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Wednesday, 14 March 2012

MIDEAST WEEKAHEAD-UAE uptrend looks fragile; Egypt hopes for IMF loan | Reuters

After a sharp setback last week, stock markets in the United Arab Emirates have resumed rising in high trading volumes, but some analysts say the rally remains fragile as much of it is speculative and depends on a benign global backdrop.

Dubai's benchmark index, up about 25 percent so far this year, bounced off an eight-year low in mid-January. While many fund managers believe the market is in an overdue recovery from an excessive drop, sharp gains in small-capital stocks with limited fundamental attraction have raised doubts about the sustainability of the uptrend.

Construction company Arabtec is trading at 24 times this year's estimated earnings, compared to historic levels around 10 times, analysts said. The stock is up 89 percent so far this year, far outperforming the benchmark.

Tunisia to return to bond market after US guarantees | Reuters

Tunisia, the first country to rise up against its leader in the "Arab Spring", has secured debt guarantees from the U.S. government that will allow it to tap the international bond markets this year for the first time since 2007.

A finance ministry official said on Wednesday that the U.S.-guaranteed bond could raise $400-500 million. It will follow a $500 million issue of five-year Tunisian treasury bonds directly to Qatar at an interest rate of just 2.5 percent.

Chaker Soltani, the ministry's director general in charge of debt, told a news conference that the U.S. guarantees would allow Tunisia to borrow on the international markets at far lower rates than its risk profile would normally allow.

MENA stock markets close - March 14, 2012

 ExchangeStatus IndexChange  
 
 TASI (Saudi Stock Market)
 
7567.980.62%  
 
 DFM (Dubai Financial Market)
 
16910.53%  
 
 ADX (Abudhabi Securities Exchange)
 
2630.110.27%  
 
 KSE (Kuwait Stock Exchange)
 
6163.80.25%  
 
 BSE (Bahrain Stock Exchange)
 
1149.13-0.12%  
 
 MSM (Muscat Securities Market)
 
5975.310.30%  
 
 QE (Qatar Exchange)
 
8627.34-0.08%  
 
 LSE (Beirut Stock Exchange)
 
1212.120.05%  
 
 EGX 30 (Egypt Exchange)
 
5090.720.76%  
 
 ASE (Amman Stock Exchange)
 
1990.1-0.31%  
 
 TUNINDEX (Tunisia Stock Exchange)
 
4752.770.08%  
 
 CB (Casablanca Stock Exchange)
 
11209.6-0.51%  
 
 PSE (Palestine Securities Exchange)
 
485.60.34%  


Fiscal policies underpin regional rally - FT.com

Is a regional bull market on the way in the Gulf?
The S&P GCC Composite is up 9 per cent year to date. The regional index bounced back to where it was at the beginning of 2011, at levels last observed before the advent of the Arab spring. The index, which has lost 60 per cent of its value since the peak of 2008, has been evolving in a narrow range for the last three years.
However, we have witnessed some interesting developments in the past two months. The Saudi stock market, the largest in the region, has reached levels not seen since 2008. Dubai, perceived as the regional bellwether by foreign investors, is up 25 per cent year to date. And contrary to the previous market rallies we have seen in past years, this movement is happening with considerable volumes.

The country cannot bank on growth without lending - The National

You get the sense there are worrying times ahead for the economy of the UAE.

Despite the stock market boom and the faint signs of recovery in some parts of the property market, question marks hang over the all-important issue of growth.

The UAE is not alone in facing a growth problem. China, of all places, recently downgraded its forecasts for the year (admittedly only by a fraction, but below 8 per cent for the first time in two decades); Brazil is unlikely to hit 3 per cent this year; India and Russia similarly face growth downgrades.

Dubai Shares Climb a 2nd Day as Debt Woes Fades, on Fed Outlook - Bloomberg

Dubai stocks headed for the highest close in more than a week after Dubai Electricity & Water Authority said it will pay loans ahead of schedule and the Federal Reserve raised its assessment of the U.S. economy.
Emaar Properties PJSC (EMAAR), developer of the world’s tallest skyscraper, was poised for the highest close in almost two weeks. Dubai Islamic Bank PJSC (DIB) rose 1.8 percent. The DFM General Index (DFMGI) gained 1.3 percent to 1,703.94, headed for the highest close since March 5, at 11:55 a.m. in the emirate. The cost of protecting Dubai’s debt against default dropped 17 basis points to 355 yesterday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Dubai Electricity Chief Executive Officer Saeed Mohammed al-Tayer said yesterday the state-run utility will repay 1.2 billion dirhams ($327 million) in loans ahead of schedule. Default risk for Dubai has declined this year partly on pledges that the emirate’s main companies will manage to refinance debt without state assistance.

Persian Gulf Stocks: Taqa, Aldar Properties, Sorouh Real Estate - Bloomberg

Abu Dhabi’s ADX General Index (ADSMI) advanced for a fifth day, gaining 0.3 percent to 2,630.11 at the 2 p.m. close in the emirate. The DFM General Index (DFMGI) rose 0.5 percent.

Aldar, Sorouh Gain a 5th Day on Merger Bets: Abu Dhabi Mover - Businessweek

Aldar Properties PJSC (ALDAR) and Sorouh Real Estate Co. (SOROUH) surged a fifth day, pushing Abu Dhabi’s index to the highest in almost two weeks, on bets a potential merger may bolster their businesses.

Aldar, the biggest developer in the United Arab Emirates capital, rallied 6.6 percent to 1.45 dirhams, the highest since May 15, at the 2 p.m. close in the emirate. Sorouh, the second- biggest developer, advanced 5.8 percent to 1.45 dirhams, the highest since May 4. The stocks, the most traded in the index, lifted the ADX General Index (ADSMI) up 0.3 percent. About 95 million Aldar shares traded yesterday, the most on record.

Aldar and Sorouh, down 60 percent and 48 percent in 2011, said in a joint statement on March 11 they set up a team to study a possible merger with the “blessing” of the emirate’s government. The team will present a plan in the next three months. Government-owned Mubadala Development Co. holds 49 percent of Aldar, while the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, a sovereign wealth fund, has a 7 percent stake in Sorouh.

Iraq reaches $500 million airline debt deal with Kuwait | Reuters

Iraq has reached a $500 million agreement with Kuwait to resolve a standoff over Gulf War-era debts that had prevented Iraqi Airways from flying to destinations in the West, an aide to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Wednesday.

Under the deal, Iraq will pay Kuwait $300 million in cash and will invest another $200 million in a joint Iraqi-Kuwaiti airline venture, Maliki's media adviser Ali al-Moussawi told Reuters by telephone from Kuwait where Maliki was on a visit.

In return, Kuwait would lift legal actions against Iraqi Airways, he said. In 2010 Kuwaiti lawyers tried to seize an Iraqi Airways plane on its first flight to London.

Las Vegas hotel with Dubai links may be blown up | ConstructionWeekOnline.com

The hearing over what should be done with the Harmon Hotel, a Las Vegas hotel project half owned by Dubai World and at the centre allegations of construction defects, began on Monday.

Construction on the $8.5bn project, co-owned by MGM Resorts International and Dubai World, ground to a halt four years ago after county inspectors discovered improper installation of critical steel reinforcements (rebar) after 15 storeys of the building had already been constructed.

The halt promoted a project redesign, reducing the height of the building from 49 to 28 storeys but the project has also faced further complications over buyer refunds, cancelations and other issues.

Dubai Shares Climb a 2nd Day as Debt Woes Fades, on Fed Outlook - Bloomberg

Dubai stocks headed for the highest close in more than a week after Dubai Electricity & Water Authority said it will pay loans ahead of schedule and the Federal Reserve raised its assessment of the U.S. economy.
Emaar Properties PJSC (EMAAR), developer of the world’s tallest skyscraper, was poised for the highest close in almost two weeks. Dubai Islamic Bank PJSC (DIB) rose 1.8 percent. The DFM General Index (DFMGI) gained 1.3 percent to 1,703.94, headed for the highest close since March 5, at 11:55 a.m. in the emirate. The cost of protecting Dubai’s debt against default dropped 17 basis points to 355 yesterday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Dubai Electricity Chief Executive Officer Saeed Mohammed al-Tayer said yesterday the state-run utility will repay 1.2 billion dirhams ($327 million) in loans ahead of schedule. Default risk for Dubai has declined this year partly on pledges that the emirate’s main companies will manage to refinance debt without state assistance.

U.S. Said to Have Received Saudi Assurances on Ample Oil Supply - Bloomberg

The U.S. has received assurances from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait that they would raise oil production to help offset the effect of economic sanctions on Iranian exports, according to participants in discussions between the U.S. and oil-producing countries.
While there have been no formal requests, negotiations or agreements for increased output, the U.S. officials said they are confident that the Saudis and the UAE will boost production enough to prevent a dramatic increase in oil prices.

French BNP Paribas to grow Mideast revenues | Alrroya

French lender BNP Paribas expects to grow its revenues from the oil-rich Gulf region this year despite a slight impact on its business as a result of the Arab Spring, the bank's Middle East head told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.

"Globally, the bank had good 2011 results and also here in the Middle East, and we expect this to continue especially from asset management and wealth management," Jean-Christophe Durand said. "This is a very important region for BNP Paribas."

Durand said the impact of the Arab Spring popular revolts across the region was "very minimal".

UPDATE 1-U.S. hedge fund wins claim against Dubai's Drydocks | Reuters

A U.S.-based hedge fund said it has won a $72 million legal claim against Dubai's Drydocks World for defaulting on a loan, putting the ship builder's $2.2 billion debt restructuring in further trouble .

Monarch Alternative Capital said in an emailed statement that Drydocks, a unit of Dubai World, has been ordered to pay the entirety of the sum of £45.5 million ($71.6 million) claimed plus Monarch's legal costs.

Monarch sued Drydocks last year in the High Court of London casting a blow to the restructuring talks.

UPDATE 1-UAE's TAQA sees 2012 capex at $2.0-2.2 bln | Reuters

Abu Dhabi National Energy Co (TAQA) expects to increase capital spending to between $2.0 billion to $2.2 billion this year as it pushes ahead with expansion plans.

TAQA, which is 75-percent owned by the government of Abu Dhabi, spent $1.9 billion in 2011, Chief Executive Carl Sheldon said in a conference call on Wednesday, adding this year's spending would mainly go towards five long-term projects.

"This year it (capex) runs in the order of $2 to $2.2 billion in long range projects," Sheldon said.

US hedge fund wins Dubai default case - FT.com

Monarch Capital has won a judgment against Dubai’s Drydocks World for last year’s debt default, further complicating the ship-repair yard’s $2.2bn debt restructuring.
The US hedge fund, which holds $45.5m of debt, pursued the case at the UK high court against Drydocks World, which last week said it had presented a plan to lenders for the restructuring.

FT Alphaville » Citi didn’t fail – it just overreached, a little bit

Yes, we said they failed the Fed stress tests. But maybe it’s not quite so dire as it sounds.

First, remember that Citi’s tier one capital ratios only fell short by 0.1 per cent — they came in at 4.9 per cent rather than the 5 per cent minimum.

At DealBreaker, Matt Levine points out that this isn’t a failure of Citi’s current balance sheet, it’s a failure of the capital plans that Citi submitted to the Fed. Which, like most of its peers, included a plan to effectively decrease capital, presumably through share buybacks and higher dividends. Citi’s said it will submit a revised capital plan later in the year.


Opec worries over high prices - The National

Fears are growing among Opec nations that they might not be able to keep oil prices under control as concerns mount over a stand-off between Iran and the West.

The group, which accounts for about 40 per cent of the world's crude oil production, can release or restrict the supply of oil to world markets. But Opec is currently pumping at a three-year high of 30.92 million barrels per day (bpd), reducing its idle capacity to around 2m bpd. Yesterday Brent crude, the European benchmark, was trading at US$126 a barrel, a dollar short of the highs of last year during the Libyan conflict and 17 per cent higher than the start of the year.

"There is a lot of tension in oil-producing countries," said Mohammed Al Hamli, the UAE Minister of Energy. "That is reflected in the oil price."

Emirates Islamic Bank twinkles less brightly - The National

With customers voting with their feet and problems at its parent, Emirates Islamic Bank (EIB) may not be the best place for investors to place their funds just now.

That is what Shabbir Malik, a banks analyst for EFG-Hermes, who forecasts weak prospects at EIB, says anyway.

“We are expecting the loan book to be lower than the sector average for [EIB’s parent] Emirates NBD and its subsidiaries, which we expect to grow slower than its sector. We expect growth to come from Abu Dhabi banks.”

NBAD plans expansion to raise assets to Dh1trn - The National

National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) is planning a worldwide expansion it hopes will increase its assets to around Dh1 trillion and quadruple its annual profits.

NBAD, the biggest bank in the capital, hopes to increase its annual earnings to Dh16bn by 2021, the bank said in a presentation at its shareholder meeting last night.

The bank will grow through expansions in a number of international markets including Brazil, Australia, India and Indonesia, following imminent moves planned for Malaysia and China.

Sanctions begin to hit Iran oil shipments - The National

Iran is feeling the squeeze on its oil exports ahead of the full implementation of EU sanctions as shipping companies are unable to insure tankers lifting crude out of the Islamic republic.

Exports to the EU have already been reduced to a trickle and overall exports have fallen as the state-owned Iranian shipping company struggles to replace the foreign tanker fleet.

When EU sanctions become fully binding on July 1, the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) will be the only remaining shipper to deliver crude out of Iran, limiting exports to its remaining buyers.

The economic view from the frontlines - The National

Dennis Nally is chairman of the international accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which recently held the quarterly meeting of its "strategy council" in Dubai for the first time. Here he gives his views on the regional and global economic scene.

Why did you decide to bring the PwC gathering to the UAE?

I know the region pretty well, having travelled here a lot in recent months. But to get 21 of the senior leaders of the firm here gives them the opportunity to understand what's going on in a part of the world that's critical for us. We have big ambitions here. We want to be number one in this region over the next 12 months, which would mean overtaking Ernst & Young [a rival accounting firm]. The region is relatively small in terms of global GDP, but the potential opportunities, which is what interests the clients, make it a strategic part of the PwC network.

Qatar builds 2 pct stake in Total -report | Reuters

The sovereign wealth fund of Qatar has built up a 2 percent stake in France's oil major Total since last summer, according to newspaper Les Echos.

The stake is now worth more than 2 billion euros, the paper wrote in its Wednesday edition without citing its sources.

The oil-rich state of Qatar is now among Total's top five shareholders, after the company's employees, and Belgian investor Albert Frere.

Gulf Times – UAE not to issue sovereign bond for at least 2 years

The UAE is not planning to issue its first federal sovereign bond for at least two years, Finance Minister Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al-Maktoum said yesterday, dousing market expectations for an issue this year.
Other senior ministry officials had previously been quoted as saying the UAE’s debut sovereign bond could come at the end of 2012, once a long-awaited public debt law is approved, and be worth about $1bn.
Asked whether the Gulf Arab state had any plans to issue a bond this year or in 2013, Sheikh Hamdan, who is also a deputy ruler of Dubai, said: “No, we don’t have.”

YemenOnline - Voice of Yemen : UAE defers bond issue

The UAE has put on hold plans to issue its first federal sovereign bond, which was widely anticipated by the end of 2012, for two years, Shaikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Finance Minister and Deputy Ruler of Dubai, said on Tuesday.

Shaikh Hamdan on the sidelines of an exhibition said the emirate’s government-related entities, or GREs, which have been undergoing restructuring since 2009, are in a good shape.

Market watchers have been speculating about the first UAE federal bond issue of $1 billion before the year-end after a public debt bill becomes law.

Dubai Ports World to expand India ops, sees potential in minor ports - The Economic Times

Global maritime terminal developer Dubai Ports World, which operates container terminals at major ports in India, is now eyeing minor ports in the country as part of its expansion strategy, as policy hurdles continue to haunt major port projects.

The company, promoted by the government of UAE and which currently has an operational terminal at one minor port at Mundra in Gujarat, is scouting for operating terminals and allied business across minor ports in India. Currently, the company operates container terminals at JNPT and Chennai port. It also operates the country's first transshipment hub in Cochin.

"We see huge potential in minor ports category as they are expected to grow further at a time when some of the major ports are choked in terms of capacity," said Anil Singh, managing director of DP World (subcontinent).

Bahrain Credit Risk Rises as Protests Irk Investors: Arab Credit - Businessweek

Bahrain’s credit risk is rebounding from a four-month low after anti-government rallies stoked foreign investor concern the Persian Gulf state won’t overcome last year’s protests.

The cost to insure Bahrain’s debt against non-payment for five years climbed six basis points, or 0.06 percentage points, since falling to 366 on March 8. A day later, demonstrators belonging mainly to the nation’s Shiite Muslim majority held one of its largest rallies on a major highway outside the capital Manama, pushing credit default swaps to 371 yesterday, according to data provider CMA. That’s double what it was before the Arab uprisings started early last year.

Protests by mostly Shiites protesters demanding equal rights with the Sunni Muslim minority underscore the kingdom’s struggle to hang on to its status as a financial center in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council. The smallest GCC economy is set to grow at the region’s slowest pace in 2012, estimates compiled by Bloomberg show.