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Wednesday, 29 February 2012

UAE says U.S. targeted only one bank over Iran | Reuters

The United States has targeted only one bank in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Noor Islamic Bank, over its business dealings with Iran, a UAE official said on Wednesday.

Asked whether the United States had complained about other UAE banks, Khalid al-Ghaith, UAE assistant foreign minister for economic affairs, told Reuters: "They were just talking about Noor Islamic Bank."

He added, "We are still working with the U.S. government and continue discussing to protect our bank sector and companies and continue this dialogue. This is what we are doing as a government."

Saudi Arabia committed to support Egypt’s economy by $3.75 billion

Saudi Arabia is committed to support Egypt’s economy, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said on Tuesday. “The Kingdom is committed to offer Egypt $3.75 billion.”

Faisal pointed out that a sum of $0.5 billion has already been transferred by Saudi Arabia as a grant in support for the Egyptian budget in May 2011.

Faisal’s statements came in response to recent accusations by Egypt’s Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri, who said that Egypt did not receive any financial support from the Gulf states.

UPDATE 1-Saudi Almarai mulls stake increase in PepsiCo JV - Yahoo!

Saudi Arabia's Almarai is in talks with PepsiCo Inc to increase its stake in a joint venture formed with the U.S. soft drink giant in 2009, the Gulf dairy firm said on Tuesday.
Almarai, the Gulf's biggest dairy firm by market value,
currently holds 48-percent in International Dairy & Juice Ltd
(IDJ), with PepsiCo owning the remaining 52-percent stake.
The IDJ joint venture was formed to target growth opportunities in the dairy and juice sector in Southeast Asia, Africa and the Middle East, excluding the Gulf region.

UPDATE 1-RLPC-Zain Saudi eyes loan refinancing-bankers - Yahoo!

Zain Saudi Arabia , the country's third-largest mobile operator, is in talks with lenders to refinance its $2.5 billion Islamic syndicated loan that matures in July, banking sources close to the deal said.
The firm has come under pressure to restructure its capital after losses pushed it close to a limit on capital losses
imposed by the bourse.
The original Murabaha loan was secured in 2009 to back the
company's network expansion, with two tranches consisting of
$775 million and 6.46 billion Saudi riyals ($1.72 billion).

gulfnews : Oil windfall boosts Gulf spending

The windfall from oil exports in recent months may have given the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states enough cushion to enable them to carry on with their development projects and investment ventures for months in the likely event of another recession hitting the global economy, experts say.
International oil prices have surged nearly $40 (Dh146.92) a barrel in the last six months due to the West's tensions with Iran over its controversial nuclear programme and supply concerns, given the unrest in several oil exporting countries in the Middle East.
Brent crude traded a tad below $125 a barrel on Monday, and crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange was trading at around $109 a barrel. Coming out of the global financial crisis, these price levels are considered too high for oil importing countries, some of which risk slipping back into recession largely due to the strain of high cost of crude imports. "The high oil prices have helped increase the foreign currency reserves of GCC countries and provided them a cushion against a future drop in oil prices," Mohammad Amerah, an Abu Dhabi-based economist, told Gulf News.

gulfnews : Middle East will see 15m vying for jobs in a decade

Over 15 million young people will enter the workforce over the next decade in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena), presenting serious challenges for regional governments, a report has claimed.
The Rapid Growth Markets (RGMs) Forecast report by Ernst & Young, a market research company, said that Mena governments urgently need to develop the non-oil economy to meet growth.
"The average annual growth rate in the labour force in Mena over the next 10 years is expected to be around 2 per cent," Bassam Hage, Mena markets leader at Ernst & Young, said. "While a growing labour force adds to potential growth in the region, creating jobs for this next generation in Mena will be one of the most important economic developments."

gulfnews : Dubai ups ante for Expo 2020

Dubai will spend between $2 billion (Dh7.35 billion) and $4 billion on infrastructure if it manages to secure the bid for the 2020 World Expo, officials said yesterday.
Having submitted the official bid to host the 2020 World Expo last November, the UAE yesterday launched the country's campaign to host the international event in Dubai.
The World Expo is a global, non-commercial exposition. The hosting of it must be applied for by a country and approved by the World Expo committee. The Expo is inteded to promote exchanges of ideas and development of the world economy, culture, science and technology, to allow exhibitors to display their achievements and improve international relationships.

Promising signs out of Iraq for global investors - The National

With the Iraq index up nearly a fifth on last year and the release of an oil export bottleneck on track, Iraq is looking promising for investors.

The economy is set to expand 12.6 per cent this year, according to the IMF, the fastest rate in the Middle East and North Africa.

It is this speedy growth that is catching the eye of investors, to the extent that EFG-Hermes, the biggest publicly traded Arab investment bank, has started offering an equity-swap product linked to Iraqi securities.

Exuberance catches on in UAE markets - The National

Markets in the region closed higher yesterday, led by the Dubai Financial Market (DFM), which jumped nearly 3 per cent after profit-taking the day before turned to buying.

The DFM General Index closed up 2.66 per cent at 1,698.22. The index is up 25 per cent on the year to date.

Few companies were unaffected by the rise, which analysts said was linked more to investor exuberance than to changes iin the financial positions of the firms.

Mubadala aims to make sweet music with EMI purchase - The National

The hits of Frank Sinatra, David Bowie and Pink Floyd are part of a musical treasure trove worth more than US$2 billion (Dh7.34bn) being bid for by a consortium that includes Mubadala Development.

The involvement of the strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government in the bid was revealed as Sony, the Japanese entertainment giant, sought EU approval for a $2.2bn purchase of EMI Group's publishing unit, a deal that would create the world's second-biggest music catalogue.

A spokeswoman for Mubadala confirmed the company's involvement in the deal.

Oil Tankers Seen Falling 42% as Japan Weakens Most Since Tsunami: Freight - Bloomberg

The largest drop in Japanese oil consumption since last year’s earthquake and tsunami may cause tanker rates to plunge 42 percent next quarter, threatening the biggest rally in shares of shipping companies since 2005.
Demand in Japan, the second-largest destination for supertankers after China, will drop 19 percent in the second quarter from now, according to the International Energy Agency in Paris. Daily rates for the 1,000-foot-long ships will average $17,000, compared with $29,280 now, the median of nine analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg show. Investors may profit by buying forward freight agreements, traded by brokers and used to bet on shipping costs, which anticipate $10,883.

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi at new 41-mth high, turnover spikes; most Gulf up | Reuters

Saudi Arabia's bourse ended at a new 41-month high on Tuesday after a session of volatile trading which saw the largest turnover in more than four years, as most other regional markets also extended gains.

The kingdom's index rose 0.3 percent to 7,169 points, its highest close since September 2008.

Stocks worth 16.1 billion riyals ($4.29 billion) were traded, the highest in a session since January 2008.

Boom in credit for Saudi Arabia - The National

Private-sector credit growth in Saudi Arabia accelerated at its fastest rate in more than two and half years last month as the kingdom's banks benefit from government injections of cash into the economy.

Expansion rose 11.7 per cent compared with January last year, its fastest rate since May 2009.

Credit growth grew 1.7 per cent last month compared with December last year, according to data from the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency. "This is reflecting liquidity in the banking system and a strong balance sheet of banks," said Khatija Haque,a senior economist at Emirates NBD.

Kuwait real estate sales strong in Jan – NBK ECONOMIC REPORT | Kuwait Times

Real estate sales activity picked up in January, totaling KD 318.1 million in value, a 64% increase year-on-year (y/y). The level was the third best level on record. All three sectors of real estate saw big increases, with the residential sector taking up 54% of total sales. The uptick in sales should persist for the year albeit perhaps with less impetus.
Residential sector sales were KD 170.3 million for January, a 40% y/y climb. A major contributor to this increase was the high number of transactions concluded, totaling 806 transactions —a 4-year peak for the sector. The majority of these transactions (71%) were for plots of land, as opposed to finished homes. Residential sales should continue to do well in the near future, as it appears backed with solid demand.

Business : UAE set to allow foreign ownership in some areas

The UAE will allow foreign ownership of companies in selected areas of the economy, as already 17- free zones operating in the country allowed 100 per cent ownership, said Abdullah Salem Al Turifi, chief executive of Stocks and Commodities Authority.
Talking to media, at his office, he denied that foreign ownership rules are obstacle, to the winning the Emerging Market status on MSCI Index from the Frontier Market status, which the nation already have attained.

“We are waiting for their review, in June, this year, as we’ve fulfilled all their (MSCI) requirements,” the chief executive said.

Empower to raise Dh500m loan - Emirates 24/7

Dubai-based district cooling firm Empower will tap local banks to raise Dh500 million ($136 million) loan for the establishment of its upcoming projects in the local market.

The company is currently negotiating a Dh500-million loan deal with banks and hopes to close it in April-May, said its Chief Executive Ahmed Bin Shafar. He, however, refused to disclose the name of the banks.

These funds will be used to set up new district cooling plants in the UAE including two in Dubai’s Business Bay area this year.

Business : Dubai Exports helps in Dh3b transactions

Dubai Exports, the export promotion agency of the Department of Economic Development, said on Tuesday that the total value of exports it facilitated in 2011 crossed Dh3 billion.
With exporters in Dubai continuing to penetrate new markets and diversify their product range, the export sector could perform better, Dubai Exports said.

Of the 42 export transactions facilitated by Dubai Exports during the year, 35 per cent were new deals while new exporters won 50 per cent of the deals. Companies based in Dubai were the beneficiaries of 93 per cent of the deals concluded last year, it said.

Bahrain fund boss 'quit over lack of deals' - Banking & Finance - ArabianBusiness.com

The head of Bahrain's sovereign wealth fund quit over differences of strategy with the board, disappointed by its lack of deal-making as it focuses on reviving loss-making domestic assets, sources familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.
Talal Al Zain, the urbane former investment banker, told Reuters on Monday he would leave his job as chief executive of Mumtalakat, the $9bn sovereign fund, to set up a new investment firm in the Gulf island kingdom.
The sources said Al Zain was particularly frustrated with the board's focus on housekeeping at debt-laden national carrier Gulf Air, which Mumtalakat owns.

Tehran considers trade payments in gold - FT.com

Iran is to consider accepting gold as payment for oil and other commodities in what is seen as a fresh attempt to skirt international sanctions on the country’s nuclear programme and ease their impact on Iranian businesses and consumers.
“In addition to [the US] dollar and currencies of the trading countries, Iran could take gold in its commercial transactions with other countries,” Mahmoud Bahmani, Iran’s central bank governor, told domestic Iranian news agencies.

Dubai: thinking big again | beyondbrics – FT.com

If there is silver lining to Dubai’s grand building dreams – which left the city-state with a debt mountain of $110bn when property prices crashed – it’s that it now has the region’s best infrastructure: gleaming airports, a brand-new metro and lavish hotels.

As the Gulf emirate rebounds from the slump, it is hoping these facilities will enhance its status as a commercial entrepot. In particular, it wants to persuade the world that it is the ideal location to host the World Expo in 2020, the five-yearly exposition of national pavilions, where states outline their vision for national development.

Competitors include Ayutthaya, Thailand; Ekaterinburg, Russia; Izmir, Turkey; and Sao Paulo, Brazil.