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Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Glencore: the Abu Dhabi link | beyondbrics –

Glencore HQThe emergence of Abu Dhabi as the biggest outside investor in Glencore speaks volumes for the willingness of the Gulf state to develop deep ties with global business groups.
In making industrial investments, Abu Dhabi is following in the footsteps of Kuwait, which more than 20 years ago bought into British Petroleum and other US and European companies. But Abu Dhabi is putting far more emphasis on trying to draw its partners into helping to develop the Gulf state economy. As Glencore will have been told, this is not just about money. It’s about building Abu Dhabi into a global commercial centre.
At first sight it might seem strange that the $1bn investment in Glencore – $850 million plus $150 million in the Glencore’s IPO – is coming through Aabar Investments, a diversified state-owned investment vehicle, that holds, for example, 9 per cent of Daimler.
After all, Abu Dhabi already boasts its own commodities trader - Abu Dhabi Sources (ADS), which was established last year, as the FT reported. It might seem the logical vehicle for the Glencore investment.

MENA stock markets close - May 4, 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)

FT Alphaville » Ivan Glasenberg – The $9.6bn man

It’s out, and longer than Tolstoy’s War & Peace.

Presenting the Glencore prospectus, which is so big we can’t upload it to our servers — but you can find the 134MB file on Scribd once it loads!

MGM Resorts loss narrows in first quarter on rising revenue - VEGAS INC

Casino operator MGM Resorts International said Wednesday its first-quarter loss narrowed to $89.9 million as its overall revenue rose slightly, but gambling revenue fell 5 percent.

The results compare with a loss of $96.7 million during the same quarter last year for the Las Vegas company in which billionaire Kirk Kerkorian is a major investor. This year's loss amounts to 18 cents per share, compared with 22 cents per share last year.

MGM Resorts said revenue rose 3 percent to $1.5 billion as room rates increased, convention business improved and its hotel-casinos had fewer vacancies.

UAE's Air Arabia Q1 net profit drops, misses estimates | Reuters

Low cost carrier Air Arabia (AIRA.DU) posted a 14.6 percent drop in first-quarter net profit on Wednesday, missing estimates, as rising fuel costs continue to challenge regional carriers.

Air Arabia earned a net profit of 42.7 million dirhams ($11.63 million) for the first-quarter of 2011, down from 50 million dirhams it reported during the same period in 2010, it said in a statement.

Five analysts forecasted an average net profit of 49.6 million in a Reuters survey in April.

What next for Bahrain? - Bahrain - Zawya

On Friday evening in Bahrain's restaurant district, Adliya, scores of people spill out from crowded caf├ęs onto roads packed with cars unable to find spaces to park. Stability has returned to Bahrain, but the unrest that swept through the country in February and March and the ensuing crackdown on anti-government protesters and opposition figures has come at a hefty price.
Bahrain's economy, which grew at 4.5 per cent last year, is expected to suffer a significant blow in 2011, as weeks of demonstrations, the imposition of martial law and the arrival of troops from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, take their toll.

Though the government is still plumping for a relatively healthy economic growth this year, economists are more circumspect.

Islamic banking: gaining traction in ME | beyondbrics –

Dubai Islamic BankThe Middle East may be the heart of Islam and its investors may have plenty of liquidity, but the region’sIslamic banking sector remains relatively immature and undeveloped compared to markets in Muslim south Asia.

But although the recent turmoil in the Middle East has certainly done the local Islamic finance industry no favours, new financial products and regulations are appearing across the region, helping the sector mature both in core Gulf countries and those such as Jordan and Oman that have so far had have limited sharia-compliant options.

Most recently, the Sultanate of Oman on Tuesday issued a royal decree allowing the establishment of the first Islamic banks in the country.

Abu Dhabi's Aabar commits US$850 million to Glencore IPO-

Abu Dhabi's Aabar Investments has committed to invest US$850 million in Glencore International AG's US$10 billion initial public offering, becoming the biggest cornerstone investor in the offering, according to a term sheet seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

Government of Singapore Investment Corp (GIC) was investing US$400 million, while BlackRock Inc was investing US$360 million, the term sheet showed.

Other cornerstone investors included Credit Suisse Private Bank and Och Ziff, both agreeing to buy US$175 million worth of shares, the term sheet showed.

Abu Dhabi 44th largest global economy - Emirates 24/7

High growth over the past decades has turned Abu Dhabi into the 44th largest economy in the world and the emirate is expected to move ahead to the 41st rank in 2015, according to a local economist.

In 1973, just two years after the UAE was created, Abu Dhabi was ranked 71st largest global economy and it accounted for nearly five per cent of the combed GDP of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), said Giyas Gokkent, chief economist at the government-controlled National Bank of Abu Dhabi.

“In 2010, Abu Dhabi became the 44th largest economy and accounted for 17 per cent of the GCC’s GDP,” he told an investment seminar in Abu Dhabi.

Bahrain offshore banking assets fell 10 pct in unrest | Reuters

Assets of Bahrain's offshore banks fell 10 percent to $134.9 billion during the island kingdom's political unrest in March, central bank data showed on Wednesday, their lowest levels since 2005.

At least 13 protesters and four policemen were killed and hundreds injured in clashes during protests that gripped the country for weeks in February and March.

Bahrain's government declared martial law and invited troops from Gulf neighbours into the country to help quell the unrest in a crackdown on a protester camp near Manama's financial district on March 16.

FT Alphaville » Glencore IPO term sheet

FT Alphaville » Bahrain bank flight, quantified

Q. What happens when your prized offshore banking system is occupied by Saudi Arabia?

A. This:

(Click to enlarge)

The tables above are from the Bahrain central bank’s financial statistics for March 2011, a month in which the political unrest facing the country peaked, and Saudi troops moved in.

The data show the state of assets and liabilities of wholesale banks in Bahrain. While we’d note that this kind of figure is naturally wont to vary from month to month, you can see the significant decline in March. Indeed total assets fell 10 per cent, to $134.9bn, as Reuters reports. Assets in foreign banks as well as liabilities via foreign non-banks also record notable declines, as highlighted.

So what, you might ask. Bahrain is already doomed in its bid to become the financial centre of the Gulf.

True, but we almost wonder whether more money would have sucked out but for the Gulf states’ decision to hold Bahrain in a brutal embrace. After all, most of these banks have ties to other lenders in the region, and it’s certainly not unusual for Gulf banks to subordinate business to political bonds when asked — viz. the Dubai World debt work-out where bank loans were restructured but bondholders (and Dubai political pride) generally kept whole.

The data won’t tell us but it’s something to consider.

Autocracy and offshore. Hell of a combination.

Moves to freeze assets heat up - The National

The international financial crackdown on leaders of Arab countries where protests flared this spring continues to intensify.

The US last Friday imposed asset freezes on Maher al Assad, the brother of the Syrian president Bashar al Assad, and Atif Najib, his cousin. The US also imposed new sanctions on the country's general intelligence directorate and Ali Mamluk, who heads the agency. They are accused of overseeing military units that violently put down protests, resulting in the deaths of at least 400 people.

The sanctions are only the most recent in a growing list of asset freezes and other financial pressure brought to bear against embattled and deposed Arab leaders including Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, the former Tunisian president, Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted as Egypt's president in February, and Muammar Qaddafi, Libya's leader.

Swiss freeze $960m of assets belonging to North African dictators - The National

Swiss authorities have frozen hundreds of millions of dollars of assets belonging to Muammar Qaddafi, Libya's leader, and the deposed presidents of Egypt and Tunisia.

The freeze on assets totalling US$960 million (Dh3.52 billion), announced yesterday by the Swiss foreign ministry, was one of the most dramatic in the wake of uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia and violence in Libya. In February the US froze about $30bn in assets held by Col Qaddafi's regime.

Authorities in Switzerland said yesterday they blocked 360m Swiss francs (Dh1.53bn) held by Col Qaddafi following a raft of sanctions imposed by the UN, EU and dozens of individual countries over the regime's violent suppression of a rebellion against its 32-year rule.

ADX listing plan back on track - The National

The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) has revived a plan for companies to list bonds and sukuk on the capital's stock exchange and is seeking its first issuer.

The plan, which emerged in July last year, encountered snags including the region's recent bout of political unrest, according to Rashid al Baloushi, the deputy chief executive of the ADX.

But after the completion of regulatory changes, the exchange is seeking its inaugural bond or sukuk to act as a benchmark for future issuances.

Saudi equity market cap reaches SR1.35 trillion - Arab News

The Saudi stock market declined as most Gulf markets gave back gains on Tuesday. Petrochemical stocks headed losses on the Saudi bourse, with Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC) and Saudi Arabian Fertilizers Co. (SAFCO) falling 0.89 percent to SR111 and 0.56 percent to SR178, respectively.

The Tadawul All-Share Index fell 0.38 percent to close at 6,694.14 points on Tuesday.

The petrochemicals index ended down 0.72 percent to 6,999.89 points, but analysts said it was likely to bounce back on the back of strong first-quarter earnings and high oil prices, Reuters reported.

AFP: Saudi unlikely to lift oil output quickly: analysts

Saudi Arabia is unlikely to boost oil production quickly to ease the rise of crude prices, because it needs high prices for its own increased spending, analysts at an international banking think tank said Tuesday.

After producing 8.6 million barrels a day in 2010, the world's leading oil supplier will only kick up production to about 8.9 million barrels this year, said analysts at the Washington-based Institute of International Finance.

They said Riyadh needs the higher prices to offset its sharp increase in spending, an effort aimed in part at assuaging Saudis amid a surge in public unrest across the Middle East and North Africa.

Oman opens door to Islamic banks to curb fund outflows - Arab News

Oman will finally open the door to Islamic banking and let conventional lenders run Shariah-compliant operations in a bid to keep investment funds in the state and grab a share of the rapidly growing industry.

A central bank official said applications were open for the creation of Oman’s first standalone Islamic bank, after a decree from ruler Sultan Qaboos bin Said.

“His Majesty approved the establishment of an Islamic Bank and allowing the banks in the Sultanate to open new branches if they wish so,” a circular posted on Oman News Agency said.

Business : UAE economy to expand 4% on higher oil output

Higher oil and gas output and its firm prices along with a modest pick-up in non-oil actvitity will accelerate the UAE’s real economic growth to four per cent year-on-year in 2011 and will lift it even further stronger to 5.1 per cent in 2012, an economist said
The growth forecast is stronger than the latest International Monetary Fund’s estimate of a 3.3 per cent economic expansion for the year.

“Economic activity has rebounded in the United Arab Emirates supported by strong policy measures to stimulate growth, “ said Dr Giyas Gokkent, the Group Chief Economist at NBAD.Speaking at the 4th UAE Global Investment Forum in the capital, he said: “Increasing oil production should support output growth as energy prices 
remain firm."