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Monday, 9 April 2012

Cairo launch of regional research body -

A new Cairo-based think-tank aims to capitalise on an increased demand for information and comment on the Middle East in the wake of the Arab spring.
The Signet Institute is being launched at a time when analysis of the region faces conflicting pressures. Global media interest has increased alongside revolutions and their aftermaths, but those same revolutions have led to a closer scrutiny of independent think-tanks and media outlets, particularly those with international connections.

MENA stock markets close - April 9, 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)

Iranians join Arab investors in Turkey real estate frenzy

Large real estate groups from Iran are now joining Gulf investors by showing interest in Turkey's lucrative housing markets, with buyers from these countries eyeing large purchases following anticipated regulations to facilitate property sales to foreigners.
Fueled by a sustainable economic expansion over the past decade, Turkey has seen its real estate markets boom as hundreds of new housing projects have mushroomed across the country. Favorable conditions in Turkish housing markets have not escaped the radar of foreign investors, who would like to benefit from a high demand and increasing property value. Meanwhile, European real estate markets have plunged due to a lingering sovereign debt crisis.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Saudi extends dip; king slams mkt manipulation - Yahoo! News UK

Saudi Arabia's bourse recovers most of its early-session losses, but still ends lower as investors cut positions ahead of an expected crackdown against market manipulation.
King Abdullah has ordered the crackdown, insisting action should be taken if necessary against improper trading, the daily Alsharq newspaper reported on Monday.
This spooked retail investors, who either tried to reduce their market exposure or stayed away altogether. Daily turnover fell to 11.69 billion Saudi riyals ($3.12 billion), the lowest since March 3.

Dubai's ENBD seeks approval to merge Islamic units-sources | Reuters

Emirates NBD, Dubai's largest lender, is seeking approval from three government bodies to merge its two Islamic banking units, sources told Reuters on Monday.

The bank is aiming to combine its Emirates Islamic Bank arm with Dubai Bank, the debt-laden lender acquired in October at the behest of the Dubai government. The rationalisation has been expected by the market since the takeover was announced.

"Emirates NBD is now fine-tuning the legal paperwork ahead of the merger of the two banks," one source with knowledge of the matter said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

KFH tries to pacify investors with shake-up -

After a raucous shareholder meeting and years of declining profits, Kuwait’s biggest Islamic lender is hoping a new turnround plan will help it regain the confidence of investors.
The plan’s outcome will be closely watched by Gulf bankers, as the region’s financial industry remains haunted by the non-performing loans and problem assets that are a legacy of the financial crisis.

Pakistan row nears end and UAE’s Etisalat may have to pay out

Pakistan Telecommunication (PTCL) should soon receive assets due to it as part of its partial privatization, its chief executive said, a development that could trigger an $800 million payment from shareholder Etisalat to the government.

Etisalat, the no.1 telecoms operator in the United Arab Emirates, led a consortium that bought a 26-percent stake in the Pakistani former monopoly for $2.6 billion in 2006.

The deal included transferring ownership of about 3,000 real estate properties to PTCL from the government, but this stalled and Etisalat withheld the final $800 million it owed.

Resilient Dubai market saves 1,650-level despite headwinds | Finance and Economy |

The Dubai Financial Market (DFM) traded nervously Monday amid weak input from Saudi Arabia and Asia, but avoided a meltdown amid low trading turnover as Europe remained closed due to Easter holidays. The DFMGI ended 0.66% lower at 1,657.59 points. Emaar slipped 0.92%, but Arabtec Construction (up 1.82%) and Union Properties (3.37% higher) cushioned the fickle market. Positive remarks by Emirates NBD (off 1.05%) Chief Economist Tim Fox supported the gauge. "The easing in global risk aversion in recent weeks has benefitted Dubai," Fox said in his GCC Quarterly published Monday. "The emirate's 5-year Credit Default Swaps (CDS) has declined 110 basis points year-to-date and is currently at the lowest level since early August 2011. Dubai based issuers have taken advantage of the improved market conditions and issued $2.5bn worth of debt in Q1 2012, more than double the $1.1bn issued in Q1 2011." ENBD's Fox concluded: "Given the high refinancing requirements of Dubai Government Related Entities (GREs) this year, the strong start to the year in terms of debt issuance is encouraging and reduces some of the re-financing risk facing the emirate in 2012." Some 193m shares were traded, valued at Dhs255.4m.

UPDATE 1-Dubai Duty Free picks banks for $1.1 bn loan - Yahoo! News UK

Airport retailer Dubai Duty Free has mandated banks for a $1.1 billion multi-tranche loan facility to help fund the expansion of Dubai's international airport, the company said in a statement on Monday.
Citibank along with Dubai Islamic, HSBC and Emirates NBD have been hired to arrange and coordinate the debut international transaction, the company said in an emailed statement.
DDF, which is owned by Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD), said the facility includes Islamic and conventional tranches.

UPDATE 1-Kuwait's Burgan in $355 mln deal for Eurobank's Turkish arm - Yahoo! News UK

EFG Eurobank will sell its Turkish arm to Kuwait's Burgan Bank, in a $355 million deal which will help shore up the struggling Greek lender's capital base.
Burgan, the commercial banking arm of Kuwait Projects Co (KIPCO), will also absorb $280 million of loans issued by EFG to the Turkish unit as part of the deal, it said in a bourse filing on Monday.
"The bank has signed today an agreement with EFG Eurobank to buy 99.26 percent stake in Turkish lender Eurobank Tekfen for 99 million Kuwaiti dinars," Burgan said in the filing.

Saudi Princes Liable for Trading Violations, Al Sharq Says - Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah asked the stock market regulator to investigate trading violations even if they involve a member of the royal family, Al Sharq reported on its website, citing a letter to the regulator.
An official at the Capital Market Authority declined to comment when contacted by Bloomberg News today.
The kingdom’s benchmark Tadawul All Share Index (SASEIDX) has surged 20 percent so far this year, a rally that has been driven by retail investors, according to ING Investment Management’s Yazan Abdeen, who helps oversee about $250 million as a fund manager in Dubai.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Dubai extends decline; Oman halts rally - Yahoo! News UK

Dubai's index extends decline as global losses weigh but downside is limited as market participants hold back for fresh catalysts.
The benchmark dips 0.6 percent to 1,660 points, its third straight loss, which trims year-to-date gains to 22.4 percent.
Dubai Financial Market, the only listed Gulf bourse, falls 1.7 percent. Mortgage lender Tamweel sheds 1.5 percent and Gulf Navigation retreats 2.2 percent. These three stocks account for the bulk of total trade.

Qatar's sovereign fund fund takes 5pc slice of Xstrata - Telegraph

The move, which has angered some of Xstrata's shareholders, sees Qatar overtake Standard Life and Legal & General to become the third biggest investor after Glencore (33.6pc) and Blackrock (5.43pc).
Aside from Blackrock, most other top 10 investors have been critical of the merger deal and the terms that Xstrata has agreed. However, Qatar's intervention, via its QIA vehicle, is expected to deliver crucial support to Glencore ahead of a planned shareholder vote in the summer.
"It makes us feel very uneasy to see the appearance of this sovereign wealth fund on the shareholder register. It almost certainly means votes are in the bag for Ivan [Glasenberg]," said Schroders fund manager, Richard Buxton.

New US book on emerging markets names Dubai as a top opportunity but is that a warning signal? « ArabianMoney

Agora Financial’s managing editor Chris Mayer is an indefatigable traveller and wonders the globe in his new book ‘World Right Side Up: Investing in Six Continents’. He alights in Dubai and finds great opportunity for investors in the real estate crash and stock market turmoil of recent years.

It is always refreshing to get an outsider’s perspective even one from a friend of ArabianMoney like Mr Mayer. But he is a true contrarian and pens an optimistic outlook for Dubai while memories of the dark side of global journalism as still fresh in the city.

gulfnews : Gulf banks bounce back from stagnation

The banking industry in the Middle East experienced a healthy revenue growth of seven per cent in 2011 after a year of stagnation and the strong recovery was led by GCC banks, according to the latest Middle East Banking Index of Boston Consulting Group (BCG).
The overall profits of Middle East banks increased significantly in 2011, reaching the highest level since the all-time high in 2007. Loan loss provisions (LLPs) fell by two per cent although a number of banks that were previously not affected and had relatively low LLPs needed to make more provisions.
While banks in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain had healthy revenue growth rates between four per cent and eight per cent in 2011, those in Oman and Qatar grew revenues by 11 per cent and 22 per cent, respectively. In addition, banks in all countries except in Kuwait and Oman achieved double-digit aggregate profit growth rates.

gulfnews : GCC construction set to rebound

The construction sector in the GCC is poised for a rebound, with $286 billion (Dh1 trillion) in projects set to be awarded between 2012 and 2016, according to a new research report.
A breakdown of project values to be awarded in each of the six GCC countries shows Saudi Arabia leading the pace with more than $119 billion to be awarded before 2016, followed by the UAE with $75 billion.
Elsewhere in the GCC, Oman is expected to award more than $30 billion, followed by Qatar with $26 billion, Kuwait with more than $25 billion projects up for tender, and Bahrain with $10 billion.

EFG-Hermes pays price for Egypt's revolution - The National

The year of revolution in Egypt has taken its toll on the country's biggest investment bank as profits at EFG-Hermes tumbled 81 per cent.

The disappointing earnings sent the stock to its lowest in more than a month, closing 3.4 per cent down at 12.4 Egyptian pounds.

Full-year profit fell to 133 million pounds (Dh80.9m) from 700.4m pounds a year earlier. EFG-Hermes blamed the decline on lower revenues because of political unrest in the region during the Arab Spring.

Exclusive: Egypt's Islamist candidate says IMF deal unlikely - Yahoo! News UK

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has warned the government it will not support an IMF loan unless the terms are changed or it moves aside and allows a new administration to oversee how the funds are spent, its candidate for president said on Sunday.
The government has been negotiating a $3.2 billion loan with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help it avert a balance of payments crisis caused by the political and economic turmoil of the last year, and an IMF technical team is now in Cairo.
The IMF has said that before it agrees to a loan, the government must first sell the plan to the country's political groupings, especially the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, which won nearly half the seats in the new parliament.

Libya probing local, foreign oil companies: WSJ - Yahoo! News UK

The Libyan general prosecutor's office is investigating foreign and domestic oil companies over their past operations in the country, which is recovering from a civil war that ended with the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The office is probing Libyan and foreign operators in the country for possible financial irregularities, the body's deputy head, Abdelmajeed Saad, told the newspaper.
The prosecutor's office has asked the head of audit at Libya's National Oil Corp to supply it with documents related to transactions between the oil company and international traders Vitol Group and Glencore International, the Journal said.

UAE chief exec calls for change in bank law - The National

The UAE's bankruptcy laws are hampering lending to businesses and are in urgent need of reform, the chief executive of one of the country's biggest international banks warns.

Outmoded laws and lack of a formal bankruptcy code were affecting banks' ability to lend, particularly to the entrepreneurs and small businesses that drive economic growth, said Jonathan Morris, the UAE chief executive of Standard Chartered.

"The frustration is that you look at this incredible physical infrastructure that we've built, in a place that continues to recognise the benefits of world-class infrastructure through rail, roads, ports and telecoms … and how that's made the UAE such an attractive investment destination," he said.

Gulf and Asia 'are in a sweet spot' - The National

For Deutsche Bank's global strategist the glass is half full rather than half empty. He expects the world's growth momentum to pick up, even in Europe. The Middle East is well placed to benefit as economic power shifts from the Pacific Rim towards the Indian Ocean. Tom Arnold writes

Deutsche Bank has managed to dodge the sovereign debt turmoil ripping through Europe. The German bank has even leapfrogged BNP Paribas to become the continent's largest lender by assets.

Last week, Sanjeev Sanyal, the global strategist at Deutsche Bank, visited Abu Dhabi for the World Ports & Trade Summit. He spoke to The National about the problems facing the global economy, including the euro-zone debt crisis.

Dubai builder predicts improved first quarter - The National

Union Properties is predicting an improved first quarter when it reports its results, after property transactions in Dubai surged 53 per cent.

"The first quarter looks positive, much better than 2011 … and if there is a continuation of that trend it should benefit the sector in the medium term," said Khalid bin Kalban, the chief executive in Dubai.

Investors made 654 land sales, which include apartments, villas and townhouses, between January 1 and March 31, official data from the Dubai Land Department shows, compared with 426 transactions in the year-earlier period.

gulfnews : Wealth surge attracts private banks

The strong return of growth in private wealth in the region to pre-crisis levels combined with a marked slowdown in private wealth creation across the West is attracting a large number of wealth managers to the region.
Capgemini and Merrill Lynch's World Wealth Report for 2010 showed that the number of wealthy individuals in the region rose by 10 per cent to 400,000, the size of their wealth jumping 12.5 per cent, outpacing every region except Africa.
In a recent interview with Gulf News, Tamer Rashad, Merrill Lynch's managing director and head of global wealth and investment management in the Middle East and North Africa, explained the latest trend in the global and regional wealth management industry.