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Saturday, 18 July 2009

UAE Etisalat Q2 net falls 19 pct, beats forecasts

Emirates Telecommunications Corp (Etisalat) made a second-quarter net profit of 2.41 billion dirhams ($656.1 million), down 19 percent from a year earlier but beating forecasts.

The company posted a first-half net profit of 4.59 billion dirhams, compared with 5 billion dirhams a year earlier, saying in a statement that last year's results included 892 million dirhams earned from an asset sale. Reuters calculated the quarterly profit based on previous financial statements.

Analysts had forecast on average that Etisalat, one of the largest Arab telecom companies, would post a second-quarter profit of about 2.22 billion dirhams, in a Reuters survey earlier this month.

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Saudi Stock Market Weekly Report - 15-July-2009

Saudi Arabia fines former fund portfolio manager

The Saudi bourse watchdog fined a former fund manager at a local bank for breaching trading regulations in the latest case of violations to be officially acknowledged in the opaque market.

The Capital Market Authority (CMA) fined Abdulaziz Almediheem 100,000 riyals ($26,670) and banned him from share trading for three years, it said in a statement posted on its own website, the stock exchange and the official news agency on Thursday.

The decision was made after the Appeal Panel affirmed a ruling that Almediheem violated some regulations for persons authorized to deal in shares and others linked to the market's code of ethics.

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QE2 to plot a course for Cape Town

The RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 during a port visit ...Image via Wikipedia

The Queen Elizabeth 2 seems all but certain to be berthed temporarily in Cape Town harbour after statements yesterday by South Africa and the ship’s owner, Dubai World.

A spokeswoman for South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism said her agency would not oppose a possible 18-month berthing of the famous vessel at Cape Town.

A statement from an executive of the Dubai World subsidiary that operates the ship welcomed the South African government’s position and said: “It has been our intention for some time to provide a short-term opportunity to enjoy QE2 as a stationary hotel in her current condition before refurbishment begins.”

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Many twists and turns still to come for the Nabucco pipeline (Comment)

From Baku in Azerbaijan to Baumgarten an der March in Austria is some 2,700km as the crow flies. But no bird would follow the convoluted route of the Nabucco pipeline which is intended to connect the two energy centres when it is completed in 2014.

The gas pipeline – agreement for which was finally signed at a multi-national summit in the Turkish city of Erzerum last week – twists and turns so violently that its final length will end up closer to 4,500km. Just as many deviations and diversions are likely in the face of the complex political and economic obstacles to the arrival of central Asian gas in European markets.

The Erzerum deal was backed by Turkey and the four other countries through which Nabucco will pass – Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania. It will be 50 per cent funded by the EU, with the balance coming from energy companies in those countries and in Germany. At a total cost of €8 billion (Dh41.5bn), it is the EU’s largest single energy infrastructure commitment, and, for geopolitical reasons, also has the backing of the USA and other western countries.

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Cold Turkey

Less than two centuries after Columbus discovered “certain dried leaves” in 1492, Ottoman sultan Murad IV became one of the world’s first rulers to ban smoking. He saw it as morally wrong and bad for the health. The same view is shared by Turkey’s current prime minister, who sees his wish for a blanket smoking ban in enclosed spaces start on Saturday. Good luck. Turkey ranks 10th in the world in terms of numbers of smokers, according to the World Health Organisation.

But, as the 52nd country goes smoke-free, tobacco companies need not worry. They are banking on the developing world, where 70 per cent of all cigarettes are lit. Even if a few Turks kick the habit, India has a 10th of the planet’s smokers, despite introducing a ban last year. And China remains a free-for-all, with a lung-busting third of all puffers.

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U.S. Lawmakers Press for Monitoring UAE Nuclear Activities as Part of Trade Deal

Some U.S. lawmakers want to see a key U.N. agency more closely monitor nuclear activities in the United Arab Emirates as part of a deal in which Washington assists the Persian Gulf nation with its civil power needs (see GSN, July 15).

Representative Edward Royce (R-Calif.) -- the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade Subcommittee -- last week pressed a senior State Department official to incorporate a provision for using International Atomic Energy Agency surveillance cameras to ensure there is no UAE cheating.

He and Representative Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) said the United States should ensure that UAE leaders agree to near-real-time surveillance of their nuclear sites before transferring sensitive materials and expertise to the nation.

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Realty check in Dubai

“Watch out!” I cried as a kitten walked uncertainly across a road in Dubai’s upscale Mirdiff suburb. My host didn’t seem too perturbed. “It’s one of the many pets that neighbours were forced to abandon when they left the country in a hurry,” he explained. Pets weren’t the only casualty of the sudden departures from Dubai. Bankers were hard put to find place for the cars they were calling back for non-payment of mortgage. But even they were lucky: Many thousands fleeing the country simply abandoned their cars at the airport because they hadn’t been able to keep up with the payments. Every couple of days, my nieces studying in an international school in Dubai would come back with tales of children who had to leave school overnight because their parents couldn’t afford to stay on in the country. Even six-year-olds in the park were familiar with the term “recession”.

What a comedown since autumn 2008, till when, according to some estimates, 20 per cent of the world’s construction cranes were deployed in Dubai. Ever since oil began to flow from the Umm Shaif offshore field in 1962, this tiny but immensely rich emirate had morphed into a world class metro. Until 2008, residential property in Dubai was on steroids, growing at an annual rate of 48 per cent, considered a safe investment for all of the world’s rich.

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Although Kazakhstan has been battered by the global financial downturn, the Central Asian nation’s citizens are still upbeat. Recent polling data shows that economic troubles have not dented the popularity of President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s administration, and that a healthy majority believes the country is moving in the right direction.

The results of a Kazakhstan National Opinion Poll -- conducted May 9-23 and presented recently in Almaty -- provide a welcome boost to the administration as it implements its $18 billion anti-crisis program. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. Baltic Surveys Ltd and The Gallup Organization conducted the opinion survey of 1,516 people in all regions of Kazakhstan for the International Republican Institute (IRI). Funding was provided by the National Endowment for Democracy.

The research shows that, while 78 percent agree that Kazakhstan is in the midst of a "serious financial crisis," some three-quarters of people (74 percent) approve of the way Nazarbayev and his government are handling it, and nearly a quarter (22 percent) consider authorities’ handling of the credit crunch to be "very good." According to the poll, which has a margin of error of 2.5 percent, a total of 76 percent believe Kazakhstan is heading largely in the right direction.

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Banks’ lawsuits aimed at Saudi debtors

At least four banks have launched lawsuits to recover debts allegedly owed to them by two warring prominent Saudi Arabian companies hit by financial problems, in a move that has shocked investors in the oil-rich Gulf.

Three claims have been filed at the High Court in London since last month against businesses from the Saad and Algosaibi conglomerates, suggesting some financial institutions are taking matters into their own hands even as the Saudi companies grapple to restructure their large debts.

News of the cases, which comes after the emergence of a US lawsuit brought by the Algosaibi group over an alleged “massive fraud” of up to $10bn by Maan Al Sanea, Saad’s billionaire owner, is likely to add to concerns about international and regional bank exposure to Gulf companies.

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