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Friday, 30 September 2011

Palestine: managing with fewer levers | beyondbrics –

If you feel sorry for Ben Bernanke (chairman of the US Federal Reserve), who is fast running out of options to save his country’s economy, spare a thought for Jihad al-Wazir. Despite being governor of the Palestinian Monetary Authority, al-Wazir has no control over interest rates or money supply.

In an interview with beyond brics in New York this week, we wondered what a central banker does without those fundamental powers?

Al-Wazir had an well-worn answer: “When people think of a central bank, they think that the only tool you have is interests rates, but really you have three.”

UAE billionaire expresses readiness to invest in South Sudan - Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan

A group of investors from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates have expressed their readiness to invest in major projects in South Sudan.

South Sudan became an independent state on 9 July 2011 and still lacks infrastructure and basic services after years of underinvestment and more than two decades of civil war with North Sudan.

On Thursday a Dubai billionaire, Sheikh Buti Saeed Al Ghandi, led a delegation to Juba to assess the investment potentials.

Greek authorities charge 29 over Ferrostaal bribery claim - The National

Greek authorities have charged 29 people with bribery in a case involving Ferrostaal, the German industrial services company part-owned by Abu Dhabi's International Petroleum Investment Company (Ipic).

The charges, filed yesterday, stem from payments allegedly made to secure a German submarine order a decade ago, AFP reported, citing a judicial source.

Ipic paid almost US$700 million (Dh2.57 billion) for a 70 per cent stake in Ferrostaal in 2009 from the German lorry maker MAN. But the company later tried to rescind the deal after German authorities launched an investigation the following year and allegations of bribery emerged. Ipic and MAN are still in a legal fight over the deal in Germany, and Ipic recently hired Morgan Stanley to evaluate the investment.

HSBC given priority in fight for assets of Al Gosaibi business family - The National

HSBC, one of the largest creditors to the indebted Al Gosaibi business family of Saudi Arabia, faces a court battle over property owned by the family in London's wealthy West End.

The bank is one of five that won an order against the Al Gosaibis to repay a total of US$250 million (Dh918.2m) in June, but yesterday a London judge gave HSBC priority over the others to seek repayment of some of its debts from five properties owned by the Al Gosaibis in London's Mayfair district.

The family owes HSBC about US$80m. The other banks are BNP Paribas, British Arab Commercial Bank, Arab Banking Corporation, and Crédit Agricole.

gulfnews : Damas signs several deals to recover funds

Damas International Limited yesterday said it has signed several agreements to recover more than Dh337 million in outstanding payments.

"We have created a taskforce to focus on financial recoveries for the company," said Anan Fakhr Al Deen, CEO of Damas International Limited. "We have concluded several agreements to recover funds from different sources that were owed to us. This is a positive step in our ongoing restructuring and we are ensuring that we allocate sufficient resources to recover outstanding dues owed to us," he said.

Qatar National Bank raises salaries by 60% - Arab News

Qatar National Bank (QNB) has boosted salaries for Qatari employees by 60 percent in line with a recent move by the state’s government, two sources familiar with the matter said.

“Salaries (for QNB employees) were increased after the government’s announcement,” one source said.

Earlier this month the Qatar government hiked salaries, pensions and benefits for its state and military employees by 60 percent, in a move seen as an attempt to help preserve stability in the state.

Gulf Times – Qatar to participate in Tunisia bond loan

Qatar will participate in a $500mn bond loan to Tunisia, HE the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor al-Thani has said.

In an address at the outset of the signing ceremony of a series of co-operation agreements and memorandums of understanding in Tunis on Wednesday night, the Prime Minister said “such participation is to help the brothers in Tunisia for the development of what they seek to develop, especially for work in the centre and south of the country”.

Talking about the agreements signed between the two countries, he said that in addition to those agreements, new ideas for investment and co-operation between Qatar and Tunisia in the political, economic and social issues are under discussion.

U.A.E. Deposits Exceed Loans for 11th Month, Central Bank Says - Businessweek

United Arab Emirates’ overall bank deposits exceed loans for an 11th month in August, the central bank on its website today.

Loans rose 0.5 percent in August from July to 1,056.8 billion dirhams ($288 billion), while deposits dropped 3.2 percent 1,078.4 billion dirhams, the data said. Specific provisions for bad loans rose 1.7 percent in August from July to 49.2 billion dirhams, the data showed.

“Things domestically have improved and normalized to an extent,” said Marios Maratheftis, Dubai-based chief economist for the Middle East at Standard Chartered Plc. “We had loans exceeding deposits for a long time, that was worrisome as it was a sign that banks did not really have room to resume credit growth.”

Emaar seeks $800 mln loan backed by Dubai Mall -sources | Reuters

Dubai's Emaar Properties , builder of the world's tallest tower, is using four of its shopping malls including the Dubai Mall as collateral for an $800 million two-tranche loan, banking sources said on Thursday.

The facility, which consists of a five-year tranche and an eight-year amortising loan, is being arranged by Dubai Islamic Bank , National Bank of Abu Dhabi and Standard Chartered , four sources told Reuters.

Emaar, the Gulf's largest listed developer, is using four of its Dubai malls as collateral for the deal, two of the bankers said.

gulfnews : Abu Dhabi set to quadruple GDP

The massive infrastructure development in Abu Dhabi is expected to boost the emirate's non-oil trade and push up the real gross domestic product (GDP) from Dh382 billion in 2008 to nearly Dh1.53 trillion in 2030, senior government officials said at a conference.

As Abu Dhabi continues its efforts to diversify production away from the oil and gas sector, a slew of multi-billion dirham projects is set to transform the capital city's infrastructure and production outlook.

Currently, only 45 per cent of Abu Dhabi's GDP comes from non-oil contributions, but infrastructure developments in the air and on the ground will aim to reverse this trend so that these industries contribute at least 60 per cent of the produce within the next two decades.

The High Cost of Keeping Arab Peace - BusinessWeek

In the past decade, when oil exceeded $100 a barrel, the Gulf’s oil producers went shopping. Abu Dhabi bought English soccer club Manchester City and New York’s iconic Chrysler Building, and Qatar acquired a stake in Porsche and bought British shopping emporium Harrods. Now priorities have changed. Members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, poised to earn an unprecedented $1 trillion from oil this year, are investing in their citizenry. Gulf nations have pledged $150 billion to fund social programs and put a damper on public dissent, which led to the overthrow of rulers in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, and spread to Yemen and Syria.

These commitments give the petrostates plenty of incentives to prop up oil prices. According to BNP Paribas, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states will need to keep oil at more than $80 a barrel to afford their promises.

Saudi Arabia is spending $43 billion on its poorer citizens and religious institutions. That includes the creation of 60,000 jobs at its Interior Ministry and generous support for the Ministry of Islamic Affairs and the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, which was promised after clerics backed a ban on protests.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Dubai's Emirates eyes $1 bln bond - exec to paper | Reuters

Dubai's flagship Emirates airline is planning to issue $1 billion in bonds, a senior official was quoted as saying on Thursday, to counter uncertainty about financing as European banks struggle.

Brian Jeffrey, senior vice president of corporate treasury, told Arabic language daily al-Bayan, that the airline was considering the new bonds to finance aircraft purchases, given funding challenges faced by European banks.

Emirates, which issued a $1 billion bond in June, said diversifying funding options is always on the table.

Australia to overtake Qatar as top LNG supplier | Reuters

Australia may overtake Qatar as the world's biggest producer of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by 2020 as seven vast production plants dotted along its coastline plan to start operating later in the decade, Total's head of LNG Guy Broggi and other experts said at a conference in London this week.

"The new Qatar is Australia because final investment decisions (FIDs) have already been taken," Broggi said, referring to the five sanctioned projects and several more that are expected to reach FID in 2011-2012.

A moratorium on expansion in Qatar until 2015 is further expected to boost Australia's chances of taking the top spot.

Qatar Petroleum Said to Raise $3 Billion in Loans for Barzan - Businessweek

Qatar Petroleum, the Gulf country’s state-run energy company, plans to raise about $3 billion from project financing next quarter to develop its Barzan natural-gas facility, two bankers familiar with the transaction said.

The 16-year loans will pay an interest of between 100 basis points to 150 basis points over benchmark rates besides fees, said the bankers, who declined to be identified because the information is private. Qatar Petroleum sent out request for proposals for the loan to about 50 local and foreign banks and may complete signing documents over the next four to six weeks, the bankers said. One basis point is one hundredth of a percent.

The loans will be followed by a bond offering, with a total fund-raising of $5 billion planned, the bankers said.

Emirates: powering ahead? | beyondbrics –

If Dubai’s emergence as a regional trade hub was founded on its creek, its emergence as a global transportation centre is rooted in its busy airport and fast-growing airline, Emirates.

Boston Consulting Group has issued a report arguing that, at its current rate of expansion, Emirates will become the world’s biggest wide-body carrier by 2015. Its regional competitors, Etihad of Abu Dhabi and Qatar Airways, won’t be far off the top 20. But BCG warns that turbulence will increase as they boost their long-haul operations in an increasingly competitive international market.

Dubai’s ‘Aerotropolis’ strategy – a city flourishing around the busy east-west air corridor it serves – has developed as fast as the city’s debt and real estate woes pulled the emirate back from its hubristic rise over the past decade.

MENA stock markets close - September 29, 2011

ExchangeStatus IndexChange
TASI (Saudi Stock Market)
DFM (Dubai Financial Market)
ADX (Abudhabi Securities Exchange)
KSE (Kuwait Stock Exchange)
BSE (Bahrain Stock Exchange)
MSM (Muscat Securities Market)
QE (Qatar Exchange)
LSE (Beirut Stock Exchange)
EGX 30 (Egypt Exchange)
ASE (Amman Stock Exchange)
TUNINDEX (Tunisia Stock Exchange)
CB (Casablanca Stock Exchange)
PSE (Palestine Securities Exchange)

Persian Gulf Stocks: Kuwait Finance House and Zain Decline - Businessweek

The DFM General Index fell 0.5 percent to 1,431.711, the lowest since March 8, at the 2 p.m. close in Dubai. The measure retreated 2 percent this week, bringing the decline for the third quarter to 5.6 percent. The Kuwait Stock Exchange Unweighted Index slipped 0.3 percent. Saudi Arabia’s market was closed for the weekend.

The following shares were active in the Persian Gulf region. Stock symbols are in parentheses.

Mobile Telecommunications Co. (ZAIN KK) dropped the most since May 15, losing 3.1 percent to 940 fils. Kingdom Holding Co. and Bahrain Telecom Co. (BATELCO BI) abandoned plans to buy a 25 percent stake of the Kuwaiti phone company’s Saudi Arabian unit. Bahrain Telecom, or Batelco, rose 0.5 percent to 0.4 dinar in Manama trading.

NCB Capital remains positive on Saudi banking sector fundementals | Al Bawaba

NCB Capital, Saudi Arabia’s largest investment bank and leading GCC wealth manager, believes that lower YoY provisions will be a key factor behind strong net income growth for Saudi banks in 3Q11. However, despite the improved asset quality, expanded loan books and strong fee income, top-line growth is expected to remain subdued due to the low interest rate environment. Longer term fundamentals remain good with valuation levels attractive.

Commenting on the new report, Farouk Miah, Acting Head of Equity Research at NCB Capital said, “Saudi banks’ Non Performing Loans (NPLs) declined 13% YoY in 2Q11 and provision coverage increased to 122%. Off the back of better asset quality, we expect provisions in 3Q11 to decline by 52.8% YoY boosting the sector’s 3Q11 earnings.”

NCB Capital expects Saudi banks’ loan books to increase in 2011 on higher public spending which is likely to drive corporate loan books. Retail loans are also expected to remain strong on supportive demographics. Furthermore, the existing low loan-to-deposit ratio, increased low cost deposit base and better asset quality have enabled Saudi banks to grow its lending portfolio. This is likely to keep both retail as well as corporate loan growth healthy in 2011.

Qatar sovereign wealth fund: Europe in biggest crisis in 50 years - The Economic Times

The head of Qatar's $100 billion sovereign wealth fund said Greece's debt crisis was Europe's worst in decades, telling a German newspaper Handelsblatt the outlook precluded making long-term investment decisions.

"Currently, we can only act with a view to the short term, longer term forecasts cannot be maintained in view of the insecure situation in Europe and the United States," Qatar Holding chief executive Ahmad Mohamed Al-Sayed was quoted as saying in an interview.

"This situation dwarfs everything that the continent has seen in the past 50 years ... "It remains to be seen whether all the various states truly decide in favour of a common future."

Al Jaber to agree debt deal by year-end, says COO - Construction -

Abu Dhabi’s Al Jaber Group expects to reach a deal with creditor banks to restructure more than $1bn in debt before the end of the year, the company’s COO said Wednesday.

The privately-held firm set up a banks' committee earlier this year to thrash out a debt deal after it announced talks with lenders to discuss the terms of its facilities.

“We are not restructuring, we are just rescheduling some existing debts,” Fatima Al Jaber told Arabian Business on the sidelines of the Leaders in Construction Summit in Dubai.

Margin trading only for select brokerage firms

The market watchdog Capital Market Authority (CMA) will allow only select brokerage firms to carry out margin trading (or secured trading as it is called), said a top-level official of CMA.

“All brokerage firms will not be allowed to carry out such trading. Brokerage firms are required to get a separate licence for collateral trading (or margin trading) from the CMA. They have to apply for it,” Abdullah bin Salem bin Abdullah al Salmi, executive vice-president of the Capital Market Authority (CMA) told Times of Oman.

Margin trading allows investors to borrow money from a broker to purchase stocks, using their investment as collateral.

Alwaleed-Backed Kingdom, Batelco Abandon Plan to Acquire 25% of Saudi Zain - Bloomberg

Kingdom Holding Co. (KINGDOM), controlled by Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, and Bahrain Telecom Co. (BATELCO) abandoned a plan to acquire 25 percent in Zain Saudi Arabia for $950 million.

Kingdom and Bahrain Telecom "concluded that the terms and conditions as set out in its non-binding offer could not be met to its satisfaction,’’ they said in separate statements today. “This follows a period of due diligence and discussions with Zain Group and other stakeholders.”

Kingdom and Bahrain Telecom, known as Batelco, had agreed in principle to pay $950 million in cash for the stake in Zain Saudi, controlled by Kuwait’s Zain Group. In addition, Zain Saudi would have paid $250 million of debt to Zain Group after the transfer of ownership, Zain Group said on March 16.

gulfnews : Cost of doing business in Dubai hurting retail, business group says

The high cost of doing business in Dubai is having a negative effect on the emirate's retail sector, CEOs claimed yesterday.

During a roundtable discussion hosted by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, top businessmen in the UAE said that the high cost of hiring staff, paying wages and rents was a significant obstacle.

"Despite Dubai's appealing conditions and promising growth, the high operating costs of businesses is among the emirate's main challenges [and] should be monitored very closely," said Mohideen Bin Hindi, the chairman of the Dubai Retail Business Group.

Consumers: Divergent fortunes leave Dubai at the centre of attention -

If the entire Middle East was slammed by the global financial crisis, its revolutions of 2011 are, perhaps ironically, creating deeper divides between the region’s haves and have-nots – at least in spending power.

States beset by revolutionary fervour are witnessing reduced consumption as their economies falter amid uncertainty – even if, in the longer term, political change could bring deeper, more exciting markets for global retailers.

The divergent fortunes are most apparent in the Middle East and north Africa’s two largest consumer markets, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Gulf royalty pretends it is a special case -

Gulf rulers are sending the world an unequivocal message – their countries will remain an exception to the Arab awakening. As the winds of change blow through the Middle East and north Africa, Gulf states are behaving as if it’s business as usual, pursuing small, incremental political reforms that would be deemed irrelevant, if not insulting, in other parts of the region.

In Bahrain, where a Shia uprising was crushed this year, the authorities held a by-election last weekend to replace Shia members who had withdrawn from parliament in protest at the harsh security crackdown. They portrayed the exercise as a confirmation of the al-Khalifa family’s commitment to political reforms.

Next door in the United Arab Emirates another election was held, this one to a federal national council that has a purely advisory role and in which half the members are, in any case, appointed. The election was billed as a step forward because the number of citizens entitled to take part was significantly increased.

Bahrain set to spend its way out of unrest -

Bahrain has started to receive funds from the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council as it seeks to spend its way out of a slowdown caused by political unrest which is blighting its services-orientated economy.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa, chief executive of the Economic Development Board, says “a significant portion of the GCC funds” have arrived in the past few weeks, referring to the first elements of a $1bn tranche expected this year.

“We are spending on infrastructure, a lot on housing. We are looking at private public partnerships. There are a number of initiatives in the pipeline aimed at encouraging economic growth through social improvement,” he says.

Dubai to offer rupee options -

Dubai’s gold and commodities exchange is extending its Indian rupee trading contracts by offering investors a platform to trade options contracts for the first time outside India to meet growing demand for currency-denominated derivatives.

Options contracts grant investors the right to buy or sell at a fixed price within a defined period or on a predetermined date.

They are used to offset the risk of currency fluctuations. Investors can also make speculative bets using the contracts or explore arbitrage opportunities to benefit from different exchange rates.

Middle East retail, top retail locations, Abu Dhabi Mall, Seef Mall, Raya Mall, Landmark Doha | alifarabia

Middle East retail rents staganted in the 2010/11 period which ended in June, according to research consultants Cushman & Wakefield (C&W).

This downward trend was in sharp contrast to the growth seen in other emerging markets. Not surprisngly, some of the countries most affected by the Arab revolt saw the most severe declines. Bahrain’s retail rents fell 26.7% during the period, while Syria saw a 16.7% decline.

Meanwhile, UAE (3.0%) and Qatar (2.2%) registered more modest falls. Rental uplift was confined to Lebanon (5.2%) – where values in the top shopping areas of Beirut proved resilient to external factors.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Qatar, Dubai attract fund interest amid global turmoil | Alrroya

Some international portfolio investors are finding value in gas-rich Qatar and Dubai's recently rehabilitated stock market, even as global financial markets weaken and political risks deter buyers in other parts of the Middle East and North Africa.

With equity prices across the world tumbling, Qatar has been one of the few markets to post even modest gains this year, second only in the MSCI frontier stock market index to the tiny exchange of Trinidad and Tobago. The main Qatar stock index is up about half a percentage point this year, while almost all other markets have fallen.

The Gulf country, which is sitting on huge gas reserves, got a boost last year from its surprise victory in the competition to host the 2022 soccer World Cup. But Qatar's spending on infrastructure for the championship is only part of a broader state spending programme by one of the world's fastest-growing economies.

Gulf Arab OPEC may tolerate oil below $90 - Reuters -

Oil prices may be USD 20 off April's USD 127-a-barrel peak but there is no panic in Riyadh, Kuwait City or Abu Dhabi. Far from it.

Oil policy officials in the capitals of OPEC's Gulf Arab price doves Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates are relaxed and won't be losing sleep if prices fall further.

One senior official in the region told Reuters those producers are unlikely to reduce supplies to try to stem a decline in oil prices unless crude falls below USD 90 a barrel for a sustained period.

MENA stock markets close - September 28, 2011

ExchangeStatus IndexChange
TASI (Saudi Stock Market)
DFM (Dubai Financial Market)
ADX (Abudhabi Securities Exchange)
KSE (Kuwait Stock Exchange)
BSE (Bahrain Stock Exchange)
MSM (Muscat Securities Market)
QE (Qatar Exchange)
LSE (Beirut Stock Exchange)
EGX 30 (Egypt Exchange)
ASE (Amman Stock Exchange)
TUNINDEX (Tunisia Stock Exchange)
CB (Casablanca Stock Exchange)
PSE (Palestine Securities Exchange)

Emirates Adds Seattle, Dallas Flights in U.S. - Bloomberg

Emirates, the biggest international airline, will add flights to Seattle and Dallas in a revival of plans to establish a major route network to the world’s largest economy that it shelved after the 2001 terror attacks.

Emirates will begin daily services from Dubai to Dallas starting Feb. 2 and to Seattle from March 1 and may add U.S. cities including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia and Washington, President Tim Clark said today in an interview.

Passenger numbers at Emirates have surged fivefold in a decade, making it the world No. 1 by international traffic. Hubs in Paris, Frankfurt and London are already under pressure as the carrier diverts long-haul passengers through Dubai, and Clark said the U.S. market could be targeted using Airbus SAS’s A380 superjumbo, of which it has 90 on order offering 45,000 seats.

Boeing Calls On Middle East Investors To Plug Financing Shortfall

U.S. planemaker Boeing (BA) called on cash-rich Middle East investors Wednesday to plug a potential financing shortfall of its aircraft as European banks reel from the region's sovereign debt crisis.

"The current European sovereign debt crisis, and its expected impacts on European banks, gives new impetus to aircraft investment opportunities for Middle East investors," Boeing said in a statement.

European banks have long been investors in aircraft but Boeing is now worried about an "expected pullback" from these lenders, it added, as fears mount about their exposure to indebted countries in the euro zone.

Gulf Arab growth to slow, but still above recession | Alrroya

Economic growth in key Gulf Arab states will slow markedly next year because of a sluggish global economy but remain well above recessionary levels, a Reuters poll showed on Wednesday.

Gross domestic product in Saudi Arabia, the largest Arab economy and the world's top oil exporter, is expected to expand 4.5 per cent in 2012 after 6.2 per cent this year, according to the median forecast of 16 analysts surveyed between September 14 and 27.

The country's central bank governor reined in his expectations for growth on Wednesday, saying he was "optimistic" that the economy would grow at an annual rate of up to five per cent this year and next compared to a previous forecast for this year of around six per cent.

Dubai’s Shares Head to 7-Month Low Led by Emaar on Europe Woes - Businessweek

Dubai’s stocks are poised for the lowest close in almost seven months, led by Emaar Properties PJSC, as oil declined and amid concern Greece’s effort to cut its deficit won’t be enough to prevent a default.

Emaar, developer of the world’s tallest tower, declined 0.7 percent. Aramex PJSC, the Middle East’s largest courier company, headed for the biggest drop in almost a week. The DFM General Index lost 0.5 percent to 1,441.42, poised for its lowest close since March 8 at 12:32 p.m. in the emirate. The measure is headed for its fourth quarterly drop, retreating 5 percent since the end of June. About 25 million shares traded in Dubai today, compared with this year’s daily average of 113 million shares.

“Our markets are lacking leadership, and what we’re seeing in the rest of the world is increasing the fear factor,” said Mohammed Ali Yasin, chief investment officer at Abu Dhabi-based financial services company CAPM Investments PJSC. “We have been defensive in the face of volatile global markets, but it’s worrying that we’re not seeing the same rebounds here that we see there.”

Saad Group Freeze, Suncity, Korea Line, Sazka Bidder: Bankruptcy - Bloomberg

The investment unit of Saad Group, a Saudi company in global litigation over its default in 2009, won a U.K. court order freezing 57.3 million pounds ($89 million) held by its billionaire founder Maan al-Sanea.

Saad Investments Company Ltd., which is being liquidated in the Cayman Islands, won the asset freeze in the High Court in London after claiming there was a risk al-Sanea would spend the money before paying potential damages. The unit also claimed al- Sanea failed to return hundreds of documents he removed from its legal offices in Geneva two years ago.

“There is a risk of dissipation in this case” and a “failure to cooperate with the liquidators,” Saad Investment’s lawyer, Stephen Atherton, said of al-Sanea, one of Saudi Arabia’s richest men. The company also claims al-Sanea removed $60 million at the time he took the documents.

Persian Gulf Bond Sales Approach 2008 Low as Risk Increases: Arab Credit - Bloomberg

Bond sales from the Persian Gulf region have slumped to the lowest level since 2008 as the threat of another global recession fueled the steepest surge in the region’s credit risk in seven quarters.

Sovereign and company debt issuance in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have totaled $1.54 billion since June 30, the smallest amount since the last quarter of 2008, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The average cost of insuring the Middle East’s notes against default jumped 81 basis points in the period to 351 on Sept. 26, headed for the biggest increase since the three months ended Dec. 31, 2009, according to data provider CMA.

Emerging-market bond funds saw the biggest capital outflows in more than two years in the week to Sept. 21, EPFR Global data show, as Europe’s debt crisis prompted investors to exit riskier assets. Last week, the Federal Reserve said there are “downside risks” to the U.S. economy and the International Monetary Fund cut its forecast for 2011 global growth to 4 percent from 4.3 percent. Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Development & Investment Co. and Dolphin Energy Ltd. deferred debt sales this quarter.

Dubai power plant bidders offered US$200 million finance -

UAE banking group Emirates NBD and HSBC have made a US$200 million stapled debt facility available to bidders interested in constructing a new power plant for state utility Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) , an Emirates NBD statement said on Tuesday.

The sum can be drawn upon to part-finance the commercial debt tranche which the consortia will have to put forward as part of their bids for the Hassyan 1 project.

The 1,500-megawatt Hassyan-1 power plant will be the first in Dubai to be built as an Independent Power Producer (IPP), whereby the producer sells its output to the utility, with the project to be financed as a public-private partnership (PPP).

Gulf's liberal shift is more than sop to Arab Spring - Politics & Economics -

The king of Saudi Arabia has lived up to his reformist reputation by giving women the right to vote in future elections. A day earlier, neighbouring UAE held the country's second elections.

The changes mean both countries are still far from Western concepts of democracy and nearby revolutions, but the reforms have financial benefits too.

It is easy to pick holes. The right of Saudi women to vote and be part of municipal councils renders them as powerless as their male counterparts: elections only fill half the seats, which have limited powers to start with.

Gulf Times – ‘Qatar overtakes Dubai as top financial centre’

Qatar has overtaken Dubai to become the top financial centre in the Middle East, according to the latest Global Financial Centre Index (GFCI).

The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC), categorised as transnational specialists, continued to be ranked 30 in the world, but improved its ratings by 39 points from the previous index.

However, Dubai was ranked 36, slipping eight positions from the previous index although it gained 17 points, according to the GFCI, which covers 75 financial centers around the world. The index is based on five over-arching areas of competitiveness: people, business environment, infrastructure, market access and general competitiveness.

Qatar Holding Plans to Assist Volkswagen With Porsche Merger - Bloomberg

Qatar Holding LLC, the third- largest investor in Volkswagen AG (VOW), will work with VW to assist in its integration with Porsche SE after the merger between the two carmakers planned for this year fell through.

VW’s goal to combine with Porsche by the end of 2011 has been held up by lawsuits in the U.S. and an investigation by German prosecutors linked to Porsche’s botched effort to buy VW.

“If there’s now a different way, we may as well try to help to make it happen,” Ahmad Mohamed Al-Sayed, chief executive officer of the foreign investment arm of the Gulf country’s sovereign wealth fund told reporters in Berlin today.