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Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Standard Chartered eyes US$100 million Middle East private equity deal -

Standard Chartered Bank plans to close a US$100 million private equity deal before the end of this year, its first in the Middle East, a senior executive of the bank said on Wednesday.

"We are working on a lot of deals, our first deal in private equity in this region will be before end 2010," Taimoor Labib, head of private equity, Middle East & North Africa told Reuters, declining to be more specific as the deal is not yet announced.

"Our bank has the appetite for MENA assets, we have cash on our balance sheet and we do not have to worry about third party funds," he said.

Reuters Summit-Saudi bourse unlikely to fully open soon | Reuters

Saudi Arabia wants to attract more foreign investments to its bourse but is unlikely to fully open up the biggest Arab bourse and allow full ownership anytime soon, executives told the Reuters Middle East Investment summit.

The Saudi bourse -- the region's largest and most liquid stock market -- has gradually opened up to foreigners but does not allow foreign funds to directly own and trade Saudis shares.

'I don't think they will do anything soon,' said Hisham Tuffaha, head of investment research and financial analysis at Saudi investment bank Bakheet Investment Group."

Batelco Q3 net profit falls 24 percent | Reuters

Bahrain Telecommunications BTEL.BH (Batelco) posted on Wednesday a 24 percent fall in third-quarter profits due to lower revenues in its home market.

The company said in a statement that net profit in the quarter ended Sept. 30 was 19.3 million dinars ($51.19 million), compared to 25.3 million dinars in the year-earlier quarter. ($1=.3770 dinar)"

UPDATE 1-Bahrain's Ahli United Q3 net surges 63 pct | Reuters

Bahrain's largest bank, Ahli United Bank AUBB.BH (AUB>, posted on Wednesday a 63 percent rise in third-quarter profits on higher income and lower loan provisions.

The bank said in a statement net profit in the quarter ended Sept. 30 was $65.2 million compared to $40.1 million in the year-earlier quarter.

Banks in the Gulf Arab region have posted higher quarterly profit as their books are not as burdened with provisions against bad loans as during 2009, the peak of the financial crisis in the Gulf.

Iraq May Get $4.2 Trillion From Oilfield Developments, Shahristani Says - Bloomberg

Iraq may earn $4.2 trillion in revenue from oil fields being developed by international companies after rights for production from the deposits were auctioned last year, Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said.

The fields, whose development rights were assigned after two bid rounds held last year, will produce 60 billion barrels of oil, he said. The Iraqi government will get 99 percent of the revenue from those deposits, al-Shahristani said today opening the country’s third hydrocarbon bid round in Baghdad.

Reuters Summit-Abu Dhabi eyes foreign buys in 2011-HSBC | Reuters

The emirate of Abu Dhabi is on the prowl for international acquisitions and is eyeing deals in the energy and hospitality sectors in 2011, a senior executive at HSBC Middle East (HSBA.L) said.

Declan Hegarty, managing director and head of HSBC's Abu Dhabi office, also said he expects regional bond issuance to hit $40 billion in 2011 in contrast to about $35 billion last year.

"There are a number of entities in Abu Dhabi who are considering acquisitions that are consistent with 2030," Hegarty told the Reuters Middle East Investment summit, referring to the emirate's Plan 2030 strategic development blueprint.

Dubai Shares Drop to Two-Week Low on China Interest Rates, Recovery Risk - Bloomberg

Dubai shares dropped to the lowest level in almost two weeks, leading a decline in Persian Gulf markets, after China unexpectedly raised interest rates, stoking concern policy tightening may slow the global economic recovery.

Emaar Properties PJSC, builder of the world’s tallest skyscraper, led the drop and Dubai Islamic Bank lost 1.7 percent. The DFM General Index retreated 1.2 percent to 1,724.17, the lowest intraday level since Oct. 10, at 11:21 a.m. in Dubai, trimming gains in the second half to 18 percent. Abu Dhabi’s index fell the most in more than two months, slipping 1 percent after Emirates Telecommunications Corp. said third- quarter profit dropped 23 percent. The Bloomberg GCC 200 Index declined 0.3 percent.

“A paucity of any independent United Arab Emirates drivers means the DFM and ADX remain hitched to global markets,” said Julian Bruce, director of equity sales at EFG-Hermes Holding SAE in Dubai.

DGCX & Dow Jones Indexes to launch new futures products -

Dow Jones Indexes, a leading global index provider, and Dubai Gold & Commodities Exchange (DGCX), have entered into a license agreement pursuant to which DGCX aims to list futures contracts on Dow Jones-branded indexes including the Dow Jones Islamic Market Titans 100 Index.

The license agreement represents the commitment and collaboration between the two companies for DGCX to bring futures trading in regional and Islamic blue-chip indexes to the Middle East and for Dow Jones Indexes to make those indexes readily available in that market. The first product expected to launch on DGCX is the Dow Jones Islamic Market Titans 100 Index Future, which is subject to regulatory approval. The Islamic index represents the top 100 blue-chip, Shari’ah compliant stocks globally.

“This agreement with DGCX reflects growing investor interest in the Middle East generally and in Islamic finance, which in turn is increasing the demand for unique concepts and products in passive investing,” said Michael A. Petronella, president, Dow Jones Indexes. “The Dow Jones Islamic Market Titans 100 index is an ideal tool for measuring the performance of the largest 100 Shari’ah-compliant companies globally. Our Islamic index family is recognized worldwide as the standard in Shari'ah compliant investing," Petronella added.

Qatar most preferred equity mkt in GCC

Twenty-five brokers published 288 research notes on 133 companies during 3Q10, compared to the 270 research notes on 110 companies published in 2Q10, according to a recent report by Kuwait Financial Centre “Markaz” on GCC Equity Research Statistics... During this quarter, 19 percent of all GCC companies received research coverage, representing 71 percent of the total market cap. Saudi Arabia, which continued to attract the most attention, accounted for 45 percent of research notes and 40 percent of the companies covered. A wave of optimism continued in GCC markets, with 55 percent “Buy” calls, 36 percent “Hold” calls, and 10 percent “Sell” calls.

The market cap of researched companies in Saudi Arabia accounted for 90 percent of the domestic market capitalization. This was followed by UAE (63 percent), Kuwait (59 percent), Oman (58 percent), Qatar (47 percent) and Bahrain (41 percent). The proportion of “Buy” ratings in Saudi Arabia increased to 50 percent in 3Q10 from 45 percent in 2Q10.

Qatar remained the most preferred equity market, with all 19 research notes during 3Q10 receiving “Buy” ratings. On the flip side, Kuwait recorded the maximum sell ratings. The market accounted for 39 percent of the 28 “Sell” ratings during the quarter. Furthermore, 33 percent of the research notes covered in Kuwait were assigned “Sell” ratings, higher than other GCC markets. In Bahrain, the contribution of “Buy” ratin

Kuwait-led consortium wins 2nd Iraq gas field -

Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani says a consortium grouping Kuwait Energy and the Turkish Petroleum International Co. has won the right to develop the 1.1 trillion cubic feet Siba gas field.

The Kuwaiti-Turkish consortium beat out Kazakhstan's KazMunaiGas EP JSC with an offer of $7.50 per barrel of oil equivalent and a targeted plateau production of 100 million cubic feet per day from the field that sits near Iraq's border with Kuwait and Iran.

Kuwait Energy chief executive Sara Akbar said the company's winning bid represents a "turning point in relation between the two countries, and their improvement in the future."

Qatar drops huge Greek energy project - Maktoob Business

Qatar has dropped plans to build a 3.5 billion euro ($4.82 billion) energy hub in Greece, a Greek official said on Wednesday, a setback for Greek hopes to receive up to $5 billion in investment from the cash-rich Arab emirate.

"The two Qatari companies involved, Qatar Petroleum and the Qatar Investment Authority could not agree with their Greek partners on the viability of the project," deputy foreign minister Spyros Kouvelis told Flash radio.

The two countries signed in May a non-binding memorandum to explore the possibility of building a complex of LNG terminals and a power station to export electricity to Italy.

UAE Central Bank assets rise to Dh214bn

Access to credit remains closely controlled as the Central Bank continues its tight hold on lending, its monthly bulletin shows.

The Central Bank bulletin showed its total assets ran to Dh214 billion (US$58.26bn) in July, up more than Dh12bn, or 6 per cent, on June. That was a rise of 5 per cent since the start of the year.

And the bank has seen its foreign assets rise sharply to their highest since the end of last year - to Dh100bn in July, from Dh83bn June.

Saudi economy back on track

The Saudi economy is back, but not with a bang. The experts agree the kingdom is recovering nicely from the aftermath of the financial crisis two years ago, and looks ready to resume its role as the dynamo of regional economic growth.

But there are "variables" that could affect the rate of recovery and global perception of the Middle East's biggest but most enigmatic business centre.

A recent report from Banque Saudi Fransi (BSF) underlined the good news: business confidence is on the rise again. After a dip in the third quarter this year, largely because of worries about euro zone and sovereign debt fears, executives are more optimistic again.

New PE funds and investment deals give the Middle East hope

Private equity firms revealed a flurry of new funds and investment deals this week, raising hopes that activity will pick up in the Middle East after the financial crisis stunted growth and raised the spectre of a string of closures because of poor returns.

Industry players ranging from Citadel Capital of Egypt to the Abu Dhabi companies The National Investor, Invest AD and National Bank of Abu Dhabi, are grasping at signs of a recovery in global and regional markets as they contemplate raising new money and selling off some of their stakes.

"I firmly believe we're just about to turn the corner and get into a rather interesting few years up ahead," Ammar Alkhudairy, the managing director of Amwal AlKhaleej in Saudi Arabia, said at a private equity conference in Abu Dhabi. "When it's darkest is when opportunities become manifest."

Nobel laureate joins Central Bank

A Nobel Prize-winning economist who lay the groundwork for the creation of the euro is part of a team of international experts hired by the UAE Central Bank to guide future financial policy.

Nobel laureate Professor Robert Mundell and Sir John Bond, a former group chief executive and chairman of the UK banking giant HSBC, have been appointed to the newly formed International Advisory Council.

Dr David Dodge, a former governor of the Bank of Canada, and Dr Joseph Yam, the executive vice-president of the China Society for Finance and Banking, take the other seats on the council.

Rubenstein Says Emerging Markets to Get Higher Private Equity Investments - Bloomberg

David Rubenstein, co-founder of the Carlyle Group, said emerging markets will get higher private equity investments.

He said no emerging market can compete with China for private equity deals, while Brazil and India will also attract investments. Rubenstein was speaking in Abu Dhabi today.

Mumtalakat CEO Says Saudi Sabic Won't Sell Aluminium Bahrain Stake in IPO - Bloomberg

ahrain Mumtalakat Holding, which plans to offer 11.5 percent in Aluminuim Bahrain to the public, said Saudi Basic Industries Corp. has no plans to sell its stake in the smelter.

Mumtalakat Chief Executive Officer Talal al-Zain made the comment to Al Arabiya television in an interview aired today.

Abu Dhabi developers focus on project completions -

Abu Dhabi's property market is set for another year of consolidation in 2011 and the supply of high-end homes over the next 15 months will do little to address a shortage in mid-income housing, an executive said on Tuesday.

Developers in the emirate will continue with the completion and handover projects next year while some 8,000 higher-end homes are set to hit the market by end-2011, Gurjit Singh, chief operating officer at Sorouh Real Estate, told the Reuters Middle East Investment Summit in Dubai.

"The undersupply that is focused on in Abu Dhabi... is predominantly middle income and therefore is a gap that needs to be filled," he said, adding that Abu Dhabi's government was encouraging more middle income rental housing projects.

Turkmenistan: Ashgabat Unlikely to Supply Southern Pipeline - Diplomat |

The top US diplomat dealing with Caspian energy issues remains certain that a “southern corridor” taking natural gas from the Caspian Basin to Europe will be built. But the envoy added that Turkmenistan is unlikely to be one of the countries supplying the gas.

“I'm as convinced as ever that there will be a southern corridor,” Richard Morningstar, US special envoy for Eurasian energy, said during a recent appearance at the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute in Washington, DC. A long-awaited sales and transit agreement signed in June between Azerbaijan and Turkey “certainly opens the door to that,” Morningstar said. “There is a lot of work to be done, but there will be a southern corridor.”

Morningstar said the United States still prefers the larger Nabucco pipeline to the smaller ITGI (Interconnector Turkey-Greece-Italy) and TAP (Trans-Adriatic Pipeline) projects. “In the abstract, Nabucco would be the preferable project. It's most advantageous from a political standpoint, from a strategic standpoint.”
But questions remain, he acknowledged, over where the gas would come from to fill the capacity of Nabucco.