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Monday, 28 December 2009

Kuwait's Global Distressed Fund ranked among top ten worldwide

Kuwait's Global Distressed Fund ranked among top ten worldwide

Grounds reaches for the sky with Dubai Vegas punt

THAT tuna you're eating at the CityCentre hotel in Las Vegas was caught off the coast of Maine, put in what is effectively a cadaver freezer to keep it fresh, and flown by private jet.

So explains William Grounds, the Australian who heads Dubai World's investment in the $US8.5 billion ($9.6bn) CityCentre hotels and casino complex across a 27ha block on the Las Vegas strip.

And the tuna's journey doesn't end there.

In a tale worthy of one of the world's biggest single property developments, a master chef was brought in from Japan to ensure the fish was correctly butchered for consumption in one of CityCentre's 16 restaurants, which are run by top chefs or celebrities such as Eva Longoria Parker. Grounds, whose brother is UBS Australia chief executive Matthew Grounds, has a bagful of stories after nearly two years in Nevada -- a desert location reminiscent of Dubai.

GCC Investor Confidence: Shaken but still positive

SHUAA Capital, the region’s leading financial services institution, today issued its December Special Edition GCC Investor Sentiment Report, the only report of its kind for the Gulf markets.

December has been an incredible month for the global financial community, given the events surrounding Dubai World and its announcement on 25 November 2009 to request a standstill on its debt obligations while it restructures various parts of its business, including the master developer, Nakheel.

The subsequent repayment of the Nakheel ’09 Islamic bond, or sukuk, via a loan from Abu Dhabi, was equally unexpected and highlighted the issue of uncertainty in regional markets.

U.A.E Shares Gain on Speculation Fall Is Overdone, Oil Rises

Dubai and Abu Dhabi shares climbed to their highest in a week as investors speculated recent declines were overdone and oil traded near a four-week high.

Emaar Properties PJSC, the United Arab Emirates’ biggest real-estate developer by market value, rose the most in almost two weeks. Arabtec Holding PJSC, the U.A.E.’s biggest construction company surged the most in a year, while Emirates Telecommunications Corp. gained for the first time in four trading days. Dubai’s DFM General Index increased 3.4 percent to close at 1,828.63, the highest since Dec. 20. Abu Dhabi’s ADX General Index added 1.2 percent, to the highest since Dec. 22.

“People are buying for the next year, bargain hunting because some of the stocks are at a good price,” said Vyas Jayabhanu, head of Al Dhafra Financial Brokerage LLC. “Another positive for the market is oil trading at a four-week high.”

Bourse halts Agility on US settlement reports

The Kuwait bourse has halted trading in Agility (AGLT.KW) pending clarification of reports that the logistics firm is near to a settlement in its U.S. fraud case, the bourse said in a statement on Monday.

Several Kuwaiti newspapers carried reports on Monday about Agility seeking a settlement of up to $600 million with the U.S. government.

"Until now the final settlement has not been signed, as some of the points are still pending, however the amount is between $500 million and $600 million," Kuwaiti daily al-Qabas said in an unsourced report.

Abdullah brothers pledge Damas shares to repay 'unauthorised transactions'

Dubai jeweller Damas International said that two executives and the former head of the company had registered 350 million shares to repay nearly US$165 million in 'unauthorised transactions.'

The three Abdullah brothers made the pledge as part of a settlement with Damas.

The discovery of the unspecified transactions led to the departure of the firm's chief executive officer, Tawhid Abdullah.

KEPCO Clinches Mega Nuclear Plant Deal with UAE

A consortium led by KEPCO on Sunday won a US$40 billion deal to build and operate four nuclear power plants in the United Arab Emirates. It is the largest ever order won by the country, some six times the cost of a $6.3 billion canal project in Libya in the 1980s.

This is also the first time Korea is exporting its APR1400 light-water reactor since the country started operating its first nuclear power plant, Gori No. 1, with U.S. technology in 1978. With the contract, Korea has turned from an importer into an exporter of nuclear power technology.

President Lee Myung-bak helped clinch the deal in a meeting with his UAE counterpart Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan at the Emirates Palace Hotel Abu Dhabi. The two also agreed to develop the two countries' relationship into a strategic alliance.

Dubai serves up a debt dish bankers have to consume

Despite intense media interest and an equally intense concern among bankers and lawyers trying to talk out a US$22 billion (Dh80.81bn) restructuring at Dubai, the debt-wrangling banks are not exactly riding into town like marauding Apaches going after the Ringo Kid.

That lack of drama can be traced partly to the drab technicality of all such discussions, but also in large measure to Dubai World’s advisers, who have dreamed up a shrewd set of incentives and penalties for the banks to which it owes money.

It remains unclear how big a haircut Deloitte’s Aidan Birkett, who last month was named the Dubai World chief restructuring officer, wants to give creditors.

Globalfoundries sees growth path

Globalfoundries aims to double its revenue and market share within the next three years by tapping into the booming markets for smartphones and graphic chips.

The maker of customised computer chips was created in March though a joint venture of the Advanced Technology Investment Company (ATIC), an investment firm fully owned by the Abu Dhabi Government, and Advanced Micro Devices of the US.

Since then, Globalfoundries has increased its investment in the sector with the acquisition of Singapore’s Chartered Semiconductor for S$5.6 billion (Dh14.61bn). It has also broken ground for a foundry in New York state, which will add capacity to its operations in Germany.

Dubai, Abu Dhabi to navigate potholes on road to progress

Dubai charged into the first decade of the new century with Abu Dhabi following at a more measured pace. Despite the global credit crisis, the two are well placed to face the challenges of the new decade. Frank Kane reports.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, told an audience of business leaders and government officials in early 2007 that the car he was driving had five gears, “all of them fast forward, with no reverse”.

It was a good metaphor for the financial sector of Dubai, and of the wider UAE, in the first decade of the millennium.

Why did Koreans win the $20bn UAE nuclear power order?

There is never a dull day in the United Arab Emirates. Just when journalists thought it safe to put up their feet for a holiday between Christmas and the New Year the government issues a brief statement placing a landmark $20.4 billion contract for four nuclear power stations with Korean companies.

What happened to the expected deal with a US consortium led by General Electric, or for that matter the widely trumpeted French group headed by Electricite de France? We will never know, of course, these things are decided behind closed doors.

Korean triumph

But hats off to Korea Power, a state-run utility which supplies almost all the power in South Korea, Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction, Hyundai Engineering & Construction, Samsung C&T Corporation, and Westinghouse Electric – whose inclusion will be some sop to the disappointed Americans.

The news will be jumped on by the New Silk Road enthusiasts who foresee a radical shift in Middle Eastern business towards Asia as the global powerhouse of the future. In this instance they are literally and metaphorically on solid ground.

From a political standpoint the UAE is keen to sign up to peaceful nuclear power to make a point to both the US and Iran. But a rapidly growing UAE economy is set to double its electricity demand to 40,000MW by 2020, and it hopes by then its oil will be worth a lot more in exports than as a power source.

So this growing nation needs nuclear power. It is also commercially sensitive and the most likely reason for the Koreans winning the bid is that they came in with the best offer.

Lowest cost

After all if you are going for low-cost electricity, you might as well get is as cheaply as possible. South Korea has aggressive expansion plans for its nuclear industry and a deal with the UAE is clearly a feather in their cap. But Samsung built the Burj Dubai, the world’s tallest building due to open January 4th, so they are hardly unknown in the UAE.

The Korean government says it is also pursuing contracts in Jordan, Turkey and China. Perhaps they should be looking to other emirates in the Gulf. It is hard to imagine that Qatar is not going to copy the UAE and go nuclear.

Korea Electric, Doosan Jump on U.A.E. Nuclear Order

Korea Electric Power Corp., Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction Co. and other South Korean builders jumped the most in a year after winning a $20 billion nuclear-plant contract from the United Arab Emirates, the first such order awarded by a Gulf Arab nation.

Korea Electric gained 11 percent to 36,500 won as of 9:19 a.m. on the Korea Exchange, while Doosan Heavy climbed the daily limit of 15 percent to 84,900 won. Both rose by the most since Dec. 8, 2008. The benchmark Kospi stock index advanced 0.7 percent.

A Korea Electric-led group, which also includes Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co. and Samsung C&T Corp., will design, build and help operate four 1,400-megawatt nuclear power units to be completed from 2017 to 2020, Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp. said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. The order is part of a “fleet of power plants” the U.A.E. wants to build, Chief Executive Officer Mohammed al-Hammadi said.

Qatar makes giant energy strides

Qatar’s energy and petrochemical sectors made giant strides this year with many world scale projects either getting launched or inaugurated.

The country’s significant achievements this year were mostly in boosting LNG production and exports with three mega trains, each one with 7.8mn tonnes annual capacity, being brought online.
In October, Qatar inaugurated RasGas Train 6, which also coincided with the 10th anniversary since the company’s production started. Earlier this year, two other LNG trains - Qatargas trains 4 and 5-were inaugurated.

Three more world’s largest 7.8mn-tonnes-a-year trains are under development through expansions both at Qatargas and RasGas.

Bold govt measures help lenders weather financial storm

The strength of Qatari banks and the country’s financial system at large was proved again in 2009, a year in which many global lenders went bust and major markets saw turbulence.

Qatari banks carry very few scars from the global economic crisis. They are well-capitalised, de-risked and deleveraged and have emerged relatively unscathed from the downturn. No doubt, the sovereign efforts to ‘firefight’ risks have helped the local banks weather the storm that has hit the global financial system.

Following the global economic downturn, Qatar took measures to safeguard the country’s key financial system. In three stages, the government ensured the local banks would not face a liquidity crunch.

Dubai drafts in debt expert David Anderson

Dubai Properties, which owns the Jumeirah Beach Residence and Dubailand, the unfinished $10bn (£6.3bn) fantasy land of theme parks, announced the appointment of David Anderson, an audit specialist with experience at Unilever and Cadbury Schweppes, as chief financial officer. The statement said he would bring experience in organising a "comprehensive, risk-based approach to finance".

Jayne O'Brien, the former head of marketing at British Airways, has been appointed as chief marketing officer. Other directors were appointed to head legal affairs, operations and property development.

The announcement follows the cancellation three weeks ago of a planned merger between three of Dubai Holding's property firms – Dubai Properties, Sama Dubai and Tatweer – with Emaar Properties, another Dubai real estate giant.