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Saturday, 6 June 2009

Qatar ready to help Porsche take over VW

Porsche SEImage via Wikipedia

Qatar is ready to help German carmaker Porsche take full control of Volkswagen, Europe's biggest carmaker, according to a report due out Monday in the German magazine Focus.

The emir of the gas-rich Gulf state has given his verbal agreement to Porsche boss Wendelin Wiedeking to take a stake via the Qatar Investment Authority, said the magazine.

A Porsche spokesman contacted by the news agency AFP refused to comment Saturday.

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GCC single currency knocked back 3 years

Plans by Gulf Arab states to launch a single currency could be delayed by three years to 2013, a Saudi newspaper reported on Saturday, quoting an unidentified senior Gulf source.

"It is impossible for the (single) currency to be launched within six months." al-Hayat newspaper quoted the official as saying.

"I expect the new deadline to be 2013," the official said.

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ADIC eyes investments in South Korea, Asia

State-owned Abu Dhabi Investment Company (ADIC) said yesterday it is diversifying investments into South Korea and Asia as it seeks also to attract inward investment.

ADIC, Korea Development Bank (KDB) and the Korea Trade Promotion Agency (KOTRA) signed an agreement to help increase investment flows between South Korea and the Middle East and the North Africa region, ADIC said in a statement.

The agreement lays the groundwork for cooperation in many areas, including cross-border mergers and acquisitions, private equity, infrastructure and portfolio equity investment.

Two Saudi firms face Kuwait hurdles

Kuwait's central bank has asked banks to freeze all transactions with Saudi firms Sa'ad Group and Gosaibi Group, a newspaper reported yesterday.

The central bank has requested that banks freeze all transactions and accounts related to Sa'ad Group, owned by Saudi billionaire Maan Al Sanea, and Abdul Aziz Al Gosaibi Group, owned by prominent conglomerate Al Gosaibi, Rai newspaper said citing banking sources.

Officials at the central bank were not immediately available for comment.

Better disclosure rules sought for Islamic banks

As Western regulators stress test top banks, Islamic finance wants to broaden its regulatory approach and improve disclosure rules amid concerns that unhealthy banks may have slipped under the radar.

Few Islamic financial firms have reported headline-grabbing losses so far, but the industry's relatively modest size and opaque framework could mask more trouble than appearances suggest, bankers and lawyers say.

Rather than stress testing individual banks as in the United States, however, Islamic bankers and lawyers say the sector needs better disclosure rules within stronger regulatory frameworks.

Strike when iron is hot, but avoid getting scalded

When a big company offers to insure your job for free, something is up.

In normal times, redundancy insurance falls into the category of what’s known as payment protection insurance (PPI), a sketchy-at-best corner of the insurance world in which companies offer to continue making credit card payments or keep up with mortgage bills should you run into hard times financially. Usually, such schemes are simply not good deals, and they’re often foisted on customers by overzealous salesmen.

Just last October, Alliance & Leicester was ordered by the UK’s Financial Services Authority to pay a £7 million (Dh42,800,000) fine for payment protection insurance mis-selling.

NASDAQ Dubai ponders life after DP World

Over at Nasdaq Dubai, chief executive Jeff Singer is facing a tricky little dilemma – how to sustain his exchange’s ambitions to be the pre-eminent financial marketplace of the Gulf region when he faces a virtual wipeout of daily trading activity.

Coming up to the end of his first year in charge of Nasdaq Dubai, Singer has steered it through the crash of the global financial system, added some new listings, initiated a controversial but potentially lucrative derivatives trading programme, and drawn up some pretty ambitious plans for regional expansion.

But all that could be put at risk if the suggested deal goes through to sell a chunk of shares in DP World, the global ports operator and ND’s biggest stock by far. A sale of the DP World (DPW) free float would reduce daily trading volumes to a trickle, undermining Nasdaq Dubai’s plans to create a real international exchange in the Gulf.

France may sell Rafale fighter to U.A.E.

Dassault Rafale B at Paris Air Show 2007Image via Wikipedia

France may sell Rafale fighter to U.A.E.

French officials believe they are close to closing a deal to sell their Rafale fighter jet to the United Arab Emirates.

The deal would prove a landmark for the French military aerospace industry as it would be among its first export deals for the beleaguered Rafale fighter jet program.

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Gulf monetary union pact to be signed Monday

An accord on monetary union among four members of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council will be signed on Monday, GCC chief Abdurrahman al-Attiyah said on Friday, the SPA news agency reported.

On May 20 the United Arab Emirates pulled out of the proposed monetary union in a major blow to plans to forge a single regional currency. Oman announced in 2007 that it would not join.

The remaining four members of the energy-rich GCC are Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

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Emirates slams 'ludicrous' Canadian restrictions

Dubai's Emirates airline slammed "ludicrous" Canadian restrictions on Wednesday that limit the largest Arab carrier to just three weekly flights to the entire country.
Transport Canada says that if the airline were allowed any more flights, it would hurt national carrier Air Canada and its international partners. Emirates currently flies only to Toronto.

"The notion that a few extra flights a week to a destination that the national carrier doesn't even choose to serve will have any type of impact on their bottom line is clearly ludicrous," said Emirates President Tim Clark, calling the limits "protectionism of the worst kind".

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Global Migration Flows Reverse for the First Time Since the Depression as Work in the Rich World Dries Up

Now, some of the world's biggest magnets for foreign labor can no longer accommodate the influx. The population of the United Arab Emirates and especially Dubai have swelled in recent years from the hundreds of thousands of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Filipino, and Sri Lankan workers who came to build gleaming new skyscrapers and staff malls, as well as western professionals who moved there to work as lawyers and bankers.

But as growth in the U.A.E. slows and more migrants return home, economists expect the Emirates' overall population will stay flat or decline this year after growing more than 6% per year in 2007 and 2008.

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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s penchant for loopy one-liners and unsubstantiated allegations may finally be getting the best of him. A raucous presidential debate -- featuring comments so outrageous that Ahmadinejad provoked rebukes from all across the political spectrum -- has energized the Iranian electorate, and riveted attention on the June 12 presidential vote. Turnout may end up being so large, and attention so great, that it may make it difficult to rig. That can only be bad news for the incumbent.

There are seven days now left before the presidential vote. Political apathy has characterized Iranian election cycles for almost a decade. Low voter turnout, in fact, paved Ahmadinejad’s path to power. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. Intellectuals and members of the economic middle class have been especially prominent in staying away from politics since experiencing disappointment during the administration of former reformist president Mohammad Khatami. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. But now the election is practically all that Iranians can talk about. Interest in the campaign is reaching a fever pitch.

The catalyzing event for this development was a bruising nationally-televised debate on June 3 between the two main presidential contestants: Ahmadinejad, who is bidding for a second term, and his moderate-reformist challenger, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, who was a former prime minister and a confidant of the Islamic Republic’s founder, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Roughly 60 percent of Iranians tuned in to the debate, and they were treated to a 90-minute verbal brawl that at times veered between a rhetorical prize fight and a professional wrestling bout. The candor that surrounded the debate had not been evident in Iran’s political discourse since the early days of the Islamic Revolution.

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Man in the News: Sheikh Mansour

Abu Dhabi’s royals rarely have to endure ridicule in the media. But back in January, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan suffered the indignity of having his picture splashed on the front page of The Sun, the British tabloid, alongside a typically unforgiving headline: “Sheikh in the Kaka”.

The accompanying story juxtaposed the millions in paper losses that Sheikh Mansour had sustained on his $3.5bn (€2.5bn, £2.2bn) investment in Barclays as the bank’s shares crashed with the ill-fated attempt by Manchester City – his recently acquired English football club – to lure Kaka, the Brazilian star, away from AC Milan.

The headline would have made many in image-conscious Abu Dhabi squirm. Sheikh Mansour is a brother of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi’s ruler and president of the United Arab Emirates, where criticism of ruling family members is taboo. It would also have lit up the faces of the sceptics who have questioned the sheikh’s investment acumen.
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