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Thursday, 19 January 2012

UAE Central Bank hit by hackers -

Israeli hackers appeared to shut down the website of the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates on Thursday, embarrassing the bank as it played host to European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi.

The attack seemed to be the work of Israeli hackers operating under the name IDF Team. The group had announced its intention to shut down the central bank website, as well as the website of Arab Bank, one of the largest Palestinian lenders, in a message late on Wednesday.

Both sites were inaccessible on Thursday. UAE Central Bank officials brushed aside the significance of their site being compromised, saying talks with the European delegation, which included Mr Draghi and a number of ECB governors, were their top priority.

MENA stock markets close - January 19, 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 Airways Has Identified European Takeover Target, Chief Al Baker Says - Bloomberg

Qatar Airways Ltd. is examining a potential acquisition in Europe, where the carrier last year purchased a stake in freight operator Cargolux International SA, Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said today.
The Gulf region’s second-largest airline has “identified” a target or targets as it looks for takeover prospects, Al Baker said in a briefing at the Bahrain Air Show.
“We need to look at every business opportunity we can get,” Al Baker said of prospects in Europe. “I just want to make sure Qatar Airways grows in a very sustained environment.”

UPDATE 2-Vodafone Qatar Q3 net loss narrows, adds subscribers | Reuters

Vodafone Qatar reported a narrower third-quarter net loss on Thursday partly on a rise in mobile subscribers, but the results missed analysts' estimates.

The firm, an affiliate of London-listed Vodafone, made a net loss of 122 million riyals, according to Reuters calculations. This compares with a loss of 144 million riyals in the same period a year ago.

Two analysts forecast the firm, which starts its financial year on April 1, would post a quarterly loss of between 113 million and 119 million riyals, according to a Reuters survey.

Dana Gas bond gyrations show value of PR | Alrroya

The idea that "markets hate uncertainty" is a cliche, but it has proved all too correct this month for Dana Gas.

An information vacuum after a board meeting on January 4 to discuss the company's financial position, coupled with uncertainty over how the company intends to repay $920 million of a $1 billion convertible sukuk (Islamic bond) when it matures in October, caused the market to turn on the UAE energy firm.

Its share price dropped 17 per cent in three days and the sukuk price slid on Monday to 64 cents on the bid side in the secondary market, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Qatar, China to push for $12.6bn refinery

China's top energy group and its partners Qatar Petroleum and Royal Dutch Shell agreed to push ahead with plans for a $12.6 billion refinery and petrochemical complex in east China which is likely to start before similar rival facilities.

China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) said on Thursday it and its joint venture partners signed an agreement to cooperate further on the project while Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao was visiting Doha on Wednesday.

"The three parties will cooperate further to push for the implementation of the project. The investment is a major development that will deepen CNPC's cooperations with a major Middle East resource nation and an international oil company," CNPC, parent of PetroChina, said in a statement.

Moroccan gov't targets 5.5 pct annual GDP growth | Reuters

Morocco's new government aims to raise economic growth to an average 5.5 percent per year over its 2012-2016 mandate period, Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane said on Thursday.

Outlining his government's program before parliament, Benkirane also said he targets an annual inflation rate of 2 percent until end-2016.

GDP growth stood at 4.5 percent in 2010 and is expected to stand at between 4 and 5 percent in 2011.

Qatari Shares Drop to 2-Month Low After Bank Earnings Disappoint - Businessweek

Qatar’s shares tumbled to the lowest in more than two months after Qatar Islamic Bank’s full-year earnings missed analysts’ estimates.

Qatar Islamic, the Persian Gulf country’s biggest Shariah- compliant lender, slumped 2.5 percent. Doha Bank QSC fell for a sixth day after reporting 2011 profit in line with expectations. Qatar’s QE Index declined 0.6 percent to 8,504.27, the lowest intraday level since Nov. 2, at 11:45 a.m. in Doha. The measure retreated 2.3 percent this week.

“Banks earnings are weighing on the Doha bourse and disappointed some investors as Qatar Islamic missed estimates and Doha Bank was in line,” said Samer Darwiche, a Dubai-based analyst at Gulfmena Investments. “Investors were highly anticipating Qatari bank results."

Damas to establish joint venture with Tiffany & Co. -

Damas, the Middle East’s leading international jewellery and watch retailer, has announced that it has recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to establish a joint venture with Tiffany & Co., the world’s premier jeweler, to operate Tiffany & Co. retail stores in the UAE.

The proposed joint venture will be governed by a board of directors representing both Damas and Tiffany & Co. and will be initially headed by the Chairman of Damas International Limited, Ibrahim Belselah. Under the terms of the MoU, which covers all Tiffany & Co. stores in the UAE, Tiffany & Co. will manage the business operations in the UAE.

Belselah said, “The joint venture between Damas and Tiffany & Co. will demonstrate the confidence that Tiffany & Co. has placed in Damas; this being the first partnership venture of Tiffany & Co. in the world”.

Upbeat start to UAE banks earnings season - The National

The UAE's markets held steady after the first of the Emirates' banks kicked off earnings season for 2011.

Shares in InvestBank, among the Emirates' smallest lenders, rose 6.2 per cent to Dh1.70 each after the bank announced improved profits and an increased dividend.

The Sharjah-based trade finance bank reported net profits for the full year of Dh317.2m, an increase of 5.4 per cent on the same period a year earlier, while the bank's board announced a 10 per cent cash dividend and an 8.2 per cent distribution of bonus shares.

Moody's assigns Baa1 to Tamweel's $300m sukuk issuance | Alrroya

Moody's Investors Service has assigned a Baa1 senior unsecured debt rating (outlook stable) to the $300 million sukuk issuance of Tamweel Funding III Ltd (the Issuer), established in the Cayman Islands, the ratings agency said in its website.

This issuance benefits from an unconditional and irrevocable guarantee from Tamweel PJSC's majority shareholder, Dubai Islamic Bank PJSC (DIB) rated Baa1.

This issuance benefits from a specific DIB guarantee hence the Baa1 rating assigned is at the same level as the long-term local-currency and foreign-currency Issuer ratings of DIB (Baa1). The programme allows for future issuances without a DIB guarantee, which would be rated at the (Baa3) programme level.

DIFC gets its Canary Wharf style insolvency moment « ArabianMoney

In the early 90s the developers of London’s Canary Wharf, built to rival The City as a financial zone went bankrupt and the tallest building in the UK was repossessed by their bankers.

What happened this week in the Dubai International Financial Centre to its tallest building the 80-storey Index and Limestone House was less dramatic but the same in practice. Emirates NBD assumed ownership of these two flagship developments, wiping $299 million off the debts of developer Union Properties.

Gulf allies move to reap spoils of Libya war -

As the convoy of gleaming white Mercedes sedans dodges the potholes of Tripoli’s roads, the cost of Libya’s clean-up is all too apparent.

Piles of rubbish are strewn over the rubble that marks the remains of Bab al-Aziziya, the fortress compound that symbolised the all-powerful rule of Colonel Muammer Gaddafi.

Destroying the last remnants of his regime may have been the easy part: a caretaker government led by the rebel council now has to rebuild the country’s economy, and the allies that aided the insurgency are looking to reap the commercial rewards.

Taqa switches focus with unit for investing in clean energy - The National

Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, or Taqa, has broken away from its traditional focus on hydrocarbon assets by establishing a division to invest in renewable energy.

The unit, Energy Solutions, will invest in wind, solar, thermal and hydro power as well as technology-intensive oil and gas projects.

Energy Solutions has already identified a number of targets and is close to launching official bids for wind farm tenders in Morocco.

Middle East ad world is turned upside down - The National

With EU and US stagnation, the Middle East's advertising industry may have to make do with a 'flat' performance this year. But Omnicom's Elie Khouri says the Arab Spring produced more democracy, creating openings for more media and more advertising. Ben Flanagan reports:

The Arab world's advertising industry faces a tough year.

After years of stellar growth followed by a crippling recession, the US$4 billion (Dh14.6bn) industry can only hope for a period of stable spending, warns Elie Khouri, the chief executive of Omnicom Media Group in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena).

Keeping Strait Open to Get Tougher Within Decade as Iran Bolsters Forces - Bloomberg

The U.S. and its allies would be able to reverse any Iranian attempt to block oil traffic through the Strait of Hormuz within weeks, according to the authors of a report on Persian Gulf strategy. Reopening the shipping lanes may prove harder in future years, they found.
“Iran has some capabilities today, in terms of anti-ship cruise missiles, in terms of mines and swarming boats, that can create a significant problem for us,” said Mark Gunzinger, co- author of the report issued yesterday by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington. “Can we counter that challenge today? Yes. No question about it.”
Iran’s Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi said on Dec. 27 that his nation may close the Strait, the passageway for about a fifth of globally traded oil, if the U.S. and its allies impose stricter economic sanctions in an effort to halt his country’s nuclear research. Reopening the narrow channels would take as long as a month if Iran laid thousands of mines and fired at U.S. vessels with shore-based anti-ship cruise missiles and small boats, Gunzinger and colleagues said in a briefing.

UPDATE 1-Zain Saudi Arabia telco's Q4 loss narrows | Reuters

Zain Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday its fourth-quarter net loss narrowed to 461 million riyals ($122.9 million) from 521 million riyals a year earlier, beating an analyst's forecast.

The telecoms operator said the 11 percent decline in its losses was due to lower international network call charges and lower maintenance costs, in a statement it posted on the Saudi bourse website.

The company, an affiliate of Kuwait's Zain, had been forecast by one analyst polled by Reuters to post a quarterly loss of 517 million riyals.

Exclusive: Abu Dhabi investment fund targets UK waste sector - 19 Jan 2012 - News from BusinessGreen

The investment arm of Abu Dhabi's green energy company, which commands over $540m of capital, has revealed it is "very interested" in the UK waste sector.
While solar and wind energy may get the most attention, waste management technologies offer the opportunity to scale up to commercialisation more readily, Alex O'Cinneide, general manager of Masdar Capital, told BusinessGreen.
"We are very interested in the UK waste business," he said in an interview at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi. "Waste is a huge problem everywhere, [but] the UK gives us concentration of population in various different areas. The landfill tax which is making it very difficult to use landfill – correctly – means there has got to be other ways to process that waste."

VTB Capital appoints CEO for Middle-East and Africa

Makram Abboud has been appointed as CEO Middle East & Africa and Co-Head of the International Multi-Product Origination and Distribution group for VTB Capital plc. In both these roles, Makram will be responsible for the development and implementation of VTB Capital’s International Client Franchise strategy internationally and in MENA, where VTB Capital’s goal is to be one of the leading investment banks in the market.

Makram has almost 20 years experience working in senior roles in investment banking, covering both the Middle East and Emerging Markets. Prior to joining the VTB Capital team, Makram Abboud was Head of Emerging Markets at Nomura Holdings Inc.’s emerging markets team across sales and origination. Before that, Makram both developed and led the emerging market and Middle East capital market sales franchise first at UBS and then at Merrill Lynch, where he delivered exceptional growth to their respective franchises.

MENA stock markets close - January 18, 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)