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Friday, 29 May 2009

Kefi's Saudi gold venture follows recent regulations to attract foreign mining investment

Kefi Minerals, the gold and copper explorer, announced the formation of its new minerals exploration joint venture, Gemco Limited with leading Saudi construction and investment group Abdul Rahman Saad Al-Rashid & Sons Company, (ARTAR).

Kefi is the operating partner with a 40% shareholding of GEMCO with ARTAR holding the other 60%.

ARTAR is a conglomerate investing in different sectors in Saudi Arabia such as construction, real-estate, agriculture and health care in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and abroad.

Why was the Industrial Revolution British?

An excellent article for those interested in Economic History.

When I first read subject line my reaction was "What?", but amazing to read how availability of cheap energy enabled British trade supremacy, centuries ago.

Could this model be replicated for OPEC members?

Brokerage Company Goes into Liquidation

The Golden Gate Securities and Brokerage Company be dissolved and liquidated, according to a decision by a judicial committee setup by official authorities in Dubai.

The company has been found guilty of committing a series of irregularities, a press release issued by Securities and Commodities Authority or SCA said. The committee was set up early this year to settle the issue legally.

Ghassan Al Saheb Public Accountants have assigned the job to carry out liquidation process under the supervision of the Securities and Commodities Authority, or SCA has asked the creditors of the firm to submit their claims to the liquidator within 45 days .

Darvesh shelves plans to invest $6bn in 40 branded projects

Darvesh Group, a Dubai-based diversified company, has shelved its plans to invest $6 billion (Dh22bn) to construct 40 branded projects across different cities in the next five years.

"We have put on hold our plans to enter the real estate market as the sector has seen a worldwide decline. Besides, banks are also not interested in funding projects. So we are investing in technologies and stable cash flow industries," Ahsan Hassan Darvesh, Managing Director, Darvesh Group, told Emirates Business.

In February 2008, the company announced the launch of Le Diamond, a property concept that it said will span the Middle East and India, in partnership with Ivana Trump.

EU Solvency II rules to alter insurance policies in UAE

Insurance companies in the UAE are gearing up to implement Solvency II capital adequacy rules approved by the European Parliament.

The rules will limit the amount of risk that insurance and reinsurance companies can undertake in relation to their capital bases. The rules are due to be implemented by 2012 and will set a new regulatory standard for insurance companies across the world. Industry sources said the rules could lead to major changes in the UAE.

Many insurance companies in the Middle East are monitored by credit rating agencies such as Moody's and Standard & Poor's. As Dubai is trying to become a global financial centre, insurance companies here are watching the Solvency II developments closely.

Dubai Duty Free sales decline by 4%

Sales at Dubai Duty Free have fallen by 4 per cent in the first five months of this year as travellers change their spending habits, an executive says.

Colm McLoughlin, the managing director of Dubai Duty Free at Dubai International Airport, said although passenger traffic had risen by 3 per cent so far this year, people were spending less.

“They are not spending as much money on luxury products as they did before and they’re spending more money on normal, run-of-the-mill items,” Mr McLoughlin said.

Russia plans LNG sales to US

Gazprom, the Russian state-controlled gas monopoly, is eyeing the US market as it seeks to build a substantial position in the global liquefied natural gas business after opening its first LNG plant in February.

The company, already the world’s biggest exporter of pipeline gas, is now aiming for “participation in the LNG world on a scale commensurate with its resource base”, Frederic Barnaud, the president and managing director of the company’s LNG trading unit, Gazprom Global LNG, told the Gastech conference in Abu Dhabi.

Gazprom sees its nascent LNG business as a strategic opportunity to diversify its export potential by accessing international markets it cannot reach by pipeline. The US is a key target because it is the biggest gas market in the world, Mr Barnaud said on the sidelines of the conference.

Kurds open oil pipelines for testing

Iraq has started exporting oil from its semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, after years of deadlock over disputed Kurdish oil contracts.

But it is still unclear how DNO International, the Norwegian firm pumping the oil, will be paid.

Asim Jihad, the Iraqi oil ministry spokesman, said Iraq had started shipping crude from Kurdistan’s Tawke field to a Turkish port on the Mediterranean.

Rera freezes accounts of several developers

The trust accounts of several major property developers have been frozen until they can prove that construction is progressing and the land has been properly registered, officials said yesterday.

The Dubai Real Estate Regulatory Authority (Rera) has frozen the escrow accounts in an effort to protect investors’ interests as the property market grapples with falling prices and a shortage of lending. By law, all money made from the sale of off-plan property must go into an escrow account, to be used solely for the construction of the property.

Marwan bin Ghalita, the chief executive of Rera, said the developers in question needed to provide technical reports detailing the progress of construction before they could withdraw money from the accounts. “There can be no withdrawal until they have completed the technical report,” he said.

Landmark penalty is corruption warning

A landmark penalty was imposed on a former sales manager yesterday, the first ruling in Dubai’s drive against corruption.

The ruling against the 32-year-old Emirati, who worked in Dubai Industrial City (DIC), includes three years’ imprisonment for taking Dh17m (US$4.63m) in illegal commissions on sales, repayment of the illegal commissions, and a Dh17m fine.

But the ruling’s toughest feature may send the loudest message: for every Dh100 he fails to pay on his fine upon his scheduled release, he faces another day in prison. AZ could face 465 years in jail if he pays none of the fine, in effect a life sentence.

Landmark penalty is corruption warning

A landmark penalty was imposed on a former sales manager yesterday, the first ruling in Dubai’s drive against corruption.

The ruling against the 32-year-old Emirati, who worked in Dubai Industrial City (DIC), includes three years’ imprisonment for taking Dh17m (US$4.63m) in illegal commissions on sales, repayment of the illegal commissions, and a Dh17m fine.

But the ruling’s toughest feature may send the loudest message: for every Dh100 he fails to pay on his fine upon his scheduled release, he faces another day in prison. AZ could face 465 years in jail if he pays none of the fine, in effect a life sentence.

Another Blow To The GCC Monetary Union: the UAE Pulls Out (Registration required. Story date 20 May, 2009)

Less than 24 hours after Dubai’s finance chief was demoted, the UAE announced its decision to withdraw from the GCC Monetary Union, putting the broader union at risk. This decision comes two weeks after a major milestone; selection of the location of the GCC Central Bank. UAE officials did not conceal their reservations about the choice of Saudi Arabia to host the institution. UAE newspapers heavily criticized the Saudis in what may have developed into a political rift.

For starters, the GCC Secretariat is already located in Saudi Arabia and other institutions in other GCC countries, and with plans to diversify the government institutions, they believed that the GCC Central Bank should be located in the UAE, given its development as one of the region’s financial hub, possibly with a presiding Saudi National.

Despite the political headlines,the GCC monetary union was already facing many hurdles and the 2010 deadline had already been abandoned, particularly as economic policies have diverged in the wake of the global and local economic crisis. Changes in the GCC policy agenda- now focusing on policy responses that would shield the GCC countries and boost growth and liquidity – took precedence over convergence and made delay more likely. Furthermore other aspects of the customs union may face delays. This decision should not come as a big surprise. Oman announced its decision not to participate several years ago. Kuwait de-pegged from the dollar in 2007 (and pegged to a dollar-dominated basket) although it vowed to join the union. The UAE’s decision to pull out, despite the fact that it was the first country to apply to host the union in 2004, versus Saudi Arabia who applied in 2008, might be a fatal blow. With only four out of six members willing to join, any potential union seems ripe for significant delays.

Temasek Considers Abu Dhabi Bid For Chartered-Sources

Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Ltd. (CHRTD: News ) has received a S$2.45 billion or $1.7 billion bid from Abu Dhabi's Advanced Technology Investment Co, to acquire Temasek Holdings Pte,'s near 60% stake in the chipmaker, reports said.

Advanced Technology, a technology investment company, which is wholly owned by the government of Abu Dhabi, offered to buy Chartered shares from Temasek at S$2.40 to S$2.60 apiece, reports noted.

Chartered Semiconductor in announcement said that it has not received such a bid from Advanced Technology. Reportedly, Temasek declined to comment on what they called "rumors."

Chartered reported a net loss of $98.8 million for the three-month period ended March 31 and expects to post a deficit in the current period. Chartered chips are used in Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360 game consoles. The company raised $300 million in April by selling shares to existing investors. Chartered slashed staff strength and cut overtime work to curtail costs.

Mohammed Bin Rashid orders not to increase government fees in Dubai

Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has ordered government departments in the emirate of Dubai not to increase any government fee. He also ordered to cut down a number of fees levied by the emirate's government by 20 to 30percentage.

The decision mirrors the Ruler's keenness for bolstering the economic competitiveness of Dubai and enhancing the governments support to the investment environment for the benefit of the community as a whole.

Based on the approval of the executive council of Dubai emirate, Sheikh Mohammed had ratified a mechanism for taxes levied for various government services as proposed by the department of finance in a just and reasonable framework. On the basis of this, Sheikh Mohammed ordered the finance department to revise various fees and tariffs levied for government services. He also ordered the finance department of the emirate to decrease certain fees which are above the required limits and not to increase any fees which are below the limits as per the mechanism.

UAE mortgage firm posts Q1 loss of $11 million

The United Arab Emirates' (UAE) mortgage firm Tamweel, the country's leading Islamic mortgage provider, said Thursday it made a net loss of 41 million dirhams ($11 million) for the first quarter of 2009 on provisions, higher funding costs and lower income from property sales.

"The negative impact of the global economic situation, which affected financial institutions and the real-estate sector in the country, continued in the first quarter of 2009," said Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the company's chairman.

The company made a "prudential provision of 52 million dirhams to cover any future impairment in its real-estate investment portfolio," the company said in a statement.

Credit card defaulters of the day, Dubai edition

The flipside of all those abandoned cars at Dubai airport — assets left behind by foreigners leaving the country for good — is the abandoned liabilities they’ve left behind on their credit cards:

Some UAE banks are seeing up to 2,500 customers leave the country every month without paying off their credit card bills, a number that could rise in June, a senior RAK Bank official said on Sunday…

RAK Bank recovers around a quarter of the debt that goes unpaid as a result of one of the customers leaving the country, Martin said.

I’m surprised the recovery rate in these cases is as high as 25%, frankly: chasing down debtors who live abroad is non-trivial and always expensive. But then again, I’m sure that many of the credit card balances in question are pretty enormous: as Julie Sherrier notes, Dubai is known as something of a shoppers’ paradise. If the credit card debt rises into six figures, which I’m sure it does on occasion, it’s be worth fighting for.END

Qatar to buy $4.1bn in real estate from banks

Qatar has offered to buy real estate investments worth up to $4.1bn from local banks, as the government steps up efforts to support the domestic financial sector against the fallout from the credit crunch.

Though Qatar's property sector is healthier than in many other Gulf countries, the market has weakened this year, and analysts expect non-performing loans to rise, weighing on banks' earnings.

The operation aims to "support the real estate sector . . . and allow banks to continue to play their vital role" in the country's development, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani, Qatari prime minister said yesterday. Qatar's abundant wealth - it is the world's largest supplier of liquefied natural gas - has allowed it to actively support its banks and wider economy during the financial crisis

Dubai former minister is acquitted of fraud

Dubai's appeal court yesterday overturned the fraud conviction of a former minister for allegedly embezzling assets from his business partner.

Khalifa Bakheet al-Falasi, whose sentence to two years in prison in February was seen as a signal that officials would be held accountable, was welcomed by his supporters within the United Arab Emirates who had always maintained his innocence.

The UAE president removed Mr Falasi last year from his cabinet post when Dubai authorities decided to try the minister in a criminal court.

Dubai Cutting Taxes And Fees To Lure Investment Amid Slump

Dubai's ruler has frozen taxes on some services and ordered others be slashed by 20%-30% in a bid to encourage investment in the Gulf emirate, which has been seriously hit by the global financial crisis.

Under the measure, announced by the official Wam news agency, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed al-Maktoum ordered that no fees be increased.

Taxes to be cut include fees for the issuance and renewal of trade and professional licences, licences for business promotions, property ownership certificates, and for converting buildings into hotels or serviced apartments and remodeling commercial buildings.