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Sunday, 8 March 2009

Markaz: No signs of recovery

A report by Kuwait Financial Center 'Markaz' says that February was yet another difficult month for the GCC.

All stock markets ending the month in negative territory except Oman's Muscat Stock Market (MSM) and the UAE (NBAD UAE General Index) which gained 0.83% and 2.47%, respectively.

The month's worst performer was Qatar's Doha Stock Market, which lost 15.52% following a loss of 24% in the January. Kuwait's Weighted Index ended the month with a loss of 8.24% following a 13% loss in January.

Global's GCC Islamic Index –Weekly Brief dated March 05, 2009

"Following the successful launch of Global GCC Islamic Index; and in line with the growing interest in Islamic finance, Global Investment House is proud to present a “GCC Islamic Index –Weekly Brief”.

The report examines the performance of GCC Shariah compliant companies (components of the index), highlighting industry as well as individual stock performances. It also entails economic and company developments, in an effort to keep investors cognizant of local and regional issues related to Islamic finance.

In order to view the full report for the week, kindly click on the headline."

Bank measures will begin to pay off in Q3

Banks may be taking every possible measure to set their house in order but the sector would continue grappling with the challenges facing the global economy and the end of the first quarter may be too early to expect positive results, say financial analysts.

The measures taken by the banking sector in the UAE, including stringent lending norms in order to balance advances to deposit ratio, are likely to bear fruit only by the end of the first half or the third quarter of 2009, according to analysts.

As annual results of most banks reflected a clear strain on profits due to the economic crisis, many are pinning hopes on the results of the first quarter now.

RAK project developer ‘insolvent’, says official

Khoie Properties, the developer behind a proposed Dh2 billion (US$545 million) project on the man-made island of Al Marjan in Ras al Khaimah, is insolvent, its chief financial officer said yesterday.

The La Hoya Bay project was sold to hundreds of investors, many from Britain, who are now pressing the Government of Ras al Khaimah to intervene because little progress has been made.

A senior member of the board of Khoie Properties is in jail after being detained by police for allegedly failing to honour a cheque written to pay for the land.

Opec and energy agency split over oil price

The dramatic decline in oil prices over the past eight months has revived a public disagreement between OPEC and the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The rift, over oil prices, between the groups representing oil exporters and consumers has resurfaced as signs emerge that oil markets are starting to respond to supply signals ahead of OPEC’s March 15 meeting.

On Friday, just a day after Nobuo Tanaka, the IEA executive director, said oil at US$40 a barrel until the end of this year would deliver a US$1 trillion (Dh3.67tn) stimulus to the ailing world economy, oil prices touched a five-week high of $46.30 on expectations of another OPEC production cut.

Arabtec signs joint venture with Saudi partners

Arabtec Construction, a subsidiary of Arabtec Holding, has formed a joint venture with two Saudi partners to establish Arabtec Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi participants are CPC Services, a member of the Saudi bin Laden Group, and Prime International Group Services. Arabtec will have a 45 per cent stake in the partnership, while CPC will hold 35 per cent and Prime 20 per cent.

“The aim of Arabtec Saudi Arabia is to play a key role in the ongoing growth of the Saudi construction and infrastructure market,” said Riad Kamal, the chief executive of Arabtec Holding.

Dubai in Olympic Airlines award

A Greek investment firm backed by Dubai Financial Group has emerged as the winning bidder for loss-making Olympic Airlines, which is being sold by the Greek government.

Marfin Investment Group, the largest private equity group in Greece, offered authorities €177m (Dh822.6m) to purchase the airline and its aircraft maintenance unit, Kostis Hatzidakis, the Greek development minister, said in an emailed statement yesterday.

“The government’s legal and financial advisers informed us that the negotiations with MIG’s advisers for the sale of Olympic’s flying activities and technical base ended successfully,” Mr Hatzidakis was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Desert drought

Bailouts by rich Middle Eastern investors are nothing new in the current economic crisis, as America's banks can attest. But it's not often that the sheiks have had to rescue one of their own.

It happened the weekend of Feb. 21, when the United Arab Emirates' central bank snapped up half of a $20 billion bond issue by Dubai, the second largest of the seven states that constitute the UAE. The funding should allow the tiny Gulf state to meet some $13 billion of government and quasi-government debt that is due to be repaid this year.

The central bank, which is principally funded by Dubai's megawealthy neighbor Abu Dhabi, bought $10 billion of five-year notes at a deeply discounted annual interest rate of 4%. The remaining $10 billion is to be offered to other investors, though speculation is rife that the central bank will return to buy more of the issue if, as expected, the bonds fail to sell on the open market.