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Friday, 13 January 2012

Spoils of Ben Ali regime remain elusive - FT.com

A year after Tunisia’s president fled a revolution fuelled in part by the corruption of his regime, huge amounts of the money controlled and invested by his family and allies remain out of the reach of the country’s people and new government.
Estimates of cash, equities and property belonging to Zein al-Abidine Ben Ali and his cronies range up to billions of dollars. Some of the money remains outside the country, locked in bank accounts or investments in 12 nations, including the UK, US and France, where they are being pursued by a top lawyer.

Do We Even Need the Strait of Hormuz? - Atlantic Mobile

Following scattered attempts at relieving tension between Iran and the U.S., including statements from Iranian officials downplaying the possibility of action in the Persian Gulf, the Iranian Navy announced last week that it would again hold military exercises in the Strait of Hormuz, through which 20% of the world's oil passes.

That same day, Ali Fadavi, the commander of Iran's Naval Revolutionary Guards, suggested to Iranian state media that the world could not persevere even 24 hours without the Strait of Hormuz. Though Fadavi's statement is a blatant exaggeration -- a sudden loss of 20% of the global oil supply would be a severe economic shock, but the world would keep spinning -- it does a raise a key question: Are there viable alternatives to the Strait of Hormuz?

Hormuz, the only exit from the Persian Gulf, lies between Iran on the northern side and Oman on the southern. Almost 17 million barrels of oil pass through it daily, and five of the world's largest oil producers -- Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates -- are largely or wholly dependent on it, as is Qatar, the world's leading exporter of liquefied natural gas.

Guest post: is Saudi Arabia’s dominance of global oil markets coming to an end? | beyondbrics – FT.com

From a petroleum perspective, 2011 appears to have been a fantastic year for Saudi Arabia. The country’s oil production soared to over 10m bpd, piling up cash reserves and reducing government debt. Proud holder of the world’s largest proven oil reserves, highest exports, and most spare capacity, Saudi Arabia seems guaranteed the pre-eminent position in world oil markets that it has held for decades.

Yet throughout the past year, threats to the Kingdom’s power intensified. Disruptions in Libyan production cast doubt on Saudi Arabia’s spare-capacity reserves. Fractious OPEC meetings highlighted the Saudis’ increasing tensions with nuclear-armed Iran. Arab Spring uprisings stirred emotions among restive Saudi youth.

Kuwait eyes $1.5 billion London property deal | Reuters

German fund KanAm is in talks with the real estate arm of Kuwait about the sale of a 1 billion pound portfolio of four London properties that includes Deutsche Bank's (DBKGn.DE) UK base, a source close to the matter told Reuters.

The sale by the German open-ended fund includes buildings occupied by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and Thomson Reuters (TRI.TO), underlining the strength of London's safe-haven appeal for real estate investors.

Kuwait's St Martins property investment company has carried out detailed due diligence on the portfolio, in addition to Malaysian investment fund Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB), the source told Reuters.

Qatar National Bank nearing to buy Denizbank-paper | Reuters

Qatar National Bank (QNB) reached the final stage of talks to buy Denizbank , Franco-Belgian bank Dexia's Turkish unit, Star newspaper reported on Friday without giving a source.

No-one at Denizbank could immediately be reached for comment.

Denizbank said on Jan. 10 its sale process was continuing, a day after a person familiar with the matter said HSBC Holdings had pulled out of the bidding to buy it.

Oman Oil Production Rose 7% to 894,664 Barrels a Day in December - Bloomberg

Oman’s oil and condensate production totaled 894,664 barrels a day in December, up 7 percent from the previous month, with 85 percent being exported, the oil and gas ministry said in a monthly report.
China bought 50 percent of the exports, Japan purchased 11 percent and South Korea took 9 percent, according to the report.

Nakheel may need state pledge to raise new debt - ArabianBusiness.com

Nakheel, the Dubai developer that wrote down $21bn of its assets, may struggle to raise debt without a state pledge to back its first fundraising since the emirate’s property crash, analysts say.
The builder of islands shaped like palm fronds off Dubai’s coast is in talks with banks to raise at least AED300m ($82m) for a retail project on Palm Jumeirah, chairman Ali Rashed Lootah told reporters on Wednesday.
This is both Nakheel’s first project and attempt to sell debt since a 2009 restructuring.

Greek official: UAE show interest in state assets - Boston.com

Greece's deputy prime minister says investors from the United Arab Emirates have shown interest in the debt-crippled country's massive state asset sale program, during a joint economic forum near Athens.

Theodore Pangalos said Thursday that potential investors are focusing on real estate deals, which are expected to account for about half of the euro50 billion ($63.7 billion) program. So far, Greece has only raised euro1.56 billion ($1.99 billion).

Pangalos said Greece planned to hold another economic forum this month with Qatar, which was involved in so-far fruitless talks to develop a large former airport site in southern Athens.

Assets up for sale this year will include gas, refinery and mining companies, land on the islands of Rhodes and Corfu, a northern highway, 39 airports and 12 harbors.

gulfnews : Sukuk sales may hit $44b

Sales of Islamic bonds may rise to $44 billion this year as demand outstrips supply and as Asian and Middle East investors tap the market complying with Islamic banking rulings, HSBC Holdings Plc said.
Companies and governments are tapping the Islamic bond market as borrowing costs decline amid rising investor demand. Global sales of sukuk, which pay asset returns to comply with Islam's ban on interest, rose to $10.7 billion this year from $125 million in the same period in 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Offerings reached $26.5 billion last year, the second-best annual total after $31 billion in 2007. Tamweel PJSC plans to raise $300 million.

RAIL TRAFFIC PLUMMETS -9.3% TO START 2012 | PRAGMATIC CAPITALISM