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Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Dubai Shares Climb as Arabtec Gains, Global Markets Advance; Oman Retreats - Bloomberg

Dubai shares rose for a second time this week as Arabtec jumped the most in four months and stocks advanced globally. Other gulf markets declined.

Arabtec Holding Co., the biggest builder in the United Arab Emirates, advanced to the highest since May 30 after its Saudi unit won a 5 billion-riyal ($1.33 billion) order. Emaar Properties PJSC, the builder of the world’s tallest tower and the company with the heaviest weighting in the Dubai Financial Market General Index, gained the most in more than a week. The Dubai benchmark increased 0.2 percent to 1,689.71 at the 2 p.m. close in the emirate.

“Positive sentiment from abroad pulls buyers gradually into the market,” said Amro Halwani, a trader at Shuaa Capital PSC in Riyadh. “Arabtec’s positive news also helped spur fund inflows into the sector.”

Abu Dhabi National Petroleum Studies West Africa, Central Asia Investments - Bloomberg

National Petroleum Construction Co., an Abu Dhabi government-controlled oil-services company, will hire a management consultant this month to help it look for opportunities in West Africa and Central Asia.

“We are looking at Nigeria, Ghana and Angola in West Africa, and Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan in Central Asia,” Chief Executive Officer Aqeel Madhi said in an interview in Abu Dhabi today. “Billions are being invested in those areas, and we want a share. We would like to establish a shipyard and service the local market.”

National Petroleum is joining Abu Dhabi’s other state-run companies in considering expansion as the city increases its presence abroad. Mubadala Development Co. and International Petroleum Investment Co. have spent the oil-rich emirate’s energy revenue on overseas assets ranging from stakes in General Electric Co. to shares in exploration projects and refineries.

Al Rajhi Capital launches Luxembourg fund for investment in Saudi Arabian Equity Market

Al Rajhi Capital, the investment-banking subsidiary of Al Rajhi Bank and a leading asset manager in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, announced the launch of the Al Rajhi Saudi Equity Fund, a Specialized Investment Fund (SIF) established under Luxembourg law.

The open-ended, Shariah-compliant fund offers international investors access to Saudi Arabia's Stock Market, which is the largest in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region with a market capitalization of approximately USD 336 billion. It is also among the fastest growing markets having gone from only 62 listed companies four years ago to approximately 146 listed companies today.

The Fund will be offered to investors through Credit Suisse's Expert Investor SICAV-SIF and overseen by Luxembourg's regulatory authority, the Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier. It is targeted at professional, institutional and other well-informed investors across Europe and the Middle East.

Bahrain's Mumtalakat to float 11.47 pct Alba stake in IPO | Reuters

Bahrain's sovereign wealth fund Mumtalakat plans to float up to 11.47 percent of its stake in Aluminium Bahrain [ALNUB.UL] (Alba) in an initial public offering (IPO) planned for later this year.

In a statement on Tuesday, Alba said Mumtalakat plans to sell up to 163 million ordinary shares in the firm. An Alba spokesman said the company had 1.42 billion shares outstanding.

Mumtalakat owns a 77 percent stake in Alba, with Saudi Basic Industries 2010.SE (SABIC) holding a minority stake."

Dubai trade still running more than 25% below 2008 levels � ArabianMoney

Dubai has reported a 17 per cent bounce in direct trade to AED328 billion in the first seven months of 2010 but this is still more than 25 per cent below the boom of 2008 and only back to 2007 levels.

When first published the total direct trade in the emirate stood at AED214 billion for Q1 2008. This figure was revised to AED143.8 by the Dubai Statistical Center in its recent report to present a 16 per cent downturn in trade for Q1 2009, while the original data would show a 44% collapse in trade in Q1 last year.

Batelco pursues Zain in Saudi Arabia

Batelco Group could be in the running for Zain's Saudi Arabian mobile operations if Etisalat's US$10.5 billion (Dh38.56bn) offer to take control of Zain is successful, says the company's group chief executive. Etisalat's proposed offer to buy 46 per cent of Zain faces its greatest challenge in Saudi Arabia, where the two companies already have licences. The kingdom's telecommunications regulators are unlikely to accept a merger of the two operators because it would create an unintended duopoly.

Peter Kaliaropoulos, the group chief executive of Batelco, said the operator would be interested in obtaining Zain Saudi Arabia but only at the right price. "We're certainly interested in certain Middle Eastern assets and we're looking for all opportunities in the Middle East to invest in," said Mr Kaliaropoulos. Etisalat's bid of 1.7 Kuwaiti dinars, valuing the transaction at about $10.5bn, would give it control of Zain since 10 per cent of the shares are controlled by the operator's treasury department.

Analysts have observed that both Qatar Telecom and Batelco are the only regional operators that could make a legitimate play for Zain's Saudi Arabian assets. Yesterday, Bloomberg reported that the National Bank of Kuwait, the country's biggest lender, was in parallel talks to help find a buyer for Zain Saudi Arabia. A Dubai-based telecoms analyst who asked not to be identified said that acquiring the mobile telephone assets of Zain inside Saudi Arabia would enhance Batelco's position within the kingdom. - Dubai finds itself between Hollywood and reality

When I read that the fourth movie in the Mission Impossible series would soon be filming in Dubai, my mind went back to a conversation I had with a local official a few years ago.

Notice, he said, how often Dubai’s name was being mentioned in Hollywood movies. He pointed to this as evidence that the city-state had most definitely become a player on the international stage.

The conversation took place during the days of Dubai’s rise. As boom turned to bust and the global financial crisis struck, Dubai probably wished it had never made it to Hollywood. - Oman walks energy balance tightrope

On the face of it, the outlook is not good. Oman has reserves of only 5.5bn barrels of oil in place, compared with 267bn in Saudi Arabia and 104bn in Kuwait, according to the US Energy Information Administration. That means that Saudi Arabia has almost 50 times as much oil as its southern neighbour.

A quick calculation might then suggest that at current rates of production of more than 800,000 barrels a day, and standard rates of recoverability, the sultanate only has sufficient oil in place to last for the next 10 years.

However the basis of that quick calculation would be misguided, say experts. - Sultan keeps Oman guessing over successor

Of all the Gulf states Oman is the most individualistic. Set outside the Straits of Hormuz, the country looks over the Indian Ocean to east Africa and beyond. Unlike its peers, the sultanate is not a member of the Opec oil cartel and has said explicitly that it will not join a single Gulf currency.

Nor does the sultanate have the same hydrocarbon reserves as its neighbours.

With a population of 3.1m, 1.5m of them expatriates, Oman’s reserves stand at only 5.5bn barrels, according to US Energy Information Administration. This is a fraction of the oil available to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Qatar's Companies Sell Debt for Expansion After Cost of Borrowing Declines - Bloomberg

Qatari companies are taking advantage of declining borrowing costs as the Persian Gulf country with stakes in J Sainsbury Plc. and Volkswagen AG seeks to raise funds for expansion.

Qatar Telecom QSC hired banks last week to set up meetings with investors after the Chief Executive Officer Nasser Marafih said in May it may buy stakes in foreign operators. Qatar Islamic Bank SAQ Sept. 30 raised $750 million from the sale of five-year Islamic bonds after receiving orders for $6 billion. Demand was higher than for Dubai’s sovereign issue. Qatar Aviation Lease Co. asked lenders to halve the interest margin on a $650 million loan, a person familiar with the transaction said Sept. 23.

“The main driver really is the fact that the interest rate cycles are low,” said Kapil Chadda, Dubai-based managing director of financial institutions at HSBC Holdings Plc. “These guys are poised for continued growth, although it may be muted at this time. They feel it’s a good time to go to the market.”

Oman sees 2010 budget surplus of $1bn - Arab News

Oman's government is expected to post a budget surplus of around $1 billion this year due to higher-than-expected oil prices, a senior Economy Ministry official said on Monday.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a larger fiscal surplus this year, while the Gulf Arab sultanate had budgeted for a deficit.

Most states in the world's top oil exporting region are expected to run budget surpluses this year despite increased spending as oil prices remain well above assumptions.

National Bonds Sees 30% Growth as Women, Immigrants Save: Islamic Finance - Bloomberg

National Bonds Corp. sees asset growth of as much as 30 percent in the next two years as the Dubai government-controlled Islamic fund manager targets women and immigrants, typically ignored by banks.

The Shariah-compliant company, with about 5 billion dirhams ($1.4 billion) under management, plans to introduce savings plans for the country’s female population and retirement funds for the United Arab Emirates’ 6.5 million foreign workers, Chief Executive Officer Mohammed Qasim Al Ali said in an interview.

“There is a big vacuum when it comes to saving in the U.A.E.,” Al Ali said in an interview in Dubai Sept. 28. “We’re brainstorming with our Shariah board to launch new funds to target different segments of the society that have been ignored by commercial banks.”