a FUJIFILM subsidiary that discovered the active ingredient in Avigan® in the late 1990s for development as an anti-influenza drug.
GRA is a Dubai-based company established by global logistics leader Agility (KSE: AGLTY) to procure and develop certified diagnostic, testing and protective products and services used in the detection, treatment and prevention of COVID-19 and other public health threats.
“GRA’s focus is on rapidly determining the safety and effectiveness of Avigan® as a potential treatment for COVID-19,” GRA’s Wilson said. “These studies give us a more expansive breadth of data globally and allow us to evaluate the drug in a short amount of time. The speed with which Avigan® has moved into clinical development for coronavirus reflects the pressing need for treatment options and the shared commitment of industry, governments, global health organizations and healthcare providers to respond to this public health threat with the greatest urgency.”
Avigan® Tablet was approved for manufacture and sale in Japan in 2014 as an influenza anti-viral drug. The drug is to be considered for use only when there is an outbreak of novel or re-emerging influenza virus infections in which other influenza anti-viral drugs are either not effective or insufficiently effective, and the Japanese government decides to use the drug as a countermeasure against such influenza viruses.