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Friday, 10 April 2009

DD is an acronym for what?

Recently, a few readers have complained that I do not express my opinion within this Blog.
My response is that the purpose of the Blog is to make international viewers more aware of what is happening in the Middle East, through news articles, which have been written by professional journalists, not a journeyman, such as myself.
This is not a social commentary blog, far better people, than I, can be found in that sphere.
Recently many journalists have reported on the "Dark side of Dubai", so taking the acronym of "DD" what has happened this week?
Dubai Disclosure
Sheikh Mohammed, Ruler of Dubai, has this week set the benchmark for all Dubaians to follow, when it comes to Dubai Disclosure. He is quoted as saying he is the person "responsible", so will those responsible for this fiasco act responsibly?
I have read no article pointing out the irony of Sheikh Mohammed's situation vis a vis Princess Haya! Surely a journalist is out there, worth his salt, or will this be Private Eye material?
More Dubai Disclosure came from WAM, the UAE Government's Official Press Agency, yet this was ignored by all radio business programmes, on the day the story broke and the morning after!
Well that is it for my first effort, if you wish to comment please do, but preferably without "anonymous" as your moniker.
Whatever, I will leave all comments posted, with no moderation on my part.
Have a peaceful Easter weekend. Rupert

An FT Alphaville Easter Egg Hunt

Emirates NBD offers bond swap (Update 1)

Emirates NBD, the nation’s largest bank by assets, is offering investors the opportunity to swap existing bonds to shorter-term, more senior paper to help the bank bolster its balance sheet and meet capital requirements by the Central Bank.

Emirates NBD needs to bolster its balance sheet, notably its Tier 1 capital, by the end of June to comply with the new requirements. The Central Bank demands that 11 per cent of a banks’ assets are Tier 1 equity. This regulation, known as capital adequacy, measures financial strength.

“From this transaction, we can improve our Tier 1 capital position while investors are in higher-value securities,” said Rick Pudner, the chief executive of Emirates NBD.

Local firm cited in US bribery charges

US prosecutors have charged six former executives of a valve company based in California with bribing officials at overseas energy firms, including an oil equipment company in Abu Dhabi which is owned by the government.

Federal prosecutors said executives at Control Components paid a total of US$4.9 million (Dh17.9m) in bribes to officials at foreign firms to convince them to buy their equipment. US law bars the nation’s businesses from bribing officials at home or overseas.

Prosecutors alleged that officials at the National Petroleum Construction Company (NPCC), an oil equipment firm that is majority-owned by the Abu Dhabi Government’s General Holding Corporation, received bribes from Control Components from 1998 to 2007.

Qatar economy feels the heat of global economic slow down

Dun & Bradstreet South Asia Middle East (D&B) in association with Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) Authority and Al Khalij Commercial Bank (al khaliji) released today the D&B Business Optimism Index for Qatar for Q2 2009.

The D&B Business Optimism Index (BOI) for Q2 2009 was conducted in March 2009 against the backdrop of crude oil prices hovering around US$ 45 and a deepening global recession. According to a recent IMF report, the Qatari economy is expected to grow by 29% in 2009 in spite of the slowdown in world economy. The State is expected to maintain a budget current account surplus, despite increased spending to stem the impact of the global financial crisis. However, the BOI report for the second quarter reveals that sentiments in the Qatari economy have taken a hit due to the outlook of the global economy.

Commenting on the overall findings of the BOI, Rajesh Mirchandani CEO of Dun & Bradstreet South Asia Middle East Ltd. says, "The outlook for second quarter is low key as compared to the previous quarter due to ongoing global economic uncertainty. According to the BOI survey, demand levels in the Qatari economy are expected to decline which will impact the profitability of business units across all sectors. Most business units are likely to tread cautiously in maintaining inventory levels and hiring new employees in light of the declining demand outlook. However, inflation is expected to decline further in the second quarter."

Robin McCall, al khaliji's Acting Chief Executive Officer, commented on the BOI results: "Government increased spending and latest measures to help the banking and financial sectors will positively affect the economy and boost the liquidity in the financial system. In al khaliji, we see two positive outcomes in the Q2 2009 Business Optimism Index: first, inflation will continue to decrease; second most businesses expect the global economy to recover in 2010"

Stuart Pearce, CEO and Director General of the QFC Authority, said "While there is underlying strength in the Qatari economy as demonstrated by the ongoing investment activity at the upper end of the economy, this report underlines that the Qatari government is correct in taking measures to support the local banking sector so as to ensure that unlike other economies its capacity to lend to the commercial sector is not undermined by falling asset values. On the brighter side the number of firms expressing interest in operating in and from Qatar through the QFC has not dropped over the past year and if anything has increased."

Witnesses Confirm Nakheel Ex-staff Took Bribes

Two employees of real estate developer Nakheel confirmed in the court on Wednesday that their two former colleagues, who are standing trial, had accepted bribes.

The two witnesses, an American sales consultant who was the whistleblower in the case and his Emirati supervisor, were cross-examined by Presiding Judge Fahmi Mounir Fahmi and defence lawyers Samir Jaafar and Nabih Badr.

As per the case, a 28-year-old Egyptian ex-salesman and a 32-year-old Emirati former sales general manager of Nakheel, both under detention, overcharged a company by two per cent of the original price for a plot of land and took the excess amount that came up to more than Dh5 million as commission.

Where are they now?

Possibly the first instalment of a series on this blog?

C.V.’s are like public companies’ public records, the Profit and Loss statements and Balance Sheet reports.

The are similar in that there is no easy, hassle-free way to assess the truthfulness of the figures (accounting) and supposed facts (C.V.’s) that they contain.

Colony Quits MGM Mirage Deal Talks

Colony Capital LLC has broken off talks with struggling MGM Mirage about a potential investment that could have given the casino company cash it needs to meet its looming financial obligations.

The collapse of talks with Colony means that MGM Mirage must find other ways to service its $13.5 billion in debt, as well as fund payments on its City Center project, an $8.6 billion development on the Las Vegas Strip.

Colony, a Los Angeles-based investment firm, had been discussing a possible joint investment with Crown Ltd., the Australian gambling company controlled by James Packer. Crown has also backed away from investing in MGM Mirage for the time being. A Crown spokesman wasn't immediately available for comment.

MGM Mirage, which is controlled by investor Kirk Kerkorian, now appears to be focused on negotiating a deal with its lenders that would give it some breathing room, people familiar with the situation said.

The Las Vegas company has said it is pursuing many options, including talks with other investors. "We continue to have discussions with investors and will not address details of any specific party," said MGM Mirage spokesman Alan Feldman.

MGM Mirage is a 50-50 partner in the City Center project with Dubai World, a conglomerate owned by the Dubai government. The two must come up with a $70 million payment on the project by Monday in order to prevent construction from shutting down. However, relations between the partners have soured, and Dubai World has filed suit alleging that MGM Mirage let costs at City Center get out of control.

A spokesman for Dubai World had no comment on MGM Mirage's talks with Colony.

MGM Mirage warned investors last month that it could be in default of its loan covenants as its bills mount and revenue declines. Outside investors have been circling the gambling company as its cash needs mount.

One option presented by Colony to MGM Mirage executives was an investment of at least $750 million, secured by one or more MGM Mirage properties. That investment could then be converted into an equity stake in MGM Mirage. A large enough conversion might have wrested control of the company from Mr. Kerkorian, who owns 53.8% of the company. It also would have diluted other shareholders, including Dubai World, which owns a 9.5% stake in MGM Mirage, separate from its 50% stake in City Center.

A person close to Colony said it may re-engage with MGM Mirage at some point in the future, depending on the outcome of MGM Mirage's other negotiations.END

Report: United Arab Emirates Companies to Bid for Textron (TXT)

According to a Dow Jones report, quoting a Kuwaiti newspaper, a consortium of companies from the United Arab Emirates is planning to make an acquisition offer to U.S.-based aircraft and defense contractor Textron Inc. (TXT).

Quoting an unidentified source, the report claims that the consortium will offer $21 per share for Textron, which would be more than a 100% markup on the company's current share price.

Shares of Textron closed Wednesday trading at the $9.11 level, and, fueled by the buyout rumors, skyrocketed to $13.10 per share in early trading Thursday. Textron was the subject of another takeover rumor recently, that time by Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT), but that rumor was subsequently shot down.

TrimTabs Estimates All Equity Mutual Funds Post Inflow of $11.9 Billion in Week Ended Wednesday, April 8th

TrimTabs Investment Research estimates that all equity mutual funds posted an inflow of $11.9 billion in the week ended Wednesday, April 8th, versus a revised inflow of $3.0 billion in the previous week.

Equity funds that invest primarily in U.S. stocks posted an inflow of $11.1 billion, versus a revised inflow of $2.7 billion in the previous week. Equity funds that invest primarily in non-U.S. stocks had an inflow of $844 million, versus a revised inflow of $287 million in the previous week. In addition, bond funds had an inflow of $1.7 billion, versus a revised inflow of $6.8 billion in the previous week, and hybrid funds had an inflow of $361 million, versus a revised inflow of $409 million in the previous week.

Separately, TrimTabs reports that exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that invest in U.S. stocks posted an outflow of $1.4 billion for the second consecutive week. ETFs that invest in non-U.S. stocks had an inflow of $1.9 billion, versus an inflow of $502 million in the previous week.