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Sunday, 7 February 2010

RAK Bank Full-Year Profit Increases 14% to $198 Million

National Bank of Ras al-Khaimah PSC, the United Arab Emirates lender known as RAK Bank, said full- year profit rose 14 percent as revenue jumped.

Net income increased to 726 million dirhams ($198 million) from 636 million dirhams a year earlier, the lender said in a statement to the Abu Dhabi stock exchange today. Revenue rose 27 percent to 1.72 billion dirhams.

The bank didn’t provide fourth-quarter earnings numbers.END

Dubai Leads Gulf Shares Lower on Global Drop; Shuaa, Aldar Fall

Dubai’s index slid the most in almost two weeks, leading declines in the Gulf, as crude prices tumbled to the lowest level in seven weeks and investors awaited details of a new oil field off the emirate’s coast.

Shuaa Capital PSC, the biggest investment bank in the United Arab Emirates, slumped the most in two weeks after reporting a fourth-quarter loss of 154.3 million dirhams ($42 million). Aldar Properties PJSC, Abu Dhabi’s biggest real-estate developer dropped the most since Jan. 26 after the company said Khadem Al Qubaisi resigned from its board. The DFM General Index lost 2 percent to 1,630.81 and Abu Dhabi’s ADX General Index lost 0.9 percent.

“There is still an atmosphere of risk adversity and so we see a magnified effect on any sell-off, especially in the U.A.E. where liquidity is close to record lows,” said Julian Bruce, director of equity sales at EFG-Hermes Holding SAE, the biggest publicly traded Arab investment bank. “There is no news on Dubai World, no disclosure regarding the size of the new oil discovery so there is no reason to buy.”

Clearing up the mess left over from the Dubai property crash

The construction monitor service Proleads has confirmed that out of 1,110 construction sites in Dubai, 243 have been cancelled or placed on indefinite hold. Of the 867 projects remaining only a ‘very small percentage’ are proceeding on schedule.

That leaves the financial and commercial capital of the Middle East knee-deep in abandoned construction sites and half-built buildings. What on earth is to be done to clear up this unsightly mess?

Dubai construction on hold

According to The National newspaper just seven per cent of the 742 projects listed on the Real Estate Regulatory Agency website are on schedule, 66 per cent are delayed or seriously delayed and 20 per cent are on hold.

It is the same story but to a lesser extent in Abu Dhabi, where the construction boom started much later, and the northern emirates. But at least perhaps in the UAE’s capital city construction has not actually begun on many projects so the impact of the real estate crash is far less visible.

The problem is that the money for construction has run out and no further credit is available to developers. Meanwhile, those who bought off-plan are hesitating to make further payments into projects that are on a go-slow.

It is something of a stalemate as Jones Lang LaSalle terms the market standstill. And it is not even as though the projects could be easily shut-down and sold-off. Most of them are subject to legal disputes of uncertain outcome and duration that would put-off any potential buyer.

However, buildings can not stand half-built indefinitely. Their frames are not designed to take the damage inflicted by exposure to the elements in a city where summer temperatures top 50C.

Desert solution

If the courts and regulators cannot deal with the situation then the desert will begin to reclaim its territory from the developers. Forces of nature can conspire to resolve even the most protracted legal disputes.

Eventually the skeleton buildings will have to be demolished. But it would be tragic if some of the 80-90 per cent completed skyscrapers of Dubai also had to come down.

One thing that will doubtless preserve them a little longer is that demolition also costs money, and there is precious little of that available in Dubai right now.END

UAE'S Arabtec says merger with Aabar still on track

Dubai contractor Arabtec's ARTC.DU proposed merger with Aabar Investments AABAR.AD is still on track with a possible deal closure in March and the firm expects to post better profits in the fourth-quarter, its CFO said on Sunday.

Aabar had agreed to acquire a 70 percent stake in Arabtec last month in a deal valued at about $1.7 billion. [ID:nLDE60717W]

Shares of Arabtec, the United Arab Emirates' largest contractor by market value, have been pressured recently by sustained speculation that the deal may not go through.

National Bonds flagship a year late

The flagship property project of National Bonds, the Sharia-compliant investment scheme, will be delivered a year late while a second creekside development has been put on hold indefinitely and will not generate any returns in the near future, it has emerged.

The delays come as consumers who have invested in the savings scheme await news on whether they will receive any dividends for last year.

Bondholders received profits of 7.07 per cent for 2008 and 6.03 per cent in 2007. The company said last week that “the annual profit rate for 2009 will be announced shortly”.

Al Gosaibi files new fraud claim

Documents filed in the New York Supreme Court claim Maan al Sanea, the head of the Saad Group of Saudi Arabia, was involved in multibillion-dollar frauds involving hundreds of foreign exchange transactions with US banks.

The allegations, which Mr al Sanea strongly denies, are contained in papers filed by lawyers working for Ahmad Hamad Al Gosaibi and Brothers, the Saudi family conglomerate fighting a long-running battle with Mr al Sanea.

The family has alleged that he defrauded them of about US$10 billion (Dh36.73bn) through theft and forgery over many years.

Saudi Shares Decline on Oil, Led By Sabic, Herfy Food Services

Saudi Arabian shares fell the most in two weeks, led by Saudi Basic Industries Corp., as oil prices dropped to a seven-week low and European stocks fell for a fourth consecutive week.

Saudi Basic, or Sabic, fell 2.3 percent to 85.5 riyals, the biggest decline since Nov. 3. Herfy Food Services Co., the kingdom’s largest fast-food chain, which started trading Feb. 2, dropped 2.6 percent to 56.5 riyals. The Tadawul All Share Index fell 1.05 percent to 6,215.71.

Crude oil fell to a seven-week low yesterday, as the dollar surged on speculation European efforts to cut deficits will curb growth, prompting investors to sell commodities. European stocks declined for a fourth week, the longest losing streak since July, on concern efforts by Greece, Portugal and Spain to reduce their deficits will hurt the region’s economic recovery.

Shuaa Capital Loss Narrows as Corporate Unit Improves

Shuaa Capital PSC, the biggest investment bank in the United Arab Emirates, said its fourth- quarter loss narrowed as its corporate unit improved and its private equity unit returned to profit.

The loss was 154.3 million dirhams ($42 million), compared with 577.4 million dirhams a year earlier, the Dubai-based bank said today in a statement. The full-year loss narrowed to 529.8 million dirhams from 889.6 million dirhams in 2008.

“Our brokerage, asset management, finance and private equity business produced positive contributions to the bottom line but write-downs and provisions offset these profits during 2009,” Chairman Majid Saif Al Ghurair said in the statement.

QE2 sets sail in Dubai sell-off

CIRQUE DU SOLEIL, the Canadian circus group, and the QE2 cruise liner are among a raft of Dubai-owned assets being prepared for sale as part of a huge cash-raising exercise by the debt-laden emirate.

Advisers to Dubai World, the state-backed conglomerate, plan to offload a portfolio of trophy assets owned by Istithmar, its private-equity arm. The money raised will be used to pay off some of Dubai World’s $22 billion (£14 billion) debts. The group has about 100 large creditors, including British banks.

It is understood that advisers will attempt to sell each asset individually rather than find a single buyer for the whole portfolio. There has been strong interest in the Istithmar assets since Dubai World defaulted on its borrowings last November.