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Friday, 26 June 2009

Dubai, Emaar say in talks to merge developers

Dubai Holding {{lang|ar|دبي القابضة}}Image via Wikipedia

Dubai Holding, owned by the ruler of the Gulf emirate, and leading developer Emaar Properties EMAR.DU said on Friday they are in advanced talks to merge four local real-estate companies.

A joint statement said the move would consolidate Emaar, which is building the world's tallest tower in Dubai, with three developers owned by Dubai's ruler -- Dubai Properties, Sama Dubai, and leisure developer Tatweer -- that are all prominent players in a sector badly hit by the global financial crisis.

Emaar's shares closed at 3.21 dirhams ($0.87) on Thursday, well off their 28.75 dirham high, reached in September 2005. Reuters data showed Emaar's enterprise value was 23.9 billion dirhams, and that it had net debt of 3.8 billion dirhams.

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Shell ships fuel oil from Singapore to UAE

Shell CanadaImage via Wikipedia

Reuters reported that Royal Dutch Shell Plc is moving about 1 million barrels of fuel oil into the UAE's refueling port of Fujairah in a rare arbitrage play

Fuel oil traders said that the time chartered vessel is expected to arrive at the world's third largest bunkering port sometime in early July. The vessel is on its way and is scheduled to arrive in Fujairah next week. Lower exports from Iran and Iraq has tightened supply at the port, boosting prices.

Fujairah typically receives 200,000 tonnes to 300,000 tonnes of the 380 centistoke grade shipping fuel from Iran. But as the summer approaches Iran has capped international sales to feed domestic demand for the fuel which can also be used for power generation. Bunker premiums at Fujairah have more than doubled since the end of May because of tightening supply.

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Selling Toothpaste to Tehran

Iran's political turmoil has raised some intriguing business questions: How would a shift to a less anti-West regime affect U.S.-Iran trade? And how much trade does the United States already do with the scofflaw regime?

Officially, only a limited number of goods can be exported from the United States to Iran, thanks to the varying sanctions that have been in place since the hostage-taking of nearly three decades ago. Under the Bush administration's "axis of evil" doctrine, the screws were tightened even further. Except for crops such as wheat and soybeans and medical supplies such as vaccines, the United States does not send goods to Iran.

Except when it does. Intrepid investigative journalists have pounded the pavement in Tehran and told of shops stuffed with everything from Apple (AAPL) iPods to Crest toothpaste, all American-made and decidedly not "officially" permitted. Paradoxically, even as the United States has tightened its sanctions, Iran's demand for American goods—fueled by a surge in disposable income due to rising oil prices—has steadily escalated. In 2007, Iran exported $57 billion worth of oil, a figure that makes up around 85 percent of the country's total export revenues, according to the Department of Energy.

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Bahrain developments being delayed to ease cash crunch

Developers in Bahrain are delaying development programmes to extend delivery dates and ease cash flow pressures, said a global real estate consultancy.

"Real estate developers are also converting saleable properties into rental properties, and are pulling off their marketing campaigns until market confidence returns," CB Richard Ellis (CBRE) said in its Bahrain residential market view report released yesterday.

The country will be facing the greatest pressure for housing in the low-income and social housing sectors, with private sector developers claiming that the country needs 80,000 social housing units by 2020.

Saudi aircraft firm in $60m loan deal

National Air Services (NAS), a Saudi holding company focusing on executive and budget air travel, has won a US$60.5 million (Dh222.1m) loan facility with a Bahraini bank to buy six executive jets from Hawker Beechcraft in the US.

The deal was arranged through the assistance of the Export-Import Bank of the US (Ex-Im Bank), which provided export credit for the sale of the Hawker 750 aircraft.

The Ex-Im Bank’s role includes insuring foreign purchases on behalf of financial institutions, which helps to eliminate credit risks associated with loans.

Banks downplay Saudi loans

Several leading banks in the UAE have exposure to the troubled Saudi business groups Saad and Al Gosaibi, but maintained yesterday that it was unlikely to affect their bottom line.

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB), the emirate’s largest lender, yesterday declined to comment on the extent of its exposure, but it said its loans were mostly backed up with cash deposits.

“ADCB is in close contact with the relevant customers and is working with its financial advisers and the rest of the lenders on a speedy solution,” said Ala’a Eraiqat, the chief executive.

Japan may store Abu Dhabi oil

Abu Dhabi is in talks to store its oil in Japan, the biggest importer of the emirate’s crude.

The deal, which would allow the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) to establish a crude reserve on Japanese territory, is the latest in a series of steps the emirate and the Asia-Pacific countries that buy most of its oil have been taking to strengthen their political and trade ties, particularly regarding energy.

It could also provide the UAE and Japan with an insurance policy against short-term disruptions to shipping through the Strait of Hormuz.

Khoie executive jailed over bounced cheques

A senior executive of Khoie Properties, the developer behind a Dh2 billion (US$545 million) project on Ras al Khaimah’s man-made island of Al Marjan, has been sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for bouncing two cheques worth a total of Dh114m.

According to his lawyer, Ibrahim al Mulla, the convicted executive, who is already in jail, filed an appeal yesterday. A medical report dated June 9 states that the jailed executive suffers from serious heart problems.

La Hoya Bay is a mixed-use development on Al Marjan, a reclaimed island designed in a series of curves. The project was sold to about 800 investors, half of them from Britain, in 2007. The investors became anxious when little progress was recorded at the site.

When the going gets tough, the tough get gorging

Salmon from the Shetland Isles followed by sweet chilli prawn and crayfish, caramelised red onions and asparagus, and slices of Parma ham accompanied by a duo of melons.

For pudding, Kentish strawberries and blueberries, baked lemon curd cheesecake and double chocolate truffle torte. All this will, of course, be washed down with lashings of vintage champagne.

Every marquee will be furnished with 40 dining chairs, a desk, 12 garden chairs and three garden tables with parasols. Cushions, if desired, can be ordered in advance.

Pakistan to import gas from Qatar

Pakistan has agreed to import natural gas from Qatar following delays on a proposal to build a pipeline to transport the fuel from Iran, officials say.

Pakistani and Qatari officials met yesterday in Doha and reached a preliminary agreement to ship 1.5 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) per year to Pakistan, a government energy adviser told Bloomberg. “There is a shortage,” said Asim Hussain, a petroleum and natural resources adviser to the Pakistani government. “We are a country that is not self-sufficient in gas.”

Pakistan had originally sought 3.2 million tonnes, but Qatar could not provide that amount, Mr Hussain said. Pakistan regularly suffers power cuts because it has inadequate supplies of gas to fuel power stations.

The country faces a gas shortage of about 192 million cubic feet per day (cfd), according to estimates released earlier this year by the ministry of petroleum resources. That amount will grow to 507 million cfd next year and reach 3 billion cfd by 2015.

Woman in a mine’s world

Not many people think turning 40 is good news. But for Ines Scotland it was cause for celebration. Hitting the Big Four-O made it easier for her to get permission to enter Saudi Arabia for business. “I immediately applied for my multiple-entry visa,” she says, laughing. “It seems you’re considered ‘no longer desirable’, and I thought, well, OK, it doesn’t bother me.”

Ms Scotland is chief executive of Citadel Resources Group, a Melbourne mining company that is in partnership with the Saudi government to explore the kingdom’s newly opened mines; ones largely untouched since, it is said, the time of King Solomon.

Soft-spoken and just over five feet (1.5 metres) tall, in a pinstriped suit and black patent leather peep-toe heels, Ms Scotland seems an unlikely corporate conquistador. Then again, she bears a dossier marked by the unexpected: woman; miner; a beautiful baby contest winner who now wears steel-toed boots, searching the Arabian peninsula for copper and gold.