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Friday, 12 August 2011

Fitch affirms BankDhofar at BBB+; outlook stable | Oman Observer

Fitch ratings has affirmed BankDhofar’s Long-term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at ‘BBB+’ and Viability Rating at ‘bb+’. The outlook on the long-term IDR is stable. BankDhofar’s long- and short-term IDRs reflect the high probability of support from the Omani authorities given the Central Bank of Oman’s (CBO) strong history of support and BD’s systemic importance as Oman’s third-largest bank by assets. BankDhofar is 28 per cent-owned by the government through its pension funds.

BankDhofar’s Viability Rating reflects its strong franchise, healthy profitability and adequate liquidity. It also reflects its high concentration on both sides of the balance sheet and over reliance on wholesale customer deposits.

In H12011, BankDhofar had a one-off expense of RO 26.1m due to a ruling on a legal dispute favouring Oman International Bank. As a result, the bank reported a net loss of RO 4.6m in H111. The legal dispute is still ongoing and the final ruling is still uncertain. Excluding this one-off expense, operating income remained stable y-o-y. Fitch expects BankDhofar’s revenue and loan growth to increase moderately in the short-term underpinned by government spending.

S&P keeps 'BBB-/A-3' rating on Bahrain's Arab Banking Corp, CreditWatch negative -

Standard & Poor's Ratings Services commented on its CreditWatch placement of Bahrain-based Arab Banking Corp. B.S.C. (ABC).

The 'BBB-/A-3' long- and short-term counterparty credit ratings on ABC remain on CreditWatch, where we placed them with negative implications on March 21, 2011.

The CreditWatch placement also applies to all Standard & Poor's ratings on the bank's debt instruments.

Overheard at Iftar: Sheikh Ahmed Pays a Visit - UAE - Zawya

The facts are not in dispute. In 2009, oil-rich Abu Dhabi pumped a hefty $20bn into Dubai to rescue the UAE's commercial hub from the excesses of a real estate bubble. Less clear is the mechanics of how the senior players in the two emirates manage their relationship.

In the face of media scepticism, the emirates' top brass has always said they are like brothers - though, they do admit that even brothers fall out.

On Wednesday night came a glimpse into how the relationship may play out between the two. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of Emirates airlines and arguably the man charged with putting Dubai back on track, paid a Ramadan visit to the majlis of Sheikh Nahyan Mabarak Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi. Sheikh Nahyan is the federal minister of higher education while Sheikh Ahmed is an uncle of the ruler of Dubai.

‘No alarm’ yet in OPEC on falling oil price

Opec, source of more than a third of the world’s oil, is unlikely to become concerned about a slide in oil prices unless Brent crude falls towards $90 a barrel, Opec delegates said on Thursday.

Brent has fallen to $106 a barrel, down more than $20 from its peak this year of $127.02, on concern of slowing oil demand due to the European debt crisis and a weakening economic outlook for the United States.

Iran, holder of the Opec presidency in 2011 and a leading price hawk in the group, said on Wednesday Opec ministers could hold an emergency meeting if members started to feel anxious about falling prices.

gulfnews : Gulf CEOs keep fingers crossed

The downgrade of the US credit rating from AAA to AA+ has caused a lot of concern among the UAE business community. The impact was felt across the region's stock markets.

According to Frost & Sullivan, as the currencies of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are pegged to the US dollar, they are expected to depreciate in the short term along with the dollar.

Since oil is the biggest revenue generator for the Middle East, the short-term decline in oil prices might lead to fiscal pressures.

Is a chaotic history repeating itself? - The National

Union Properties loss widens on provisions - The National

Union Properties, a Dubai developer, said losses widened in the first half of the year to Dh439 million from Dh299m in the same period last year as it took provisions against valuation of properties.

Revenues increased to Dh2.25 billion in the first half of the year, up from Dh1.56bn a year earlier, according to financial statements posted on the Dubai stock exchange yesterday.

The company took a fair value loss of Dh595.6m on valuation of investment properties.

Gold Falls Most in 7 Weeks on Stocks, Margins - Bloomberg

Gold futures fell the most in seven weeks in New York as equities rebounded and CME Group Inc. (CME) boosted margins to trade Comex contracts, prompting investor sales after a rally to a record topping $1,800 an ounce.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose as much as 4.5 percent after a drop in U.S. jobless claims. CME Group, owner of the world’s largest futures market, raised margins on gold by 22 percent. The minimum amount of cash that speculators must keep on deposit for an initial account increased to $7,425 on a 100- ounce contract from $6,075.

“The strength in equities, coupled with the increase in margins, is pushing gold down,” Matthew Zeman, a strategist at Kingsview Financial in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “Investors are waiting for a deeper correction before they start buying again.”

Delancey, Qatari Diar sign Olympic village deal-sources || Reuters

A joint venture between UK developer Delancey and the property arm of Qatar's sovereign wealth fund has bought the athlete's village on the Olympic park in east London, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The deal was signed in the last 48 hours, the two sources said. It has been reported that a successful bid for the Olympic Village would have to be at least 500 million pounds ($811 million).

The 27-hectare athlete's village deal includes 1,400 homes and six other plots, which Delancey and Qatari Diar will develop as part of a wider urban regeneration scheme in the district when the games finish next year.

gulfnews : Kuwait budget surplus shrinks to 5.28b dinars

Opec member Kuwait posted a budget surplus of 5.28 billion dinars (Dh71 billion) in the 2010-11 fiscal year, down 38 per cent from the preliminary figure, finance ministry data showed Thursday.

Revenues reached 21.5 billion dinars, with oil revenues contributing 19.9 billion dinars, while spending amounted to 16.2 billion dinars in the fiscal year which ended in March, the data showed.

In May, the country posted a preliminary budget surplus of 8.5 billion dinars, or 23.1 per cent of Kuwait's gross domestic product, above market expectations and the 6.4 billion seen in the previous fiscal year.

The Battle of Dubai: The United Arab Emirates and the U.S.-Iran Cold War – Blogs

With the Middle East in the throes of momentous popular uprisings and its future up for grabs, America’s long-standing concerns about the Islamic Republic of Iran have only grown more acute. U.S. officials, as well as their Arab and Israeli counterparts, now worry not only about Tehran’s continued nuclear defiance but also its efforts to try and shape the popular unrest that has unsettled and unseated Arab regimes throughout the region.

Up until now, Washington has focused on two methods, broadly speaking, to contain Iran’s regional influence and check its nuclear ambitions. First, it has focused on political and economic coercion, in the form of numerous unilateral, multilateral, and United Nations sanctions resolutions. Second, it has provided significant military aid to Iran’s Arab neighbors. In Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, and the Persian Gulf, Tehran and Washington have been engaged, sometimes directly but more often via proxies and allies, in an often-violent struggle for regional power and influence.

In the tiny United Arab Emirates (UAE), a quieter, but no less fateful, battle between the United States and Iran has long been afoot in the spheres of commerce, diplomacy, and intelligence. Located just 35 miles from Iran across the Strait of Hormuz, the UAE is unique in that it combines vast networks of trade and personal relations with Iran with a close strategic relationship with Washington. Consequently, it has come to play a critical, albeit often ambiguous, role in the U.S.-Iran rivalry.

Abu Dhabi Authority Sued by Madoff Trustee - Bloomberg

The liquidator for Bernard L. Madoff’s firm sued the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, seeking to recover $300 million for victims of the confidence man’s Ponzi scheme.

Irving Picard, the Madoff firm’s trustee, said the sovereign wealth fund withdrew the money from Fairfield Sentry, a so-called feeder fund to Madoff’s fraud, in a complaint filed today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan.

Picard said he has the authority to take back the transfers made to the Abu Dhabi authority as he works to recover money for Madoff customers. Madoff is serving a 150-year sentence in a prison in North Carolina.