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Wednesday, 5 August 2009

UAE Central Bank restricts structured retail product sales

The Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has surprised industry participants by clamping down on the sale of structured products to retail clients, disclosing new rules in a statement issued to banks on August 2.

In the statement, the Bank says it "has decided that it is not desirable that banks operating in the UAE sell structured products to their retail customers which include high net worth individuals."

The Bank defines a structured product as a "pre-packaged investment strategy which has embedded options related to a single security/stocks, a basket of securities, indexes, commodities, debt, credit and or/foreign currencies."

If a bank wants to sell structured products to its customers, it is now obliged to submit a written request to the Bank outlining relevant details and the rationale for an exemption from the new rule.

The move is understood to have come out of the blue for industry participants, who are now said to be in discussions with the Bank regarding clarification of the rule.END

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Dubai World scales back Africa project plans

State-owned conglomerate Dubai World said on Wednesday it has put on hold several of its projects in Africa, the latest delays from the firm as it restructures due to the global economic downturn.

The ports and property group faces challenges to revamp operations and finances before the end of the year when a $3.5 billion Islamic bond for its subsidiary Nakheel matures.

In June, it hired AlixPartners, the turnaround experts who are advising on the General Motors (GM.N) bankruptcy, to help restructure its business.

2nd August, 2009

4th June, 2009

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Failed Military Coup in Qatar (Re-post) Update 1 (1405GMT)

An outright denial or confirmation from Qatar Government would be appreciated!

http://www.stratfor.com/podcast/20090804_stability_and_foreign_policy_qatar?destination=node%2F143416 Radio podcast analysis.

"Suspicion is that it is egyptian/saudi trouble making"
Journalist based in Middle East

Tuesday, August 04, 2009
Stratfor and "rumors in Arab media"
"STRATFOR issued a bulletin about a "coup in Qatar." It began with "Rumors circulating in the Arab media..." This particular item was started by Elaph: the sleaze Saudi website which has a long history of inventing news and stories. ELAPH for potato's sake. This is the thing about Western media (and possibly governments): they have no idea about the reputations of various Arab media sources so the Saudi sleaze websites are considered respectable. Of course, if it was up to me: I will launch coups in every Arab country."
Posted by As'ad at 7:06 AM

Confirmation of this story would be appreciated.
August 5, 2009 by Abdul
Filed under Gulf Countries, kuwait, qatar

Senior figures and members of the ruling AlThani family have started to suddenly return to Doha, cutting their vacation time due to a military and political development ensuing in the nation.The failed attempt occurred sometime around Thursday, July 30, 2009.

The failed coup began when a senior officer in the Qatari Army formed a group from colleagues in the Qatari military, to which they declared a military rebellion in favor of a Qatari political figure who is a very influential figure in the higher decision-making circles of Doha.

Strict instructions were issued from higher level departments to all the Qatari media organizations (including alJazeera News) not to refer to or hint at any issues connected with the recent developments, especially as important changes are now expected which will affect a number of senior ruling family members in light of the recent developments.

At the moment dozens of ambassadors are now waiting for the Qatari Amiri office to set a date for them to meet Shaikh Hamad AlThani to inform him of their refusal to join the Foreign Ministry’s general office after the foreign minister issued a decision transferring them from important diplomatic missions around the world to the ministry’s office, a measure that is totally inconsistent with their long expertise in diplomatic action.END

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Indeed, independence of this movement from ANY foreign influence is becoming more and more clear even to the most skeptic (Re-posted)

A very true comment by keynesian09 (Alpha Dinar) regarding large quasi government companies in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries:

No GCC company (I know of) has gone bankrupt. Even if there was, it wouldn’t be one of the majors (e.g. Global & Dar in Kuwait). We are simply in welfare states that wouldn’t allow the economics of a bankruptcy to happen.


In fact GCC IPO’s are priced in such a way that factors in “Welfare”.

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Failed Military Coup in Qatar (Re-post) Update 1 (1405GMT)

An outright denial or confirmation from Qatar Government would be appreciated!

http://www.stratfor.com/podcast/20090804_stability_and_foreign_policy_qatar?destination=node%2F143416 Radio podcast analysis.

"Suspicion is that it is egyptian/saudi trouble making"
Journalist based in Middle East

Tuesday, August 04, 2009
Stratfor and "rumors in Arab media"
"STRATFOR issued a bulletin about a "coup in Qatar." It began with "Rumors circulating in the Arab media..." This particular item was started by Elaph: the sleaze Saudi website which has a long history of inventing news and stories. ELAPH for potato's sake. This is the thing about Western media (and possibly governments): they have no idea about the reputations of various Arab media sources so the Saudi sleaze websites are considered respectable. Of course, if it was up to me: I will launch coups in every Arab country."
Posted by As'ad at 7:06 AM

Confirmation of this story would be appreciated.
August 5, 2009 by Abdul
Filed under Gulf Countries, kuwait, qatar

Senior figures and members of the ruling AlThani family have started to suddenly return to Doha, cutting their vacation time due to a military and political development ensuing in the nation.The failed attempt occurred sometime around Thursday, July 30, 2009.

The failed coup began when a senior officer in the Qatari Army formed a group from colleagues in the Qatari military, to which they declared a military rebellion in favor of a Qatari political figure who is a very influential figure in the higher decision-making circles of Doha.

Strict instructions were issued from higher level departments to all the Qatari media organizations (including alJazeera News) not to refer to or hint at any issues connected with the recent developments, especially as important changes are now expected which will affect a number of senior ruling family members in light of the recent developments.

At the moment dozens of ambassadors are now waiting for the Qatari Amiri office to set a date for them to meet Shaikh Hamad AlThani to inform him of their refusal to join the Foreign Ministry’s general office after the foreign minister issued a decision transferring them from important diplomatic missions around the world to the ministry’s office, a measure that is totally inconsistent with their long expertise in diplomatic action.END

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National Bonds records 27% growth in seven months (Interview)

National Bonds Corporation (NBC) posted 27 per cent growth in the first seven months of 2009 and expects to increase its sales for the rest of the year. "The global credit crisis is reminding many people of the importance of saving," Chief Commercial Officer Bruno Rochecouste told Emirates Business.

"In tough times people need to save for a rainy day. We have taken the lead to encourage people to save and promote a culture of savings in the UAE. This is why our sales went up quickly at the start of the global economic downturn."

He said the three-year-old Shariah-compliant company would continue to invest in projects that are "safe and suitable" in the UAE.

Top 25 UAE firms' first half profits topple

Net profits of the 25 largest listed companies in the UAE dropped by more than 39 per cent in the first half of 2009 compared with the corresponding period of 2008, an exclusive research by Emirates Business reveals.

According to the data, combined net profits of the top 25 companies by market capitalisation declined by more than Dh10 billion, from Dh26.32bn in first half of 2008 to Dh16.01bn, a drop of 39.15 per cent.

An uninspiring global and regional financial environment coupled with a slowdown in local economic activity has transpired into a drop in profits for a majority of the listed firms, with 18 of the top 25 firms reporting a decline in their first half profits.

Taqa buys 15% of North Sea assets

The Abu Dhabi National Energy Company PJSC (Taqa) revealed that Taqa Energy B.V., its wholly owned subsidiary, had acquired a 15 per cent stake in North Sea assets from the L11b Group for an undisclosed amount.

The L11b Group is made up of Chevron Exploration and Production Netherlands B.V., DSM Energie B.V. and EBN.

The deal is part of a transaction between the L11b Group and the L8-D Field Group, comprising Taqa Energy, Cirrus Energy Nederland B.V., DSM Energie B.V., Energy06 Investments B.V., EWE AG and EBN.

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Kurdistan takes stake in foreign-based oil joint venture

The government of Iraqi Kurdistan will take an equity stake in an energy company to be formed by combining Canada’s Heritage Oil and Turkey’s Genel Enerji, which both operate in the semiautonomous Kurdish region.

Genel produces and exports oil from Kurdistan’s Taq Taq and Tawke oilfields, while Heritage recently announced it had found a new Kurdish oilfield that may contain up to three billion barrels of recoverable crude.

The deal would leave Cukorova Group, a privately held Turkish conglomerate that holds most of Genel’s shares, in control of HeritaGE, the merged oil enterprise. The Kurdish government would get a 16.8 per cent stake in the proposed company.“The KRG has confirmed that it intends to be a long-term shareholder and is therefore willing to enter into a lock-up agreement in respect of the Heritage shares it will receive, but with the ability to sell shares periodically to fund new infrastructure and local community support projects,” Heritage said in a statement.

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Standard Chartered mideast bad loans surge

Standard Chartered saw bad loans in its Middle East and South Asia wholesale banking unit grow by US$313 million (Dh1.15 billion) in the first half of 2009, compared to the same period a year earlier, the bank reported today.

Impaired loans, or loans that the bank does not expect to be paid back fully, rose from only $4m in the first half of 2008 to $317m in the first half of this year, the Asia-focused bank said.

In the same period, bad loans in the bank’s consumer business increased by 88 per cent to $143m.

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Oman issues urgent gas plea to Iran

Oman, which is running short of gas to fuel power plants and fulfil export commitments, has made an urgent request to Iran for gas supplies during the first official visit of the Omani sultan to the Islamic republic in 30 years.

The talks relates to plans for the development of Iran’s Kish gasfield, located in the Gulf, near the Iranian resort island of the same name.

“Oman has requested to develop the Kish gasfield,” said Seyyed Reza Kasaeizadeh, the managing director of the National Iranian Gas Export Company, according to the Tehran-based Mehr news agency. “The negotiations are underway and the two sides have not yet reached any agreement on the exact amount of investment in the Kish gasfield.”

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S&P cuts troubled Al-Gosaibi arm to default

Ratings agency Standard & Poor's cut on Tuesday its rating of The International Banking Corp, part of troubled Saudi group Al-Gosaibi, to default status after Bahrain's central bank took control of the lender.

S&P said in a statement it had lowered its rating on TIBC, owned by Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi & Bros (AHAB) to default status 'D/D' from selective default 'SD/SD' after Bahrain's central bank said last week there was a substantial shortfall in the bank's assets compared with its liabilities.

Algosaibi as well as Saudi private Saad group ran into financial difficulties in May but have released little information since, leaving a large number of banks wondering whether they will recover their loans.

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Investors sense opportunities in spite of uneasy calm

Georgia's double-digit economic growth promised rich rewards for foreign investors. But when war broke out a year ago, the risks were brought home very starkly to Rakia. Three of its employees were killed when the Russians bombed the Black Sea port of Poti.

Today, the state-owned investor from the Gulf emirate of Ras al-Khaimah is back at work building grain and container terminals at the battle-scarred port.

"The war was a difficult problem for us," says Zaza Mikadze, the general director of an affiliated company, Rakeen, investing in property and agriculture. "In the end, we decided to stay on, but slowed down some of our projects."

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Standard Chartered

“Please sir, I want some more.” If capital is the new gruel, investors have just given Standard Chartered an Oliver Twist-like cuff around the head. Shares in the UK-listed bank fell 8 per cent on Tuesday after it completed a surprise £1bn equity placing. This bold request, for unspecified purposes, was as unexpected as last November’s £1.8bn rights issue. Then, shortly after saying it did not need to, StanChart raised cash to bolster its capital base. Nine months later, it has returned to the trough. Yet the bank seems to be on a roll: half-year profits rose 10 per cent to a record $2.8bn, and its dividend is up the same.

One possibility is that John Peace, the new chairman, has called for a precautionary offering to plug a looming capital hole. A doubling of the bank’s bad debt charges suggest as much. Yet StanChart’s investment bankers, like their peers, made up for weakness in the bank’s more traditional lending businesses by churning out bumper results. Instead, the new cash appears to be to fund growth. There may be some small acquisitions – such as Royal Bank of Scotland’s Chinese and Indian units. More than that, though, StanChart wants to fund organic growth as its Asian clients wake up after an economic power-nap. With its tier one capital ratio rising to 8.4 per cent, in line with Asian peers, that is fair enough.

Overall, the bank’s investment case remains intact. Its Asian orientation has helped it weather the crisis better than UK peers. Its stock price has also more than doubled since the March trough. It therefore makes sense to take some money off the top. Investor displeasure may have knocked StanChart’s shares 7 per cent below where they should trade after allowing for dilution. That is a small price to pay for sticking one’s neck out.END

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