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Monday, 20 September 2010

FT.com - Egyptians pay cost of wasteful food trade

Standing behind a stack of baskets filled with tomatoes, onions and potatoes, Khaled Rouby, a Cairo vegetable seller, complains about the quality of the produce he buys from the wholesaler.

“Some days up to a quarter of the tomatoes are bad,” Mr Rouby says. “I separate the bad ones and sell them cheaper. But everything is now expensive. There simply is not enough produce in the country.”

Every day Mr Rouby sets up his few baskets in the street market in Dokki, a middle-class area of Cairo. Dokki boasts some well-stocked shops with large displays spilling out on the pavements, and many small vendors sitting on the ground or selling from carts shielded by parasols from the scorching sun. No shop has air-conditioning and nothing is refrigerated.

Middle East Gulf Region Governance Initiative Launched at UN - MarketWatch

Close to 100 business leaders and policy makers gathered today at the United Nations to introduce the Pearl Initiative, a private sector-led program aimed at improving corporate governance, accountability, and smart CSR practices of business activities across the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

The gathering was hosted at the UN and organized under the auspices of the United Nations Office for Partnerships, the Crescent Group of the United Arab Emirates, and the American University of Sharjah. During lunch, participants exchanged views on the linkages between a transparent business environment and sustainable economic growth with the audience that included Naqvi Arif, Vice Chairman and CEO, Abraaj Capital; Ambassador Elizabeth Bagley, First Special Representative for Global Partnerships, US Department of State; Niels Christiansen, Head of Public Affairs, Nestle S.A.; Robert Dunn, President and CEO, Synergos Institute; Jim Geisel, Director, KPMG Global Grants Program & UN Desk; Raji Hattar, Chief Sustainability and Compliance Officer, Aramex; Prof. Safwan M. Masri, Director, Columbia University Middle East Research Center, Charles Moore, Executive Director, Committee to Encourage Corporate Philanthropy, and other prominent leaders from public and private sectors and civil society.

During the program, Amir Dossal, Executive Director of the United Nations Office for Partnerships and co-founder of the Pearl Initiative, explained how the Pearl Initiative will contribute positively to the UN's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by creating a more open and transparent business environment.

FT.com - Nawras sees growth down the line

When Omani Qatari Telecommunications Company, more simply known as Nawras, launched five years ago it knew it was going up against a 20-year incumbent. But, as is often the case when monopolies fall, the second operator quickly proved a popular choice for Omanis.

After just 100 days, Nawras had a 10 per cent market share of subscriptions, and the operator posted a net profit after 30 months, it says. By the end of June this year, Nawras, a subsidiary of Qatar Telecom, boasted a 45 per cent share of subscriptions in the Omani mobile market, or about 1.97m customers.

The operator is now trying to raise between OR182.3m ($471.5m) and OR234.3m through an initial public offering – the first in Oman since 2008 and the largest since 2005.

Abu Dhabi's Mubadala Development Sets Up Unit for Financial Investments - Bloomberg

Mubadala Development Co., an Abu Dhabi government-backed investor, set up a unit for financial investment, the company said on its website.

The unit, known as Mubadala Capital, will be the primary vehicle for managing the parent company’s fund holdings and for investing in diversified global public and private securities, according to the statement.

QFIB, Gulfmena to set up Islamic asset management firm | Reuters

Qatar First Investment Bank (QFIB) and specialist regional asset manager Gulfmena Alternative Investments plan to set up a sharia-compliant asset management firm to tap into rising demand for Islamic investment products.

The new company will be majority owned by QFIB, while Gulfmena will manage the investments, the companies said in a joint statement on Monday.

'We believe there is tremendous opportunity given the growth prospects of the Shari'ah compliant financial sector,' said Haissam Arabi, chief executive of Dubai-based Gulfmena."

Oman's $3 bln property project sees revival

Oman's biggest property project is heading for a recovery after being hit by the global recession, as it benefits from heavy government spending since last year, a senior project official said on Monday.

The project, Wave Muscat, will benefit from increased liquidity due to the government's prudent approach in its 2009 and 2010 fiscal spending, marking a turning point for the property market, Abdulla bin Khamis al-Shidi, deputy chief executive of the company said.

"In March this year, we have offered 168 properties off-plan and all of them have been sold. The sale has been boosted by market liquidity created by government spending," he said in an interview.

Dh49m case starts off Dubai World Tribunal trade claims - The National Newspaper

A construction company based in Dubai has filed a claim for Dh$49 million ($13.7m) against Nakheel with the Dubai World Tribunal, in the biggest case the body has faced.

The action will be closely followed by the industry as debt restructuring negotiations continue with the developer.

Construction Delivery Group (CDG) says it is owed the money, as well as interest and damages, for managing 1,224 villas and 114 “Canal Cove homes” on the Palm Jumeirah while they were being handed over to owners. The contract lasted from March 2007 to January last year.

Kuwait Projects Sells Gulf Insurance Stake to Fairfax for $208.6 Million - Bloomberg

Kuwait Projects Co. said it sold a 39.2 percent stake in Gulf Insurance Co. to Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. for $208.6 million, according to an e-mailed statement today.

Kuwait projects will hold about 43 percent in the company and Fairfax will own about 41 percent after the completion of the deal, it said. The stake was sold at 900 fils a share, it said.

Abu Dhabi Debt Poised for Best Quarter in Year on Economy: Islamic Finance - Bloomberg

Abu Dhabi bonds are heading for their best quarter in a year. Union Investment and LCF Edmond de Rothschild CI Ltd. say investors are ready to snap up any new issue from the oil-rich Persian Gulf emirate.

The government’s 6.75 percent dollar-denominated non- Islamic notes due April 2019 have returned 6.6 percent, set for the biggest quarterly gain since September 2009, and more than the 6 percent increase for Qatar’s 5.25 percent debt maturing in January 2020, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Dubai’s sukuk, or bonds that comply with Shariah law’s ban on interest, returned 6.3 percent and yielded 6.34 percent on Sept. 17.

Speculation is growing that Abu Dhabi, which helped neighboring Dubai avoid a default last year with a $20 billion bailout, may sell its first international securities since April 2009 as the economy expands. Demand for Abu Dhabi’s debt due in 2019 has pushed yields down to 3.86 percent, or 11 basis points less than similar-rated securities from Qatar. Abu Dhabi’s government met investors in Europe last week to brief them on the sheikhdom’s budget and economy, two people familiar with the meetings said.

Iraq, Kuwait to Start Joint Investments at Oil Fields Along Common Border - Bloomberg

Iraq and Kuwait will start investing jointly in oil fields along their common border as part of an effort to end their remaining differences, Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.

The neighboring Gulf countries will begin demarcating their land border, Dabbagh said in a statement on his website today.

Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein invaded his southern neighbor in August 1990 after alleging that Kuwait’s northern fields -- Abdali, Bahra, Ratqa, Rawdhatain and Sabriyah -- were siphoning off crude belonging to Iraq. A U.S.-led international coalition ousted Iraqi troops seven months later. A U.S.-led invasion of Iraq then toppled Saddam Hussein from power in 2003.

Burgan Bank appoints Eduardo Eguren as CEO | Reuters

Burgan Bank, one of theleading and most dynamic banks in the state of Kuwait and Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, has announced the appointment of Mr. Eduardo Eguren as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the bank effective 14 September, 2010.

Mr. Eguren brings with him over 25 years of experience in Corporate, Retail and Commercial Banking globally.

Prior to joining the bank, Mr. Eduardo Eguren was CEO, Global Commercial Banking operations of Barclays Plc, London UK .

gulfnews : UAE Exchange plans bank

UAE Exchange Centre, one of the world's largest money exchange and remittance service providers, has applied for a banking licence in India.
Sudhir Kumar Shetty, Chief Operating Officer, told Gulf News in an exclusive interview: "We have applied for a full banking licence in India in April, following the Indian Union Finance Minister's announcement that deserving candidates could apply for new banking licences."
The move could mark a new beginning for the UAE's largest remittance service provider which last year recorded a turnover of $29 billion (Dh106.4 billion).

Stocks not yet pricing in economic reality says Roubini � ArabianMoney

The man who first predicted the US housing crisis still thinks the stock market has not correctly priced in the outlook for the US economy. He gives a 40 per cent chance of a double dip recession. But he says one per cent growth in the second half 2010 is more likely, though still well below the market expectation of 2.5 per cent.

Nouriel Roubini has been forecasting a correction for stock markets for almost a year and will probably be right in the end. Some analysts now reckon quantitative easing policies may have created so much money in the global economy that this will drive stocks back up. But that would mean inflation risk, something that is again not yet priced into stocks at present levels.

Roubini has a point: stocks look fully priced for a very weak US economic outlook, and vulnerable to a correction. Big buyers also do not seem very interested in taking this risk. Gold seems to be the winner!