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Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Al Mal sees Etisalat revenue falling 9.9% on UAE population decline

Emirates Telecommunication Establishment EtisalatImage via Wikipedia

Etisalat, the UAE's biggest telecommunication company, may see revenue drop 9.9% in the third quarter after the country's population declined, reported Bloomberg, citing an Al Mal Capital note.

Revenue at Etisalat is forecasted to fall to AED6.87 billion (US$1.87 billion), Al Mal said in a note today.

Revenue in the previous quarter was AED7.62 billion, acoording to Bloomberg data. The number of mobile subscribers probably declined 0.7% during the quarter, Al Mal said.

“The top line will also be impacted by the seasonal effects of summer (lower tourism), Ramadan and less business travel due to the current economic climate,” Dubai-based Irfan Ellam wrote.

Dubai’s population is forecast to shrink 8% this year, UBS AG said.END

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Architect major sees cash shortfall from developers

Global architect firm RMJM, which designed Dubai’s iconic Emirates Towers, has admitted it may never see all the money that it is owed by UAE developers.

In an interview with Arabian Business, RMJM director of global emerging markets Nick Haston, said the company would recoup some of its debt - but stopped short of criticising developers, saying it was part of "risk in business".

“I think we will get money back, I’m not sure we will get everything back,” he said, declining to say how much was owed to RMJM and by whom.

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Fujairah Bank sees $25.4 mln Saudi exposure , UAE Banks, Banking & Investment - Maktoob Business

Fujairah Bank sees $25.4 mln Saudi exposure , UAE Banks, Banking & Investment - Maktoob Business

Sharjah Islamic claims $15 mln Saudi exposure, UAE Banks, Banking & Investment - Maktoob Business

Sharjah Islamic claims $15 mln Saudi exposure, UAE Banks, Banking & Investment - Maktoob Business

Abu Dhabi Investment Forum :: Home (Copy e-mail)

Institutional Investor is pleased to invite you as our complimentary guest to the 2nd Annual Abu Dhabi Investment Forum on October 19, 2009 at the London Hilton on Park Lane, London.

The Forum will be held in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development. It will bring together international investors with Abu Dhabi’s key industry leaders, financial intermediaries and top-level policy makers.

Through interactive panel discussions and sponsor hosted presentations, the Forum will debate and bring to light the impressive range of investment opportunities now available in Abu Dhabi.

H.E. Nasser Ahmed Alsowaidi, Chairman, Department of Economic Development has confirmed to open the Forum and lead the delegation of Abu Dhabi policy makers and business leaders.

Confirmed speakers include:
H.E. Nasser Ahmed Alsowaidi, Chairman, Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development
H.E. Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Chief Executive Officer, Abu Dhabi Future Energy – Masdar
H.E. Falah Mohammed Al Ahbabi, General Manager, Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council
H.E. Abdulla Saif Al Nuaimi, Director of Privatization, Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority
Mohamed Al Azdi, Chief Executive Officer, CHEMAWEYAAT
Nazem Fawwaz Al Kudsi, Chief Executive Officer, Invest AD
Khalid Hashim, Executive Director for Land Transport, Abu Dhabi Department of Transport
Tom Healy, Chief Executive, Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange
Matthew Hurn, Executive Director, Group Treasury, Mubadala
Orhan Osmansoy, Chief Executive Officer, The National Investor
Michael Tomalin, Chief Executive, National Bank of Abu Dhabi
Padraic Fallon, Chairman, Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC

Topics include:
Economic Outlook for Abu Dhabi
Debt Markets: Funding Abu Dhabi’s Future?
Outlook for the Equity Markets and Financial Sector
Infrastructure Development and Transportation
Vision 2030: Abu Dhabi Capital City District
Becoming a Global Leader in Industry and Healthcare

Sponsors Include:
Lead Sponsors – Standard Chartered, National Bank of Abu Dhabi and Invest AD
Co Sponsors – Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange and The National Investor
Airline Partner – Etihad Airways
Supported By – UK Trade and Investment

For a provisional agenda, click here.

Participation in this event is by invitation-only for qualified executives. If you wish to apply for a complimentary invitation, please complete the online response form. Guests of Institutional Investor are responsible only for their travel and hotel accommodation.

For further information, please visit or contact Meriem Achoura at +44 (0)207 303 1741 or via email at

Yours sincerely,

Charlie Floyd
Head of Middle East
Institutional Investor
Abu Dhabi Investment Forum :: Home

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ADX seeks Saudi exposure details, warns of suspension

Abu Dhabi Securities Market (ADX) yesterday warned listed banks that it will suspend trading in their shares with immediate effect unless they furnish details regarding actions taken on their exposures to the two troubled Saudi groups or give a date for doing so, before trading commences today.

A few banks such as RakBank and United Arab Bank (UAB) yesterday responded by stating that they do not have any exposure to Saad and Algosaibi groups.

ADX sent out two letters to banks yesterday. The first, dated September 29, 2009, and signed by Khalid Khalfan Al Suwaidi, head of Listed Companies Department at ADX, was a tougher one and demanded details of exposures and provisions before trading commences today.

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Report clears fraud charges

A report on transactions involving a former CEO and a businessmen, who are together accused of causing a real estate company to lose Dh22 million, found there was nothing wrong with their dealings, a court heard yesterday.

The report was prepared by Adel Sawan, an auditor appointed by the defence. It covered accounts related to the case as well as deals between the company, Mizin, and the businessman, JH, from Lebanon.

Sawan told Dubai Criminal Court that he had found no evidence of any violations. The co-accused is SH, Mizin's former CEO.

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SAAD unit withdraws DFSA licence

The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), regulator of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), said on Tuesday that SAAD Financial Advisory Services Limited, a financial services company belonging to troubled Saudi conglomerate Saad group, has withdrawn its licence to operate in the DIFC.

LA Investments Ltd (LAIL), the parent company of SAAD Financial Advisory Services, a firm operating in the DIFC, was placed under liquidation in the UK on September 21, DFSA said in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday.

LAIL is the parent company of SAAD Financial Advisory Services Limited (SAAD), a DFSA regulated firm. LAIL was put into a members' voluntary solvent liquidation on September 21, with Stephen John Akers and Gareth Rutt Morris of Grant Thornton UK LLP acting as the liquidators.

Also read:

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Dubai to open doors to funds

Dubai’s financial services watchdog is expected to liberalise the rules governing its funds industry to attract more of the investment vehicles to the emirate.

A 10-member panel reviewing the fund regime of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) will be finishing “within a couple of days”, according to Bryan Stirewalt, the director of supervision at the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA). It is then expected to publish that report.

“We have been comparing our jurisdiction to the rest of the world and looked where we can change our regime for new funds to move here,” said Mr Stirewalt.

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Row risks UAE firm’s plant bid

The planned rescue of a mothballed German tyre factory in France by a UAE industrial group could stall because of a row over technology transfer.

The fate of the Continental factory on the outskirts of Paris has become a cause celebre for French trade unions and politicians after the tyre giant announced its planned closure in March.

Continental has given the Sharjah-based Moafaq Al Gaddah (MAG) until the end of today to make clear its intentions regarding the planned rescue.

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Investor relations a crucial concept for Gulf shareholders

When you next have a spare 10 minutes at your laptop, go to, click on the section that deals with share price information, and reset the start date to the beginning of 2005.

There you will see in full detail the story of the rise and fall of the Middle East’s leading property company. In a silhouette uncannily like that of the Burj Dubai, the shares peak at an incredible Dh38.61 in June of 2005, before falling to Dh17 later that summer, and then bumping downwards for the rest of the time towards the all-time low of Dh1.87 hit earlier this year. Yesterday, they closed just around Dh4.

Slide your curser along the Emaar graph and you get a daily record of the share price and volume of shares traded on any given day. As you might expect, the big price moves, whether up or down, were accompanied by large trading volumes. Manoeuvre further around the website and you can see the events – results, deals, corporate announcements – that caused these price movements.

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Gulf banks warned ‘no more bailouts’

Gulf finance leaders have warned the region’s banks not to expect any more government bailouts in the event of future financial catastrophes created by defaulting borrowers.

Lenders must learn lessons from the continuing fallout of the troubled Saad and Al Gosaibi groups by bearing the risks from loans extended to customers who may default, said Hamood Sangour al Zadjali, the executive president of the Oman central bank.

Mr al Zadjali made the comments following the annual meeting of GCC central bank governors in Abu Dhabi yesterday.

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Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Moody's cuts Bahrain's Investcorp on financials

Ratings agency Moody's downgraded Bahrain-based Investcorp INVB.BH (INVBq.L) on Tuesday, citing the fragility of its financial condition and the tough environment for private equity deals to generate income.

Moody's said in a statement it had downgraded the long-term deposit rating of the Bahrain- and London-listed investment house to Ba2 from Ba1, its financial strength rating to D from D+ and assigned a negative outlook to the ratings.

It said Investcorp's financial strength was limited by modest equity levels compared with its risk assets, a high concentration of its private equity investments and little prospects for the company to improve its earnings from fee-generating private equity transactions.

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Revisiting a Trade: Long GCC Banks « Alpha Dinar

Revisiting a Trade: Long GCC Banks « Alpha Dinar

Qatar May Increase Stake in VW After Porsche Merger

Qatar wants to increase its stake in Volkswagen AG after the German carmaker completes its takeover of Porsche SE, an executive at the emirate’s investment agency board said.

“If they give me the opportunity, I will,” Hussain Al- Abdulla, a Qatar Investment Authority board member, said today in an interview at the Doha Business Roundtable, when asked whether the emirate plans to expand its holding after the German manufacturers combine.

Volkswagen, Europe’s biggest automaker, rose to a 12-day high in Frankfurt trading. Qatar already has 10 percent of the voting rights in Porsche, the maker of the 911 sports car, and options that will give the Persian Gulf state 17 percent of Wolfsburg-based Volkswagen as part of the carmakers’ merger agreement last month.

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Gulf Governments Don’t Want Bank Bailout Precedent

Gulf banks should bear responsibility for their lending practices and governments must not create a precedent with bail outs, Oman’s central bank governor said.

“Nobody should expect that governments are going to bail out the borrowers,” Hamud bin Sangur al-Zadjali told reporters at a news conference in Abu Dhabi today following a meeting of Gulf central bank governors that he chaired. “Banks need to take responsibility for their decisions.”

Saudi Arabia’s Saad and Algosaibi groups, which are restructuring their debt after defaulting on payments, have borrowed at least $15.7 billion from more than 80 regional and international banks, including Paris-based BNP Paribas SA, New York-based Citigroup Inc. and Arab Bank Plc in Amman, Jordan, according to documents provided by lenders.

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Rothschild busiest in Mideast M&A: study

Rothschild ROT.UL has been the Middle East's busiest advisor on mergers and acquisitions so far in 2009, data shows, underlining the growth potential for independent investment banks in the region.

Rothschild, which has worked on deals worth $15.4 billion so far this year, precedes Deutsche Bank AG (DBKGn.DE) and Morgan Stanley MS.M in league tables set out in a study released by Thomson Reuters (TRI.TO)(TRI.N) on Tuesday.

Despite investment banking activity having fallen to pre-boom year levels in the Middle East, Rothschild in the past year has doubled the number bankers working from Dubai to around 20, a strategy that is paying off.

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2nd UPDATE: DFSA Says Saad Grp Unit License May Be Withdrawn

The Dubai Financial Services Authority said Tuesday that it has been informed by liquidators that SAAD Financial Advisory Services may have its license withdrawn.

The regulators said in an emailed statement that "LA Investments Limited (LAIL) has been placed into liquidation in the U.K. LAIL is the parent company of SAAD Financial Advisory Services Limited (SAAD), which is a DFSA regulated firm.

The statement adds that "LAIL was put into a members' voluntary solvent liquidation on Sept. 21, with Stephen John Akers and Gareth Rutt Morris of Grant Thornton UK LLP acting as the liquidators."

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Thomson Reuters launches Middle East investment banking league tables

With money managers and investors shunning volatile stocks in the financial crisis, debt issues and restructuring have taken the lead in the Middle East financial markets, according to the Thomson Reuters investment banking league tables for the region launched today.

“Thomson Reuters has a long history of pioneering in the region since opening its office in Alexandria in 1865,” said Basil Moftah, Managing Director of Thomson Reuters, Middle East and Africa. “We are pleased to be launching these dedicated rankings in the Middle East. For the financial community, these well-respected league tables serve as an independent authority on the investment banking marketplace.”

Moftah was speaking as Thomson Reuters released the first in a new series of quarterly analytical reviews which examine the performance of the Middle East investment banking industry in the region’s debt and equity capital markets, both conventional and Islamic.

Also read:
Equity, M&A, loans tank across Mideast in '09

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Arab Stocks May Outperform Developed Markets, EFG’s CEO Says

Arab stocks may outperform developed markets in the next 12 months because their economies have greater catalysts for growth as the credit crisis eases, the chief executive officer of EFG-Hermes Holding SAE said.

“Arab markets have less problems,” Yasser El-Mallawany, CEO of Egypt’s biggest investment bank, said in an interview at his office in Cairo yesterday. “They have a growing population and oil prices are still at $70, which is quite supportive for the Gulf. America still has consumer credit issues and Europe has the appreciation of the euro.”

The MSCI World Index of developed markets has jumped 21 percent this year compared with a 26 percent gain in the MSCI Arabian Markets Index. Egypt’s benchmark EGX30 Index has been the best performer among Arab markets, with a 47 percent surge. The MSCI Emerging Market Index has rallied 58 percent so far in 2009. Crude oil prices have gained 47 percent.

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Return to monetary union unlikely

The UAE is unlikely to return to the planned GCC monetary union, the Central Bank Governor Sultan al Suwaidi said yesterday.

He said he did not see a compromise deal that would allow the country to rejoin proposals for the formation of a single currency for the GCC.

“We have certain concerns, certain issues, with the GCC monetary union so therefore we don’t want to act as a stumbling block to this,” Mr al Suwaidi said while attending the annual meeting of the Council of Governors of Arab Central Banks and Monetary Agencies in Abu Dhabi.

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Turnaround firm is in talks with Dubai entities

Alvarez and Marsal, the turnaround specialist overseeing the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, is negotiating with several Dubai-owned entities about mandates for organisational restructuring.

The firm is also in advanced talks with one major government-related investment company, said Antonio M Alvarez, the firm’s managing director. “We have had various discussions in the past six months and government-related entities are among them.”

Many Dubai Government-owned companies with large debt are merging operations in response to the global economic slowdown.

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Taqa aims to boost exploration

The Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (Taqa) is hoping to expand its operations in finding new oil and gas deposits over the next two years, the company’s chief executive, Peter Barker-Homek, said yesterday.

“Eventually we’ll start getting into much more exploration,” he added.

That would start with more investment in the exploration side of the company’s oil and gas business over the next 24 months, he said.

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Dutch gas partners seek out of UAE deal

Dutch oil and gas company Dyas and Canada's largest energy firm PetroCanada are looking to sell their stakes in one of Europe's largest gas storage projects, three people familiar with the matter said.

The two companies want to exit the scheme, located in Bergemeer north of Amsterdam, because of disagreements with partner Abu Dhabi National Energy Company over how to take the project forward, one banking source said.

"TAQA would be the obvious buyer of their stakes, as they can develop the project from here," the source said. Pre-emption rights in such cases are often part of Dutch oil and gas agreements.

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Dubai freezone office lease rates dive 70 pct

Office lease rates in Dubai’s new freezones have fallen more than 70 percent in some parts and the decline will continue, hurt by sluggish demand and new supply coming on board during a recession.

Leasing rates in the new freezone of Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT) have fallen between 57 percent and 71 percent from the third quarter of last year until now, a study by real estate consultancy CB Richard Ellis Middle East released on Tuesday showed.

Office space in the JLT freezone has more than doubled to 5.2 million square feet in the same time from 2.5 million.

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Wanted: experts to tackle global insolvency rush

There are too few turnaround specialists in the world to cope with a surge in the numbers of companies that need restructuring after the credit crisis, an insolvency expert told the Reuters Restructuring Summit.

"There are 408 practitioners in 11 of the United States' trading partners, 5 of them have 7 between them...Saudi Arabia, for example, has none," said Nick Hood, senior partner of Begbies Traynor (BEG.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), insolvency specialists.

He pointed to Saad Group SAADG.UL, the Saudi Arabian conglomerate at the center of a multibillion dollar debt restructuring.

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Arab Central Bankers Seek Greater Cooperation

Arab central-bank governors called for greater governance of banks struggling with hefty exposure to troubled businesses in their meeting Monday.

"The next phase will require closer cooperation between central banks and monetary institutions," United Arab Emirates central-bank chief, Sultan bin Nasser Al Suwaidi, said in his opening speech.

Calls for greater coordination and regulation among Middle Eastern countries formed the main theme for Monday's meeting, echoing similar calls from the meeting of the Group of 20 leading economies last week.

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Delayed bad debts hinder UAE banks

Banks in the United Arab Emirates will have to contend with mounting bad debts into next year, which will eat into the profits and the capital adequacy ratios of local institutions, according to Fitch, the credit ratings agency.

Local banks remain well capitalised – largely thanks to robust federal government support – say Fitch analysts in a report yesterday. However, the financial crisis hit the region with a lag and the economic impact has yet to be fully felt by the local industry, the agency says.

The combined net income of the eight largest national banks in the UAE reached Dh8.8bn in the first half of the year, and the overall non-performing loan ratio remains low at 2 per cent.

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Saad Group reaches deal with Saudi creditors

The governor of Saudi Arabia’s central bank confirmed on Monday that Saad Group, the troubled conglomerate owned by billionaire Maan al Sanea, had reached an agreement to settle debts with Saudi creditors.

“This is an agreement between the creditors and the borrower, and my understanding is they have agreed to settle,” Muhammad al-Jasser, governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, told reporters.

Saad Group and another prominent Saudi company facing financial difficulties, Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi and Brothers (AHAB), are estimated to owe dozens of regional and international banks about $20bn.

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Shuaa gathers itself after rollercoaster

Shuaa Capital, the United Arab Emirates’ largest investment bank, has a history that mirrors the rollercoaster ride experienced by Dubai, its home base, over the past 10 years.

Formed in 1979 as an investment company called Arabian General Investment Corporation, it was set up to encourage intra-Arab investment. Then, at the turn of the millennium, Shuaa developed into a fully fledged brokerage and finally investment bank.

But just as Dubai’s frenetic growth was achieved without the steadying hand of regulation and co-ordination, as is becoming clear from its current travails, so Shuaa’s star has fallen. From a peak of almost Dh9 in June 2008, its shares fell to below Dh1 this year before rallying to about Dh2 now.

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Monday, 28 September 2009

FT Alphaville » Blog Archive » Saudis come to Merseyside

FT Alphaville » Blog Archive » Saudis come to Merseyside

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How long for business activity to recover in Dubai? (Re-post)

Dr Marc Faber established a model of the emerging market business cycle in his classic book ‘Tomorrow’s Gold’ published in 2002. It describes the phases of the business cycle from boom to bust and back again.

On my reckoning Dubai is probably in phase six of this cycle now, although possibly only just. Phase six is when the business cycle starts to bottom out, and this continues into phase zero where a new base is established for the next boom.

As Dr. Faber notes the down phases of five and six can be compressed into a year, as in the Asian Financial Crisis but can take four to six years.

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GCC investor confidence remains strong, says Shuaa report

SHUAA Capital, the region’s leading financial services institution, today issued its September GCC Investor Confidence Index and Investor Sentiment Report, the only report of its kind for the Gulf markets.

Commenting on the Index findings Oliver Schutzmann, Chief Communications Officer of SHUAA Capital and Author of the Investor Sentiment Report said: “It is very encouraging to see the GCC Index on the rise once again.

Investor sentiment towards the region has been consistently improving over the past six months with only one month-on-month drop since April 2009.”

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Babylon Fund (Iraq) - Fact Sheet - 31Aug09.pdf

Mexico miners join hands with UAE-based Diar Capital

UAE-based Diar Capital and Mexico-based gold miners under the banner of Durango Miners Association (DMA) plan to float a new gold mining and refining company in Mexico, a person close to the matter said.

"We are going to be a public company. We are 30 miners with total assets of $47 million (Dh172.6m). We are going to get together with the UAE's Diar Capital and float a new public company.," said Rosa de la Rocha, the Director of Public Relations with the DMA.

The company plans to raise money in tranches and the first tranche is expected to be $20m. "There will be two stakeholders in the company. It will be Diar Capital and us. The company will be listed in Mexico but we plan to raise money form across the world," she said.

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'Most global estimates about size of SWFs are inaccurate'

Sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) are keeping the world guessing on the exact size of their financial resources as most of them are still resisting growing global pressure to become more transparent, according to a Saudi official.

While the IMF and numerous other sources have tried to provide rough figures about the assets of those enormous investment vehicles, their estimates have remained mostly inaccurate, said Majed Abdullah Al Muneef, an advisor at the Saudi Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources.

Some of those sources could be close to reality when it comes to a handful of funds which make disclosures, but their estimates about other SWFs regarding both their present and future financial position remain highly overstated, Muneef said.

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Massive project spending planned in Gulf region

Infrastructure spending by Gulf countries is expected to reach $205 billion (Dh752 billion) by 2013, according to latest estimates by Standard Chartered Bank.

Although funding has emerged a big challenge in the context of the global credit crisis, economists expect Gulf governments to support most infrastructure projects and bond issues will emerge a major source of funding.

Saudi Arabia alone accounts for more than 50 per cent of regional infrastructure spending with $105 billion in investments planned in projects such as hospitals, roads, railways and airports.

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UAE banks assign 44% more for provisions

Banks in the UAE set aside 44 per cent more money for non-performing loans in August compared with a year before.

The value of bad loan provisions jumped to Dh26.3 billion from Dh18.3 billion, the Central Bank said on its website yesterday. The provisions rose every month during the year to August, data showed.

The UAE economy, the Arab world's second-biggest, is stronger than it was nine months ago, though it's expected to contract this year, Central Bank Governor Sultan Bin Nasser Al Suwaidi said in an interview on July 15. The economy grew 7.4 per cent in 2008, according to Central Bank data.

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NBAD and DVB in plan for fund

The National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) and Germany’s DVB Bank plan to launch an aviation investment fund that will acquire assets valued at more than US$1 billion (Dh3.67bn) within two years.

The fund will invest principally in aircraft and engines on lease to international airlines.

NBAD and DVB will act as 50-50 joint venture partners in establishing and managing the fund and both will also invest, NBAD said yesterday. It will target investors from the UAE and GCC region.

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Bloomberg sees revival in finance

Bloomberg will almost double its Dubai workforce to 90 over the next 12 months as the financial and banking sectors targeted by the provider of financial data and news regain momentum, according to its chairman.

Peter Grauer also expects to grow the number of regional terminals by at least 2 per cent this year as sales begin to pick up.

“The pipeline is healthier today. Removals are down as a result of stabilising head counts [at banks]. The prospect pipeline is starting to grow again. [Banks are] taking on a more welcoming attitude toward the future.”

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Short-term leases deter institutional investors

Institutional property funds are being deterred from investing in regional office markets because of an excess of short-term leases, property consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle said yesterday.

Property developers and owners must focus on creating assets attractive to tenants and long-term property investors to ensure the regional markets recover.

“The ability of different markets to attract long-term regional and global investors will be of critical importance to their stabilisation and recovery,” the report said.

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Iran Sells $7.8 Billion of State-Owned Phone Company Shares

Iran sold a majority stake in its state-owned telecommunications company to an investor group for about $7.8 billion in Tehran Stock Exchange’s largest-ever deal, the government-run Mehr news agency said.

The group, called Etemade Mobin, purchased 50 percent plus one share in Telecommunication Company of Iran, the news agency said. The value of each share in the company, which provides all the country’s landlines, was 3,400 rials (34 U.S. cents).

Iran is carrying out a plan to sell 80 percent of its major state-owned companies to boost the economy and stock values following a 2006 order by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s highest authority. At least three-quarters of the Iranian economy is controlled by the state.

Local analysts have criticized President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was first elected in 2005 and started his second term in August, for failing to accelerate the privatization process. During his term, Iran has been placed under United Nations sanctions for its refusal to limit uranium enrichment activities as part of its nuclear program.END

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Gulf single currency should be phased: Kuwait

Gulf states should implement a monetary union and single currency in phases, Kuwait's central bank governor said in comments published on Sunday, casting further doubt on a 2010 target date.

"Due to the limited progress achieved so far... I believe that the best way is to work out an administrative plan for the monetary union and single currency and implement it in stages," Sheikh Salem Abdulaziz al-Sabah told Awan newspaper.

The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) plans to launch monetary union and a single currency in 2010, although many experts believe the target date is too ambitious and unrealistic.

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Saudi prince looks to buy 50 percent stake in British football club Liverpool

A Saudi prince wants to buy half of the debt-saddled football club Liverpool, in a deal worth up to $560 million that would mark the latest buy-in by Gulf investors in an English Premier League team.

Prince Faisal bin Fahd bin Abdullah al-Saud — who chairs Saudi holding company FAMA Group and the F6 sports investment firm — was quoted by the Saudi Al-Riyadh newspaper on Sunday as saying that "we are seeking, at present, to own a 50 percent stake in the club."

"The value of the transaction, which is nearing resolution, will be between 200 million pounds ($320 million) and 350 million pounds ($560 million)," al-Saud was quoted as saying.

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Sunday, 27 September 2009

neo-resistance: Iran's Sale of History: Revolutionary guard buys Iran's communcation organization.

neo-resistance: Iran's Sale of History: Revolutionary guard buys Iran's communcation organization.

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Gulf Shares Rally, Bolstered by Jump in Saudi Arabian Stocks -

Gulf Shares Rally, Bolstered by Jump in Saudi Arabian Stocks -

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Dubai property price slide to continue

Oversupply in Dubai's once-booming property sector will continue to send prices lower in the short term, Jones Lang LaSalle said on Sunday.

"The oversupply situation is likely to get worse before it gets better in some sectors and this will continue to place downward pressure on prices and rental levels in the short term," the real estate service company said in a report.

The Gulf emirate's real estate market has been hit hard by the global financial crisis, with billions of dollars worth of projects either on hold or cancelled. House prices are off around 50 percent since the crisis began late last year.

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Saudi royal to buy 50 pct stake in Liverpool

Saudi Arabia's Prince Faisal bin Fahd bin Abdullah al-Saud is close to buying a 50 pct stake in Liverpool Football Club for up to $560.4 million, a local daily reported citing an interview with the prince.

"We are looking at the present time to acquire a 50 pct stake in the club, which is currently suffering from debts of up to £245 million," Al Riyadh quoted Prince Faisal as saying.

"The value of the deal, which will be finalised soon, is around £200 million to £350 million pounds," Prince Faisal said, according to the paper.

Prince Faisal signed "several contracts" with Liverpool on Saturday on behalf of F6, a company he chairs, which include "sports investments and setting up academies" in Saudi Arabia and North Africa, the paper quoted him as saying.END

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Investment Dar signs debt restructuring deal

Kuwait's Investment Dar which is in the midst of restructuring debt, said on Sunday it signed an agreement with creditors and investors to freeze claims temporarily.

The lender, which owns half of British luxury carmaker Aston Martin, said its steering committee had reached the deal.

Dar defaulted on a $100 million Islamic debt issue last May - the first of its kind on a major, public Islamic instrument in the region - and has said it may sell some assets to meet its obligations.

Previous posts

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Bahrain secures energy needs

Thanks to efforts by international oil companies, the threat of Bahrain Field, the country's sole onshore source, drying up has been addressed for now. An alliance of Occidental Petroleum Corporation and Mubadala Development Company (Mubadala) has signed a 20-year Development and Production Sharing Agreement designed to expand oil and gas output from the field.

The agreement is essential as the field is relatively old with production beginning way back to 1932. The output has declined over the years. In 2008, its production level stood at 33,000 barrels per day, down by five per cent.

These companies aim to double the field's output by 2014 and reach a peak level of 100,000 barrels per day from 2016 onwards. Bahrain Field achieved its highest output level of 75,000 barrels per day in the 1970s.

Dollar peg under scrutiny

Pressure could return for a review of the dirham’s peg to the US dollar next year as the UAE economy recovers from the global recession.

The shortcomings of mirroring US monetary policy under the fixed exchange rate are likely to be exposed if accelerating inflation returns to haunt consumers, economists and analysts say.

A convergence on monetary policy with the US suits the UAE at the moment, with both countries looking to keep interest rates low to spur economic recovery.

Something is wrong with our stock markets

Admiral David Beatty reportedly said that “something is wrong with our bloody ships today”, commenting on British naval losses during the Battle of Jutland in the First World War.

The same can be said about the regional stock markets in general and the Saudi stock market specifically, as current index levels do not seem to reflect the fundamentals of some of the stronger GCC economies.

The UK’s FTSE 100 index of leading shares rose above the key 5100 level for the first time since September 26 last year, buoyed by hopes the recession may be over and by the return of multibillion-pound mergers.

Property chief looking at long jail term

A company owner and chief executive faces life in prison over a string of charges relating to fraud and bounced cheques.

Peter Margetts, 46, from the UK, has already been sentenced to 20 years by the Dubai Courts and could face a further 118 years if found guilty on the remainder of the charges, all of which he denies.

Mr Margetts, the chief executive of the developer Hampstead & Mayfair, was indicted on four counts of fraud and 42 of issuing cheques that bounced. He has been convicted and sentenced on 13 of the counts, with 33 still to be judged in continuing hearings.

Flybe enters race for British Midland

REGIONAL airline Flybe has emerged as a dark horse in the race to buy BMI British Midland, the British airline tipped to be sold by Lufthansa.

Flybe, which has expanded rapidly in recent years under Jim French, its chairman and chief executive, is understood to have registered its interest in buying part or all of BMI, including its prized Heathrow operation.

Industry sources think Flybe could emerge as a partner for British Airways, which is also interested in buying BMI, but might fall foul of competition rules because of its large market share at Heathrow.

Kuwait Finance Agrees to Reschedule Aref Investment Debt

Kuwait Finance House, the emirate’s largest Islamic bank, has signed an agreement to reschedule Aref Investment Group’s debts of 132 million dinars ($461 million).

The rescheduling of the debts of the Kuwaiti investment company, which posted a 20.5 million dinar loss in the second quarter, “will be used to pay the group’s commitments to foreign banks and investment funds,” Kuwait Finance said in an e-mailed statement today.

Kuwait in April enacted a 1.5 billion dinar economic stability bill to bolster financial institutions suffering the fallout of the global economic crisis. The government was forced to guarantee all deposits in local banks last year as Gulf Bank KSC, the country’s second largest bank by assets, reported losses of 375 million dinars from derivatives trading, and Global Investment House KSCC, Kuwait’s biggest investment bank by assets, said in January it defaulted on most of its loan repayments.

Iran Needs $19 Billion for Gas Projects, Seeks Consumption Curb

Iran’s Oil Ministry said the country needs $19 billion toward “unfinished” natural gas projects and aims to curb consumption amid insufficient funding.

“The maximum funding at hand for the gas sector is currently $3 billion a year,” Oil Minister Masoud Mir-Kazemi said in a gas forum in Tehran today.

“Iran has difficulty in obtaining the required investment to develop natural gas fields and there will be no new production field added in the coming three years,” Mir-Kazemi was quoted as saying, according to a report on the ministry’s official news agency, Shana. “The need to revise the country’s consumption model is ever more necessary.”

Qatargas starts Ras Laffan refinery

Qatargas Operating Co, or Qatargas, said Saturday it has started production at its Ras Laffan condensate refinery, the first in the Gulf country.

Production of the refinery, which has a total processing capacity of 146,000 barrels per stream day, reached commercial quantities and specifications on Sept. 23 for all products, Qatargas said in a statement.

The new refinery consists of process units including naphtha and kerosene hydrotreaters, a hydrogen unit, a saturated gas plant producing naphtha, kerojet, gasoil and liquefied petroleum gas, or LPG, the company said.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Saudi-backed Malaysian telco plans IPO

Saudi Telecom Co, which owns 25 percent of Malaysia's Binariang GSM Holding, said on Saturday the Malaysian holding company is studying selling 30 percent of the shares of its Maxis Communications Bhd unit on Malaysia's bourse due to attractive market conditions.

Maxis, Malaysia's leading mobile phone operator, is in discussions with Malaysian regulatory authorities and has received preliminary approval for the offering, Saudi Telecom said in a statement on the Saudi bourse website.

The initial public offering will "finance the future expansion of the group" and comes at a time of "current attractiveness of the Malaysian market", Saudi Telecom said.

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Saudi domestic investment plan will be maintained after economic recovery, says Finance Minister

Saudi Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf said a government programme to invest US$400 billion over five years would not be halted when the economy recovers and financial stimulus is withdrawn.

Speaking from Pittsburgh where he was attending the G20 summit, al-Assaf told reporters: "With regard to Saudi Arabia, if there is a move to reduce stimulus... the government investment programme will continue. The issue of the investment programme of the government will continue as it does not have inflationary effects."

Saudi Arabia unveiled last year a $400 billion development and investment programme to help the oil-based economy sustain growth in the face of the global crisis, which drove oil prices down from record highs near $150 a barrel in mid-2008.

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Saudi shares surge 3% led by financials

Saudi Arabia's shares rose on Saturday, led by financials on the first day of trading after bankers announced that a debt-laden family-owned conglomerate had reached an agreement with local lenders.

The agreement to refinance debt owed to the banks by Saad Group will spur investor confidence, said Credit Suisse in a research note.

Samba Financial Group, Saudi British Bank, Al Rajhi Bank and Riyad Bank were raised to "outperform" from "neutral," by Credit Suisse. Banque Saudi Fransi and Arab National Bank were upgraded to "neutral" from "underperform."

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FT top 50 women in world business

Who missed out and why

Contenders for 2010 and beyond
(Not considered in this ranking because their tenure as CEO was less than 12 months)

● Carol Ann Bartz, Yahoo (US)
● Ursula Burns, Xerox (US)
● Chanda Kochhar, ICICI Bank (India)
● Ellen Kullman, DuPont (US)
● Monica Mondardini, L’Espresso (Italy)
● Margaret Ma-Yee Ko Leung, Hang Seng Bank (Hong Kong)
● Elisabetta Oliveri, Sirti (Italy)
● Laura Sen, BJS Wholesale Club (US)

(Not considered in this ranking because they are below CEO level or head majority-controlled companies, subsidiaries or divisions)

● Dawn Airey, Five TV (UK)
● Ana Patricia Botín, Banesto (Spain)
● Patrizia Grieco, Olivetti (Italy)
Lubna Olayan, Olayan Financing (Saudi Arabia)
● Preetha Reddy, Apollo Hospitals (India)
● Amina Rustamani, Tecom Business Parks (UAE)
● Dominique Senequier, Axa Private Equity (France)
● Mian Mian Yang, Haier Group (China)

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FT top 50 women in world business


Name: Nahed Taher
Nationality: Saudi
Age: 45
Company: Gulf One Investment Bank
Sector: Financial services
Location: Bahrain
3-year TSR: N/A

Nahed Taher is co-founder and chief executive of Gulf One. She was also the first woman to make it to the top of a Saudi bank. But even before that she was breaking barriers. After earning a PhD in economics at Lancaster University in 2001, she turned down a job at the International Monetary Fund, returned to her country and became the first woman promoted into the executive team of National Commercial Bank, the biggest bank in the Middle East.

Taher was asked by CNN in 2007 whether she found it strange that she could sign multi-million-dollar deals in Saudi Arabia but not drive to the office. “I will leave this to my dearest King Abdullah to decide,” she said. “I cannot go against the wind, but driving for women is definitely a necessity now, it’s becoming an economic need.”

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Flash trading not an option for UAE markets

UAE exchanges are not likely to adopt the controversial practice of flash trading, a financial expert told Gulf News.

Flash trading is a computerised technique used by stock traders to detect orders milliseconds after they are placed but before other market participants are able to react. It is subject to a ban at least in the United States, the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mary Schapiro, announced recently.

With a very slight advance notice of market sentiment, usually 30 milliseconds, traders who operate extremely powerful computers can conduct an ultra-quick statistical analysis of the market movement and trade ahead of others.

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