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Thursday, 29 July 2010

Kazakhstan Turns to Sukuk After Eurobond Offering Dropped: Islamic Finance - Bloomberg

Kazakhstan, the former Soviet republic that last sold international debt in 2000, is planning a debut Islamic bond sale to broaden its investor base after canceling a Eurobond offering last week.

The government will sell securities that comply with Islam’s ban on interest payments in the second half of the year and is pressing for legislative changes that would enable companies beyond state holdings and Islamic banks to sell sukuk, said Aibek Bekzhanov, head of Islamic instruments at the Regional Financial Center of Almaty, a government agency set up to develop the country’s capital markets.

“Our goal is to orient this market toward domestic demand, to help develop the market,” Bekzhanov said in a July 27 interview from Almaty. “There are also plans to raise funds abroad via Islamic finance as a way to develop international relations with Asia and the Middle East.”"

Dubai's Mashreqbank Second-Quarter Profit Drops 54% as Impairments Rise - Bloomberg

Mashreqbank PSC, the United Arab Emirates lender owned by the Al Ghurair family, reported a 54 percent decline in second-quarter profit after setting aside money to cover for bad loans.

Net income fell to 202.2 million dirhams ($55 million), according to Bloomberg calculations based on half-yearly data provided by the bank today. First-half profit was 453 million dirhams, while total operating income dropped 6 percent to 2.3 billion dirhams, according to an e-mailed statement today.

“We see signs of recovery and are optimistic of early economic turnaround,” Chief Executive Officer Abdul Aziz al- Ghurair said in the statement. Mashreqbank set aside 892 million dirhams for impaired loans and financial assets at the end of the second quarter, it said.

Qatar Stocks Advance on Improving Earnings, Oil; Kuwait Index Declines - Bloomberg

Qatar stocks rose for a third day, led by Industries Qatar and Commercial Bank of Qatar, as European stocks rallied on improving earnings and oil advanced for the first time this week.

Industries Qatar, the second-biggest petrochemicals maker in the Middle East, climbed to the highest in a month after Securities & Investment raised its share recommendation. Commercial Bank, which reported a 23 percent profit increase earlier this week, rose to the highest since May. The QE Index gained 0.2 percent to 7,029.45 at the close, bringing the monthly advance to 1.9 percent. The Bloomberg GCC 200 Index added 0.3 percent.

“The earnings announced so far are considered another positive reason for traders to start building up positions at current market prices,” said Mohamed Abu Ghoush, head of equity brokerage at Al-Ahli Bank in Doha.

Aldar Reports Third Quarterly Loss as Property Sales Drop, Misses Forecast - Bloomberg

Aldar Properties PJSC reported its third consecutive quarterly loss as the biggest real-estate developer in Abu Dhabi suffered from lower sales.

Second-quarter loss was 475.3 million dirhams ($129.5 million), according to Bloomberg calculations based on half- yearly data provided by the company today. The average estimate of seven analysts was for a loss of 210 million dirhams for the quarter, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The company said first-half loss was 789.5 million dirhams after a profit of 1.14 billion dirhams a year earlier.

“The decrease was principally due to lower property sales recognized,” Aldar said in an e-mailed statement. “The second half of this financial year is expected to be different due to the revenue generated from the delivery of Aldar’s projects at Al Raha Beach and Al Gurm.”

NASDAQ stocks seek their share - The National Newspaper

The 14 equities traded on NASDAQ Dubai are still waiting for the expected boost three weeks after the bourse’s merger with the Dubai Financial Market (DFM).

DFM acquired two thirds of NASDAQ Dubai in May and the two exchanges began sharing a trading platform on July 11.

So far volumes for NASDAQ Dubai shares are lower than they were in the month before the tie-up, and several companies are exploring measures to reverse the trend."

Al Sanea court case on hold in Caymans - The National Newspaper

A Cayman Islands judge has put a multibillion-dollar fraud claim against Maan al Sanea on hold until authorities in Saudi Arabia reach a decision on the main allegations against the financier.

The ruling is a blow to the al Gosaibi family, which has accused Mr al Sanea of running an immense Ponzi scheme.

Ahmad Hamad Al Gosaibi and Brothers lodged a fraud claim against Mr al Sanea and his Saad Group in the Cayman Islands last July. Divisions of the Saad Group are incorporated in Cayman. In its lawsuit, the family-owned Al Gosaibi conglomerate accused Mr al Sanea of committing one of the Gulf’s biggest frauds. A judge later froze as much as US$9.2 billion (Dh33.79bn) of Saad Group assets in the island country. Mr al Sanea denies the allegations.

Abu Dhabi Office Rents Fall 27%, May Drop More as Supply Increases by Half - Bloomberg

Abu Dhabi office rents fell 27 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier and will drop further as supply increases by more than half through 2012, Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. said.

Vacancy rates reached 8 percent in the quarter and will also probably increase over the coming years, the property broker said in a research report published today. An abundance of supply in neighboring Dubai will help push down rents, Jones Lang said.

Office rents in Dubai dropped as much as 17 percent in the second quarter as new space outstripped demand, CB Richard Ellis Group Inc. said in a separate report today."

Construction and Deconstruction -

Driving around certain parts of Abu Dhabi is like driving around a gigantic construction site. It's a striking contrast from just a few years ago. From about 2003 to 2008, Abu Dhabi sat calmly on the sidelines as its economically ambitious neighbor, Dubai, underwent staggering changes.

In the last few years, those roles have practically reversed: In Dubai, much construction work has stopped while work in Abu Dhabi has gone into full swing. But Abu Dhabi has an advantage Dubai did not: a front row seat on a neighbor's experience and the invaluable hard-learned lessons that came with it.

Abu Dhabi leaders witnessed Dubai's somewhat laissez faire approach to construction, followed by its introduction of freehold real estate. And those leaders took notes."

Dwindling Natural Gas Prompts Habit Change in Persian Gulf: Energy Markets - Bloomberg

Persian Gulf petrochemical producers are turning to naphtha as a feedstock for the first time amid growing power-plant demand for natural gas.

Abu Dhabi announced plans in October to build the Middle East’s first plant that will only use naphtha to make plastics. Saudi Arabia may develop similar units as part of two refinery ventures, according to state-run Saudi Aramco, France’s Total SA and Sumitomo Chemical Co. of Japan, the partners in the project.

While naphtha, a product of refining oil, is used to make petrochemicals around the world, countries in the Middle East have traditionally preferred cheaper home-produced natural gas. Now, new power plants are competing for those gas supplies, stoking demand for alternatives. That’s being exacerbated as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia expand petrochemicals production to cut dependence on crude exports."