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Monday, 3 October 2011

PwC reports 31 % growth in Middle East business -

PwC, the world's leading professional services network, today announced that its Middle East practice grew by 31% during FY2011.

Globally, PWC reported gross revenues of US$29.2 billion for its worldwide network of firms for the fiscal year ended 30 June 2011, an increase of 10% over FY2010, and the strongest growth in revenues that the network has seen since 2008.

While increasing revenues, the PwC Network has also continued to recruit key talent, increasing overall headcount to nearly 169,000. This focus on attracting the best people to PwC will continue in the year ahead with plans to recruit and train a record number of 20,000 graduates across the world in FY2012. In addition PwC will offer training internships to 10,000 students to introduce them to professional services.

Qatar Holding to create standalone investment vehicle -

Qatar Holding, an arm of the gulf state’s sovereign wealth fund, is planning to create a standalone investment vehicle to buy stakes in, or take over, gold companies.

According to several people familiar with the fund’s plans, the owner of London retailer Harrods intends to invest about $10bn in metals and mining companies, of which more than $5bn will be in gold equities via a new vehicle referred to as “Qatar Gold”.

“They want a meaningfully producing multi-asset gold conglomerate,” said one person with knowledge of the fund’s plans. “They don’t want bullion – they want producing mines.”

Qatar targets Australia as door to buy into Asian LNG export | Oman Observer

Qatar is planning to tighten its grip on the liquefied natural gas supplies vital for Asian economic growth by possibly buying into an Australian export boom that poses the only serious challenge to its place as the world's top LNG exporter.

Facing self-imposed production limits on its own vast gas reserves, Qatar is looking abroad to invest some of its hundreds of billions of dollars of fuel export earnings. It may well target Australia, the one country that import-dependent Asian buyers are banking on to reduce their reliance on Qatari LNG.

"It is something that is being looked at seriously, and in all likelihood will be the next move made," a senior source at state-run Qatar Petroleum said, declining to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.

BP to decide on Oman gas project in 2012 | Reuters

BP will decide early next year whether to develop Oman's first major unconventional gas project, a senior official from the UK oil major said on Monday.

The small oil exporting country is keen to tap unconventional gas fields to meet rapidly rising demand from Omani industry and power plants.

BP began appraising the Khazzan Makarem gas project in Central Oman in 2007, but has yet to decide whether to go ahead.

Abu Dhabi’s IPIC Fund Raises OMV Stake by $436 Million to 24.9% - Businessweek

International Petroleum Investment Co., Abu Dhabi’s wealth fund, invested about 327 million euros ($436 million) to raise its stake in Austrian energy group OMV AG to 24.9 percent.

IPIC, which owns its OMV shares in a syndicate with the Austrian government, increased the stake by 4.5 percentage points, Vienna-based OMV said in a statement.

IPIC’s increased stake doesn’t change the syndicate deal, state assets agency OeIAG said in a statement. The agency owns 31.5 percent of OMV, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

MENA stock markets close - October 3, 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)

Companies count the cost of Arab uprisings -

Majid Al Futtaim Holding, a Dubai-based operator of shops and malls across the Middle East, has had a rougher ride from the Arab awakening than most.

Having suffered looting at two shopping centres in Egypt, the temporary closure of a mall next to the heart of Bahrain’s protests and its Syrian expansion plans called into question by the uprising there, it is perhaps unsurprising the company reported a Dh164.9m ($44.9m) loss for the first six months of the year.

Security concerns in Egypt continued to hurt the business even after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in February, says Daniele Vechhi, Majid Al Futtaim’s treasurer. “People in the evening are shopping less than they used to,” he says.

Foreign companies face Arab spring fallout -

When France Telecom announced the launch of Orange Tunisie last year, it said it was “proud to associate itself with Marwan Mabrouk” to build Tunisia’s first convergent telecoms operator, whereby different services are channelled into one network.

Sixteen months later, Mr Mabrouk, the son-in-law of ousted leader Zein al-Abidine Ben Ali, has had his 51 per cent stake in Orange Tunisia confiscated by Tunisia’s interim authorities, which are investigating the circumstances in which Mr Mabrouk’s stake in Orange Tunisie was acquired.

It is a position many international companies have unwittingly found themselves in, as transitional governments in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya review myriad foreign investments with links to former members of deposed corrupt and autocratic regimes

Dubai Shares Fall to 7-Month Low on Global Economic Concern; DFM Declines - Bloomberg

Dubai’s stocks fell to a seven-month low before a meeting of European finance ministers to weigh the threat of a Greek default and as oil declined to the lowest in more than a year.

Emaar Properties PJSC (EMAAR), developer of the world’s tallest skyscraper, decreased 3.7 percent. Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Co., known as Du, retreated to the lowest since March. The DFM General Index (DFMGI) slipped 1.6 percent to 1,407.58, the lowest since March 7, at the 2 p.m. close in Dubai. The value of traded shares in Dubai tumbled to 30.2 million dirhams ($8.2 million) yesterday, the lowest since August 2004. Shares with a value of about 89 million dirhams traded today.

Emerging markets dropped, with the MSCI Asia Pacific Index losing 2.7 percent, before European officials gather today to grapple with how to shield banks from the debt crisis and consider a further boost to the region’s rescue fund. Oil retreated as much as 2.3 percent to $77.36 a barrel as traders speculated Europe’s debt crisis and a slowing U.S. economy will curb fuel demand.

IPIC gets $1.9 bln ADCB loan to fund RHB deal - sources - Maktoob News

Sovereign fund Aabar, which bought Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank's 25 percent stake in Malaysian group RHB Capital , will get a $1.9 billion loan from ADCB to pay for the deal, two sources familiar with the matter said.

Aabar parent International Petroleum Investment Co obtained the loan from ADCB by using its deposits with the bank as collateral, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"It is a three-way deal. ADCB is lending to IPIC and the funds will come back to the bank through Aabar," one of the sources said. The tenure and interest rate was not available.

Caspian oil rivals jockey for position | beyondbrics –

After nine years of planning, the Nabucco oil pipeline consortium submitted a bid to export Azerbaijani gas exports at the weekend, saying its pipeline was the best of three rival projects vying to carry Caspian resources to Europe.

But BP, the principal western company in the Caspian, is not convinced.

Only last week, the UK oil major revealed it had a fourth pipeline option up its sleeve to link the vast Shak Deniz field offshore Azerbaijan with European markets.

Dubai's Shuaa inks alliance with UAE's savings scheme - Maktoob News

Dubai's Shuaa Capital and savings scheme National Bonds formed a strategic alliance under which the investment bank will offer advisory and brokerage services to the sharia-compliant firm, the two companies said on Monday.

The partnership is also aimed at expanding the customer bases of both companies and promoting a savings culture in the United Arab Emirates, the companies said in a statement.

The tie-up will "help some of our clients shift from risk exposure investments to risk control," Khalifa Al Daboos, chairman of National Bonds, said.

Abu Dhabi oil income up by Dh82bn in 2010 - Emirates 24/7

Strong oil prices allied with higher crude output to boost Abu Dhabi’s hydrocarbon income by nearly Dh82 billion in 2010 but the earnings remained far below the record income achieved in 2008, according to government data.

From around Dh196.6 billion in 2009, the value of the emirate’s exports of oil, gas and petroleum products soared to nearly Dh278.6bn in 2010, showed the figures published in Abu Dhabi’s yearbook released this week.

The 2010 income was one of the highest revenue levels in the emirate’s history but remained far below the record high earnings of Dh415.8bn achieved in 2008 as a result of higher production and a surge in crude prices to their highest ever average of around $95 a barrel.

Qatari wealth fund on gold buying spree

The Qatari Royal family plans to spend up to $US10 billion ($10.4 billion) buying stakes in gold producers through their sovereign wealth fund, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

The fund is seeking to invest in a range of natural resources, but gaining access to physical gold is its top strategic priority.

Yesterday, Qatar Holdings, which controls the wealth of the Middle East state’s royal family, confirmed it would invest about $US1 billion in European Goldfields, a London-listed miner currently developing the largest gold-mining project in Greece.

Dh1.4 billion property deal struck in Ajman - Emirates 24/7

A major property deal – over a billion dirhams - has been struck in Ajman, according to a statement posted on the Plus Stock Exchange in London by one of the parties involved.

Dubai-based Bonyan International Investment Group has sold 67 out of 109 plots in its Dh3.5-billion Eye of Ajman project to Prime Investments International Group Limited.

The information was disclosed by Prime, a Cayman Island-incorporated company, in statements posted on the Plus Stock Exchange in London.

gulfnews : Supposedly safe gold shows more bounce per ounce

Last week was tough for investors in precious metals, but few can have felt the pain as much as the divers at Odyssey Marine. After the elation of finding a shipwreck off the coast of Ireland with 7 million ounces of silver aboard, the US treasure-hunting company saw the value of its hoard plunge $28 million (Dh102.8 million) in less than an hour last Monday morning.

For metals championed by their proponents as a "store of value" immune to the vagaries of governments and their printing presses, gold and silver — known as "the poor man's gold" — have, to say the least, proved disappointing.

Prices had been falling since gold hit its high of $1,920 per troy ounce three weeks ago. But the gentle drop turned into a plunge at the end of last week, and both metals fell off a cliff last Monday, when gold reached a low of $1,534 an ounce, down 20 per cent from its peak. Silver fell 41 per cent from its August high.

gulfnews : Iran, Saudis see balanced oil market

Global oil market supply and demand is balanced, Opec rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran said at the weekend after oil prices slumped on Friday on renewed global economic worries.

Leading exporter Saudi Arabia and its price-dove Gulf Opec allies raised production in June after failing to convince Iran and other price hawks to agree an official Opec increase to make up for a lack of Libyan oil.

Iran, along with Venezuela and Algeria, argued back then the global economic outlook was too uncertain to up production, rejecting Opec advisory panel advice that more oil would be needed in the months that followed.

gulfnews : Unrest hits UAE trade with Arab nations

The Arab Spring has slowed the UAE's trade with the five countries affected by the unrest. According to a report by the Ministry of Foreign Trade, there was a 32 per cent decline in the first quarter of 2011 compared with the fourth quarter of 2010.

Libya led with a decline of Dh932 million or 73 per cent of the total, followed by Tunisia by Dh122 million or 10 per cent, Yemen by Dh102 million or 8 per cent, Egypt Dh83 million or 7 per cent, and Syria by Dh19 million or 2 per cent.

However, UAE direct trade is experiencing steady growth and expansion in new markets that has helped offset this.

Buyout is possible in midst of a scandal - The National

Euram Bank is seeking to wrest full control of its joint venture based in Dubaiafter the resignation of the former president of Euram Bank Asia.

Arun Panchariya resigned in the wake of a report issued by the Indian authorities accusing him and several companies of trading irregularities.

Euram Bank, based in Vienna, is reviewing its stake and may seek to buy out Mr Panchariya's company, Pan Asia Advisors based in the UK, which owns 49 per cent of its shares, said a senior executive at the joint venture.

Dewa chief upbeat on power privatisation - The National

Dubai's state utility is confident bidders will flock to its first venture into privatisation with a US$1.5 billion (Dh5.5bn) power and water plant.

The Hassyan 1 project calls for investors to take on 49 per cent ownership of the proposed 1600-megawatt plant in exchange for building the plant and lining up the finance. Yesterday the chief executive of the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) said economic turmoil in the rest of the world would not dampen Hassyan's prospects.

"We are not worried about this," said Saeed Al Tayer. "Of course there are crises there, but in Dubai [it is] business as usual. We don't have any problems."

Dubai Bonds Selling May Be Overdone as EFG Says Buy: Arab Credit - Businessweek

EFG-Hermes Holding SAE is holding on to Dubai bonds to capture the Middle East’s highest yields, betting that the sell-off of the indebted emirate’s assets triggered by Europe’s debt crisis is overdone.

The yield on Dubai Holding Commercial Operations’ 4.75 percent euro bond due in January 2014 jumped 653 basis points, or 6.53 percentage points, in the quarter that ended Sept. 30 to 16.2 percent, the highest among the 106 members of the HSBC/NASDAQ Dubai Middle East Conventional US Dollar Bond Index. State-owned Dubai Holding LLC is in talks with creditors to restructure more than $12 billion in debt as the emirate seeks to recover from a borrowing binge that sent it to the brink of default in 2009.

“We are, we have been and we shall continue to be bullish” on Dubai’s credit, said Rawad Hakme, the Dubai-based co-manager of fixed-income at EFG-Hermes, the largest publicly traded Arab investment bank. “In this current environment of global macro uncertainty idiosyncratic risks are largely overlooked, hence the indiscriminate selling off of high-yield papers.” EFG owns Dubai Holding bonds and “likes other” debt securities such as those of Emaar Properties PJSC, he said.

Persian Gulf Stocks Beat Emerging Markets on Valuations, Spending Plans - Bloomberg

Persian Gulf shares outperformed emerging markets for a second quarter as Dubai stocks reached the cheapest levels in six months and government spending in the region spurred economic growth.

The Bloomberg GCC 200 Index (BGCC200) of regional shares retreated 6.5 percent and Dubai’s DFM General Index (DFMGI) slipped 5.6 percent in the period amid concern Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis is worsening. That compares with a 23 percent slump for the MSCI Emerging Markets Index. Dubai’s measure is valued at 0.7 times book value, or assets minus liabilities, while developing nations shares trade at 1.5 times.

“Before the selloff in global markets, equity prices and valuations in the region were already at attractive levels due to political tensions” earlier this year, said Yong Wei Lee, who helps oversee about $1.2 billion as a senior fund manager at Emirates NBD Asset Management in Dubai. Some Gulf nations have “accumulated large fiscal reserves” that “support their large infrastructure spending plans, which provides a cushion from the economic slowdown in developed markets.”

U.A.E. Retail Bank Revenue to Drop 10%-15% on New Rules - Businessweek

United Arab Emirates banks’ revenue from their retail business will probably decline 10 percent to 15 percent because of new central bank rules that took effect in May, an Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC official said.

“There will be a rebasing or a shrinkage of revenue” because of the rules like the cap on fee income, the prescribed debt-burden ratio and the higher margin on auto loans, Arup Mukhopadhyay, the bank’s executive vice president and head of consumer banking told a news conference in Abu Dhabi today. The affect, which will be muted this year since the measures were implemented in May, will restrict retail loan growth to less than 5 percent in 2012, he said.

The U.A.E. central bank imposed rules for retail banking and fees that capped personal loans at 20 times a borrower’s monthly salary and the repayment period at 48 months. They also restrict overall installments for all loans, including personal, car and housing loans, and credit cards to 50 percent of a borrower’s gross salary and any regular income. The regulator also capped fees for several consumer banking transactions.