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Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Egypt eyes $650 million of foreign funding | Reuters

Egypt's ruling military council is set to agree to take foreign funding worth $650 million from the World Bank, European Investment Bank and other institutions, a minister said on Wednesday.

The military has previously shown reluctance to build up foreign debts because it only holds power in Egypt for a transitional period. However, some economists say worsening economic conditions mean the country may now need as much as $15 billion to stave off a full-blown financial crisis.

Planning and International Cooperation Minister Faiza Abu el-Naga told reporters that $85 million of the package, for development projects, would be a non-reimbursable grant.

PROFILE-Saudi C.Bank Governor Fahad al-Mubarak | Reuters

Incumbent: Fahad al-Mubarak

Term: Appointed December 2011

Key Facts:

-- Fahad al-Mubarak was appointed by Saudi King Abdullah to head the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), succeeding Muhammad al-Jasser who took office in February 2009.

-- Mubarak, who comes from outside the central bank and is a private-sector, market-focused figure, was previously chairman and managing director of Morgan Stanley Saudi Arabia. He has also held the position of chairman of the Saudi stock exchange.

-- He played a role in the privatisation of Saudi Telecom and was a member of the team which discussed the partial privatisation of Saudi Arabia's National Gas Industry with international oil companies.

Dow Chemical ‘Optimistic’ on $2.5 Billion Claim Against Kuwait - Bloomberg

Dow Chemical Co. (DOW) is “optimistic” that an arbitration panel will rule favorably on its claim that Kuwait owes at least $2.5 billion for breaching a 2008 agreement to buy a stake in the company’s plastics business.
The arbitration tribunal of the International Chamber of Commerce in London is expected to rule on claims against Kuwait’s Petrochemicals Industries Co. “very soon,” Rebecca Bentley, a spokeswoman for Midland, Michigan-based Dow, said in an e-mail today.
“Nothing has diminished our position that PIC was required to close, and that PIC owes substantial damages to Dow,” Bentley said. “We remain very optimistic about the reward.”

MIDEAST STOCKS-UAE mkts rise in yr-end trade; most Gulf bourses up | Reuters

Dubai's index made its largest one-day gain in two months on Wednesday in what traders said appeared to be end-of-year window-dressing, as most regional markets edged higher.

Dubai's benchmark climbed 2.1 percent, up from Tuesday's seven-year low, supported mainly by Emaar Properties which rose 2.8 percent and heavyweight Emirates NBD which gained 3.7 percent. Illiquid stock Mashreq bank jumped 7.4 percent, in year-end sporadic trade.

"There wasn't a major reason for the shares to drop and it wasn't due to companies' performances but investor sentiment," said Marie Salem, equity trader at Al Mal Capital.

MENA stock markets close - December 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)

Abu Dhabi to pump $4.6 billion more into struggling Aldar Properties in exchange for property - Winnipeg Free Press

The state-backed developer of Abu Dhabi's Formula One circuit says the government of Abu Dhabi will pump in $4.6 billion into the cash-strapped company in exchange for waterfront property and other assets.
Wednesday's deal follows the injection of $5.2 billion in emergency funds provided by the Emirati capital to Aldar Properties earlier this year.
As part of the latest transaction, Abu Dhabi will take control of 760 villas at the company's Al Raha Beach development. Aldar is also selling a redeveloped area known as Central Market to the emirate.

gulfnews : Aldar sells Dh16.8bn in assets to Abu Dhabi government

Aldar Properties PJSC Wednesday announced unit sales, asset transfers and reimbursements with the Government of Abu Dhabi, for a total consideration of Dh16.8 billion.
Under the deal, Abu Dhabi government has purchased 760 three-, four- and five-bedroom units within the Al Bandar, Al Zeina and Al Muneera developments in Al Raha Beach for a total consideration of Dh3.5bn.
“Aldar retains ownership of the remaining inventory of units at Al Raha Beach, which are available for purchase or “rent-to-own”,” the company said in a statement.

MIDEAST DEBT-Gulf govts may aid firms' fund-raising next year | Agricultural Commodities | Reuters

Gulf Arab governments may be pressured into increasing sovereign borrowing next year to raise funds on behalf of state-linked companies, as wide credit spreads make raising corporate debt expensive.

This year, Bahrain, Qatar and Dubai issued sovereign bonds, and all paid hefty premiums demanded by investors because of the turmoil in global financial markets. Even AA-rated Qatar paid a new-issue premium of about 40 basis points on the five-year tranche of its $5 billion mega bond in November.

Corporations have faced even more scepticism from investors, so the vast majority of the Gulf's non-sovereign bond issuance this year has been by banks or top-rated government-related entities (GREs), with many other potential borrowers forced to delay issuance plans until pricing improves.

Pearl-Qatar developer's shares halted over new investor talk | Reuters

Shares in Union Development Company (UDC), the developer behind Qatar's man-made Pearl island project, were suspended on Wednesday over its plans to bring in a strategic investor, the country's financial markets authority said.

UDC said earlier this month that it had been approached to enter into "serious negotiation" to add a new Qatari shareholder through issuance of new shares.

The Qatar Financial Markets Authority ordered the trading halt to give investors "equal and sufficient" access to information related to UDC's Dec. 5 announcement. The firm said it would put the matter before an extraordinary general meeting.

Qatar Islamic Bank to buy IBQ's Islamic assets | Reuters

Qatar Islamic Bank will acquire the sharia-compliant corporate portfolio of International Bank of Qatar(IBQ), the Islamic lender said on Wednesday.

The agreement will see IBQ's Islamic corporate financing facilities and its deposit accounts transferred to Qatar's largest sharia-compliant bank by assets, according to a statement.

No value for the acquisition was given.

How fragile is Dubai's economy? | Al Bawaba

A key player in the UAE's banking sector has said "a sense of fragility" still threatened a full recovery of the country's economy. Rick Pudner, CEO of Emirates NBD, said the first quarter of 2011 had seen signs of improvement in some of the UAE's non-oil sectors but added that the country was "not entirely out of the woods yet".

International banks have laid off hundreds of thousands of employees globally, leaving the UAE less of a priority. ‘Signs are emerging of a recovery, albeit a tentative one, in banking’, said Jonathan Morris, the UAE chief executive of Standard Chartered. "I genuinely think lessons have been learnt from the crisis," he added.

Emirates NBD's forced takeover of Dubai Bank was perhaps not the type of consolidation in the sector that some in the industry had hoped for. With interest rates on deposits at historic lows and faith in banks' strength shaken by the financial crisis, many retail investors have shifted assets from banks to online trading in currencies and bullion. Over-reliance on lending to government-related entities led to the downfall of Dubai Bank, which has been recently taken over by Emirates NBD.

Jadwa says KSA needs 74 oil price to balance budget |

The kingdom will need a breakeven crude oil price of $74 per barrel to generate the funds required to meet its widening expenditure next year, Jadwa Investment said Tuesday.
The government announced on Monday yet another expansionary budget with spending marked at SR690 billion, and revenues reaching SR702 billion.
But Jadwa, a respected Riyadh-based investment firm, said in a report that it expects expenditure to again overshoot the budget, reaching SR733 billion.

EU crisis likely to hit UAE mortgage recovery in 2012 -

The debt crises in Europe and the US will make mortgage financing more difficult in the UAE next year and could hinder signs of resurgence in the sector, analysts have warned.
Official figures from the Dubai Land Department found the total value of the mortgage market in Dubai rose 45 percent to $13bn in the first eleven months of 2011, compared to the same period last year.
The value of mortgages issued was down 60 percent since the boom era of 2008.

Qatar, Abu Dhabi Appeal Grows for Banks - Bloomberg

Qatar Petroleum raised the Middle East’s biggest syndicated loan this year as banks lend to state- backed projects after the region’s political unrest and Europe’s debt crisis reduced borrowing.
The state-run energy company said Dec. 13 it completed the financing of the Barzan Gas Project with a $7.2 billion syndicated loan. Qatar, holder of the world’s third-largest natural gas reserves, is stepping up the pace of infrastructure developments as it prepares to host the 2022 soccer World Cup.
Borrowers backed by oil- and gas-rich Persian Gulf emirates such as Qatar and Abu Dhabi have secured loans even as syndicated lending in the Middle East and North Africa fell 47 percent, excluding most of the Barzan loan. Qatar and Abu Dhabi have the third-highest investment grade ratings at Standard & Poor’s. The economy of Qatar, the region’s second-biggest issuer of dollar bonds this year, will grow 19 percent in 2011, the International Monetary Fund forecasts.

Economic outlook for the UAE surprisingly bright for 2012 « ArabianMoney

ArabianMoney editor and publisher Peter Cooper talks to Sandra Mergulhao from about the outlook for the UAE economy in 2012 and looks back over the events that shaped 2011.

With record oil revenues and a year of solid recovery behind it, the prospects for the UAE seem surprisingly bright and certainly shine out from the gloomy prospects for much of the Arab world as the economic consequences of the Arab Spring continue to be negative.

However, a messy end to the eurozone crisis could send oil prices tumbling, and that relatively high possibility is missing from this slightly too rosy view of 2012.

IMF says expects January talks with Egypt | Reuters

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Tuesday it planned to meet with Egyptian authorities to discuss the country's economic problems but added that any funding would have to be based on benchmarks that had broad political support.

Egypt, whose economy has been hammered by the uprising that unseated Hosni Mubarak in February, turned down a $3 billion IMF facility in June, but ministers have indicated the country may now be prepared to return to the negotiating table.

"The IMF team is looking forward to discussions in January with the authorities on their economic programme to address Egypt's difficult economic and financial situation," an IMF representative said in an emailed statement. It said it was too early to discuss specific measures.

Bahraini lender adds Libya gov as chairman | Reuters

Arab Banking Corporation (ABC) has appointed the new governor of Libya's central bank as its chairman, the Bahrain-based lender said on Wednesday.

Saddek Omar Elkaber, who took the helm at the Libyan central in October, was previously deputy chief executive at ABC's British unit, ABC International Bank.

ABC is majority owned by the Central Bank of Libya, which holds a near-60 percent stake, and Kuwait Investment Authority. It also appointed Khaled Kagigi and Sami Rais as new directors.

gulfnews : Saudi budget a balanced one

Governments must be responsive to the needs of their people, otherwise social and political instability are sure to follow.
This is why those who can afford it must invest in sustainable social and economic infrastructure development programmes. Saudi Arabia is doing this in the budget that the kingdom has announced for 2012, which will see it invest heavily in building homes and reducing unemployment. However, the country continues to be responsible in its spending plans — which will total 690 billion riyals, for the 2012 — a 17 per cent decrease in its actual expenditure for this year. This is necessary in these times when the international financial system remains persistently volatile.

gulfnews : Saudis caught off guard as growth beats target

Saudi Arabia's strong economic growth this year has been a positive surprise, finance minister Ebrahim Al Assaf said yesterday, adding that the government's plans to build hundreds of thousands of homes aimed to limit future inflationary pressures.
The ministry estimates that gross domestic product of the world's top oil exporter jumped 6.8 per cent in 2011, it said on Monday. This is the country's fastest expansion since 7.7 per cent in 2003.
"In previous years, we used to expect higher growth but it came lower. Figures this year were a happy surprise for us," Al Assaf told Al Arabiya television.

Strong appetite for Tadawul - The National

Saudi Arabia's petrochemical companies are expected to enjoy a surge in overseas interest if plans to open the kingdom's stock exchange to foreign investors come to fruition.

Market regulators in Jeddah are planning to open the Tadawul stock exchange to direct foreign investment after conducting trials. Selected foreign investors, meanwhile, are expected to be given access by the middle of next year.

"Saudi Arabia is moving towards opening their market for direct foreign ownership," said Aleksandar Stojanovski, an analyst at Deutsche Bank. "This is only a matter of when rather than if."

Someone has to see that justice is done - The National

Amna Al Owais is just one of two people from around the world to receive an honourable mention for a Young Lawyer of the Year Award from the International Bar Association. The deputy registrar and small claims tribunal registrar for the Courts at Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) discusses the challenges of rolling out a free legal advisory scheme, and how to boost the number of female Emiratis in the legal profession.

How did you end up at the DIFC Courts when you started working in law about six years ago?

The court was up and running when I was doing my master's in the UK. I got a call from a judge here, and he said "we opened a common law court and we are targeting Emiratis who have a common law background". That was a very appealing role for me. I started as a junior person, in an admin role, then was the first UAE national on the registry side.

Oil Trades Near Six-Week High on Iran Threat to Strait of Hormuz Shipping - Bloomberg

Oil traded near the highest level in six weeks after Iran threatened to block crude transportation through the Strait of Hormuz, increasing concern that global supplies will be curbed amid shrinking U.S. stockpiles.
Futures were little changed after rising for a sixth day yesterday, the longest run of advances since November 2010. Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency cited Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi as saying the country would bar shipments through the strait if sanctions are imposed on its oil exports. U.S. oil inventories probably dropped for a third week, a Bloomberg News survey showed before an Energy Department report this week.
“There’s been a significant decline in inventories,” said Gavin Wendt, a senior resource analyst at Mine Life Pty in Sydney. “If that trend continues, combined with the Iranian situation, it could be significant in driving oil prices even higher.”

Saudi would replace Iran crude if EU embargoes-sources | Energy & Oil | Reuters

Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia and other Gulf OPEC states are ready to replace Iranian oil if further sanctions halt Iranian crude exports to Europe, industry sources said on Tuesday.

Iran's Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi had said that Saudi Arabia had promised not to replace Iranian crude if sanctions are imposed.

"No promise was made to Iran, its very unlikely that Saudi Arabia would not fill a demand gap if sanctions are placed," an industry source familiar with the matter, who declined to be named, told Reuters.

gulfnews : Plan to list debt likely to boost Qatar bond sales

Qatar's plan to list government bonds on the country's bourse for the first time may motivate companies in the world's fastest-growing economy to sell bonds locally as Europe's debt crisis prompts its banks to lend less.
The central bank of Qatar said yesterday it would list treasury bills on the Qatar Exchange tomorrow "as a first step toward starting a secondary market." Listings of bonds and sukuk, or Islamic notes, would follow, the central bank said.
The urgency of developing Gulf credit markets has heightened as Eurozone countries seek to raise $1.1 trillion of debt in 2012, according to Deutsche Bank AG forecasts. Rather than relying on investment from Europe, borrowers may seek to lure investors in the Arabian Gulf.

UAE banks not out of woods yet - The National

The bankers populating the Dubai International Financial Centre are a rather more nervous bunch as they enter the third year since the emirate's credit bubble burst. The bravado of boom time Dubai has vanished, replaced by a sober sense of a slow recovery.

International banks have laid off hundreds of thousands of employees globally, leaving the UAE less of a priority. And lenders in the country are constrained in their ability to provide loans by bad debts that are expected to persist for years.

Signs are emerging of a recovery, albeit a tentative one, in banking,says Jonathan Morris, the UAE chief executive of Standard Chartered.

Oil price climbs amid Iranian threat -

Iran on Tuesday threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, a chokepoint for a third of the world’s seaborne oil trade, if the west imposes oil sanctions on Tehran, causing a rise in oil prices.

The warning by Mohammad Reza Rahimi, Iran’s first vice-president, came days after Iran staged naval war exercises in the strait.