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Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Hill International takes hit on Middle East exposure

Hill International Inc.'s chief executive officer, Irvin Richter, has had to deal with investors who think construction projects and the Middle East are a scary combination.

Hill's "exposure to the Mideast has given people pause," said Timothy McHugh, an analyst at William Blair & Co. L.L.C.

Hedge funds, in particular, have dumped the company's stock, making its 39-percent drop one of the steepest among local companies in the first half of 2009.

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Here are some headlines from this issue:

ABU DHABI SECURITIES EXCHANGE: Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) today urged its listed companies to adopt internationally recognised investor relations practices that would not only improve a company’s communication with its shareholders but also encourage more committed long-term institutional investors to enter this market.

BAKU STOCK EXCHANGE: On June 12, 2009 Baku Stock Exchange (BSE) held a forum at Hyatt Regency Hotel. The subject of the forum was The Financial Markets as the source of convenient Funds.

BUCHAREST STOCK EXCHANGE: On June 16th 2009, the Derivatives Market operated by the Bucharest Stock Exchange (BVB) displayed new record levels since its launch in September 2007.

EGYPTIAN EXCHANGE: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak issued the presidential decree no. 191/2009 to be enforced as of 1st of July 2009, concerning provisions regulating the Egyptian Exchange and its financial affairs.

FEAS: Dow Jones Indexes, a leading global index provider, and the Federation of Euro-Asian Stock Exchanges (FEAS) plan to launch the Dow Jones FEAS Indexes on Friday, June 5. This is the first time indexes are created to measure the performance of companies across the Euro-Asian region.

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Qinvest named as Polish shipyard buyer

Two historic Polish shipyards sold off last month went to Qatari fund Qinvest, Poland's Treasury Minister Aleksander Grad revealed on Tuesday after an official silence on the buyer.

"Qinvest, a Qatari investment fund, is the investor. The deal is guaranteed by the Qatar Islamic Bank. The payment is expected by July 21, which will allow the procedure to be completed," Grad told reporters in Warsaw.

The Gdynia and Szczecin yards on Poland's northern Baltic coast were sold for around 82 million euros ($115 million). They hold particular significance for many Poles as the cradle of protests against the communist old order.

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Anonymous Iran Green Brief #14 (June 30) (Re-post)

1. 1. Today, people gathered at Vali Asr Square -the entire place was packed with Security Forces. Guards at Vanak Square were reportedly breaking car windows (those that honked their horns) which is a sign of the current protests. After security forces tried to arrest a young girl, some clashes broke out. (There was no further news about this event so confirmation is partial only.)

2. About 10 people were arrested at Tajrish Square after a group of people gathered there and chanted against the regime. Clashes were also reported at Satarkhan Street and Jomhori Street. The Independent Youth was also planning to organize a protest today in Tehran, however, reports were scarce and no confirmations could be obtained of the protests.

3. Today, more than 2,000 people gathered in front of the Islamic Republic Court in Urumieh asking about their detained relatives. So far, thousands have been rounded-up during protests, as well as during day and night-time raids all over the country. The number cannot be verified but it is said to be in the thousands. Mousavi and Karoubi have denied having sanctioned yesterday’s protests.

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New ranking system to assess funds

Business information portal Zawya said yesterday it has launched a new ranking methodology to assess the performance of Middle East funds that not only takes into consideration fund returns and volatility, but also the level of transparency and disclosure among its peers.

"The regional funds industry got hammered due to the financial crisis. Some funds had tremendous losses and redemptions, and had to be closed," Pamela Chikhani, Zawya Vice-President of Funds Investment, said in a statement yesterday.

"With investors hit harder, they may have lost their trust in fund managers, and have become a lot more demanding. To attract back investors and rebuild their confidence, transparency is their paramount objective. On the other hand, central banks across the region are closely monitoring the situation, and will no longer allow ambiguous funds to exist in the market place," said Chikhani.

Zawya's ranking system will benefit both investment professionals and fund managers, she said.END

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In the changed world, Middle East is a key capital pool (Interview)

Investment bank VTB Capital sees the region as one of the important capital pools in the world. Herbert Moos, Chief Executive Officer of VTB Capital, says: "The changed world is no longer dominated by the Western markets and has moved to become dependent on a number of very important capital pools, one of them is Asia, another is the Middle East." Owned by Russia's VTB Group, it now has a presence in Dubai. VTB Capital, which would target large investors, is expecting its major transactions to start materialising by the year-end. Moos spoke to Emirates Business about the investment bank's plans for the region.

Amid challenges of the global economic tumult, how do you plan to tap business in this region?

We aim to build a Russian investment banking champion. Looking at Dubai, we notice a significant number of banks but to our knowledge there are no banks offering Russian investment banking products. So what we are offering is very unique and specially designed. In that sense the current environment presents us with very appealing opportunities.

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Dubai gives bank Dh4bn to meet new target

The Dubai Government Tuesday supplied Emirates NBD with Dh4 billion (US$1.08bn) in cash to help the country’s biggest lender reach the Central Bank’s new capital adequacy target.

The Government injected the capital through its investment arm, the Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD), which owns 55.6 per cent of Emirates NBD.

The capital is Tier 1 debt, also known as preferred equity. The bank will have to pay 6.45 per cent interest for the first five years, after which the rate becomes floating.

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Bank bonds to be guaranteed

A law guaranteeing bonds issued by local banks was passed by the Federal National Council Tuesday in a move aimed at making fundraising easier for the nation’s lenders.

The law, which now awaits final approval from Sheikh Khalifa, the President of the UAE, is the third guarantee measure the Government has passed to ensure the stability of the country’s banking system during the financial crisis.

It follows earlier government initiatives aimed at backing local deposits and interbank loans. If signed into law, the bond guarantee would cover bonds issued before Oct 11, 2011, and would last for five years.

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FNC delays banking merger over law

The Federal National Council yesterday postponed the creation of the Emirates Development Bank (EDB) amid concerns over the law that would govern it.

The new financial institution was announced in November as a proposed tie-up among the Abu Dhabi-based Emirates Industrial Bank (EIB) and Emirates Real Estate Bank, along with Amlak and Tamweel, two large Dubai-based Islamic mortgage firms.

Since then, however, little new information has emerged about the fate of Amlak and Tamweel, which appear to be pursuing a separate merger. The Cabinet last week approved the formation of the EDB as a merger between the EIB and the Real Estate Bank, according to a report from WAM, the state news agency.

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BakuImage via Wikipedia

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev only visited Baku for a day, but walked away with a gas deal likely to bring Moscow benefits for years to come.

Under a June 29 agreement with Azerbaijan, Russia’s gas monopolist Gazprom has become the first -- and only -- company listed as a potential purchaser of natural gas from Stage 2 of Azerbaijan’s sprawling Shah Deniz field. In a boon for Baku, the agreement stipulates that any other potential purchaser must outbid Gazprom for Stage-2 gas, according to Gazprom Chief Executive Officer Alexei Miller.

The document does not specify volumes of gas to be purchased or prices to be paid. Gazprom had earlier offered to purchase all gas produced during Stage 2 of Shah Deniz -- estimated at some 14 billion cubic meters of gas per year by 2016.

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Agencies downgrade Dubai companies

Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s on Tuesday downgraded a series of Dubai-based government-related entities as the emirate struggles to cope with a downturn in the local property market and a faltering world economy.

S&P downgraded DP World, Jebel Ali Free Zone, and Dubai Multi Commodities Centre Authority from A to BBB+.

The agency cited “increased uncertainty” as to whether the Dubai government will support the companies and said the new ratings reflected their stand-alone credit profiles which it said had worsened.

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Oil groups resist tough bid terms

Iraq's first big effort to attract foreign investment to its oil sector met stiff resistance from companies yesterday.

Only BP of the UK and China's CNPC were willing to agree to Baghdad's tough terms, allowing them to win a bid to turn the country's Rumaila field into the world's second largest.

In a process billed as crucial to Iraq's economic future, seven other oil and gas fields, including the highly sought after West Qurna field, failed to attract bids favourable enough to meet Iraq's conditions.

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