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Saturday, 26 September 2009

Saudi-backed Malaysian telco plans IPO

Saudi Telecom Co, which owns 25 percent of Malaysia's Binariang GSM Holding, said on Saturday the Malaysian holding company is studying selling 30 percent of the shares of its Maxis Communications Bhd unit on Malaysia's bourse due to attractive market conditions.

Maxis, Malaysia's leading mobile phone operator, is in discussions with Malaysian regulatory authorities and has received preliminary approval for the offering, Saudi Telecom said in a statement on the Saudi bourse website.

The initial public offering will "finance the future expansion of the group" and comes at a time of "current attractiveness of the Malaysian market", Saudi Telecom said.

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Saudi domestic investment plan will be maintained after economic recovery, says Finance Minister

Saudi Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf said a government programme to invest US$400 billion over five years would not be halted when the economy recovers and financial stimulus is withdrawn.

Speaking from Pittsburgh where he was attending the G20 summit, al-Assaf told reporters: "With regard to Saudi Arabia, if there is a move to reduce stimulus... the government investment programme will continue. The issue of the investment programme of the government will continue as it does not have inflationary effects."

Saudi Arabia unveiled last year a $400 billion development and investment programme to help the oil-based economy sustain growth in the face of the global crisis, which drove oil prices down from record highs near $150 a barrel in mid-2008.

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Saudi shares surge 3% led by financials

Saudi Arabia's shares rose on Saturday, led by financials on the first day of trading after bankers announced that a debt-laden family-owned conglomerate had reached an agreement with local lenders.

The agreement to refinance debt owed to the banks by Saad Group will spur investor confidence, said Credit Suisse in a research note.

Samba Financial Group, Saudi British Bank, Al Rajhi Bank and Riyad Bank were raised to "outperform" from "neutral," by Credit Suisse. Banque Saudi Fransi and Arab National Bank were upgraded to "neutral" from "underperform."

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FT top 50 women in world business

Who missed out and why

Contenders for 2010 and beyond
(Not considered in this ranking because their tenure as CEO was less than 12 months)

● Carol Ann Bartz, Yahoo (US)
● Ursula Burns, Xerox (US)
● Chanda Kochhar, ICICI Bank (India)
● Ellen Kullman, DuPont (US)
● Monica Mondardini, L’Espresso (Italy)
● Margaret Ma-Yee Ko Leung, Hang Seng Bank (Hong Kong)
● Elisabetta Oliveri, Sirti (Italy)
● Laura Sen, BJS Wholesale Club (US)

(Not considered in this ranking because they are below CEO level or head majority-controlled companies, subsidiaries or divisions)

● Dawn Airey, Five TV (UK)
● Ana Patricia Botín, Banesto (Spain)
● Patrizia Grieco, Olivetti (Italy)
Lubna Olayan, Olayan Financing (Saudi Arabia)
● Preetha Reddy, Apollo Hospitals (India)
● Amina Rustamani, Tecom Business Parks (UAE)
● Dominique Senequier, Axa Private Equity (France)
● Mian Mian Yang, Haier Group (China)

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FT top 50 women in world business


Name: Nahed Taher
Nationality: Saudi
Age: 45
Company: Gulf One Investment Bank
Sector: Financial services
Location: Bahrain
3-year TSR: N/A

Nahed Taher is co-founder and chief executive of Gulf One. She was also the first woman to make it to the top of a Saudi bank. But even before that she was breaking barriers. After earning a PhD in economics at Lancaster University in 2001, she turned down a job at the International Monetary Fund, returned to her country and became the first woman promoted into the executive team of National Commercial Bank, the biggest bank in the Middle East.

Taher was asked by CNN in 2007 whether she found it strange that she could sign multi-million-dollar deals in Saudi Arabia but not drive to the office. “I will leave this to my dearest King Abdullah to decide,” she said. “I cannot go against the wind, but driving for women is definitely a necessity now, it’s becoming an economic need.”

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Flash trading not an option for UAE markets

UAE exchanges are not likely to adopt the controversial practice of flash trading, a financial expert told Gulf News.

Flash trading is a computerised technique used by stock traders to detect orders milliseconds after they are placed but before other market participants are able to react. It is subject to a ban at least in the United States, the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mary Schapiro, announced recently.

With a very slight advance notice of market sentiment, usually 30 milliseconds, traders who operate extremely powerful computers can conduct an ultra-quick statistical analysis of the market movement and trade ahead of others.

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Newly Dubai centre will arbitrate disputes

The establishment this week of a centre for the amicable resolution of legal disputes in Dubai represents the latest in a series of reforms on handling cases that have grown both more numerous and more complex during the global economic crisis.

The new centre, according to a release by WAM, the state news agency, will deal with a wide range of disputes before they reach Dubai’s courts. The centre will have a month to settle cases amicably; if agreements cannot be reached, cases are to be forwarded on to the regular courts.

The centre, established in a law issued on Thursday evening by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, adds to a rapidly growing legal and regulatory infrastructure designed to give added protection to consumers and businesses.

Tehran hypermarket opens _ without Carrefour name

Tehran's shoppers are packing the wide, well-lit aisles of the Iranian capital's first western-style hypermarket, more than two years after France's Carrefour SA unveiled plans for a mammoth retail emporium here.

But the store, whose logo, broad selection and two-story parking garage would be familiar to Carrefour shoppers anywhere, opened last month under a different name - Hyperstar - and the French company says it is no longer involved.

The change, and Carrefour's reluctance to talk about it, highlights the difficulties that western companies face as they seek to tap into demand by Iran's booming middle class amid deteriorating relations between the West and the Islamic regime.

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BUY OR SELL-Is Vegas recovery reality or mirage for MGM?

Gamblers are starting to head back to Las Vegas, helping shares of MGM Mirage (MGM.N) rise some 60 percent so far this month. But some investors question whether Sin City's recovery will be strong enough to absorb a coming wave of new resort capacity.

MGM's CityCenter, a multi-tower enclave of casinos, hotels, condominiums and shops being developed in partnership with Dubai World, will begin a phased opening on the Las Vegas Strip in December.


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High temples of consumption (Guardian book review)

Over the past half century, Abu Dhabi and Dubai have emerged from obscurity to global prominence as the richest and fastest-growing cities in the world, respectively. In March, 2007, Forbes Magazine declared Abu Dhabi the richest city in the world. Its 420,000 citizens, who sit on one-tenth of the world's oil, are worth about $17m apiece. Dubai, much less favoured with oil reserves, has speculated on its strategic location to siphon its neighbours' oil wealth into its own economy through trade, finance and leisure. The ultimate service economy, Dubai lives on momentum, never daring to slow lest it be overtaken by its rivals.

The high standard of living has come at a price to the environment. By 2008, the Worldwide Fund for Nature's Living Planet report ranked the United Arab Emirates (of which both Abu Dhabi and Dubai are member states) at the top of the list of carbon emissions, with an ecological footprint of 9.5 global hectares per person – exceeding the United States (number two, at 9.4 hectares) and Britain (5.3 hectares), and more than triple the global average of 2.7 hectares. The report claimed that if everyone consumed at the same rate as Abu Dhabi and Dubai, it would take four and a half times the Earth's resources to provide for them.

It wasn't always so. On the eve of the discovery of oil in the late 1950s, both city states had populations numbering in the tens of thousands, with no electricity or paved roads. In 1971, when the seven sheikhdoms of the Persian Gulf formed the federation known as the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi and Dubai were only beginning to reap the benefits of their oil wealth. By the start of the 21st century, both cities had high-rise skylines to rival Shanghai and Hong Kong. It is hard to think of another part of the world that has experienced such rapid change in modern times.

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