Google+ Followers

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Kaine says Virginia is competing for a big investment from a company in Dubai

Virginia is one of two states competing for a sizable economic development investment being considered by a Dubai-based company, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine told reporters during an overseas conference call yesterday.

Kaine, who arrived in United Arab Emirates early yesterday after a three-day stay in Israel, sounded encouraged by meetings with the company. He was preparing to continue economic development discussions at a dinner last evening with the U.S. ambassador. Dubai is eight hours ahead of Virginia.

"We've had a very good afternoon here," Kaine said.

Business booms in Emaar credit notes

A secondary market is booming in the sale of Emaar credit notes, Arabian Business has learnt.

In the last few weeks developer Emaar has started reimbursing investors on delayed projects with transferable credit vouchers instead of offering them a cash refund.

In February, Emaar said it was putting new projects on hold to stem the oversupply of units in Dubai's property market.

Saudi Stock Market Weekly Report - 22-April-2009

Stimulus needs to come with regulations: experts

Regulations must be set by the UAE Government that will ensure funds given by the Central Bank to local banks and lending institutions are earmarked.

"Liquidity has come into the system but it is now being held by the banks. It is good to have government stimulus but the stimulus needs to come with directives," said Blair Hagkull, Chief Executive, Jones Lang Lasalle.

The experts also called for interest rates on mortgages to come down.

Mortgage lenders urged to stimulate market

Dubai Property Society (DPS), an association of professionals engaged in the real estate sector in Dubai, on Wednesday sought new steps to encourage mortgage lending to revive the property sector that has seen a sharp fall in transaction volumes.

At a media briefing, representatives of leading companies said both government authorities and the private sector need to work in tandem to boost demand.

Shaikh Khalid Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, executive chairman of Tamweel, said Dubai-based mortgage lenders Amlak and Tamweel will resume providing finance to home buyers within weeks. The two would resume lending activities before moving ahead with a likely merger.

IPOs raises Dh306 million in ME

Initial public offerings (IPOs) in the Middle East raised Dh306.8 million ($83.6 million) in the first quarter, 2.1 per cent of the amount raised in the same period last year.

A first quarter global IPO update by Ernst & Young revealed that there was a significant drop in capital raised, as only two IPOs were launched. The first quarter of 2008 saw 13 IPOs raising a total of Dh14.6 billion ($3.98 billion).

The two IPOs launched were Saudi Arabia's Etihad Atheed Telecommunications Company that raised Dh293.6 million ($80 million) on the Riyadh Stock Exchange, was the largest IPO in the Middle East.

Most of $10bn to be injected directly

Dr Omar bin Sulaiman, Governor of Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), yesterday said a portion of the $10 billion (Dh36.7bn) that the Dubai Government raised as subscription from the UAE Central Bank to its long-term bond programme would go to government-linked companies seeking to repay debt, and a majority of the funds would be injected directly into the economy.

"The most important thing is that the economy gets the money because that is the main focus. Remember that even if you pay debt it means you feed cash to pay the economy so the net effect is the same," said Sulaiman, who also serves on the emirate's six-member Supreme Fiscal Committee.

Addressing an open forum of the British Business Group, Sulaiman clarified that the Dubai Government itself has paid all its contracts and has no pending dues. "Some of the big corporates that are linked with government or owned by government got delayed in their payments to contractors and part of the support fund is to pay those suppliers. Some of them have already been paid. Some are in the process of getting paid," he said.

DIFC confident retail sector will offer big business opportunities

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), which has recently amended its regulations to allow firms based in the centre to serve retail clients, is upbeat the retail sector would provide bigger business opportunities.

The retail insurance for one is expected to benefit from the centre's broader infrastructure. "Market penetration is increasing as customer awareness of both conventional and Islamic insurance products develop. The broader infrastructure will only encourage clients in this exciting sector of the retail financial services industry," Peter Hodgins, partner at Clyde & Co LLP said.

Hari Bhambra, a senior partner at Praesidium said there has been a lot of limitation on wealth management business when DIFC was solely a wholesale financial services environment. With the new setup, fund managers can now consider funds in the Dubai International Financial Centre to have greater access to retail investors.

Emaar draws up plan to deal with toxic assets

Emaar Properties has drawn up a plan to deal with toxic assets held by the company.

"We have identified our toxic assets, categorised them and we are taking decisions on some of those assets," said Chief Operating Officer Naaman Atallah.

"We don't generally make a lot of noise about our policies but we have adopted a strategy to clean up our toxic assets," he added.

It’s not quite the Great Depression; we’ve moved on

Some kind of clarification is in order: last October, this column deliberated on the desirability and difficulties of teleportation, in particular the riddle of how to define where we are without altering where we’ve been, or put differently, rewriting our history to define our present.

But don’t get confused. While quantum physics and revisionist history may make it possible to alter the past, this doesn’t mean one can actually go back in time. Time travel, like teleportation, remains impossible.

Yet more and more people are lately asking why, if this global recession is supposed to be the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s, the world doesn’t look a lot more like it did in, say, 1933? If things are so bad, they ask, why aren’t there more people huddled around burning oil drums warming their fingers or camped out in tent cities? Why hasn’t Angela Merkel been deposed as German chancellor by an Austrian megalomaniac? Why are photos and films still in colour and not in black and white?

Family-owned businesses head for DIFC

The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is targeting family-owned investment firms worldwide as the region’s leading financial free zone seeks to reposition itself.
“During this difficult time, a lot of families have started getting together and creating family offices,” Omar bin Sulaiman, the governor of DIFC, told the British Business Group in Dubai Wednesday.

The centre’s broadening of target clients has been triggered by recent layoffs of financial experts in the region, many of whom come from wealthy families. With few other finance jobs on the horizon, Dr Sulaiman said these professionals had gone into managing the family wealth and were opening up shop in the DIFC.

“A lot of people who got laid off or left some of the global financial firms have been hired by their families now to create organisations,” he said “Families from the region and from outside the region are establishing themselves at the DIFC right now. This will continue.”

Tamweel and Amlak look to lend

The UAE’s two largest Islamic home loan companies will need to secure adequate funding before they can re-start lending, the chairman of Tamweel said yesterday.
“Where the funds will be coming from... is at the heart of the matter,” said Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed. “Within a matter of weeks Amlak and Tamweel are going to be lending again. But a few formalities need to be worked out.”

Trading in Tamweel and Amlak Finance was suspended in November after the companies all but stopped lending because of the global liquidity crunch. They accounted for about 60 per cent to 65 per cent of the mortgage market.

On Tuesday, Nasser al Shaikh, the director general of Dubai’s Department of Finance and chairman of Amlak, said state-affiliated real estate companies can to draw on the Dubai Government’s US$10 billion (Dh36.73bn) bond.

Tadawul plans to introduce derivatives and ETFs

Saudi Arabia is considering to introduce derivatives and other sophisticated investment tools into its bourse as part of an overall strategy to develop the market and encourage citizens to invest at home.

Tadawul, the largest and busiest bourse in the Middle East, said it is also pondering introducing exchange-traded funds (ETF) and taking further measures to boost transparency and ensure all listed firms comply with governance rules.

The Gulf Kingdom's Capital Market Authority (CMA), which oversees the Riyadh-based Tadawul, said the new plans are part of a development strategy aimed at "ensuring disciplined and fair dealing in the bourse."

Dividend boost for investors unlikely to last

In addition to enjoying a recent rally in most regional markets, Gulf investors are receiving another welcome boost: dividend payments for 2008.

Middle East companies, and Gulf-based corporates in particular, have traditionally been generous with dividends. Leading shareholders often exert great pressure on boards to be generous with dividends, even when management foresees tough times and wants to retain earnings.

Thus, while the economic and financial outlook deteriorated sharply towards the end of 2008, it was still overall a bumper year for profits, and boards have disbursed some of this to shareholders.

Bahrain retools its labour market

Among the numerous street protests that have gripped Bahrain in recent months, none were so genteel as the weekly gatherings in March of businessmen at the doors of Tamkeen, the recently rebranded labour fund.

The focus of the protesters’ anger is a BD10 ($26.6) monthly tax on every foreign worker, introduced last July. The funds are to be used by Tamkeen – “the enabler” – to train Bahraini nationals for work in the private sector, as part of wider reforms intended to cut unemployment, diversify the economy and reduce the public wage bill.

“The labour market reforms are about making the private sector the employer of choice, and equipping Bahrainis for those roles,” says Abdulellah al-Qassimi, chief executive of the fund.

Telecoms group lines up growth

The Middle East may not have been spared in the global financial meltdown, but some companies and industries are expected still to boast robust earnings and continued expansion – albeit at a more measured pace than before.

Etisalat is likely to represent one such pocket of growth. The United Arab Emirates’ state-controlled telecommunications provider is cash-rich and, despite the impact of the financial crisis, is actively looking to expand its services and make acquisitions.

Telecoms operators enjoy “stickier” demand than most consumer service providers, and Etisalat’s domination of its home market, the second-largest Arab economy, means that it is likely to continue to be a cash cow.

Dubai economy expands by 1%

Dubai’s economy grew one per cent in the first quarter of this year compared to the last quarter of 2008, according to a senior official.

Omar bin Sulaiman, the governor of the Dubai International Financial Centre, said government spending and an increase in confidence thanks to a $10bn loan from the United Arab Emirates central bank had helped foster recovery after the sharp slowdown witnessed last year.

“We estimate Dubai’s economy to have grown by one per cent in the first quarter, fuelled by the government stimulus package and the increase in expenditures,” he told a meeting of the British Business Group in Dubai on Wednesday, adding that confidence was returning to the economy.