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Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Iranian currency plunges to record low -

Iran’s currency has plunged almost 10 per cent to a record low against the US dollar in recent days amid concerns over the impact of international sanctions and speculation the government is devaluing the rial to help narrow a massive budget deficit.
One US dollar bought 15,300 rials on the open market on Wednesday, from 13,800 on Saturday. The Iranian currency is down 30 per cent against the dollar this year.

Moody’s hits Egypt with downgrade | beyondbrics –

Moody’s, rating agency, has downgraded Egypt’s sovereign bond ratings by one notch to B2 from B1, pushing it further into junk territory. It has also placed Egypt on review for a further downgrade.

In its statement on Wednesday, Moody’s said the downgrade was prompted by the political uncertainty being violently played out on Cairo’s streets and by Egypt’s precarious fiscal situation – in particular the imminent and increasing risk of a balance of payments crisis.

Qatar's Barwa sells Financial District project for $3bn - Real Estate -

Barwa Real Estate, the Middle East’s biggest property company by assets, has sold the Barwa Financial District to Qatar Petroleum for QR11bn ($3bn), the developer said on Wednesday.
Barwa plans to complete the project and hand it over to the state-owned energy company by 2015, Barwa said in a statement.
Company chairman Hitmi Ali al-Hitmi later disclosed the sale price in comments to reporters in the Qatari capital, Doha, Bloomberg reported.

MENA stock markets close - December 21, 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)

GCC Approves Common Securities-Listing Rules, Alrroya Reports - Bloomberg

The Gulf Cooperation Council approved common rules for listing financial securities for its six member nations, Alrroya reported today, citing the organization.
The rules will serve as guidelines for two years and will be reviewed before becoming mandatory, the United Arab Emirates newspaper said.

Dubai slumps to 7-year low; Abu Dhabi declines - Stocks -

Saudi Arabia's Almarai Co hit a 10-month high after saying it had acquired Argentina farm operator Fondomonte.
The deal will help the Gulf's biggest dairy firm by market value to secure feed for its dairy herd and poultry businesses. Shares in Almarai gain 2.8 percent to reach their highest close since Feb 21.
"Almarai's acquisition of this feed producer is a move upstream, which will allow them to both secure feed supplies and boost profit margins in the future," said Sleiman Aboulhosn, assistant fund manager at Dubai-based Al Masah Capital. "The end result may be a noticeable improvement in the company's overall profitability."

Abu Dhabi's Aldar Properties says no plans to delist - Real Estate -

Abu Dhabi's Aldar Properties has no plans to delist from the Abu Dhabi stock exchange, the company's deputy chief executive officer said on Wednesday, dismissing speculation that a major government shareholder may take the developer private.
"We won't be delisting," Mohammed Khalifa Al Mubarak said, after Aldar's shares fell to a record low.
Share of the developer slumped 4.7 percent in early trading on Wednesday, hitting a low of AED0.79 ($0.22), before recovering to AED0.81.

UPDATE 1-Saudi's Almarai buys Argentina firm to secure livestock feed | Reuters

Saudi Arabia's Almarai Co, the Gulf's biggest dairy firm by market value, has acquired Fondomonte S.A which owns and operates farms in Argentina, to secure feed for its dairy herd and poultry businesses, it said on Wednesday.

"The transaction value is 312 million riyals ($83 million) and is financed from a combination of operational cash flows and Islamic banking facilities," Almarai said in a bourse statement.

Fondomonte S.A. has three farms totalling 12,306 hectares which focus on the production of corn and soy beans, the statement said.

Nakheel: Chris O'Donnell "would have been fired" |

Chris O’Donnell, the former CEO of Nakheel, “would have been fired” by his former employers if “he hadn’t been hiding the truth from them”, Dubai International Financial Centre court has heard.

O’Donnell, who it was revealed at a tribunal this week pocketed a whopping AED400,000 ($110,000) per month during his five year spell at the helm of Nakheel, is suing ‘The World’ creators for breach of contract.

Australian O’Donnell ran developer giants Nakheel during some of its greatest but then most turbulent periods of the company’s history.

Qatar Shares Head for Highest Close in Week on U.S. Data, Oil - Bloomberg

Qatar’s shares headed for the highest close in more than a week, led by Doha Bank QSC (DHBK), after improved U.S. economic data boosted investor appetite for riskier assets and as crude oil advanced for a third day.
Doha Bank, Qatar’s fifth-largest lender by market value, rose a second day and Industries Qatar QSC (IQCD), the Middle East’s second-biggest petrochemicals company, increased as much as 0.8 percent. Qatar’s QE Index (DSM) added 0.2 percent to 8,800.26 at 10:59 a.m. in Doha, headed for the highest close since Dec. 11. The measure has gained 1.4 percent this year. The Bloomberg GCC 200 Index (BGCC200), down 10 percent in 2011, decreased 0.2 percent.
“The housing start figures from the U.S. came in surprisingly strong with the retail sales also positive,” boosting investor sentiment, said Nabil Farhat, a partner at Abu Dhabi-based Al Fajer Securities. “Qatar will have a positive 2012 because the monetary policy and the government fiscal policies are expansionary, and that is why the stock market is the best performing in the Gulf Cooperation Council.”

Why it is unlikely 2012 will be a repeat of 2009 for Dubai « ArabianMoney

The Arab Spring has been an economic disaster for many countries this year but not for the UAE, the federation often seen as the Switzerland of the Middle East.

Money flowed into the UAE from countries affected by the uprisings. It came from wealthy individuals seeking a safe haven, foreign expatriates relocating their families and multinational companies moving to relative safety, and even from tourists with few other options.

At the same time the federation enjoyed total annual oil revenues in excess of $100 billion, the highest in history, for oil went above $100-a-barrel and stayed there. There was also a continued recovery in the global economy from the financial crisis of three years ago and the UAE benefited from rising trade flows particularly from China. Local bond prices rose and the cost of borrowing fell and refinancing local debts was relatively easy and cheap.

Dubai recovery, high oil output to boost UAE growth - Emirates 24/7

A recovery in Dubai’s non-oil economy will ally with strong crude prices and higher production to lift the UAE’s real GDP by nearly 4.3 per cent in 2011 before it slows down in 2012, a key Saudi bank has said.

The surge in crude prices by at last 50 per cent through 2011 will also expand the country’s nominal GDP by around 47 billion to its highest ever level while the current account and budget will record massive surpluses, Saudi American Bank Group (SAMBA) said in its monthly bulletin.

Strong oil prices and higher output by most regional states will also likely to accelerate growth in the other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) while they will bask under larger financial surpluses.

gulfnews : Way forward for Gulf airlines

Etihad Airway's surprise announcement of a deal to increase its shares in airberlin to 29.21 per cent might be overlooked by many as a mere extension of code-share arrangement or at best the acquisition of non-controlling stake in Germany's second biggest airline.
However, it is far more significant than what it seems. The deal is nothing short of "a corporate coup".
The two carry a combined total of more than 40 million passengers a year, operate 233 aircraft, and employ 18,000 people. Together, the companies generate more than $9 billion (Dh33.03 billion) in revenues.

KSA's new bank boss comes in from the cold - The National

The appointment last week of Fahd bin Abdullah Al Mubarak as the governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (Sama), the kingdom's central bank, was a surprise in several respects and a minor victory for the country's modernisers.

Mr Al Mubarak was given a job that has traditionally been reserved for Saudis who had loyally served their time within Sama's complicated bureaucracy; Muhammad Al Jasser, his predecessor, did three years in the top job, but had previously served a decade in less senior Sama positions.

In contrast, Mr Al Mubarak came direct from the sharp edge of the investment banking business, where he was the chairman and managing director of Morgan Stanley's Saudi business.

Work to start on delayed maritime site in Dubai - The National

Six developers have committed to building the first towers in the business district of Dubai Maritime City, eight years after the waterfront project was introduced as the "world's largest maritime development".

The developers, introduced individually with musical fanfare at a media event yesterday, are to build hotel, office and residential properties in the Dh2.5 billion (US$680.6 million) district, which is now largely sand dunes and deserted-looking construction sites.

Turning those dunes into the thriving community envisioned for the 227-hectare man-made peninsula remains a challenge for Drydocks and Maritime World, the Dubai World subsidiary leading the project.

Hearings end in O'Donnell's $3.7m claim against Nakheel - The National

Court hearings ended yesterday in a high-profile case in which one of Dubai's biggest former property executives is claiming about US$3.7 million (Dh13.5m) in severance pay and other benefits from his old employer.

Chris O'Donnell, the former chief executive of the property giant Nakheel, filed the case with the Dubai World Tribunal. Mr O'Donnell, who earned about Dh400,000 a month during a five-year tenure that ended in June, claims he is still due $3m in long-term incentive payments, plus interest and numerous other entitlements.

The hearings yesterday followed another on Monday during which Mr O'Donnell took the stand and was questioned by Nakheel's lawyers. Yesterday's proceedings mainly addressed questions of the tribunal's jurisdiction and the date on which Mr O'Donnell left Nakheel.

UPDATE 2-Dubai's Drydocks pins debt deal hopes on outside help | Reuters

Drydocks World, a unit of Dubai World, expects to complete its long-delayed debt restructuring by the end of March 2012 and hopes joint ventures in Asia will provide it with much needed finance, its chairman said on Tuesday.

The shipping firm is looking to extend debt repayments for between five and eight years, Khamis Juma Buamim said. That timeframe would be similar to the restructuring deal reached by parent Dubai World with its creditors last year.

"We are not asking for government support. I'm not saying we don't need it. There are always other avenues to get support," Buamim told reporters on the sidelines of an event in Dubai.