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Monday, 27 September 2010

Dubai Property Transactions Amount to $2.62 Billion in First Half 2010 - Bloomberg

Dubai real-estate transactions totaled 9.63 billion dirhams ($2.62 billion) in the first six months of the year, about half the amount for all of 2009, according to government data.

Dubai’s Land Department recorded 1,188 sales in the first half compared with a 2009 total of 2,327, the government said in a bond prospectus published on the London Stock Exchange today. The document didn’t provide figures for the first half of 2009.

The deepest global financial crisis since the 1930s led Dubai property prices to slump more than 50 percent from their peak in August 2008 as frozen credit markets force the country’s largest mortgage providers, Tamweel PJSC and Amlak Finance PJSC, to stop lending.

FT.com - Moderation earns Markaz a healthy return

There is no Arab version of Aesop’s fable of the tortoise and the hare, but Manaf Alhajeri, chief executive of Kuwaiti investment bank Markaz, is a fan of the morality of the tale.

While much of Kuwait’s investment company sector went on a debt-fuelled spree, swelling balance sheets dramatically over the past decade, Markaz followed a more moderate course, and stuck largely to traditional strengths in asset management and advisory work.

When the financial crisis engulfed the region towards the end of 2008, the bank swiftly recognised its losses – the majority mark-to-market losses on money kept in funds it manages on behalf of investors. As a result, Markaz has emerged as one of the very few relatively healthy investment companies in Kuwait.

FT.com / Technology / Science - Saudi Arabia takes westward academic turn

Saudi Arabia has for several years used the proceeds of bumper oil production to build new universities, upgrade existing institutions and send thousands of students abroad on generous scholarships.

Many of its peers in the Gulf, meanwhile, have chosen to open branches of western universities, such as Georgetown in Qatar and the Sorbonne in Abu Dhabi. In contrast, Saudi Arabia has invested in the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, a research-orientated graduate school backed by an endowment of $10bn.

Now the kingdom looks set to emulate its neighbours. Last week, the country’s General Investment Authority (Sagia) signed a letter of intent with Georgia Institute of Technology of the US to build a centre to provide applied research degrees. The institute aims to be the first to offer foreign-accredited, postgraduate research degrees inside the kingdom.

FT.com - Dubai confirms plan for bond issue

Dubai has confirmed that it plans to launch a dollar-denominated sovereign bond, the first since the scale of the regional business hub’s debt problems dramatically surfaced last November.

The government said in a statement on Monday that it would launch the bond “shortly”, adding that the proceeds would be used for general budgetary purposes. It did not say how big the bond would be, but bankers say the emirate is looking to raise around $1bn with maturities of up to seven years.

The planned launch comes amid improving sentiment following a recent agreement with creditors to restructure $23.5bn of debts of Dubai World, the government-owned conglomerate.

Kuwait interested in strategic stake in IOC | Reuters

Crude oil prices are likely to be between $75 and $80 per barrel in the first quarter of 2011, Kuwaiti Oil Minister Sheikh Ahmad al-Abdullah al-Sabah said on Monday.

Sheikh Ahmad also said Kuwait was interested in acquiring a strategic stake in state-run Indian Oil Corp, subject to economic feasibility.

On Sept. 6, India's Oil Secretary S. Sundareshan said the Indian government planned to sell a 10 percent stake in IOC, the country's biggest state-run refiner.

Sheikh Ahmed also said Kuwait was keen to keep its stake in BP (BP.N) at current levels."

Dubai Shares Drop on Concern 15% Gain This Month Is Overdone; Emaar Falls - Bloomberg

Dubai shares declined for the first time in three days on speculation recent gains are overdone given growth prospects in the emirate.

Emaar Properties PJSC, builder of the world’s tallest tower, retreated 1.8 percent after Standard & Poor’s affirmed its negative rating on the stock. Emirates NBD PJSC, the United Arab Emirates’ biggest bank by assets, lost the most in more than two months. The DFM General Index slid 1 percent to 1,699.12 at the 2 p.m. close in Dubai. The Bloomberg GCC 200 Index slipped 0.2 percent at 2:51 p.m.

Dubai’s measure jumped 15 percent this month including a 6.7 percent gain since Dubai World, one of three main holding companies, said Sept. 10 that 99 percent of creditors agreed to alter the terms on $24.9 billion of debt. Twenty-one shares including Emaar were added to the FTSE’s Global Equity Index after the close on Sept. 17 as the U.A.E. was classified as a secondary emerging market, also helping push up local stocks this month.

S&P cuts Dubai free zone's credit rating | Reuters

Standard & Poor's downgraded Dubai's Jebel Ali Free Zone's (JAFZ) credit rating on Monday, citing uncertainty over its role in the debt restructuring of parent Dubai World. [ID:nWLA3880]

State-owned Dubai World [DBWLD.UL] this month obtained near-unanimous agreement from its bank creditors to restructure almost $25 billion in debt, which analysts said eased market uncertainty. [ID:nLDE6890IT]

The agency downgraded JAFZ's debt rating to B from B+ after placing it under "negative implications" in November last year. S&P also cited the "challenge" arising from the refinancing of JAFZ's 7.5 billion UAE dirham ($2.04 billion) Islamic bond in November 2012.

Dubai Steps Up Effort to Spur Economy With Tamweel Takeover - Bloomberg

Dubai’s government has stepped up efforts to spur the emirate’s economy, allowing Dubai Islamic Bank PJSC to purchase a majority stake in mortgage company Tamweel PJSC with the aim of reviving lending.

The decision follows the announcement on Sept. 10 by Dubai World, one of the emirate’s three main state-controlled holding companies, of a deal with more than 99 percent of its creditors to alter the terms on $24.9 billion of debt. Dubai International Capital LLC, which is part of Dubai Holding LLC, another of the three holding companies, has proposed to sell assets over five years to repay $2.6 billion, two people familiar with the plan said Sept. 15.

The deepest global financial crisis since the 1930s led to a 50 percent slump in Dubai property prices from their peak in August 2008, according to estimates from Colliers International. Frozen credit markets blocked Tamweel’s and Amlak Finance PJSC’s access to funds and forced what were once the two biggest mortgage lenders in Dubai to stop lending.

Emaar Is Well-Positioned to Face Challenging Real-Estate Market, S&P Says - Bloomberg

Emaar Properties PJSC, the United Arab Emirates’ biggest developer, is relatively well positioned to face the challenging domestic real-estate market, Standard & Poor’s said.

Emaar is helped by the “high quality of its rental and hospitality assets and the relatively low remaining exposure to development and cash collection risk,” the rating company said in a research note today. S&P kept the rating on Emaar BB/Negative.

“The negative outlook reflects our view of the challenging property market conditions in Dubai, together with Emaar’s weak liquidity and short debt maturity profile,” S&P said. “Failure to lengthen debt maturities could lead to a downgrade.”

Money laundering claims prompt US investigation - The National Newspaper

US authorities are to begin an inquiry into allegations of large-scale money laundering involving Middle East and US financial institutions.

The House of Representatives, the lower house of the US Congress, will hold its first hearing on global money laundering tomorrow under the heading “A review of current and evolving trends in terrorism financing”, according to the House website.

The House Committee on Financial Services will hear evidence from witnesses concerning the movement of US$1 trillion (Dh3.67tn) of funds between Middle East financial institutions and US banks over a six-year period up to early last year."

Dubai, Qatar Islamic Revive Gulf Debt Sales to Year High: Islamic Finance - Bloomberg

The Dubai government and Qatar Islamic Bank SAQ are among issuers leading the biggest Persian Gulf borrowing push since the fourth quarter, a sign Dubai World’s debt restructuring is reviving confidence in the region.

Dubai may sell $1 billion next week in its first bond sale in a year, two bankers familiar with the plan said Sept. 23. Qatar Islamic Bank plans to offer its first dollar sukuk and will start meeting investors in the Middle East, Asia and Europe, it said last week. Chief Executive Officer Salah Mohammed Jaidah said May 19 the bank may issue as much as $750 million of notes that comply with the religion’s ban on interest.

The sales would push Gulf issuance to more than $9 billion in the third quarter, the most since the $16 billion raised in the final three months of 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The extra yield investors demand to hold Dubai’s sovereign dollar sukuk rather than Malaysia’s has narrowed 46 basis points to 371 this quarter as the region recovered from the worst financial crisis since the 1930s.