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Tuesday, 20 March 2012

MENA stock markets close - March 20, 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)

Saudis battle to calm oil fears -

“If you believe Hormuz will close, I will sell you the Egyptian pyramids.” So said Ali Naimi, Saudi Arabia’s oil minister, in Doha on Tuesday – part of a concerted effort by the kingdom to pour cold water on red-hot oil prices.
Mr Naimi was speaking at a briefing in Doha designed to convey a simple message – oil markets were in the grip of an unjustified “pessimism” that he was determined to dispel. “We really don’t understand why … prices are behaving the way they are,” he said.

Egypt's Citadel to grow staple crops in South Sudan | Reuters

A unit of Egyptian private equity firm Citadel Capital plans to cultivate up to 40,000 acres of farmland in South Sudan to sell staple foods such as maize in the newly-independent nation, an executive said on Tuesday.

South Sudan seceded from Sudan in July under a peace agreement that ended decades of civil war with Khartoum, but the new nation is struggling with food shortages and widespread tribal and rebel violence.

The United Nations warns that around a third of the country's roughly 8 million people will need food assistance this year after bad weather and violence hit farming.

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi drops on profit-taking; most Gulf bourses down - Yahoo! News UK

Saudi Arabia's bourse posted its largest one-day decline in three months on Tuesday as profit-taking on large-caps and speculative stocks drags the benchmark from Sunday's three-and-a-half-year peak and other Gulf bourses also decline.
The kingdom's benchmark fell 1.3 percent in its biggest one-day dip since December 13.
Heavyweights dropped, as Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) slipped 1.2 percent, Riyad Bank shed 3.8
percent and Samba Financial Group dipped 1 percent.

Dubai's JAFZA presents $2 bln debt plan to creditors - MEED - Yahoo! News UK

Dubai's Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA) has proposed a three-part refinancing plan to creditors for its $2.04 billion Islamic bond which matures in November, a report said on Tuesday.
The state-linked industrial free zone held a meeting with bankers in Dubai this week, Middle East Economic Digest (MEED) said quoting unidentified sources present at the meeting.
JAFZA proposed reducing the debt level by 700 million dirhams ($190.58 million), raising a new bank loan of about 4 billion dirhams and issuing a new sukuk worth about 2.4 billion dirhams, MEED said.

Persian Gulf Stocks: Emaar Properties and Zain Saudi Arabia - Bloomberg

The DFM General Index (DFMGI) slumped 1.5 percent, the most since March 7, to 1,643.31 at the 2 p.m. close in Dubai. Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index (SASEIDX) tumbled 1.3 percent, falling from a three-year high.

Oman’s A1 credit rating | Oman Observer

Confidence is as important in international life as well as in personal life. Frequently in nations, large institutions and indeed people are questioned about their reliability. Can they handle their debts? Are they to be relied on? In short can they be trusted without a nagging fear at the back of the mind that they will not be able to live up to their obligations?
Oman is free of any such fears, and that is official. According to the international credit rating agency, Moody’s, Oman is in the top A1 Category when it comes to assessing both Oman’s foreign and local currency government bond ratings.
Such decisions are not made lightly because much of international business depends upon what one nation thinks of another, and being at the top of this particular ladder is very important indeed.

Kuwait says Iran has assured it will not shut Hormuz | Reuters

Iran has assured Kuwait it will not try to close the vital Strait of Hormuz shipping route, Kuwait's ruler said in remarks carried by state-run news agency KUNA on Tuesday.

Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah said Kuwait nevertheless had been working for "a long time" on building up an oil stocks outside the Gulf to ensure steady supplies to customers.

After threats by Iran that it could shut the most important oil transit channel in the world, if Western governments stop it from selling crude, Kuwait's emir and other Gulf leaders have sought assurances that Tehran will not follow through with the threats.

Sharjah-based Dana Gas's debt hits USD501m in 2011

Dubai bullish on offshore RMB market - Xinhua |

Economic and trade relations between Dubai and China are set to reach new heights. The Dubai International Financial Center - that's the financial hub of the UAE - plans to start settling and clearing transactions in RMB this year. As our correspondent Lourda Sexton discovers, this comes amid increasing trade ties between the two countries - and as Dubai steps up plans to become the offshore centre for yuan settlement in the Middle East.

The United Arab Emirates is now set to become part of the growing offshore RMB market. The UAE’s financial hub, the Dubai International Financial Centre has announced that it plans to start clearing and settling transactions in Renminbi this year. Once the RMB settlement comes into force, it will allow financial institutions operating in the DIFC to clear and settle their transactions in Renminbi, meaning that the cost of trade for companies in the UAE with China will go down.

Commercial Bank of Qatar Said to Plan Meetings for Bond Sale - Businessweek

Commercial Bank of Qatar (CBQK), the Persian Gulf country’s second-biggest bank by assets, plans to meet investors for a possible sale of a benchmark-sized dollar bond, three people familiar with the matter said.

The Doha-based bank hired BNP Paribas, HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA) and Morgan Stanley to arrange the meetings starting March 22, said the people, who declined to be identified because the matter is private.

UAE econmin: bourse merger still on table, more tie-ups seen | Reuters

A long-touted merger between the Abu Dhabi and Dubai stock exchanges is still on the table, the United Arab Emirates' economy minister said on Tuesday, with a committee expected to present its recommendations by year-end.

The owners of the Dubai Financial Market, the only listed Arab bourse, and Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange announced two years ago that they were in high level talks on a merger. The process has been stalled on valuations, sources have said.

"It is still being discussed. A committee has been created to discuss ... they will report back to ESCA and then we will evaluate," said Sultan bin Saeed al-Mansouri, who is also chairman of the UAE Securities and Commodities Authority (ESCA).

Muslim Brotherhood refuses to back Egypt IMF loan | Al Akhbar English

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, the country's largest political force, on Tuesday held off from backing a request for a loan from the International Monetary Fund, urging more government transparency.

The Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party said it met with an IMF delegation in Cairo to discuss the loan which is aimed at securing Egypt's economy, in crisis since a popular uprising last year.

The FJP "does not have any reservations against dealing with the IMF or any other international institution where Egypt is a member," its head Mohammed Mursi said in a statement.

National Bank of Abu Dhabi Received $3.1 of Bids in Bond Sale - Businessweek

National Bank of Abu Dhabi PJSC, the United Arab Emirates’ second-biggest bank by assets, received $3.1 billion in bids for the $750 million bonds it sold yesterday, according to two bankers familiar with the deal.

A total of 195 investors bid for the five-year notes and 47 percent of the buyers were from the Middle East, 33 percent from Europe, 16 percent from Asia and 4 percent from the U.S. offshore, the bankers said, declining to be identified because the information is private. Commercial banks bought 28 percent of the bonds, private banks another 28 percent, mutual funds 20 percent, central banks and sovereign funds 10 percent, insurance and pension funds 6 percent and others 8 percent, they said.

National Bank of Abu Dhabi’s bonds pay a coupon of 3.25 percent and were sold at a spread of 190 basis points over the benchmark midswap rate, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Barclays Plc, HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA), UBS AG and National Bank of Abu Dhabi managed the sale.

Arcapita: sharing the pain around | beyondbrics –

Bahrian’s Arcapita bank has thrown creditors a bit of a curve ball. The bank has decided to file for bankruptcy protection in the US after talks over an upcoming bank maturity of $1.1bn on March 28 broke down.

It’s the first time a Gulf company has sought Chapter 11 refuge in US courts, and creates a new level of public scrutiny for the bank – as well as an uncertain outcome for those wanting their money back.

With US assets and offices, the Sharia-compliant bank hopes that the New York court will provide protection from hedge fund creditors eyeing their global assets, most of which lie in jurisdictions that come under US bankruptcy jurisdiction.

TEXT-S&P summary: Industries Qatar QSC | Reuters

The rating on Qatar-based petrochemical, fertilizer, and steel producer, Industries Qatar QSC, reflects its stand-alone credit profile (SACP), which Standard & Poor's assesses at 'a-', and three notches of uplift for the extraordinary financial support we expect the Qatari government would provide to Industries Qatar if needed. This results in local- and foreign-currency ratings on Industries Qatar of 'AA-'. The State of Qatar (AA/Stable/A-1+) indirectly owns 70% of Industries Qatar, which we consequently consider to be a government-related entity (GRE) under our criteria.

Emaar Board Proposes 10 Fils Dividend, Matching 2010 Payout - Businessweek

Emaar Properties PJSC (EMAAR), the United Arab Emirates’ biggest developer by market value, said its board proposed a 10 fils cash dividend for last year, matching the payout a year earlier.

Emaar, developer of the world’s tallest tower in Dubai, paid a 10 fils dividend for 2010 after the company hadn’t initially proposed a dividend. The decision was made after a three-hour meeting that saw arguments between shareholders and executives. The company, owned 31 percent by Dubai’s government, didn’t distribute dividends in 2009 and 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“There were speculations about dividend as high as 15 fils,” said Dubai-based Fadi Al Said, who oversees $250 million as senior investment manager at ING Investment Management for the Middle East and North Africa. “Since the company maintained the dividend, it may be a positive sign that it’s comfortable with its financial position.”

Temasek hires Rothschild's top M.East energy banker - source | Reuters

Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings has hired Rothschild's top Middle East energy banker, Khodor Mattar, as it aims to beef up its oil and gas investments, a source familiar with the matter said.

Mattar, who currently heads the advisory firm's Mideast and North Africa energy business in Dubai, has worked at Rothschild for 14 years. He moved from London in 2007 to advise on energy-related transactions.

At Temasek, Mattar will be part of the team responsible for investments in energy and resources sector, the source said speaking on condition of anonymity. Temasek's investments in the sector accounted for just 3 percent of its portfolio at the end of March 2011, compared with 36 percent for financial services.

Ex-Deutsche banker tipped for top Bahrain SWF job - sources | Reuters

Salman al-Khalifa, a former top regional banker at Deutsche Bank in the Middle East, is the prime contender to run the $9 billion Bahraini sovereign wealth fund Mumtalakat, two sources familiar with the matter said.

Khalifa, who is a member of Bahrain's royal family, resigned in November as Deutsche's UAE country chief and head of global markets for Middle East and North Africa.

The al-Khalifa family rules Bahrain and many ministerial jobs in the Gulf Arab island kingdom are held by family members.

UPDATE 1-NMC Health sets London IPO price range - source - Yahoo! News UK

UAE healthcare provider NMCHealth, founded by billionaire Indian entrepreneur B.R. Shetty, plans to raise $175-$244 million from its initial public offering on the London Stock Exchange, a source at a bank involved in the deal said on Tuesday.
The IPO price range has been set at 200-280 pence per share, the banker said on Tuesday. That would equate to the shares trading at 10.5-14.7 times estimated 2012 earnings.
The final amount raised from the offering could increase to $200-$281 million if a 15 percent greenshoe, or over-allotment, option was exercised, the banker said.

UAE economy seen growing almost 4 pct in 2012-Econ Min | Reuters

UAE economy seen growing almost 4 pct in 2012-Econ Min | Reuters: "The United Arab Emirates' economy is expected to grow almost 4 percent this year, the Gulf country's Economy Minister Sultan bin Saeed al-Mansouri said on Tuesday.

"The UAE economy is expected to grow by almost 4 percent in 2012," he told a conference in the UAE capital. "This is an estimate; by the end of the year it could be better."

Analysts polled by Reuters in December forecast the UAE's gross domestic product would rise 3.1 percent in 2012 after an estimated 3.9 percent expansion last year."

'via Blog this'

Amlak debt slashed by Dh4 billion - Emirates 24/7

The UAE Minister of Economy, Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, has revealed that the government has reduced Dubai-based mortgage provider Amlak Finance’s debt by Dh4 billion.

The UAE’s economy ministry website said the ministerial committee set up by the government to resolve the problem of Amlak Finance has succeeded, in coordination with the federal government and local authorities concerned, in reducing Dh4 billion in debt owed by the firm.
He stressed that the commission is keen to protect the rights of shareholders and the continuity of the company, while not exposing them to bankruptcy, pointing out that the government will not allow bankruptcies of companies, as has happened in many European countries and the US, and that the state is keen to give priority to the protection of the rights of shareholders and their interests and not expose them to any risk.

Bahrain’s debt doubles after crisis - Emirates 24/7

Measures taken by Bahrain to cushion the repercussions of the 2008 global fiscal distress nearly doubled its public debt but its ratio to GDP remains far below the 60 per cent ceiling required by the Gulf monetary union, a Kuwait bank has said.

From around 1,348 million (Dh23,400 million) at the end of 2009, the Gulf country’s public debt surged to BD2,747 million (Dh26,460 million) at the end of the first half of 2011, Global Investment House (GIH) said in an economic review of the Island nation.

The report said the debt in 2011 was nearly 12.5 per cent higher than its level at the end of 2010.

Bahrain banks in funding crisis as Arcapita files for bankruptcy « ArabianMoney

Bahrain banks face a major funding crisis this year as the eurozone sovereign debt crisis is forcing its banks to pull money out of the Middle East, while the ongoing social and political instability of the island state does not sit well with banks who put the safety of their staff first and money second.

Yesterday Bahrain-based Arcapita, an investment bank filed for US bankruptcy protection after talks with creditors over a $1.1 billion debt broke down. Arcapita CEO Atif Abdulmalik told The National that the negotiations were ‘negatively impacted’ by the eurozone crisis. Under US Chapter 11 protection Arcapita can try again.

Bahrain Air open to merger with state-backed Gulf Air - Transport -

The CEO of Bahrain Air has said he would be open to a merger with state-backed Gulf Air in a bid to enhance the carriers’ network of flights and overall operational efficiency.
In an exclusive interview with Arabian Business, the head of the privately-held carrier Richard Nuttall said there was an urgent need to solve the problems that both loss-making airlines face, and that a deal between the two carriers had a lot of support in the country.
“We are very open to merging with Gulf Air, and can see a number of synergies,” he said.

gulfnews : Dubai is investing in the future

The slowly re-emerging sense of optimism in Dubai's economy is based on the emirate's traditional strengths, which have been able to survive the shock of the financial crisis of 2009 and the collapse of the construction sector. This new optimism affects both the commercial sector and the government which is continuing to invest in an astonishing future.
In the wider market, Dubai's exceptional position as the hub of the world has allowed it to recover a lot quicker than other economies. The emirate's geographical position is a large part of the reason. As Dubai's flagship airline Emirates points out in its current planning, 6.6 billion people are within a 16-hour direct flight from Dubai.
Dubai is geographically close to Asia, Africa and Europe, which contain many of the fastest growing economies for the next decades. This is good news for Dubai's hotels and tourism industry, for its ports and airports, as it continues to grow as the only genuinely global hub and re-export centre in the region. It is also good news for the emirate's emerging centres of excellence in services like Healthcare City, Media City and Internet City, as well as the all-important Dubai International Financial Centre for the financial sector.

gulfnews : Sukuk studied to fund Emirates Glass expansion

Dubai Investments is negotiating with investors and financial institutions to fund a second phase of the Mussafah manufacturing unit of Emirates Float Glass which was officially inaugurated yesterday.
Khalid Bin Kalban, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Investments, said his company is also exploring a sukuk to fund the expansion.
Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, officially inaugurated the upgraded Emirates Float Glass (EFG) factory, a subsidiary of Glass, which is wholly-owned by Dubai Investments, at the Abu Dhabi Industrial City in Mussafah.

Arabic welcome in the DIFC Courts - The National

There has been a growing demand to enable the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts, a cluster of common law courts established in 2007, to operate in Arabic as well as English. As The National reported yesterday, legal experts have said licensed law firms could easily operate in Arabic but legislation is needed to sanction the change.

In a conference earlier this month, officials at the DIFC said the issue is being studied. Such a move would give access to established Arab legal practitioners, and also would have a considerable effect on the quality of legal proceedings throughout the country.

But to start, there are many questions to be answered before drafting legislation. Would all orders, transcripts and papers be available in both languages? And in case of discrepancies between the two texts, which one would take precedence? Discrepancy is a major issue in courts of law, which can be used in favour of one or another party. More questions might emerge as the courts implemented bilingual proceedings.

Bank nominees under scrutiny by UAE Central Bank - The National

The Central Bank is preparing a "fit and proper" test for appointments to executive positions in the financial services sector.

In a speech given last week but released yesterday, Sultan bin Nasser Al Suwaidi, the Governor of the Central Bank, said that the banking regulator would seek to ensure that executives at UAE lenders had the necessary technical understanding to safely manage their organisations.

"This test is focused on ensuring that such officers do have the required technical expertise, including expertise in risk assessment and risk management, which proved essential in the wake of the recent international financial crisis," he said. In his speech, Mr Al Suwaidi called on lenders to attempt to minimise the effect that a single bloc within a bank's board can have on its appetite for risky lending.

gulfnews : UAE banks: Loan write-offs will set a bad precedent, eat into profits

Forcing banks to write off loans to help customers tide over their financial difficulties will set a wrong precedent and will adversely affect the health of bank balance sheets, bankers and analysts told Gulf News on Sunday.
"Banks can at best restructure loans, waive interest payments and facilitate early settlements of loans without charging any penalty on customers facing financial difficulties.
"But if we force banks to write off loans, we will soon have banks facing difficulties," the retail banking head of a Dubai-based bank said.

Saudi Electricity picks banks for sukuk roadshow |

Saudi Electricity Co. (SEC) can expect strong appetite for its debut foray into global debt markets, after the state-owned utility picked banks for roadshows ahead of a potential dollar-denominated Islamic bond.
SEC will hold investor meetings in Asia, the Middle East and Europe starting March 21 following which the company may issue a sukuk, subject to market conditions.
“”The new Saudi Electric sukuk will be very well-received by investors as it promises to be a rare foray into dollar-denominated investment-grade territory,”" said John Bates, head of fixed income at London-based asset manager Silk Invest.

gulfnews : Gulf banks warned to brace for fall in European funding

Some banking systems in the GCC could face funding gaps in the event of massive deleveraging and the consequent exit of European banks from funding in the region, Moody's analysts said yesterday.
Although the economic reliance on European bank funding varies across the GCC, Moody's says that a decrease in lending by European banks to the region could lead to a short-term liquidity squeeze and, more likely, a longer-term structural shortfall. In order to meet this gap, local GCC banks would need to grow as well as adjust their own funding structures. Asian banks are also likely to be a growing source of foreign funding.
The European banks' retrenchment from the region has been prompted by the ongoing euro-area debt crisis and their need to deleverage and build up capital buffers.

U.A.E. Seeks Ways to Fund Iran Trade -

The United Arab Emirates is looking for ways to continue financing legitimate trade with Iran after the organization that handles world-wide banking transfers disconnected most Iranian banks from its systems over the weekend, according to U.A.E. Economy Minister Sultan Al Mansouri.

Mr. Al Mansouri said he met his Iranian counterpart, Sayyed Shamsuddine Huseini, last week in Dubai and discussed trade relations and how to help U.A.E. and Iranian businesses caught up in the recent ban on banking transfers implemented by the Belgium-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, which is known as Swift.

"We discussed the issue of financial transfers, to safeguard the best interest of traders from both countries...most importantly we discussed the issue of the Swift system which has been shut down," Mr. Al Mansouri said in a telephone interview with Zawya Dow Jones.

UAE moves closer to energy-hungry Asia - Zawya

UAE-South Korea trade is expected to rise 21% this year, as hydrocarbons-rich Gulf states move closer to energy-hungry Asian markets
"We now have our own fields in the Middle East," exulted Lee Myung-bak, South Korea's president, as he announced his country's recent USD2-billion oil deal with the United Arab Emirates.

The energy-insecure country had good reason for feeling triumphant: Korea National Corporation's 40% stake in three oil production blocks in Abu Dhabi contains an estimated reserves of more than 500-million barrels.