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Friday, 31 August 2012

Kuwait closes in on Athabasca deal - The Globe and Mail

Kuwait’s state-owned petroleum company has signed a preliminary deal to invest as much as $4-billion in a joint venture with Athabasca Oil Corp. to develop some of its oil sands properties in northern Alberta.

Kuwait’s Ambassador to Canada, Ali al-Sammak, confirmed in an interview that senior Kuwait Petroleum Corp. officials signed a memorandum of understanding earlier this month. A final agreement is expected in October.

Mission accomplished for Big Oil? - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

In 2011, after nearly nine years of war and occupation, US troops finally left Iraq. In their place, Big Oil is now present in force and the country’s oil output, crippled for decades, is growing again. Iraq recently reclaimed the number two position in the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), overtaking oil-sanctioned Iran. Now, there's talk of a new world petroleum glut. So is this finally mission accomplished?

Well, not exactly. In fact, any oil company victory in Iraq is likely to prove as temporary as George W Bush's triumph in 2003. The main reason is yet another of those stories the mainstream media didn’t quite find room for: the role of Iraqi civil society. But before telling that story, let’s look at what's happening to Iraqi oil today, and how we got from the "no blood for oil" global protests of 2003 to the present moment.

SocGen Says Qatar QNB Is in Talks to Buy Its Egyptian Unit - Businessweek

Qatar National Bank (QNBS) is in talks to buy a majority stake in Societe Generale SA (GLE)’s Egyptian unit as it seeks to expand overseas to boost profit.

Negotiations to buy the Paris-based company’s 77.2 percent stake in National Societe Generale Bank SAE (NSGB) are at an early stage, Cairo-based NSGB, Egypt’s second-largest publicly traded bank, said today in a statement. The holding currently has a value of about 10.8 billion Egyptian pounds ($1.77 billion), based on NSGB’s 14 billion-pound market capitalization.

Qatar National Bank said in April it had a five-year plan to make itself an “icon” in the Middle East and Africa by expansion and “diversifying income sources.” The lender said today it raised its stake in Dubai-based Commercial Bank International PCS (CBI) to 39.9 percent from 16.5 percent. NSGB rose 0.2 percent to 31.61 Egyptian pounds in Cairo before the announcement, which came after the close of trading.

Confronting the Arab Autumn and the politics of economic management |

At a time when people were hoping for the economic situation to improve following the “Arab Spring”, and that the sacrifices given would be economically justified, the opposite happened.
The economic hardships started taking on a snowballing effect, leaving more people unemployed, lowering growth rates and spiking inflation rates.
According to the Arab League, some Arab Spring countries have recorded losses of $120 billion (Dh440.4 billion). The losses are expected to rise further reaching a new record number by the end of 2012.

Middle East airlines soar ahead again to buck the global trend - The National

Middle East airlines again led the world in market growth last month, with figures for passengers and freight well ahead of all other regions despite the continuing uncertain global outlook.

The International Air Transport Association (Iata) said global traffic results showed slower growth in both air travel and freight, with overall passenger demand just 3.4 per cent higher than the same month last year. That compares with a 6.3 per cent increase in June and average growth of 6.5 per cent over the first half of the year.

Middle East carriers, however, recorded the strongest traffic growth of any region last month, of 11.2 per cent year-on-year, and a 12.4 per cent rise in capacity. Compared with June, traffic rose just 0.1 per cent, although Iata said this was down to the impact of Ramadan.

Egypt's currency trapped in a dilemma - The National

With all the debate in Egypt, the real question is not whether there should be a devaluation but whether it should be "orderly" or "disorderly".

In other words, whether the currency's decline will be "managed" or allowed to fall freely.

So far, the government's intervention has prevented a free fall but foreign reserves used to prop up the pound are not infinite.

Bears tighten grip on UAE bourses |

Dubai’s DFM index could not hold on to its rally and fell 0.50 per cent to close at 1547.82 points on selling pressure.
Among the gainers, Takaful-Em rose 5.41 per cent to close at Dh0.623, followed by Shuaa by 3.55 per cent to Dh0.642 and GGICO by 1.76 per cent to Dh0.346.
Among the losers, Mazaya fell 8.87 per cent to Dh1.13, followed by Dartakaful by 3.78 per cent to Dh0.586 and Aman by 2.77 per cent to Dh0911.

Saudi Telecom likely to refocus |

The imminent departure of Saudi Telecom Co’s head of international operations may herald a change in focus back to the Riyadh-based telco’s domestic market, as a dearth of big ticket acquisition targets, forex fluctuations and stifling offshore regulation makes expansion overseas all the more difficult, say analysts.
On Monday, Saudi Telecom, or STC, said Gassan Hasbani, the chief executive of international operations, will leave the company at the end of October. Until a new structure is identified, the international division will come under the supervision of group chief financial officer Krishnan Ravi Kumar.
Analysts said Hasbani’s departure, on top of group chief executive Saud Al Daweesh leaving earlier this year, could signal a change in strategy for the majority government-owned owned telco.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

BP's UAE rebuff shows British lustre faded in the Gulf - Yahoo! News Maktoob

BP losing the chance to bid to maintain its major role in the United Arab Emirates oil sector may signal not just irritation with the British flagship company, but a more serious rift caused by frustration with UK policies and even broadcasts from London.
Perceived BP haughtiness, anger over the West's support for the Arab Spring and a growing sense that the UAE's future lies in stronger ties with Asia, may have all driven the decision to block the oil major from bidding to run its biggest onshore oil fields, several well-placed sources in the UAE said.
British business has basked in the Gulf sun since a protection deal with local rulers in 1820. BP has played a role
in the development of its oil from the start in the early 1930s. But the West's support for revolutions that toppled Arab leaders in 2011 and concern in Gulf states it is too welcoming of the Islamists who replaced them, has worn Britain's centuries-old ties particularly thin, sources close to the matter say.

Qatar National Raises Stake in Dubai Commercial Bank to 40% - Bloomberg

Qatar National Bank SAQ (QNBK), the Persian Gulf country’s biggest bank by assets, raised its stake in Dubai based-Commercial Bank International PSC (CBI) to 39.9 percent from 16.5 percent in a deal that may be worth about $75 million.
The purchase “reflects the confidence in the prospects of the financial sector in the United Arab Emirates,” Qatar National said in an e-mailed statement. The 22.5 percent stake is equivalent to 329 million shares, according to Bloomberg calculations, and would be worth $75 million based on today’s 84 fils share price.
The U.A.E., a union of seven emirates including Abu Dhabi and Dubai, has the biggest banking market in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, which also includes Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Commercial Bank of Qatar QSC, the country’s second-biggest lender, also bought a 40 percent stake in U.A.E.’s United Arab Bank PSC during 2007 and 2008 to expand in the country.

Qatar to Vote Against Glencore’s $31 Billion Xstrata Offer - Businessweek

Qatar Holding LLC, the investment arm of the nation’s sovereign wealth fund, said it plans to vote its 12 percent stake in Xstrata Plc (XTA) against Glencore International Plc (GLEN)’s $31 billion offer for the mining company.

“Although it continues to support the principle of a combination of Glencore with Xstrata, it has determined that it will not support the proposed merger terms,” the fund said today in a statement. Qatar Holding “believes that Xstrata has a strong future, whether in combination with Glencore on acceptable terms or as a stand-alone entity, and that its shares represent an attractive long-term investment.”

The likelihood of the year’s biggest takeover succeeding is waning as shareholders including the Qatar fund maintain their opposition and Glencore Chief Executive Officer Ivan Glasenberg fends off calls to increase it. An offer of 3.25 Glencore shares from the current bid of 2.8 shares agreed to by Xstrata’s board would be “more appropriate,” Qatar said in June.

MENA stock markets close - August 30, 2012

 ExchangeStatus IndexChange  


 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)

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Egypt up on political stability, financials lead - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Financial stocks help Egypt's benchmark index resume its rally on renewed investor optimism regarding the country's political stability, traders say.
The index rises 0.5 percent to 5,336 points with all but five stocks gaining on the 30-company index.
"The political front is looking somehow pretty stable. That's what's encouraging the retail investors," says Amr
Mostafa of Pharos Securities. "The main force driving the market is retail investors."
The main index paused on Wednesday after a four-day rally that pushed it to a 24-week high as investors took advantage of high prices to unload some of their shares.

Breakingviews: Fraud probe could turn Qatar cold on Barclays | Reuters

Qatar could turn cold on Barclays. The sovereign fund isn't publicity shy, but a probe by the UK's Serious Fraud Office into its financial links with the British bank has forced it into an unwelcome spotlight. Whatever the outcome of the investigation, in a region where rich rulers are fiercely protective of their reputations, there is a chance that Qatar might seek to distance itself from the bank.

The probe is a threat to what has been so far a four-year win-win, relationship. A costly capital injection led by Qatar spared the UK bank from a state bailout in 2008. Yet the Libor rate-rigging scandal and the latest probe have been a dampener. The SFO picks up from an investigation by the UK Financial Services Authority into disclosure of fees paid to Qatar in return for advising the bank's Middle East business.

BRIEF-Qatar National Bank ups stake in UAE's Commercial Bank International | Reuters

Qatar National Bank : * Qatar National Bank raises stake in Commercial Bank International to 39.9 percent from 16.5 percent - statement * Qatar National Bank says stake increase follows approval from UAE central bank.

UPDATE 1-Qatar Telecom repays $3 bln loan facility - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Qatar Telecom (Qtel), the state-owned operator planning a full takeover of Kuwaiti unit Wataniya, has repaid a $3 billion loan facility using existing funds, it said in a bourse statement on Thursday.
The five-year syndicated term loan was signed in August 2007 through bookrunners Barclays, BNP Paribas,
DBS and RBS and was priced at 65 basis points over the London interbank offered rate (Libor), according to
Thomson Reuters data.
In January, the company said in a capital markets presentation that its issue of $2.75 billion in bonds in 2010
preemptively addressed the refinancing of the $3 billion 2012 loan.

FT Alphaville » Taking Stanchart down under

DP World profits fail to keep up with advance in global trade in first half of 2012 « ArabianMoney

After stripping out extraordinary profits on the sale of an Australian operation the quoted Dubai-based global ports operator DP World reported just a 1.5 per cent growth in profits to $237 million in the first half of 2012, despite a 7.5 per cent rise in container volumes and 9.9 per cent increase in revenues.

When the sale of its Australian ports business is included the bottom line is more flattering with pre-tax profits up 12.1 per cent to $310 million. Should DP World not be producing better profits during a period of expanding global trade?

Dubai’s bourse halts a three-day decline |

Dubai’s DFM index halted a three-day decline as bargain hunters are back in full force.
The index closed 0.66 per cent at 1555.66 points mainly lifted by property stocks.
Among the gainers, Ekttitab rose 4.23 per cent to close at Dh0.960, followed by Gulf Finance House by 2.99 per cent to Dh0.516 and Deyaar by 2.56 per cent to Dh0.360.

Aldar to add to Abu Dhabi properties - The National

Aldar Properties is set to deliver more than 3.5 million square metres of properties to the Abu Dhabi market over the next 18 months.

In a report published by the developer yesterday, Aldar said it expected to finish work on four major projects before the end of next year - Central Market in Abu Dhabi city centre, Yas Island and Raha Beach on the mainland and at its Al Falah scheme east of the airport, which alone would total more than 700,000 sq metres of commercial space, a 15-hectare theme park and more than 6,500 homes.

The developer, which last quarter reported a 228 per cent profits increase, said work on its Central Market scheme - which is now known as World Trade Centre Abu Dhabi - was expected to be complete by the end of next year. Its 59-storey 72,000 sq metre World Trade Centre office tower is set to open this autumn.

UAE shock absorbers can handle hard hits - The National

Every year the World Economic Forum publishes its Global Risk report to highlight the perils as it sees them for the next decade.

These are classified into five categories: economic; environmental; geopolitical; societal; and technological. This year, economic risks have gained prominence and, in particular, the forum identifies the threat of "chronic fiscal imbalances".

These arise when there is a sustained mismatch between revenue powers and expenditure responsibilities of a government.

Holding off will help all the players in the high stakes game of Xstrata - Telegraph

None will come under closer scrutiny than Qatar Holdings, now approaching 12pc of Xstrata and vehemently against the deal.
But this sovereign wealth fund’s behaviour has appeared more akin to a hedge fund playing a game of arbitrage by taking a tactically significant stake and trying to force a higher price. It has spent the best part of £3.3bn acquiring its Xstrata stake after the terms of the merger were announced. It claims to admire Xstrata greatly but has only expressed this, in a seemingly high risk game of poker, after the deal announcement. It looks like a bet that its aggressive position-taking will trigger an improvement in the merger terms from Glencore’s chief executive Ivan Glasenberg.
The Qataris didn’t splash out in the years before the deal when Mick Davis, Xstrata’s boss, was delivering the company’s rapid growth. It didn’t meet management to discuss the company’s success during a rapid expansion phase. It has waited to do all these things in a short window after the deal emerged.

Emphasis on pan-GCC economic partnership | Oman Observer

A GCC forum being convened here under the theme “Invest in Dhofar” looks into various means of implementing a partnership strategy being espoused by the GCC Federation of Chambers.
The forum aims at encouraging investment among GCC states by highlighting available opportunities in various sectors and studying incentives offered by GCC governments to achieve partnership among member states in an integrated market, said Khalil bin Abdullah al Khonji, Chairman of Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI).

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

DEALTALK-Wealth fund holds key to Qtel's $2.2 bln Kuwaiti bid | Reuters

As Qatar Telecom (Qtel) QTEL.QA dangles a $2.2 billion bait to persuade minority shareholders in its Kuwaiti unit Wataniya (NMTC.KW) to sell out, it knows one major investor is positioned to frustrate its goal of 100 percent control.

Step forward the Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA), the sovereign wealth fund whose 23.5 percent stake in Wataniya makes it the second biggest shareholder and puts it in prime position to decide the fate of Qtel's offer for the 47.5 percent it does not already own.

Qtel bought its controlling stake in 2007 but has now decided to seek full control, capitalising on Wataniya's weak share price and completing the takeover of a company with attractive growth prospects in emerging markets such as Algeria and Tunisia.

Turkey’s eastern trading bet pays off -

Turkey has identified a unique selling point as a European country – it wants to project itself as an emerging Asian market with a strong position in the Middle East. It should. It is. It has.
For a nation that spent much of the 20th century seeking adoption from Europe and being spurned, it has spent much of this century rediscovering old trading relationships with eastern neighbours. That has proved to be a wise and fruitful bet, as Europe wallows in austerity triggered by the Great Recession while $100 oil has spurred an economic boom in the energy-rich Arab states.

MENA stock markets close - August 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)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Dubai halts 3-day drop; Kuwait continues rebound - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Dubai's bourse halted a three-day decline on Wednesday as bargain-hunters returned but trading volumes dropped to a four-week low, while most Gulf markets were flat in lacklustre trade ahead of Friday's U.S. Federal Reserve symposium, which may signal whether the Fed plans more stimulus.
Dubai's index gained 0.7 percent, heading back towards Thursday's 16-week high. Bellwether Emaar Properties
rose 1.2 percent, Deyaar Development added 2.6 percent and contractor Arabtec rose 1.5 percent.
"A lot of people are looking to be long even more in the region -- offshore investors are still not in the region, it has just been mainly retail activity," said Ibrahim Masood, senior investment officer at Mashreq Bank. So any weakness in the market will attract investors, he added.

MIDEAST DEBT-Gulf bond market forges global links as it grows - Yahoo! News Maktoob

When Abu Dhabi's biggest bank issued a $750 million bond in August, strong investor demand underlined how well most Gulf banks are riding out the global financial crisis. The issue also sent another signal: that the region's debt market is growing strongly and, increasingly, integrating with overseas markets.
The seven-year bond from National Bank of Abu Dhabi, which attracted about $4.5 billion of orders from investors, was issued in the third week of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. In past years, the Gulf bond market has slowed dramatically during Ramadan, as fasting traders and investors reduce their working hours. So the fact that NBAD's bond emerged during Ramadan this year showed how the market's expansion is changing
issuance and trading patterns, analysts and traders said.

MIDEAST MONEY-New UAE fund rules worry Gulf asset managers - Yahoo! News Maktoob

By introducing new rules on the sale of foreign funds, the United Arab Emirates aims to shield its investors from losses as global markets struggle. But the country risks damaging its role as a hub for asset management in
the region.
The rules, which will take effect on an unspecified date when they are published in the official gazette, transfer
primary responsibility for overseeing investment funds to the Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA), the national financial regulator, from the central bank.
They cover both the promotion and sale of foreign funds in the UAE, and requirements for offering and launching new local funds. Collectively they mark one of the biggest changes in UAE financial regulation since the country's corporate debt crisis erupted in 2009.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Egypt pauses on profit-taking after four-day rally - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Egypt's benchmark index pauses after a four-day rally that pushed it to a 24-week high, with investors taking advantage of high prices to unload some of their shares, traders say. The index inches down 0.3 percent to 5,308 points.
On Wednesday, the market closed at its highest since March 11 on continued optimism that the country's political situation was stabilising and international donors such as the IMF and Gulf countries were lining up to help its economy.
"There was profit taking soon after the beginning of the session, and there will probably be another fall tomorrow before shares start rising again next week," says Hisham Metwalli of Arab Finance Brokerage.

Nasdaq Dubai taps COO Ali as new CEO - MarketWatch

Bourse operator Nasdaq Dubai on Wednesday named Hamed Ali as acting chief executive officer, following the departure of the exchange's previous top official Jeff Singer.

Mr. Ali earlier this month joined Nasdaq as chief operating officer. He already worked for the stockmarket operator from 2006 to 2008.

Nasdaq's previous CEO Jeff Singer recently took the helm at the Dubai Financial Centre Authority.

UAE healthcare firm NMC's net profit jumps 21 pct | Reuters

NMC Health, the United Arab Emirates healthcare provider which floated on the London market in April, posted a 21 percent rise in first-half net profit on higher revenues from its core business.

NMC made a net profit of $27.5 million in the first six months, chief financial officer Prasanth Manghat told Reuters by telephone on Wednesday.

"The contribution of the healthcare business on overall revenues helped increase our profit," he said.

Qatar Islamic Bank plans $1.5 bln sukuk programme | Reuters

Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) is planning a sukuk issuance programme of up to $1.5 billion, a company statement said on Wednesday. The bank will seek shareholder approval of the plan in a meeting on Sept. 16.

"A consent from the quorum at the General Assembly will allow QIB to further process necessary approvals from the relevant authorities in Qatar with regards to potential Sukuk issuances under the Programme in the future," the emailed statement said.

The lender last tapped global debt markets with a $750 million sukuk in 2010, which carried a profit rate of 3.856 percent; the sukuk was yielding about 2.35 percent on Wednesday, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The Times of Oman: Bank Sohar's RO10m rights issue by Sept.

Bank Sohar, the youngest Omani bank that was aggressive in expanding business and branch network, is planning to float its RO10 million rights issue next month, if everything goes as per the plan.

The rights issue will take the bank's paid up capital to RO110 million, from RO100 million now. The shares will be offered at a price of 102 baisas, which include two baisas per share to cover expenses. The rights entitlement is on a 10:1 ratio and the proceeds of the issue will be used for raising the required minimum capital for setting up an Islamic banking window, in line with the requirements of the Central Bank of Oman (CBO).

Oman Arab Bank is the issue manager of the rights offer.

DP World's H1 profit flat, cites global climate | Reuters

Dubai's DP World, the world's third largest port operator, reported flat profits for the first half of this year, citing an uncertain global economic climate.

The company, one of the more profitable assets of debt-laden Dubai World, made a profit of $247 million, barely changed from $246 million in the year-earlier period, it said on Wednesday.

Revenue for the six months ended June 30 was $1.53 billion compared to $1.50 billion in the prior-year period.

Don't build property hope too high just yet - The National

The property market, hit hard during the fallout from the global financial crisis, is crucial to the continuing economic recovery of the UAE.

There have been some signs, at least in some parts of the sector, that prices and rents are increasing once more. Alan Robertson is the chief executive for the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) at Jones Lang LaSalle, a global group specialising in property consultancy, management and investment.

Here, he gives a snapshot view of the health of the property business in the Emirates and the region.

Norway fund opposes Glencore merger -

Norway has joined forces with Qatar in opposition to the $70bn merger between commodities trader Glencore and miner Xstrata, further threatening one of the biggest deals in the natural resources industry over the past decade.
Norges Bank Investment Management, the manager behind Norway’s oil-backed sovereign wealth fund, has spent more than $500m over the last few weeks buying Xstrata shares, according to regulatory fillings.

Kuwait’s Index Rises on Bets This Month’s Fall Is Overdone - Bloomberg

Kuwait’s benchmark stock index rose to the highest in more than a month on bets that the gauge’s decline to an eight-year low earlier this month was overdone.
Agility (AGLTY), the Kuwaiti storage and logistic company, and Islamic lender Boubyan Bank KSC (BOUBYAN) rose the most in two weeks. National Mobile Telecommunications Co. (NMTC), also known as Wataniya Telecom, closed at the highest in four and a half years after parent Qatar Telecom (QTEL) QSC made a cash offer for all of the company it didn’t already own. The Kuwait Stock Exchange index rose 0.9 percent to 5,839.45, its highest close since July 22. The gauge fell to its lowest in eight years on Aug. 12. The Bloomberg GCC 200 Index was down less than one percent.
Investors held back during Islam’s holy month of Ramadan and “now feel more comfortable buying shares that would benefit if a rebound happens,” Carlos Ribeiro, Gulf Bank KSC (GBK)’s chief financial officer said by telephone. Investors are picking “particular companies in very particular industries” that will be part of a rally after the dip in the index, he said.

Arabtec loses appeal for analysts on price - The National

Arabtec Holding's prospects may be bright but the UAE's biggest builder is rapidly losing favour with analysts.

The construction firm based in Dubai surprised the market with a loss of Dh11.6 million during the second quarter, which it attributed to the costs of moving equipment and staff as it geared up for projects in Saudi Arabia.

Despite the loss, Arabtec's half-year results represent a 30.4 per cent improvement on profits recorded during the same period last year.

Freed Briton fails to halt Dh57m Nakheel payout - The National

A British developer released from jail in Dubai last month after going on hunger strike made a surprise court appearance in the emirate yesterday in a bid to freeze a Dh57 million (US$15.5m) payout from Nakheel to another investor.

Safi Qurashi, 43, spent 30 months in prison after being found guilty of bouncing cheques. He was at the Dubai World Tribunal yesterday as the investor, Shokat Mohammed Dalal, won his case against Nakheel over a disputed deposit paid for three islands on The World, a Dubai World project developed by Nakheel.

In a highly unusual move, Afridi & Angell, acting for Mr Qurashi, requested the Tribunal freeze the money awarded to Mr Dalal because he and Mr Qurashi were involved in a separate civil dispute in the Dubai Courts.

Dubai Group sees stake in Cyprus bank weaken - The National

Dubai Group has seen its stake in Cyprus Popular Bank diluted and the value of its holding plunge dramatically following a state bailout of the lender.

Cyprus Popular Bank, formerly known as Marfin Popular Bank, was forced to seek state support this summer as the effects of nearby Greece's recession hammered earnings at the island's companies. The cost of propping up Cyprus' banking sector forced the Cypriot government to request an international bailout.

But the effect of the bank's capital increase was to dilute Dubai Group's stake significantly.

Dubai leads on hiring as confidence surges back - The National

More than half of Dubai financial recruiters plan to hire more permanent staff before the end of the year - the second-highest percentage globally.

An international survey of almost 2,200 finance executives for the recruiter Robert Half found 52 per cent of those questioned in Dubai intend to hire.

That is slightly less than Brazil at 57 per cent but substantially more than the global average of just 24 per cent.

Mursi rules out currency devaluation, new taxes |

Egypt’s president said on Monday he would not impose new taxes or devalue the country’s currency and that his government would rely instead on investment, tourism and exports to fix an economy ravaged by a year and a half of political turmoil.
Mohammad Mursi, 61, has a window of opportunity to push through economic change while he still commands political goodwill 50 days into his tenure as Egypt’s first freely elected president, economists say.
Yet he must tread carefully to avoid angering a population that rose up to topple Hosni Mubarak last year partly because of high inflation and the widespread belief that the fast economic growth in the last years of the former president’s rule was not reaching the poor.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Abu Dhabi said to plan $800m bond sale by power unit |

Abu Dhabi’s state utilities and their partners in a power plant in the emirate will sell about $800 million (Dh2.94 billion) in bonds to refinance the facility in the next quarter, two bankers with knowledge of the matter said.
Abu Dhabi National Energy Co. (Taqa) and its partners in the Shuweihat S2 plant are planning to raise cash through a project bond in October, the bankers said, asking not to be identified because the information is confidential. The cash will be used to refinance existing bank loans, and revenue from the plant will provide money to repay the bond, the bankers said. Taqa declined to comment.
Taqa and partners including GDF Suez SA and Marubeni Corp will refinance construction loans that were arranged in 2009 during the global financial crisis when borrowing rates were higher than today, the bankers said. Shuweihat S2, a natural-gas-fired facility capable of generating 1,510 megawatts of power and desalinating water, began operating in the second quarter of 2011.

REFILE-Shell ramps up Qatari gas-to-diesel money machine | Reuters

A Qatari project that has been a drain on Royal Dutch Shell's capital since 2003 is on the verge of turning into a unique asset that will produce billions of dollars a year in cash for the next 25 years.

Shell shareholders in 2013 should see significant benefits from Pearl GTL, a gas-to-liquids fuel project which until now has been notorious for a development cost overrun to $18-$19 billion from the original $5 billion and which is still late for its mid-2012 date for full production.

Shell says both Pearl's trains have now operated at between 90 and 100 percent of design rates, and even though maintenance issues have run into the third quarter and kept them from working together at full capacity, that moment now could be just around the corner.

Oman invites foreign firms to bid for six oil blocks

Oman has invited foreign oil companies to bid for exploration and development rights in six oil blocks around the country, the oil ministry said on Tuesday, as it pushes to raise production to 1 million barrels per day.

“Two blocks will be awarded next month and the other four will be evaluated in the coming months,” a ministry of oil and gas official told Reuters, declining to be named under briefing rules.

The total area of the blocks being awarded is around 12,000 square kilometers, the official added, declining to reveal the names of the firms bidding.

UAE to boost oil production capacity to 3 million bpd in 2012 -

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is on track to expand its crude oil production capacity to 3 million barrels per day (bpd) by the end of the year, two industry sources said on Tuesday.

The UAE, one of the world's top oil exporters, increased its production capacity from 2.7 million bpd to around 2.8 million bpd earlier this year and expects to add another 200,000 bpd of capacity over the next few months.

"Oil production capacity in the UAE should reach 3 million bpd by the end of this year, and already the current capacity is around 2.8 million bpd," said an industry source familiar with the projects.

Egyptian Chronicles: Morsi in China - tks @zeinobia

President Mohamed Morsi started his visit to China today where he was received officially by Chinese president Hu Jintao in Beijing earlier today. This is the third foreign visit for Morsi after his visit to Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia since he was elected as the President of Egypt.

MIDEAST STOCKS-Kuwait rallies as volumes pick up; Gulf mkts dip - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Kuwait's bourse rallied on Tuesday and volumes spiked to their highest in nearly four months as retail investor confidence returned, while profit-taking weighed on most other Gulf bourses.
Kuwait's measure finished 0.9 percent higher, rising for an eighth session in the last nine.
Buying momentum has returned but mainly in smaller caps, as retail traders shelve political woes and sentiment improves after nearly all companies report quarterly earnings by the August 16 deadline.

Guest post: foreign investors stand back as locals boost Cairo stocks | beyondbrics

The international jury may still be undecided on the development of Egyptian politics and economics, but local investors have already handed down their verdict of enthusiastic support. The Cairo Stock Exchange has been one of the stellar performers this year with a gain of almost 45 per cent.

“This market rebound after a sharp drop in 2011 is driven primarily by local retail investors. The foreigners have not yet returned, and many of the high profile, rich Egyptians have moved their money out of the country,” said Khaled Abdel Majeed, chairman of the Middle East hedge fund manager Mena Capital.

“In many ways this is a relief rally driven by politics. Investors are relieved that a major confrontation between the new government and the military has been avoided. We were short Egypt for quite a while, but now we are long the market,” Abdel Majeed said.

Dubai court approves Drydocks $2.2 bln debt plan - Yahoo! News Maktoob

A special court in Dubai on Tuesday formally approved the $2.2 billion restructuring of shipbuilding unit Drydocks World, thereby making the complex debt deal effective.
Creditors holding more than 97.8 percent of the debt had agreed to the deal at a meeting held in July. The firm had said it would seek sanction of the approvals from the Dubai World Tribunal at a hearing on August 28.
"The sanctioning of the Company Voluntary Arrangements concludes the formal approval of Drydocks World Dubai's debt restructuring proposals," Drydocks said in a statement following the hearing.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Kuwait extends rally on high volumes; UAE mkts slip - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Kuwait's bourse rallies and volumes spike to their highest in nearly four months as retail investors return, while profit-taking weighs on UAE and Qatar bourses.
Kuwait's measure finishes 0.9 percent higher at 5,839 points, up for an eighth session in last nine.
Buying momentum has returned but mainly in smaller caps, as retail traders shelve political woes and almost all companies report quarterly earnings before the August 16 deadline.
"The smaller stocks continue to dominate the market - you have inter-funds buying stocks again," says Fouad Darwish, head of brokerage at Global Investment House. "People were waiting and minimizing risk due to fears of suspension on stocks but after the deadline when almost every single company reported their financials, it gave a huge boost to the market."

EMERGING MARKETS-Stability hopes push up Cairo stock market - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Emerging equities slipped to three-week lows on Tuesday, pressured by global growth worries and uncertainly over central bank action, but in Egypt hopes for political stability boosted the Cairo stock index to the highest
in 5-1/2 weeks.
MSCI's emerging equity index eased 0.2 percent after losing 0.5 percent on Monday when London was shut.
Chinese shares which comprise a fifth of the index rebounded almost 1 percent off 3-1/2 year lows hit on Monday after Premier Wen Jiabao pledged steps to stabilise exports but did not mention "formal" policy easing..
This was seen by some as diminishing the chances of Beijing cutting bank reserve requirements or interest rates.

Raymond J. Learsy: Qatar-Investing Throughout the World With Oil/Gas Money and Vision

The full page article in the Financial Times was a about a financial behemoth derailing what had many thought was a done deal ("Defiance marks Qatari coming of Age"08.26.12),namely the attempted takeover of the huge London listed mining enterprise, Xstrata, by the world's largest commodities trader, Glencore. The article went on to touch upon the vast investments of Qatar Holding, offshoot of Qatar's Sovereign Wealth Fund. It is breathtaking in its diversity and reach.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Dubai extends dip; Gulf trading lackluster - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Dubai's measure slips for a third session asinvestors book recent gains and trading volumes momentum picks up, while most other Gulf markets trade flat.
Dubai's index sheds 0.3 percent to 1,554 points, trimming year-to-date gains to 14.8 percent.
Some property stocks are lower with bellwether Emaar Properties down 0.3 percent and Deyaar Development
easing 1.1 percent.

Dubai trade surges to Dh600b |

Dubai’s non-oil foreign trade swelled by 12 per cent to Dh600 billion in the first half of 2012 compared to Dh535 billion in the same period last year, Dubai Customs announced on Monday.
Ahmad Butti Ahmad, CEO of Dubai Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation (DPCFZC), said that Dubai’s imports was valued at Dh356 billion during the first half of 2012 compared to Dh320 billion in the same period in 2011, showing a 11.5 per cent increase.
The value of exports and re-exports in the first half of 2012 amounted to over Dh245 billion, a 13 per cent increase compared to the Dh217 billion achieved in 2011, he added.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Qatar Luxury Group Launches #QELA, Luxury Brand And Boutiques

It's not everyday that you get to see a small upstart emerge in the luxury market, let alone a heavy hitter. According to our sources Qatar will launch its own brand and its own luxury boutiques around the world. That's it!

The Huffington Post has obtained the name of this self-proclaimed luxury brand, as of yet kept secret: QELA. Given the virtually unlimited financial means of the Qataris, established brands such as Hermes, Dior and Louis Vuitton are not likely to take this news lightly.

Caroline Guillon, the marketing director of Qatar Luxury Group, which launched the brand, told The Huffington Post, "Since its inception, the goal of our group has been to create a fashion brand in Qatar, and then, in time, expand to an international vocation. We are currently working on the collection." However, for the time being, Guillon preferred "not to disclose the name."

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi hits fresh 15-wk high; most Gulf mkts lower - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Saudi Arabia's small and mid-cap stocks drove the market to a fresh 15-week high on Monday amid optimism over further policy action by the U.S. Federal Reserve, but most other Gulf bourses slipped on profit-taking following recent gains.
The kingdom's index rose 0.5 percent to its highest finish since May 13. Major real estate developer Dar Al Arkan climbed 0.5 percent, Nama Chemicals jumped 5.5 percent and Alinma Bank added 0.4 percent.
Insurance stocks, a favourite of local retail investors, rallied with the sector's index advancing 1.0 percent.

Online store clicks with Arab world -

When Ahmed Alkhatib wants to check on the customers who flock to his shop every day, he simply has to look at a computer screen on his desk. Without leaving his office in central Amman, he can see what products they are scouting for, where they are located, what language they operate in and even what browser they are using to check out his offering.
Most importantly, he can see how much money they are spending on Gucci sunglasses, Prada handbags and other products sold on MarkaVIP, one of the largest online shopping sites catering exclusively to the Arab world.

Qatar leads regional M&A resurgence -

Qatar, whose spree of deals across Europe has made headlines in recent months, is also leading the charge in acquisitions in the Middle East, where it has completed the largest purchase of the year so far.
Government-backed Qatar Telecom’s $2.2bn purchase of the remaining 48 per cent of Wataniya Telecom that it did not own has helped lift inbound acquisitions in the Middle East to $19bn so far this year, the highest year-to-date volume since 2007, according to Dealogic, the data provider.

UAE bourses end in red |

Dubai’s DFM index declined for the second day to close 0.92 per cent lower at 1558.83 as investors book profits. The index touched lowest level in almost two weeks.
Among the gainers, GGICO rose 6.25 per cent to close at Dh0.340, followed by Gulf Finance House by 1.17 per cent to Dh0.519 and Takaful-EM by 1.15 per cent to Dh0.617.
Among the losers, Emirates NBD fell 3.26 per cent to Dh2.97, followed by Union Properties by 2.72 per cent to Dh0.393 and Dartakaful by 2.56 per cent to Dh0.610.

Dubai's DIC sells stake in $300 mln MENA infrastructure fund - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Dubai International Capital (DIC), the private equity arm of Dubai Holding which restructured $2.5 billion debt in April, sold its stake in a $300 million Middle East North Africa infrastructure fund to Islamic investment firm Fajr Capital.
Fajr, which is backed by prominent investors such as Abu Dhabi Investment Council and Malaysia's state investor Khazanah Nasional Berhad, will manage the fund along with its two other partners HSBC Holdings and Waha Capital, it said in a statement on Monday.
All the three partners will have equal ownership stake in the fund post the deal, one source familiar with the matter said.

Bahrain Air told to pay off debts

Bahrain Air, a leading low-cost carrier in the region, has been warned to pay off its debts or risk suspension of its operations, its chairman said.

Shaikh Mohammed bin Abdulla Al Khalifa added that the airline was under pressure from Transportation Minister Kamal Ahmed to pay off its dues accumulated since last year’s unrest.

In a statement to local newspapers, Shaikh Mohammed also claimed that the airline had not been given necessary approvals for extra flights, according to our sister paper Akhbar Al Khaleej.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Dubai extends decline; Kuwait's Zain ticks up - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Dubai's bourse extends its declines, down for a second session from Thursday's 16-week high as investors book profits on overbought stocks, while Kuwait's measure ticks up.
Dubai's index slips 0.5 percent to 1,566 points, trimming year-to-date gains to 15.7 percent.
Drake and Scull sheds 1.1 percent to 0.9 dirhams a share. SICO Investment Bank cut the construction and engineering firm's price target to 0.98 dirhams from 1.15 dirhams with a 'neutral' rating.

Ratings agency gives Egyptian banks a lift - The National

Egypt's banks have narrowly avoided a ratings downgrade from Standard & Poor's as the country's government requests a US$4.8 billion (Dh17.62bn) loan from the IMF.

At the weekend the credit ratings agency lifted three Egyptian banks - Commercial International Bank, National Bank of Egypt and Banque Misr - from negative watch after taking the same action on the credit rating of Egypt's government.

"Negative watch" is defined by ratings agencies as an even chance of a downgrade within the next three months.

Saudi market a work in progress - The National

The Saudi financial market is rather like the Tadawul Tower, the Riyadh building that will eventually house the country's stock market: potentially awesome but still under construction.

International investors have been eagerly anticipating "getting into" Saudi Arabia for years. The energy-fuelled economy is the biggest in the Arabian Gulf; it has the largest population in the GCC region with, potentially, a huge domestic consumer market.

The Tadawul All-Share Index is the region's biggest by market capitalisation and the financial and banking infrastructure, buoyed by historically high oil prices, is sturdy by even the most stringent of international benchmarks.

Weak spots that betray a powerful performer - The National

The Saudi equities regulator, the Capital Market Authority (CMA), has a reputation as one of the region's toughest watchdogs.

However, some financial professionals still believe the kingdom lags behind in levels of transparency and investor relations (IR) practice.

Formed in 2004, when the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, the central bank, decided equities and bond markets needed their own regulator, the CMA went through a stiff initiation during the share collapse of 2006 and introduced tough rules.

Dubai land values rise as market stabilises - The National

The value of land in Dubai rose by about 10 per cent over the past year as the emirate's property market continues to stabilise.

New figures released by Dubai's Land Department show values per square foot for properties in two areas - Al Barsha and Al Nahda - rose 13.8 per cent and 9.6 per cent, respectively, over the year to June, while overall land value increases were about 10 per cent.

In the upmarket Al Barsha district, which includes Mall of the Emirates and the Dubai American Academy, land values rose from Dh766 (US$208) per square foot in June last year to Dh872 in the same month this year.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

ESCA plans next move following implementation of fund rules - MENA Fund Manager

The Emirates’ Securities and Commodities Authority (ESCA) is planning a series of new financial regulations, following the implementation of its new fund regime, Mena FM can reveal.

According to Dr. Ryan Lemand, senior economic advisor and acting head of risk management at ESCA, the regulation plans to draft a series of new rules covering market making, shortselling, securities lending and borrowing and liquidity providing.

Earlier this year, ESCA approved the final draft of its much-anticipated new fund regulations, following the transference of the UAE’s collective investment funds jurisdiction officially transferred to ESCA.

Qatar fund remains Xstrata buyer at current prices -sources | Reuters

Qatar Holding is targeting a "strategic minority" stake in Xstrata even if a merger with Glencore does not go through and the fund is a buyer of the mining giant at current prices, sources familiar with the matter said.

The investment arm of the tiny Gulf state's sovereign wealth fund has proved to be a stumbling block for commodities trader Glencore's proposed $30 billion takeover of Xstrata, demanding improved terms and threatening to vote against the tie-up.

The deal is on the brink of collapse after Glencore refused to raise its offer and missed an informal deadline last week.

Zain confirms talks on Vodafone Middle East roaming deal - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Kuwait-based telecoms operator Zain confirmed on Sunday it was close to sealing a deal with Vodafone that would allow the global telecoms group access to its Middle East networks.
"Zain Group is at an advanced stage in negotiations towards reaching a strategic partnership agreement with Vodafone," the company said in a statement.
"Vodafone has more than 40 partnerships of this nature worldwide whereby customers benefit from their global scale and the in-country operator's local expertise. This is a non-equity deal."

MIDEAST STOCKS-Dubai slips from 16-wk high; Gulf mkts mixed - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Dubai's bourse slipped off its 16-week high on Sunday as traders booked recent gains on technical cues, while other regional markets were mixed in lacklustre trade with many investors still away after Eid holidays.
In the United Arab Emirates, Dubai's index fell 0.9 percent to 1,573 points. Investors are booking gains in property stocks that have rallied after strong quarterly earnings signalled the start of a real estate market recovery in Dubai.
Bellwether Emaar Properties lost 1.7 percent, Deyaar Development dropped back 8.5 percent, after soaring 13 percent on Thursday because of a burst of buying in the last minute of trade, and contractor Arabtec shed 1.4 percent.

Emaar Drops Amid Speculation Rally May Be Overdone: Dubai Mover - Bloomberg

Emaar Properties PJSC (EMAAR) retreated the most in a month amid speculation this year’s rally in the developer of the world’s tallest skyscraper in Dubai may be overdone.
The shares dropped 1.7 percent, the most since July 23, to 3.39 dirhams at the close in Dubai, trimming this year’s gain to 32 percent. The benchmark DFM General Index climbed 16 percent this year. It fell 0.9 percent today.
The drop in Emaar’s shares today is “just a correction,” said Chahir Hosni, equity sales manager at EFG-Hermes Holding SAE in Dubai. “The stock has performed very well, seeing a rally from about 3 dirhams to about 3.5 dirhams. Investors may be thinking the rally will stop here.”

Kuwaiti firm alleges Carlyle sold fund without licence | Reuters

A Kuwaiti investment firm is alleging that private equity giant Carlyle Group LP sold it a fixed income fund in 2006 without the necessary licence, and is seeking approval for its lawsuit against the U.S. firm to be heard in Kuwait rather than the United States.

The case illustrates some of the potential legal pitfalls which U.S. and European private equity firms operating in the Gulf face. Over the last several years they have flocked to the region, attracting hundreds of millions of dollars of investment from the Gulf's wealthy sovereign funds and family-owned firms.

National Industries Group (NIG), a company controlled by one of Kuwait's biggest merchant families, invested $25 million in Carlyle Capital Corp (CCC), a fixed income fund launched by Carlyle in 2006. The fund, which raised over $1 billion, collapsed during the credit crisis in 2008 after defaulting on about $16.6 billion in debt.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Dubai slips from 16-wk high; property stocks drop - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Dubai's benchmark slips from Thursday's 16-week high as investors book recent gains, while other Gulf bourses are steady in lackluster trade.
Dubai's index sheds 0.26 percent to 1,583 points, trimming year-to-date gains to 17 percent.
"Intraday pivot point is seen at 1,583.4 points. If the market remains below it, we may see 1,579.4 support level whereas a break above the pivot may bring recovery until the resistance of 1,591.5 points," MENA Corp Securities says in a note.

Gulf Times – Record surplus seen for Qatar in 2012-13

An expected increase in revenue due to higher hydrocarbon prices will achieve another record fiscal surplus for Qatar, which QNB forecasts will rise to QR58bn in 2012-13.
This, QNB Group said, would be twice the level that is budgeted (QR28bn) and set a new record in absolute terms.
Revised figures for Qatar’s fiscal outturn in 2011/12 show that revenue, expenditure and surplus all reached record levels and QNB Group expects to see a similar pattern in 2012/13.

It's back to work for investors after much to digest - The National

Investors returning to the first full week of trading after the end of the Eid Al Fitr holiday have had a lot of market-moving developments to digest during the past few days.

On past performance, chances are good for a bounce in market values as trading activity returns to full swing, said Tariq Qaqish, the deputy head of asset management at Al Mal Capital.

"The historic trend is usually after Eid the market reacts positively as investors come back with fresh ideas."

High marks for regional sovereign wealth funds |

Sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states are substantial enough on the one hand and have positive implications for regional and global economies on the other. In other words, benefits of these SWFs are not confined to GCC economies, as these investments in the form of deposits, own ownership of securities issued by authorities in the US and others as well as investments are all over the world.
By one account, combined value of various SWFs of GCC authorities surpassed US$1.7 trillion at the start of the year. Certainly, this is a staggering figure by virtue of being some $600 billion above the monetary value of gross domestic product (GDP) of GCC states put together.
The UAE in general and Abu Dhabi in particular is noted for amassing a substantial amount of assets through its SWF. According to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute, which tracks SWFs, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) is the richest of its kind in the world. Latest statistics and rankings released by the institute put ADIA’s assets at an exceptional $627 billion.

IEA may release oil reserves as soon as Sept |

World oil consumers are poised to tap into emergency oil inventories as soon as early September after the International Energy Agency (IEA) dropped its resistance to a US-led plan, a source and an oil journal said on Friday.
Just one week after its chief said there was no discussion of possible emergency action, the IEA is now thought to have agreed to the idea, the industry journal Petroleum Economist reported on Friday, citing unnamed sources. The release could be as large or larger than last year’s 60 million barrel injection.
Responding to the report, IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said the agency remained in close communication with members and stood “prepared to act as necessary in response to a physical disruption”, avoiding the question of whether active consideration of a reserve release was underway.