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Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Qatar National May Become Controlling Holder in Indonesia's Bank Kesawan - Bloomberg

Qatar National Bank SAQ, the Persian Gulf country’s biggest lender by assets, may become the controlling shareholder of PT Bank Kesawan after a planned rights offering by the Indonesian lender.

The banks signed a “letter of intent” which makes the Qatari lender the “standby buyer” for the offer, Doha-based Qatar National said in an e-mailed statement today. The offer is expected to close in the first quarter of 2011.

“The Letter of Intent with Bank Kesawan supports QNB’s international expansion plans, which in recent years have become an integral part of the Bank’s growth strategy and commitment to diversify the sources of its revenue,” Qatar National said in the statement.

Shariah Experts Plan First Global Licenses for Scholars: Islamic Finance - Bloomberg

Leading Islamic finance scholars are preparing the first global certification for Shariah experts, seeking to bolster the industry’s reputation and make it easier for banks to find qualified advisers.

A permanent committee will be selected by year-end that will work on setting up a body to issue permits for those qualified to sit on Shariah boards, said Aznan Hasan, the president of the oversight committee. The Kuala Lumpur-based International Shariah Research Academy for Islamic Finance is assisting with the process, executive director Mohamad Akram Laldin said, adding that there is no timeframe for completion. Scholars decide whether financial products meet the religion’s precepts, including a ban on interest payments.

“We are worried that people who aren’t qualified to be Shariah scholars may enter and become members of the advisory boards as the market flourishes,” Hasan of the oversight committee said in an Aug. 30 interview in Kuala Lumpur. “Banks try to search for competent advisers, sometimes they get the right person, sometimes they get the wrong person.”

Saudi Stocks Lead Gulf Gains on Global Growth Confidence, Oil; Sabic Rises - Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark stock index rose to the highest in more than two weeks, leading gains in Gulf markets, after Chinese manufacturing quickened more than expected and as oil rebounded from a one-week low.

Saudi Basic Industries Corp., the world’s biggest petrochemical maker known as Sabic, increased 1.5 percent and Kingdom Holding Co. gained the most since April after its hotels unit completed a $145 million stake sale. The Tadawul All Share Index advanced 0.9 percent to 6,158.99, the highest since Aug. 17, at the 3:30 p.m. close in Riyadh. The Bloomberg GCC 200 Index climbed 0.8 percent.

“The rise is mostly because of sentiment to do with international markets and positive data out of the U.S. and Asia,” said Amro Halwani, a trader at Shuaa Capital PSC in Riyadh. “Petrochemicals were oversold, and when oil held firm around its current levels, the sector picked up momentum.” Buying before the Muslim Eid holiday also boosted confidence among retail investors, Halwani said.

KIA cuts costs & its hands � Alpha Dinar- talking GCC finance

According to several sources, Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) is cutting costs. This is not a bad thing in and of itself. Although this comes at a time when oil prices are at $75/barrel and the KIA sits on $202.8 billion* of assets under management, cost cuts are usually a good thing and point to a disciplined style of management. However, the alarming fact is that the KIA is cutting-costs across the board which is an easy yet very dangerous approach. The biggest victim of this approach? Kuwait.

The KIA website states that the the authority aims to “contribute to the national development by investing in human resources.” This goal has been more than fulfilled during the previous years as KIA had trained highly qualified Kuwaitis and transformed them into business leaders capable of excelling at the highest levels in both private and public sectors. Moreover, KIA’s yearly MBA scholarship recipients have been steadily joining the workforce armed with unrivaled world-class education from leading universities such as Harvard, Stanford, MIT, London Business School, and Wharton Business school. Such an education enables the youth to emerge as future Kuwaiti leaders.

The shocking news is that KIA is cutting its training budget at a time of economic prosperity, massive multi-billion dollar development plans, and efforts to transform Kuwait into a regional financial hub. On the contrary, we would’ve expected prioritizing the investment in human capital as it is a perpetually beneficial investment considered a corner stone for the prosperity of any country. The training program and MBA scholarships cost KIA less than KD 1 million a year. Is it too much for an institution worth $200 billion? We doubt. Will Kuwait reap benefits from world-class educated and trained individuals? You bet!

In a previous post, we applauded KIA’s Managing Director (Bader Al-Saad) for his relentless reform efforts since the beginning of his tenure. Also, in the most recent parliamentary discussions of the KIA budget Minister of Finance Mr. Al-Shamali requested an increase in the training and MBA scholarships budget. We now call upon them and all parliament members to reinstate the renowned MBA scholarships program and the semi-annual version of the training program. Such an act will not only relieve the Kuwaiti youth, but also restore our hopes of a better future for Kuwait.

* According to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute.

Emerging markets offer expats top dollar | beyondbrics |

Thinking of moving abroad? If accumulating wealth is your goal, Russia, Singapore and the Gulf states should top your list, according to a new global survey of expatriates.

Foreigners living in Russia, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Singapore have the greatest overall wealth, defined as earning higher salaries, having more disposable income and owning more luxury items, HSBC Offshore’s Expat Explorer survey found. The low end of the totem pole is dominated by the UK and Europe, reflecting the stark difference in recovery between developed and developing economies.

The report compares the financial picture for expats around the world by examining income, spending, saving and investment patterns and the impact of the state of the global economy on their lives and livelihoods. The study, which HSBC bills as the largest global expat survey, involved more than 4,000 people working in 39 industries in more than 100 countries.

Ex-CEO Sues Abu Dhabi's Taqa -

Abu Dhabi National Energy Co., also known as Taqa, faces a legal battle in the U.S. against its former chief executive, Peter Barker-Homek, who accuses the company, which has almost $25 billion in assets, of breach of contract, among other things, according to a copy of a legal filing in the U.S.

Mr. Barker-Homek, a former BP PLC executive, alleges that Taqa forced him to sign a severance agreement "under severe duress" last October, and that he was threatened with arrest and imprisonment if he didn't comply, according to a suit filed on Friday by his attorney, Miller Barondess, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

"TAQA takes any challenge to its reputation extremely seriously and will defend itself vigorously and the individuals named against the spurious allegations made in the filing," the company said in a statement. It added that it will "respond to the filing in due course through the appropriate legal channels."

Emirates Needs $28 Billion Through 2017 to Fund Fleet Expansion - Bloomberg

Emirates, the world’s biggest airline by international traffic, needs more than $28 billion through 2017 to expand its fleet of Boeing Co. and Airbus SAS jets, almost double the amount raised since 1996.

Financing requirements for the 12 months through March 2011 will be $1.3 billion, and total about $27 billion for the following six years, Gary Chapman, Emirates’ president of group services in charge of finances, said in an interview in Dubai.

Emirates, which will take delivery of two aircraft each month for the next six years, operates a fleet of 150 jets and has firm commitments for a further 203 planes. The carrier, which is building up a fleet of 90 Airbus A380 aircraft with 45,000 seats, is using its base in Dubai to create a global network to compete with Singapore Airlines Ltd., Air France-KLM Group and Deutsche Lufthansa AG.

Gulf Daily News � Nawras plans to raise $600 million from IPO

Oman's Nawras, a subsidiary of Qatar Telecommunication (Qtel), may raise between $550 million and $600m in its long-awaited initial public offering, a source said yesterday.

Nawras, which broke the monopoly of state-controlled Omantel in 2006, agreed to float 40 per cent of its capital in February under the condition of its licence but the government granted the company an extension to September.

The company will offer 260m shares as it divests 40pc of its capital but no fresh equity is being issued to investors, the source said. Nawras has a capital base of 650m shares.