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Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Songbird says Qatar, Glick family up stakes | Reuters

Songbird Estates (SBDE.L), majority owner of Canary Wharf Group, said on Wednesday its two biggest shareholders, Qatar Holding and Simon Glick had increased their stakes in the company.

Qatar Holding, a subsidiary of the country's sovereign wealth fund, acquired 28.5 million ordinary shares, raising its stake by 3.7 percent to 27.7 percent, Songbird said in a statement to the London bourse.

GF Investments II, an investment vehicle for Simon Glick and his family, bought 8.8 million shares, increasing its stake by 1.1 percent to 25.1 percent, it said.

Emerging market status for UAE, Qatar 'doubtful'

Qatar and the UAE have failed to meet key requirements to be upgraded to emerging market status, potentially denying the lacklustre markets access to multibillion dollar liquidity.

Influential index compiler MSCI will announce its verdict in June and may snub the two countries for a third time, with Qatar failing to raise foreign ownership limits and UAE bourses yet to say when they will switch to a new settlement system.

Low trading volumes and regional unrest are also dampening prospects for Qatar and the UAE to be raised from frontier markets.

Qatari Diar shortlisted for London Olympic Village bid - Real Estate - ArabianBusiness.com

Qatari Diar, the property arm of the Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, is among three bidders shortlisted to own and manage the Olympic Village in London, it emerged Wednesday.

The state-owned firm, which submitted a joint bid with British property developer Delancey, was shortlisted from a group of by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), the agency said.

The two rival bids were from Hutchison Whampoa Limited and the Wellcome Trust.

MENA stock markets close - April 6, 2011

ExchangeStatus IndexChange
TASI (Saudi Stock Market)
6574.630.40%
DFM (Dubai Financial Market)
1557.641.30%
ADX (Abudhabi Securities Exchange)
2591.580.06%
KSE (Kuwait Stock Exchange)
6326.50.36%
BSE (Bahrain Stock Exchange)
1411.87-0.45%
MSM (Muscat Securities Market)
6271.53-0.30%
QE (Qatar Exchange)
8591.771.12%
LSE (Beirut Stock Exchange)
1403.63-0.13%
EGX 30 (Egypt Exchange)
5477.630.13%
ASE (Amman Stock Exchange)
2232.930.72%
TUNINDEX (Tunisia Stock Exchange)
4360.66-0.10%
CB (Casablanca Stock Exchange)
11899.41.00%
PSE (Palestine Securities Exchange)
483.970.06%

Bahrain, Oman Economic Growth Forecasts Cut at Barclays Capital - Bloomberg

Bahrain’s and Oman’s economies will grow less than previously forecast this year as uprisings in the two Persian Gulf states take a toll on industries such as financial services and tourism.

Bahrain’s real gross domestic product will expand 1.4 percent, down from a previous forecast of 4.3 percent, Barclay’s Capital senior economist Alia Moubayed said in an e-mailed report today. Oman’s economic growth was downgraded to 4.5 percent from 5.2 percent, the report said.

The forecast bears a “risk to the downside should the situation in Bahrain deteriorate further,” the report said. In countries where “severe unrest occurred, primarily in Bahrain and to a lesser extent in Oman, non-hydrocarbon growth is likely to slow despite the expected increase in government spending and support from neighboring GCC states.”

Bahrain’s Sovereign Ratings Lowered; Outlook Negative « Eurasia Review

Capital Intelligence (CI), the international credit rating agency, said Wednesday that is has downgraded Bahrain’s Long-term Foreign and Local Currency ratings to ‘BBB+’ from ‘A’ and lowered its Short-term Foreign and Local Currency ratings to ‘A2′ from ‘A1′. The Outlook is ‘Negative’.

The downgrade in Bahrain’s credit ratings reflects the recent increase in political risk, which may have adverse consequences for economic growth and public finances in the short-term and beyond. The downgrade also takes into account the weakening of fiscal flexibility over the past few years, which has reduced the authorities’ capacity to cope with external shocks and will be harder to restore in the current climate.

Bahrain’s ratings are supported by the authorities’ track record of prudent macroeconomic management (notwithstanding weaker fiscal performance in the past two years), moderate – albeit increasing- government debt and the country’s small net external creditor position.

Palestine Exchange: 74% Of Listed Companies Profitable In 2010 « Eurasia Review

The Palestine Exchange said Wednesday The audited financial results of 2010 demonstrated that thirty one out of forty two listed companies on its exchange achieved profits in 2010.

According to the exchange, forty (40) out of forty two (42) listed companies on PEX disclosed their audited financial results for the year 2010 within the legal period.

Two listed companies missed disclosure deadline.

Middle East Oil Rises; Saudi Cuts Export Prices to Asia Refiners - Bloomberg

Middle East crude oils rose on speculation demand from refiners will climb amid surging processing profits.

Oman oil for immediate loading increased $1.66, or 1.5 percent, to $115.32 a barrel today, according to Bloomberg data. That’s the highest since August 2008. Dubai for loading in June was up 1.5 percent at $114.89 and Murban crude climbed 1.4 percent to $118.36.

Demand for crude has climbed as refiners are ramping up runs to take advantage of rising processing profits. Gasoil’s premium to Dubai, a measure of profitability, was at $22.15 a barrel today, up from $20.61 a month ago, according to data from broker PVM Oil Associates Ltd.

Bahrain BFX to launch normal trade after delay

The Bahrain Financial Exchange (BFX) expects to begin trading on its conventional platform in the next two weeks after delaying a scheduled launch because of political unrest, its top executive said.

BFX, owned by India's Financial Technologies, was launched in February this year as a multi-asset exchange aiming to offer trading in both conventional and Islamic products in equities, derivatives, commodities and currencies.

It launched its Islamic platform on Feb. 7 and was planning to begin trading of conventional assets a month later, but had to scale back on the plans as violence erupted in the tiny non-OPEC oil-producing country.

Kuwait’s Stock Exchange: gambling den no more? | beyondbrics – FT.com

 Stock Exchange in Kuwait City on December 23, 2008Kuwait’s stock market may be one of the oldest and largest in the Arab world, but has long been synonymous with rampant market abuses such as insider trading and pump-and-dump trading by powerful merchant investors. That may be about to change.

Spurred on by the financial crisis, which caused the exchange to shed almost two thirds of its market capitalisation, Kuwait last year introduced a new regulatory framework, and this year established a dedicated Capital Markets Authority to enforce the new rulebook.

Many Kuwaiti investors blame the absence of a dedicated regulator and supine stock exchange for crashes that have wiped out savings several times since the bourse was established in 1962 – most notably the “Soukh al-Manakh” crash of 1982.

Qatar National Bank Q1 net profit jumps 35 pct - Maktoob News

Qatar National Bank (QNB), the Gulf state's largest lender by market value, posted a 34.8 percent rise in first-quarter net profit on Wednesday boosted by strong loan growth and a jump in interest income.

Net profit in the three months to March 31 rose to 1.7 billion riyals ($467.3 million), the company said in a statement, compared with 1.27 billion riyals in the prior year period.

QNB is the first major regional lender to report earnings and is closely watched for indications of the sector's performance.

Qatar Shares Advance to Six-Week High on Earnings Expectations - Bloomberg

Qatar shares rose to a six-week high, led by banks, on bets first-quarter earnings in the Persian Gulf nation will beat expectations and after the central bank cut interest rates yesterday.

Qatar National Bank SAQ (QNBK), the Persian Gulf country’s biggest lender, headed for the highest close since March 20 before reporting first-quarter profit. Masraf Al Rayan (MARK), the nation’s second-largest Islamic lender, rallied 7 percent. The QE Index (DSM) increased 1.1 percent to 8,593.16, the highest intraday level since Feb. 21, at 12:37 p.m. in Doha. The Qatar Exchange Banking Sector Index rose 2 percent.

“The market is placing its bets on Qatar National Bank numbers which will kick off the earnings season in Qatar and set the overall sentiment,” said Amro Halwani, a senior trader at Shuaa Capital PSC in Riyadh. “Qatar Central Bank’s rate cut likely reflects improved liquidity in the system on the back of rising hydrocarbons revenue, which is also giving the Qatari banking sector a boost.”

Going after the 'big fish'

A crack team of investigators from Dubai World are chasing “big fish” conmen who have ripped-off the firm.

Abdulqader Obaid Ali, the company’s chief of internal audit, yesterday revealed about 300 fraud cases have been opened as a result of internal investigations in the last three years - adding that 28 of those have ended in court.

Almost 18 months after Dubai World made global headlines with its request for a debt “standstill”, the firm’s eight-man anti-fraud unit is targeting those Obaid Ali says are “hammours” or “big fish”.

Limitless of Dubai Said to Get Four-Month Extension on $1.2 Billion Loan - Bloomberg

Limitless LLC received a fourth extension on a $1.2 billion loan as the real-estate developer controlled by state-owned Dubai World works on a restructuring plan, two bankers familiar with the plan said.

The Islamic syndicated loan has been extended until July 31 from March 31 without a change in the terms, the bankers said, declining to be identified because the information is private. The time will allow Limitless to complete a debt restructuring agreement with creditor banks, one of the bankers said.

“Private discussions are continuing with our lenders,” Limitless said in an e-mailed response to questions.

DP World to Swap One Share for 20 Ahead of London Listing - Businessweek

DP World Ltd., the Dubai World- controlled company that operates ports from Europe to Asia, will seek investors’ approval to combine 20 shares into one before a dual listing on the London Stock Exchange.

The consolidation “will better position DP World’s share price alongside global companies,” DP World said in an e-mailed statement today. Shareholders will receive one $2 share for every 20 existing shares of 10 cents each. Trading in the new shares is likely to begin on May 19.

The move will have “very little impact other than to increase the notional value of EPS and dividends,” said Julian Bruce, equity sales head at EFG-Hermes Holding in Dubai. There are “some suggestions that the move would also avoid the issue of the stock being listed in London as a penny share,” he said.

UAE: here comes the (long, hot) summer | beyondbrics – FT.com

No one yet wants to predict the economic impact of the ongoing unrest that is gripping the Arab world. For the likes of Egypt, Tunisia and Bahrain, which are not big oil exporters, the mind boggles.

But elsewhere it is not all bad news. The seven emirates of the UAE – well, two of them – have been having a solid 2011. Whisper it quietly but Dubai, a sunny place for shady people, has been doing rather nicely. It is quite like the old days.

Ignoring the emirate’s ongoing debt problems and last year’s major restructurings of state related enterprises, Sami Al Qamzi, director general of Dubai’s department of economic development, claimed at a conference last week that “interest in Dubai as a safe hub for investments has increased during the past two to three years … This interest has increased lately, especially with Dubai offering sound infrastructure and stability for businesses”. Two to three years.

Oil near 2-1/2-year peak on Middle East, weak dollar | Reuters

Oil prices stayed near a 2-1/2 year peak on Wednesday supported by widespread unrest in the Middle East and North Africa and dollar weakness ahead of Europe's central bank rate decision on Thursday.

Brent crude traded above $122 a barrel at 0830 GMT and U.S. crude was at $108.5 a barrel, broadly flat versus Tuesday's close.

The European central bank is expected to raise interest rates by 0.25 percent on Thursday in the first hike since the 2008 financial crisis. The expectations have propelled the euro to a 14-month high while the dollar index was down 0.37 percent at 0835 GMT.

gulfnews : AMD amends Globalfoundries supply accord

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Intel Corp's largest competitor in computer processors, amended a supply agreement with Globalfoundries Inc to pay only for chips that work.

The companies changed the agreement covering chips made on the latest technology for this year, Sunnyvale, California-based AMD said in a statement. AMD will also record a $492 million (Dh1.8 billion), non-cash gain in the first quarter because of dilution of its holding in Globalfoundries.

The revision is intended to give Globalfoundries an incentive to improve production of 32-nanometer chips this year. Under their previous deal, AMD paid for all chips produced at cost of production plus a markup for Globalfoundries.

GCC limits block foreign investment - The National

Foreign ownership limits and licensing delays are among the main barriers to foreign investment in the GCC, says a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

"[The] private sector perceives the restrictions to foreign ownership and approval requirements as key obstacles," said the report, published in draft form yesterday.

Restrictive quotas such as nationalisation policies and sponsorship requirements were other hurdles to international business, it said.

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank hires advisors for Malaysia sale - bi-me.com

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank ADCB.AD, which is considering selling its 25% stake in Malaysia's RHB Capital RHBC.L, hired Goldman Sachs (GS.N) and BOA-Merrill Lynch as advisors, its chief executive said.

Ala'a Eraiqat said on Tuesday that a firm decision on the sale of the stake, valued at US$1.4 billion, had yet to be made.

"We have agreed to appoint Goldman Sachs and Bank of America-Merrill Lynch ((BAC.N)), two international firms for the sale," said Eraiqat, speaking at the lender's annual meeting.

Shifting Sands: Saudi Arabia's Oil Moves East to China - Arabic Knowledge@Wharton

The pivotal year was 2009, according to the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA). It was then that China consumed more energy than any other country in the world, even the U.S., prompting an expert at the IEA expert to proclaim "the start of a new age in the history of energy."

For Saudi Arabia, which has the world's largest oil reserves and is the world's largest oil exporter, that new age couldn’t begin fast enough. Over the past 10 years or so, the Kingdom had been forging closer trade ties with China, becoming its key source of oil. In 2009, Saudi oil exports to China reached one million barrels per day (bpd), or 20% of its total oil imports and nearly double the number of barrels it exported the previous year; in contrast, U.S. imports of Saudi oil fell to less than one million bpd in 2009 for the first time in over two decades.

According to Tim Niblock, professor of Arab Gulf studies at the University of Exeter in the U.K., the growing Sino-Saudi oil trade is a reflection of the two countries' "mutually dependent relationship that has advanced fairly steadily since 2000." The Chinese need Saudi Arabia as a stable, established oil producer -- all the more so today as turmoil across the Middle East continues, pushing the price of Brent crude to as high as US$116 a barrel in early March, and the Kingdom calms markets with pledges to increase production to fill any shortfall in supply. The Saudis need China’s burgeoning demand for oil in light of flat, or even decreasing, demand among consumers in developed markets. Even with the Chinese government lowering the official target earlier this year for average GDP growth over the next five years to 7% from 7.5%, the country's thirst for oil looks unlikely to abate.

DFI reports preliminary gold results from Saudi Arabian property - Energy Business Review

Diamond Fields International (DFI) has reported the preliminary gold assay results as part of a 43-101 resource statement being prepared for the Atlantis II property in the Red Sea, Saudi Arabia.

The company is preparing the 43-101 resource statement jointly with Manafa International.

Cores 3M268, 3M338, 3M567 in the South West basin of the Atlantis II analyzed as part of the a due diligence study on cores originally sampled in the late 1970's have yielded consistent levels of gold mineralization over the sampling intervals, and are open at depth.

Saudi urged to consider inviting in Gulf airlines | Reuters

An advisory council in Saudi Arabia has called for a study on allowing Gulf airlines to fly domestic routes in the biggest Arab economy as the national carrier struggles to meet demand, a spokesman said.

"The Shoura Council (recommended) a study on allowing some Gulf airline carriers to operate within the kingdom," Mohammed Almohanna, a council spokesman, told Reuters by telephone on Tuesday.

The Shoura Council, which advises the rulers of the world's biggest oil exporter, urged the civil aviation body to carry out the study.

gulfnews : UAE, Qatar benefit from regional inflows

The UAE and Qatar are benefiting from the flight of resources from trouble spots to safe havens and rising oil prices as a result of growing supply risks, according to Standard Chartered economists.

"Abu Dhabi and Qatar are benefiting from the surge in oil prices as a result of increased risk perception on the supply-side impact of the political turmoil in the region. Dubai on the other hand is benefiting due to its safe haven status. With more resources moving, sectors such as retail and hospitality are set to benefit," said Marios Maratheftis, the bank's Head of Research, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Americas.

Mubadala to test debt appetite with bond sale

Abu Dhabi fund Mubadala will test international demand for Gulf debt in the midst of regional political upheaval when it begins investor meetings in London on Wednesday ahead of a potential bond issue.

Government-owned Mubadala, which has stakes in AMD, General Electric, and private equity firm Carlyle, announced roadshows last month in Europe, Asia, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.

It would become the second Abu Dhabi entity to tap international capital markets this year after International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC) issued $4.3 billion equivalent in sterling and euro-denominated bonds in March.

FT.com - Jordanian call for reform unanswered

From the palaces and mosques to the streets and coffee houses, Jordan is gripped by one burning question: how long can this normally placid desert kingdom stand apart from the political revolution sweeping the Arab world?

The question is gaining in urgency. Opposition activists have taken to the streets of Amman and other Jordanian cities since January, but their calls for political reform and an end to corruption have so far gone unanswered. This has sowed frustration, and is now leading some protesters – most notably a new “March 24” youth movement – to escalate their demands.

For the time being, even the most outspoken critics say they want reform, not revolution. The ruling Hashemite dynasty, seen by most Jordanians as an anchor of stability in a country marked by long-running social divisions, remains largely immune from public criticism.