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Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Damac to contest chairman's corruption conviction - The National

Damac Properties, one of Dubai's largest developers, said it would fight the conviction of its chairman on corruption charges by filing a case with the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (Icsid).

The company said Egypt's public prosecutor had filed "spurious charges" against Hussain Sajwani on the basis of a 2006 deal to buy 3,000 hectares of land in Gamsha Bay near the Red Sea with the former tourism minister Zuhair Garranah.

Mr Garranah, Mr Sajwani and another businessman, Hisham Al Hazeq, were sentenced by an Egyptian court on Monday. Mr Sajwani was sentenced to five years imprisonment, fined 242 million Egyptian pounds (Dh149.6m), and ordered to return lands to the Egyptian government. Mr Sajwani was convicted "in absentia" because he was not present for the trial in Egypt.

Up to 500 real estate projects facing axe: RERA -

The number of real estate developments in Dubai facing cancellation this year has risen from 300 to 500, the emirate’s property watchdog said.

The projects and their backers are being assessed for financial viability and a list of the terminated developments will be released “very soon”, the chief executive of RERA said.

“We have finished the technical review, site visits have already been done, so we know what stage the projects are at and the strength of the contractor. Now we’re waiting for the financial audit to finish,” Marwan bin Ghalaita told Arabian Business.

Saudi index near-flat, but volumes surge -

Volumes hit a two-month high on Saudi Arabia's index TASI amid "comfortable" investor sentiment, but the benchmark ended little changed.

"We are still in a good mood because of good earnings that's why the market is comfortable and we don't see a big shift of trends," said a Riyadh-based fund manager who asked not to be identified.

Investor interest was spread across many sectors, with Alinma Development Bank leading trade. The bank rose 1 percent. Telco Zain Saudi climbed 1.4 percent.

MENA stock markets close - May 11, 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)

Qatar Shares Advance to One-Month High on MSCI Market Upgrade Speculation - Bloomberg

Qatar’s shares advanced to the highest level in one month on speculation index provider MSCI Inc. will upgrade the Persian Gulf nation to an emerging market in June.

Qatar National Bank SAQ (QNBK), the Persian Gulf country’s biggest bank by assets, jumped 2.4 percent and Qatar Electricity & Water Co. (QEWS), the state-controlled utility, increased the most in almost a month. The QE Index (DSM) advanced a fourth day, rising 1.2 percent to 8,765.14, the highest since April 14, at the 1:15 p.m. close in Doha. The Bloomberg GCC 200 Index (BGCC200) of regional stocks gained 0.1 percent at 3:11 p.m. in Dubai.

“The rumor mill at work” suggests that “there may soon be an announcement regarding the raising of foreign ownership limits,” said Julian Bruce, equity sales head at EFG-Hermes Holding SAE in Dubai. The assumption is that if the limits are raised it “would remove any remaining barriers for entry into MSCI EM (MXEF),” he said.

Dubai port giant seeks backing for stock deal aimed at joining London exchange - The Washington Post

Port operator DP World says it is seeking shareholder approval to consolidate their holdings before a possible listing on the London Stock Exchange.

A statement by the global cargo handler says it plans to move ahead with the stock deal May 19 if shareholders back the plan at a meeting Wednesday.

The deal would give shareholders one share in exchange for every 20 they own, effectively raising the stock price by 20 times. It would clear the way for plans to list on the London exchange.

Frost & Sullivan perspective on Emirates Group achieving record profit -

The Emirates press release, with details on their financial results, is in line with our expectations, following outstanding performance during the first half of their financial year and current operational challenges, with higher oil prices and the Middle East political crisis.

Their results are also in line with a return to profitability for most major carriers globally, following poor performance in the period 2008-2010. Last year, Emirates was in a position to benefit from low oil prices, higher yields, increase in consumer confidence and record growth in cargo traffic.

Additionally it is in a very strong cash position to further grow capacity, by an average of 10-12 long-haul aircraft annually, allowing it to increase frequencies on existing routes and implement ambitious growth plans in the Americas and South Asia.

Centrica edges up on rumour of possible Qatari interest | Business |

Much recent takeover speculation has been centred on the technology sector, but a new whisper doing the rounds has put Centrica in the picture for a bid.

The British Gas owner is up 4.4p at 313.1p on vague talk of possible interest from the Qataris, with a price of 450p to 480p mentioned. This is not a new thought, but it comes a couple of days after the business issued a disappointing trading update. It warned the coalition's tax on north sea oil and gas production would hit profits, and its shares subdsequently slid to a nine-month low.

However dealers were cautious about the tale. In March there was some talk of a possible bid from Spain's Iberdrola, which bought Scottish Power in 2007. There was also speculation about Qatari intentions, but it was more along the lines of its sovereign wealth fund perhaps taking a stake in Centrica.

DP World sees London listing by end May, early June - Maktoob News

DP World , the world's third-largest port operator, is on track for a dual listing on the London Stock Exchange as early as the end of May, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

DP World also said its consolidated terminals handled 6.8 million twenty-foot equivalent container unit (TEU) in the first quarter, up 8.5 percent from the prior year.

"We remain on track to list on the London Stock Exchange around the end of May or early June," Mohammed Sharaf said in a statement to Nasdaq Dubai.

Dubai's Shuaa Capital makes Q1 loss, cuts 39 jobs - Maktoob News

Shuaa Capital swung to a net quarterly loss as political unrest took a toll and the investment bank said it will cut 10.7 percent of its staff in a move to reduce costs.

Shuaa had a first-quarter net loss of 26.3 million dirhams ($7.16 million), compared with net profit of 19.5 million dirhams for the year-ago period.

The investment bank will cut 39 jobs to help generate 30 million dirhams in annualized savings, it said in a statement.

UAE records large BoP surplus in 2010 - Zawya

A surge in oil prices allied with higher private capital inflow and lower outbound funds transfers by the public sector to turn the UAE's balance of payment deficit into a surplus in 2010, official figures have shown.

The surge also largely widened the country's current account surplus to around Dh41.2 billion in 2010 from nearly Dh28.8 billion in 2009, showed the figures published in the central bank's annual report.

The trade surplus leaped to around Dh106 billion from Dh79.6 billion after hydrocarbon exports soared to nearly Dh275.7 billion from Djh249.2 billion following a sharp rise in crude prices last year.

Abu Dhabi's TAQA Q1 profit falls 47 pct - Maktoob News

Abu Dhabi National Energy Co posted a bigger-than-expected 47 percent drop in first-quarter net profit, hit by increased taxes in the United Kingdom, where it drills for heavy crude in the North Sea.

The state-owned utility made a net profit of 152 million dirhams ($41.38 million) for the quarter, compared with 287 million dirhams for the year-ago period, it said in a statement.

Analysts polled by Reuters forecast an average net profit of 313 million dirhams for the quarter.

Agency downgrades Jordan's Arab Bank - The National

Political tensions in Jordan may have eased, but a downgrade of Arab Bank by Moody's Investors Service will give little relief to shareholders in the Amman lender.

Moody's cut its rating on Arab Bank by one notch to "C minus" from "C" with a "negative" outlook. The bank's Dubai branch was also downgraded in line with the parent company.

The downgrade followed the same ratings agency's lowering of Jordan's sovereign rating to "Ba2" from "Baa3". The kingdom's demotion to "speculative grade" has raised concerns about the exposure of its banks to sovereign debt.

gulfnews : Afro-Asian ventures are good for Dubai

With so much news going around, an interview that Mohammad Al Abbar, Emaar's chairman, gave recently on his new ventures in Africa and Asia passed quietly.

In short, he's building a mining business across Africa and an aluminium smelter in Asia. Al Abbar expects his mining venture, Africa Middle East Resources (AMER), to be worth $10 billion in three years' time. Even half that valuation would be impressive.

Al Abbar, whose chairmanship of Emaar is probably built into its stock valuation, was quick to deny that he was leaving it. But Emaar's stock today hovers at around $0.87 cents, down from its heyday of $3, valuing the company at $4.5 billion (Dh16.55 billion). That's a business that turns 15 next year. Sure, the stock is depressed due to the real estate crisis, but even if we average the valuation at $10 billion, one cannot help but question if running Emaar is everything Al Abbar can or even should do.

gulfnews : Carrier will pay Dh2b dividend

Emirates Group will give Dh2 billion — the highest ever — in dividend for the financial year 2010-11 to its shareholder — the Government of Dubai, Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates airline and Group, said.

He spoke to Gulf News on the sidelines of a press conference to announce the company's earnings for 2010-11.

He said. "Yes, we are announcing a dividend of Dh2 billion to our shareholder. It is the highest dividend we have paid so far.

Property investors still waiting for settlements two years after crash - The National

Real estate investors whose properties remain unfinished are frustrated at what they call a lack of recourse more than two years after Dubai's formerly fast-growing market tumbled.

Processing a court case can take several years and tens of thousands of dirhams, while turning to regulators has often proved inconclusive, according to property purchasers and lawyers.

A minority of investors can seek resolution through the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) courts or through arbitration, but only if they qualify.

Tabreed feels the chill as profits fall by 21% - The National

Tabreed, the Abu Dhabi district cooling company, failed to convert rising revenues from supplying chilled water to buildings into earnings growth in the first three months of the year.

Net profit decreased by 25 per cent to Dh32.8 million (US$8.9m) compared with Dh43.8m in the same period last year. Earnings were hit by higher financing costs, which company officials said came from the final phase of a recapitalisation programme that was completed on April 1.

"Our efforts have remained focused on strengthening our core business of chilled water, which is reflected in the sustained growth of our revenues," said Sujit Parhar, the chief executive of Tabreed. "We continue to improve operational efficiencies and reduce our costs by applying discipline in everything we do."

Gulf Times – Oil price sees Qatar book huge surplus

Qatar has booked significant surplus in 2010/11 as the country’s oil prices averaged $84.48 per barrel in the last fiscal, up 54% on the estimated budget price of $55/b.

In its 2010/11 budget, Qatar pencilled in spending worth QR117.9bn and a surplus of QR9.7bn, or 2.7% of GDP. The 2010/11 budget was based on a conservative oil price of $55 per barrel.

With Qatari oil price averaging $84.48 per barrel in 2010/11 (based on data compiled by QNB) the budget surplus would have been significant.

gulfnews : FDI Foreign direct investment in the UAE to soon reach previous peak

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the UAE is believed to have reached $13.7 billion (Dh50.32 billion) in 2010, Alessandro Golombiewski Teixeira, president of the World Association for Investment Promotion Agencies, said at the Annual Investment Meeting (AIM) being held in Dubai.

However, according to the UAE Ministry of Foreign Trade, FDI in the UAE was as high as $15 billion.

Teixeira said: "The FDI in the UAE is expected to get back to its peak of a few years ago."

IMF official says full picture of UAE's debt is hard to see - The National

The IMF has had difficulties gathering data on external debt of the UAE, a top official of the fund said yesterday.

"We at the IMF and I myself am still left with having to pull together various bits of information in order to come up simply with what I see as a comprehensive picture of indebtedness," Gabriel Sensenbrenner, the IMF's deputy division chief for the Middle East and Central Asia, said at a conference on public debt in Abu Dhabi yesterday.

The "external debt" Mr Sensenbrenner was referring to is money owed to foreign entities by UAE governments and government-related companies. Getting accurate debt figures about government-linked companies was especially difficult, he added, calling them "hard to penetrate".

gulfnews : Two decades of solid growth

Offsetting industry challenges, Emirates airline recorded a massive 52 per cent jump in profit for the financial year 2010-2011, the airline announced yesterday.

Net profit rose to Dh5.4 billion in the year over 2009-10's profit of Dh3.5 billion.

Revenues for the Arab world's largest carrier grew 25 per cent to Dh54.4 billion, largely driven by strong demand and the delivery of new aircraft.

FT Alphaville » Egypt: the revolution continues

Zhou Enlai famously advised Henry Kissinger it was too early to conclude on the outcome of the French Revolution. Little wonder, then, that the economic contours of the new Egypt are still fuzzy two months after Hosni Mubarak was topppled.

Citigroup’s Egypt economics team argue in a report out Monday that while democracy should be a boon for the country in the long run, political recriminations and economic populism put it at risk of stagflation in the short run. Investors should be wary of the newly reopened EGX and be underweight Egypt in GEM portfolios.

The FT’s Gideon Rachman notes in his column on Tuesday, Egypt’s increasingly fragments politics and robust foreign policies are worrying the west (bless). FT Tilt’s Tom Gara has been keeping an eye on the investigations into Mubarak-era corruption and privatizations. Retributive justice is ensuring a risk premium across Egyptian equities.