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Monday, 22 November 2010

Areva's planned capital hike could stall-reports | Energy & Oil | Reuters

French nuclear reactor maker (CEPFi.PA: Quote) may have to postpone a supervisory board meeting on its planned capital increase, threatening to stall the process, French dailies Le Figaro and Les Echos reported on Monday.

The three expected investors -- sovereign funds from Qatar and Kuwait as well as Japanese group Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (7011.T: Quote) -- have not submitted their offers yet, which may prevent the meeting from taking place early this week as planned, the papers said, without quoting any sources.

Last Monday, sources close to the matter said a deadline for offers to take part in the capital increase had been put back by a week to Nov. 22, while the board meeting was expected to be postponed to Nov. 23."

Property rebound boosts UAE bourses

UAE markets closed in positive territory as a rebound in property stocks pushed shares higher, but an air of caution still hangs.

Arabtec and Emaar Properties, the builder of the world's tallest building, were some of the most actively traded stocks on the Dubai exchange and rose 0.5 per cent to Dh1.92 and 1.3 per cent to Dh3.76 respectively.

In Abu Dhabi, the property sector also enjoyed renewed positive investor sentiment and Sorouh increased 1.21 per cent to Dh1.67. Shares in Rak Properties gained 2.13 per cent to Dh0.48."

Abu Dhabi 'AA/A-1+' sovereign ratings affirmed by S&P -

Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said today that it has affirmed its 'AA' long-term and 'A-1+' short-term sovereign credit ratings on the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, a member of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The outlook is stable. Our Transfer & Convertibility assessment is unchanged at 'AA+'.

"The ratings on Abu Dhabi are supported by the government's very strong asset position, which provides significant financial flexibility, and that has allowed the emirate--through strong countercyclical policies and preemptive support to the financial sector--to face the global economic downturn with a high degree of resilience," said Standard & Poor's credit analyst Luc Marchand.

Qatar Telecom to Buy 50% Tunisiana Stake With Princesse for $1.2 Billion - Bloomberg

Qatar Telecom QSC, the country’s largest company, and Princesse Holding of Tunisia agreed to buy 50 percent of Telecom Tunisie for $1.2 billion from Egypt’s Orascom Telecom Holding, which is looking to cut debt.

Qatar Telecom’s unit Wataniya Telecom signed an agreement with a group led by Princesse Holding, a closely held company based in Tunis, to purchase the stake, Qatar Telecom said in an e-mailed statement today. Wataniya already holds 50 percent of Telecom Tunisie, or Tunisiana, as the North African country’s biggest private telecommunications company is called.

The deal won’t hamper a planned $6.5 billion merger between Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris-controlled Orascom Telecom’s parent company, Weather Investments SpA, and Russia’s VimpelCom Ltd. to create the world’s fifth-largest telecommunications group by subscribers. Orascom and VimpleCom said today that they support the Tunisian deal.

$23bn worth Qatari bonds traded on global market

Qatar has ranked second in the Gulf region in terms of the value of its bonds traded on the international market. The value of the Qatari bonds traded on the global market totalled a whopping $23bn.

The United Arab Emirates ranked first with $55bn worth of bonds traded on the global markets, according to a study which has been conducted based on statistics released by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). The figures were released by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Al Sharq reported yesterday.

The increase in the value of Qatari bonds forced the UAE to maintain transparency and competitiveness. The emirates had to reduce costs, said the study. The presence of strong bonds and Sukuk markets in the UAE enables certain things such as securitization to create bonds backed by the mortgage market and put housing loans and financial brokerage activities at the level of developed countries.

Sukuk Drop Most Since May as Ireland Crisis Deters Funds: Islamic Finance - Bloomberg

Islamic bonds slumped last week by the most since May as Ireland sought aid to shore up its banking system, reducing demand for the yield premium available on sukuk and damping the outlook for new sales.

Average yields climbed 22 basis points to 4.88 percent, according to the HSBC/NASDAQ Dubai US Dollar Sukuk Index. Trading volumes declined because of the holiday in the Persian Gulf from Nov. 15 to Nov. 18 to celebrate the Muslim festival of Eid-al-Adha, according to Kuala Lumpur-based CIMB-Principal Islamic Asset Management Bhd.

Sales of Islamic bonds, which pay asset returns to comply with the religion’s ban on interest, slumped this year due to debt restructurings and falling property prices in the Middle East. The sell-off may persist through to the year-end as investors seek safer securities on concern European governments will struggle to finance budget deficits, said Zeid Ayer, a portfolio manager at CIMB-Principal.

'Speculative' property loans may double UAE banks' bad debt: IIF - Emirates24|7

Overexposure to the "highly speculative" real estate sector and highly leveraged companies has eroded asset quality of UAE banks, and the percentage of bad loans on the country's banks' books could go up to as much as 10 per cent, according to the Washington-based Institute of International Finance (IIF).

The ratio of non-performing loans (NPLs) to total loans has almost doubled from 2008 to 2009 in Kuwait and the UAE, and is expected to increase further this year, the IIF maintains in its regional overview of the GCC economies.

The institute reckons that the UAE's NPL ratio, which was at 2.5 per cent in 2008, surged to 4.8 per cent in 2009 and is forecast to reach 8.2 per cent by the end of this year. It could rise even further next year but are likely to remain below 10 per cent, according to Dr Garbis Iradian, Deputy Director (Africa/ME Department) with the IIF, and co-author of the report.

gulfnews : Federal-level rating could expand UAE's investor base

Global credit rating agency Standard & Poor's is keen on expanding its sovereign ratings services in the Middle East. Although the agency rates the emirates of Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah separately, it does not rate the UAE federation as a sovereign.

In a recent interview with Gulf News Moritz Kraemer, S&P's head of sovereign ratings for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said the absence of a sovereign rating for the federation will be an obstacle to widening the investor base for the country as a single unit.

S&P has assigned an AA rating for Abu Dhabi and an A rating for the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. Although Dubai had expressed its interest in getting a credit rating for itself in the past, prior to its recent bond issue, the emirate's Department of Finance said this was not the right time for credit rating. The unrated issue was four times subscribed and priced at a yield of 6.7 per cent on the $500 million (Dh1.8 billion) five-year tranche and 7.75 per cent for the $750 million 10-year tenor with spreads of 542.7 and 527 basis points respectively, over US Treasuries.

gulfnews : Sound strategy needed to avoid new downturn

The world economy has not yet recovered from the 2008 downturn and unless leaders and thinkers worldwide come up with a universal solution, more countries will be negatively impacted, Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, UAE Minister of Economy, warned.

Al Mansouri told Gulf News that the three-day Summit on the Global Agenda in Dubai will be a platform for more than 700 thinkers and leaders from all over the world to discuss global issues.

The summit will begin on Sunday and will continue until December 1. The discussions will form the basis for action that will be planned at the annual meetings of the World Economic Forum in Davos-Klosters next year.

gulfnews : Despite tough times elsewhere, DIFC continues to lure more banks

The global financial crisis saw the demise of several powerful international banking institutions across the world, and the survivors drastically reduced their international operations. Despite such a severe squeeze on the international financial services industry and the negative publicity Dubai attracted following the credit crisis, there has been no let-up in the number of new international banks starting operations in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

"We have not seen any big institution shutting operations here following the crisis. On the contrary we saw many large international banks opening their offices. Currently we are working on a plan to reduce the cost of doing business from the DIFC. We are looking at a range of measures such as reduction in rents, fees and service charges," said Abdullah Al Awar, the Chief Executive of the DIFC Authority.

Even with the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, the bank did not end its operation in the DIFC. Rebranded under the Nomura nomenclature, it continues operating. Global level restructuring of some of the institutions saw some amount of downsizing across many institutions. Dresdner Bank closed its offices at the DIFC after its merger with Commerzbank, which already had space in the centre.

Appetite for IPOs looks healthier

More Gulf companies are considering going public as valuations improve and firms look to redraw their growth strategies after the global financial crisis.

The investment bank Rothschild is helping up to four firms in the GCC including companies in the UAE and Kuwait to launch initial public offerings (IPOs) from next year.

'Valuations are improving,' said Paul Reynolds, the managing director and head of debt and equity advisory at Rothschild Middle East at an event about family business IPOs in Dubai yesterday. 'More importantly people are back thinking about how to develop their businesses and how they scale them up and take advantage of the global trends.'"

Ras al Khaimah offers to buy back debt worth Dh2.2bn

The Government of Ras al Khaimah is offering to buy back up to Dh2.2 billion (US$599 million) of debt in a bid to extend repayment of its borrowings and better co-ordinate its issuance of bonds and other debt.

The move comes as governments and companies across the Gulf vie to refinance old debts and push forward maturities to avoid a repeat of Dubai's debt crisis.

The offer, disclosed yesterday on the website of NASDAQ Dubai, will allow investors in $325m of Islamic bonds maturing in 2012 to either sell them for cash to the Ras al Khaimah Government's Investment and Development Office (IDO)or exchange them for new bonds issued by RAK Capital that mature in 2016."