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Monday, 30 April 2012

MSCI and Saudi Arabia: friends again | beyondbrics – FT.com

After a discreet but damaging spat over licensing that saw Saudi Arabia fall out of MSCI’s indices in 2009, the Middle East’s largest economy and the world’s most influential emerging markets index provider appear to have kissed and made up.

MSCI said on Monday that it will reintroduce its Saudi Arabia Domestic Indices and related regional indices – such as the MSCI Arabian Markets – in June, a move that some hope could signal another move by Saudi Arabia to ease foreign investor access to its bourse, the largest and most liquid in the Arab world.

Making no mention of the undignified scrap of yesteryear, MSCI and the Tadawul, Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange, put out a joint statement on Monday celebrating the rapprochement:

Saudis foresee closer Gulf political union - FT.com

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister has said Gulf states are ploughing ahead with plans for closer political union, amid Arab fears of the threat from neighbouring Iran.
Saud al-Faisal, in a speech delivered by his deputy, said co-operation within the existing six-member bloc might be insufficient to deal with “existing and coming challenges”, arguing that co-ordination of foreign policy would generate benefits if applied via a “federal format.”

MENA stock markets close - April 30, 2012

 ExchangeStatus IndexChange  
 
 TASI (Saudi Stock Market)
 
7558.470.04%  
 
 DFM (Dubai Financial Market)
 
1630.95-0.52%  
 
 ADX (Abudhabi Securities Exchange)
 
2503.82-0.33%  
 
 KSE (Kuwait Stock Exchange)
 
6368.60.51%  
 
 BSE (Bahrain Stock Exchange)
 
1152.790.37%  
 
 MSM (Muscat Securities Market)
 
5868.9-0.03%  
 
 QE (Qatar Exchange)
 
8703.640.18%  
 
 LSE (Beirut Stock Exchange)
 
1186.970.39%  
 
 EGX 30 (Egypt Exchange)
 
4945.210.49%  
 
 ASE (Amman Stock Exchange)
 
1981.2-0.43%  
 
 TUNINDEX (Tunisia Stock Exchange)
 
5089.290.12%  
 
 CB (Casablanca Stock Exchange)
 
10233.70.14%  
 
 PSE (Palestine Securities Exchange)
 
467.41-0.42%  


Capitalism and Class in the Gulf Arab States

What if capitalists in a particular country could draw on a reserve army of semi-skilled labor that includes hundreds of millions of noncitizens whom they could import, hire, fire and expel at will, without worrying about laws, regulations, and collective action? What if they could perfect labor market segmentation to a degree whereby only one social class—capital—reproduces itself, but another—labor—never does? What if, asks Adam Hanieh in his new book, Capitalism and Class in the Gulf Arab States, the economies of the Gulf Arab states should not be conceptualized as underdeveloped, semi-feudal economies that happen to sit on stupendous sources of wealth that they either squander or distribute to local constituencies in return for political loyalty? Hanieh’s groundbreaking book argues that we should not view the Gulf Arab states as anomalies in the worldwide economy. Instead, he claims, the story of twentieth-century capitalism could not be told without recounting their central role: the “global economy is part of the actual essence of the Gulf itself—the development of the global ‘appears’ through the development of the Gulf” (16).

NBAD in talks over UAE central bank lending limit | Reuters

National Bank of Abu Dhabi is in discussions with the United Arab Emirates' central bank over proposed lending caps on local government entities and was "confident" a solution would be found, its chief executive said on Monday.

"We are in active conversations with the central bank. We are confident that, by the end of these, we will have a solution that allows the bank to manage its balance sheet," Michael Tomalin said on a conference call on Monday to discuss earnings results, which were released last week.

In the first such change in nearly two decades, the central bank said at the start of April it was imposing new limits of 100 percent of the capital base for all lending by a bank to governments of the seven-member UAE federation and their quasi-sovereign entities, and 25 percent to individual borrowers.

MIDEAST STOCKS-Kuwait hits 10-month high; Gulf ends mixed | News by Country | Reuters

Kuwait's index hit a 10-month high on Monday as retail investors picked up mid- and small-cap stocks, while UAE bourses ended lower and other Gulf markets were mixed.

Kuwait's index climbed 0.5 percent to its highest finish since June 2011.

Small and mid-cap stocks were the most active. Investor Holding, Gulf Investment House gained 5.3 and 7.9 percent respectively.

MSCI to Reintroduce Indices for Saudi Arabia - MarketWatch

MSCI Inc. a leading provider of investment decision support tools worldwide, announced today that it will reintroduce coverage of the Saudi Arabia equity market with the release of standalone country indices, after reaching agreement with the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) for the provision of market data.

The reintroduced MSCI Saudi Arabia Domestic Indices, including large cap, mid cap and small cap indices, are designed for institutional investors wishing to invest in Saudi Arabia, and who are not constrained by foreign ownership limits.

"We are delighted that we are once again able to offer indices covering the Saudi Arabia equity market," said Baer Pettit, Managing Director and Head of the MSCI Index business. "We believe that this announcement will be welcomed by investors both in the region, and globally. Our clients continue to demand high quality indices that accurately reflect the equity market opportunity in the region, either as benchmarks or as the basis for various financial instruments."

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Kuwait at 10-mth high; UAE mkts slip - Yahoo! News UK

Kuwait's bourse rises for a sixth session, hitting a 10-month high as local retail investors pick up mid- and small-cap stocks, while UAE bourses end lower.
Kuwait's index climbs 0.5 percent to 6,369 points, its highest finish since June 2011.
Small and mid-cap stocks are the most active. Investor Holding, Gulf Investment House gain 5.3 and 7.9 percent respectively. Gulf Finance House slips 6.5 percent.

Bahrain’s Islamic Regulator AAOIFI Issues 7 Financial Standards - Bloomberg

Bahrain’s Accounting & Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions issued seven Islamic standards for the industry, the regulator’s Secretary General Khaled Al Faqih said today.
The guidelines will govern financial rights or the disposal of rights, bankruptcy and liquidity management, Al Faqih said at a news conference in the capital Manama. The agency also listed rules for capital and investments protection, investment agency contracts, profit calculations from investment instruments, and the right to terminate legal contracts due to fraud, he said.
AAOIFI, which has 200 members, sets accounting and auditing standards that are used in Bahrain, the Dubai International Financial Centre, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar, Sudan and Syria, according to its website. It has issued 48 Shariah guidelines and regulators in countries including Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Australia and South Africa base some of their rules on AAOIFI.

Dubai's JAFZA says in advanced talks to refinance $2 bln sukuk - Yahoo! News UK

Dubai's Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA) is in advanced talks with financial institutions over a financing package to meet its $2 billion-equivalent Islamic bond, or sukuk, maturity in November, the company said in a statement on Monday.
The chairman of the state-linked industrial free zone, located on the outskirts of Dubai, said in the statement that
proceeds of the funding package will be used solely for the redemption of its 7.5 billion dirhams ($2.04 billion) sukuk.
JAFZA reported a net profit of 242 million dirhams in 2011, compared to 140 million dirhams in the previous year, its financial statements showed.

What's next for Islamic banks? - bi-me.com

Traditionally, Islamic banks have outperformed their conventional peers in most markets. However, a closer look suggests the market dynamics are changing, demonstrating a new trend.

Two key indicators are cause for reflection: slowing growth rates and eroding profitability, according to A.T. Kearney, a global management consultancy.

Declining growth rates are occurring in key geographies including KSA, Bahrain and the UAE, where growth rates have dropped to between 3%- 8% from double-digit figures. In parallel cost income ratios are increasing in most markets, putting pressure on profitability.

Stage set for the return of IPO activity in the GCC during 2012 as stock market conditions and investor confidence improves - Zawya

Initial Public Offering (IPO) activity began to show early signs of recovery towards the end of Q1 2012 in the six nation Gulf Corporation Council ("GCC") stock markets. Investor confidence began to return to markets with share price levels generally improving across the markets, according to PwC, a leading international professional services organisation.

WAM | Bank of Sharjah announces financial results for three months ending March 31

Bank of Sharjah today announced its financial results for the three months ending March 31, 2012, revealing the strength of its balance sheet, soundness of its assets quality, and continued growth with total income and operating profit before impairment charges increasing both by 15%.

During the first quarter of 2012, net interest income increased by 10% compared to the corresponding period of 2011. This increase was driven by the decrease in the cost of funding, mainly on customer deposits, despite the 5% increase in deposits.

Furthermore, Non-interest income for the quarter increased by 34% compared to the corresponding period of 2011. This was driven by gains on the traded investments portfolio, as a result of the improvement witnessed by the UAE stock markets during the quarter.

Death on the Danube ... and a tale of corruption in Libya - Brian Whitaker's blog, April 2012

Shokri Ghanem, the man in charge of Libya's highly corrupt oil industry during the last five years of Gaddafi's rule, was found dead yesterday – floating in the river Danube near his home in Vienna. His family have suggested that he fell in the river after suffering a heart attack, though foul play has not yet been ruled out.

Either way, his death will make it more difficult to uncover the whole truth about a series of oil-related scandals in Libya – including the unfolding Ras Lanuf refinery affair which I wrote about here just a few hours before Ghanem died.

Though Libya under Gaddafi was officially a "people's" state, its oil industry provided a wealth of opportunities for individuals and companies to cream off money that rightfully belonged to the people. For five years Ghanem was in charge of that industry, and whether or not he personally benefited from the corruption, he probably had more knowledge than anyone else of what was going on – so much so that on one occasion he expressed fears for the safety of himself and his family.

RBS sees no issues with $60 bln Gulf 2012 refinancing needs - Yahoo! News UK

Gulf borrowers need to refinance around $60 billion of debt in 2012, a Royal Bank of Scotland
regional executive said on Monday, noting there should be no significant issues in meeting this target.
"We don't see any issue with the refinancing needs of the region," Jacco Keijzer, head of debt capital markets for the Middle East and Africa, told reporters in Dubai.

Abu Dhabi eyes stake in Manchester Airport - report - Transport - ArabianBusiness.com

Abu Dhabi is part of a joint venture making a bid for a 50 percent stake in Manchester airport, according to a report on Sunday.
Manchester Airport Group plans to raise about GBP1bn (US$1.6bn) by selling a 50 percent stake to fund its bid to buy London-based Stansted airport, the UK’s Sunday Times newspaper said without saying where it got the information.
Among those looking to acquire the stake are Australia-based Industry Funds Management, Hong-Kong-based Cheung Kong Holdings and a joint venture between UK-based investment firm 3i Infrastructure and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, the report said.

Qatar to put $250M into Barclays portfolio firms - MarketWatch

U.K. listed financial services company Barclays PLC Monday said Qatar Asset Management Company, or QAMC, will co-invest $250 million in Barclays Natural Resource Investments, or BNRI's, current and future portfolio companies.

Algeria postpones Djezzy appeal on $1.3 bln fine | Reuters

An Algerian court on Sunday postponed an appeal hearing into a $1.25 billion fine imposed on Djezzy, the local mobile phone unit of Russian telecoms firm Vimpelcom, until May 6, a judicial source told Reuters.

Djezzy chief executive Tamer El Mahdy, who has been convicted in the case and faces jail if the conviction is upheld, failed to appear for the hearing at the Ruisseau court in Algiers, the source said.

A lower court ruled last month that Djezzy and its CEO were guilty of violating foreign exchange regulations. Djezzy's parent company denied the allegations against it and its chief executive, and lodged an appeal.

UPDATE 1-Dubai Islamic Q1 net profit rises 11 pct | Reuters

Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB), the largest sharia-compliant lender in the emirate, on Monday said its first-quarter net profit rose 11 percent, in-line with one analyst's forecast and helped by growth in its core businesses.

DIB, an advisor to Dubai government's recent $1.25 billion bond sale, posted a net profit of 245 million dirhams ($66.70 million) for the first-quarter, it said in a bourse statement.

That compared with net profit of 222 million dirhams for the year-ago period. An analyst polled by Reuters forecasted net profit of 246 million dirhams for the quarter in a Reuters poll.

gulfnews : Hotels feel impact of Arab Spring

More than a year after the popular risings across the Arab world changed the region's business outlook, hotel operators still believe in the investment potential of the Middle East, but expressed concern about the impact of rising Islamist parties on the tourism industry.
The strong tourism fundamentals of the region are still there and recovery is only a matter of time, according to a panel of experts at the Arabian Hotel Investment conference which addressed the Arab Spring impact as a major theme.
"The fundamentals are the same… Sinai is still a great place to go for diving and the fish have not gone away," said Paul Pisani, senior vice-president of hotels development at Corinthia Hotels.

4G Gulf uptake slow but set to rise - The National

Uptake of 4G internet in the Gulf has been "slow", despite operators spending millions of dollars installing and promoting faster mobile networks.

The new networks offer mobile-data speeds of more than double the best possible connection offered by 3G.

Regional operators admit they have attracted few 4G subscribers - but say the numbers are set to pick up with the wider availability of compatible devices.

UAE stockbroker certification brings 'credibility' to markets - The National

Fifty stockbrokers have become the first in the country to pass an internationally recognised professional qualification, the securities regulator said yesterday.

The brokers, including analysts and trading managers, completed all three levels of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment exam, introduced by the Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA).

The programme "takes into serious consideration the UAE financial market legislations and the characteristics of the local investment environment, with the aim of providing the financial industry with world-class professionals", said Abdullah Al Turifi, the chief executive of the SCA.

Gulf region on Jumeirah's radar - The National

Jumeirah Group, the Dubai luxury hotel company that manages the Burj Al Arab, is turning its focus to expanding closer to home, with countries including Saudi Arabia and Qatar on its radar.

The company yesterday said it was in discussions for projects in Doha and had letters of understanding for hotels in Saudi Arabia.

"Now, very significantly, we are concentrating on coming back strongly into this region," said Gerald Lawless, the executive chairman of Jumeirah Group.

MALAYSIA PRESS-Abu Dhabi's IPIC keen on Petra Energy stake-The Edge Malaysia | Reuters

A sovereign wealth investment firm from the Middle is said to be among the interested parties eyeing Perdana Petroleum Bhd 's 26.9 percent stake in Petra Energy Bhd, according to sources privy to the matter.

gulfnews : Goldman's $2b sukuk debut puts Islamic scholars on edge

Goldman Sachs Group Inc's $2 billion (Dh7.34 billion) Islamic debt debut is leading scholars to call for stricter supervision.
Goldman said in an Oct-ober 18 prospectus that it would use proceeds for general corporate purposes and financing needs.
Non-Islamic banks need to make investment plans clearer, while approvers need to supervise more rigorously, Rusni Hassan and Mohammad Akram Laldin, who sit on the Malaysian central bank's Sharia Advisory Council, said in separate interviews.

Dubai petrol subsidies in the billions - The National

Dubai has spent billions to ensure that its motorists can fill their tanks cheaply, official documents show.

Federal legislation mandates that Emirates National Oil Company (Enoc), which is owned by the Dubai Government, and its subsidiary Emirates Petroleum Products Company (Eppco) sell petrol at subsidised prices.

As a result, the companies are losing money on petroleum sales, forcing the Government of Dubai to make up the difference.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Hilton raises Saudi stake with hotel expansion - The National

Hilton Worldwide plans to open nearly 7,000 hotel rooms in Saudi Arabia in the next two years, as operators focus on the kingdom amid continued difficult financing conditions in many other parts of the region and globally.

Hilton, which already manages six hotels in Saudi Arabia, announced at the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference, which ends today in Dubai, that it intended to open 14 additional hotels in the kingdom, in cities including Mecca and Riyadh, over the next two years.

The move would make it the fastest-growing hotel company in the country.

UPDATE 1-Qatar Telecom blames FX losses for Q1 profit drop | Reuters

Qatar Telecom 7010.SE (Qtel) on Sunday reported a 12 percent drop in first-quarter net profit, citing mainly foreign exchange losses, but the former monopoly still beat forecasts.

Qtel made a profit of 711 million riyals ($195.29 million) in the three months to March 31, down from 811 million riyals in the year-earlier period.

"Net profit during the period was adversely impacted by movement in the Indonesian currency," Qtel said in an emailed statement. "Net profit decreased mainly due to foreign exchange losses in (Indonesian subsidiary) Indosat."

Sheikh’s investments boost emirate’s profile - FT.com

One of the most prominent international investors to emerge from among the low-profile Abu Dhabi ruling family, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan’s vast investments into Manchester City embody the emergence of Abu Dhabi’s super-rich onto the world stage.
The state-owned investment companies he controls own stakes in everything from electric car maker Tesla Motors to the Spanish energy company Cepsa and space tourism business Virgin Galactic. But Sheikh Mansour’s Manchester City investment is a private affair, Abu Dhabi officials stress, not a government-backed purchase.

MENA stock markets close - April 29, 2012

 ExchangeStatus IndexChange  
 
 TASI (Saudi Stock Market)
 
7555.77-0.68%  
 
 DFM (Dubai Financial Market)
 
1639.44-0.75%  
 
 ADX (Abudhabi Securities Exchange)
 
2512.170.17%  
 
 KSE (Kuwait Stock Exchange)
 
6336.5-0.01%  
 
 BSE (Bahrain Stock Exchange)
 
1148.50.28%  
 
 MSM (Muscat Securities Market)
 
5870.750.54%  
 
 QE (Qatar Exchange)
 
8687.830.30%  
 
 LSE (Beirut Stock Exchange)
 
1182.370.14%  
 
 EGX 30 (Egypt Exchange)
 
4920.96-0.28%  
 
 ASE (Amman Stock Exchange)
 
1989.85-0.63%  
 
 TUNINDEX (Tunisia Stock Exchange)
 
5083.39-0.24%  
 
 CB (Casablanca Stock Exchange)
 
10219.2-1.08%  
 
 PSE (Palestine Securities Exchange)
 
469.4-0.12%  


STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Saudi bluechips dip as index gives back gains - Yahoo! News UK

Most sectors end lower on Saudi Arabia's bourse, with investors booking profits from Saturday's gains as they
await new catalysts to lift the market.
The kingdom's index ends 0.7 percent lower at 7,556 points, giving back most of Saturday's 0.9 percent rise. It has dropped 4.7 percent from April 3's three-and-a-half year high, consolidating after an early-year surge.
The market trades 9.2 billion riyals ($2.45 billion) of shares, with bourse turnover declining since early April's index peak.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Egypt index slips after Saudi recalls ambassador - Yahoo! News UK

Egypt's main index slips 0.5 percent after Saudi Arabia recalls its ambassador from Cairo, fuelling concern that $2.7 billion of financial aid pledged by the wealthy Gulf state could be delayed.
Citing security, Saudi Arabia pulled its envoy after activists gathered outside its embassy to protest against the
kingdom's arrest of an Egyptian lawyer.
The countries enjoy strong political ties and are important economic partners. Saudi Arabia is one of the largest foreign investors in Egypt and one of the largest employers of Egyptian expatriate workers.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-UAE property stocks rally; mkts end mixed - Yahoo! News UK

Shares in UAE property firms close higher after three developers post increased first-quarter profits, while the
country's bourses end mixed.
Dubai's index falls 0.8 percent to 1,639 points, its eighth decline in 10 sessions to trim its 2012 gains to 21.1 percent.
Builder Arabtec is the main drag, falling 4.7 percent as investors book recent gains. The stock is up 115.7 percent year-to-date, rallying again last week amid new contract wins.

“Let's forget about 2008,” urges Nakheel chairman - Real Estate - ArabianBusiness.com

Five years ago, Nakheel’s main problem was keeping up with demand. Back in 2007, anxious buyers queued for as long as twelve hours just for the privilege of handing over cheques for millions of dirhams. The Jumeirah Park project had just launched, and the queue of cars stretched back from Nakheel’s sales centre for several kilometres.
That was then; this is now. At this month’s launch of Nakheel’s newest venture on the Palm Jumeirah - its biggest claim to fame - the queues barely stretched around the counter.
So what went wrong? It’s safe to say it’s not been an easy few years for Nakheel. Famous for raising man-made islands out of the Arabian Gulf, the developer attracted even further unwanted fame globally as it battled to restructure more than US$16bn in debt in the wake of the Dubai property crash.

Abu Dhabi Shares Set for Biggest Rise in Month on Real Estate - Bloomberg

Abu Dhabi’s benchmark stock index headed for the biggest advance in almost a month after profit at the emirate’s largest real estate developers rose on an increase in home deliveries in the United Arab Emirates capital.
Aldar Properties PJSC (ALDAR) was set for the largest gain in more than six weeks after the Abu Dhabi developer bailed out by the government last year said first-quarter profit more than doubled. Sorouh Real Estate PJSC (SOROUH), the second-biggest developer in the U.A.E. capital, gained 1.8 percent after net income rose 30 percent. Abu Dhabi’s ADX General Index (ADSMI) climbed 0.5 percent, poised for the biggest gain since April 1, to 2,520.51 at 11:12 a.m. in the emirate. The Bloomberg GCC 200 (BGCC200) Index was little changed.
“Real estate developers reported strong results in Abu Dhabi and Dubai,” said Nabil Farhat, a partner at Abu Dhabi- based Al Fajer Securities. “The results highlight strong revenues from deliveries, land sales and investment portfolio. This is a sign that the market is bottoming or near bottom.”

Lifeline for Dubai investors: To get full refund if developers default - Emirates 24/7

Property investors in Dubai will be eligible for cancellation of their contracts and may seek “full” refunds if the real estate developer fails to provide the promised unit or services within a specific timeframe, according to a proposed new Investor Protection Law.

From a delay in handing over of units to a failure to deliver promised facilities as per the sales contract, the proposed law gives property investors in Dubai the right to seek cancellation of their contracts and get “full” refunds.
Under the proposed law, an investor will get the right to cancel the contract and obtain a full refund if the developer has taken more than eight months (beyond the promised handover date) to hand over the unit(s).

Sorouh First-Quarter Profit Climbs 30% as Sales Increase - Bloomberg

Sorouh Real Estate PJSC (SOROUH), Abu Dhabi’s second-biggest property developer by market value, said first-quarter profit climbed 30 percent as sales increased.
Net income rose to 83.6 million dirhams from 64.3 million dirhams a year earlier, the company said in a statement to Abu Dhabi’s bourse today. The median estimate of three analysts was for a profit of 80 million dirhams, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue rose to 967.2 million dirhams from 452 million dirhams.
“We continue to diversify our revenue streams which will support the quality of our earnings over the medium to long term,” Managing Director Abubaker Al Khouri said in the statement. “The current flight to quality with Abu Dhabi real- estate leaves us well-positioned to deliver an exciting project pipeline of some 7,000 units between now and the end of 2013.”

Saudi banks post SR9.6bn profit in Q1 - Arab News

Banking sector of Saudi Arabia continued to maintain its sound financial position during Q1, 2012. The policy makers, which comprise the Ministry of Finance, Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), Capital Market Authority (CMA) and other related regulatory entities, have made several notable efforts to improve regulation in the sector.

Recently, SAMA and CMA signed a memorandum of cooperation aimed at "developing a framework for cooperation to achieve a high degree of coordination between them and strengthen oversight of entities subject to their control, each according to its jurisdiction, thereby, leading to the development of the financial sector and enhancing its stability."

The banking sector is playing a vital role in the growth of Saudi economy. Saudi Arabia proved to be a world's fastest growing banking market. With advanced technology and favorable policies by the government, banking system has been able to improve steadily and consistently.

Egypt suffers in post-revolution heat - The National

After the fall of president Hosni Mubarak last year, the country's tourism industry has taken a hammering. What was a major contributor to the economy is now suffering a dearth of visitors. The sector is taking a long time to recover from the shock of conflict, writes Rebecca Bundhun...

Sabr Agaya, 26, has made his living from hassling tourists into riding the animals around the ancient wonder for the past 15 years.

Opec oil production rises to three-year high - The National

Opec oil output this month has been the highest in more than three years, and the organisation continues to produce above the ceiling set at its December meeting in an effort to calm an oil market worried about geopolitical tensions involving Iran.

Production by Opec members rose by 1 per cent on the month to reach an average pumping volume of 31.405 million barrels per day (bpd), according to a Bloomberg survey of oil companies, producers and analysts.

Growth was driven by Saudi Arabia, resurgent Libyan output and rising Iraqi capacity, offsetting a decline in Iranian production, which slumped to a 20-year low.

Wealth that diverts young Qataris from thirst for knowledge - The National

The Lonely Planet travel guide once suggested Qatar might be the most boring place on Earth. But you couldn't call it boring today — even if the nightlife should carry a public-mirth warning.

Outside the Irish Bar at the Doha Sheraton, a bouncer electronically scans the passports of arriving patrons. I asked whether he wanted to see my boarding pass as well, but he just blinked at me. He probably gets a lot of that.

Doha is not a party town, to be sure. It's less Sandance and more Think Tank. The red carpets and velvet ropes are as likely to be for thought leaders as for celebrities.

Profits soar at UAE's flagship developers - The National

The UAE's two biggest property developers yesterday posted rosy profits for the first quarter, spelling good news for an industry still affected by the financial downturn.

The Abu Dhabi firm Aldar Properties said profits more than doubled in the first three months of the year compared with a year earlier, while Dubai's Emaar Properties - which built the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest tower - reported a 44 per cent increase.

Commentators said the profits rebound spelled positive news for the UAE property market as a whole.

Abu Dhabi in Lloyds Bank talks - Telegraph

The talks centre on increasing the level of support for NBNK’s new tilt at the branches, known within Lloyds as Project Verde.
The backing of either or both funds – which have major investments in household business names such as Harrods and EMI respectively – would be a major boost to NBNK’s attempt to win approval from Lloyds’ board.
Although it is too early for investment mandates to have been signed, it is known that senior NBNK directors have discussed their plans for Verde with the funds in the aim of bringing them on board as cornerstone investors as part of an eventual offer.

Cancellation fees a windfall for Dubai developer - The National

One of Dubai's biggest developers earned more than Dh656 million (US$178.5m) from cancellation fees last year as people who bought at the market peak were unable to pay for their homes.

Dubai Holding Commercial Operations Group (DHCOG), which owns Dubai Properties Group (DPG), earned Dh656.4m from cancellation penalties and late-payment charges - an almost tenfold increase on 2010.

Dubai property developers are rushing to finish developments on which work was well advanced to raise desperately needed revenue while shelving projects that are less-than-halfway completed. At the same time, many investors who bought at the peak of the market are seeking to escape contracts binding them to properties that have lost as much as half of their value.

gulfnews : Bright outlook for oil

Global oil prices are unlikely to average less than $100 (Dh367) a barrel this year as expansion in the world's largest economy the US, burgeoning demand from Asian growth engines China and India, Iran's nuclear issues with the West and fears of supply disruption prevent a precipitous fall in the world's most widely-traded commodity, say experts.
On Friday, London's Brent crude oil fell 9 cents to settle at $119.83. Brent had a nearly 1 per cent weekly gain but remained on pace to post a more than 2 per cent monthly loss.
US crude rose 38 cents to settle at $104.93 a barrel, having reached $105. The weekly gain was 1.8 per cent, on track for a similar monthly rise.

$78bn projects in pipeline | Oman Observer

The Sultanate’s second infrastructure exhibition, Infra Oman which is to be held from October 2 to 4 in Muscat, will focus on the ambitious railway project along with airport and other infrastructure projects. The expo will also put spotlight on Oman’s new Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), as infrastructure investments continue to grow and more development projects are set to be implemented in the coming years. The Sultanate is also taking concrete measures to diversify the economy.
The new plan foresees $78 billion of expenditure, representing an increase of 113 per cent over the last five-year plan. The major infrastructure projects coming up include the Oman National Railway, Muscat’s Port Sultan Qaboos conversion into a full-fledged tourism hub, transport and airport development projects, Duqm development project, medical cities, waste management, tourism and residential projects.

gulfnews : Qatar's investments make it a global star

Qatar is a rising global star in numerous asspects including its investment strategy. One proof of that is the selection of Qatar as the host of the World Cup 2022, for the first time ever in the Middle East and North African region.
It is possibly fair to link this achievement, at least partially, to the country's active and visible investment drive on the world scene.
The country's foreign investment portfolio is sizable on the one hand and diversified enough on the other. It emerged recently that Qatari authorities have at their disposal a notable $30 billion (Dh110 billion) for investment purposes in 2012 alone.

gulfnews : Saudi Arabia renews call for greater GCC integration

The Gulf Cooperation Council needs to be fully integrated to be able to confront increasingly ominous regional and global challenges, Saudi Arabia said yesterday.
"Our main concern now is how to confront the current and next challenges and the impact of the political, social and economic developments on our nations," Saudi Arabia's foreign minister Prince Saud Al Faisal said.
The confrontation between Iran and the international community over its nuclear programme and its continuous provocation of the GCC states, the suffering of the Palestinian people, and the far-reaching political changes under the so-called Arab Spring required the GCC countries to contemplate the situation carefully and be steeled by a robust resolve, Prince Saud said.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Saudi Stock Market close - April 28, 2012

General Index
Intraday  3 month  
 Daily Statistics
 Date28/04/2012
 General Index7607.59
 Change (%)0.88%
 Change66.09
 T. Volume377127997
 T. Companies 154
   Advanced115
   Declined24
   Unchanged10
   UnTraded10


Brian Whitaker's blog, April 2012: Libya: a scandal at the oil refinery?

Libya's largest oil refinery, in Ras Lanuf, has been closed since the uprising against Colonel Gaddafi and will remain closed for at least another month while the company that operates it is restructured,
the Tripoli Post reports.

Behind this rather bland announcement is a controversy that has been rumbling ever since the refinery was put into the hands of the Libyan Emirati Refining Company (Lerco) in 2009. Lerco is jointly owned by the Libyan state's National Oil Corporation (NOC) and the Dubai-based Al Ghurair group.

Opening up the refinery to private investment by Al Ghurair was "one of the most controversial business decisions at the time," the Tripoli Post's report says.

Saudi Non-Oil Business Optimism Index Slides in Second Quarter - Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia’s Business Optimism Index for non-hydrocarbon industries decreased to 52 points in the second quarter from 54 in the previous quarter, according to National Commercial Bank and Dun & Bradstreet Corp. (DNB)
The second-quarter reading for hydrocarbon industries was 43, three points more than the last quarter, the companies said in an e-mailed statement today. The construction sector index dropped to 57 from 59 over the same period, according to the statement.

Saudi Shares Advance Most in Week on Fed Outlook; Sabic Gains - Bloomberg

Saudi Arabian shares gained the most in a week, led by petrochemical companies and banks, after U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said he is prepared to do more to stimulate U.S. growth.
Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC), the world’s largest petrochemicals maker, climbed the most in a week. Almarai Co., the kingdom’s biggest food producer, jumped 4.7 percent after saying a new infant formula plant will start production in May. Samba Financial Group (SAMBA) advanced the most in more than a month. The Tadawul All Share Index rose 0.7 percent, the most since April 21, to 7,594.57 in Riyadh at 12:48 p.m. The 152-member index has increased 18 percent this year.
The forecasts by the U.S. Federal Reserve “for growth and unemployment may have a positive impact on the Saudi market, particularly the petrochemical sector,” Turki Fadaak, head of research at Riyadh-based Albilad Investment Co., said.

UAE'S Emaar Properties Q1 profit up 44 pct | Reuters

Dubai's Emaar Properties , builder of the world's tallest tower, reported a 44 percent rise in first-quarter net operating profit on Saturday on increased property sales in Dubai and strong revenue from shopping malls business.

The United Arab Emirates' largest developer by market value made a net operating profit of 606 million UAE dirhams ($165 million), compared to 421 million dirhams during the same period last year, it said in an emailed statement.

Analysts polled by Reuters on average forecast Emaar would make a quarterly profit of 496.75 million dirhams.

The Associated Press: Dubai spends $250M to get full control of Atlantis

Dubai says it now has full control of the Atlantis resort hotel perched atop its palm-shaped island.
State-run investment firm Istithmar World said late Friday it paid $250 million to buy out business partner Kerzner International Holdings Ltd., which had held a 50 percent stake in the coral-colored hotel. Istithmar already owned half of the property.
Kerzner will continue to operate the resort, which includes a waterpark and 18 restaurants, Istithmar said.

UAE's Aldar Properties Q1 profit 478.2 mln dirhams - Yahoo! News UK

Abu Dhabi's Aldar Properties posted a first-quarter net profit of 478.2 million dirhams ($130.2 million), compared to 189.1 million dirhams in the same period a year ago, the company said in a statement on Saturday.
Revenue for the quarter was 3.58 billion dirhams compared to 784.7 million dirhams in the same quarter in 2011.

gulfnews : Etihad pitches Asian links to European airlines

Etihad Airways is pitching improved Asian links to major European carriers as it seeks tie-ups in the region, chief executive officer James Hogan said in an interview.
"European airlines are retreating from the Middle East, they're retreating from Southeast Asia, so we will also give them outstanding connectivity over our hub to the east and to the Indian subcontinent," Hogan told Bloomberg Television.
France is particularly attractive and a "key market of Europe," though any accord with Air France-KLM Group would be restricted to code-sharing, in which carriers sell tickets on each other's services, the CEO said.

Primark case has an effect on brand UAE - The National

China has a reputation as a global knock-off capital for everything under the sun. So too does the Philippines. And in Nepal, backstreets are filled with tiny shops and hidden stalls selling "Southface" parkas and "Rollex" watches.

Dubai is supposed to offer a different experience. Luxury brands and experiences draw shoppers from around the world. Authenticity should never be in doubt.

This week's revelations that a well-known European brand of clothing stores, Primark, is being ripped off in the emirate should be a call to action. There are a host of legal and practical reasons for stern enforcement, not the least of which is the need to protect the emirate's reputation as a place for retail quality.

Gulf Times – Qatar-based Al Rayan GCC Fund is ‘top performer’

Masraf Al Rayan has said its flagship investment fund ‘Al Rayan GCC Fund’ has been offering “consistently strong” returns with investors enjoying 10% appreciation in the last four months, making it the best performing fund based in Qatar.
Al Rayan GCC Fund -- which is focused on delivering medium-to-long term capital appreciation by investing in Shariah-compliant GCC listed equities and sukuks -- has Q-Fund, denominated in riyals and is only for Qatari investors (individual and institutional); while the F-Fund is denominated in dollars and open to all investors.
Although 2011 was an “extremely difficult” year for the GCC markets as they fell in excess of 9%; the fund manager, Al Rayan Investment, said since the start of 2011, Al Rayan GCC Fund (Q) and (F) are up 6.6% and 5.5% respectively.

gulfnews : Rising markets lift funds

On the back of increased risk appetite that led to a strong stock market rally in the first three months of 2012, Gulf equity funds, led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, performed notably well during the period, according to Lipper, a Thomson Reuters unit.
The positive feeling about the market in the first quarter, however, did not fully compensate the negative sentiment in the first quarter of 2011. Overall, according to the latest data obtained by Gulf News, funds flows in the first quarter totalled $877.3 million (Dh3.22 billion), only half of the outflows of $1,685.9 million during the same period last year.
This year's relatively strong start can be seen in the average performance gain of 11.02 per cent against a negative return of 1.72 per cent in the first quarter of 2011. Equity funds, in particular, averaged a gain of 11.64 per cent, in stark contrast to a decline of 1.85 per cent, during the same period in 2011. All categories experienced double-digit performances, except for Equity Kuwait funds.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Kerzner Deal Hands Atlantis Bahamas to Brookfield, Palm to Dubai - Bloomberg

Kerzner International Holdings Ltd., the company that built Atlantis resorts in the Bahamas and Dubai, has handed ownership of its flagship properties to creditor Brookfield (BAM) Asset Management and partner Dubai World in a debt restructuring.
Kerzner sold a 50 percent stake in Atlantis the Palm in Dubai to resort co-owner Istithmar World, a unit of Dubai World, for $250 million, according to a statement. Brookfield will forgive about $175 million of junior debt for ownership of the Bahamas-based Atlantis Paradise Island, and the adjacent Bahamas One&Only Ocean Club. The transactions closed today.

Question marks hang over Qatar buying in Xstrata | Reuters

Qatar's 7 percent stake in Xstrata (XTA.L), makes it not only the miner's largest investor after Glencore, but also a potential kingmaker in the two companies' merger and an unknown quantity for its future that investors are desperate to read.

The reclusive sovereign wealth fund has been steadily buying Xstrata shares, spending some $2.7 billion (1.6 billion pounds) to lift its holding from below 3 percent at the start of February, when the tie-up with commodities trader Glencore (GLEN.L) was announced.

It has bought virtually every day this month, a crucial period of courting for miner Xstrata and commodities trader Glencore, as the two jointly toured key investment funds.

Dewey & LeBoeuf Approaches Deadline on $75 Million Bank Debt - Businessweek

Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP, the No. 3 law firm adviser to banks handling merger deals, is nearing an April 30 deadline to show bank lenders it has a survival plan, possibly including absorption by another firm or cost-cutting.

Dewey, based in New York, has lost about 72 partners in recent months amid complaints about pay and a plan to restructure the firm. It has drawn about $75 million of a $100 million credit line from banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. (C) (C), according to a person familiar with the firm’s finances. The banks extended an initial April 16 deadline to come up with a plan, according to another person familiar with a merger proposal Dewey has presented to other law firms.

Last month, as defections mounted, Dewey restructured its chairman’s office to include the heads of four practice groups in addition to Chairman Steven Davis. The group includes Martin Bienenstock, who runs the firm’s restructuring group; Rich Shutran, head of the corporate department; Jeffrey Kessler, head of litigation; and Charles Landgraf, who runs the Washington office and the legislative and public policy group.

gulfnews : Kuwait Finance House profit drops

Kuwait Finance House, the country's leading Islamic bank, said Thursday its net profit in the first quarter of 2012 dropped 11.3 per cent compared to the same period last year. KFH posted a net profit of 20.1 million dinars (Dh265 million) in the first three months of this year compared to 22.6 million dinars in the same quarter of 2011, the bank said in a statement on the bourse's website. The drop in the first quarter profit came despite increases in assets and shareholders' equity. KFH said its assets as on March 31 increased 11.2 per cent to $51 billion (Dh187 billion) from $45.9 billion a year ago and its shareholders' equity rose marginally to $4.57 billion from $4.53 billion a year ago.

Dana Gas chief plans to step down - The National

Ahmed Al Arbeed, the chief executive of Dana Gas, will retire in September, a month before the company is due to repay a US$1 billion (Dh3.67bn) sukuk that has been causing jitters in the financial markets.

The news comes after it emerged this week that Dana, the only publicly listed gas producer in the region, has appointed the US private-equity firm Blackstone Group to help it restructure its debt, having already appointed Deutsche Bank to this end this year.

The yield on Dana's Sharia-compliant bond rose by almost 2 percentage points to 62.85 per cent yesterday, the highest since January.

Arabic should be treasured and given pride of place - The National

A few days ago, my mother and I attended Cityscape, a property convention held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. Before entering the exhibition halls, we had to fill out a registration form handed to us by event organisers.

Having gone to an American school, then a British university, I barely pay attention to small details such as the fact that the form we had to fill out was available only in English, although the majority of people at the event were Emiratis.

My mother gazed at the form for a few seconds before asking the person issuing the form why there were no Arabic-language forms available, or at least a form that used both languages. After all, many people here do not speak English very well and might have a hard time filling out the form, which required many details.

Iraq's bourse chief packs clout and heat - The National

The head of the Iraq Stock Exchange may be one of the few market chiefs who have to deal with bulls and bears as well as bombings and lootings. He has seen the bourse grow from a 'hand on a board' to a fully automated exchange. Hadeel Al Sayegh reports from Baghdad:

Dubai’s re-return to the bond market | beyondbrics – FT.com

We’re not in 2009 any more, Toto. Dubai’s second sovereign bond issue since its debt crisis and near-default went ahead without a hiccup on Thursday, with the $1.25bn, two-tranche Islamic sukuk more than 3.5 times oversubscribed by institutional investors.

When the emirate announced in November 2009 that it would seek a debt standstill from creditors of state-owned Dubai World – and made clear there was no guarantee of sovereign support for the state-backed enterprises that drive much of its development – some thought it would be a long time before international lenders would again trust the city with their money.

In reality, it was less than a year before Dubai made its way back into the debt markets, with both a $1.25bn sovereign bond and a $500m convertible bond by government-owned Emaar Properties being issued on the same day in late September, 2010.

Dubai Holding proves to be sweet spot of emirate's recovery - The National

The Dubai conglomerate that owns the Jumeirah Group and Tecom has boosted profits and reduced its debt, helped by the emirate's rebounding tourism and retail sectors.

Dubai Holding Commercial Operations Group (DHCOG), which also owns Dubai Properties Group, reported that its annual net profit surged 44 per cent to Dh324.3 million (US$88.2m) as it reduced its cost base and increased margins.

But the results also included a Dh2.4 billion impairment related to its property assets and part of its telecommunications portfolio.

THE DAILY STAR :: Dubai’s ‘burn the banks’ tactic cheers investors

Healthy demand for Dubai’s first sovereign bond issue in nearly a year shows how pleased investors are by the emirate’s strategy of scrupulously honoring its public debt obligations while playing hardball in restructuring bank loans.

Dubbed “burn the banks, bail out the bond holders” by investment bank Exotix, the strategy seems to involve doing what it takes to ensure bond maturities of government-related enterprises are repaid on time. In February a unit of Dubai Holding, owned by the emirate’s ruler, said it was using internal cash flow to fully repay a maturing $500 million sukuk.

At the same time Dubai is becoming increasingly forceful in pressing banks to restructure syndicated loans. This month Dubai Drydocks World began using a special tribunal, created under a decree by Dubai’s ruler, to force creditors to sign up to its $2.2 billion debt plan.

Qatar’s QInvest May Own Majority of New Bank With EFG-Hermes - Bloomberg

EFG-Hermes Holding SAE said Qatar’s QInvest LLC may hold a majority stake in a planned investment bank that would take over the Egyptian bank’s brokerage, investment banking and asset management businesses.
The investment bank would be the largest in “the Arab World, Africa, Turkey, South and South East Asia, with the possibility of QInvest holding majority stake,” Cairo-based EFG-Hermes said in a statement today. QInvest, a unit of Qatar Islamic Bank (QIBK), concluded talks to buy a 60 percent stake in EFG- Hermes, Egypt’s Al Shorouk newspaper reported yesterday, citing an unidentified person familiar with the talks.
The investment may help EFG-Hermes ride Egypt’s worst political and economic crisis in at least 30 years after last year’s popular uprising. Profit of the largest publicly traded Arab investment bank slumped 81 percent slump in 2011 and its shares plunged 63 percent, under-performing the benchmark index. The shares gained 9 percent, the most since Nov. 29, to 14.01 pounds at the 2:30 p.m. close in Cairo, valuing the company at 6.7 billion pounds ($1.1 billion).