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Friday, 14 August 2009

British Land targeted by Asian group

Abu Dhabi, United Arab EmiratesImage via Wikipedia

A consortium of some of the world’s richest families is plotting a bid for British Land, the FTSE 100 property company that is one of the UK’s biggest landlords.

The group, which is thought to include Lakshmi Mittal – the Indian steel magnate who ranks as Britain’s richest man – and the Abu Dhabi ruling family, has approached bankers from Credit Suisse to prepare a possible bid that could be worth as much as £10bn including debt.

Insiders said that investors from Abu Dhabi and a group of Indian families had initially been interested in buying Broadgate Circle, British Land’s flagship development in the City. But in recent days the consortium has spoken with bankers about the possibility of bidding for the whole company.

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Packer quits Sunland as director after losses

JAMES Packer has cut his losses in the Middle East property market, yesterday resigning from the board of Sunland three years after he joined the Gold Coast-based developer.

Sunland, headed by the father and son team of Soheil and Sahba Abedian, is active on the Gold Coast, where its flagship buildings are the giant Q1 and the Palazzo Versace at Surfers Paradise.

But the company also targeted the key Middle East market of Dubai, and this was the main reason Packer joined the board in 2006.

More detail here:

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Global's Kuwait Weekly Market Report - August 13, 2009 (PDF)

Special court set up to hear Al Boom fraud trial

A specialised misdemeanours court will be set up to hear the Dh960 million (US$260m) fraud trial of the property developer Abed al Boom when it starts next Sunday.

Mr al Boom, the chief executive of Al Boom Holdings, was arrested last July over allegations that he had defrauded up to 3,700 investors.

The case will be hugely complex; the charge sheet alone runs to around 1,500 pages, with a further 32,000 pages of evidence to be reviewed during the trial.

Qatar extends lead in LNG race

Qatar has opened a new production facility for liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the emirate and also received the first shipment at a new terminal in the Adriatic Sea, helping to consolidate its position as the world’s leading LNG exporter.

The country is rapidly expanding its exploitation of the world’s largest gas resource, known as the North Field, and expects to bring four new LNG plants into production this year, doubling its export capacity to 62 million tonnes a year.

Another two plants will be added next year, boosting Qatar’s capacity to 77 million tonnes a year.

Battle of the banks of interest to everyone

The interbank offered rate in the UAE remains stubbornly high. The Central Bank believes the solution to a lower Eibor is to change the way it is determined. Asa Fitch reports

The Central Bank’s recent decision to establish a new benchmark interbank interest rate is the latest salvo in an ongoing tussle between the regulator and the country’s banks.

The banks have an interest in keeping the nominal interbank lending rate – or the interest rate they charge each other for short-term loans – at a high level, even if actual market rates are lower. Why? Those interbank rates form the basis from which a lot of loan products are priced.

Construction slowdown hits demand for power

Power demand in the UAE was lower in the first half of this year than in the same period last year, the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company said Thursday.

A construction slowdown had caused the drop in electricity consumption, said Peter Barker-Homek, the chief executive of the company also known as Taqa, which runs power plants in the capital.

The disclosure highlights the severe effect of the global financial crisis on the UAE’s previously booming residential and commercial property sectors.

Abu Dhabi firm grows in Egypt

A private agricultural investment firm in Abu Dhabi plans a Dh925 million (US$251.8m) farmland deal in Egypt to grow wheat for the African nation’s domestic market.

Investors from the Gulf have been buying into farmland across Africa and Asia at an increasing pace, primarily to secure sources of food for their own needs. But what started as a strategic initiative to secure food imports has increasingly been regarded as a commercially viable business.

The latest venture, by a little-known company called Jenaan, aims to grow the crop on 42,000 hectares in south-western Egypt.

Subdued recovery in global oil demand

The US summer driving season “seems to have fizzled out before getting started” the International Energy Agency said on Wednesday, striking a cautious tone on prospects for a recovery in global energy demand next year.

Warning that evidence of a bottoming out of the global recession was “patchy”, the energy watchdog of the developed world said next year’s expected recovery in global oil demand growth would be subdued at just 1.6 per cent, or 1.3m barrels a day, in 2010.

The IEA revised up its forecasts for global oil demand in 2009 by 190,000 barrels per day to 83.9m b/d and for 2010 by 70,000 b/d to 85.25m b/d.

America can stop Gulf’s wasteful energy use

Residents of the United Arab Emirates, with their monster 4x4s, chilled swimming pools and irrigated desert golf courses, are among the world’s most prolific energy consumers. Their carbon footprint is the world’s largest, per capita.

Until recently, this was mostly an internal matter. The UAE is one of the largest producers of energy and its wasteful use was revealed only in embarrassing statistics from environmental groups. But the UAE’s energy consumption has grown so huge, so fast, that it can no longer supply its own needs. This year, it asked America to help it develop nuclear power. Suddenly, the lush lifestyles of Abu Dhabi and Dubai are no longer an internal matter.

It is up to the US Congress to approve President Barack Obama’s offer to sell nuclear technology. Congress has misgivings about the deal – mainly that American technology could make its way to nearby Iran. But there is little chance that Congress will block the measure, which is due to go into effect in October.

VW seals €3.3bn Porsche deal

Volkswagen is to pay €3.3bn ($4.7bn) for a 42% stake in Porsche’s main production division, the two German carmakers said on Thursday as they moved towards full integration. In a deal that amounts to a rescue of debt-laden Porsche, VW will also buy the auto trading business of Porsche Holding Salzburg, Europe’s biggest vehicle dealer. The deals announced are set to culminate in a complex merger of VW and Porsche SE – the holding company of the sports car maker, and owner of 50.8% of VW – during 2011.