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Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Mobius Leads Saudi Bulls on Volatility: Riskless Return - Bloomberg

Money managers from Mark Mobius to John Burbank are bullish on Saudi Arabia, where stocks are producing the world’s best risk-adjusted gains in 2012 with lower volatility than longer-term U.S. Treasuries.
The BLOOMBERG RISKLESS RETURN RANKING shows the Tadawul All Share Index climbed 2.5 percent this year through yesterday after adjusting for price swings, the biggest advance among equity gauges in 73 nations, as oil rallied and speculation grew that the world’s biggest crude exporter will remove restrictions on foreign investors. Volatility in Saudi Arabia is the third- lowest among the world’s 25 biggest markets and dropped below that of the Bloomberg/EFFAS U.S. Government 10+ Year Index of long-term bonds for the first time since 1996.

Arab Spring Turns to Economic Winter on More Joblessness - Bloomberg

Amir Mohammed has been sleeping outside the Libyan Embassy in Cairo awaiting a visa for a week, his bed a layer of cardboard on the sidewalk. He has given up on finding a job in Egypt and is looking for a way out.
“I’m trying to just eke out an existence in my own country, but I can’t,” the 30-year-old hairdresser said. “There’s no work. Why did we have a revolution? We wanted better living standards, social justice and freedom. Instead, we’re suffering.”
The world’s highest youth jobless rate left the Middle East vulnerable to the uprisings that ousted Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and three other leaders in the past year. It has got worse since then. About 1 million Egyptians lost their jobs in 2011 as the economy shrank for the first time in decades. Unemployment in Tunisia, where the revolts began, climbed above 18 percent, the central bank said in January. It was 13 percent in 2010, International Monetary Fund data show.

Azerbaijan: Jockeying Intensifies in Caspian Gas Pipeline Race |

The Nabucco pipeline may not be dead yet. A scaled-down version of the long-planned project could end up being folded into a joint Azerbaijani-Turkish effort to transport natural gas from the Caspian Basin to Europe.

Caspian gas exports was the main topic of discussion at the 11th Georgian International Oil & Gas, Energy & Infrastructure Conference and Showcase, held March 28 in Tbilisi. It was clear from the chatter of conference participants that lots of maneuvering is still going on.

Back in December, Turkey and Azerbaijan signed a memorandum of understanding to build a trans-Anatolian pipeline, dubbed TANAP, which would deliver Azerbaijani gas to Europe. The project, with a cost estimate of upwards of $5 billion, appeared to deliver a death blow to the Nabucco initiative, which has faced repeated delays due to a lack of reliable gas supplies.

Saudi Arabia Seeks Lower Crude Price for Growth, Al-Naimi Says - Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia’s (OPCRSAUD) Oil Minister Ali al- Naimi said he wants to see lower crude prices to help stimulate economic growth.
There is “no rational reason” for current high oil prices, al-Naimi said today in an editorial published in the Financial Times, echoing comments he made to reporters in Doha, Qatar on March 20. “Saudi Arabia would like to see a lower price,” he wrote.
Brent crude gained 15 percent this year partly because of concern that tensions between Iran and western nations may reduce exports. The market remains vulnerable to supply disruptions from the Middle East, Jeffery Currie, head of commodities research at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., said today in a report.

MENA stock markets close - March 28, 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)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Egypt rallies on OT Algeria news; Gulf bourses mixed | News by Country | Reuters

Egypt's bourse rallied on Wednesday after an Algerian finance ministry source said the government would pay $6.5 billion to acquire a majority stake in Orascom Telecom's (OT) unit Djezzy, while trading was mixed on Gulf markets.

Resolution of a long-running dispute over Djezzy would lift a cloud that has hung for years over OT, a heavyweight on Egypt's bourse, and could bring more funds flowing into the country's entire equity market.

Analysts said the Algerian finance ministry source's implied valuation of Djezzy was far above their expectations.

Saudi lender SABB sells $400 mln sukuk in private placement - Yahoo! News UK

Saudi British Bank sold a five-year 1.5 billion riyal ($400 million) Islamic bond, or sukuk, in a private placement on Wednesday, a banking source familiar with the matter said.
"It was subordinated sukuk of 1.5 billion riyals with a tenor of five years, maturing in 2017. The pricing was 120 basis points over sibor (Saudi interbank offered rate)," the source told Reuters, adding the deal was privately placed.
SABB is the Saudi affiliate of HSBC. It posted a 65 percent rise in fourth quarter profit on lower operating costs.

Gulf telecoms groups cool their heels -

Gulf telecoms companies that spent much of the past decade making headline-grabbing overseas buys are shifting gear as the realities of competition, risk and a maturing industry catch up with them.
Mobile phone operators that emerged as the region’s most high-profile international service export have scrapped some of their grander global ambitions in exchange for a less glamorous but often more profitable strategy of boosting growth closer to home.
The businesses’ changing approach and the international commercial reverses suffered by some of them has highlighted the task facing Gulf states as they try to use petro-riches to diversify their economies.

Standard launched for Islamic profit rate swap - Yahoo! News UK

In an effort to help Islamic financial institutions hedge risk, global standard-setting bodies have launched a standard contract template for Islamic profit rate swaps (PRS).
By exchanging one cash flow for another, PRS function in a similar way to the interest rate swaps (IRS) widely used in conventional financial markets. But they do not use interest rates, which are banned under Islamic principles.
The template was put together by the Bahrain-based International Islamic Financial Market (IIFM) and the
International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA).

UPDATE 1-Qatar economy grows 14 pct in 2011, likely to slow | Reuters

Qatar's economy expanded 14 percent in inflation-adjusted terms last year as energy exports gave it one of the highest growth rates in the world, although the pace was slower than analysts had expected, preliminary data from the Statistics Authority showed on Wednesday.

Real gross domestic product of the world's top liquefied natural gas exporter grew 4.4 percent quarter-on-quarter in the final three months of 2011, and 14.7 percent on an annual basis, the data revealed.

Last year's growth was below a consensus estimate of 17.5 percent given by a Reuters poll of analysts, and below the International Monetary Fund's latest estimate of 18.7 percent. A statement from the statistics authority did not explain the discrepancy.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Qatar at 11-wk high; Dubai snaps 2-day dip - Yahoo! News UK

Qatar's bourse ends at an 11-week high as sentiment picks up ahead of first-quarter earnings. Banks and service sector stocks support gains. Qatar Telecom climbs 1.2 percent, Qatar Islamic Bank rises 0.8 percent and Commercial Bank of Qatar adds 0.5 percent.
"With nearly all companies declaring great profits for 2011, the market is excited and optimistic about the upcoming period," says Yassir Mckee, executive manager at Al Rayan Financial Brokerage.
The index climbs 0.2 percent to close at 8,790 points, its highest finish since Jan. 9.

REFILE-MIDEAST WEEKAHEAD-Qatar may take over lead in Gulf stock rally | Reuters

Qatar's stock market is the worst-performing in the Gulf so far this year. But a surge in prices this week suggests it could now start to outperform the region, boosted by healthy corporate earnings, traders and analysts say.

The Qatari market has been neglected during the regional bull run that began in January, because investors saw more value in markets such as beaten-down Dubai, up 24 percent this year, and Saudi Arabia, up 21 percent. By contrast, Qatar's main index has gained less than 0.1 percent in 2012.

This pattern could be changing, however. Dubai has essentially moved sideways in the past three weeks while the Saudi Arabian index, while continuing to hit fresh highs, has seen its 14-day momentum - a measure of the strength of its uptrend - fall sharply since early March.

Dubai Oil Bourse Wants Buyers to Make Oman Contract a Benchmark - Bloomberg

The Dubai Mercantile Exchange plans to ask crude buyers in Asia to lobby Saudi Arabia and other oil producers in the Persian Gulf to adopt its Oman crude futures contract as a benchmark for their official selling prices.
Adoption of the contract as a benchmark must be “customer- driven,” Kendal Vroman, managing director for commodity products at CME Group Inc. (CME), said in Dubai. Chicago-based CME, which last month doubled its stake in the Dubai exchange to 50 percent, will use its sales and marketing team in Asia to promote the Oman contract as a hedging tool, he said.
The energy-focused DME has been seeking to establish the Oman contract, which gives investors the option of taking physical deliveries of crude, as the pricing standard for oil sales to Asia. The exchange hopes that by boosting its trading volume it can persuade buyers of Middle Eastern oil to tell producers that the Oman contract would be their best benchmark for crude sold under long-term contracts, Vroman and DME Chairman Ahmad Sharaf told reporters at a briefing in Dubai.

Dubai Islamic Bank says redeems $750 mln sukuk - Yahoo! News UK

Dubai Islamic Bank has repaid a $750 million, five-year Islamic bond which matured on March 22 using its own resources, the bank said in an e-mailed statement on Wednesday.
The sukuk, which was issued by Dubai's largest sharia-compliant bank in March 2007, was then oversubscribed by three times, with 45 percent allocation to the Middle East, 25 percentto Asia and 30 percent to Europe.
"The ability to repay from our own resources without the need to refinance is testament to the robust fundamentals we have built over the past years," said Adnan Chilwan, deputy chief executive.

Qatar’s Mannai leads Damas bid -

A consortium led by Qatar’s Mannai Corporation has agreed to make an offer to acquire Damas, valuing the Dubai-based jewellery retailer at $445m and aiming to build a controlling stake and take the company private.
The bid, which has been approved by the board but needs shareholder approval next month, looks set to bring a close to a turbulent two-and-a-half years for Damas, which began when the retailer revealed that its main shareholders had been misusing company funds.

Qatari developer Diar eyes emerging market investments | Reuters

Qatari Diar, the property arm of Qatar's sovereign wealth fund, is eyeing investments in emerging markets this year, the company's chief executive said on Wednesday.

The property firm, whose worldwide portfolio includes 49 projects valued at over $39 billion, has been on a buying spree in Europe as part of the Gulf Arab state's strategy of employing its natural gas riches to diversify its income flows.

"We are always looking for opportunities around the world....I can say that we are now looking into the emerging markets," said Mohammed Hedfa, the group CEO for Qatari Diar told reporters in the sidelines of a conference in Dubai.

Dubai's Drydocks expects debt agreement by April 2 - Yahoo! News UK

Dubai's ship building unit Drydocks World will ask its syndicated lenders to sign a lock-up agreement over coming days and is confident it can secure their support by April 2, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.
The Dubai World unit is in negotiations to restructure a $2.2 billion loan facility in an effort to put an end to long-drawn and complex debt talks.
The firms debt restructuring, initially expected to be completed by April last year, has dragged on as the presence of hedge funds and a lack of government support curbed prospects of an amicable deal.

Saudi Electric prices $1.75 bln Islamic bond - Yahoo! News UK

Saudi Electricity Co priced a $1.75 billion two-part Islamic bond on Wednesday, putting its $500 million five year portion at a fixed profit rate of 2.665 percent and its $1.25 billion 10-year tranche at 4.211 percent.

Qatar-led group agrees takeover of Dubai’s Damas

Qatari conglomerate Mannai Corp and Egyptian investment bank EFG Hermes have agreed a $0.45 per share recommended cash bid for Dubai jeweler Damas.

In a joint statement, Mannai and EFG Hermes said irrevocable undertakings had been secured from 77.8 percent of Damas shareholders, with the bid valuing Damas’ share capital at around $445 million.

The offer is at a 9.8-percent premium to Damas’ closing price on Tuesday of $0.41. The stock, which has surged 86 percent this year on talk of a potential takeover, was unchanged at 0646 GMT.

Carlyle dividend payout lacks self-check: experts | Alrroya

Private equity firm Carlyle Group’s decision to borrow a chunk of money to pay its major shareholders’ dividend early this month has been viewed by industry experts as misleading and lacking in decorum.

The US-based investment company was reported by Bloomberg to have borrowed around $500 million (Dh1.8 billion) from Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund in order to finance its expansion plans.

But the lion’s share of that amount went to the pockets of its owners, a move that could hurt the company’s reputation ahead of its plans to launch an initial public offering.

Saudi's Kingdom Holding gets approval for $1 bln bond plan - Yahoo! News UK

Kingdom Holding, the investment vehicle of Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, has received shareholder approval to sell bonds worth up to 3.75 billion riyal ($1 billion), the company said in a bourse statement on Wednesday.
The firm, 95-percent owned by Prince Alwaleed, has never issued public debt before.
Shareholders authorised the board of directors to take all necessary steps to issue the bonds, but no details on timeframe or the structure of the debt to be issued were provided in the statement.

UAE trade surplus at all time high in 2011 - Emirates 24/7

Strong oil prices allied with higher output to boost the UAE’s trade surplus to an all time high of around $94 billion in 2011, a Qatari bank has said.

The UAE’s commercial balance was the second largest in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), with Saudi Arabia’s surplus standing at $254 billion, nearly half the group’s combined trade surplus, Qatar National Bank (QNB) said in a study on the GCC trade balance released this week.

It gave no figures for previous years but IMF figures showed the UAE recorded a trade surplus of around $55 billion in 2010.

gulfnews : Flydubai denies it will take passengers at Dubai World Central early 2013

Flydubai and civil aviation officials have denied reports that the low-cost carrier will begin passenger operations through Dubai World Central airport by 2013.
“Flydubai does not have any plans to move operations to Dubai World Central by early 2013. We are happy with our current home at Dubai Terminal 2, which is convenient for passengers while offering us operational efficiency,” a Flydubai spokesperson said in an email to Gulf News.
Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Dubai Airports, confirmed that there are no plans for the relocation of Flydubai to DWC airport from Dubai International Airport at this stage.

gulfnews : Aldar projects remain on track

Al Muneera and Al Zeina, two beachfront residential developments at Al Raha Beach which are owned and managed by Aldar Properties, will be fully ready for handover to owners and tenants by the end of the second quarter, said Mohammad Al Za'abi, the company's director of estates, during a media tour of the properties in Abu Dhabi yesterday.
The delivery continued in phases last year with the first tenants taking possession in December, Al Za'abi said.
Al Muneera, which extends over the island and mainland connected via two bridges and one pedestrian bridge, comprises 1,445 units. That is 1,286 apartments, 148 town-houses and 11 villas. The community has also got Al Noor Tower, a 12-storey office building.

FNC protest over financial waste - The National

The FNC refused to pass the annual official report on federal spending yesterday, in protest at a catalogue of irregularities in government spending.

Members complained that the Federal State Audit Institute, which prepared the 2010 report, found the same problems year after year, with no clear mechanism to force ministries and other government entities to follow the law.

They said there was misuse of the national budget, with money being distributed apparently at random. For instance, the federal court in Umm Al Quwain continued to send fees to the emirate's local government, notto the federal court as it has been legally required to since 1991, leading to the court's being recorded as having no income at federal level.

A Big Bang would help keep Emirates' status star-bound - The National

UAE stock markets should be unified. It would be to the long-term benefit of the Emirates if the two exchanges in Dubai and the one in Abu Dhabi were merged into a single entity.

It would consolidate and extend the lead the UAE already has as the best hub in the Middle East, and it would be of substantial benefit to the country's economy and its future development.

I can say that with conviction, and I would find it difficult to find a financial professional in the UAE to disagree. But Jeff Singer, the chief executive of Nasdaq Dubai, the UAE's international exchange, cannot say it.

Mobius Leads Saudi Bulls on Volatility: Riskless Return - Bloomberg

Money managers from Mark Mobius to John Burbank are bullish on Saudi Arabia, where stocks are producing the world’s best risk-adjusted gains in 2012 with lower volatility than longer-term U.S. Treasuries.
The BLOOMBERG RISKLESS RETURN RANKING shows the Tadawul All Share Index has climbed 2.5 percent this year after adjusting for price swings, the biggest advance among equity gauges in 73 nations, as oil rallies and speculation builds that the world’s biggest crude exporter will remove restrictions on foreign investors. Volatility in Saudi Arabia is the third-lowest among the world’s 25 biggest markets and dropped below that of the Bloomberg/EFFAS U.S. Government 10+ Year Index of long-term bonds for the first time since 1996.

Abu Dhabi eyes £10bn injection into RBS -

Abu Dhabi has discussed a £10bn investment into Royal Bank of Scotland, as part of a complex transaction that would help pave the way for the government’s eventual exit .
The investment has been debated in the course of long-running talks between UK government officials and potential investors in both RBS and Lloyds, Britain’s two big part-nationalised banks. The discussions have taken place at regular intervals over the past three years, according to people close to the discussions.
People familiar with the talks said Sheikh Mansour, backed by other Abu Dhabi and Middle Eastern investors, had indicated his interest buying part of the British government’s RBS holding. Sheikh Mansour is best known in the UK for buying – and helping revive the fortunes of – Manchester City football club.