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Monday, 26 September 2011

Economic reality hits Arab hopes -

When young Arabs marched this year chanting “the people want the fall of the regime”, the slogan that has come to define the Arab spring, they demonstrated an extraordinary resolve to destroy the autocratic order in the Middle East.

Ridding the region of dictators would restore dignity, end the corruption of elites and pave the way for a happier, more prosperous future, they thought.

As old regimes are swept aside, the people are enjoying their new found freedom. But they are also finding, unsurprisingly, that the gap between their expectations and the economic reality is widening.

Qatar ratings affirmed at 'AA/A-1+' on strong balance sheets, outlook stable -

Standard & Poor's Ratings Services today affirmed its 'AA/A-1+' sovereign credit ratings on the . The outlook on the ratings is stable. The transfer and convertibility assessment is 'AA+'.

The ratings affirmation and stable outlook apply to other ratings that depend on Qatar's sovereign credit rating, including the 'AA' long-term senior unsecured debt rating on the bonds issued by , and the long-term foreign-currency rating on .

The ratings on the State of Qatar reflect our view of the government's strong reported fiscal and external balance sheets. They also stem from strong growth prospects spurred by newly-completed large liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects. The ratings are constrained by still-nascent public institutions and limited disclosure, particularly with respect to government assets and their returns.

MENA stock markets close - September 26, 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)

Global Islamic funds assets grow to US$58 billion in 2010 but challenges remain for future performance, says Ernst & Young -

According to the 5th annual Ernst & Young Islamic Funds & Investments Report (IFIR 2011) released today at the World Islamic Funds and Capital Markets Conference, global Islamic fund assets under management (AuM) grew by 7.6% to US$ 58 billion in 2010, up from US$ 53.9 billion in 2009.

The growth was largely due to market performance and partially on account of new money inflows.

Concentration in equities remains, as they account for 39% of the US$58 billion AuM, but bringing new money into equities is challenging. Fixed income, commodities and alternatives did well in 2010, which was a record year for Sukuk with issuance of US$ 50 billion.

QInvest begins Saudi operations - Arab News

QInvest Saudi Arabia, a subsidiary of Qatar's major investment bank, QInvest LLC, has been granted a license by the Capital Market Authority (CMA) to conduct business in Saudi Arabia, and has commenced business activities.

QInvest Saudi Arabia offers managing, arranging, advising and custody services for a wide range of corporate, institutional and high net worth individual clients. The Saudi entity will play a major role in attracting new investment into the Kingdom while delivering high value services to clients through its business lines: Investment banking, investment management and wealth management.

QInvest Saudi Arabia represents the expansion of QInvest activities, within the GCC region.

Kuwait Lower Court Annuls Zain Board, All Decisions, Lawyer Says - Bloomberg

A Kuwaiti lower court annulled all decisions taken by the board of Zain, the country’s biggest mobile telephone company, a lawyer for a former board member who filed the case said.

The ruling was based on a lawsuit filed by former board member Sheikh Khalifa Ali Al-Sabah based on a report by the commerce ministry, which cited “violations” that took place during a general assembly meeting, the lawyer, Rashed al-Radaan, said. These violations included failing to record shareholders’ complaints and “stopping some shareholders from entering, locking the doors,” the lawyer said.

“The commercial court ruled today the annulment of the normal general assembly for Zain to elect the company’s board and all decisions based on it,” al-Radaan said in a telephone interview. “All decisions following this election are incorrect, including the Batelco/Kingdom deal.”

TEXT-S&P Afrms Emaar 'BB' Rtgs On Recurring Income | Reuters

-- The good performance of Dubai-based property company Emaar Properties PJSC's leasing and hospitality assets, and fewer handovers of developments, has raised the proportion of the company's recurring net income.

-- Still, Emaar faces challenges in international development activities, where it has a relatively short track record and is encountering political risk in key markets.

-- We are affirming our 'BB' long-term ratings on Emaar and revising the outlook to stable from negative.

Abu Dhabi's UNB may raise debt to repay $1bn loan | Alrroya

Abu Dhabi lender Union National Bank, may raise medium-term debt to partly repay a $1 billion term-loan maturing in December, its bond prospectus showed.

The bank, which held roadshows in Abu Dhabi and Dubai on Sunday for the potential benchmark dollar-bond issue, ahead of investor meets in Asia and Europe, is testing market appetite for regional debt amid a charged global economic backdrop.

UNB, jointly owned by the governments of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, signed a $1bn syndicated five-year loan facility with regional and international banks in December 2006.

Gulf better prepared for crisis - International | IOL Business |

Meeting early this month, Gulf finance ministers insisted their economies could cope comfortably with the looming global slump. During the world's last economic crisis, their optimism proved mistaken - but this time, they are on firmer ground.

Big programmes of government spending, launched for political as well as economic reasons, are likely to support growth. There is less room for asset price bubbles to burst than there was in the last crisis three years ago. And in some ways, financial systems are stronger.

“Countries in the region were caught off guard” by the 2008-2009 global crisis, said Fabio Scacciavillani, chief economist at Oman Investment Fund. “This time they're better prepared - crisis management capabilities have improved.”

Abu Dhabi Stocks Slump to Seven-Month Low on Europe Debt Concern - Bloomberg

Abu Dhabi’s benchmark stock index slumped to the lowest in almost seven months as oil fell amid mounting concern Europe won’t be able to resolve its debt crisis, threatening global growth.

The benchmark ADX General Index slipped 0.2 percent to 2,531.88, the lowest since March 3, at the 2 p.m. close in Abu Dhabi. The measure is down 6.4 percent this quarter. National Bank of Abu Dhabi PJSC, the United Arab Emirates’ second-biggest bank, fell to the lowest since April. First Gulf Bank PJSC, the lender owned by Abu Dhabi’s ruling family, dropped 1 percent. About 37 million shares traded in Abu Dhabi today, compared with this year’s daily average of 69 million shares, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Emerging markets declined as they traded for the first time since U.S. Treasury SecretaryTimothy F. Geithner said that failure to combat the Greek-led turmoil threatened “cascading default, bank runs and catastrophic risk.” Billionaire investor George Soros said “something needs to be done” to safeguard Europe’s banks because Greece may be unable to avoid default.

Oman shows the lead on the past and future - The National

If you speak to people in the solar power industry they will proudly boast it is "the energy of the future".

By 2050 most of our energy will come from the sun, they claim. Oil industry buffs giggle when they hear such bold forecasts. They believe oil will continue to power our planet for generations to come.

Oman has just shown that perhaps the truth rests somewhere in the middle.

MENA stock markets close - September 24, 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)

Claims on Nakheel may not go to Dubai special court - Arab News

A special tribunal set up to hear disputes over Dubai World’s debt restructuring may not hear cases against former unit Nakheel after the government took over the troubled property developer in August.

A directive released by the special tribunal said: “Issues as to the jurisdiction of the tribunal may arise in proceedings brought by or against Nakheel and those of its subsidiaries and affiliated that have ceased to be subsidiaries of Dubai World.”

The directive, issued recently by the tribunal’s chairman Sir Anthony Evans, said the court would continue to exercise jurisdiction in proceedings that commenced before Aug. 23.

KFH Says its Bahrain Unit Seeks to Merge 3 Islamic Banks - Bloomberg

Kuwait Finance House (KFIN)’s unit in Bahrain is leading efforts to merge three Islamic lenders into a bank valued at $400 million, the Kuwait-based financial services company said today.

The creation of the biggest Islamic bank in Bahrain and one of the biggest in the region will “serve as a platform for further merging operations in Bahrain and other markets in the area,” Kuwait Finance said in an e-mailed statement, citing KFH-Bahrain Chief Executive Officer Abdul Hakim al-Khayyat.

The banks to be merged will be named “in a few weeks” when negotiations reach an advanced stage. The new Islamic bank will have assets of $500 million and should take six to nine months to form, Kuwait Finance said.

Bahrain Hires Citi, BNP, Standard Chartered for $1 Billion Sukuk - Bloomberg

Bahrain has hired Citigoup Inc., BNP Paribas (BNP) SA and Standard Chartered Plc (STAN) to advise on the sale of about $1 billion in Islamic bonds next month, Central Bank Governor Rasheed al-Maraj said.

Bahrain will use the money to finance a budget deficit of about 5 percent of gross domestic product, Maraj said in an interview today at the International Monetary Fund in Washington. Bahrain will seek to keep borrowing costs at between 200 basis points and 230 basis points above U.S. Treasuries, Maraj said.

Bahrain has been rocked by unrest this year after Shiite Muslims, who make up the majority of the island-kindgom’s population, demanded more political rights from their Sunni rulers. The central bank expects economic growth to be around 2 percent this year, Maraj said.

Outlook darkens - Zawya ht @alifarabia

Gulf economies appear to grow and shrug off the Arab Spring, U.S. credit downgrade and the sluggish EU economy. But the continued political inaction in the United States and the dithering leaders in Brussels are finally looking to curb the Gulf's enthusiastic economic growth.

Clearly, the Gulf is not an island and a severe recession in parts of the EU and a double-dip in the United States has the potential of shaving off growth.

More worryingly, the Gulf growth continues to be oil led with private sector waiting on the government to stimulate growth. And in any case that private sector growth would evaporate if global economic conditions don't improve.

GCC gears up for global downturn | alifarabia

The world’s hurtling uncontrollably towards a recession. Investors are fleeing the markets and even ‘safe haven’ gold is not safe anymore, as European and American policymakers fail in their duties and continue to put band aid on wounds that require full-scale surgery.

The Gulf is not immune to the U.S. downgrade by ratings agency Standard & Poor’s from triple-A to AA+, and the issue if European sovereign debt crisis.

“Successful articulation of polices will need to keep in mind several key and collateral risks that have erupted as a result of series of crisis including the latest downgrade crisis,” writes M.R. Raghu, head of research at Markaz, or the Kuwait Financial Centre. “In our opinion, the biggest challenge in a crisis ridden world will be to efficiently and effectively manage the surplus generated in good times.”