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Thursday, 2 February 2012

French Rafale UAE deal back on-report | Reuters

France could seal a long-awaited deal for Dassault to sell at least 60 Rafale fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates by April, turning around what appeared to have been a lost cause, French newspaper La Tribune reported on Thursday.

The French-built jet emerged on Tuesday as preferred bidder in a $15 billion contest to supply India with 126 warplanes, lifting hopes for a sale that would boost French national pride and restore the lustre of its aviation sector.

Citing unidentified sources, the paper said on its website that President Nicolas Sarkozy would go to the UAE in March or early April when the contract is likely to be finalised.

World Bank and Cairo in talks on $1bn loan - FT.com

The World Bank has announced that it will open discussions with Egypt on a $1bn loan after receiving a request from Cairo for the funds.
The loan, for budget support, will be finalised after an International Monetary Fund program is in place.
Egypt opened talks last month with the IMF for a $3.2bn standby facility to shore up its finances, which have been severely undermined by political turmoil over the past year.

UAE’s NBAD cautiously optimistic on 2012 growth: CEO

National Bank of Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates’ largest lender by market value, expects slower loan and deposit growth this year with its overseas performance “tempered a bit” by Arab political unrest, its chief executive said on Thursday.

Michael Tomalin said the lender, whose fourth-quarter earnings fell shy of expectations this week, said the outlook for this year was solid.

“For 2012, we are cautiously optimistic. We will see strong growth in our wealth and private banking business and good growth in Islamic banking,” he said in a telephone interview.

gulfnews : Mubadala aims to deliver first UAE plane in 2019

Mubadala Aerospace, a business unit of the Abu Dhabi-based Mubadala Development Company, is gearing to roll out the first UAE-manuctured aircraft by 2019, according to a senior company executive.
"We will be able to build a jet in the UAE over the next 9-10 years — 2019 is what we have set ourselves as a target. We have to build up to it gradually as we establish the MRO [maintenance, repair and overhaul] and make it globally competitive," Abdullah Shadid, chief commercial officer, Mubadala Aerospace MRO network, told Gulf News on the sidelines of the recently held MRO Middle East 2012 event.
Shadid added that Mub-adala is trying to make aerospace over the next decade "one of the most important drivers" for Abu Dhabi's economy.

Qatar: Investors ‘keen in Nepal’s energy, tourism sectors’ | Al Bawaba

New trade and investment agreements between Qatar and Nepal will allow investors to explore the “abundant potential for promoting bilateral trade, tourism and foreign direct investment,” according to the Nepalese ambassador to Qatar.

Surya Nath Mishra told Gulf Times that the Government of Qatar has sent a draft agreement on investment promotion and protection to Nepal, which is currently under consideration. Mishra believes that this important agreement, as well as an agreement with the Hassad Food Company, will be signed at the next meeting between the two heads of state.

MENA stock markets close - February 2, 2012

ExchangeStatus IndexChange
TASI (Saudi Stock Market)
6663.480.57%
DFM (Dubai Financial Market)
1435.96-1.21%
ADX (Abudhabi Securities Exchange)
2476.620.43%
KSE (Kuwait Stock Exchange)
5856.4-0.22%
BSE (Bahrain Stock Exchange)
1136.59-0.02%
MSM (Muscat Securities Market)
5564.090.06%
QE (Qatar Exchange)
8636.370.77%
LSE (Beirut Stock Exchange)
1166.20.02%
EGX 30 (Egypt Exchange)
4584.39-2.22%
ASE (Amman Stock Exchange)
1945-0.30%
TUNINDEX (Tunisia Stock Exchange)
4722.610.27%
CB (Casablanca Stock Exchange)
11266.20.42%
PSE (Palestine Securities Exchange)
479.190.26%

UAE, Qatar stop trade finance to Iran over sanctions | Reuters

The central banks of UAE and Qatar have told lenders to stop financing trade with Iran, bankers said on Thursday, cutting another source of credit for a country struggling under Western economic sanctions imposed over its nuclear programme.

The Gulf has a long history of trade with Iran, especially in Dubai where there is a large Iranian trading community, and Gulf banks had been expected to fill a funding gap for the import of grains left by European lenders banned from financing trade by EU sanctions.

"Banks in Dubai were asked by the UAE central bank to stop issuing letters of credit to finance trade with Iran. Before the sanctions, the central bank regularly checked on trading with Iran and wanted to know of all dealings between the two countries," said a Dubai-based banker active in trade financing.

Qatar Plans LNG Shutdown If Hormuz Closed - NASDAQ.com

Qatar, the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, is drawing up a contingency plan to close down its vast LNG facilities in an emergency, if Iran carries out recent threats to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a senior oil official in the emirate said Thursday.

The plan involves examining what would be required if Qatar had to perform a complete and rapid shutdown of the country's 14 liquefaction plants in the northern industrial zone of Ras Laffan, said the official, who requested anonymity.

Qatar has no alternative export routes for its LNG in the event of a blockade of the Strait of Hormuz, through which one-fifth of the world's traded crude passes.

Persian Gulf Stocks: Mashreqbank of U.A.E., Union Properties - Bloomberg

Dubai’s benchmark DFM General Index (DFMGI) declined 1.2 percent, the most since Dec. 21, to 1,435.96 at the 2 p.m. close in the emirate, trimming this week’s gain to 2.1 percent.
The following shares were active in the Persian Gulf region. Stock symbols are in parentheses.
Mashreqbank PSC (MASQ) dropped 9.9 percent, the most in more than a year, to 91.45 dirhams. The United Arab Emirates bank controlled by the Al Ghurair family had a 59 percent slump in fourth-quarter profit to 63.6 million dirhams ($17 million), according to Bloomberg calculations based on full-year data.
Union Properties PJSC (UPP) tumbled 9.8 percent, the most since January 2010, to 28.4 fils. The Dubai-based real- estate developer said the full-year net loss widened to 1.57 billion dirhams) from 1.53 billion dirhams a year earlier.

Dubai’s Jafza, DIFC may need state help to pay debt - Banking & Finance - ArabianBusiness.com

Jebel Ali Free Zone, a business park owned by Dubai World, and DIFC Investments may need government help to meet a combined $3.25bn in debt obligations due this year, Exotix said.
DIFC Investments may require as much as $983m from the government to repay its $1.25bn bond maturing in June, the investment bank said in an emailed report Thursday.
“We believe that this government support will be forthcoming and that DIFC has options to alleviate this large funding gap.”

Dubai Shares Drop Most in More Than a Month as UPP Declines - Bloomberg

Dubai’s benchmark stock index fell the most in more than a month amid speculation this week’s gain was overdone and after real-estate developer Union Properties PJSC (UPP) said its full-year loss widened.
Union Properties slumped 9.8 percent, the most since January 2010. Dubai Islamic Bank PJSC (DIB), the United Arab Emirates’ biggest lender complying with Shariah rules, dropped the most since April 2010. The DFM General Index (DFMGI) fell from a four-month high, declining 1.2 percent to 1,435.96 at the 2 p.m. close in the emirate, trimming this week’s gain to 2.1 percent. The Bloomberg GCC 200 Index rose 0.2 percent.
“A combination of profit-taking and disappointing results of Union Properties is dragging the market,” said Tariq Qaqish, deputy head of asset management at Dubai-based Al Mal Capital. Dubai’s index has rallied 6.1 percent this year.

Egyptian equities: new questions | beyondbrics – FT.com

After losing half their value last year, Egyptian equities have soared in 2012. They ranked top among EMs in January, buoyed by the peaceful outcome of demonstrations on the first anniversary of the anti-Mubarak uprising.

But after Wednesday’s shocking soccer riots, which left 74 dead, the benchmark EGX 30 dropped as much as 4.6 per cent on Thursday. Could the violence halt Egypt nascent recovery? Citigroup is optimistic that it won’t.

Middle East equity strategist Hasnain Malik said Egyptian equities had reacted to Wednesday’s soccer riots – but argued the country’s political risks have already peaked. Indeed, a strong response by authorities to secure law and order could reassure investors.

Kuwait: political infighting delays economic development | beyondbrics – FT.com

As Kuwaitis went to the polls on Thursday, in the fourth parliamentary elections since 2006, they had little hope of an end to the political bickering which has persistently held back the economy of the oil-rich Gulf state.

While the opposition is set to gain seats, increasing the pressure on the government for change, the result isn’t expected to produce a breakthrough. Kuwaitis face more of the same in economic terms – a general failure to keep pace in GDP growth with other Gulf oil states or to modernise at the same pace.

The poll follows months of unprecedented anti-government protests triggered by Arab spring demonstrations in other Middle East countries and by corruption allegations against Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah, who quit as prime minister in November.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Egypt index dips after deadly soccer violence - Yahoo!

Egypt's main index drops 2.2 percent
after 74 people were killed in violence at a soccer stadium, a
fresh setback for a country struggling with weak security a year
after its president was overthrown.
The index regains some of its lost ground after having
fallen more than 4 percent at the open, with traders saying
increases in Mobinil and its parent company Orascom
Telecom Media and Technology helped compensate for the
earlier declines.
"The market is in a panic after what happened yesterday,"
says Omar Darwish of brokerage CIBC.

Saudi Arabia may seek IMF sway in exchange for riches - Politics & Economics - ArabianBusiness.com

Saudi Arabia, which has more than $500bn in foreign assets, may demand a greater share of voting rights at the International Monetary Fund in exchange for providing the lender with more money.
Saudi Arabia’s reserve position at the Washington-based fund more than doubled to SR18.2bn ($4.9bn) last year from SR7.4bn in 2010, according to Saudi central bank data. In 2007, it had a SR2.7bn position with the IMF, the data showed. The cost to insure Saudi debt on Jan 31 was less than half the Middle East sovereign average, according to data provider CMA.
The IMF’s Managing Director Christine Lagarde, who visits the kingdom’s capital on Feb 4, has urged members states to contribute $500bn in new lending resources to avoid a 1930s-style global depression. Saudi Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf last week said that the world’s top oil exporter may be willing to raise its contribution to the fund.

UPDATE 1-Dubai's Aramex Q4 profit up; warns of uncertain outlook | News by Country | Reuters

Dubai's Aramex on Thursday warned of an uncertain outlook for the logistics firm in 2012 due to unrest in the Middle East and worries over the global economy, as it reported a 4 percent rise in quarterly profit.

Aramex made a net profit of 57.2 million dirhams ($15.57 million) in the fourth quarter, up from 55 million dirhams in the corresponding period in 2010, the company said in a statement to the Dubai bourse.

Revenue for the quarter reached 682 million dirhams, up 18 percent from 580 million dirhams in the prior-year period.

Dubai Islamic 2011 net profit rises 25 pct | Reuters

Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB), Dubai's largest sharia-compliant bank by assets, posted a 25 percent rise in 2011 net profit, the lender said in a statement on Thursday.

The bank posted a 2011 net profit of 1.01 billion dirams from 806 million dirhams for the year-ago period. It also proposed a 15 percent cash dividend to shareholders for 2011.

Dubai’s Union Properties Falls Most in 6 Months as Developer’s Loss Widens - Bloomberg

Union Properties PJSC (UPP) dropped the most in six months after the Dubai-based real-estate developer said its full-year loss widened.
The shares fell 7.9 percent, the most since Aug. 7, to 29 fils at 10:11 a.m. in Dubai.
The loss was 1.57 billion dirhams ($427 million) compared with 1.53 billion dirhams a year earlier. Total assets declined to 9.1 billion dirhams at the end of last year from 14.9 billion dirhams a year earlier.

Egypt stocks index tumbles 4.6 pct after violence | Reuters

Egypt's benchmark share index tumbled 4.6 percent in early trade on Thursday after soccer stadium violence the night before left 74 people dead.

Trading on a number of stocks was temporarily suspended after their share prices fell by the maximum 5 percent, including Orascom Telecom, Palm Hills and Ezz Steel.

Egypt to sell land to citizens abroad to get cash | Reuters

Egypt's cash-strapped government has approved a plan to raise $3 billion by selling state land to Egyptians living abroad, a government minister told reporters on Wednesday.

Faiza Abu el-Naga, Egypt's minister for planning and international cooperation, said buyers would be required to pay for the land in dollars.

A year of political and economic turmoil has widened the country's budget and balance of payments deficits and halved its foreign reserves to $18 billion.

Consumers will act badly until debt laws are reformed - The National

Defaulting on personal debt is a criminal offence in the UAE, a fact most recently evidenced in the pardon of almost 7,000 Emiratis by the president, Sheikh Khalifa. Their debts, amounting to a hefty Dh2 billion, will now be paid by the government.

This was undoubtedly an act of generosity by the UAE's leader. But it was also a potent reminder of just how outdated this country's debt laws are.

The current practice of obtaining loans or credit cards by posting a cheque as collateral with the issuing bank is highly inefficient because it doesn't take into account the consumer's creditworthiness in determining how much debt he or she can handle. If the consumer defaults, the bank can use the cheque to transform the case into a criminal matter.

gulfnews : MAF Holding raises $400m through sukuk

Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) Holding LLC, sole franchisee of hypermarket chain Carrefour in the Gulf and operator of malls and hotels across the Middle East, raised $400 million (Dh1.47 billion) with its maiden sukuk (Islamic bonds).
The five-year sukuk was raised at 5.85 per cent. Majid Al Futtaim is rated the second-lowest investment grade of BBB by Standard & Poor's.
Considering the fact that the company is a non-government issuer tapping the sukuk market for the first time, analysts said the pricing is competitive.

Saudi gold miner adds shine of different hue - The National

The Saudi mining company Ma'aden yesterday started operations at its Ras Al Khair plant to produce diammonium phosphate.

The US$5.6 billion phosphate project is fully operational and the plant, which is 90km north of Jubail in the Eastern Province, will gradually increase its production to its designed capacity of 3 million tonnes a year, the state-run producer said in a filing to the Saudi bourse yesterday.

Ma'aden went public in 2008, raising 10.5bn Saudi riyals to start two projects: a phosphate joint venture with Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic), the world's largest petrochemicals maker; and an aluminium joint venture with Alcoa.

Dubai advertising agency Flip Media attracts Publicis - The National

One of the world's largest advertising groups has bought the digital-media agency Flip Media, which is based in Dubai.

The Paris-listed Publicis Group, which controls advertising agencies such as Leo Burnett and Saatchi & Saatchi, has been in discussions with Flip Media since last year. Yousef Tuqan, the chief executive of Flip Media, said the deal sent "a statement to the industry".

"It shows that global brands see the value of digital in the region," said Mr Tuqan. "We've had numerous approaches over the years, being quite a visible agency in the region. The real challenge was finding the right partner."

Waha plans oil and gas sector move - The National

Waha Capital plans to switch focus to the oil and gas services sector after fourth-quarter profits fell by almost half.

Abu Dhabi's Waha, which is best known for its aircraft leasing business, is aiming to acquire further assets in the hydrocarbons services sector.

"One of the sectors we're very interested in is the oil and gas support service sector, mainly focusing on the offshore support vessel space," said Salem Al Noaimi, Waha's chief executive. "We have specific targets, [we are] looking at three or four opportunities."

CIA chief says appears Saudi oil ramping up | Reuters

Saudi Arabia's oil production appears to be "ramping up" and can fill some of the demand shortfalls caused by sanctions on Iranian exports, CIA Director David Petraeus said on Tuesday.

Sanctions on Iran oil imports appear to be biting much more in recent weeks, he said at a Senate intelligence committee hearing.

China has reduced its imports of Iranian oil and "it remains to be seen whether that continues. It appears that Saudi Arabian production is ramping up and can fill some of the demand that might have been met by Iranian exports now that there are the sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran," Petraeus said.

Gulf Times – IMF urges Qatar to strengthen bank governance

In its latest Qatar country report, IMF expressed the view that the financial system would be strengthened by moving towards “international good practices” in some areas such as appointment of independent directors in bank boards.
In light of the high credit concentration of Qatari banks, the IMF has encouraged the authorities to have an in-depth diagnostic of bank governance that would highlight potential areas of improvement.
This would be particularly useful since the QCB is rewriting the central bank law - which addresses among others corporate governance issues - to make it more consistent with the single regulatory regime.

More babus, Dubai ruler’s aide chargesheeted in Emaar case - The Times of India

More IAS officers were rapped by the CBI in the Emaar scandal with the investigation agency filing its first chargesheet on Wednesday. Other than principal home secretary Bibhu Acharya, his 1983 IAS batch mate and present executive officer of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams L V Subramanyam was charged for defrauding the state and along with other accused causing losses of over Rs 500 crore.

IAS officer K V Rao (1976 batch) who took voluntary retirement a few years ago was also named in the chargesheet that was filed before the CBI special court. Others named include chairman of Emaar Properties (PJSC, Dubai) Pvt Ltd Mohammad Ali Alabbar of Dubai (who is also a senior aide of the ruler of Dubai), Emaar-MGF vice chairman Sushil Gupta of Delhi and the company's director Shrikant Joshi (who now works for Larsen & Toubro), Koneru Rajendra Prasad and Tummala Ranga Rao of Stylish Homes who catalysed the Emaar deal with the government of Andhra Pradesh.

Kuwaiti poll closely watched in Gulf - FT.com

Kuwaitis will go to the polls on Thursday, in the fourth parliamentary elections to take place in the country since 2006.
The snap election was called after protests by a group of opposition lawmakers in November forced the resignation of Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammed al-Sabah, the former Prime Minister, and will be closely watched in neighbouring countries, where the Arab Spring has reinvigorated calls for change.

Tunis flaunts its charms to attract business - FT.com

When a trio of entrepreneurs decided to launch an internet company targeting francophone north Africa, they considered basing it in Casablanca, Rabat and Algiers, as well as France and Switzerland.
But with about $500,000 in seed money, they ultimately opted for Tunisia's capital on the Mediterranean, which only a year ago was the scene of a tumultuous revolution that set off a wave of unrest across the Middle East and north Africa. They were lured by reasonable infrastructure, well-trained labour and a competitive wage environment.

Political progress boosts Egypt bourse - FT.com

A month of peaceful political developments led to cautious optimism in Egypt this January, helping the stock market become the best performing among the world’s leading exchanges so far this year.
The rally has been inspired primarily by political rather than economic events, onlookers say. But after the unprecedented violence of late 2011, when more than 50 protesters died on Cairo’s streets, many say sentiment toward the political transition is rebounding from what may eventually be seen as a long-term low.