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Sunday, 25 March 2012

The Associated Press: Kuwait names new central bank governor

Kuwait is promoting the central bank's deputy governor to the institution's top spot following the resignation of its long-serving leader last month, the finance minister announced Sunday.
The appointment of Mohammed Yusef al-Hashel as central bank governor comes as Kuwaiti labor groups, emboldened by Arab Spring protests elsewhere in the region, press for higher wages and perks from the country's rulers.
Mustafa al-Shimali, the Gulf nation's deputy prime minister and minister of finance, said the Cabinet approved al-Hashel's appointment, according to the official Kuwait News Agency.

MENA stock markets close - March 25, 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)

Oman backs merger of HSBC unit with local lender - Yahoo! News UK

Oman's central bank has approved the planned merger of HSBC Holdings' operations in the tiny Gulf Arab state with local lender Oman International Bank, the central bank said on Sunday.
Both HSBC and OIB said in October last year they were in talks about merging their operations in Oman, without providing details on the structure of the transaction.
"The board has approved, in principle, the merger between Oman International Bank and HSBC Bank Middle East's Oman branches provided the merger does not conflict with local laws," the statement from the central bank said.

UBS names Odgers MENA investment banking head - source - Yahoo! News UK

Swiss bank UBS has named Matthew Odgers as head of its Middle East, North Africa (MENA) investment banking department, a source familiar with the matter said.
Odgers, a managing director with UBS who moved to Dubai in 2008 from London, will be in charge of the bank's advisory and client coverage business in the region, the source said speaking on condition of anonymity as the matter has not been made public yet.
Chris Niehaus, who relocated to London earlier in the year, previously headed up the investment banking business in the region, including the bank's equities trading and fixed income business.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Banks lead Saudi to highest close since 2008 - Yahoo! News UK

Banks lead Saudi Arabia's bourse to fresh three-and-half-year high and analysts expect the kingdom's financial sector to lift the market further, backed by strong fundamentals.
The main benchmark rises 1.1 percent to finish at 7,759 points, its highest close since September 2008 and third
straight gain.
"The index is approaching a resistance between the 7,800 and 8,000 points range," says Mateb Al Ghanim, portfolio manager at Amlakuna Investment Group.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Egypt shares tumble on renewed worry over economy - Yahoo! News UK

Egyptian shares tumble after a gasoline shortage, a transport strike and tensions between the ruling army and the
Muslim Brotherhood raise concerns the country may entering a new round of economic and political instability, traders say.
Long queues began snaking outside of petrol stations late last week and continued over the weekend, drivers say. Energy analysts have said the government is finding it increasingly hard to come up with the foreign currency it needs to import gasoline.
At the same time, a transport strike that has kept buses off the streets for more than a week prompted the army to move some of its buses to help get at least some of the people affected to work.

Abu Dhabi Shares Gain Most in 2 Weeks as Oil Rise Boosts Outlook - Bloomberg

Abu Dhabi’s benchmark stock index rose the most in almost two weeks, tracking a rally in Saudi Arabian shares, as rising oil prices boost the economic outlook for the world’s top oil-exporting region.
Aldar Properties PJSC (ALDAR), the real-estate developer in merger talks with Sorouh Real Estate Co. (SOROUH), headed for the biggest gain since March 14. The benchmark ADX General Index (ADSMI) advanced 0.7 percent, the most since March 12, to 2,585 at 12:08 a.m. in the emirate. Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index climbed 1.8 percent yesterday, the most in seven months.
Crude oil for May delivery rose 1.4 percent to settle at $106.87 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on March 23 after Reuters reported Iranian oil exports will drop by 300,000 barrels a day this month because of tighter sanctions. Abu Dhabi holds 7 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves.

Emaar 2011 Apartment Sales Decline 85% as Villa Sales Climb - Bloomberg

Emaar Properties PJSC (EMAAR), the developer of the world’s tallest tower in Dubai, said revenue from apartment sales plunged 85 percent last year. Sales of villas climbed 85 percent during the period.
Income from apartment sales dropped to 1.11 billion dirhams ($303 million) from 7.56 billion dirhams a year earlier, according to Emaar’s financial statement posted on Dubai’s stock market today. Revenue from the sale of villas rose to 959 million dirhams from 517.3 million dirhams. Emaar posted a 27 percent decline in full-year profit on Feb. 14 and provided a breakdown of revenue today.
Dubai’s housing market is hitting bottom after a boom led by speculators collapsed in 2008, causing prices to drop by more than 65 percent. Villas are now attracting more interest than apartments, which dominate Dubai’s market, as rental yields on villas tend to be higher.

Why is HSBC selling out of private equity in the Middle East? « ArabianMoney

Interesting news today that HSBC is selling an 80.1 per cent stake in its Dubai-based operation HSBC Private Equity Middle East for an undisclosed sum to its current management team.

They are buying it back, having sold out to HSBC more than a decade ago. One can only speculate on the reason why. A fair guess must be that the bank and the management team sharply disagree over their future business plan. HSBC Private Equity Middle East has $480 million under management.

Why is Saudi sending so much oil to the US this month and next and is this a danger for oil prices? « ArabianMoney

The Saudi state-owned shipping group Vela is sending 11 supertankers containing 22 million barrels of crude oil the the US this month and next leaving observers wondering why the oil market is being hit with such a large volume in such a short timeframe.

ArabianMoney can only join in the conspiracy theories at this point. The deliveries can have one or two reasons: to lower the price of oil or provide a stockpile for an imminent war in the Gulf of Arabia, or both. There is another suggestion of a complex oil short position requiring actual physical delivery that sounds a bit far fetched for our imagination.

gulfnews : Liquidity in the Gulf banking system goes beyond price of oil

It's not an unreasonable idea that banking liquidity and economic growth in the Gulf region would move roughly in line with the countries' oil receipts, and therefore oil prices.
Equally, the phenomena of boom and bust, of excess and shakeout, are familiar to all, and especially so in a quasi-currency bloc where interest and exchange rates are essentially pegged, and wealth accumulation relates so predominantly to the energy resource.
For the banks, however, there are refinements and distinctions to be drawn in their experience of lending, even beyond the respective risk management practices of individual institutions.

gulfnews : Formal education failing to secure jobs for Arab youth

Let's start by just becoming familiar with the numbers. One in four Arab youth aged 15 to 24 who are looking for a job face the frustration and disappointment of not being able to find one. This is twice the global average. Among young female jobseekers, the situation is even more alarming, with 1 in 3 finding naught for their efforts.
And these rates only consider the youth actually looking for jobs. The region's labour force participation rates are among the lowest globally, currently standing at around 35 per cent, compared to the global average of 52 per cent. This is both a function of low female participation and youth frustration with job prospects.
An aspiration of bringing the Arab region to global average labour participation levels would require over 85 million jobs over the next ten years — that is equal to the total population of Egypt.

Islamic Development Bank insures more than $3 billion of deals - The National

More than US$3 billion (Dh11.02bn) of business deals were insured by the export credit and investment insurance arm of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) last year.

Driven by demand to guard against the global financial crisis and regional instability, the value of deals insured soared 63 per cent jump from 2010, when $1.9bn of deals were financed by the Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investments and Export Credit (ICIEC).

"We had a very good year in 2011," said Owais Diyan, the head of operations in the Dubai office of ICIEC. "We have had the global financial crisis where bankruptcies have hit the roof, and that gave a fillip to exporters seeking credit mitigation insurance. We also had the issues in the Arab world, and both of these combined to give credit insurance a boost."

GCC to post 1 trillion surpluses in five years |

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries remain pivotal to any business strategy in the Middle East and its growing importance in the regions business and trade activities cannot be ignored, according to Edmund OSullivan, Chairman, Middle East Economic Digest.
Speaking during a networking session in Dubai recently ahead of the second edition of the World Ports & Trade Summit (WPTS) 2012 that will run on April 2-4 in Abu Dhabi, he said while recession continues to pose concerns, the GCC countries are comparatively well entrenched having accumulated almost $1.5 trillion in surpluses since 2000. Besides, debt is generally low in these countries.
“”GCC states are forecasted by the IMF to generate at least $1 trillion worth of surpluses 2011-16. This is more than enough to finance all foreseeable infrastructure requirements and support continuing external investments,”" OSullivan said.

Gulf Times – GCC trade balance world’s highest; Qatar’s share 15%

Qatar accounted for $79bn or about 15% of the record $520bn trade surplus generated by the GCC region in 2011, a new study reveals.
The Gulf region’s aggregated trade balance — the difference between the value of its exports and imports — is the largest in the world, according to a QNB Group analysis.
The GCC’s massive trade surplus, mainly a consequence of hydrocarbon exports, is twice the size of the country with the next largest surplus, China, and is also about two-thirds the size of the US’s trade deficit.

gulfnews : Dubai to issue investors instant trade licences

The Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) is planning to issue instant trade lic-ences to investors under a new ‘120 days hassle free licence' initiative that will be launched this year.
The move, which will allow investors to have their licences issued immediately, will drastically simplify the investment and business registration process, depending on the risk factors of the intended business activity.
“ The 120-day licence is part of DED's efforts to enable businesses to make full use of the advantages of Dubai and improve the emirate's ranking in the Doing Business Report of the World Bank ”
Mohammad Shael, Chief Executive Officer of the Business Registration and Licensing (BRL) Division