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Saturday, 14 February 2009

Major reshuffle in Saudi Arabia

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has sacked two powerful religious officials in a wide ranging shake-up of the cabinet and other government posts.

One of the dismissed men was the head of the controversial religious police force. The other was the country's most senior judge.

The king also appointed the country's first-ever female minister and replaced the head of the central bank.

Griffin Eastern European Fund : January 2009

UCITS III, Eastern European long only
"Emerging European markets continued their downtrend in January. Poor macroeconomic data globally, weak company results and rising political tensions contributed to the negative sentiment. A favourable country allocation and a relatively high cash position helped limit the decline of the Fund’s NAV per share to 8.0%. As we do not expect a quick solution to current structural problems, we remain defensively positioned."

Abu Dhabi fund to subscribe to UniCredit issue-source (Registration may be required)

Aabar Investments also bought 3.3 percent of Italian highway operator Atlantia SpA from UniCredit in December.

MILAN, Feb 13 (Thomson IM) - A publicly traded Abu Dhabi company will subscribe to about 60 million euros ($77.5 million) in UniCredit SpA's 3 billion euro capital-strengthening measure, a source close to the issue said on Friday.

The source said the investor to the convertible bond issue, called CASHES, should be Aabar Investments PJSC. Italian newspapers reported the Abu Dhabi subscription on Friday.

Aabar bought 3.3 percent of Italian highway operator Atlantia SpA from UniCredit in December.

Och-Ziff Loss Narrows; Revenue, Fee Income Plummet

Och-Ziff Capital Management said yesterday that it posted a loss in the fourth quarter, but a much smaller one than a year earlier.

The New York hedge fund firm said its quarterly loss was $112.2 million, down from $774.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2007. While the firm’s revenue posted an equally stark decline, dropping for than 80% to $146.3 million—due mostly to the precipitous drop in incentive income to $6.7 million, just over 1% of last year’s total—Och-Ziff also managed to cut expenses, with compensation and benefits expenses falling 60%.

Plus, as one analyst pointed out during a conference call with the firm, its unusual high-water mark policy differs from other hedge funds, to its favor. While many hedge funds will be struggling to recoup last year’s losses for years, Och-Ziff’s high-water marks are only for one year, meaning that the firm will begin collection performance fees again next year even if the firm’s funds don’t reach their previous hights.

Dubai Mall offers rent reduction to retailers

Shop owners say rents in The Dubai Mall are coming down, in a sign that the city’s struggling retailers are getting some relief from landlords.

Several stores in Dubai’s largest mall have had their rents reduced by around 15 percent, but retailers complain that sales in Emaar’s flagship shopping centre continue to be slow.

“For tenants who had to renew their contracts this month there was a new price...but some people chose not to renew it,” one shop owner said.

Dubai Police Chief Warns Firms Over Sacking of Emiratis

DUBAI - Lt-General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, the Commander-in-Chief of the Dubai police has warned local and international companies against any arbitrary termination of UAE nationals.

The warning came following the dismissal of more than 20 Emiratis by the local firm, Al Futtaim GroupAl Futtaim Group this month on the grounds of "restructuring the company in the light of the global financial crisis.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Lt-General Tamim said that such acts violated the laws and norms of the country and affected the relationship between official institutions and private companies in the Emirates.

Italy and Libya

Follow the money, runs the refrain – and Italy has taken it to heart: its companies are increasingly turning to Libya, Italy’s oil-rich former colony, for funding.

Libya already owns stakes in Fiat, Juventus, Eni and UniCredit. Now, in a fund run with Mediobanca, the investment bank at the heart of corporate Italy, it plans to buy more, especially distressed assets. With $65bn in Tripoli’s coffers, Rome is unsurprisingly courting Libya’s involvement, which follows a “friendship pact” Silvio Berlusconi, prime minister, signed last year.

Others have fluffed similar attempts to turn the tables on their former colonial masters. Think of the drubbing India’s Tata Group suffered in the UK after buying Corus and Jaguar Land Rover at the top of the market. Libya, while apparently a neophyte in international finance, is more astutely shopping at the bottom.