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Tuesday, 10 January 2012

UPDATE 1-Japan asks UAE, S. Arabia for Iran oil backup | Reuters

Japan has asked Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to supply it with more oil if tighter western sanctions reduce its oil imports from Iran, Japanese foreign minister Koichiro Gemba said on Tuesday.

"The UAE has taken into consideration the Japanese request in a positive way," Gemba said through translators in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi.

"Japan will have the priority in any increase that the UAE can provide," he said.

MENA stock markets close - January 10, 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)

Qatar National Bank Pursues Denizbank After HSBC Withdraws Bid - Businessweek

Qatar National Bank SAQ, the Gulf country’s biggest lender by assets, remains in talks to buy Dexia SA’s Turkish unit Denizbank AS after HSBC Holdings Plc withdrew its bid, two people familiar with the process said.

If negotiations are successful, the deal could be completed as soon as this month, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the negotiations are private. HSBC is the second bidder to drop out of the process, after Russia’s biggest lender, OAO Sberbank, last month said it scrapped its plan to buy Denizbank because of “uncertain market conditions.”

The fading competition leaves Qatar National Bank with more leverage to complete a transaction in Turkey’s rapidly expanding economy. Turkey has been a popular target for deals in recent years as companies seek to tap its $735 billion economy, which grew 8.2 percent in the third quarter of 2011, the fastest increase among Group of 20 countries after China.

Kuwait’s Alshaya Plans 100-Million Pound U.K. Retail Investment - Bloomberg

M.H. Alshaya Co., a Kuwaiti retail franchise operator, said it plans to invest 100 million pounds ($155 million) in the U.K. retail industry over the next two years through its acquisition of La Senza U.K.
Alshaya “has today reached agreement to take control of the ongoing La Senza business in the U.K.,” it said in an e- mailed statement today. Plans for the business include new product collections and store redesigns.
KPMG, the administrators of La Senza, a lingerie chain, said yesterday they had agreed to sell 60 stores to Alshaya U.K. Ltd. La Senza closed 84 stores and 18 concessions after announcing at the end of last month that it was seeking administration.

UPDATE 1-Abu Dhabi lender FGB eyes benchmark sukuk-sources | Reuters

Abu Dhabi's First Gulf Bank (FGB) has picked four banks for a five-year benchmark-sized Islamic bond, or sukuk, three sources said on Tuesday, the latest Gulf institution planning to tap financing from sharia-compliant investors.

The four banks which have been mandated are Citi, HSBC , National Bank of Abu Dhabi and Standard Chartered, the sources, who declined to be named as the information has not yet made public, said.

"It will be a $500 million, five-year sukuk and if the deal is done, it will be without roadshows," one of the sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. "Investors know the story of First Gulf Bank and do not need to meet again with the bank's management."

COMMENT: Problems in the (ADCOP) pipeline |

A recent Bloomberg report on the UAE's severely delayed ADCOP pipeline may have highlighted a risk arising from a trend in the GCC upstream sector to award complex projects to the lowest bidder.

The UAE's flagship 400km Habshan-Fujairah ADCOP crude export pipeline runs from the ADCO fields onshore to the Fujairah export terminal nestling on the Gulf of Oman, traversing steep mountainous terrain along the way. The project comprises the pipeline, pumping stations, an oil terminal at Fujairah, offshore loading facilities and associated facilities.

The pipeline, which was scheduled for commissioning by the end of 2010, aims to save tankers time and money by removing the final leg of their journey around the Strait of Hormuz, and bypass a body of water Iran can threaten to blockade, a short trip for which tankers have extracted a risk premium. The pipeline is part of a plan to see Fujairah – once one of the UAE’s smallest and sleepiest emirates – compete with Singapore and Rotterdam as a global oil bunkering capital.

Qatar Shares Decline Most in More Than a Month on QNB Dividend - Businessweek

Qatar’s benchmark stock index dropped the most in more than a month as investors were disappointed with Qatar National Bank SAQ’s dividend plan.

Qatar National, the Gulf country’s biggest bank by assets, headed for the biggest decline in almost a year. Commercial Bank of Qatar QSC, the nation’s second-biggest lender, decreased 1.2 percent. Qatar’s QE Index slumped 1.5 percent, the most since Nov. 21, to 8,679.63, at 10:18 a.m. in Doha. The Bloomberg GCC 200 Index slipped 0.2 percent.

“Apparently the dividend disappointed some investors, which tells you how high expectations are in Qatar with regard to dividend payouts, which have been historically very high,” said Ahmed Talhaoui, the Abu Dhabi-based head of investment and asset management at Royal Capital PJSC. The results were otherwise “strong,” he said.

» UAE says in Oman refinery joint venture talks –

Sultan bin Saeed al-Mansouri, the UAE’s minister of economy, met with Omani officials in the Omani capital Muscat this week to discuss building a refinery at Duqm on the east coast of Oman, the ministry said on its website.

“We discussed the refinery project in the area of Duqm, a joint project between the two countries,” Mansouri said after his three-day visit.

Oman has been investing in refineries to help meet surging domestic oil consumption which has more than doubled over the last decade thanks to energy-intensive industrial growth.

Shuaa Capital scales back research to cut costs | Alrroya

Shuaa Capital PSC scaled back its research department, making five staff members redundant and redeploying others, as the investment bank controlled by Dubai’s ruler cuts costs, the company said.

“We have scaled back to reduce costs, in line with Shuaa’s rightsizing programme and repositioning of the brokerage platform,” Oliver Schutzmann, the company’s chief communications officer, told Bloomberg by telephone today.

Shuaa Capital is moving away from the retail brokerage business after markets in its home base declined and losses mounted. The company, which hired former Credit Suisse Group AG board member Michael Philipp as chief executive officer in October, said in November a first phase of job cuts would affect 29 people. The company had a third-quarter loss of Dh156.2 million ($42.5m) after booking provisions.

Standard Chartered sees a resilient Asia, Middle East and Africa in 2012 - Zawya

Standard Chartered sees 2012 as a year of a two-speed global economy. The Bank, which recently topped a ranking of 354 global firms for the accuracy of its economic forecasts over the past two years, sees a slowing global economy in 2012, with a fragile West and a resilient Asia, Africa, Middle East and Latin America.

The mounting crisis in the advanced economies is expected to cause the euro area (-1.5%) and the UK (-1.3%) to fall back into recession and US growth (+1.7%) to remain below-trend.

The world economy grew strongly in 2010, expanding 4.3%, before cooling in 2011, when it grew by around 3.0%. In 2012, Standard Chartered expects a significant slowdown in the first half of the year because of the crisis in the West, slowing global growth to 2.2% for the full-year.

DIFC Courts settle first non-DIFC related case - Legal - Zawya

The DIFC Courts, the English language, common law judicial system based in Dubai, can report that it heard and resolved its first non-DIFC related case, only a short while after its jurisdiction was expanded in late 2011. The Courts' jurisdiction was expanded in October, following a decree by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai and this landmark, first ruling was also passed before the end of the year.

The case, a dispute about non-payment of an invoice, involving two Dubai-based SMEs, is the first relating to two non-DIFC parties resolved since the jurisdiction expansion. The settlement followed mutual election by both parties of the DIFC Courts' mediation process and Small Claims Tribunal (SCT). Both parties accepted the DIFC Courts jurisdiction and subsequently reached a mutual settlement on the 29th December.

THE DAILY STAR :: UAE banks may refinance rather than repay debt

Banks in the United Arab Emirates may opt to refinance more than $3 billion of bonds due this year should pricing remain at current levels, as they seek to extend the average maturity of their debt.

UAE banks have about $3.49 billion of bonds and sukuk maturing in 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Most of this debt is held by the country’s three largest banks, Emirates NBD PJSC, National Bank of Abu Dhabi PJSC and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC, the data shows.

An analyst at Rasmala Investment Bank Ltd. in Dubai, Raj Madha said: “$3 billion is a lot to be falling due at any one time, but recent sukuk issues suggest that deals can be done at the right price even in the current difficult international environment.” Banks may prefer to roll over debt to extend maturities even if they have money to repay it, he said.

Ex-Nakheel CEO sees court verdict pushed to Jan 24 |

A Dubai tribunal on Monday delayed its verdict in a $3.7m legal battle between state-owned developer Nakheel and its former CEO.

Chris O’Donnell will now have to wait until Jan 24 to learn whether his attempt to sue the developer behind Dubai’s palm-shaped islands for breach of contract has been successful.

The former CEO of Nakheel is claiming $3m in two overdue long-term incentive payments, alongside sums related to damages, currency fluctuations and interest.

gulfnews : Realty remains stagnant as deliveries lag

Property sale and rental activity across Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah was minimal in the fourth quarter of 2011 as problems with electricity and water supply and sewage continued to slow the pace of supply, according to a recent report by Asteco.
The residential and commercial market was stagnant for the second half of 2011 and is expected to remain unchanged due a lack of new supply.
"Transaction activity has been limited throughout the year for both the office and residential market as completed buildings stood empty due to a lack of utility connections and inadequate sewage in Sharjah, Ajman, RAK and Fujairah," says the report.

Israeli threat prompts Saudi banks to act -

Banks in Saudi Arabia began implementing tight security measures after Israel threatened to retaliate against a credit card attack by a Saudi hacker.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon compared the hacking -- which exposed credit card information of thousands of Israeli card-holders -- to a terrorist operation and vowed that no Saudi entity would be exempt from any retaliation by Israel, al-Arabiya reported Monday.

Because of Ayalon's comments, several Saudi banks began to increase security on their transactions and stepped up monitoring of their Web sites Saturday, officials told the Arabic-language news network.

Qatar's challenge: Manage its many riches – Business 360 - Blogs

From its humble origins with few natural resources, Qatar found vast hydrocarbon wealth - oil in the 1940s, natural gas in the 1970s.

In 2008, at the height of the global financial and economic crisis, Qatar launched its 2030 National Vision - to invest its hydrocarbon wealth wisely, diversify its economy and to develop an advanced society with high standard of living for all its citizens.

With an abundance of riches, Qatar’s development is all about laying solid foundations and avoiding the pitfalls of unmanaged growth.

Kuwait's Alshaya rescues 60 La Senza UK stores | Reuters

Kuwaiti retailer Alshaya has bought 60 La Senza UK stores, rescuing about 1,100 jobs, from the administrators of the stricken lingerie chain.

Alshaya bought the shops and UK brand in a so-called pre-pack deal after KPMG was appointed administrator to the company on Monday.

Another 84 stores and 18 concessions had closed, the administrators said, resulting in about 1,300 job losses.

gulfnews : Emirates NBD aims for 4% sukuk yield

Emirates NBD, majority-owned by the Dubai government, may attract funds to the emirate's first sukuk sale by a bank since 2007, with debt priced at a 150 basis-point discount to the government's Islamic bond.
The lender's Sharia-compliant unit is likely to attract investors with returns as low as 275 basis points above midswaps, or about 4 per cent, Albaraka Banking Group said. The yield on the Dubai government's non-rated 6.396 per cent sukuk maturing November 2014 was at 5.62 per cent at 12.06pm in Dubai. Emirates NBD, rated A3 by Moody's Investors Service, the seventh-highest investment grade, may report a 19 per cent gain in 2011 profit, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
"Our tentative expectation for the sukuk's initial price guidance is in the area of 4 per cent and 4.25 per cent," Malek Khodr Temsah, Albaraka's assistant vice president of treasury and investment, wrote in a January 5 email.

CME to Raise Stake in Dubai Mercantile Exchange, Sharaf Says - Bloomberg

CME Group Inc. (CME), the world’s largest futures exchange owner, is set to increase its holding in the Dubai Mercantile Exchange, according to Ahmad Sharaf, chairman of that Persian Gulf oil bourse.
The DME plans to raise money by offering more shares to existing investors this year, Sharaf said while attending a conference in Abu Dhabi today. The current roster of shareholders, which includes CME, a Dubai investment fund and the state of Oman, will remain the same, with only the size of their stakes changing, he said.
“The CME wants to expand its presence in the DME,” Sharaf said. He declined to give details on the timing or the size of the capital increase.

Abu Dhabi May Rescue More Developers After $9.8 Billion Bailout - Businessweek

Abu Dhabi, the oil-rich sheikhdom that spent 36 billion dirhams ($9.8 billion) bailing out its biggest developer in 2011, will probably reach for its checkbook again as property companies in the United Arab Emirates face a stalled market and deadlines to repay debt.

“It’s fair to think of Abu Dhabi as a backstop in a worst- case scenario, because a big default would be too tough of an option now and would damage confidence,” said Saud Masud, an analyst at Dubai-based Rasmala Investment Bank Ltd. “A real- estate recovery could take a long time, even if the bottom was hit in the next 12 months.”

Abu Dhabi, holder of 7 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves, contributed to a $20 billion financial rescue of neighboring Dubai in 2009 and bailed out developer Aldar PJSC twice last year. While the sheikhdom’s cash will help property companies stay solvent, many will struggle to revive profit as Dubai’s real-estate slump stretches into its fourth year and Abu Dhabi puts large parts of its redevelopment plan on hold.

gulfnews : Mass sell-off by foreigners hit Abu Dhabi market hard

Foreign investors rushed to offload shares worth millions of dirhams in Abu Dhabi last year as trading volumes tumbled and global economic woes took their toll on the city's benchmark stock exchange, a report has shown.
The statistics, due to be released next week but seen by Gulf News, show that the mass selloff by foreigners, amounting to Dh339 million, was reflected in a significant drop on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX), which lost 11.6 per cent during the calendar year. Furthermore, foreign investors bought shares worth only Dh60 million in 2011, suggesting a major lack of confidence in the capital's bourse.
Liquidity levels have been a concern for some time on UAE markets with many investors taking their cash out of risky equities and looking to reinvest it in relatively safe havens such as government bonds or gold. Last month, index compiler MSCI once again snubbed the country for an emerging market upgrade, a move that would likely have bolstered capital inflows from abroad.

Iraq reveals income from oil and gas -

Iraq disclosed it earned $41bn from oil and gas exports in 2009, in a move designed to increase transparency in its energy sector. But critics said Monday’s disclosures did not go far enough, and urged the Iraqi oil ministry to fulfil a longstanding promise to publish its contracts with foreign oil companies.
Iraq revealed the details of its export earnings under the extractive industries transparency initiative, or EITI, a global public-private coalition that pushes for fuller disclosure of transactions between companies and governments.

To be compliant with the EITI, a country has to reconcile what companies say they pay in taxes, royalties and signature bonuses with what governments say they have received.

Worst performing MENA stocks - Zawya

 The Middle East North Africa markets lost more than USD100-billion in 2011, according to Zawya's market analysis tool.

Gulf markets alone lost USD52-billion, despite significant revenues generated by high crude prices during 2011, which kept the economies in great shape.

The Gulf states also benefited from economic packages unveiled by virtually all the six GCC states, but investors were more concerned about Arab Spring, geopolitical tensions, slow growth in the U.S. and a sovereign debt crisis in Europe to pay to much attention to domestic stimulus.