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Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Qatar, Dubai attract fund interest amid global turmoil | Alrroya

Some international portfolio investors are finding value in gas-rich Qatar and Dubai's recently rehabilitated stock market, even as global financial markets weaken and political risks deter buyers in other parts of the Middle East and North Africa.

With equity prices across the world tumbling, Qatar has been one of the few markets to post even modest gains this year, second only in the MSCI frontier stock market index to the tiny exchange of Trinidad and Tobago. The main Qatar stock index is up about half a percentage point this year, while almost all other markets have fallen.

The Gulf country, which is sitting on huge gas reserves, got a boost last year from its surprise victory in the competition to host the 2022 soccer World Cup. But Qatar's spending on infrastructure for the championship is only part of a broader state spending programme by one of the world's fastest-growing economies.

Gulf Arab OPEC may tolerate oil below $90 - Reuters -

Oil prices may be USD 20 off April's USD 127-a-barrel peak but there is no panic in Riyadh, Kuwait City or Abu Dhabi. Far from it.

Oil policy officials in the capitals of OPEC's Gulf Arab price doves Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates are relaxed and won't be losing sleep if prices fall further.

One senior official in the region told Reuters those producers are unlikely to reduce supplies to try to stem a decline in oil prices unless crude falls below USD 90 a barrel for a sustained period.

MENA stock markets close - September 28, 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)

Emirates Adds Seattle, Dallas Flights in U.S. - Bloomberg

Emirates, the biggest international airline, will add flights to Seattle and Dallas in a revival of plans to establish a major route network to the world’s largest economy that it shelved after the 2001 terror attacks.

Emirates will begin daily services from Dubai to Dallas starting Feb. 2 and to Seattle from March 1 and may add U.S. cities including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia and Washington, President Tim Clark said today in an interview.

Passenger numbers at Emirates have surged fivefold in a decade, making it the world No. 1 by international traffic. Hubs in Paris, Frankfurt and London are already under pressure as the carrier diverts long-haul passengers through Dubai, and Clark said the U.S. market could be targeted using Airbus SAS’s A380 superjumbo, of which it has 90 on order offering 45,000 seats.

Boeing Calls On Middle East Investors To Plug Financing Shortfall

U.S. planemaker Boeing (BA) called on cash-rich Middle East investors Wednesday to plug a potential financing shortfall of its aircraft as European banks reel from the region's sovereign debt crisis.

"The current European sovereign debt crisis, and its expected impacts on European banks, gives new impetus to aircraft investment opportunities for Middle East investors," Boeing said in a statement.

European banks have long been investors in aircraft but Boeing is now worried about an "expected pullback" from these lenders, it added, as fears mount about their exposure to indebted countries in the euro zone.

Gulf Arab growth to slow, but still above recession | Alrroya

Economic growth in key Gulf Arab states will slow markedly next year because of a sluggish global economy but remain well above recessionary levels, a Reuters poll showed on Wednesday.

Gross domestic product in Saudi Arabia, the largest Arab economy and the world's top oil exporter, is expected to expand 4.5 per cent in 2012 after 6.2 per cent this year, according to the median forecast of 16 analysts surveyed between September 14 and 27.

The country's central bank governor reined in his expectations for growth on Wednesday, saying he was "optimistic" that the economy would grow at an annual rate of up to five per cent this year and next compared to a previous forecast for this year of around six per cent.

Dubai’s Shares Head to 7-Month Low Led by Emaar on Europe Woes - Businessweek

Dubai’s stocks are poised for the lowest close in almost seven months, led by Emaar Properties PJSC, as oil declined and amid concern Greece’s effort to cut its deficit won’t be enough to prevent a default.

Emaar, developer of the world’s tallest tower, declined 0.7 percent. Aramex PJSC, the Middle East’s largest courier company, headed for the biggest drop in almost a week. The DFM General Index lost 0.5 percent to 1,441.42, poised for its lowest close since March 8 at 12:32 p.m. in the emirate. The measure is headed for its fourth quarterly drop, retreating 5 percent since the end of June. About 25 million shares traded in Dubai today, compared with this year’s daily average of 113 million shares.

“Our markets are lacking leadership, and what we’re seeing in the rest of the world is increasing the fear factor,” said Mohammed Ali Yasin, chief investment officer at Abu Dhabi-based financial services company CAPM Investments PJSC. “We have been defensive in the face of volatile global markets, but it’s worrying that we’re not seeing the same rebounds here that we see there.”

Saad Group Freeze, Suncity, Korea Line, Sazka Bidder: Bankruptcy - Bloomberg

The investment unit of Saad Group, a Saudi company in global litigation over its default in 2009, won a U.K. court order freezing 57.3 million pounds ($89 million) held by its billionaire founder Maan al-Sanea.

Saad Investments Company Ltd., which is being liquidated in the Cayman Islands, won the asset freeze in the High Court in London after claiming there was a risk al-Sanea would spend the money before paying potential damages. The unit also claimed al- Sanea failed to return hundreds of documents he removed from its legal offices in Geneva two years ago.

“There is a risk of dissipation in this case” and a “failure to cooperate with the liquidators,” Saad Investment’s lawyer, Stephen Atherton, said of al-Sanea, one of Saudi Arabia’s richest men. The company also claims al-Sanea removed $60 million at the time he took the documents.

Persian Gulf Bond Sales Approach 2008 Low as Risk Increases: Arab Credit - Bloomberg

Bond sales from the Persian Gulf region have slumped to the lowest level since 2008 as the threat of another global recession fueled the steepest surge in the region’s credit risk in seven quarters.

Sovereign and company debt issuance in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have totaled $1.54 billion since June 30, the smallest amount since the last quarter of 2008, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The average cost of insuring the Middle East’s notes against default jumped 81 basis points in the period to 351 on Sept. 26, headed for the biggest increase since the three months ended Dec. 31, 2009, according to data provider CMA.

Emerging-market bond funds saw the biggest capital outflows in more than two years in the week to Sept. 21, EPFR Global data show, as Europe’s debt crisis prompted investors to exit riskier assets. Last week, the Federal Reserve said there are “downside risks” to the U.S. economy and the International Monetary Fund cut its forecast for 2011 global growth to 4 percent from 4.3 percent. Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Development & Investment Co. and Dolphin Energy Ltd. deferred debt sales this quarter.

Dubai power plant bidders offered US$200 million finance -

UAE banking group Emirates NBD and HSBC have made a US$200 million stapled debt facility available to bidders interested in constructing a new power plant for state utility Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) , an Emirates NBD statement said on Tuesday.

The sum can be drawn upon to part-finance the commercial debt tranche which the consortia will have to put forward as part of their bids for the Hassyan 1 project.

The 1,500-megawatt Hassyan-1 power plant will be the first in Dubai to be built as an Independent Power Producer (IPP), whereby the producer sells its output to the utility, with the project to be financed as a public-private partnership (PPP).

Gulf's liberal shift is more than sop to Arab Spring - Politics & Economics -

The king of Saudi Arabia has lived up to his reformist reputation by giving women the right to vote in future elections. A day earlier, neighbouring UAE held the country's second elections.

The changes mean both countries are still far from Western concepts of democracy and nearby revolutions, but the reforms have financial benefits too.

It is easy to pick holes. The right of Saudi women to vote and be part of municipal councils renders them as powerless as their male counterparts: elections only fill half the seats, which have limited powers to start with.

Gulf Times – ‘Qatar overtakes Dubai as top financial centre’

Qatar has overtaken Dubai to become the top financial centre in the Middle East, according to the latest Global Financial Centre Index (GFCI).

The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC), categorised as transnational specialists, continued to be ranked 30 in the world, but improved its ratings by 39 points from the previous index.

However, Dubai was ranked 36, slipping eight positions from the previous index although it gained 17 points, according to the GFCI, which covers 75 financial centers around the world. The index is based on five over-arching areas of competitiveness: people, business environment, infrastructure, market access and general competitiveness.

Qatar Holding Plans to Assist Volkswagen With Porsche Merger - Bloomberg

Qatar Holding LLC, the third- largest investor in Volkswagen AG (VOW), will work with VW to assist in its integration with Porsche SE after the merger between the two carmakers planned for this year fell through.

VW’s goal to combine with Porsche by the end of 2011 has been held up by lawsuits in the U.S. and an investigation by German prosecutors linked to Porsche’s botched effort to buy VW.

“If there’s now a different way, we may as well try to help to make it happen,” Ahmad Mohamed Al-Sayed, chief executive officer of the foreign investment arm of the Gulf country’s sovereign wealth fund told reporters in Berlin today.

Economy: UAE Unemployment Is High, but Not for Lack of Jobs - CNBC

Even the Gulf countries were not spared by the European and U.S. debt crisis. With unemployment figures estimated as high as 12 percent, the United Arab Emirates has lots of gaps to fill, Saqr Ghobash, the minister of labor for the UAE, told Tuesday.

"Even if the GCC countries have been affected by the crisis, the level of employment in the UAE in terms of numbers far exceed the needs for the nationals," he said.

Indeed, he noted, open jobs stay vacant in the country as the level of skills in demand does not meet the skills offered by the national population.

» Oil Says: “Recession Is Coming” »

The other day I was watching the King of Queens…

In the show, Arthur Spooner said to Doug Heffernan: “Yeah, back in my day I could really sell.” So Doug asked him what he used to sell.

He replied: “Gasoline.”

I couldn’t help but laugh at that. I mean, when was the last time you needed a salesman to talk you into filling up your tank? I’d say never.

Credit Agricole to close MidEast M&A operations - exec | Reuters

French bank Credit Agricole will close its regional mergers and acquisitions business and move the operations back to its Paris office, an executive at the bank said on Tuesday.

The move is part of an ongoing review at the bank which also led it to shut its Bahrain office and move staff to Dubai.

"The move will affect around five to six people," Bernard Mignucci, general manager for the Gulf countries, told Reuters.

Bahrain Has ‘Positive’ Feedback for $1 Billion Sukuk, Maraj Says - Bloomberg

Bahrain has so far received “positive” feedback from investors for its plan to sell $1 billion in Islamic bonds next month, Central Bank Governor Rasheed al-Maraj said.

The maturity of the sukuk may be between seven to 10 years, Maraj said in an interview yesterday at Bloomberg’s headquarters in New York. The Persian Gulf island-kingdom plans to use the money to help finance a budget deficit of about 5 percent of gross domestic product, Maraj in a separate Sept. 25 interview at the International Monetary Fund in Washington.

“The sukuk market has been in general more stable than the conventional market,” he said yesterday. “That’s why we’ve opted for sukuk. Our feedback so far has been positive.”

Iran bank managing director quits post -

The managing director of Bank Melli, Iran’s largest state-owned bank, stepped down on Tuesday as an alleged $2.8bn financial scandal increased pressure on the government of Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad.

Mahmoud-Reza Khavari said in a letter addressed to Shamsoddin Hosseini, minister of economy, that “to respect public opinion” he would resign from his post, even though Bank Melli was not directly involved in the scandal, which he described as “this vicious phenomenon”.

The resignation could be a move by Mr Ahmadi-Nejad’s government to ease the pressure on the cabinet, which is loyal to the president, amid rumours that the parliament, which is dominated by conservatives loyal to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was going to impeach Mr Hosseini over Iran’s biggest ever financial scandal.