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Saturday, 31 March 2012

Rate cut to take marginal hit on Omani banks | Oman Observer

The recent decision of the Central Bank of Oman to reduce interest rate ceiling on personal loans to 7 per cent is seen to put pressure on the profit margin of the commercial banks in the Sultanate. The new rates will be applicable for fresh loan disbursements starting April 2012. The last revision in the personal lending interest rate was done in June 2008.
“The decline in lending rates is expected to put pressure on the margins of banks with the re-pricing of loans at lower rates in the coming quarters. Over the medium term, we expect the lending rates to remain soft along with the recent implication of fall in personal loan rates”, say analysts at Gulf Baader Capital Markets in a research report.

Saudi Stock Market close - March 31, 2012

General Index
Intraday  3 month  
 Daily Statistics
 General Index7835.15
 Change (%)0.67%
 T. Volume603913041
 T. Companies 153

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Saudi shares close higher - Yahoo! News UK

Saudi shares close higher on Saturday led by gains in petrochemical and banking stocks.
Oil prices posted on Friday the biggest quarterly gain since the beginning of 2011.
The all-share closes 0.7 percent higher to 7835,2 points and the banking index adds 0.7 percent to 18,064.4 points. The petrochemical index closes up 0.9 percent at 7265.02 points.

Saudi Shares Climb to 3 1/2-High on Earnings Prospects - Bloomberg

Saudi Arabian shares advanced to the highest level in more than 3 1/2 years as a positive outlook for earnings and oil prices lifted banks and petrochemical companies.
The Tadawul All Share Index (SASEIDX) climbed 0.5 percent to 7,822.82 at 1:05 p.m. in Riyadh, and earlier today touched 7,846.58, the highest level since Sept. 13, 2008. The 152-member index has gained 22 percent this year.
Samba Financial Group (BSFR) rose to the highest level in almost a year. Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC), the world’s largest petrochemical company known as Sabic, advanced 0.7 percent, while Yanbu National Petrochemical Co., a Sabic unit, jumped 2.5 percent.

Kuwait's Agility Q4 net profit rises 114 pct - Yahoo! News UK

Kuwait's Agility, the logistics firm facing U.S. fraud charges, posted a 114-percent rise in fourth-quarter net profit compared with the same period in 2010, the firm said in a statement on Saturday.
Net profit in the three months to Dec. 31 came in at 3.5 million Kuwaiti dinars ($12.60 million) compared with a loss of 23.7 million dinars in Q4 2010.
Fourth-quarter revenues were 5 percent lower at 368.6 million dinars due to the loss of government contracting
business, Agility said.

Dubai's Drydocks says most lenders agree on $2.2 bln debt deal - Yahoo! News UK

Dubai's ship building unit Drydocks World has secured the necessary level of support from its syndicated lenders to implement the restructuring of its $2.2 billion debt, the company said in a statement on Saturday.
The Dubai World unit said a "significant majority" of the Group's lenders had formally confirmed their support for the restructuring. However, a small minority is yet to confirm support, it added.
The company did not specify what percentage of lenders needed to agree for it to go ahead with the restructuring proposal.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Dubai: city of the centa-millionaires | beyondbrics –

Being a millionaire isn’t what it used to be. In their new 2012 Wealth Report, the property consultancy Knight Frank and Citi Private Bank take a look at the rise of the centa-millionaires of the world – those with at least $100m in liquid assets.

More centa-millionaires are popping up across the world thanks to what the report says is the central trend dominating the world’s prime property markets: “the relentless growth of ‘plutonomy’ economics, a phenomenon that sees the wealth of the richest 1 per cent  growing far quicker than that of the general population.”

Globally, the number of centa-millionaires rose by 29 per cent from 2006-11, but in the Middle East they doubled in the same period, and are expected to rise by half again in the coming five years. There will be 1,000 new people with $100m or more in the Middle East by 2016.

Dubai in the pink of wealth

Dubai has shrugged off the downturn and has made a strong comeback among the wealth conscious across the world.
A healthy score of eight among global cities growing in importance is an indication of its rising influence. It has also been chosen the 7th best city for economic activity, and tops the region.
Overall, the regional business and trading hub has been voted as the 13th most important city in the world, according to the Wealth Report, produced by Knight Frank and Citi Private Bank, which looked at prime property and wealth in 71 cities.

Dubai port firm DP World profit rises 18 percent - BusinessWeek

DP World, the Dubai-based port operator, said Thursday its profit rose 18 percent last year as cargo volumes increased through its network.

The cargo handler said it earned $532 million in 2011, up from $450 million the previous year.

Adjusted earnings, which included gains from the partial sale of the company's Australian business, were up 67 percent to $751 million.

U.S. Might Have More Oil Resources Than Saudi Arabia, But... - Forbes

NAB Eyes Islamic Bond Issuance Down Under - Deal Journal Australia - WSJ

Growing appetite for Islamic finance is spurring both large and small Australian financials to boost their offering of Sharia-compliant fixed-income assets, the head of the country’s first Islamic wealth manager said on Thursday.

National Australia Bank Ltd., or NAB,  is considering selling up to US$500 million in Islamic bonds in what would be the first issuance of Sharia-compliant debt securities in Australia, two people familiar with the deal told Dow Jones Newswires.

The bonds would be structured to comply with Muslim law by paying a profit from the bond, rather than interest, which is banned in Islam. A spokeswoman for NAB declined to comment.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Saudi oil minister wants lower prices - Overheard - WSJ

Ali Naimi is not fond of extremes. The Saudi Arabian petroleum minister is so worried by high oil prices — Brent crude commands about $123 a barrel — he felt compelled to pen an Op-Ed in today’s Financial Times. The last time he took to the newspapers, according to a search of Factiva, was back in February 2009, following oil’s crash from triple digits to less than $40 amid the financial crisis.

Mr. Naimi’s message Thursday was simple: very high oil prices are bad for the global economy, which is ultimately bad for oil demand, and Saudi Arabia will act to bring them down. He singles out Europe in particular as an example of a weak economy being undermined further by high energy costs, a point echoed in the OECD’s latest assessment of economic prospects, also released Thursday.

Oil accounts for 45% of Saudi Arabia’s economy and the vast majority of its (swelling) public budget. Its rulers know that geopolitical risks centered on Iran are keeping prices high. That is encouraging consuming countries to look for alternative energy sources, reduce energy consumption, and even consider releasing barrels from strategic reserves.

MIDEAST STOCKS-UAE shares dip on risk-aversion; most bourse down - Yahoo! News UK

A negative global backdrop weighed on United Arab Emirates bourses on Thursday as risk-averse investors reduced positions, and most other regional markets also ended lower.
Dubai's index retreated 2 percent, giving back Wednesday's gains but it remains 21.8 percent up year-to-date.
"We're seeing a high-correlation with global markets and sentiment," said Rami Sidani, Schroders Middle East head of investment.
"Dubai outperformed regional markets yesterday (Wednesday) and, on days of negative global sentiment, investors here book profits."

UAE: HSBC doubles up | beyondbrics –

HSBC may be cutting back in emerging markets that it sees as non-strategic. But in those it deems strategic, it is beefing up.

On Thursday it announced plans to buy the UAE-based onshore retail and commercial operation of Lloyds, the British bank which is under some pressure to bolster its balance sheet. It’s not a big deal by world banking standards, involving gross assets of just $769m. But when it comes to implementing a strategy every little bit helps, for both HSBC and Lloyds.

HSBC said the business it was buying from Lloyds had about 8,800 personal and commercial customers and a loan book of approximately $573m as of 31 December 2011.

Dubai Duty Free Said to Seek $1.1 Billion Through Bank Loan - Businessweek

Dubai Duty Free is raising a $1.1 billion loan backed by the airport retailer’s future cash earnings and hired lenders including Citigroup Inc. (C) (C) to help with the plan, two bankers familiar with the deal said.

Dubai Duty Free’s parent, Investment Corp. of Dubai, the emirate’s main state-owned holding company, also mandated HSBC Holdings Plc. (HSBA), Dubai Islamic Bank PJSC (DIB) and Emirates NBD PJSC (EMIRATES) to help with the fundraising, the people said, declining to be identified because the information is private. The five-year financing plan pays a margin of 3.5 percentage points over the London interbank offered rate, they said. A spokeswoman for Dubai Duty Free, who didn’t wish to be identified because of company policy, declined to comment.

Dubai Duty Free, which began operations in 1983, operates 18,000 square meters of retail space at Dubai International and is the world’s single-largest airport retailer based on 2010 revenue. It reported a 15.6 percent rise in 2011 revenue to $1.46 billion.

MENA stock markets close - March 29, 2012

 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)

Mubadala hands part of Aldar stake to ADCB for loan - Yahoo! News UK

Mubadala Development Co will transfer a 14-percent stake in Aldar Properties to Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank in return for a loan facility, the state-owned investment fund said on Thursday.
Mubadala, which owns 49 percent of the struggling developer after an Abu Dhabi government bailout, said the 571.9 million shares would revert back to it in April 2013 when the facility matures or earlier if repaid ahead of schedule. It did not state the size of the facility.
At Thursday's Aldar closing share price of 1.22 dirhams, the stake is worth 7 billion dirhams ($1.9 billion).

HSBC to buy Lloyd's retail banking ops in UAE - sources | Reuters

HSBC, Europe's biggest bank, plans to buy Lloyds Banking Group's retail operations in the United Arab Emirates, four sources said on Thursday.

HSBC was slated to make an announcement at 4:30 p.m. (1230 GMT) on Thursday.

Spokesmen at HSBC and Lloyd's declined to comment.

Lloyds said in January that it was in talks to sell its operations in the United Arab Emirates, its Middle Eastern hub with assets of 6.1 billion dirhams ($1.7 billion) in 2010.

FT Alphaville » Saudi Arabia resorts to Jedi mindtricks

Saudi Arabia’s oil minister Ali Naimi penned a sharply worded piece in the Financial Times on Thursday declaring that high prices are unjustified because “there is no lack of supply.”

But what does resorting to an op-ed in the Financial Times actually tell us about the kingdom’s position?

Could it be that the Saudis have taken a leaf out of the Fed’s book, an institution also known to have lost  firepower, and resorted to communications as a policy instrument in its own right? That is, when all else fails, resort to Jedi mindtricks: “This is not the supply shortage you’re looking for”.

Persian Gulf Stocks: Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Gulf General - Bloomberg

Dubai’s DFM General Index (DFMGI) fell the most in three weeks, declining 2 percent to 1,648.87 at the 2 p.m. close in the emirate, trimming its gains this year to 22 percent. Abu Dhabi’s ADX General Index fell 0.5 percent.

WAM | Emirates News Agency

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) would like to state that it does not, at this time, have any intention whatsoever to license a third operator in the UAE telecommunications market.

This statement comes in response to articles which have been circulated in some local newspapers about this matter. The TRA would like to reaffirm that both Etisalat and du are currently meeting the needs of the UAE market.

Commenting on the issue, Majed Al Mesmar, TRA Deputy Director General said: " The TRA sees no need to add a new operator to the UAE market at this time; hence it has no immediate intention to do so. What was circulated in few local newspapers is misleading and does not accurately express the actual statements of the TRA regarding the issue."

Saudi’s NCB Capital to Boost Global Investment With TCW, Amundi - Bloomberg

NCB Capital, a Saudi Arabian investment company with 44 billion riyals ($11.7 billion) of assets, is expanding outside of the region through alliances with TCW Group Inc. and Amundi Asset Management.
NCB Capital plans to start two funds in the second half of 2012 pending regulatory approval managed by TCW and Amundi, said Chief Investment Officer Faysal Badran. TCW and Amundi now manage a combined $550 million of international funds for NCB Capital, the Saudi wealth manager said in a statement on March 24.
“The international funds business is a relative small portion of our business, and that’s why we’re doing this deal,” Badran, who is also NCB Capital’s head of asset management, said in a phone interview yesterday. “We’ve always had international funds but there was a desire to refocus on better performing investment managers last year.”

Zain confirms dividend, to back Zain Saudi issue | Reuters

Kuwait telecoms group Zain agreed to issue a dividend of 65 fils per share on Thursday and said it would back a subscription by its Saudi affiliate.

Zain Chairman Assad al-Banwan confirmed the 2011 dividend at its annual general meeting.

Meanwhile, the Kuwaiti telco's deputy chairman said it would would guarantee any new issues made by Zain Saudi, its indebted affiliate.

gulfnews : Dubai's GGICO reports Dh1b loss for 2011 amid debt restructuring

The Dubai investment company Gulf General Investment Company (GGICO) reported a loss of over Dh1 billion in 2011 as it continues its debt restructuring.
In a statement to the Dubai Financial Market today, GGICO said its loss was Dh1.08b in 2011, compared with Dh973m a year earlier, blaming the results on "impairment of real estate, fair losses in financial securities, impairment on revaluation of repossessed apartments and providions in receivables."
Revenue for 2011 is Dh1.983m, down from Dh2,853m in 2010.

Dubai Shares Led Persian Gulf Lower on Oil; Drake & Scull Falls - Bloomberg

Dubai’s benchmark stock index led declines in the Persian Gulf as oil dropped and U.S. government data showed that orders placed with factories for durable goods rose less than economists estimated.
Islamic Arab Insurance Co. (SALAMA), an insurance provider, slumped the most since March 8. Drake & Scull International (DSI), a construction company, declined for the first time this week. The DFM General Index (DFMGI) lost 1.1 percent to 1,663.91 at 11:31 a.m. in the emirate, trimming this year’s rally to 23 percent. Abu Dhabi’s ADX General Index retreated 0.6 percent.
“The external backdrop is not conducive to the continuation of Dubai momentum,” said Julian Bruce, the Dubai- based director of institutional sales trading at EFG-Hermes Holding SAE. “We expect overall enthusiasm to wane going into the weekend.”

DP World profits up as trade, tourism and retail leads Dubai upswing but can it last? « ArabianMoney

Spending by tourists on Visa cards during the Dubai Shopping Festival was up 22 per cent with Russians and Chinese replacing the recession-hit British and paying hotel bills was the biggest item of expenditure.

Meanwhile Dubai global ports operator DP World has reported a 10 per cent rise in handling of twenty foot equivalent containers to 54.7 million last year and a leap in profits from $451 million in 2010 to $751 million. Trade, tourism and retail is booming again.

Egypt's Orascom Tel jumps 9.9 pct on Algeria News | Reuters

Egypt's Orascom Telecom jumped 9.9 percent at the opening on Thursday, extending the previous day's gains when an Algerian finance ministry source said the government would pay $6.5 billion for a majority stake in its Djezzy unit.

The increase prompted the stock market to suspend trade on OT shares.

Resolution of a long-running dispute over Djezzy would lift a cloud that has hung for years over OT, a heavyweight on Egypt's bourse, and could bring more funds flowing into the country's entire equity market.

GCC bank provisions soar 59% in Q4 - Emirates 24/7

Banks in Gulf oil producers are pushing ahead with a drive to build up loan loss provisions in the wake of the 2008 global fiscal distress and regional debt default problems, with those of key banks soaring by 59 per cent in the fourth quarter over the previous quarter, according to a Kuwaiti bank.

Provisions by the 22 banks covered in the report by Global Investment House (GIH) about the banking sector in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) also jumped by around 51 per cent year-on-year.

Saudi Arabia was the only country whose banks recorded a decline in provisions YoY while Kuwait and the UAE accounted for the bulk of Q4 provisions.

People on the move -

The board of Emaar Properties has been expanded to 11 members from eight with the replacement of four members being interpreted as a dilution of government influence at Dubai’s biggest real estate company. Majid Saif al-Ghurair, a businessman, Saeed al-Tayer, chief executive of the Meydan racecourse project, as well as representatives from Investment Corporation of Dubai, the state holding company, and the ruler’s court were not reappointed after two three-year terms. New government representatives have been named, but the board’s expansion under Mohammed Alabbar, the founding chairman, is expected to afford the developer more autonomy as the Dubai blue-chip stock, about one-third owned by the government, seeks to drive the wounded real sector back to growth.

gulfnews : Nascent Arab political equilibriums

Except for unlikely bold decisions reached by attendees at the 23rd Arab League summit in Baghdad, it may be safe to anticipate yet another political failure, one that will highlight existing differences among wary rulers.  In the aftermath of sui-generis uprisings in so many countries, most will now confront years, perhaps decades, of adjustments.
Many will pretend that meagre efforts will address popular concerns.  All will return home empty-handed and, even worse, devoid of fresh ideas to mobilise their respective populations’ socio-economic powers to create wealth and enhance sorely needed liberties.
Though few seem to comprehend what ails their societies, political equilibriums will eventually emerge, even if the transitory period promises to be unsettling precisely because decades of neglect gave rise to these revolutions in the first place.

gulfnews : Arabs need a spring of peace, development In Theory

It is not known who coined the term ‘Arab Spring' to refer to the protests and political unrests in the Arab world, but few can deny that a vastly changed landscape has been left behind.
Radical changes have been seen in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen in 2011 and 2012, while Syria's so-called Arab Spring has turned out to be a series of bloody events.
Until now, the Arab Spring has not yet yielded its fruit. On the contrary, the security and economies of the countries have deteriorated. The situation is likely to worsen due to rising unemployment and the outflow of capital.

gulfnews : Mixed response to Damas takeover

The takeover of jeweller Damas by Qatar-based conglomerate the Mannai Group and investment bank EFG Hermes is a positive indicator of the company's value but may be a disadvantage to minority shareholders, analysts said Wednesday.
The $445 million (Dh1.634 billion) deal, which will see the Qatari company and Egyptian investment bank pay around $0.45 per share, is likely to see Damas eventually taken private and de-listed from the Dubai bourse, they added, a likely negative move for company shareholders.
"The fact that such a big group is coming in to buy the company means they believe there's value there and it is higher than the price it says," said Mohammad Yasin, an Abu-Dhabi based capital markets specialist. He pointed out that the purchase price the conglomerate has agreed to is a 45 per cent premium over Damas' share price before Mannai confirmed its interest in January.

Middle East's richest find fortunes fell after downturn - The National

Many of the Middle East's wealthiest merchant families have lost as much as a third of their fortunes since the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008, according to a new report.

The billionaire owners of some of the biggest family trading empires in the region have suffered a 33.5 per cent reduction in wealth between 2008 and last year, according to a report from Société Générale Private Banking and Forbes Insights.

The report studied 21 billionaires in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Lebanon, out of a global sample of 1,253.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Mobius Leads Saudi Bulls on Volatility: Riskless Return - Bloomberg

Money managers from Mark Mobius to John Burbank are bullish on Saudi Arabia, where stocks are producing the world’s best risk-adjusted gains in 2012 with lower volatility than longer-term U.S. Treasuries.
The BLOOMBERG RISKLESS RETURN RANKING shows the Tadawul All Share Index climbed 2.5 percent this year through yesterday after adjusting for price swings, the biggest advance among equity gauges in 73 nations, as oil rallied and speculation grew that the world’s biggest crude exporter will remove restrictions on foreign investors. Volatility in Saudi Arabia is the third- lowest among the world’s 25 biggest markets and dropped below that of the Bloomberg/EFFAS U.S. Government 10+ Year Index of long-term bonds for the first time since 1996.

Arab Spring Turns to Economic Winter on More Joblessness - Bloomberg

Amir Mohammed has been sleeping outside the Libyan Embassy in Cairo awaiting a visa for a week, his bed a layer of cardboard on the sidewalk. He has given up on finding a job in Egypt and is looking for a way out.
“I’m trying to just eke out an existence in my own country, but I can’t,” the 30-year-old hairdresser said. “There’s no work. Why did we have a revolution? We wanted better living standards, social justice and freedom. Instead, we’re suffering.”
The world’s highest youth jobless rate left the Middle East vulnerable to the uprisings that ousted Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and three other leaders in the past year. It has got worse since then. About 1 million Egyptians lost their jobs in 2011 as the economy shrank for the first time in decades. Unemployment in Tunisia, where the revolts began, climbed above 18 percent, the central bank said in January. It was 13 percent in 2010, International Monetary Fund data show.

Azerbaijan: Jockeying Intensifies in Caspian Gas Pipeline Race |

The Nabucco pipeline may not be dead yet. A scaled-down version of the long-planned project could end up being folded into a joint Azerbaijani-Turkish effort to transport natural gas from the Caspian Basin to Europe.

Caspian gas exports was the main topic of discussion at the 11th Georgian International Oil & Gas, Energy & Infrastructure Conference and Showcase, held March 28 in Tbilisi. It was clear from the chatter of conference participants that lots of maneuvering is still going on.

Back in December, Turkey and Azerbaijan signed a memorandum of understanding to build a trans-Anatolian pipeline, dubbed TANAP, which would deliver Azerbaijani gas to Europe. The project, with a cost estimate of upwards of $5 billion, appeared to deliver a death blow to the Nabucco initiative, which has faced repeated delays due to a lack of reliable gas supplies.

Saudi Arabia Seeks Lower Crude Price for Growth, Al-Naimi Says - Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia’s (OPCRSAUD) Oil Minister Ali al- Naimi said he wants to see lower crude prices to help stimulate economic growth.
There is “no rational reason” for current high oil prices, al-Naimi said today in an editorial published in the Financial Times, echoing comments he made to reporters in Doha, Qatar on March 20. “Saudi Arabia would like to see a lower price,” he wrote.
Brent crude gained 15 percent this year partly because of concern that tensions between Iran and western nations may reduce exports. The market remains vulnerable to supply disruptions from the Middle East, Jeffery Currie, head of commodities research at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., said today in a report.

MENA stock markets close - March 28, 2012

 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)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Egypt rallies on OT Algeria news; Gulf bourses mixed | News by Country | Reuters

Egypt's bourse rallied on Wednesday after an Algerian finance ministry source said the government would pay $6.5 billion to acquire a majority stake in Orascom Telecom's (OT) unit Djezzy, while trading was mixed on Gulf markets.

Resolution of a long-running dispute over Djezzy would lift a cloud that has hung for years over OT, a heavyweight on Egypt's bourse, and could bring more funds flowing into the country's entire equity market.

Analysts said the Algerian finance ministry source's implied valuation of Djezzy was far above their expectations.

Saudi lender SABB sells $400 mln sukuk in private placement - Yahoo! News UK

Saudi British Bank sold a five-year 1.5 billion riyal ($400 million) Islamic bond, or sukuk, in a private placement on Wednesday, a banking source familiar with the matter said.
"It was subordinated sukuk of 1.5 billion riyals with a tenor of five years, maturing in 2017. The pricing was 120 basis points over sibor (Saudi interbank offered rate)," the source told Reuters, adding the deal was privately placed.
SABB is the Saudi affiliate of HSBC. It posted a 65 percent rise in fourth quarter profit on lower operating costs.

Gulf telecoms groups cool their heels -

Gulf telecoms companies that spent much of the past decade making headline-grabbing overseas buys are shifting gear as the realities of competition, risk and a maturing industry catch up with them.
Mobile phone operators that emerged as the region’s most high-profile international service export have scrapped some of their grander global ambitions in exchange for a less glamorous but often more profitable strategy of boosting growth closer to home.
The businesses’ changing approach and the international commercial reverses suffered by some of them has highlighted the task facing Gulf states as they try to use petro-riches to diversify their economies.

Standard launched for Islamic profit rate swap - Yahoo! News UK

In an effort to help Islamic financial institutions hedge risk, global standard-setting bodies have launched a standard contract template for Islamic profit rate swaps (PRS).
By exchanging one cash flow for another, PRS function in a similar way to the interest rate swaps (IRS) widely used in conventional financial markets. But they do not use interest rates, which are banned under Islamic principles.
The template was put together by the Bahrain-based International Islamic Financial Market (IIFM) and the
International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA).

UPDATE 1-Qatar economy grows 14 pct in 2011, likely to slow | Reuters

Qatar's economy expanded 14 percent in inflation-adjusted terms last year as energy exports gave it one of the highest growth rates in the world, although the pace was slower than analysts had expected, preliminary data from the Statistics Authority showed on Wednesday.

Real gross domestic product of the world's top liquefied natural gas exporter grew 4.4 percent quarter-on-quarter in the final three months of 2011, and 14.7 percent on an annual basis, the data revealed.

Last year's growth was below a consensus estimate of 17.5 percent given by a Reuters poll of analysts, and below the International Monetary Fund's latest estimate of 18.7 percent. A statement from the statistics authority did not explain the discrepancy.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Qatar at 11-wk high; Dubai snaps 2-day dip - Yahoo! News UK

Qatar's bourse ends at an 11-week high as sentiment picks up ahead of first-quarter earnings. Banks and service sector stocks support gains. Qatar Telecom climbs 1.2 percent, Qatar Islamic Bank rises 0.8 percent and Commercial Bank of Qatar adds 0.5 percent.
"With nearly all companies declaring great profits for 2011, the market is excited and optimistic about the upcoming period," says Yassir Mckee, executive manager at Al Rayan Financial Brokerage.
The index climbs 0.2 percent to close at 8,790 points, its highest finish since Jan. 9.

REFILE-MIDEAST WEEKAHEAD-Qatar may take over lead in Gulf stock rally | Reuters

Qatar's stock market is the worst-performing in the Gulf so far this year. But a surge in prices this week suggests it could now start to outperform the region, boosted by healthy corporate earnings, traders and analysts say.

The Qatari market has been neglected during the regional bull run that began in January, because investors saw more value in markets such as beaten-down Dubai, up 24 percent this year, and Saudi Arabia, up 21 percent. By contrast, Qatar's main index has gained less than 0.1 percent in 2012.

This pattern could be changing, however. Dubai has essentially moved sideways in the past three weeks while the Saudi Arabian index, while continuing to hit fresh highs, has seen its 14-day momentum - a measure of the strength of its uptrend - fall sharply since early March.

Dubai Oil Bourse Wants Buyers to Make Oman Contract a Benchmark - Bloomberg

The Dubai Mercantile Exchange plans to ask crude buyers in Asia to lobby Saudi Arabia and other oil producers in the Persian Gulf to adopt its Oman crude futures contract as a benchmark for their official selling prices.
Adoption of the contract as a benchmark must be “customer- driven,” Kendal Vroman, managing director for commodity products at CME Group Inc. (CME), said in Dubai. Chicago-based CME, which last month doubled its stake in the Dubai exchange to 50 percent, will use its sales and marketing team in Asia to promote the Oman contract as a hedging tool, he said.
The energy-focused DME has been seeking to establish the Oman contract, which gives investors the option of taking physical deliveries of crude, as the pricing standard for oil sales to Asia. The exchange hopes that by boosting its trading volume it can persuade buyers of Middle Eastern oil to tell producers that the Oman contract would be their best benchmark for crude sold under long-term contracts, Vroman and DME Chairman Ahmad Sharaf told reporters at a briefing in Dubai.

Dubai Islamic Bank says redeems $750 mln sukuk - Yahoo! News UK

Dubai Islamic Bank has repaid a $750 million, five-year Islamic bond which matured on March 22 using its own resources, the bank said in an e-mailed statement on Wednesday.
The sukuk, which was issued by Dubai's largest sharia-compliant bank in March 2007, was then oversubscribed by three times, with 45 percent allocation to the Middle East, 25 percentto Asia and 30 percent to Europe.
"The ability to repay from our own resources without the need to refinance is testament to the robust fundamentals we have built over the past years," said Adnan Chilwan, deputy chief executive.

Qatar’s Mannai leads Damas bid -

A consortium led by Qatar’s Mannai Corporation has agreed to make an offer to acquire Damas, valuing the Dubai-based jewellery retailer at $445m and aiming to build a controlling stake and take the company private.
The bid, which has been approved by the board but needs shareholder approval next month, looks set to bring a close to a turbulent two-and-a-half years for Damas, which began when the retailer revealed that its main shareholders had been misusing company funds.

Qatari developer Diar eyes emerging market investments | Reuters

Qatari Diar, the property arm of Qatar's sovereign wealth fund, is eyeing investments in emerging markets this year, the company's chief executive said on Wednesday.

The property firm, whose worldwide portfolio includes 49 projects valued at over $39 billion, has been on a buying spree in Europe as part of the Gulf Arab state's strategy of employing its natural gas riches to diversify its income flows.

"We are always looking for opportunities around the world....I can say that we are now looking into the emerging markets," said Mohammed Hedfa, the group CEO for Qatari Diar told reporters in the sidelines of a conference in Dubai.

Dubai's Drydocks expects debt agreement by April 2 - Yahoo! News UK

Dubai's ship building unit Drydocks World will ask its syndicated lenders to sign a lock-up agreement over coming days and is confident it can secure their support by April 2, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.
The Dubai World unit is in negotiations to restructure a $2.2 billion loan facility in an effort to put an end to long-drawn and complex debt talks.
The firms debt restructuring, initially expected to be completed by April last year, has dragged on as the presence of hedge funds and a lack of government support curbed prospects of an amicable deal.

Saudi Electric prices $1.75 bln Islamic bond - Yahoo! News UK

Saudi Electricity Co priced a $1.75 billion two-part Islamic bond on Wednesday, putting its $500 million five year portion at a fixed profit rate of 2.665 percent and its $1.25 billion 10-year tranche at 4.211 percent.

Qatar-led group agrees takeover of Dubai’s Damas

Qatari conglomerate Mannai Corp and Egyptian investment bank EFG Hermes have agreed a $0.45 per share recommended cash bid for Dubai jeweler Damas.

In a joint statement, Mannai and EFG Hermes said irrevocable undertakings had been secured from 77.8 percent of Damas shareholders, with the bid valuing Damas’ share capital at around $445 million.

The offer is at a 9.8-percent premium to Damas’ closing price on Tuesday of $0.41. The stock, which has surged 86 percent this year on talk of a potential takeover, was unchanged at 0646 GMT.

Carlyle dividend payout lacks self-check: experts | Alrroya

Private equity firm Carlyle Group’s decision to borrow a chunk of money to pay its major shareholders’ dividend early this month has been viewed by industry experts as misleading and lacking in decorum.

The US-based investment company was reported by Bloomberg to have borrowed around $500 million (Dh1.8 billion) from Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund in order to finance its expansion plans.

But the lion’s share of that amount went to the pockets of its owners, a move that could hurt the company’s reputation ahead of its plans to launch an initial public offering.

Saudi's Kingdom Holding gets approval for $1 bln bond plan - Yahoo! News UK

Kingdom Holding, the investment vehicle of Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, has received shareholder approval to sell bonds worth up to 3.75 billion riyal ($1 billion), the company said in a bourse statement on Wednesday.
The firm, 95-percent owned by Prince Alwaleed, has never issued public debt before.
Shareholders authorised the board of directors to take all necessary steps to issue the bonds, but no details on timeframe or the structure of the debt to be issued were provided in the statement.

UAE trade surplus at all time high in 2011 - Emirates 24/7

Strong oil prices allied with higher output to boost the UAE’s trade surplus to an all time high of around $94 billion in 2011, a Qatari bank has said.

The UAE’s commercial balance was the second largest in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), with Saudi Arabia’s surplus standing at $254 billion, nearly half the group’s combined trade surplus, Qatar National Bank (QNB) said in a study on the GCC trade balance released this week.

It gave no figures for previous years but IMF figures showed the UAE recorded a trade surplus of around $55 billion in 2010.

gulfnews : Flydubai denies it will take passengers at Dubai World Central early 2013

Flydubai and civil aviation officials have denied reports that the low-cost carrier will begin passenger operations through Dubai World Central airport by 2013.
“Flydubai does not have any plans to move operations to Dubai World Central by early 2013. We are happy with our current home at Dubai Terminal 2, which is convenient for passengers while offering us operational efficiency,” a Flydubai spokesperson said in an email to Gulf News.
Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Dubai Airports, confirmed that there are no plans for the relocation of Flydubai to DWC airport from Dubai International Airport at this stage.

gulfnews : Aldar projects remain on track

Al Muneera and Al Zeina, two beachfront residential developments at Al Raha Beach which are owned and managed by Aldar Properties, will be fully ready for handover to owners and tenants by the end of the second quarter, said Mohammad Al Za'abi, the company's director of estates, during a media tour of the properties in Abu Dhabi yesterday.
The delivery continued in phases last year with the first tenants taking possession in December, Al Za'abi said.
Al Muneera, which extends over the island and mainland connected via two bridges and one pedestrian bridge, comprises 1,445 units. That is 1,286 apartments, 148 town-houses and 11 villas. The community has also got Al Noor Tower, a 12-storey office building.

FNC protest over financial waste - The National

The FNC refused to pass the annual official report on federal spending yesterday, in protest at a catalogue of irregularities in government spending.

Members complained that the Federal State Audit Institute, which prepared the 2010 report, found the same problems year after year, with no clear mechanism to force ministries and other government entities to follow the law.

They said there was misuse of the national budget, with money being distributed apparently at random. For instance, the federal court in Umm Al Quwain continued to send fees to the emirate's local government, notto the federal court as it has been legally required to since 1991, leading to the court's being recorded as having no income at federal level.

A Big Bang would help keep Emirates' status star-bound - The National

UAE stock markets should be unified. It would be to the long-term benefit of the Emirates if the two exchanges in Dubai and the one in Abu Dhabi were merged into a single entity.

It would consolidate and extend the lead the UAE already has as the best hub in the Middle East, and it would be of substantial benefit to the country's economy and its future development.

I can say that with conviction, and I would find it difficult to find a financial professional in the UAE to disagree. But Jeff Singer, the chief executive of Nasdaq Dubai, the UAE's international exchange, cannot say it.

Mobius Leads Saudi Bulls on Volatility: Riskless Return - Bloomberg

Money managers from Mark Mobius to John Burbank are bullish on Saudi Arabia, where stocks are producing the world’s best risk-adjusted gains in 2012 with lower volatility than longer-term U.S. Treasuries.
The BLOOMBERG RISKLESS RETURN RANKING shows the Tadawul All Share Index has climbed 2.5 percent this year after adjusting for price swings, the biggest advance among equity gauges in 73 nations, as oil rallies and speculation builds that the world’s biggest crude exporter will remove restrictions on foreign investors. Volatility in Saudi Arabia is the third-lowest among the world’s 25 biggest markets and dropped below that of the Bloomberg/EFFAS U.S. Government 10+ Year Index of long-term bonds for the first time since 1996.

Abu Dhabi eyes £10bn injection into RBS -

Abu Dhabi has discussed a £10bn investment into Royal Bank of Scotland, as part of a complex transaction that would help pave the way for the government’s eventual exit .
The investment has been debated in the course of long-running talks between UK government officials and potential investors in both RBS and Lloyds, Britain’s two big part-nationalised banks. The discussions have taken place at regular intervals over the past three years, according to people close to the discussions.
People familiar with the talks said Sheikh Mansour, backed by other Abu Dhabi and Middle Eastern investors, had indicated his interest buying part of the British government’s RBS holding. Sheikh Mansour is best known in the UK for buying – and helping revive the fortunes of – Manchester City football club.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

gulfnews : UAE banking sector needs a credit evaluation agency

The UAE Central Bank has found itself in an odd predicament following its attempts to control the lavish personal loans local banks offer Emiratis and expatriates. On one hand, the Central Bank's moves have angered loan seekers. On the other, they are unwelcome to bank administrators, whose annual income and net profits depend heavily on personal and commercial loans.
To understand the nature of the problem between the Central Bank and other banking institutions, we have to acknowledge that financial services companies have the capacity to manipulate the rules and regulations set forth by the Central Bank. All banking institutions have professionals who can find loopholes and bend the rules and regulations to allow them to continue to give loans.
The rules, regulations and conditions set forth by the Central Bank contain wordings that, if changed, misinterpreted or bent, can reverse the original meaning intended by the Central Bank. Thus, banking institutions have resorted to hiring teams of lawyers and linguists to search for such loopholes in order to "legally" break the rules. These measures are intended to find ways to facilitate loans for clients.

Egypt's 2012 stock boom worries some fund managers | Reuters

Egypt's stock market has jumped 37 percent so far in 2012, the largest gain of any country, but top U.S. fund managers focused on the region remain wary of further political turmoil and currency weakness in the most populous Arab nation.

The country's main stock index lost nearly half its value last year as massive public protests drove longtime president Hosni Mubarak from power in February 2011 and military leaders assumed control. This year's stock market bounce came as investors snapped up shares of companies like Orascom Construction Industries SAE and telecom carrier Egyptian Co for Mobile Services SAE.

But in recent interviews, several fund managers who most closely follow the nation said significant risks from Egypt's political and economic situation remained. Egypt's fragmented political parties are struggling to reach consensus on a new constitution and tensions are rising with a president election just two months away.

Russia placing blockbuster $7 billion Eurobond deal - Yahoo! News UK

Russia will raise $7 billion in Eurobonds in the largest emerging markets sovereign offering since at least 2000, fully covering its foreign borrowing plan for 2012, sources close to the deal said on Tuesday.
Capitalizing on strong oil prices that have boosted confidence in Russia's fiscal performance, the dollar offering attracted bids of $17 billion, leading the Finance Ministry to slightly tighten yield guidance on the three-tranche deal.
Russia plans to issue $3 billion in 30-year paper at 250-255 basis points over U.S. Treasuries, establishing a new benchmark long bond in its first international offering since April 2010.

Abu Dhabi may seek sweeteners for RBS deal - Yahoo! News UK

If Abu Dhabi's sheikhs or sovereign funds opt to buy some of the British taxpayer's stake in Royal Bank of Scotland, the purchase price for the shares could be less important than any sweeteners attached to a deal.
That's the message from its successful but complex bet on Barclays in October 2008, which helped save the UK bank from a state rescue and earned a hefty profit for the Middle East investor.
Britain is in talks to sell some of its 82 percent stake in RBS to Abu Dhabi investors, sources told Reuters.
They said talks have been going on for months, but if a deal is reached it will probably take months longer.

RLPC-Dubai's JAFZA eyes loan launch-bankers - Yahoo! News UK

Dubai's Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA) is preparing to launch a large syndicated loan to partly refinance its $2 billion Islamic bond that matures in November, bankers familiar with the deal said.
JAFZA, which runs an industrial free zone on the outskirts of Dubai, is considering a $900 million syndicated loan, which will be followed by a $600 million sukuk and up to $500 million of cash repayments over the coming months, one of the bankers said.
The Dubai government-owned free zone has mandated Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Emirates NBD and Dubai
Islamic Bank, with Citi and Standard Chartered acting as coordinators, the bankers added.

MIDEAST STOCKS-Most markets fall as traders hesitate ahead of Q1 - Yahoo! News UK

Most Gulf Arab markets fell on Tuesday as an early-year rally gave way to consolidation, with investors now wanting to see if first-quarter results can justify recent share price gains.
Saudi Arabia's index fell for a first session in five, slipping from Monday's 42-month high. Zain Saudi dropped 5.1 percent. The indebtedtelecoms operator's shares have gained 67 percent since late January, when it received approval to extend a 9.75 billion riyal ($2.6 billion) Islamic financing facility for an additional six months.

FACTBOX-Key political risks to watch in Saudi Arabia - Yahoo! News UK

Saudi Arabia, which sits on a fifth of global crude reserves, is the world's top oil exporter, holds significant dollar assets and acts as a Middle East linchpin of U.S. security policy. It also has the biggest Arab stock exchange.
Here are some political risks facing the kingdom:

Changes in the royal line last year raised questions about
the pace and direction of gradual economic and social reforms
aimed at reconciling conservative Islamic traditions with the
needs of a youthful, increasingly outward-looking population.

MENA stock markets close - March 27, 2012

 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)