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Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Qatar's United Development Plans Sale of $400 Million in Convertible Bonds - Bloomberg

United Development Co., a Qatari company that invests in real estate and energy, plans to sell about $400 million of convertible bonds by year-end, the executive vice president of finance said.

The five-year bond sales will provide funding for the company’s facility management entities, including a company that’s caring for The Pearl, a project being built on an island off the Qatari coast, Abdullah Araj said in an interview in Doha today. UDC plans to appoint two international banks to handle the offering, he said.

The Persian Gulf emirate is spending billions of dollars diversifying its economy with acquisitions of stakes in companies including German carmaker Volkswagen AG. State-owned Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Co. last month sold $3.5 billion of 5-year and 10-year notes.

Qatar Shares Climb to 6-Week High on $81 Crude, Global Economic Recovery - Bloomberg

Qatar and Dubai stocks rose, leading gains in the oil-rich region, as crude traded above $81 a barrel and after U.S. data topped forecasts, easing concern that the global economic recovery is faltering.

Industries Qatar, the second-biggest petrochemicals maker in the Middle East, advanced 2.4 percent and Emaar Properties PJSC, builder of the world’s tallest skyscraper in Dubai, gained the most in two weeks. The QE Index climbed 1 percent to 7,103.89, the highest level in six weeks and Dubai’s DFM General Index increased 1.2 percent, the most since July 21. The Bloomberg GCC 200 Index rose 0.4 percent at 3 p.m. in Dubai.

“We had very positive indicators yesterday in U.S. equities rallying and oil prices rising above $81,” said Mohamed Abu Ghoush, head of equity brokerage at Al-Ahli Bank in Doha.

First Gulf Bank Lowered to `Hold' From `Buy' at Citigroup on Asset Quality - Bloomberg

First Gulf Bank PJSC was lowered to “hold” from “buy” at Citigroup Inc., citing deteriorating asset quality and exposure to the real-estate sector.

“We see few positive catalysts for FGB shares in the near term,” London-based analyst Simon Nellis wrote in a report today. “Business activity remains sluggish, continued uncertainty over the impact of the Dubai World restructuring, and the bank’s heavy exposure to property are all expected to continue to weigh on the shares.”

Cracking down on BlackBerry

Determined that no telephone conversation or data message should be beyond its reach, the United Arab Emirates has become the first country to announce that it will ban BlackBerry services. The mobile devices’ secure encryption technology is not only a big selling point for Research in Motion, the company that makes them. It is also a thorn in the side of UAE authorities who, unable to eavesdrop, have branded RIM as non-compliant with UAE regulations.

Like all governments, the UAE has a legitimate reason for wanting access to private telecommunication records in the case of criminal or national security threats. And the Emirates may face more such threats than many other states. It is a relatively open country in a volatile and oppressed region. It is exposed to the two destabilising forces of Iran and of jihadi terrorism. And with a growth model partly built on being a tourist, business and financial hub, its economy is more than commonly vulnerable to crime.

The Emirati strategy has been to leave the country open to most comers but keep everyone under close watch. The loophole provided by BlackBerry services, which are encrypted and sent to RIM’s offshore servers, has clearly grown far too big for the UAE’s comfort.

Septech taps into region’s scarce resource

Nearly 15 years ago, David Heffernan left one water-deficient country, Australia, to launch a business in another, the United Arab Emirates.

Back then, the country’s property development was in its early throes. Mr Heffernan set up Septech Holdings, a water management company that provides systems for housing developments, golf courses and marinas.

Although regional in its outlook, the bulk of the company’s work was in the UAE as one development after another sprang up. But since the global economic crisis, which hit the UAE particularly hard, Septech has seen a significant shift in its business.