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Sunday, 3 April 2011

Syria to Award Third Mobile License to Saudi or Qatari Companies - Bloomberg

Saudi Telecom Co. (STC) and Qatar Telecom QSC reached the final phase of Syria’s auction for a third mobile license, Deputy Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Al- Jalali said today.

Emirates Telecommunications Corp., the bigger of two phone companies in the United Arab Emirates, Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri AS, Turkey’s biggest mobile-phone operator, and France Telecom SA (FTE), the country’s largest phone company, have pulled out of the race, he said in a interview from Damascus.

The three companies withdrew because they did not agree with some contractual issues, including the 25 percent share in revenue of the Syrian state and its monopoly over infrastructure for seven years, according to a telecommunications ministry statement today. They also objected to their requirements for certain frequencies not being available, it said.

Kuwait investment firm eyes Moroccan real estate - Real Estate -

A Kuwait-based investment firm said on Sunday it has acquired a minority stake in a Morocco real estate developer.

The North Africa Holding Company (NorAH) said it had invested in Dar Saada Company (DSC) as it sees opportunities in the fast growing North African housing market.

"Our investment team had identified the social and intermediate housing segment as fast growing with huge potential," Emad Anwar Al-Saleh, CEO of NorAH, said in a statement.

Egyptian Stocks Advance After 22% Plunge, Led by Developer Six of October - Bloomberg

Egypt stocks climbed to the highest level since January, led by Six of October Development & Investment (OCDI) Co., on investor speculation declines in real-estate shares last month were overdone given growth prospects.

Six of October, a luxury developer, jumped 8 percent, trimming the drop since trading resumed March 23 after an almost two-month suspension to 15 percent. Palm Hills Developments SAE (PHDC), a Cairo-based property company, gained for the first time in 10 trading days. Egypt’s EGX 30 Index (EGX30) advanced 1.7 percent to 5,558.64 at the 2:30 p.m. close in Cairo. The index has lost 1.6 percent since trading resumed. Dubai’s measure fell today, while Israel’s benchmark index rose 0.8 percent.

“Real-estate stocks are attractive as they have become extremely discounted,” said Ashraf Akhnoukh, senior equity sales trader at Cairo-based Commercial International Brokerage. “The sector was the worst performer since the market resumed trading.”

MENA stock markets close - April 3, 2011

Arcapita sells European storage business stake - Maktoob News

Bahraini investment firm Arcapita Bank has sold its stake in dozens of European self-storage facilities for 412 million euros ($586 million).

Arcapita said Sunday it sold the 80 percent stake in 72 storage sites to Brussels-based storage company Shurgard Europe, which owns the remaining fifth of the portfolio.

The firm says its plans for additional asset sales are "increasing steadily." It's sold off a collection of U.S. retirement communities and industrial property in Singapore over the past six months.

The Bahrain Effect and Petrochemicals « Alpha Dinar- talking Gulf finance

The Saudi Tadawul index lost 19.6% in value in the two weeks following the unrest in Bahrain; however, it recovered all the losses which were helped also by the increase in oil prices. The index gained 24% from its lowest level on the end of February. The Tadawul is down 0.39% YTD.
Oil prices, which increased 17% since Feb 14th at the time Bahrain saw some protests, positively affected the petrochemicals sector, increasing its value by 29%.
Below is a YTD chart of both the Tadawul and the petrochemical index; the petrochemical index crossed to the positive zone for the year. However, on a case to case basis not all petrochemical stocks are positive for the year thus this might potentially trigger a catch-up play.

Dubai World holds 36% of UAE investments in Comesa - Emirates 24/7

Dubai World is a major investor in Comesa, holding 36 per cent of total investments in the region from January 2003 to January 2011.

During the period, 67 companies from the UAE made 150 investments making Dubai World one among the top 10 investors, Jabulile Mashwama, Swaziland Minister of Industry & Trade and chairperson, Comesa Council of Ministers, said, without disclosing the total amount of investments.

Comesa stands for the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and comprises of 19 member states –Burundi, Comoros, Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Dubai's Shuaa in Tunisian 123-firm trading freeze | Reuters

Tunisia has ordered its brokerages to suspend securities trading by 123 firms, sources said, including Dubai's Shuaa Capital and the parent companies of at least two publicly listed Tunisian firms.

The firms were named in a confidential list issued at the end of February by Tunisia's financial authorities. They are trying to pry loose the grip of overthrown President Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali's extended family on the North African country's economy.

"We were told not to let these companies invest or withdraw money from their trading accounts. Their accounts are frozen," a Tunis-based broker told Reuters.

Dubai rises, macro factors boost sentiment -

Dubai's index traded higher as investors saw reduced risk and valuations were attractive.

The benchmark extended gains, rising one percent to 1,571 points.

Emaar Properties and Emirates NBD climbed 1.5 and 1.2 percent respectively.

Dubai Islamic Bank Paid $102 Million to Take Control of Tamweel - Businessweek

Dubai Islamic Bank PJSC paid 374.7 million dirhams ($102 million) to buy a controlling stake in Tamweel PJSC as the United Arab Emirates’ biggest Islamic lender sought to boost mortgage financing in Dubai.

Dubai Islamic paid 318.6 million dirhams in cash and 56.1 million dirhams in treasury shares for the stake, according to the bank’s annual report distributed on March 31. The lender in September raised its share in Tamweel to 58.3 percent from 21 percent, without disclosing the value of the transaction.

The deal implies a payment of 1 dirham for each Tamweel share, according to Bloomberg calculations. Tamweel’s shares last traded at 0.99 dirham on Nov. 20, 2008, when they were suspended pending a reorganization. They had a book value of 2.23 dirhams at the end of December, Tamweel’s results show.

Bahrain's AUB bank to issue $125 mln preferential shares - Maktoob News

Ahli United Bank, Bahrain's largest bank, said on Sunday it will raise $125 million by issuing 500 million preferential shares to the International Financing Corporation (IFC).

IFC, a unit of the World Bank, can convert the shares into ordinary shares over the next four years, AUB said in a statement to Bahrain's stock exchange.

The preferential share issue is to boost the bank's tier 2 capital, a measure of a bank's financial strength. AUB also said it would also borrow a subordinated loan worth $165 million from IFC.

Qatar Airways CEO hits back at European airlines -

Akbar Al Baker, chief executive officer, Qatar AirwaysAn open letter by Akbar Al Baker, chief executive officer, Qatar Airways:
Akbar Al Baker, chief executive officer, Qatar Airways
I recently came across the remarks made by Schulte-Strathaus, secretary general of the Association of European Airlines, about how global competition needs to be addressed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, similar to what the industry is calling for in the domain of the environment. He focused on the competitive pressure that airlines from the Gulf are posing on their counterparts elsewhere.

Usually I would choose not to comment directly on calls to find ways to limit the growth of the Gulf carriers, including Qatar Airways. However, because Mr Schulte-Strathaus chose to address one of the august forums of aviation visionaries in the world, I thought I needed to put the record straight.

US court dismisses indictment against Agility DGS Holdings

An indictment against Agility DGS Holdings Inc, a US affiliate of Agility, has been dismissed without prejudice by a US District Court in Atlanta. Agility and one of its Kuwait affiliates, remain the subjects of a legal action by the US Department of Justice.

Meanwhile, the Board of Directors met and approved a dividend distribution of 40% (40 fils per share) for the year ending 2010.

Agility also reported a net profit of KD 25.11 million and 24.92 fils earnings per share for the full year 2010 which included net non operating adjustment of KD 20.33 million. The adjusted net profit stood at KD 45.44 million for the full year 2010.

WAM | PhD dissertation calls for creating financial markets criminal court

A member of the UAE judicial system has called for modifying the laws of the securities and commodities markets to allow for the establishment of criminal court on financial markets to specialize in combating illegal practices and boost integrity and investors' confidence.

Dr Hamad Saif Musallam Al Shamsi, head of prosecution at the Federal Attorney General's office made the call in his PhD dissertation to the University of Exeter on the UK's financial services saw for the year 2000.

The dissertation is a comparative legal research aims to analyze legal issues related to illegal practices at financial markets.

Safco ratings downgraded |

Credit Suisse downgraded Saudi Arabian Fertilizers Company (Safco), a leading Middle Eastern nitrogenous fertilizer producer, to “”neutral”" from “”outperform,”" anticipating weak urea prices in the short term.

A fall in fertilizer demand in the second quarter after the spring planting in the United States and a weak corn market would keep urea prices below $360/ton levels, Credit Suisse said.

In the medium-to-longer term, the brokerage also sees risk that marginal producers urea floor price will likely be pushed $40/tonne lower owing to domestic industry consolidation.

gulfnews : Nasdaq may face obstacles in bid for NYSE Euronext

Nasdaq OMX Group may face anti-trust obstacles in its bid to acquire NYSE Euronext, the owner of the New York Stock Exchange, two law professors said.

The combination would give Nasdaq a monopoly on listing corporations in the US, the world's largest capital market. That is likely to raise US Justice Department concerns that the deal would be anti-competitive, said Herbert Hovenkamp, a professor at the University of Iowa College of Law in Iowa City.

If anti-trust regulators limit their analysis of a combined exchange to the US market, the merger would be "way over the threshold of illegality," Hovenkamp said in a phone interview.

Business plans go on sale at Dubai's Young Entrepreneur Competition - The National

Sprawling across the many floors of Dubai Mall, this year's Young Entrepreneur Competition brought the exuberance of youth to shopping.

More than 800 young and aspiring entrepreneurs sold their wares at stalls around the mall.

The goods on sale were varied, from jewellery to clothing to gadgets.

First Gulf Bank pulls the plug on Libyan operations - The National

First Gulf Bank has shut its operations in Libya to comply with UN sanctions just months after opening a second branch there, says its chief executive.

The Libyan business was part of an international expansion strategy, which has also opened offices in India, Singapore and Qatar.

"It's a case of wait and see, like for any other foreign investors," said Andre al Sayegh, the bank's chief executive, of the Libyan closure. "The bank has a management agreement, but it has been discontinued because force majeure is going on."

Traders move into brighter quarters - The National

Gulf stock markets are entering the second quarter of the year with new optimism as the turbulent events of this year's first three months recede from view.

After uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, the turmoil in Libya and a string of disasters in Japan, some traders and economists said things would improve in the months ahead.

"Global sentiment is picking up and the global backdrop is supportive of regional markets," said Rami Sidani, the head of Mena investments for Schroders. "International investors are putting money to work that has been sitting on the sidelines."

Saudi ‘special brew’ oil puts traders in spot

Saudi Arabia’s new oil blend sold to Europe this month to compensate for lost Libyan barrels is meeting muted response from traders and refiners who are still in the dark over future volumes and unsure of its quality.

Saudi Arabia has sold 2 million barrels of new crude or three mid-sized cargoes to European buyers, a source at state-run Saudi Aramco said.

The yet-to-be officially named blend, dubbed “special brew”, was bought by BP and Austria’s OMV. New volumes are expected this month but traders said the crude would not be an adequate substitute for Libyan easy-to-refine, light, sweet oil.

Kuwait Airways to pursue Iraq assets - The National

Lawyers for Kuwait Airways have vowed to seize international assets owned by the Iraqi government following a recent court ruling in its long-running dispute with Iraqi Airways.

A UK court ruling has granted Kuwait Airways the right to file proceedings against the Iraqi government and ministries of transport and finance as it seeks to recoup assets to satisfy judgments worth almost US$1.3 billion (Dh4.77bn) for the theft of planes and engines during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

"We will very soon be hunting for state of Iraq assets as well as Iraqi Airways assets," said Christopher Gooding, a lawyer representing Kuwait Airways, who added the judgment "expands the range of assets available for enforcement".

Kuwait's Agility in $88 mln Q4 loss, misses forecast | Reuters

Kuwait's Agility (AGLT.KW), the logistics firm facing U.S. fraud charges, posted a fourth-quarter net loss of 24.5 million dinars ($88.3 million), missing forecasts.

The loss in the three months to Dec 31 compared to a 40.9 million dinar profit in the year-earlier period, Agility said in a statement on Saturday.

Analysts had estimated an average net profit of 13.3 million dinars in a Reuters survey.

Dubai sees growth due to regional uprisings | Australian News.Net

Regional political turmoil in the Middle East has unexpectedly reversed the fortunes of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, with tourists, businessmen and investors seeing the emirate as a safe-haven once more.

In 2008 and through 2009 Dubai suffered a spectacular debt-crisis, which saw the boom-town experience capital flight as investors shied away, while unemployment rose, tourist numbers plummeted and hotel rooms went empty.

But, now Dubai is seen as a safe investment once more and businesses effected by instability in Bahrain, Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Jordan are relocating employees to the emirate, while businessmen are closing regional deals at Dubai hotels, rather than in protest-prone neighbouring countries.

Nasdaq, ICE bid to snatch NYSE from Germans - The Economic Times

Greifeld promised shareholders far bigger cost savings than in the German deal, but he did not say how severe the job losses would be. He said Nasdaq would keep the NYSE floor -- the icon of capitalism that was created in 1792 by brokers and merchants who met under a buttonwood tree in lower Manhattan .

Upstart trading venues like BATS have eaten deep into the market share of these traditional venues, forcing them in the last decade to upgrade and embrace electronic trading -- and to look to mergers to survive.

Nasdaq, the smallest of the four exchanges in play, needed to do something to stay relevant in the years ahead, some said. If it and ICE succeed, the world's largest bourse operators would be headquartered in the United States, Brazil, and Asia -- leaving Europe with a bruised Deutsche Boerse.