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Wednesday, 18 January 2012

FEATURE-Shoppers may be more cautious at Dubai festival | Reuters

The rich economies of the Gulf are growing strongly but amid a mammoth array of discounts, raffles and promotions at this year's Dubai Shopping Festival, there are signs that consumers are becoming more value-conscious and thinking twice about spending after months of instability in the global economy.

Daily light shows and fireworks along the Dubai Creek, night souks (markets) extending until after midnight , lotteries to win 19 kilos (42 pounds) of gold, and hotel promotions are features of the 32-day long festival for shopaholics.

Now in its 17th edition, the festival started off in 1996 as a government initiative to promote retail sales and trade.

Barclays Middle East head says Dubai chequebook still open | Reuters

Barclays Plc (BARC.L) is willing to extend financing to the debt-laden Dubai government if required and expects the emirate to support state entities in meeting their debt obligations this year, the British lender's regional head John Vitalo said.

His comments come at an important time for Dubai, which has restructured some $41 billion (26 billion pounds) debt in the last two years but which still faces refinancing risks related to three of its state-linked entities in 2012 amid a tightening global bank lending environment.

"We have a level of balance sheet to support Dubai Inc among other clients. We're committed to Dubai and the UAE but every credit decision has to stand up to its merits," Vitalo, Barclays' chief executive officer for the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region, said in an interview.

Aluminium Bahrain says sales up despite tough year | Agricultural Commodities | Reuters

Sales at Aluminium Bahrain (Alba), which owns the world's fourth-largest aluminum smelter, grew 1.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011 despite a challenging year, the company said on Wednesday.

Bahrain was rocked by months of anti-government protests which began in February. The government's martial law, imposed in March, was lifted on June 1.

Alba said sales were 227,042 tonnes in the fourth quarter, up from 224,054 tonnes in the same period a year earlier.

Qatari bank eyes majority stake in Moroccan lender - Sacramento Bee

Qatar National Bank says is planning to buy a majority stake in Morocco-based lender Union Marocaine des Banques as it looks to expand its presence in Africa.

State-backed QNB said Wednesday the deal must still be approved by the UMB's board and regulators.

Financial details weren't provided.

UPDATE 1-Qatar Islamic Bank Q4 earnings slip 33 pct, miss views | Reuters

Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) , the Gulf state's second largest lender by market value, posted a 32.6 percent dip in fourth-quarter net profit on Wednesday, missing analysts' forecasts.

QIB made a net profit of 265 million riyals ($72.8 million), according to Reuters calculations, compared with 393 million riyals a year earlier and below analysts' average forecast of 394.2 million riyals.

The bank posted a full-year net profit of 1.37 billion riyals, an 8 percent increase over its 2010 profit due to growth in investment income, which climbed 631 million riyals, a statement said.

Kuwait Spent $11 Billion on Projects in 2010-11, KUNA Reports - Bloomberg

Kuwait spent 3.19 billion dinars ($11.4 billion) in the 2010-11 fiscal year on projects for a four-year development plan, KUNA reported, citing Adel al- Wuqayan, secretary-general of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development.
Spending came to almost 62% of the amount originally allocated under the plan for that year, the state-run news service said. Most of the money was assigned to energy projects, followed by infrastructure investment, al-Wuqayan told KUNA.
Kuwait wants investors to meet almost half the cost of its $110 billion development plan to modernize the oil-based economy. The investments include increasing oil and gas production, construction of a metro and rail network, the expansion of the airport, new power stations, cities, hospitals, roads and a port on Boubyan Island.

Union Properties of Dubai builds on debt deal with banks - The National

Union Properties climbed the most in nine months after reaching a debt agreement with banks, leading gains among property developers on local markets.

The Dubai-based developer rose 12.2 per cent to 26.5 fils each, at one point reaching the highest intraday gain for the shares since April.

Union Properties said it had agreed to settle Dh1.1bn owed to its largest shareholder, Emirates NBD, in exchange for a transfer of a significant stake in Index Tower and Limestone House, two of the company's highest profile real estate assets.

Abu Dhabi Shares Jump Most Since 2009 on Bets Drop Overdone - Businessweek

Abu Dhabi shares jumped the most in more than two years amid speculation losses this month, prompted by investor concern that Dana Gas PJSC may struggle to repay debt, were overdone and as oil prices rose.

Dana Gas surged the most since 2009 after the company, which has a $1 billion Islamic bond maturing in October, said it will honor debt payments. Sorouh Real Estate Co. rallied 7.3 percent. The ADX General Index jumped 1.7 percent, the most December 2009, to 2,332.72 at the 2 p.m. close in Abu Dhabi. Before today, the measure had lost 4.6 percent in January. Dubai’s DFM General Index rose 1.6 percent as Union Properties PJSC surged.

This year’s decline left the 67 companies in Abu Dhabi’s benchmark gauge valued at an average 7.3 times estimated earnings, compared with 9.9 times for the MSCI Emerging Markets Index. Abu Dhabi’s measure is valued at about 1 times net assets, or book value, while emerging markets stocks are valued at 1.6 times. The MSCI gauge rose to the highest since November.

Beltone chairman to sell stake: Egypt bourse | Reuters

The chairman of Beltone Financial has agreed to sell his 20 percent stake in the Egyptian investment bank to Arabiyya Lel Estithmaraat (AIC), the stock exchange said on Wednesday.

"It was agreed that AIC will buy 20 percent of the company's (Beltone) shares owned by the chairman," the bourse said in a statement. AIC is an Egyptian investment firm.

AIC said in an emailed statement that it paid 16 pounds per share, which would value the sale at 26.8 million Egyptian pounds.

gulfnews : DFM awaits cues that can create positive sentiment

The stock market ticker displays the latest share price movements but nobody is interested.
There is little sign of life around the Dubai Financial Market (DFM), except for a handful of Emiratis sitting on black armchairs occasionally glancing at data on laptop computers and placing orders with one of the few remaining brokerages.
Lethargy and frustration permeate the air. This is a long way from the stereo-typical trading environment portrayed in movies such as Wall Street and Rogue Trader.

Struggling brokerages get reprieve on licences - The National

The UAE market regulator has given brokerages an extra month to renew their licences as the crisis in the industry deepens.

Depressed markets and dwindling volumes forced 46 brokerages out of business last year. Now the Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) is offering a period of grace for licence renewals as companies decide whether to continue trading or close.

"Many brokerages have not had their paperwork ready for submittal ahead of the Dec. 31 deadline as they assess whether to continue their operations in the current environment," an SCA statement said.

Clear message from a more powerful Dubai court - The National

Mark Beer is the registrar of the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts. Here he gives his view of the increased powers that DIFC Courts was granted in October.

q&a

q: DIFC Courts has announced its first resolution of a non-DIFC case since the jurisdiction extension announcement. What is the significance of this?

a: The first case under the new law was a significant milestone for the DIFC Courts. We believe that the jurisdiction extension was in itself one of the most important developments in regional justice for some years.

Saudi Basic Fourth-Quarter Profit Drops 10% on Pricing, Misses Estimates - Bloomberg

Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC), the world’s biggest petrochemicals maker, said fourth-quarter profit dropped 10 percent, missing analysts’ estimates.
Net income fell to 5.24 billion riyals ($1.4 billion) from 5.81 billion riyals a year earlier, the Riyadh-based company known as Sabic said in a statement today. The mean estimate of seven analysts was for a profit of 7.56 billion riyals, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The decline was “mainly driven by a lower pricing environment in global markets for most of the products, despite an increase in sales volumes,” the company said in the statement. Kayan Petrochemical Co., a Sabic unit, said its fourth-quarter loss widened, while Yanbu National Petrochemicals Co. (YANSAB), another unit, reported fourth-quarter profit that missed estimates.

Dubai developer Emaar propels DFM higher - The National

Shares on the Dubai Financial Market (DFM) rose yesterday, led by Emaar Properties, amid earnings optimism as investors speculated that the region's largest developer would deliver strong fourth-quarter results.

Emaarrose 0.8 per cent to Dh2.43. A consensus estimate of analysts polled by Reuters expects the Dubai developer to report a 73.9 per cent rise in quarterly profit to Dh475.6 million. Emaar reported a net profit of Dh273.4m in the corresponding period a year earlier. The DFM General Index rose 0.7 per cent to 1,310.40.

"Emaar remains one of the top picks for investors as they see sustainable business and solid earning quality," said Tariq Qaqish, a senior fund manager at Al Mal Capital. On the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX), Dana Gas was unchanged at 34 fils after the UAE gas explorer and producer said it would honour obligations related to a US$1 billion sukuk due in October.

Abu Dhabi Capital Management to list new Middle East-focused fund on AIM | Hedgeweek

Qannas Investments Limited is to apply for the admission of its shares to trading on AIM, a market of the London Stock Exchange Plc and to proceed with an initial offering by way of a placing of its ordinary shares to institutional and other investors.

The Company will take the form of a newly-established, closed-ended investment company incorporated in Jersey and regulated by the Jersey Financial Services Commission. Abu Dhabi Capital Management (ADCM), an alternative investment management firm based in Abu Dhabi, will act as investment manager to the Company.

Qannas will seek to generate a target IRR of at least 20 per cent by investing in a diversified portfolio of undervalued equity and debt investments, with a focus on the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

Hackers attack Arab stock markets - FT.com

Israeli hackers claim to have opened a new front in the escalating cyber war with their Arab rivals, by launching an attack on the websites of stock markets in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.
The attack, carried out by a group calling itself IDF Team, came in reply to a similar hacking assault on Monday that targeted the websites of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and of El Al, the Israeli national airline. Several Israeli bank websites were also affected.

Egypt: resilient tourists wanted | beyondbrics – FT.com

Just under a year ago, Vladimir Putin quipped about the resilience of his people noting that Russian tourists continued to head for Egypt even as revolutionary turmoil gripped the country and other foreign nationals fled.

Putin understands how to talk his people up. However, do the numbers bear him out? And how is Egyptian tourism faring?

It has been almost non-stop political turbulence for Egypt since the revoltion which ousted Hosni Mubarak as president last year. Throughout, however, Russian tourists have continued to visit. Figures published this week show that 1.8m Russians came to Egypt in 2011, making them the country’s top visitors followed by the British and the Germans.

China and UAE agree currency swap | beyondbrics – FT.com

The United Arab Emirates has become the latest country with which China has signed a currency swap agreement, worth 35bn yuan ($5.5bn), aimed at promoting bilateral trade and that could boost the renminbi’s role in the Middle East.

The agreement will be effective for three years, Reuters reports, and was announced by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) during Chinese premier Wen Jiabao’s regional tour amid efforts to secure key energy supplies.

The agreement is aimed at “strengthening bilateral financial cooperation, promoting trade and investments, and jointly safeguarding regional financial stability,” the Chinese central bank said according to Reuters.