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Sunday, 5 July 2009

Nomura becomes 1st Asian brokerage in Saudi

Nomura opened a branch in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, the Japanese investment bank said in a statement, becoming the first Asian brokerage firm to operate in the kingdom.

Nomura, which bought the European and Asian assets of Lehman Brothers last year, will offer corporate finance, capital markets and wealth management products to its Saudi clients, and serve Asian clients who want to do business in the Middle East.

"Saudi Arabia accounts for around 50 percent of GCC GDP, and as such a strong local presence is a critical part of Nomura's regional strategy," Philip Lynch, chief executive for Nomura International in the Middle East and Africa, said.

Lynch said Saudi Arabia was making "dramatic" steps to modernise and deregulate its economy.

Nomura already has offices in Dubai and Bahrain and recently received a licence from the Qatari financial authorities.END

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Global expects to post 'good results' in Q2

Kuwait's Global Investment House is expected to post "good results" in the second quarter due to an improvement in the financial markets, the company's chief executive said in remarks published on Sunday.

Global, like other investment firms, has benefited from a recent rise in the Kuwaiti stock market, Badr al-Sumait said in an interview published in local newspaper Al-Anbaa.

The investment bank began talks to reschedule its debt in December, appointing HSBC as an adviser to hold talks with its lenders. It defaulted on most of its debt earlier this year.

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Palestine Weekly Market Report - July 02, 2009 (PDF)

Egypt Weekly Market Report - July 02, 2009 (PDF)

Mena IPOs down 87% in first half of 2009

IPO activity in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) declined by a staggering 87 per cent during the first half of 2009 compared to the corresponding period of 2008, data showed.

According to Zawya.com data, Mena markets collectively raised $1.21 billion (Dh4.44bn) in H1 2009, down from $9.3bn during the same period last year.

However, the tide seems to be turning in favour of primary markets with capital raised during the second quarter of this year through initial offerings up 13.5 times from that raised during the first quarter, when capital markets across the world were at a virtual standstill thanks to the global liquidity crunch.

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Fitch assigns SEC sukuk 'AA-'

Fitch Ratings has assigned Saudi Electricity Company's SR7 billion (Dh6.8bn) sukuk issue a final 'AA-' rating.

The structure for the sukuk is similar to SEC's 2007 SR5bn sukuk, which is also rated 'AA-'. The transaction involves the transfer by SEC of sukuk assets to a custodian, Sukuk Electricity Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of SEC.

The sukuk assets comprise of rights to provide service connections and the entitlement to levy and receive a one-time charge for each connection.

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New funds make the most of volatile markets

At the start of the year, when markets were overwhelmed by gloom and not a single optimistic market research report was in sight, EIS Asset Management launched the Emirates Mena High Income Fund.

"The fund was a play on companies that yielded high dividends, plus corporate bonds and Sukuk looked attractive, too," says Deon Vernooy, senior executive officer at EIS Asset Management.

The fund has posted 18 per cent return to date in volatile market conditions. And while many other funds surpassed these returns, the move does show that asset managers continue to find opportunities to create new funds and returns despite tough market conditions.

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Saudi Electricity to sell more Islamic bonds

State-owned Saudi Electricity will sell more Islamic bonds, or sukuk, to finance expansion of capacity, its chief executive said on Saturday.

"In the future there is a plan (to issue more sukuk) to fund projects," Ali Saleh al-Barrak told reporters in the Saudi Red sea port of Jeddah. He gave no details.

Last week, the firm priced a 5 billion riyals sukuk 160 basis points over the Saudi interbank rate (Saibor).

Barrak said then the new five-year issue has raised at least 10 billion riyals, but declined to say how much the company ended taking. Bankers said it would be 7 billion riyals.

Saudi Electricity is currently carrying out projects worth 75 billion riyals to be completed within three years.END

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Iraq to meet foreign oil companies after licence debacle

Iraq’s oil ministry will confer with foreign oil companies next month as it seeks to speed up its second bidding round for oil and gas licences.

“We are planning a roadshow meeting in Istanbul next month,” said Abdul-Mahdi al Ameedi, the deputy director general of the ministry’s petroleum contracts and ­licensing directorate.

“We are hoping to expedite the process so that we can actually sign the contracts by the end of the year.”

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Contractors must be paid, says British trade minister

British contractors and suppliers in Dubai that are owed money “need to be paid”, the British trade minister, Lord Davies, said during a visit to Abu Dhabi.

Several reports have emerged in recent months of foreign companies working in Dubai’s flagging construction industry being asked to accept only partial payment for work that has been completed.

In other cases, a range of consultants, suppliers and other firms lower down the property development ladder are struggling to stay in business as they wait to be paid.

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Saudi family businesses sink under debt

Parmalat, Saad Group and Al Gosaibi have one thing in common: they are private companies that grew big and then faced serious problems with creditors through one mishap or another.

Italy’s Parmalat was founded by Calisto Tanzi as a milk conglomerate based in Milan. Mr Tanzi aspired to make Parmalat the Coca-Cola of the milk world. He introduced long-life milk products and the famous Tetrapak carton for dairy products.

Saad, owned by the al Sanei family, grew from a local Saudi real estate company to a multinational diversified group in finance and international investments, while Al Gosaibi diversified from its core beverage and trading business into finance and construction.

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The trainspotter now arriving in the UAE is the late golden boy

Richard Branson's right-hand man. One of Tony Blair's favourite mandarins. Saviour of Britain's crumbling 3,500 secondary-schools estate. FTSE 100 chief executive. Coveted by Boris Johnson as his deputy mayor.

That's quite a career for someone who is still only 43. And Richard Bowker is this weekend preparing to pack his bags for the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where he will oversee the £20bn construction of a 9,000km railway network.

Despite Bowker's enviable CV, the UAE is a place he was far more likely to find big-time employment than the UK. His reputation has been damaged by a poor tenure at National Express, the trains-to-buses transport giant, where he has been in charge since 2006. Bowker announced his departure last week amid a wave of depressing headlines for National Express shareholders. Rival FirstGroup had a preliminary all-paper approach dismissed, a move which seems to have some shareholder support.


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Iraqi Seizes the Chance to Make War Profitable

For most Iraqis, life after the American invasion has been a tale of loss: loss of loved ones, loss of property, loss of dignity, loss of security.

But not for Araz M. Mohsin.

A baker scraping by when American tanks rolled into Baghdad, Mr. Mohsin recently spent $50,000 to throw a one-night bacchanal at the exclusive Hunting Club here. When guests visit his second home, in Baghdad, he proudly shows off the two peacocks he imported from Dubai, to join a menagerie of exotic birds that he sometimes gives away to friends.

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