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Friday, 15 April 2011

Morocco royal firm plays down profits amid protests | Reuters

SNI, the investment holding company controlled by Morocco's royal family, said its 2010 consolidated earnings were bolstered by a merger and its performance last year was not as rosy as it seemed.

This week's announcement of a surge in consolidated net profit and assets came amid persistent street protests for King Mohammed to give up political powers and reduce his business clout. )

In August SNI and ONA Group, in which SNI already held a majority stake, both delisted from the Casablanca bourse to pave the way for a merger that would see ONA transfer all its assets to SNI.

OT's Sawaris casts doubt on Djezzy talks | Reuters

Egypt's Orascom Telecom (OT) chairman on Thursday expressed doubt that Russia's Vimpelcom would succeed in talks over a dispute with the Algerian government over OT's Djezzy unit.

The long-running dispute over Djezzy, OT's biggest single source of revenue, has complicated a $6 billion-plus deal for Vimpelcom to take control of OT and its parent, Wind Telecom.

Vimpelcom's shareholders last month approved the takeover, which is expected to close by May.

Oil steady as China growth holds, eyes inflation | Reuters

Brent crude held steady above $122 a barrel on Friday after China's economic growth beat forecasts despite government efforts to cool expansion and put the brakes on inflation.

Strong growth in the world's second-largest oil consumer is bullish for fuel demand, but may stoke concern that Beijing will tighten monetary policy again in moves that could slow consumption.

Prices were also supported by nagging worries that more supply in the Middle East and Africa could be at risk as fighting in Libya continued.

Nasdaq-NYSE Not Dead as $1.3 Billion More Looming: Real M&A - Businessweek

Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. may be able to add about $1.3 billion in cash to its bid for NYSE Euronext, according to borrowing levels for its previous acquisitions.

Nasdaq OMX could increase the $42.88 a share offer it made with IntercontinentalExchange Inc. by about $5.10 before its ratio of debt to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization matched the weighted average level of previous takeovers, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, Sandler O’Neill & Partners LP and the New York-based company. Lenders have already pledged $2.1 billion.

Borrowing the additional amount would put the company’s investment-grade credit rating in jeopardy, a risk it may be willing to bear to beat Deutsche Boerse AG of Frankfurt in bidding for the New York Stock Exchange owner, Macquarie Group Ltd. said. NYSE Euronext is weighing its own incentives for shareholders after rejecting Nasdaq OMX and ICE’s offer even though it’s valued 16 percent higher than Deutsche Boerse’s.

gulfnews : Nakheel's $10.9b restructuring likely to favour lenders

Developer Nakheel, restructuring $10.9 billion (Dh40 billion) in debt, has offered lenders repayment after four and a half years at a rate of 4 per cent on part of its debt in a deal that favours banks, sources said.

The terms of the restructuring, covering mainly bilateral loans and one $1.85 billion syndicated Islamic loan due 2012, vary from the all-lender meeting in July which indicated repayment over five to seven years.

They relate to the syndicated loan, signed in 2007, which about 22 banks participated in, one of the sources said, and an agreement could be close. Nakheel said in March it hoped to conclude its restructuring by the end of the second quarter.

SME equity market gains approval - The National

An equity market for small companies has been approved by the "highest authorities" in Dubai, the chief executive of the government agency Dubai SME says.

Abdul Baset al Janahi said Dubai SME and the Department for Economic Development (DED) were working hard to implement a small-business bourse to create a "huge opportunity" for investors.

"The DIFC [Dubai International Financial Centre], the DFM [Dubai Financial Market], all of us are on the same table," Mr al Janahi said on the sidelines of Franchise UAE, a conference in Dubai to promote franchising in the Emirates.

Ipic to bring in Nova Chemicals - The National

International Petroleum Investment Company (Ipic) is seeking to bring Nova Chemicals to Abu Dhabi, as the government-owned company switches focus to the domestic petrochemical industry.

Abu Dhabi is embarking on a US$20 billion (Dh73.45bn) investment in petrochemicals by building a chemical city known as ChemaWEyaat in the Western Region. The aim is to add value to the oil and gas industries and diversify the structure of the economy.

Ipic is a 40 per cent shareholder in ChemaWEyaat, but also owns several other ventures including Nova Chemicals in Canada, which it bought in July 2009, and a 64 per cent stake in Borealis, a chemicals company based in Austria.

Mubadala of Abu Dhabi Sells $1.5 Billion Bonds at Premium to Existing Debt - Bloomberg

Mubadala Development Co., an Abu Dhabi government-owned investor with stakes in Carlyle Group and General Electric Co. (GE), paid a premium over its existing debt to raise $1.5 billion in bonds.

Mubadala priced $750 million of 3.75 percent notes due April 2016 to yield about 3.98 percent, or 180 basis points more than similar-maturity Treasuries yesterday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That is 114 basis points, or 1.14 percentage points, more than the existing 5.75 percent five-year dollar-denonimated bonds, which yielded 2.84 percent today.

“I think Mubadala got a fair deal,” said Abdul Kadir Hussain, who helps oversee $2 billion in fixed-income assets as chief executive officer at Mashreq Capital in Dubai. “They paid a premium to their existing bonds, but this is normal for a new issue, otherwise you risk the bond underperforming.”

Oil Gains a Third Day After Reports Saudi Arabia Cut Production This Month - Bloomberg

Oil gained for a third day in New York, after a Saudi Arabia-based economist said the holder of the world’s biggest crude reserves cut production this month, signaling supply may shrink.

Futures climbed as much as 0.6 percent today, paring the week’s decline to 3.7 percent, after John Sfakianakis, chief economist at Riyadh-based Banque Saudi Fransi, said the kingdom reduced output by 300,000 barrels a day. Barclays Plc said the country may be lowering production of its lighter oil blends introduced in response to the slump from Libya. Prices also advanced yesterday after the U.S. dollar fell, increasing the appeal of raw materials.

“Reduced production of the country’s lighter blends in response to Libyan outages suggests supply may tighten,” Mark Pervan, head of commodity research at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. in Melbourne, said in a note today. “On the other hand, it could imply that demand is weak for Saudi light crude blends. The weaker U.S. dollar helped” prices, he said.

Oaks ups guidance, may take hit on Dubai | Herald Sun

TAKEOVER target Oaks Hotels and Resorts Ltd has increased its earnings outlook but warned it may take a $5.3 million hit on its Dubai operations.

The company was experiencing strong occupancy and room rates in the second half, said Douglas Wong, chairman of the Brisbane company.

"In view of these positive trading trends, the group confirms that it currently expects (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) EBITDA from core operations to be in the range of $33 million to $35 million," Mr Wong said in a statement.

GCC fiscal policy is beginning to show signs of diverging - Arab News

The Gulf countries, thanks to their dollars pegs (barring Kuwait), have been able to rely on the low interest rate stance of the US Federal Reserve as a source of relief during a protracted economic crisis. However, it is above all their fiscal policy activism that accounts for the resilience of these economies in the face of major global, as well as regional, shocks, the Jeddah-based National Commercial Bank (NCB) said in its GCC Economic Review for Q1, 2011.

Following the onset of the crisis, all the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) governments quickly stepped in to support aggregate demand and to ensure the largely uninterrupted continuation of their ambitious development agendas. Government expenditure has underpinned economic growth in the region at a time when private sector behavior has been characterized by persistent risk aversion and credit constraints. For instance in Saudi Arabia, public sector GDP growth in 2010 attained 5.9 percent, whereas the private sector mustered a much more modest, but still internationally respectable 3.7 percent.

In spite of growing optimism about the global recovery until recently, the Gulf governments have been slow to embrace explicit exit strategies, even though government budgets have typically projected far slower expenditure than revenue growth. On the whole, however, policymakers have typically recognized the exceptional uncertainty of the international environment and used continued fiscal stimulus spending to underpin confidence and growth. With the onset of a period of political instability in North Africa, this approach has left them in a position where policy continuity has once again presented itself as a logical response to the evolving circumstances.

Kerkorian to leave MGM Resorts board in June

MGM Resorts International founder Kirk Kerkorian will leave the company's board of directors in June, the casino operator announced Thursday morning.

Kerkorian, 93, who holds a 27 percent stake in the casino operator through his privately held Tracinda Corp., will become a senior advisor to the company and hold the title of first director emeritus, but he won't have any voting rights.

In a statement, the company said Kerkorian would have a standing invitation to attend any meeting of the board or its executive committee.

Goldman Sachs boss in talks with Dewa top brass in Dubai - The National

Lloyd Blankfein, the chairman and chief executive of Goldman Sachs and one of the world's most influential bankers, has held talks with executives at the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa).

The Goldman Sachs boss, whose take home pay for last year was recently revealed to be US$19 million (Dh69.7m), met Saeed Mohamed al Tayer, the chief executive of Dewa, who pressed the case for "mutual collaboration" between the organisation and the banking giant on energy-related matters.

Mr Blankfein was also joined by Wassim Younan, the Goldman Sachs chief executive for the Middle East and North Africa in Dubai, and Richard Gnodde, the co-chief executive of Goldman Sachs International in London.