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Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Dubai dismisses reports of AC Milan football bid

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum - World ...Image by World Economic Forum via Flickr

Dubai is dismissing reports its ruler is eyeing a stake in Italian football team AC Milan.

A Dubai government official says the sheikdom would like to make clear that neither Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum or "any of his advisers are in discussions to purchase a stake in AC Milan."

The official spoke Wednesday on condition of anonymity in line with official policy.

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Saudi Stock Market Weekly Report

A timely Kingdom of Saudi Arabia brief (PDF 2.4mb)

Setting aside that Saad little issue, there’s an increasingly widespread belief that the GCC region is on the mend.

With president Obama visiting Saudi Arabia, local investment bank NCB Capital have produced a 260-page briefing on the kingdom, with some appropriately up-lifting stats:

The Saudi authorities have taken impressive steps to create an attractive business climate and the progress to date has been recognized by external observers and foreign investors alike. The World Bank has identified Saudi Arabia as a leading reformer globally and the Kingdom has risen from 67th to 16th position in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index in less than three years. It is now the highest-ranked Middle Eastern country. The improved business environment has triggered an unprecedented FDI boom in recent years. At home, the development of the financial sector has facilitated ambitious investments by Saudi corporations and significantly boosted the role of non-oil sectors as well as private entrepreneurship in the economy. These efforts have in turn fueled rapid growth with the country’s real GDP expanding at a CAGR of 5.0% in 2002-2007. GDP growth in 2008 accelerated to 4.2% from the previous year’s 3.5%, despite a sharp slowdown in the second half of the year.

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Barclays shares drop after stake sale

Shares in Barclays fell 14% after one of the bank’s largest Middle Eastern investors sold its entire shareholding in the UK bank in one of London’s biggest-ever stock placings. International Petroleum Investment Company, the investment vehicle of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, a member of Abu Dhabi’s royal family, sold 1.3bn Barclays shares to 220 institutional investors at a price of 265p, a 17% discount to the previous closing price. Barclays shares closed Tuesday at 273.5p, down 42.75p.

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Qatar: Higher crude boosts balances

•Qatar’s projected fiscal balance could turn positive on higher crude prices

•Oil has risen over Qatar’s budgeted price set at USD 40 per barrel

•Despite economic diversification, oil remains important to the region’s economies

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Al Salam gets approval for BSB takeover

Bahrain's Al Salam Bank said yesterday shareholders of Bahraini Saudi Bank (BSB) had accepted its takeover offer, marking one of the first steps toward consolidation among Gulf banks this year.

Some 70.15 per cent of BSB shareholders approved the takeover offer on June 1, Al Salam said in a statement on the Bahrain bourse website.

The bank needed approval of 66.67 per cent of shareholders. Al Salam said on April 22 it offered to pay 27 million dinars (Dh262m) to take over BSB. It said the offer has now become unconditional, with the offer period being extended to June 28.

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Markaz expects 50% surge in Saudi demand after mortgage law

The total demand for residential units in Saudi Arabia will be in the range of 500,000 to 800,000 during the period 2009-13, with the economy expected to get back on the growth track next year as oil prices rise, according to a new report.

"The demand will experience a 50 per cent upward shift from its current levels if the mortgage law comes into force, thereby turning ar-ound from the historic trend of waning investment in residential real estate and lack of home ownership affordability for the younger generation," Ku-wait Financial Centre (Markaz) said in its June report on real estate.

The currently planned organised supply will provide about 73,000 units during 2009-13 and the rest will be tapped by current and future projects by smaller size developers and major projects planned in future.

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New rules for insurers and funds in the pipeline

The Qatar Financial Centre's (QFC) regulator is developing new regulations starting this year as a growing number of insurance companies, funds and asset managers seek to set up in the financial zone, its chairman said.

The Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority (QFCRA) is planning new regulations to govern the insurance sector as early as the second half of 2009 and is devising rules for funds, even as demand dips during the financial crisis, Phillip Thorpe said.

"There's a good supply of new firms in the pipeline, areas of real growth are insurance, asset management and funds" said Thorpe.

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Increasing activity suggests Dubai realty market recovery by late 2010

Dubai's real estate sector is expected to recover by late 2010 with emerging signs of increased activity, industry sources said yesterday.

"In Dubai, we expect a recovery to happen in 2010, although it will not be a sharp one. The real estate market will be a far more matured with competitive mortgage rates and good amount of affordable housing in place by 2010," said David Macadam, Director Sales and Leasing, Better Homes.

According to Elaine Jones, CEO of Asteco, a real estate and property management company, cash and confidence are the two elements needed to bring confidence back into the real estate market in the emirate.

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GCC bank solution is crucial

The decision of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) leaders on May 5 to select Riyadh as the location of the GCC Central Bank (GCB) was an unexpected surprise to the UAE and many experts who were following the negotiations.

However, the announcement by the UAE that it will pull out of the GCC monetary Union in protest against this decision was also equally unexpected.

The UAE is the second largest economy and the largest financial centre in the GCC. If the UAE carries out this threat what remains of the GCC monetary union will be rendered ineffective and it will also be a major setback for plans to introduce a common GCC currency.

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ADNOC to develop foreign partnerships

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company ADNOC {{lang|ar...Image via Wikipedia

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) has signalled its intention to maintain close ties with foreign energy companies as it advises the Supreme Petroleum Council on whether and on what terms to renew its oil concessions.

Concession agreements signed in the 1930s covering some of Abu Dhabi’s biggest onshore and offshore oilfields are due to expire between 2014 and 2018.

“We will continue to work closely with international partners,” Ali al Yabhouni, the general manager of ADNOC’s two shipping subsidiaries, Abu Dhabi National Tanker Company and National Gas Shipping Company, said in the capital yesterday at the World National Oil Companies Congress.

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Saad Group downgraded by Moody’s

The Saudi-based Saad Group, which has interests in sectors ranging from banking to civil engineering to health care, has been downgraded by the financial ratings agency Moody’s to non-investment grade after the company said it would make an “orderly restructure” of its debt because of a short-term liquidity squeeze.

Moody’s said there was a heightened risk that Saad Group-related companies would default “if they face increased contagion from disputes originating from the shareholder”.

The downgrade comes after reports at the weekend that the Saudi Arabia Monetary Authority froze accounts belonging to the Saudi billionaire Maan al Sanea, who set up Saad in the 1980s and who is one of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent businessmen. Mr al Sanea is also one of the largest shareholders in HSBC and Samba Financial Group.

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123 Agreement for Nuclear Energy in the UAE: An Unprecedented and Responsible Step

On May 20th, the Obama Administration sent an Agreement for Nuclear Cooperation with the United Arab Emirates to the US Congress for review. This step was both routine and significant.

Known as "123 Agreements" in reference to the relevant provision of U.S. Atomic Energy Act, these are routine frameworks for international nuclear commerce. They permit normal nuclear energy-related commerce to go forward without a license for each individual transaction. Sensitive items still require a license.

The United States has agreements with more than 20 countries, and the text is highly standardized. Such countries include Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, and Morocco. These agreements -- particularly in light of potential risk created by the predicted nuclear energy renaissance -- have become important to reinforcing the worldwide nonproliferation regime and protecting US security. They help the United States more effectively carry out its obligation under Article IV of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to share peaceful nuclear technology with NPT non-nuclear weapon states.

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