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Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Due to computer problems and subsequent recovery going on through the day and evening, updates are delayed until late Wednesday afternoon, at the earliest. My sincere apologies.

gulfnews : Majid Al Futtaim in talks to finance new Egypt mall

Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) may issue a planned sukuk programme as early as next month and is pushing ahead with growth plans in Egypt despite operations being severely hit by months of unrest, its chief executive said yesterday.

The mall developer, which is the sole franchisee for hypermarket chain Carrefour in the Gulf, was forced to shut down its malls and hypermarkets in Egypt due to riots following the uprising against former president Hosni Mubarak.

The company is now racing ahead with plans to grow in Egypt as it seeks financing for a new mall. "We're discussing with banks to get 13-year financing in Egypt ... we are in talks with local banks in Egypt for this," Eyad Malas, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim, told the Reuters Middle East Investment summit.

gulfnews : Saudis hold talks to open stock market to foreigners

Saudi Arabia's Capital Market Authority is in discussions with international banks to open the country's stock exchange to foreign investors early next year, three bankers familiar with the matter said.

The market regulator is working with the banks to prepare for the introduction of foreign investors to the region's largest stock market as early as the first quarter of 2012, said the bankers, who declined to be identified because the discussions are private.

Foreign, non-Arab Gulf investors currently can't directly invest in Saudi shares. The kingdom allowed citizens of neighbouring Gulf countries to buy and sell shares freely in 2007.

gulfnews : Moody's upgrades Dewa ratings as revenue grows

A price increase for Dubai utilities earlier this year and a new fuel surcharge have earned the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) an upgrade by ratings agency Moody's.

The agency yesterday upgraded Dewa from Ba2 to Ba1, pointing to good liquidity and expectations of growing profits for the authority.

Moody's lead analyst Franck Nowak told Gulf News that the 15 per cent rise in water and utility base rates — which was introduced in January — as well as the fuel surcharge had led to a more bullish ranking on the company.

Big Saudi retailer pulls out of Dubai - The National

Saudi Arabia's biggest retailer is pulling out of Dubai after complaining of rising rents in the emirate's most popular malls.

Retail Group Gulf, which is majority owned by the Fawaz Alhokair Group based in Riyadh, has closed more than 40 stores in Dubai and sold a number of its franchise agreements to other retailers.

It had stores in some of the emirate's biggest shopping centres, including Dubai Mall, Ibn Battuta and Dubai Festival City.

Saudi lending boost set to give Samba a lift - The National

Samba Financial Group, Saudi Arabia's second-largest lender by market value, is well positioned to benefit from the expected pick-up in the country's lending activity.

Total credit growth in Saudi Arabia increased 11 per cent in August compared with the same month last year, according to the latest central bank data. However, it was still well below boom-year figures of 27.2 per cent in 2008 and 21.2 per cent in 2007.

Although run in a conservative manner, with exposure to Saudi government and blue-chip corporate borrowers, analysts are bullish on Samba's fundamentals.

Dubai Islamic left to face hidden dangers - The National

Dubai Islamic Bank's (DIB) earnings are in focus after Emirates NBD, its larger rival, posted sharply decreased profits for the quarter.

But while Emirates NBD took precautionary measures to insulate against turbulence from the euro-zone debt crisis and provide for its exposure to Dubai Holding, DIB has more severe troubles to worry investors.

"DIB has got other issues that we're looking at," said Mahin Dissanayake, a financial analyst at Fitch Ratings. "They do have an exposure to Dubai government-related entities, but I suspect provisions will come from retail [lending] and commercial real estate."

Nasdaq Dubai to re-launch derivatives market: CEO | Reuters

Nasdaq Dubai will relaunch its derivatives market, targeting regional institutions wanting to hedge their share portfolios, the exchange's chief executive told Reuters on Monday.

The bourse, owned by Dubai Financial Market DFM.DU, launched a derivatives exchange in November 2008 at the height of the global financial crisis and trading has been lackluster.

"It didn't matter how good the derivative was, it was a derivative and we suffered under the weight of a bad product category, but they're starting to come back in favor," Nasdaq Dubai chief executive Jeff Singer told the Reuters Middle East Investment Summit, held at Reuters' offices in Dubai.

Dubai's Emaar raising $700 mln from banks - chairman | Reuters

Dubai's Emaar Properties is in the process of raising around $700 million from banks, its chairman told local television on Monday.

Mohamed Alabbar said the real estate firm, around 30 percent owned by the Dubai government, was currently undertaking a "big financing operation" which was receiving a favourable response from lenders.

"The opportunities for financing and refinancing are excellent and likewise the prices are excellent," Alabbar said in an interview with Dubai TV, due to be broadcast on Tuesday.

Moody's: Oversupply to cap Dubai property recovery until 2016 | Reuters

Dubai's once-booming property market can expect more pain with oversupply likely to delay a price recovery in the Gulf emirate until 2016, ratings agency Moody's said on Monday.

House prices in Dubai soared after the emirate -- which overstretched itself building extravagant real estate projects -- opened its real estate sector to foreign investors in 2002, granting them freehold ownership rights at many developments.

From start-2007 to mid-2008, prices rallied almost 80 percent, Morgan Stanley estimates showed.

UAE's First Gulf Q3 profit rises 8 pct | Reuters

Abu Dhabi's First Gulf Bank on Monday reported an 8-percent rise in third quarter net profit driven by higher revenues and beating analyst forecasts.

The bank reported a net profit of 920 million dirhams ($250.68 million) up from 849 million dirhams in the same quarter last year. Analysts polled by Reuters forecast an average net profit of 860.29 million dirhams.

Net interest and Islamic financing revenue in the third quarter was 1.35 billion dirhams, up 26 percent from the same period last year.

UK charges businessman over Bahrain aluminum deals | Reuters

"Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has arrested and charged businessman Victor Dahdaleh with corruption offenses relating to contracts for the supply of aluminum to Bahrain, it said on Monday.

"He has been released on conditional police bail to appear at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court on 31 October 2011," the SFO said in a statement.

The SFO said Dahdaleh was a British and Canadian national living in London's Belgravia district and that he was alleged to have paid bribes to officials of state-controlled smelting company Aluminium Bahrain B.S.C. (Alba) in connection with contracts with U.S. company Alcoa Inc.

Arab cry for affordable housing answered -

Dubai’s Emaar Properties aims to tackle one of the main socioeconomic drivers of the unrest that has driven Arab revolutionary ferment this year: affordable housing.

Dawahi Development, the property company’s specialist subsidiary, has been 18 months in the making, so the initiative predates the Arab spring, but the timing of this week’s launch is striking.

In a changed world, the developer that built the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower and the embodiment of Dubai’s deluxe real estate market, says Dawahi is as much about philanthropy as it is about profit.

Oman wins Moody’s confidence vote -

Oman’s political reforms have won a vote of confidence from Moody’s, the US rating agency, which described the passage of powers to the elected parliament as positive for the Gulf state’s credit rating after it was rocked by unrest earlier this year.

Sultan Qaboos bin Said al-Said, who has ruled Oman for 40 years, has granted some legislative powers to the consultative Majlis al-Shura, allowing the newly elected parliament to question ministers, propose laws and suggest changes to government regulations.

The sultan said the chairman of the 84-member Shura council, and his deputies, could be elected by members of parliament, rather than being appointed by the ruler.

Citadel Capital reports standalone Q2 net loss | Reuters

Egyptian private equity firm Citadel Capital on Monday reported a standalone second quarter net loss of $4.2 million compared with a net profit of $50,000 in the same quarter a year ago.

The company said it maintained a stable base of total assets under management of $4.1 billion quarter-on-quarter, an 8.1 percent rise year-on-year.

The figures for the period do not include $210.5 million in equity and debt fundraising for platform and portfolio companies, the company said in a statement.

Will Turkmenistan Overcome Hurdles to Open Pipeline to Europe? |

The official Turkmen government web page, Turkmenistan: The Golden Age ran a major editorial signed by Turkmenistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) on October 19 regarding what it calls the "European vector," part of its policy of diversifying energy sales and delivery among a variety of customers. It articulates a public response to the European Union's offer to purchase natural gas -- but never mentions the word "Nabucco" and despite its brave face, can't help but indicate the considerable obstacles on the way to building the Trans Caspian Pipeline.

"There are complex geopolitical processes under way," says the MFA, delicately referencing its reduced relationship with Russia and new friendship with China. And "new schemes and configurations for delivery of energy that will directly affect the development and prosperity of certain states, regions and entire continents," says the editors.

Diversification is described not merely as a political necessity, given the worsening of relations with Moscow over gas price disputes and a gas explosion in 2009 -- varying the customers is considered simply good international business. In this editorial and in other articles, Ashgabat styles itself as a major global player magnificently dispensing its energy resources wisely and fairly, given the growing needs of European and other consumers in a world still dependent on fossil fuels. Given its geographic location between East and West, and its considerable resources -- now estimated by the British firm Gaffney, Cline & Associates to be as much as 26.2 billion cubic meters of gas -- Turkmenistan finds it justified to grow its export potential and find the shortest routes to market.