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Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Qatar to Raise $5 Billion From Bond Sale, Banker Says

Qatar, holder of the world’s third- largest natural gas reserves, plans to raise $5 billion by selling bonds, a banker familiar with the deal said.

The Persian Gulf emirate appointed Qatar National Bank SAQ, Barclays Plc, Credit Suisse Group AG, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. to manage the sale, the banker said, declining to be identified because the discussions are private.

Qatar, the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas, is spending billions of dollars diversifying its economy with acquisitions of stakes in London-based lender Barclays Plc and carmaker Volkswagen AG. Its economy will expand by 11.5 percent this year and 18.5 percent in 2010, according to an International Monetary Fund forecast.

Taqa’s Third-Quarter Profit Drops 88% on Lower Oil, Gas Income

Abu Dhabi National Energy Co., whose chief executive officer resigned last month, said third-quarter profit dropped 88 percent as income from oil and gas sales fell.

Net income declined to 90 million dirhams ($24.5 million), or 2 fils a share, from 723 million dirhams, or 13 fils, a year earlier, the state-controlled energy producer said today in an e-mailed statement. Sales dropped to 3.9 billion dirhams from 4.5 billion dirhams.

New York oil futures averaged $68.24 a barrel in the third quarter, compared with $118.22 a year earlier, as the global recession eroded energy demand. Crude prices fell after reaching a record $147.27 in July last year.

Bank Muscat may write down Pakistan bank stake in Q4

Bank Muscat BMAO.OM, Oman's largest lender by market value, said on Wednesday it might have to write down a significant part of its 23.4 million rial ($61 million) investment in Pakistan's Silkbank bank in the fourth quarter.

Bank Muscat has a 35-percent stake in Silkbank, which is planning a rights issue. But the Omani bank said it will not participate, "as regulatory approvals in Oman have not been forthcoming".

Bank Muscat expects its Silkbank stake to be diluted and as a result, "it is likely that the bank could write down a significant part of this investment of RO 23.4 million during the last quarter of 2009," it said in a statement.

Saudi Oil Pricing Paradigm Shift: WTI Index Out, ASCI Index In (Re-post)

Saudi Aramco, national oil company of the world’s largest oil producer and exporter, decided earlier this month it will drop West Texas Intermediate (WTI) as the benchmark for pricing its oil for sale in the US market.

In January 2010, Aramco will use the Argus Sour Crude Index (ASCI) to price its oil for the market; it’s heavier and has higher sulfur content than WTI. The index, launched in May, uses the volume-weighted average of daily spot sales of the three U.S. Gulf Coast medium sour crudes: Mars, Poseidon, and Southern Green Canyon.

The news instantly sparked speculation that other major producers would follow. Chavez (not surprisingly), reportedly already indicated Venezuela would follow Saudi’s lead adopting the new index. Several Canadian companies, who expect to use TransCanada Corp. (TRP) proposed Keystone XL pipeline to send oil sands crude to the U.S. Gulf Coast, have also expressed interest in using the Argus benchmark.

Dubai Emirates A380 '10 Deliveries Delayed By Mos-Chmn

Dubai-based Emirates Airline Wednesday said some of its double-decker Airbus A380 planes for delivery in 2010 will be delayed and that it may take over aircraft orders from rival carriers as it starts to emerge from the effects of the financial crisis.

"We've taken a bit of a delay on deliveries but not in years," Emirates Airline Chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum told reporters at a press conference ahead of the Dubai Airshow that starts Sunday.

Emirates, the largest airline in the Middle East, is Airbus's biggest customer for the A380 with a total of 58 orders. The airline is due to receive six of the superjumbos next year, slowing to five in 2011. Deliveries are expected to rise to 12 in 2012 and 11 in 2013.

Dragon Oil investor rejects Enoc bid

The largest minority investor in oil explorer Dragon Oil (DGO.L) said it would reject a takeover bid from controlling shareholder Emirates National Oil Company that values Dragon at $3.9 billion.

Baillie Gifford & Co said in a statement emailed on Wednesday that the 455 pence/share offer "materially understates the fundamental and strategic value" of Turkmenistan-focused Dragon.

"We plan to reject the offer on behalf of our clients, whose holdings under our management currently amount to 4.2 percent of the issued share capital of the company," Richard Sneller, Head of Emerging Markets Equities said.

Analysts said the stock was probably worth more than the offer from Dubai state-controlled Enoc, which already owns 52 percent of London and Dublin-listed Dragon.END

Nakheel Talks With Dubai World on $3.52 Billion Bond

Nakheel PJSC, the Dubai-based property developer, is holding talks with its parent Dubai World about a $3.52 billion Islamic bond that matures on Dec. 14.

“Nakheel can confirm it is in discussions with its parent regarding the forthcoming December 2009 sukuk maturity,” the company said in a statement to Nasdaq Dubai today. “Once these discussions are complete we will further advise the market.”

The statement didn’t provide details on whether the talks are about restructuring or repayment of the debt. A spokesperson for Dubai World didn’t immediately respond to calls or an e-mail seeking comment, while Nakheel referred Bloomberg to its parent. Dubai World, the state-owned company grappling with $40 billion of debt, has guaranteed Nakheel’s December bond, the offering prospectus says.

Gulf Air expects $500 mln loss in 2009

Bahrain's state-owned carrier Gulf Air [GULF.UL] expects to post a loss of 189 million Bahraini dinars ($501 million) this year, a member of Bahrain's parliament said in remarks published on Wednesday.

A report in the Gulf Daily News said the figure was presented by the ailing carrier to parliament on Tuesday, citing Abduljalil Khalil, a member of parliament.

The company has been in a restructuring with lay-offs and closures of routes since 2002.

Oil Market Is ‘Very Comfortable,’ Al-Attiyah Says

The global crude oil market is “very comfortable” and it is unlikely that OPEC would increase production quotas significantly, Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah, Qatar’s energy minister, told reporters today in Singapore.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is assessing the market situation and there will be “no dramatic change” in output when the group meets next month, he said after attending a signing ceremony for a new chemicals joint venture with Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

“There’s no shortage of supply,” al-Attiyah told reporters. He declined to comment specifically if OPEC would increase output quotas at its next meeting.

Qatar Commercial Bank prices $1.6 bln in bonds -banker

Commercial Bank of Qatar has set final pricing for $1.6 billion in a two-part note sale, a banker familiar with the deal said on Wednesday.

The sale includes $1 billion in five-year notes yielding 250 basis points over midswaps and $600 million in 10-year notes yielding 400 basis points over midswaps, the banker said.

"The coupon is 5 percent on the 5-yr and the 10-yr 7.5 percent coupon," the banker said.

The banker added the five-year notes were six times oversubscribed.

The joint lead managers on the offering are Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley.END

Dubai Stocks Rise a Fourth Day, Led by Emaar, DIB; Kuwait Falls

Dubai shares rose for a fourth day as European and Asian stocks advanced after better than expected earnings. Dubai’s market was buoyed by comments this week on the emirate’s debt situation.

Emaar Properties PJSC, the United Arab Emirates’ biggest property developer, and Dubai Islamic Bank PJSC led gains on the emirate’s exchange. The DFM General Index increased 1.1 percent to 2,192.41 at 12:52 p.m. in the emirate, poised for its highest close this month. The Kuwait Stock Exchange index slid 1.6 percent and Abu Dhabi declined 0.2 percent.

Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum said Nov. 9 that the second part of a $20 billion bond program will be “well received”, and those who doubt the unity of Dubai and Abu Dhabi should “shut up.”

Liongate Capital Management opens office in Dubai International Financial Centre

Liongate Capital Management, the award-winning fund of hedge funds manager, has announced the opening of its Dubai office and the award of a license by the DFSA (Dubai Financial Services Authority) to operate from the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

With this move, Liongate Capital Management is consolidating its presence in the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa), where it has long-standing clients in the countries of the Gulf region. The Dubai office will focus on advising institutional clients in the MENA region on allocations to hedge fund investment strategies. The office will also serve as a vehicle for capitalizing on regional investment opportunities and will be hiring staff for its research department.

His Excellency Dr Omar Bin Sulaiman, Governor of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), commented: “With investors increasingly seeking to diversify their portfolios to include alternative investments, the long-term potential for the growth of the hedge-funds market in the Middle East, North Africa and India is strong. DIFC offers the infrastructure and regulations for providers of hedge fund investments to take advantage of opportunities in the region. The establishment of Liongate Capital Management’s office is testimony to DIFC’s ability to offer a secure and productive platform for the growth of hedge funds. It also demonstrates the continued confidence of the global financial industry in the potential of the regional market.”

Violators to Face Suspension, Fines

Listed companies in the UAE will face fines or suspension from stock exchanges in the event of repeated violations of corporate governance code, newly amended rules announced on Tuesday reveal.

The amended rules will give more responsibilities to each company’s board of directors, which will then need to check every business transaction valued at Dh5 million or more to ensure greater transparency.

The amendments on rules and regulations of corporate governance and institutional code of conduct were issued on Tuesday by Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, who is also the Chairman of the Securities and Commodities Authority, or SCA.

Abraaj defers plan to invest $2bn this year

Abraaj Capital will start investing its $2bn (Dh7.3bn) funds next year as opposed to its original intention of deploying them this year.

The region's largest private equity firm, which has been on a "wait and see" mode up until now, is already on "advanced stages" of talks with a number of firms in the region and is expecting some concrete investment deals in 2010, Executive Director Naranayan Rajagopalan said yesterday.

"At this point in time, I would rather not talk which sectors we are looking at as some of them are on very advanced stages right now," he told Emirates Business.

Positive sentiment pushes up demand for Nakheel sukuk

The $3.52 billion (Dh12.92bn) Nakheel sukuk (09) traded yesterday above its maturity value on high demand from investors, sources in the bond market said.

Expectation of an additional $6 bonus to be redeemed against each note on the maturity date of December 14 coupled with the positive sentiment generated by the reassuring speech made by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai, saw the Nakheel sukuk (09) trading at around $111.5, which is above the maturity value of $109.57, said market sources.

Top officials representing institutional investors and bond traders told Emirates Business that in the absence of a qualified public offer (QPO) – whereby sukuk holders could exercise the option of subscribing to the public share offer – the issuer would pay the holders an additional $6 per note

50 years fly by for working mum

The “mother of Emirates Airline” has just turned 50.

DNATA, or the Dubai National Air Travel Agency, was set up in 1959 and 26 years later helped provide the personnel and systems for reservations, departure control and IT to give Emirates an extra boost, and earn its maternal nickname.

Over those years, the company grew into such a diversified provider of airport and travel services that when Gary Chapman, the president of DNATA and of Emirates Group Services, started in 1989, DNATA was also called “the airline without aircraft”.

Capital unveils plan to fire up non-oil exports

Abu Dhabi has announced ambitious targets to raise the value of non-oil exports seven-fold by 2030, in an effort to shield its economy from volatility in oil prices.

The capital wants to expand foreign direct investment to 23 per cent of its GDP by 2030, from 14 per cent now, to support the development of its export market, said Mohammed Omar Abdullah, the Undersecretary of the Department of Economic Development in Abu Dhabi.

The emirate is looking to nearly triple its GDP by 2030 to US$416 billion (Dh1.52 trillion), from about $142bn last year.

Mubadala to expand foreign energy holdings

Mubadala Oil and Gas, the state-owned Abu Dhabi energy venture, could triple production to more than 1 million barrels per day (bpd) within about six years, equivalent to more than a quarter of the current UAE output.

The company, a unit of Mubadala Development, currently pumps more than 350,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day from its shares of oil and gas projects in 10 different countries, Maurizio La Noce, the chief executive, said yesterday.

“We are structured as an independent oil and gas company, medium-sized,” he told the Abu Dhabi 2009 conference. “We want to become the pre-eminent independent oil and gas company in the eastern hemisphere.”

Forget sanctions, tempt Iran with a better deal

When have economic sanctions ever had a beneficial outcome? I cannot think of one single example in history where the government-directed cessation of normal commercial activity between two countries has, on its own, produced the result desired by either the sanctioner, or (to coin a phrase) the sanctionee.

Unilateral trade embargoes are either abandoned after much suffering and loss of material value on both sides, or lead to military conflict, which of course increases the suffering.

From recent and contemporary history there is the egregious example of Iraq. Decades of UN and US-sponsored sanctions made no difference to the regime of Saddam Hussein, which callously passed on the suffering to its people while engaging in covert sanctions-busting itself to ensure a steady flow of luxuries for its cronies.

CityCenter too big for Vegas


Turns out Sin City is far from recession-proof.

Citigroup Global Markets analyst Anil Daswani is not exactly filled with confidence that MGM Mirage's latest glitzy offering on the Las Vegas strip, the gargantuan CityCenter, will have tourists racing to Nevada to plunk down what little cash they have left.

For a city that does nothing small, CityCenter just might be too big for its own good.

Qatar National starts Swiss private banking unit

Qatar National Bank QNBK.QA, one of the Gulf region's largest banks by market value, on Tuesday said it had launched a Swiss private banking subsidiary.

The lender said the Geneva launch will offer "further market capabilities to QNB's longstanding Qatari customers looking to expand their investments internationally".

QNB Banque Privee Switzerland recently received regulatory approval to start operations there, it said in a statement.

Qatar set to become top LPG seller

Qatar’s annual liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) export capacity will exceed 12mn tonnes within two years, HE the Minister of State for Energy and Industry Affairs Dr Mohamed bin Saleh al-Sada has said.

Currently, Qatar’s annual LPG export capacity is 8mn tonnes, al-Sada said in his keynote address at the fourth LPG Trade Summit at the Grand Hyatt in Doha yesterday. “We are emerging as a major LPG exporter,” al-Sada said.

Currently, Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest LPG exporter.

Qatar, al-Sada said, had witnessed “unparalleled expansion and development” across the whole chain of the oil and gas sectors.

Kuwait's Agility Q3 net up 15 pct, beats forecasts

Kuwait's Agility (AGLT.KW), the Gulf's biggest logistics firm by market value, posted a 15-percent rise in third-quarter profit, beating forecasts.

Net income in the three months to Sept. 30 came in at 40.5 million dinars ($142.1 million), up from 35.2 million dinars in the year-earlier period, Agility said in a statement on Tuesday.

Coast Investment had forecast third quarter net profit of 37.69 million dinars, while SHUAA Capital expected 38 million. [ID:nL4409557]

Region's hub in the making

The opening of the new Khalifa Bin Salman Port should cement Bahrain's traditional place at the centre of transport and trade in the region, particularly for destinations in the Upper Gulf.

The port is strategically positioned in the middle of the Arabian Gulf and offers capacity, efficient operations, fast turn-around times for vessels and short transit times.

Its location in the heart of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) should make Bahrain an ideal choice for carriers transshipping containers to the important and rapidly expanding Upper Gulf region, particularly the markets of Kuwait, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and northern Iran.

Occidental forms partnership for Bahrain field

Occidental Petroleum Corp (OXY.N) said on Tuesday that it had formed a partnership to run a oil and natural gas field in Bahrain.

Tatweer Petroleum-Bahrain Field Development Co will operate under a production agreement between Occidental, the United Arab Emirates' Mubadala Development Co [MUDEV.UL] and the National Oil and Gas Authority of Bahrain.

The production agreement was first announced last spring. Tuesday's announcement puts in place the legal and corporate mechanism to operate the field.

Qatar to issue second sovereign bond

Qatar is set to return to the credit markets with another bumper sovereign bond as the gas exporter seeks to raise more funds amid optimism about its fast-growing economy.

Bankers say the bond issue could target as much as $5bn, depending on demand, with initial soundings of interest proving “very positive” before a roadshow over the next week or so.

The finance ministry has appointed five banks – Qatar National Bank, Barclays, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan – to run the issue, another indication of the region’s increasing appetite for capital markets fundraising.