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Friday, 13 March 2009

Magna Africa Fund February 2009 (Click for PDF)

The Magna Africa Fund was unchanged in value over February, with weakness in South Africa, Kenya and Egypt offset by some extravagant gains in the volatile Nigerian market, illustrating the benefits of a diversified approach to investment across the region.

Magna Russia Fund February 2009 (Click for PDF)

The Russian market had a relatively good February, with share prices tending to rise as the focus of investors switched to the deteriorating situation in Eastern Europe with both the oil price and the rouble showing signs of stability. There were also a number of positive company-specific developments. As a result, the Magna Russia Fund closed the month up 8.1%, outperforming its benchmark by 2.3%.

Charlemagne European New Frontiers Fund February 2009 (Click for PDF)

The region across which the Charlemagne European New Frontiers Fund invests has been hit by the latest turn in the global financial crisis, with the spotlight of attention focussed upon its financial stability, leading to some significant share price falls in affected sectors. The Fund has however managed to limit its losses as a result of some exceptional share price gains in a couple of its preferred stock selections. Over the month as a whole, the Charlemagne European New Frontiers Fund saw its value fall by just 2.7%.

Roubini's View (Click here for CNBC video)

Nouriel Roubini, (aka Dr. Doom), appears at the CBOE Risk Conference and proclaims that unless drastic action is taken soon, the world as we know it is about to come crashing down.

Investors bring back 17b riyals

Saudi investors have brought back 17 billion riyals (Dh16.69 billion) from abroad in recent months, after incurring huge losses in the current economic meltdown, officials said.

According to Saudi businessmen and economic experts, the lion's share of the capital invested in the US and European markets as well as in some other countries, has been withdrawn to avoid further losses.

"The losses of some of the businessmen and investors ranged between 30 per cent and 70 per cent. The magnitude of losses varied depending upon the nature, type, and place of investments as well as the timing of withdrawal," Saudi banking sources told Gulf News.

Auditors 'qualify' Rak Properties accounts

The auditors of the ADX-listed Rak Properties have 'qualified' the company's accounts for 2008.

KPMG in its audit report has raised doubts about the current fair value of the company's investments in the equity of Rakeen Development Company (Rakeen) amounting Dh100 million and that in Rak Petroleum amounting to Dh20m.

Apart from these, the audit firm which is one among the Big Four accountancy firms, has made reference to direct investments the company has made through Rakeen in Tanzania and Georgia.

Funds on the way to help firms in Dubai

Dubai companies should begin receiving funds “in a matter of a week or two” from the US$10 billion (Dh36.73bn) the Dubai Government recently borrowed from the Central Bank to help ease a cash pinch in the emirate, Nasser al Shaikh, the head of Dubai’s finance department, said at a conference today.

The funds are part of a $20bn bond programme launched last month to help Dubai meet its short-term funding requirements. The move has calmed investors, who feared that companies may face difficulties repaying debts this year, given the reluctance of banks to refinance loans because of a global credit shortage.

So far, the Central Bank has subscribed to $10bn of the bonds, effectively injecting the money into the Dubai Government. “These funds will be used to assist companies to refinance their current obligations maturing this year and the next,” Mr al Shaikh said.

Qatar fund puts buys on hold

The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, will not make any major investments for the next six months, Hussain al Abdulla, the executive director, said yesterday.

The QIA is the main investment vehicle for Qatar, which has some of the brightest economic prospects in the world this year due to an expected increase in natural gas revenues. The fund, founded in 2005, has invested the majority of its assets either outside of the region or within Qatar’s non-oil sector in an attempt to diversify the country’s wealth away from energy sales.

“For the next six months, we will be basically doing nothing,” Mr al Abdulla said on the sidelines of the Wharton Global Alumni Forum, a conference sponsored by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in the US.

Iran swaps total with new partner

Iran says it will replace the French energy company, Total, with a new partner in the current phase of the country’s enormous South Pars gas project.

A top Iranian official said Total would have no “active role” in developing the giant offshore gasfield, adding the company had held up a project key to Iran’s development plans.

“This company has procrastinated in commissioning this national project,” Seifollah Jashnsaz, the director of the state-owned National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), said on Wednesday, according to the official IRNA news agency.

Gulf needs to revisit monetary union date - Bahrain

Gulf oil producers have to revisit their 2010 target for monetary union, Bahrain’s central bank governor said earlier today, as states across the region focus on tackling the fallout from the global financial crisis.

Bahrain is one of five states, along with the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, that is working towards launching a single currency by a 2010 target date set eight years ago.

Economists and some policymakers have said meeting that deadline — which initially envisioned issuing notes and coins by January. 1, 2010 — is virtually impossible.

Burning Pakistan

To the victor the spoils. That is the reductive, zero-sum philosophy that underlies politics in Pakistan. It is giving a dangerous new dimension to the crisis in Pakistan, where government and opposition are going at each other as if their country were not fighting for its very survival.

Barely a year after the restoration of civilian rule, and hardly six months after the final exit of General Pervez Musharraf, a new power struggle has erupted between the government of Asif Ali Zardari and the opposition led by Nawaz Sharif.

The issue at stake – the principle of an independent judiciary – is very important. But the way it is being tackled by Pakistan’s political elite – looking for factional advantage while jihadis and insurgents overrun swaths of the country – is breathtakingly irresponsible.

RBS vows to continue lending in Middle East

Royal Bank of Scotland will continue to lend in the Middle East, albeit in reduced volumes, as the embattled bank seeks to rebuild profits and maintain relationships with rich Gulf governments, a senior RBS banker said on Wednesday.

RBS is under pressure to step up lending in its home UK market, after taking the latest element of a government bail-out last month in the form of a capital injection of to £25.5bn.

But Declan McGrath, managing director and head of credit markets at RBS in the Middle East, said on Wednesday: "The Middle East [is] a core region and we will continue to lend here.

Qatar fund to target food and energy

Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund will turn its focus to commodities, particularly food and energy, in the second half of the year, a senior official said on Thursday.

Hussein al-Abdullah, executive director of the Qatar Investment Authority, which is estimated to have assets of about $60bn (€46.6bn, £43.1bn), said the fund would do “nothing” until the beginning of the second half of the year, when it will review its strategy.

After that period “the sectors we will focus more on are commodities, food, energy and water because it is an important sector and the prices will pick up”, Mr Abdullah said at a conference in Dubai.

AIG: Is the Risk Systemic? (Opens PDF file)

Attached a copy of the AIG "strictly confidential" presentation to US lawmakers, which you can - I think - now get from Bloomberg terminals and which somebody has uploaded on Scribd.

Lots and lots of interesting stuff in it.