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Monday, 24 August 2009

10 most expensive pints in the world

If you're tired of paying over the odds for a pint at your local pub or swanky pretentious wine-bar, with its mirror-covered walls and flower print wall-paper, then thank the lord that you don't live in Equatorial Guinea where you will struggle to find a cold frothy one for less than GBP£4. During times of economic difficulty, a refreshing pint can offer mild solace from the pressure of rising unemployment and a struggling housing market - when enjoyed responsibility of course!

The graphic above shows where you can find the most expensive beer on this earth. But just so you're not completely put off of alcohol all together, below is a list of the cheapest places for pint.

10. Philippines - 41p
9. Kazakhstan - 41p
8. Madagascar - 38p
7. North Korea - 38p
6. Democratic Rep. of Congo - 38p
5. Ethiopia - 37p
4. Bhutan - 36p
3. Myanmar - 34p
2. Rwanda - 32p
1. Panama - 30p

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Gosaibi takes Dubai's Mashreq to U.S. court

Saudi conglomerate Al-Gosaibi on Monday said it would sue Dubai-based Mashreq bank in a New York court, alleging the lender of being "wilfully blind" to irregular deals that helped lead Al-Gosaibi into default.

Saudi firms Ahmad Hamad Al-Gosaibi and Bros Co and Saad Group are restructuring combined debt worth up to an estimated $22 billion in one of the biggest blows yet in the global financial crisis, that has left dozens of banks exposed and threatened to dampen Saudi's economic recovery.

"These transactions have no legitimate commercial purpose," AHAB's legal counsel Eric Lewis told reporters in a conference call before filing the suit in the New York State Supreme Court.

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Moody's downgrades HSBC Middle East

Moody's said on Monday it downgraded the rating of HSBC's Middle Eastern banking unit, citing pressure on the lender's asset quality and profitability in the region, especially the United Arab Emirates.

The ratings agency said in a statement it downgraded the bank's financial strength rating to C from C+ and its long-term local currency debt rating and foreign currency deposit and debt ratings to Aa3 from Aa2.

Moody's said it expects HSBC's Middle Eastern division to "encounter pressure on its asset quality and profitability in the countries in which it operates and especially in the United Arab Emirates, which accounts for the majority (around 70%) of the bank's operations."

The downgrade also takes into account the recent deterioration in the bank's loan book, both in its corporate loans and in its weakening retail banking exposures, according to the statement.

Moody's added it doesn't expect any further downgrades for HSBC Middle East in the next 12 to 18 months.END

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Chasing the Dragon (Oil)

Last week, this intriguing story popped up on Reuters:

LONDON, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Bank of AmericaMerrill Lynch has dropped Dubai state-controlled Dragon Oil as a client because of its ties with Iran, sources close to the matter said, in a sign the United States may be using its clout with bailed-out banks to achieve foreign policy goals.

Dragon Oil said on Monday that BoA Merrill Lynch, an investment banking unit of Bank of America, the beneficiary of a $45 billion state bailout, was no longer advising it on ongoing takeover talks. “Merrill Lynch have had to relinquish the mandate following an internal issue with Bank of America,” a spokesman at Dragon said.


But while BofA/Merrill seemingly cannot advise Dragon, which produces oil in Turkmenistan but routes 90 percent of its production through Iran, it can push the stock to its clients — who appear to have been piling in this Monday.

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Iran makes largest oil discovery in 5 yrs

Iran's Oil Minister Gholamhossein Nozari said over 8.8 billion barrels of crude oil has been discovered in four new layers at the Sousangerd oilfield, the largest in five years, the IRNA news agency reported on Monday.

"Drilling all layers of this field was successfully finished in the depth of 5,026 metres and as expected the amount of in-place oil reserve is about 8.83 billions of barrel," Nozari was quoted as saying.

Nozari also said this was the biggest oilfield discovered in the past five years in the country.

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UAE banks face funding shortages

UAE banks, whose second-quarter profits were hit by credit provisions, may see growth curbed by difficult funding conditions but their overall profitability is attractive, Goldman Sachs said on Monday.

The bank earlier revised its ratings and stock price targets on five UAE banks.

Goldman Sachs cut First Gulf Bank to neutral, while raising Dubai Islamic Bank and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank to neutral. It also downgraded National Bank of Abu Dhabi to sell from neutral.

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Dubai recovery not seen before 2011

Dubai's "significant debt burden" will prevent the emirate from taking part in a region-wide economic recovery next year and the city-state will not see positive growth until 2011 at the earliest, according to UBS economist Reinhard Cluse.

"When the rest of the world will recover, Dubai will not share in that recovery," Cluse told Maktoob Business in a recent interview.

"Asset prices in some areas in Dubai have to drop further. We can hope that next year will be a year of stabilisation and consolidation as the major part of the adjustment process comes to an end. So in 2011 we can go back to positive territory."

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Dubai Gold Securities accepts Morgan Stanley as Approved Applicant

Dubai Gold Securities today announced that it had accepted Morgan Stanley as an Approved Applicant in connection with the ongoing offering on NASDAQ Dubai of Dubai Gold Securities, the MENA region’s first and only Shariah-compliant ETC.

The acceptance of Morgan Stanley as an Approved Applicant is in line with Dubai Gold Securities' strategy of attracting leading financial institutions as participants in the primary market for Dubai Gold Securities.

The Participant Agreement executed with Dubai Gold Securities allows Morgan Stanley to create Dubai Gold Securities subject to it depositing the physical gold bullion that backs every security in issue with the Custodian (HSBC Bank USA, NA) to the offering.

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Middle East – The rising importance of SMEs (PDF)

•SMEs are becoming increasingly important to the Middle East economies

•They are playing an important role in diversifying economies and creating jobs

•Policy action is necessary to support the sector

Dubai: The Story of the World’s Fastest City

In the space of barely a year, two serious studies of the phenomenon that is Dubai have emerged. Christopher Davidson’s Dubai: The Vulnerability of Success and now Jim Krane’s Dubai: The Story of the World’s Fastest City.

This is testament to the profile the city state has come to occupy in the international imagination. Dubai is a poster boy for globalisation and the hub of an oil-rich region, viewed by some as pivotal to the recovery of the world’s economy.

That status, however, is now under threat. Krane’s book appears as Dubai is struggling financially with the fear that it has overreached itself – big time.

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Mashreq Capital expects to make profit in 2009

Mashreq Capital, a subsidiary of Dubai-based Mashreq Group and regulated by Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), projects to turn profitable this year following three years of operations, said its chief executive.

Abdul Kadir Hussain, Chief Executive, Mashreq Capital, said: "We are hoping to be profitable this year. Our funds have shown positive returns in 2009. We survived last year, which was disastrous for fixed income, but we didn't close up. There were a lot of companies shut down. We took losses like every body else, but we recouped most of those losses this year."

He refused to disclose the range of profits Mashreq Capital will make. Mashreq Group does not reveal segmental profitability, he said.

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Legal process in Dubai takes 18-24 months

Litigation cases in Dubai take on average 18 months to resolve, according to leading lawyers – and hearings may soon go on for even longer as more disputes flood the courts.

"Court proceedings may well take in excess of 18 to 24 months from filing a case at the Court of First Instance to being in a position to enforce an executable judgment," Stephen Ballantine, Senior Legal Consultant at Galadari & Associates, told Emirates Business.

Salem Salem Al Shaali, General Manager at Al Shaali & Co, said: "When we consider three-stage litigation, the process usually takes a year and a half. However some cases might be solved in three months and this is what we are experiencing with real estate disputes. We can consider three months as the standard period for first degree litigation."

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Dolphin Energy plays a key role

Dolphin Energy, the UAE's multi-billion dollar natural gas pipeline which pumps gas from Qatar and connects Qatar, Oman and the UAE, is creating new employment opportunities and playing a vital role in realising Plan Abu Dhabi 2030, a senior Dolphin official said yesterday.

"Dolphin now provides the emirate with 929 million cubic feet of gas per day, which helps boost the emirate's economy," a statement issued by the Abu Dhabi Executive Council quoted General Manager of Dolphin Energy for the UAE, Ebrahim Ahmad Al Ansari, as saying.

Al Ansari said Dolphin is witnessing a high demand for gas in the local market and has contracts that span over a 25-year period.

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Ajman approved 172 tower developments

Ajman has approved the construction of about 172 towers, less than a quarter of the total number originally planned in the emirate.

The Ajman Real Estate Regulatory Agency (ARRA) has published a list of the 172 approved towers on its website, compared with the 900 buildings that were planned.
“Some of the registration applications have been rejected but many other projects are still under process and may join the list, or not,” said Omar al Barguthi, the director general of ARRA.

“Some are registered but still have no escrow account because of banking requirements.”

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Private equity firms keep powder dry

When Dubai World said it was in talks to sell a stake in its port unit in May, hopes were high that this could represent a turning point for the Gulf’s subdued private equity industry.

Three months later, the deal between the Government-owned DP World and Dubai-based Abraaj Capital has not happened. It has become symbolic for the inertia that has replaced the fundraising frenzy of recent years. That period helped lift the international profile of the Gulf’s private equity industry on the global stage. Now players are grappling with the uncomfortable new realities of a world that is de-leveraging and where funds are scarce.

The uncertain outlook for regional stock markets has also made it difficult for private equity firms to exit their investments through the once lucrative initial public offerings (IPO). “With attractive exit options scarce at present, the focus for many private equity firms is now the enhancement of performance of their existing portfolio,” says Vikas Papriwal, a partner at KPMG, in the firm’s annual report on private equity. “Entities now look to weather the storm.”

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Dubai and Dublin share a common debt problem in real estate

Dubai and Dublin are many thousands of miles apart on different continents but the property crashes that have afflicted both cities have left a similar legacy in terms of debt mountains and a question mark remains over how this issue will be resolved.

Since peaking out in 2007 Dublin real estate has lost 40-50 per cent of its value, and many once wealthy developers are now left with huge debts to the banks and negative equity positions. The central bank is trying to organize property debt into one ‘bad’ bank to try to cleanse the system but as times improve banks or the ‘bad’ bank will increasingly call in these loans.

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Clock Ticks for Dubai Debt and Nakheel

Dubai is facing off against its bankers. As the government tries to restructure a vital $3.5 billion bond, due in December, for troubled real-estate company Nakheel, bankers seem to have two options.

They can agree to new terms and lend more. Or they can burn bridges with the government and accept that they will struggle to win future business in Dubai and oil-rich neighbor Abu Dhabi. The problem is, giving Dubai more debt is risky for the likes of Barclays, Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse.

First, it is unclear quite how much Dubai owes altogether. Nakheel recently said in a filing that its government-controlled parent, Dubai World, alone has consolidated liabilities of about $60 billion.

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