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Friday, 10 February 2012

Uncertainty hampers business in Libya - FT.com

During a recent lunch at the upscale Lamma cafe along western Tripoli’s beachfront, two dozen European expatriates greeted each other as old friends, squealing in delight at seeing colleagues return to Libya for work after a year of tumult that sent many abroad.
“A lot of the previous foreign companies and employees are slowly but surely re-entering the market and are happy to be back,” said Louise Gatt, a Maltese national who runs a private school and a travel business. “For many, Libya is not only a work place but also a place called home.”

ITGI DEPA CEO says weather-related Greek gas shortage shows need for alternatives

Gas deliveries to Greece have been affected during significant periods in the last month, a worrying situation as temperatures drop. In what recalls the 2009 events, gas supplies from Russia have seen a sharp drop which has affected several European countries as acknowledged this week by the European Commission.

Commenting on the disruptions, Harry Sachinis, Chairman of IGI Poseidon and Chairman and CEO of DEPA, the Public Gas Corporation of Greece said:

“The current shortages on gas deliveries are not happening for the first time. We are now facing disruptions in deliveries because of the weather conditions and the increase of demand in neighbouring countries.”

S&P cuts Egypt's rating to B, outlook remains negative | Reuters

Standard & Poor's cut Egypt's long-term foreign currency rating to B from B+ on Friday, five notches into junk territory, and kept the outlook at negative, citing a sharp decline in Egypt's foreign exchange reserves and political uncertainty.

"External financing is becoming more problematic in the face of the related problems of sharply falling reserves, exchange rate pressures, and capital flight," S&P said in a statement.

"The negative outlook reflects our view that a further downgrade is possible if the government fails to stem the decline in reserves, or an uncertain policy environment and weak institutions emerge from the ongoing political transition," the agency added.

Has Dubai turned a corner? | Reuters

Dubai Inc's sizeable 2012 debt maturities have been viewed with trepidation for some time but a good start to this year has improved sentiment around even troubled credits.

The three most challenged borrowers were Dubai Holding Commercial Operations Group (DHCOG), Dubai International Financial Centre Investments (DIFCI) and Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), which faced maturities totalling about USD3.75bn.

Promisingly Dubai passed its first big test when DHCOG, a unit of Dubai Holding, which is owned by Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, paid its USD500m obligation a few weeks ahead of its February due date. "There is a key distinction to make between a refinancing and a straight repayment," said a Gulf-based analyst. "DHCOG managed to pay down its obligation through operating cashflows and divestiture of non-core assets, implying credit quality. Dubai Inc risk decreased as a result."

MIDEAST DEBT-Market anticipates string of Qatari bond issues | Reuters

Qatar National Bank's announcement on Thursday that it had picked five banks to arrange a series of fixed income investor meetings could signal the start of a series of global bond issues by Qatari companies.

Gulf issuance of bonds totals nearly $3 billion so far this year, with Abu Dhabi's Dolphin Energy the last borrower to tap the market, issuing a $1 billion 10-year conventional bond earlier this week. Order books for the paper were reportedly over $9 billion.

Dubai companies have been active issuers of sukuk; three of the four Islamic bond sales this year have been from Dubai issuers. The sukuk have been relatively small in size but have also attracted considerable demand.

What is the real value of Etihad Airways to Abu Dhabi? « ArabianMoney

Any commercial company that has only just turned a profit after nine years of high investment would be considered a failure or at best a lucky survivor.

Yet when Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways posts a $14 million net profit on a turnover of $4.1 billion for 2011 we are supposed to regard this as a triumph. Nevermind the accummulated losses of eight years behind that figure.

gulfnews : Tourism sector grows in leaps and bounds

The UAE and the wider Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have for some time sought to diversify their income sources and move away from dependence on oil, an objective that is key to the economic and social future of the region.
Over the past four decades, the UAE and GCC countries depended on oil sales to finance budgets. As a result, huge sums were invested to develop infrastructure, education, health, housing, and general services sectors, as well as strategic financing for industrial, transport and tourism projects.
From the very start, the UAE realised that oil wealth would not prop up the country's economy indefinitely. Even a cursory look at the economies of Europe and America shows how important industrial development and economic evolution is to sustaining a country over the decades. That is why the UAE sought, from the very beginning, to invest its oil revenues in establishing infrastructure for the development of other sectors that would contribute to diversifying national income sources and, in the long term, gradually substitute oil wealth.

gulfnews : DFSA chief to step down in September

Paul M Koster, chief executive of the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), the independent regulator of financial services business in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) will step down later this year.
DFSA yesterday announced that Koster has decided to step down in September.
He was appointed chief executive of the DFSA on December 1, 2008. Prior to holding the position, he was Commissioner and Member of the Executive Board of the Autoriteit Financiƫle Markten (AFM), the national financial services regulator for the Netherlands.

gulfnews : Banks curb services for Iranians

UAE banks have started applying stringent restrictions on banking services to non-resident Iranians and businesses owned by them, bankers told Gulf News yesterday.
Banks are quietly turning away Iranian customers for fear of violating any international sanctions that could invite penalties for them in the US and Europe.
A leading bank has issued an internal memo to staff to seek prior permission from the top management for offering banking services to non-resident Iranians including salary earners.

UAE's Dolphin Energy to increase $1 bln bond issue | Reuters

Abu Dhabi's Dolphin Energy, majority-owned by state fund Mubadala, plans to raise between $200 million and $300 million on top of its recently-issued $1 billion bond, a statement from lead managers said on Thursday.

Dolphin Energy, in which France's Total and Occidental Petroleum Corp also own stakes, issued a $1 billion offering, maturing in 2021, on Tuesday - attracting $9 billion of demand from international investors.

The company will now tap the bond for a further $200-300 million, with the new capital set to price equivalent to 101 percent of the existing paper. Pricing is set for Thursday, the statement added.

Nakheel claims O’Donnell defence was “strong” - Real Estate - ArabianBusiness.com

Dubai developer Nakheel claimed it believed its unsuccessful defence against former CEO Chris O’Donnell’s $3.7m law suit was “strong” and it would appeal the decision against it if it were possible.
In a court ruling on Thursday, the Dubai World Tribunal awarded O’Donnell $3m in overdue long-term incentive payments and AED916,893.93 ($249,624) in days in lieu he had worked and was contractually entitled to. The verdict was the conclusion of a legal dispute brought by O’Donnell in June last year.
“We respect today’s court ruling,” a Nakheel spokesman said. “However, we firmly believe we have a strong case and if we had the right to appeal we would have done so.”

DP World Said to Seek Loan to Repay Half of $3 Billion Facility - Businessweek

DP World Ltd., the world’s fourth- biggest port operator, started talks with banks for a loan to help pay half of a $3 billion credit facility maturing in October, a banker familiar with the discussions said.

The Dubai World-controlled company is talking to HSBC Holdings Plc, Standard Chartered Plc and Citigroup Inc. for a $1.5 billion loan, the banker said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. DP World, rated the lowest investment grade at Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings, will pay the remaining $1.5 billion with its own cash, he said. It secured the five-year revolving credit facility in October 2007 at a margin of 45 basis points over the London interbank offered rate, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Turkmenistan’s one horse race | beyondbrics – FT.com

Don’t expect any surprises at Turkmenistan’s presidential election this weekend. Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, who has ruled the gas-rich country since 2007, will almost certainly win a landslide victory at the poll that is shaping up to be a charade even by central Asian standards.

Seven candidates are standing against Berdymukhammedov, but all are members of the slavishly loyal Turkmen elite. Campaigning for the country’s top job, they have not breathed a word of criticism about the incumbent president. The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe has decided not to deploy an observer mission. After a recent mission to Turkmenistan, the 57-country human rights watch dog said it could not add value to the poll, citing a lack of freedom and competition.

In his manifesto Berdymukhammedov pledged to promote democratic reforms and diversify Turkmenistan’s economy away from oil and gas. Turkmenistan, ranked as one of the most repressive countries in the world and among the riskiest places to do business, has a long way to go to achieve the president’s goals.