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Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Qatar struggling to sell oil for Libyan rebels - World news - Africa -

More Emirates NBD provisions target=

Emirates NBD is eyeing merger opportunities within the region and the lender will set aside more money to cover bad loans in 2011 amid debt restructuring, its top executive said on Wednesday.

ENBD, Dubai's largest bank by market value, reported sharply higher fourth-quarter profit last month but impairments on non-performing, or bad loans and on investments hit its yearly results.

"There will be further restructurings going on, there will be further provisions, the content of that I cannot say. We are not out of the provision phase yet," Chief Executive Rick Pudner told reporters on the sidelines of a conference.

MENA stock markets close - March 30, 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)

Saudi Arabia closes up, bouyed by earnings hopes - Stocks -

Saudi Arabia's index edged higher, rising for the fifth day in seven on upbeat expectations for first quarter earnings but gains may be limited.

The benchmark rose 0.7 percent to 6,563 points and is up 10.5 percent in March.

"For short-term technical indicators, we do show a diversion on the volume indicator, which indicates high possibility of market correction down to 6,380," said Youssef Kassantini, a Saudi-based financial analyst. "Overall, we do expect a pull back for the next seven to ten days."

Egypt pound trades at weakest in more than 6 years | Reuters

The Egyptian pound weakened to a fresh six-year low to the dollar on Wednesday, as Egypt's poor economic outlook and political uncertainty prompted investors to sell the currency.

It later regained some ground after investors bought pounds to invest in a stock market rally, bankers said.

The pound traded at 5.9640 to the dollar after hitting 5.9765 earlier in the day, a the lowest since January 2005. It was down 0.29 percent from Tuesday's close.

Oman's CBO revises weekend schedule, but banks may not follow suit - Zawya

Central Bank of Oman (CBO) will follow a new weekend schedule beginning this week. CBO will remain closed on Thursdays and Fridays instead of the usual Friday-Saturday weekend, which the banking sector in Oman follows.

However, some CBO departments will operate on Thursdays to facilitate the banking sector.

CBO has issued a note to its employees saying that the change will come into immediate effect.

Dubai Economy May Grow 6% in 2012, Spurred by Infrastructure - Bloomberg

Dubai’s economy may grow 3.5 percent to 4 percent this year and 6 percent in 2012, spurred by infrastructure spending and foreign investment, according to Farouk Soussa, Citigroup Inc.’s chief Middle East economist.

The emirate is “blessed by prime location” and there’s “real appetite” for investing there, he said at a conference today. Infrastructure development, foreign investment and geographical location are driving growth, he said.

Dubai’s economy, the second-biggest of seven that make up the United Arab Emirates, is recovering from the credit crisis, helped by a revival in trade and tourism. Real gross domestic product grew 2.2 percent in 2010, the statistics bureau said on its website March 21. Growth is likely to accelerate to 4 percent this year, Standard Chartered Plc said in December.

Sponsor system in UAE to stay - Emirates 24/7

Recent proposed changes to UAE law relating to the sponsorship system will result in a more flexible labour market, but it is unlikely to lead to the abolition of the system any time soon, say experts.

According to Alexander McGeoch, Head/Employment & General Legal Services at Hadef & Partners, Dubai, the impact of the easing of certain restriction on switching sponsors may not be as big as some employees are hoping for.

“It is doubtful whether, in the UAE, we will see greatly increased flexibility in the sponsorship transfer process – still less the complete abolition of the ‘sponsor’ requirement – either this year or in the foreseeable future,” he told Emirates 24|7.

Middle East protests: can soaring oil revenues stem the unrest? | beyondbrics –

With Brent Crude at $115 a barrel, it is little surprise to see the International Energy Agency talking in terms of oil remaining at $100 for 2011. And if it does, the organisationexpects OPEC members to generate over $1,000bn in export revenues for the first time, as the FT reported on Wednesday.

Little wonder that Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, which dominate the 13-nation cartel, can afford to splash out on big public spending plans to help quell social unrest. But it is expensive – Saudi Arabia now needs an oil price of $83 a barrel to balance its 2011 budget. And it may not work: history suggests that as countries grow richer, their citizens want rights as well as rewards.

Political scientists are still refining the theory but they generally accept its central tenets. The development of Europe, east Asia and Latin America has produced many examples of countries where, as incomes have risen, authoritarian regimes have been replaced with more democratic systems.

FT Alphaville » What price Saudi Arabia’s new special ‘blend’?

Answer: We just don’t know.

But it’s all very intriguing nonetheless.

FT Alphaville has reported at length (here, here and here for example) how the Libya crisis has resulted in a large deficit of light sweet crude in the European market place, a problem which has not been easy to rectify. It turns out it’s simply not that straightforward substituting Libyan crude.

UAE's Etisalat scraps Syria licence bid: MEED - The Economic Times

UAE's Etisalat scrapped plans to bid for Syria's third mobile license, Middle East Economic Digest (MEED) said on its website, in the latest blow to the firm's drive to expand its Middle East footprint.

Etisalat is unhappy with the 25 percent revenue share demanded by Syria, London-based MEED said, citing anonymous sources close to the deal.

Etisalat was not immediately available for comment. The bid would have been worth a minimum of $122 million, MEED said.

MENA stock markets 1200hrs (GMT+4)- March 30, 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)

Egypt bourse to resume normal trade hours Sunday | Reuters

Egypt's stock market, which re-opened last week after a shutdown of more than seven weeks, will resume its normal four-hour trading session on Sunday, a bourse official said.

Trading will begin at 10:30 a.m. local time (0830 GMT) and close at 2:30 p.m., the official said. The market had been closing an hour early since trading resumed last week.

Mass protests that erupted in January to oust President Hosni Mubarak had prompted the shutdown.

New Arab geopolitics to push up oil, gold and silver and crash other financial markets « ArabianMoney

It is quite self evident that global financial markets have not yet properly discounted what is going on in the Middle East and North Africa. That is because apart from the $100+ oil price nobody has a clue what is happening here, and those that do are too preoccupied fighting wars or dealing with the unrest and revolutionary fervour.

To some extent this is understandable: if you don’t know then do nothing is a perfectly common position. It can also be a very expensive one. Getting rich through sheer ignorance does not often happen. So down on the ground in Dubai, and last night in Deira for the launch party of the Movenpick hotel’s excellent Wok In restaurant, what are people saying?

Well, we heard about the organiser of the conference in Bahrain last year sponsored by ArabianMoney. He has just upped and moved to Dubai with his family. Apparently Bahrainis are also leaving for Dubai. The worry is that the situation in Bahrain looks awfuly like Belfast in 1969 when the British army arrived and stayed for almost 30 years.

Saudi Arabia's Al Gosaibi family launches $9bn legal claim against US exec - The National

Glenn Stewart, former chief executive of The International Banking Corporation (TIBC), is facing a legal claim of at least $9 billion (Dh33bn) in America from the Al Gosaibi family of Saudi Arabia.

Ahmed Hamad Al Gosaibi and Brothers (AHAB), the family's partnership, has filed an action in California that alleges aiding and abetting fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud and fraud conspiracy, and unjust enrichment while he was chief executive of the now bankrupt Bahraini bank.

Mr Stewart, who fled Bahrain last year for his native California, said in an e-mail to The National that he would respond in detail once he had time to study the claims, but denied all the allegations.

Reality check for Middle East as the euphoria dies down - The National

The unprecedented wave of protest, demonstration and, in some cases, open revolt that has spread across the Mena region in just a matter of weeks has been a cause for celebration in most parts of the world.

International opinion agreed it was a good thing to sweep away aged, stagnant regimes that had become distant from their increasingly young populations, and which were failing to meet their aspirations.

The consensus was that only good could come from the transformations taking place in the Arab world, and that their liberated economies would fly high.

Not everything in the garden is rosy in Qatar - The National

Who could possibly doubt Qatar?

The recently appointed host of the 2022 Fifa World Cup and poster child for liquefied natural gas (LNG) development has been on a roll, and its stock market has largely shrugged off the ill-effects of unrest elsewhere in the Middle East.

But wait: Global Investment House reports this week that profits at listed Qatari companies were an average 9 per cent lower last year than 2009, led by Qatar's service sector, where profits fell 39.3 per cent.

Bank says UAE will come through regional unrest intact - The National

The UAE is one of only two states in the Mena region that will be virtually unaffected by the economic fallout from the political turmoil that has hit the area, according to HSBC.

In a report written by the bank's economic analysts in Dubai, HSBC says that, along with Qatar, "confidence in political stability and security remains undimmed" in the UAE.

The country could even benefit from the turmoil. "The problems being experienced elsewhere may offer the economy some support by strengthening its claim to be a safe haven and natural hub in a wealthy but volatile region," said the bank.

Emaar shareholders find their voice - The National

Emaar Properties' annual shareholder meeting this week was hailed by investors not just because the company consented to pay a sizeable dividend but also because the event was one of the country's most forceful displays of shareholder activism.

More than 100 investors attended the three-hour meeting on Monday at The Address Hotel in Dubai, confronting company officials over why they were not paying a dividend and questioning line items in the financial statements.

Emaar ultimately agreed to pay a 10 per cent dividend, totalling Dh610 million (US$166m), its first distribution of profit to shareholders since the onset of the financial crisis in 2008.

Bahrain's central bank extending lifeline to small firms - The National

Bahrain's central bank is offering a lifeline to small businesses in the kingdom that have been hit by a drop in trade because of the protests of the past few weeks.

"We think some [businesses] will be directly affected by the events of the last month, especially consumer and tourism spending," said Rasheed al Maraj, the central bank governor, after a meeting with the chief executives of Bahrain's retail banks on Monday.

The meeting was geared towards supporting small and medium enterprises affected by the unrest.

Tide starts to change as buyers catch The Wave - The National

There is a roundabout just before the entrance to the Shangri-La Hotel in Muscat.

If you turn right rather than continuing up the hill, and carry along a road carved out of the rocks for five minutes, you finally reach a left turn.

The road is rutted, but if you can face the shaking you drive along honeycombed sandstone cliffs before eventually reaching the sea.

Saudi scrambles to maintain spare oil capacity | Reuters

Saudi Arabia's plans to expand its drilling rig count by 28 percent signal a rush to deliver the 12.5 million barrels a day (bpd) of capacity that Riyadh has long claimed is in place.

Two Saudi officials told Reuters on Tuesday that the extra rig activity would maintain rather than increase the kingdom's oil capacity. It completed a multi-year expansion in 2009 meant to boost spare capacity by more than 3 million barrels per day.

"It's not to expand capacity. It's to sustain current capacity on new fields and old fields that have been bottled up," one of the officials said.

UAE, China interested in Russian investment fund

Middle Eastern and Chinese heavyweights are interested in investing in Russia via a new direct investment fund expected to be worth up to $10 billion and co-funded by Moscow, a top state banker said on Tuesday.

“We have had a fairly positive response from the biggest private investment funds and sovereign funds,” Vladimir Dmitriyev, head of state development bank VEB, told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

“In particular from the Abu Dhabi fund, from the China Investment Corporation, from a number of private funds,” Dmitriyev said

Court ruling a setback to Kuwait's Agility | Reuters

A U.S. court ruling against Kuwaiti logistics company Agility has dealt a blow to the company's fight against charges it defrauded the U.S. Army in multibillion-dollar contracts.

Agility was the largest supplier to the U.S. Army in the Middle East during the war in Iraq and the case is politically sensitive in both Washington and Kuwait.

The court said prosecutors correctly served Agility with an indictment in 2009 when it accused the company of overcharging the Army over 41 months on $8.5 billion in supply contracts first signed at the start of the Gulf War in 2003.

London landmark building in distress sale

The Adelphi, a landmark art deco building in London's West End, is up for sale following a covenant breach.

The famous high-rise building, located on John Adam Street, is to be sold by its owner Istithmar World - the investment arm of Dubai World – for an asking price of around £265 million.

Istithmar World has instructed CB Richard Ellis to sell the commercial property, which is currently leased by the Department for Work and Pensions, along with financial services tenants. - The politics of oil: Wells of anxiety

Surrounded by gigantic sand dunes, el-Sharara oil field is one of Libya’s biggest. Perched on the edge of the Sahara south of Tripoli, the installation was smoothly pumping about 300,000 barrels a day of high-quality crude down an 800km pipeline to the Mediterranean coast until a few weeks ago.

Operated by Repsol YPF of Spain, the multi-billion-dollar project was seen as a sign that the Libyan energy sector, after 20 years of underinvestment and isolation, was enjoying a revival.

But as political unrest broke out in the north African country in late February, foreign workers at the field rushed to a remote desert airstrip and left, having halted output from the wells. As one executive puts it, the last man, literally, shut down the field. - Surgical financial strikes can oust Gaddafi

Over the past week the Libyan no-fly zone has prevented Muammer Gaddafi from killing innocent civilians, but not forced him from power. None of the long-term options for Libya’s future, discussed at Tuesday’s conference in London, will come to pass if the regime survives. So, more than gunships or cruise missiles, new financial pressures to punish and pay off those involved will now be the most effective weapon the US and its allies can deploy.

At a basic level controlling Colonel Gaddafi’s money will shift the balance of power, and spur defections, among his generals and staff. The allied forces have already made some moves in this direction. Now three further steps, amounting to a campaign of surgical financial strikes, are essential to optimising pressure in the coming weeks.

First, the US needs to ensure that those allies and partners who have already frozen assets of Col Gaddafi (along with his family and associates) have not missed any concealed foreign accounts. The aim here must be to force the regime to rely only on the cash it has at hand inside Libya in its battle for survival.