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Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Dubai Fountain (You Tube)

Dream jobs dwindle for Australians in Dubai

DUBAI'S dream jobs have evaporated and hopes of making quick riches have been replaced by an air of fear and loathing following the arrest of several Australians this year.

Five months after taking on a job in a large Dubai property group, a Sydney property specialist has returned to Sydney as promises made during the interview disappeared the day he arrived in Dubai.

"The project for which I was hired to develop was cancelled due to the credit crunch," said the executive, who declined to be named.

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Nakheel Gets Funds From Govt Of Dubai, Plans Bill Payments

Dubai-based real estate giant Nakheel PJSC said Wednesday it has received funds from the government of Dubai, without specifying the amount.

"Some of the funds will be used for payments to contractors," Dubai's Palm Island builder said in a statement on Nasdaq Dubai's Web site, adding that the "amount, terms and use of all the funds remain under discussion".

The company is at the center of growing concerns over Dubai's ability to repay billions of dollars in debt and is entangled in a growing number of disputes over unpaid bills to foreign contractors.END

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Saudi Stock Market Weekly Report - 27-May-2009

Developers offer part ownership as distressed property sales rise in UAE

A failed property auction this week in Dubai shows that the market is not yet on red alert, although developers are keen to look at new ways of improving their cash flow.

The funding shortfall in the market may require an increasing number of private and single-tower developers to offer part ownership options to investors in their projects, according to some experts.

A few developers in Dubai such as Cirrus Developments are offering unit purchasers the option of becoming a shareholder in the project. In March, Cirrus presented a restructuring proposal to the purchasers of Aquarius Gate project, which will convert their status from "unit purchasers" to "shareholders" in new project company.

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Senior leaders from Gulf region and institutional investors meet at SHUAA GCC Investor Conference in London

SHUAA Capital, the GCC's leading financial services institution, today announced the start of its first two-day GCC Investor Conference in London.

The SHUAA GCC Investor Conference brings together senior business leaders from 17 leading GCC companies with over 200 international investors to talk about each company’s investment case and equity story and discuss the theme of the fundamental strengths of the GCC economies and equity markets.

The event will start with keynote speeches and panel sessions with participants including: HH Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman, Bin Zayed Group, UAE; HH Sheikha Hanadi Al Thani, Chairperson, Amwal Investment Co, Qatar; Abdulrahman Alsufiyani, Vice President SAGIA Funds Initiative, Regional Development, Saudi Arabia; Husam Hourani, Managing Partner, Tamimi & Co; Tom Healy, CEO, Abu Dhabi Stock Exchange; Abdullah Bin Saleh Al Suweilmi, CEO, Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul); and; Kito de Boer, Director, Middle East North Africa, McKinsey & Company.

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UAE's Al Habtoor eyes Kuwait, Africa building deals

Dubai-based Al Habtoor Leighton Group is seeking building contracts in Kuwait and North Africa as it shifts away from relying on work in the United Arab Emirates, its managing director said on Wednesday. Construction companies have stepped up efforts to move into new markets as the real estate sector in Dubai experiences a slowdown that has led to scores of project cancellations and estimated price declines of 41 percent in the first quarter.

Al Habtoor, an affiliate of Australia's Leighton Holding, generates about 80 percent of its revenues from the UAE, particularly the capital Abu Dhabi, which has been less hit by a real estate downturn than neighbouring Dubai.

"We are actively looking for work in Kuwait and North Africa," David Savage told Reuters.

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Corporate debt

Investors have unclenched their grip on safe assets since the market nadir in March and begun to reach out for lower quality assets. Barclay’s US corporate high yield index has delivered a total return of 25 per cent so far this year. And with $15bn worth of high yield bonds issued in May – the most since October 2007 – debt markets appear to have reopened to risky borrowers. Yet investors would be wise to hold back.

In the last two downturns, default rates on speculative grade debt peaked in the year after each recession ended at around 12 per cent, before returning swiftly to low levels as the US economy recovered. In the 1980s, the peak in defaults was much lower, but was only reached four years after the recession ended. This downturn may combine the worst of both worlds.

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Dubai court cases up 40pc as crisis hits

Lawsuits are set to jump by 40 percent in Dubai in the second quarter from a year ago as the financial crisis provokes labour and real estate disputes, a court official said.

The first quarter already registered a 20 percent increase said Ahmed Saeed bin Hezeem, director general for Dubai Courts.

'With the crisis, we think that the increase in the number of cases in the second quarter will be much higher than last year. We think that will happen certainly and dramatically,' bin Hezeem told Reuters in an interview.

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Saudi money supply grows but credit to private sector drops

The annual growth of Saudi Arabia's money supply rose to its highest level in 2009 after the central bank slashed an interest rate that pays commercial banks for deposits, but credit to private sector kept declining.

M3, the broadest measure of money circulating the economy, stood at SR977.6 billion (Dh957.55bn) on April 30, 18.3 per cent above its level a year earlier, monthly data released by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (Sama) showed.

The annual growth of M3 was 15.8 per cent in March, according to Sama's data. At 18.3 per cent, M3 annual growth was the highest since November, 2008.

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Joint funds sought to enhance market penetration

The GCC sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) should consider the establishment of joint funds both at the regional and international levels, Booz & Co said yesterday.

"Regionally, benefits from joint funds include sharing of risk, and increased investment opportunities," said Richard Shediac, a partner at Booz & Company. Internationally, joint funds can facilitate market penetration and enhance knowledge transfer mechanisms. The China Dubai Capital (CDC) joint fund, announced in April 2008, is a good example. The fund plans to invest in infrastructure, the oil industry, healthcare and other activities that will create synergies with the UAE's economy, while providing China with good investment opportunities in the region.

In another development, Mubadala Development yesterday said it signed a memorandum of understanding with France's Fonds Stratégique d'Investissement (FSI) to explore investment opportunities in France.

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National Investor registers 94% decline in net profit

Abu Dhabi-based investment and merchant banking company The National Investor's (TNI) net profit fell to Dh6 million for the year ended March 31 from Dh113.6m in the previous year, registering a drop of 94.7 per cent.

The company said it recorded a substantial drop in revenues as a result of the global economic crisis.

Describing the past year as one of the most challenging ever faced by the Abu Dhabi-based investment and advisory company, TNI's Chairman Abdullah M Al Mazrui said: "I feel satisfied with the achievements of our team during the past year. Our employees combined their expertise to protect TNI's franchise in an environment characterised by financial turmoil and uncertainty.

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UAE shifts focus away from EU FTA to new markets in the East

The UAE Government said it now deals with EU countries with regard to the free trade agreement as a secondary issue after the European Union's obstacles and conditions block the signing of such an agreement with GCC member states.

Minister of Economy Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri was speaking yesterday to the press on the sidelines of the "Certificate of Origin Form (A) and Post-Verification Impact on National Exports" forum, organised in cooperation with the European Commission.

Mansouri said EU countries have lost a great deal because of the delay in the signing of the agreement over the last 18 years both at trade and economic levels. European economies could have benefitted from several relative privileges enjoyed by GCC member states, he said.

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Salaries in Middle East IT sector dive by 40 per cent

Salaries in the Middle East technology sector have dropped between 20 and 40 per cent over the past year due to the global downturn and are not expected to return to previous levels until 2010, say analysts.

The sector was previously one of the best in terms of employee perks but there have been cutbacks in this area as well, they added.

"In our experience salaries for new hires have gone down by approximately 20 per cent for the same role between last year and recent months," Peter Spaans, Human Resources Manager at Hewlett Packard ME, told Emirates Business.

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DMCC in talks with China, Canada firms to double gold trade

The Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) is currently working with companies in China, Costa Rica and Canada to achieve its target ensuring that 50 per cent of the gold produced internationally is transhipped through it every year.

Serious talks are going on with companies in China, the largest producer of gold in the world. DMCC authorities are looking forward to importing gold mined in China and exporting the refined metal to meet a strong demand for jewellery in China.

"DMCC is actively engaged with China to boost gold trade flows between the two countries. We are in discussions with major Chinese Government entities [including an association of gold miners, refineries and other companies] to find ways to encourage greater co-operation," said Harendra Kailath, Director (Gold and Precious Metals) at DMCC.

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Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth funds most welcome

Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of France, was in Abu Dhabi to sign ground-breaking agreements with the UAE on culture, diplomacy and security. But commercial ties also were on the agenda. Travelling with Mr Sarkozy, along with a number of French corporate representatives, was Christine Lagarde, the minister of economy, industry and employment. Wayne Arnold, The National’s senior economics correspondent, caught up with Mrs Lagarde over coffee during the Louvre Museum’s ribbon-cutting yesterday at the Emirates Palace Hotel. Here are some highlights:

Q: We’ve seen several big investments by the UAE’s sovereign wealth funds in the UK and Germany, but not in France. Do you hope to change that with this visit?

A: There is a co-operation agreement that will be signed today [Tuesday] between the FSI, the strategic investment fund of France, and Mubadala … a co-operation agreement to partner in relation to investments in France.

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Shuaa may buy back Dh1.5bn bond

The investment bank Shuaa Capital may buy back some or all of a Dh1.5 billion (US$408.4 million) convertible bond issued to Dubai Banking Group.

Shuaa agreed to extend the deadline to reach an agreement with Dubai Banking Group until June 4, the bank said in a statement on the Dubai Financial Market website, where its shares are traded.

Talks between the two companies have stalled since November and both parties are no longer considering the option of extending the maturity of the bond by up to two years.

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ADAT bids for aircraft assets

Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies (ADAT), the government-linked airline maintenance firm, is bidding for assets in Dublin owned by SR Technics, a maintenance provider partly owned by Mubadala Development, which is closing its Irish operations.

The auxiliary power unit (APU) and landing gear operations that ADAT is after are reported to be worth about €10 million (Dh51.2m) and were put up for sale after SR Technics said in February it was closing the plant, where it employed 1,135 people.

SR Technics, which has its headquarters at Zurich Airport in Switzerland, lost business when Aer Lingus and Gulf Air decided to discontinue servicing their aircraft at the Dublin base. Gulf Air’s decision came as it negotiated a slew of contracts to try to trim its operations and break even next year.

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Kuwait still chasing Qatar LNG deal

Kuwait is close to completing receiving facilities for liquefied natural gas (LNG), but has ailed to conclude a deal with Qatar to import the gas.

“Our marketing division is working very hard, and we hope they strike a deal soon,” ohammad Hussain, the deputy chairman of Kuwait Oil Company, said on the sidelines of he Gastech conference in Abu Dhabi.

“Kuwait is already building the infrastructure.” The hold-up in securing offshore gas supplies exemplifies the problems that several Gulf states are facing in securing enough gas to supply their burgeoning domestic needs.

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National Holding to expand beyond Abu Dhabi

National Holding, an investment and property development company, announced ambitious regional expansion plans Tuesday.

The plans include developing businesses in other Middle Eastern countries such as Iraq and Libya and setting up new ventures, possibly in the fields of health care, media and renewable energies.

“We will launch eight to nine new factories over the next 12 months,” said Constantin Salameh, the chief operating officer of National Holding.

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Expert urges shake-up of insolvency laws

As the financial crisis pushes more companies to the brink of bankruptcy, the region’s insolvency laws need to be modernised and harmonised, says a report due out today.

The report compiled by Hawkamah, a non-profit organisation based in Dubai that promotes higher standards of corporate governance in the region, urges more robust and better-integrated legal systems as the financial crisis enters a new phase in which more insolvencies are possible. .

“The purpose is to improve insolvency regimes and creditor rights in order to mitigate the results of the financial crisis and be better prepared the next time there is a crisis,” Nasser Saidi, the executive director of Hawkamah and the chief economist at the Dubai International Financial Centre, said yesterday.

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Chemicals complex elevates emirate

A massive chemicals complex under development in Taweelah will transform Abu Dhabi into one of the world’s largest chemicals producers, a key step in the emirate’s diversification efforts, executives in the project say.

The first stage of the Chemicals Industrial City will come online in 2014, the same year as a major plastics complex in Ruwais.

At that point, the emirate could have a more sophisticated chemicals capability than Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), the region’s leader, said Mark Garrett, the chief executive of Borealis, an Austrian chemicals firm majority-owned by the Government’s International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC).

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Mizin bribery case back in court

The former chief executive of the property developer Mizin, charged with taking bribes and giving excessive discounts on property sales, violated a company-wide moratorium on such sales, a court heard yesterday.

An investigating officer told the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance that SH, 50, had sold land during a period when Tatweer, Mizin’s parent company, had halted sales.

SH, an Emirati, denies accepting Dh1.98 million (US$7.3m) in bribes from a second defendant, JH, 53, an Arab investor.



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UAE launches first Arab uranium exploration firm

A United Arab Emirates based private business group has launched the first independent Arab uranium exploration company, as several regional countries plan to build nuclear reactors, an executive said on Tuesday.

Arabian Uranium Ventures, a unit of Thani Holdings which has a diversified business in oil and gas, mining, real estate and trading, was launched on Tuesday and will be extracting the radioactive metal from the Middle East and Africa.

"With growing energy needs, ever-decreasing oil and gas reserves and environmental concerns, I believe the business case for Arabian Uranium Ventures is sound," Rishard Camball, chief executive officer of Thani Holding, told Reuters.

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Tehran U-turn as Facebook ban is lifted

Facebook, Inc.Image via Wikipedia

Iran lifted its ban on Facebook yesterday, a few days after blocking the social networking site.

It was not immediately clear who filtered the site and who took the decision to allow access again.

The ban was widely covered by the international media. Domestic commentators claimed it was a government attempt to limit the ability of young supporters of Mir-Hossein Moussavi, leading presidential hopeful, to use the internet for campaigning ahead of the June 12 election.


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Properties fail to hit reserve price at first UAE auction

None of the four lots in the UAE's first public property auction made their reserve price on Tuesday evening.

There were no bidders for two lots - a four bed apartment in Jumeirah Beach Residence and a seven bed villa in Arabian Ranches - resulting in the auctioneer "passing in" the properties.

A three bed villa and a five bed villa in Arabian Ranches were sold for AED2.3m and AED2.8m but they will only be sold to the bidders if the seller agrees to lower his valuation because both bids were below the reserve price.

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