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Thursday, 21 January 2010

Petrobras Considering Qatari Shareholding, Qatar Minister Says -

Petroleo Brasileiro SA is considering a proposal by Qatar to take a shareholding in the Brazilian state-controlled oil company, Qatari Energy Minister Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah said.

“We are always studying the best opportunities and Petrobras is a big company and it has a lot of activities. So why not?” the minister said today in an interview in the Qatari capital Doha, where he was attending a ceremony. “Now they will discuss it and evaluate it.”

A Qatari shareholding in Petrobras would be a “good achievement,” Al-Attiyah said. It’s “too early” to predict how big a stake Qatar might assume, he said.

Dubai Forms Five Committees As Part Of Executive Council -

Dubai's Crown Prince announced Thursday the creation of new governmental committees within the city-state's top executive body as the emirate reorganizes to better deal with the financial crisis.

Five new committees will form part of the government's Executive Council, according to the statement from Sheik Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, emailed in Arabic

Kuwait lenders mull $7 bln 'stability' fund -paper

Kuwaiti lenders have discussed a proposal to set up a "financial stability" fund with capital of up to 2 billion dinars ($6.97 billion) to buy stakes in firms, a Kuwaiti daily said on Thursday.

"It is designed to first to buy stakes in big operational firms in the market, besides buying assets in firms," Kuwaiti newspaper al-Qabas said in an unsourced report.

The fund, which would be set up through banks and government investment, will be worth between 1 billion and 2 billion dinars, Qabas said.

Troubles at several prominent investment firms in the OPEC member, including Global Investment House (GLOB.KW) and Investment Dar (TIDK.KW), prompted the government to approve a $5 billion stimulus package in April to help weather the global economic downturn.END

Middle East Economies to Rebound, Risks Remain, World Bank Says

Economic growth in the Middle East and North Africa, the world’s biggest net oil-exporting region, may rebound to 3.7 percent this year and 4.4 percent in 2011, the World Bank said.

Growth will accelerate from an estimated 2.9 percent in 2009 after the global credit crisis sent oil prices tumbling, the Washington-based bank said in its Global Economic Prospects report on its Web site today. Growth was 4.3 percent in 2008, the bank said.

“Stronger global activity should allow for crude oil and gas production to return to positive growth, implying moderate revenue gains,” the World Bank said.

Dubai Index Declines on Concern Bank Earnings Will Disappoint

Dubai’s index dropped to the lowest level in more than a month, led by Dubai Islamic Bank PJSC and Emaar Properties PJSC, on concern lenders will report lower full-year earnings.

Dubai Islamic Bank, the United Arab Emirates’ biggest bank complying with Muslim banking rules, and Emaar, the U.A.E.’s biggest developer, dropped to their lowest since December. The DFM General Index fell as much as 1.7 percent to the lowest since Dec. 13 and was down 1.4 percent to 1,653.01 at 1:16 p.m. in Dubai. Bahrain’s index added 1 percent, headed for the highest close since November.

“Negative expectations” for banking results are hurting the market, said Yazan Abdeen, a fund manager at ING Investment Management (Dubai) Ltd. “With the current regional provisioning trend, it is imminent that UAE banks will be hard-hit.”

Qatar may buy Brazil Petrobras, bank stake-source

Qatar is interested in buying minority stakes in Brazil's state-run oil giant Petrobras (PETR4.SA)(PBR.N) and Banco do Brasil (BBAS3.SA), a Brazilian cabinet official told Reuters on Wednesday.

The country's investment agency already owns a $300 million stake in Brazil's Vale (VALE5.SA)(VALE.N), the world's largest iron ore miner, said the official, who requested anonymity because the conversations were private.

Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Qatar's emir, met with Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva earlier on Wednesday.

Kuwait, Emirates sign up for reactors

Kuwait has signed a 20-year agreement with France to develop the Gulf state's nuclear industry, beefing up the Gulf states' leadership of an Arab drive to develop nuclear power that will reshape the region's energy policy.

The United Arab Emirates sealed a $20.4 billion deal in December for the construction of four 1,400-megawatt nuclear power plants with a consortium led by South Korea's state-owned utility Korea Electric Power Corp. Westinghouse of the United States is part of the group.

The Korean corporation is one of the world's leading nuclear power specialists and operates 20 reactors worldwide.

Bond market needs tonic after Dubai shock

Last year was one to remember for investors in the Gulf’s small but swelling credit markets – for good and bad reasons.

Bond issuance almost quadrupled to a record $41bn, from $11bn in 2008 and the previous peak of $27bn in 2007, according to Dealogic, capped by Qatar’s blockbuster $7bn debt sale in mid-November.

However, Dubai’s unexpected decision to restructure the debts of its troubled Dubai World conglomerate later in November sapped the credit markets of their early-2009 vim, and sent prices tumbling.

M&A action remains subdued in Gulf

Hopes that 2009 would be a good year for domestic mergers and acquisitions in the Gulf have proved unfounded – to the disappointment of many underemployed bankers who moved to the region during the past half-decade.

M&A work was a priority for many investment banks that set up or expanded offices in the region before the financial crisis, as they expected foreign investments by sovereign wealth funds and, particularly, local deals.

Bankers then predicted the economic downturn would reinforce the case for corporate consolidation, and regional private equity businesses would seek to take advantage of lower prices. Instead, apart from outbound investments by sovereign funds and some restructuring, M&A advisory work has dwindled.