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Tuesday, 7 February 2012

UPDATE 1-Omantel Q4 net profit up 10 pct as subscriber base grows | Reuters

Oman Telecommunications Co (Omantel) on Tueday reported a 10.3 percent rise in fourth-quarter net profit, beating forecasts as the majority state-owned operator's subscriber base grew.

The former monopoly made a net profit of 30.1 million rials ($78.2 million) in the quarter, compared with a profit of 27.3 million rials in the same period a year ago, it said in an emailed statement.

Two analysts polled by Reuters forecast the firm would post a quarterly profit of between 26.6 million and 30 million rials.

WAM | DGCX January 2012 volumes jump 95% from 2011

Dubai Gold and Commodities Exchange (DGCX) got off to a strong start in 2012 with January volumes rising 95% from the same month last year to hit 475,942 contracts, valued at $19.32bn.

Average daily volume (ADV) on DGCX in January was 21,634 contracts, up 86% from the 11,637 contracts traded per day a year ago.

January volumes were propelled primarily by currency futures, which aggregated 442,345 contracts, rising 124% from last year. Indian Rupee futures sustained its exceptional growth momentum, climbing 157% from January last year and reaching the highest ever monthly volume of 431,902 contracts. Among other currency futures, Sterling/Dollar grew 14% while Dollar/Yen rose 39% from December 2011 to reach 2,246 and 386 contracts respectively. US Dollar/Canadian Dollar futures also grew substantially by 104% over the previous month to reach 330 contracts.

Qatar posts surplus of 26 pct/GDP in FY Q2 as energy revenues surge | Reuters

Qatar's state budget turned a hefty surplus of 25.6 percent of quarterly economic output in the second quarter of its 2011/12 fiscal year as revenues jumped, data showed on Tuesday.

The world's top exporter of liquefied natural gas booked a surplus of 42.2 billion riyals ($11.6 billion) in July-September 2011, reversing a deficit of 2.2 billion riyals, or 1.4 percent of gross domestic product, in the previous three months, preliminary estimates published by the central bank showed.

Revenue jumped 61 percent to nearly 78 billion riyals in July-September from a year earlier, helped by rising oil prices and expanded gas production, bringing cumulative income for the first two fiscal quarters to 68 percent of the 2011/12 target, according to a Reuters calculation.

gulfnews : 2011 food import to Dubai rises by 18 per cent

Food imports to Dubai rose to 18 per cent in 2011 at 6.7 million tonnes compared to 5.6 million tonnes in 2010 from 151 countries, said Hussain Nasser Lootah, Director General of Dubai Municipality.
The civic body licensed 2,202 permanent food establishments last year, in comparison to 2,075 establishments in the previous year, in addition to the license for 1974 temporary institutions, he added.
"This means that the Municipality has to take more efforts to ensure the compliance of all these institutions with applicable conditions in Dubai," said Lootah, while announcing that the Dubai Municipality will host the seventh International Food Safety Conference and the First Middle East Forum of the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) on February 21 and 22.

MENA stock markets close - February 7, 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)

UPDATE 1-UAE's Dolphin Energy eyes up to $1 bln bond sale - leads | Agricultural Commodities | Reuters

Abu Dhabi's Dolphin Energy, majority-owned by state fund Mubadala, plans to raise as much as $1 billion from a ten year bond issue, with the offering set to price as early as Tuesday, a statement from lead managers said.

Proceeds from the bond issue will be used to refinance the existing bank debt belonging to the company and to also pay a distribution to Dolphin's shareholders, a presentation document to investors said.

Initial price guidance for the offering, which is benchmark-sized but earmarked for between $750 million and $1 billion, has been given at 5.75 percent, the document noted.

Saudi Arabia Most Risky of Emerging Economies, Maplecroft Says - Businessweek

Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude exporter, has the most uncertain political environment of 15 major growth economies including China and Russia, according to the founder of risk-assessment consultants Maplecroft.

The political peril this year in 12 of those nations is decreasing, while it is rising in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Vietnam, Alyson Warhurst said at a conference in Dubai today. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the group which faces increasing short-term and long-term political threat, she said.

“Saudi Arabia faces three issues,” Warhurst said in an interview. “An educated and disgruntled youth buoyed by the success of the Arab Spring elsewhere, water and energy security, and general issues of oppression and the lack of political freedom.”

Emirates NBD Deputy CEO Al Fahim Said to Leave Amid Management Changes - Bloomberg

Emirates NBD PJSC’s deputy chief executive officer Abdul Wahed Al Fahim is leaving the United Arab Emirates biggest bank as part of management changes, according to two people familiar with the matter.
It isn’t clear when Al Fahim will leave the Dubai government-controlled lender, said the people, who declined to be identified because the information hasn’t been made public. Al Fahim, who has been with the group since 1986, was appointed deputy CEO in May 2009 and was also in charge of wholesale banking, according to a press release issued at the time.
A spokesman for Emirates NBD declined to comment. Al Fahim couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

WAM | Gulf Capital secures AED500 million revolver acquisition facility from ADCB

Gulf Capital and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank ("ADCB") have signed today a ground-breaking five-year revolving facility of AED 500 million to help finance Gulf Capital's growing pipeline of investments across its various business units, Gulf Capital said in a press release.

Gulf Capital is one of the most active alternative asset managers in the Middle East, focused on investing in private equity, real estate, credit and mezzanine across the region. The new flexible medium-term revolver will allow the Firm to leverage its balance sheet and finance its investments as they arise.

"ADCB has enjoyed a strong relationship with Gulf Capital since its inception and our understanding of their business model and investment strategy allowed us to structure a flexible revolver facility that meets their unique business needs. We look forward to continuing our close cooperation with Gulf Capital and helping them grow their franchise," according to Ala'a Eraiqat, CEO of ADCB and a member of the Board.

Geopolitics, debt refinancing leave funds wary of Gulf | Reuters

Tensions over Iran, unrest in Syria and concern about refinancing of upcoming Dubai debt are making international investors wary of Gulf and other Middle Eastern markets this year, just as developed markets enjoy fresh gains.

Storming oil prices and healthy balance sheets among energy-producing Gulf economies kept these markets on a relatively even keel last year, as international investors saw the region as an alternative to the debt-laden euro zone and United States.

But liquidity injections by the European Central Bank in the form of its long-term refinancing operation and quantitative easing by the U.S. Federal Reserve have boosted developed markets, partly draining the Gulf of its "alternative" appeal.

Dubai May Sell Asia Shipping Arm -

Drydocks World, Dubai's shipyard arm, is considering the sale of its entire Southeast Asian ship-building and repair operations in an effort to advance the restructuring of $2.2 billion of the company's debt, three bankers familiar with the situation said.

The bankers said that auditors have conducted an analysis of the Asian assets and are currently reviewing a wide range of candidates interested in purchasing some or all of the operations. They said that Drydocks is preparing to draw up a shortlist of potential bidders, which include ship repair and ship building specialists.

"The company is pursuing a sale of the Southeast Asian business, there are plenty of candidates that have expressed an interest," said one of the bankers familiar with the talks. Drydock's Asian operations consist of four shipyards in Singapore and Indonesia, specializing in rig building, shipbuilding, repair and conversion.

Egypt: reserves low, tempers high | beyondbrics –

While Egypt makes headlines with its political crisis and street violence, behind the scenes another danger is lurking: its foreign exchange reserves are shrinking, with another sharp drop last month.

Reserves were down to $16.4bn at the end of January, compared to $18.1bn in December and $36bn in December 2010, just before the anti-Mubarak protests began, according to central bank data published on Tuesday. The pressure for political stability – and an IMF rescue – grows bigger by the day.

Heavy intervention by the central bank has helped keep the Egyptian pound steady through the turmoil, with losses against the US dollar of under 4 per cent last year. But as reserves dwindle its firepower is weakening. As Bloomberg reported, forward contracts indicate traders expect a 16 per cent decline in the pound over the next 12 months.

Qatar’s Shares Retreat on Speculation Nine-Day Rally Overdone - Bloomberg

Qatari shares retreated for the first time in 10 days on speculation recent gains were overdone given earnings and lower dividends at the Persian Gulf nation’s banks.
Commercial Bank of Qatar (CBQK), the country’s second-biggest lender, dropped the most in almost a week. Qatar National Bank SAQ, the country’s largest bank by assets, fell 1 percent. The QE Index decreased 0.5 percent, the most since Jan. 19, to 8,687.38 at the 1 p.m. close in Doha. The gauge advanced 4.1 percent in the nine days through yesterday. The Bloomberg GCC 200 Index fell 0.2 percent at 1:18 p.m. in Riyadh.
“Qatar retreated slightly today after a good set of positive sessions,” said Samer Darwiche, a Dubai-based analyst at Gulfmena Investments. “With a lack of news, investors are profit-taking to protect gains. Investors are also waiting for Industries Qatar QSC (IQCD) earnings after banks announced results.”

Qatar seeks to lure asset managers -

The Qatar Financial Centre has hired a veteran leader of the UK financial services industry to help lure asset managers, who are growing increasingly concerned about looming regulatory changes in Dubai.
Bob Wigley, the former chairman of Merril Lynch’s Europe, Middle East and Africa business, is to join the board of the QFC Authority. Mr Wigley will work in part on introducing his extensive contacts in the financial industry to the centre, which is focused on attracting the asset management and insurance industries to Doha.

UAE's Dolphin Energy Plans Up To $1 Billion, 10-Year Bond Sale - Source | Fox Business

Abu Dhabi-based Dolphin Energy, in which Occidental Petroleum Corp. (OXY) and Total S.A. (TOT) are shareholders, plans to sell up to $1 billion worth of bonds, a banker aware of the deal said Tuesday.

The initial price talk for the bonds is 370 basis points over 10-year mid-swaps, and the issue could be launched as early as this week depending on market conditions, the banker, who declined to be identified, told Zawya Dow Jones.

The company has told potential investors that it plans to use the bond proceeds to refinance a existing bank facility and to pay a distribution to Dolphin shareholders, the banker said.

Emirates to raise $517 mln Islamic loan - paper - Yahoo!

Dubai's Emirates airline has hired three local banks to arrange a 1.9 billion dirhams ($517.3 million) Islamic loan facility to finance two of its planes, Arabic newspaper Al Bayan reported on Tuesday.
The Dubai government-owned airline has asked Dubai Islamic
Bank, Ajman Bank and Al Hilal Bank to arrange the financing deal for a Boeing 777-300 and an Airbus A380 superjumbo, the paper said quoting unnamed banking sources.
Emirates was not immediately available for comment.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Abu Dhabi's UNB down after Q4 disappoints - Yahoo!

Abu Dhabi's Union National Bank declines 6
percent after fourth quarter earnings drop 19 percent on higher provisioning.
The fifth-largest bank in Abu Dhabi by market
capitalisation saw its fourth-quarter net profit drop to 135
million dirhams ($36.76 million)from 167 million dirhams in the final three months of 2010, according to Reuters calculations.
Shares drop 6.6 percent, weighing on the broader index
"UNB's results came as a disappointment, varying from our
expectations due to higher than anticipated provisions," said
Naveed Ahmed, senior financial analyst at Global Investment
House, in a research note.

Fitch affirms SABBs rating |

Fitch Ratings has affirmed Saudi British Banks (SABB) Long-term local and foreign currencies Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) at A respectively with Stable Outlooks. Fitch has simultaneously affirmed SABBs Short-term IDR at F1, Individual Rating at B/C, Support Rating at 1 and Support Rating Floor at A.
Fitch said SABBs profitability remained sound with lower impairment charges, adequate and improving capitalization, and comfortable liquidity position.
The IDRs and Individual rating also consider SABBs strong franchise and the benefits derived from being an associate bank of HSBC Holdings plc, Fitch added.

gulfnews : Gulf debt sales post 34% jump

The total amount outstanding of corporate and sovereign bonds issued by GCC entities stood at $181.9 billion (Dh667.93 billion) as of December 31, according to a new report.
"Sovereign issuances amount to $61.9 billion or 33.9 per cent of the total amount," said the report. "Of the amount outstanding as at 31 December 2011, $112.3 billion, or 61.7 per cent, will mature over the course of the next five years, by the end of 2016," said the report published by the Kuwait Financial Centre (Markaz).
The aggregate primary issuance of bonds and sukuk in the GCC jumped 34.1 per cent last year to reach Dh308 billion.

gulfnews : Strengthening private sector

The UAE Cabinet's decision to open up its market for companies fully-owned by Gulf nationals and registered in the other five GCC countries, and giving them equal status, is a move in the right direction. This also reflects the UAE government's strong commitment to strengthening the private sector by encouraging competition within the GCC. The move that comes as part of a resolution adopted at an earlier GCC summit will help cross-border trade and investment once all the GCC states ratify it. With this, Gulf companies owned by GCC nationals will be treated like local companies — not foreign investors — anywhere in the region. This will not only strengthen competition among the leading Gulf companies, but will also help them contribute to the regional economy in a bigger way. The move comes four years after the Gulf states created a common market that is part of a greater plan to integrate the GCC economies. While the moves are good, they are also coming too slowly. The Gulf's private sector companies have matured and are ready to play a greater role on a wider canvas before taking on a bigger role in the global economy.

gulfnews : Embezzlers must be brought to book

The decision by the State Audit Institution (SAI) to address the trail of misappropriated funds, to the tune of Dh1 billion, is a proactive step in the right direction.
The embezzlement of the state's money through public funds, forgery, fraud and bribery has cost the country's exchequer dearly and the guilty must be brought to book. This is in line with the government's priority to raise standards of accountability and transparency amongst its employees which also raises the levels of governance and offers enhanced credibility to federal organisations. The UAE is one among the most ‘investor-friendly' places in the region, but it has also been a hunting ground for the dishonest. Tighter punitive measures and stricter audit controls while monitoring expenses could help track down these people and deal with them effectively. The best approach, however, is to develop a heightened sense of collective obligation and this is where the SAI's approach aims to pay dividends.

gulfnews : Youth unemployment in Mena region disturbingly high — UN

A rapid growth in the world's population, coupled with an international financial crisis, have led to a new problem — the highest number of unemployed youth in history, a UN report has revealed.
The report, titled Youth Employment: Youth Perspectives on the Pursuit of Decent Work in Changing Times, was released yesterday. It notes concerns that the unemployed youth have over the lack of job opportunities and how they would like to see an increase in investments aimed at creating employment.
The report drew attention to the "disturbingly high" levels of youth unemployment in the Middle East and North Africa.

gulfnews : Open market requires complete liberalisation

A new law that reduces red tape for Gulf companies looking to set up shop in the UAE has been welcomed by analysts. But they warn that the region is still far from being a level playing field.
The rules, which allow Gulf companies to easily open branches in the UAE even if they have no local partner, have yet to be followed by the other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
Even if they are, analysts say, the ease of opening an office is only one of a number of issues vis-a-vis doing business in Qatar, Oman and particularly Saudi Arabia, the region's biggest economy.

Crackdown on Egyptian business - The National

EFG-Hermes, the biggest publicly traded bank in Egypt, is the latest casualty of a crackdown on businessmen and companies in the country that have alleged links to the former Mubarak government.

Yesterday, Yasser El Mallawany, a co-chief executive of EFG-Hermes investment bank in Egypt, was prevented from flying abroad from Cairo International Airport.

There was no official reason given for the move, other than the need for Mr El Mallawany to help with unspecified investigations into bank business. In the past year, however, the bank has been scrutinised for its alleged association with former president Hosni Mubarak's younger son, Gamal, who owns indirectly 18 per cent of the investment bank's subsidiary EFG-Hermes Private Equity.

DME eyes Gulf benchmark status - The National

The Dubai Mercantile Exchange (DME) is expected to be majority-owned by the world's largest commodity trading platform by the end of the month, as it seeks to become the benchmark index for crude traded out of the Gulf.

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), which already holds a 25 per cent stake in the DME, is to become the majority partner in the joint venture, according to Thomas Leaver, the DME's chief executive.

"They've woken up to see what a jewel in the crown they have, vis-a-vis the Oman contract and what it will mean for the East of Suez market," Mr Leaver said.

Gulf Times – Qatar’s budget surplus might set to cushion eurozone impact: IBQ chief

The eurozone financial crisis will only have a “limited impact” on Qatar mainly because of the country’s large budget surplus, said IBQ managing director George Nasra.
“Qatar remains a very attractive place for investment due to its solid economic fundamentals,” Nasra said at the Qatar Projects 2022 conference yesterday.
The growth indicators of the Qatari market points to a $75bn in budgetary surplus in the next five years. Population is expected to reach 2.5mn by 2015, growing at 9% a year, in view of the anticipated influx of expatriates for project-related activities in Qatar.

Many Omani banks on capital raising move | Oman Observer

As part of their plans to strengthen the capital adequacy, many Omani banks are planning right issues and private placement of shares in the coming quarters of the current financial year. The banking sector in the Sultanate has been witnessing an excellent uptrend mainly thanks to the prevailing conducive macro-economic environment in the country.
Economic liberalisation, rising economic diversification initiatives, rising government and private sector spending on infrastructure developments and healthy population growth are the major factors which contribute to this affluence. “Banks need additional capital to meet high demand for credit as several big ticket projects that were awarded towards the end of 2011 will reach implementation stage by early this year. As the level of disposable income increases there is likely to be good growth in the retail segment as well”, says Suresh Kumar, Head of Research, Al Maha Financial Services.

Dubai's du to pay 20% royalty - Emirates 24/7

Dubai’s Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company, better known by its trade name du, today informed the Dubai Financial Market (DFM) that the royalty payable by the telco to the Federal government will be 15 per cent of its net profits and an additional 5 per cent of its yearly revenue.

Du, which launched operations in 2007, was exempted from paying federal government royalty for the first three years of its operations and paid 15 per cent of its profits as royalty for the first time in 2011 (for 2010).

Its rival Etisalat pays the government 50 per cent of its net profits in royalty.

Egypt telecom tycoon Sawiris eyes new horizons | Reuters

Egyptian telecoms magnate Naguib Sawiris wants to get back on the acquisition trail, eyeing businesses in Europe, the Middle East and Africa after selling a chunk of assets to Russia's Vimpelcom.

Sawiris said he plans to divest non-core operations left out of the sale to Vimpelcom last April and use his company Orascom Telecom Media and Technology (OTMT) to buy established mobile phone businesses and network operating licences.

He also expects to double his subscriber numbers in his one exclusive phone market of North Korea, where he said he will lose his exclusivity deal in 2013.