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Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Kuwaiti Minister Says Gulf Currency May Be Linked to Basket

Gulf Arab states planning a single currency may choose to peg it to a basket of currencies rather than to the dollar, Kuwait’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah told parliament.

“The single currency won’t necessarily be linked to a particular currency,” Al-Sabah said today. “It could be linked to a currency or a basket of currencies, and this will be discussed by GCC countries.”

The Kuwaiti parliament today delayed a vote to ratify an accord to establish a monetary council, a precursor to a unified Gulf central bank. Lawmakers said they needed more details on the impact of monetary union on the Kuwaiti economy and the dinar before voting. Unlike other Gulf states, Kuwait does not peg its currency to the dollar.

Qatar Issues $7 billion – Didn’t see this coming (Re-post)

Qatar will be issuing $7 billion of bonds instead of the expected $5 billion

$3.5 billion in the 5year tranche @ T+185 bps (revised down further from this mornings revisions of +190)

$2.5 billion in the 10 year tranche @ T+195 bps (in line with this morning)

$1 billion in the 30 year tranche @ T+215 bps (in line with this morning)

Allocations out in the next 30-45 minutes

Participants in the grey market are scratching their heads wondering what's going on – very quiet

*** LAUNCHED *****

ISSUER : State of Qatar

RATINGS : Aa2 / AA- (Stable/Stable)

TOTAL SIZE : $7.0 Billion Total

SECURITY/FORMAT : Senior Fixed Rate, 144a/Reg S (No Reg Rights)

TRANCHE SIZE : $3.5 Billion $2.5 Billion $1.0 Billion

MATURITY : Jan 20, 2015 Jan 20, 2020 Jan 20, 2040

LAUNCH : T+185bp T+195bp T+215bp


MINIMUM DENOMS : $100,000 by $1,000

MAKE-WHOLE CALL : T + [50]bp

SETTLE/1st Pay : November 24, 2009 (T+5) / January 20, 2010END

Qatar Financial Centre catching up fast with the DIFC (Re-post)

The four-year old Qatar Financial Centre is catching up fast with the Dubai International Financial Centre which celebrated its fifth anniversary last week. The Doha-based QFC has more than 900 people working under its umbrella compared with the 1,400 now employed by firms registered at the DIFC.

But Dubai does rather better in terms of the number of registered financial institutions under its domain, with more than 300 compared with 116 at the QFC of which 10 are dormant licenses.

DIFC firms downsize

The DIFC is understood to have cancelled a number of licenses this year, and its firms have been downsizing in the wake of the global financial crisis. However, the majority of people working in the DIFC are employed by just a handful of institutions, leaving many licensees as little more than a nameplate.

The QFC has long been pictured as the minnow compared with the giant DIFC. But these latest figures show that the younger Doha-based centre for financial institutions is not so far behind Dubai.

CEO Stuart Pearce says the financial crisis impacted local banks rather than the international institutions regulated by the QFC. They are also allowed to do business in Qatar in local currency unlike firms residing in the DIFC. Law firms were the exception, he concedes, but their business has now rebounded from the credit crunch.

Growing attraction

Doha has also witnessed a steep fall in rents just like Dubai and a fall in general inflation. Pearce claims this is adding to the attractions of following the money to Doha, while Dubai’s high debt levels leave the outlook for business there more open to question.

This is a biased view of course. But the latest data on the two centres does give substance to the contention that Dubai’s status as a regional financial hub has been exaggerated and is still an ambition rather than a reality. For that matter Bahrain might still have a claim to this crown.

But against the background of an economy set for GDP growth of anything from 16 to 24 per cent next year, it is hard to argue that the outlook for the QFC is anything other than bright, while heavily indebted Dubai has a great deal to prove.END

Qatar economy risks overheating again as boom reignites (Re-post)

Super high apartment rentals and soaring inflation could soon be back in Qatar whose economy barely batted an eyelid this year during the global financial crisis.

Landing in Doha the traffic and ubiquitous construction workers are an instant reminder that gas revenues are about to rocket next year making Qatar easily the fastest growing economy in the world, with official growth forecasts set at 16 per cent GDP growth and the Economist Intelligence Unit punting for a much higher 24.5 per cent.

New airport

Even before landing you can see the new airport under construction, rising from reclaimed land. It should be ready in 2011. Two weeks ago the site seemed very quiet but apparently a visit from the Emir himself has since speeded up progress.

Kuwait Shares Drop Most in World as Agility Indicted in U.S.

Kuwaiti shares were headed for the lowest close since March after Agility, the Middle East’s biggest storage and logistics company, was indicted by a U.S. federal grand jury.

Agility slumped the most since July after the indictment on multiple charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States. National Real Estate Co., which on its Web site lists Agility as a “sister company,” tumbled 8.8 percent. Sultan Center for Food Products Co., a supermarket and restaurant operator, dropped to the lowest since July. The Kuwait Stock Exchange Index lost 3.1 percent, the biggest fluctuation of 89 benchmarks tracked globally by Bloomberg, to 6,765 at 11:56 a.m. in the emirate. The measure, down 13 percent this year, is poised for the lowest close since March 31.

“Sentiment is so bad now that both foreign and regional investors have exited the market completely and it now seems locals have had enough,” said Rabih Sultani, a fund manager at Duet Mena Ltd. in Dubai. “Everything that can go wrong went wrong this month; big corporations missed earnings estimates, political setbacks and further delays in reforms, and now conspiracy and fraud.”

Global Technical Overview - UAE Stock Markets (PDF)

Global Investment House (Global) released its new “Daily Technical Overview – GCC Markets”. The report highlights: Trend Status, Resistance, Support, Highest and Lowest level expected for the coming period.

The Stock Market and Companies covered in this report are:

· Abu Dhabi General Index
· Dubai Financial Market Index
· First Gulf Bank
· Emirates National Bank of Dubai

Agility Indicted with $8.5B Fraud by US Government

Agility is currently suspended from trading at the Kuwait Stock Exchange. The reason? A U.S. grand jury indicted Agility with charges of fraud and conspiracy alleging that it overcharged the U.S. Army on $8.5 billion worth of contracts to provide food to soldiers in Iraq, Kuwait and Jordan. This U.S. indictment will prevent Agility from getting contract awards until the issue is resolved but will not impair existing contracts with the U.S. government.

Agility has been one of the very few stars in the Kuwait SE this year. This new comes as a severe blow to an already distressed stock market. Noting that Agility heavily depends on US contracts (75% of the group’s EBITDA) this is a major major major calamity. Agility is similar to Zain in that it is an operational company with numerous companies dependent on its success. Most of these companies are trading limit down as I speak. For example, NREC (National Real Estate Co.) owns 22.44% of Agility and is currently limit down. God bless the Kuwait SE.

Below is an the statement issues by Agility:.........

UAE spearheads efforts on energy

The UAE will play a pivotal role in sustainable energy projects, spearheading efforts in the Gulf to contribute to the global advancement towards a less carbon-dependent world, a top official told a regional energy security conference on Monday.

"We are the first country in the Gulf which undertook a leading commitment in producing renewable energy. Our Capital Abu Dhabi setting a goal of 7 per cent of the country's power to come from renewable energy by 2020," said Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Nahyan, the Foreign Minister, in his opening speech at ‘The Energy Security in the Gulf — Challenges and Prospects' the conference organised by the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies.

Shaikh Abudullah added in his speech read out by Dr Anwar Mohammad Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, nuclear power would help the country meet soaring power demand, which is expected to double to 40,000 megawatts by 2020.

Markets in urgent need of exchange traded funds (Interview)

The UAE's financial markets are sound and their survival after the strong hits taken during the global financial crisis is a great achievement that should not be underestimated, according to a senior official. The recent upward movements of share prices and the return of foreign investors are strong evidence of the ability of the markets to withstand future financial shocks, said Dr Mounther Barakat, Senior Advisor and Head of Research and Financial Analysis at the Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA). "The recovery of the markets is not solely the result of interest from foreigners but also reflects the confidence of local investors in the growth of the UAE economy," he said.

The SCA was recently involved in organising forums for brokers on exchange traded funds (ETF). What are ETFs?

An ETF is an investment fund that represents a certain indicator whose units are traded on the financial markets. These funds can be classified according to the kind of investment tools that they contain. The indicators of most of these funds are the shares of companies listed on particular financial markets, while some contain investment commodities traded on commodity markets and others contain bonds. The emergence of ETFs dates back to the early 1990s. ETFs are traded by investors on the financial markets just like shares. The difference is the investor indirectly contributes to the ownership of the shares in the ETF according to the investment policy of the fund's manager and the percentage of shares in each of the ETF's units. By the end of the third quarter of 2009 the total value of assets held in ETF was $933 billion (Dh3.64 trillion) globally and the number of funds had reached 1,819, with 3,247 listings on more than 40 financial markets around the world.

Middle East has good potential for Reits

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region holds the seed for a rather good potential for real estate investment trusts (Reits), according to a report.

"There is good potential for Reits in the region with the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait ranked respectively as first, third and fourth highest percentages of millionaire households in the world," Kuwait and Middle East Financial Investment Company said in a report.

In addition, huge opportunities in undeveloped real estate in Saudi Arabia signalled a good potential for Reits, where investors hold $267 billion (Dh981bn) in Shariah-compliant assets as of August 2008. Remarkably, amid the financial crisis, a Kuwait- based Reit – Markaz Real Estate Fund established in 2003 – announced 10.4 pr cent total annual return; seven per cent cash and 3.38 per cent capital gain paid on a monthly basis payments, reportedly in September 2009.

New PE fund expects to raise more than 50% from Middle East

Reflecting a strong confidence in Mena investors, Pharos Financial Group is expecting more than 50 per cent of the money for its $350 million (Dh1.28bn) agricultural fund to come from this region.

"We are expecting a seed partner by the end of the year of around $20m, the entire fund has a size of $350 million," John J Papesh of Pharos Financial Group, told Emirates Business.

The new fund, called Pharos Miro Agricultural Fund, launched on Sunday, is "a private equity investment opportunity in a new strategic asset of the 21st century, that is agriculture", he said.

How Aabar moved into the fast lane

Before the beginning of last year, Aabar was a small energy firm based in Abu Dhabi. There was little indication it would soon become a major investment vehicle for the Abu Dhabi Government.

Since its transformation, Aabar has spent at least Dh25 billion (US$6.8bn) acquiring stakes in the German car maker Daimler, the UK aerospace company Virgin Galactic and its move yesterday to buy 30 per cent of the Brawn GP Formula One team.

No such spending spree seemed likely back in its infancy, when the company had two main subsidiaries. Dalma Energy was an Omani oil drilling firm that owned rigs in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and India. Pearl Energy, based in Singapore, did oil exploration and production in South East Asian locales including Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Dhabi Group sells major stake in two Africa telecoms firms

Dhabi Group, an investment company owned by members of the Abu Dhabi Royal Family, has sold a majority stake in its two largest African telecommunications networks.

The stake is being bought by the Essar Group of India. The two companies did not disclose the price, but said the networks, in the Republic of Congo and Uganda, were worth US$318 million (Dh1.16 billion).

Dhabi Group’s Warid Telecom subsidiary built and operated the networks after acquiring telecommunications licences in each country.

Central Bank looks at risk reforms

The Central Bank may introduce further risk management reforms to protect the banking system from future crises, its governor says.

Under measures being considered to tighten controls, the bank is reviewing the type and liquidity of securities that banks are holding or selling to clients, said Sultan al Suwaidi, the Central Bank Governor.

“We have to examine what businesses or assets banks are acquiring or selling to their customers,” Mr al Suwaidi said in a speech in Abu Dhabi yesterday.

Debt boom to lift asset managers

The asset management industry in the GCC is set to receive a boost as more corporations look to bond markets to raise fresh funds, Dexia Asset Management (Dexia AM) says.

The firm, which manages assets of about €100 million (Dh549m) in the Middle East, says international investors are showing a growing interest in the Gulf due to its economic strength and demographics

However, international participation in the region would be increased further if Gulf markets were upgraded to emerging market status by index compiler MSCI, said Firas Mallah, the regional head based in Bahrain of Dexia AM.

OPEC concern about future demand

The president of OPEC has expressed concern about future oil demand and the cost of maintaining spare output capacity as consumers look for cleaner fuels.

An unforeseen drop in demand during the global recession has led to a huge overhang of idle oil wells, especially in the Gulf.

“What concerns us in OPEC is security of demand. We firmly believe it should be given the same weight as security of supply,” said Jose Botelho de Vasconcelos in Abu Dhabi yesterday in a speech on energy security. “Producers cannot afford to invest in capacity that will not be used. It is an expensive business to invest in idle capacity.

Another Dragon Oil investor rejects ENOC bid

Another shareholder in explorer Dragon Oil said it would reject a takeover bid from controlling shareholder Emirates National Oil Company, that values Dragon at $3.9 billion.

Paris-based Carmignac Gestion said the bid undervalued Dragon's assets and prospects for growth, boosting the chances that ENOC will not succeed with its bid and may be forced to offer more cash.

"It will be tight," one source close to the process said.

Ukraine needs investment from UAE, says Yuschenko

Ukraine needs investment from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko said at a meeting with businessmen from the Gulf in Abu Dhabi on Monday.

"The fact that Ukraine will be hosting the Euro 2012 creates opportunities for investor interaction," the president said.

He said the amount of potential investment in the Euro 2012 is $25 billion, including $5 billion to be injected into the construction of highways.

Yuschenko said that Ukraine and the UAE could cooperate in the energy sector, including in the generation of clean energy and energy saving. He said Ukrainian companies are ready to cooperate in projects for the creation of wind power stations and the production of solar panels.

Moreover, he added, Ukraine has great potential in agriculture.

Yuschenko also said that during negotiations, the sides had agreed that a group of experts would visit Ukraine in the next two weeks to study Ukraine's agricultural sector and analyze potential projects.

"Ukraine has really great opportunities in that sector, and we'd like to realize them jointly," he said.END

UAE looking to be a tech capital; Abu Dhabi looks to diversify away from oil

Abu Dhabi's economy, like many of its gulf neighbors is quickly rising from the desert sands with vast surplus of petrodollars filling its sails.

But, unlike other regional players, it is going down a different development path.

In the span of the year, it has emerged as a major force in the semiconductor business, with an usually long investment horizon.

Qatar’s wealth funding World Cup dream

You need a lot of money for this question, and we know that they have it and that they are prepared to spend it to find an answer. Part sporting project, part social experiment, the question is this: can Qatar ever reach the World Cup finals?

Remember first that Qatar has little football heritage. And that the Middle East has little football heritage as a region. It does not have a production line of world-class players being farmed into the Champions League or the Barclays Premier League.

Nor does it have world-class national teams. Saudi Arabia is the most consistent nation in the region, but since their peak in the United States in 1994, when they reached the last 16, the Saudis have played in every World Cup finals, not won a game, scored four goals and conceded 26. And Saudi Arabia is a comparative giant of a country. Its population is estimated at 25.7 million; Qatar’s at 1.4 million.

Boeing, Mubadala Sign Long-Term Aerospace Agreement

Mubadala Development Co., Abu Dhabi’s state-owned company whose investments include private equity firm Carlyle Group and Ferrari SpA, signed an agreement with Boeing Co. for long-term aerospace development.

The accord includes plans for engineering, research and development, as well as military maintenance and training for pilots, the companies said today in an e-mailed statement.

“Building Abu Dhabi’s aerospace industry directly supports our mandate to create a high-tech, knowledge intensive economy, and provide career opportunities for the current and future United Arab Emirates workforce,” Homaid Al Shemmari, associate director of Mubadala Aerospace, said in the statement.