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Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Saudi Arabia's banks surge in the first quarter - The National

The biggest banks in Saudi Arabia have reported strong earnings for the first quarter, spurred by government spending plans and a bull market in local stocks.

Al Rajhi Bank, the region's biggest lender by market capitalisation, topped analysts' estimates with an 18.3 per cent increase in quarterly income to 2.01 billion Saudi riyals (Dh1.96bn), compared with the same period last year.

Banque Saudi Fransi generated a profit of 789 million riyals, a 10 per cent increase on the same period a year earlier.

UAE rules out income, corporate tax plans

The UAE has no plans to impose income tax or new service fees on individuals and companies to fund any fiscal deficit, Minister of Finance and Deputy Ruler of Dubai Shaikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum said.
The Ministry of Finance has not included any tax plans in the 2012 budget and does not intend to introduce taxes in the coming years, Shaikh Hamdan was quoted on Wednesday as saying in an interview with Arabic daily Al Bayan. However, he said the ministry is conducting studies on socio-economic effects of a proposal to levy taxes on companies operating in the UAE.

The International Monetary Fund recently said in a report that the UAE is conducting an economic impact study of a possible introduction of a uniform corporate income tax as the country seeks to reduce its dependence on oil revenue.

A harsh spring for green shoots - The National

UAE companies' first-quarter earnings reports are expected to show signs of recovery, but debt issues in Dubai's financial sector still threaten to trample any green shoots.

There were clear signals of strength in the sectors that fuel the traditional economic motors of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, said Liz Martins, an economist at HSBC Middle East.

"Dubai's key strengths - trade, services, tourism - seem to be an area of strength at the moment," she said. "But the economy as a whole does continue to look quite sluggish."

MENA stock markets close - April 11, 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)

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Saudi shares rebound as banks lead gains - Yahoo! News UK

Saudi Arabia stocks recover early-session losses as bargain hunters step in, helping the kingdom's index end higher for a first session in six.
Banks lead gains after some large-cap lenders announced increased first-quarter profits.
Regional heavyweight Al Rajhi Bank rises 3.9 percent, SABB climbs 1.7 percent and Banque Saudi Fransi gains 2.7 percent.

Start-up firms bloom in wake of Arab Spring - Yahoo! News UK

Jordanian entrepreneur Majied Qasem waited three years before arranging outside funding for his start-up company,, an Arabic social media and content-sharing platform. He finally succeeded in September 2011, eight months after Arab Spring uprisings erupted in the region.
The company now has over 35 million page views per month, with growth in traffic stimulated by online debates about a wide range of political and social issues, says Qasem, 40.
Like many entrepreneurs in the Arab world, he believes the region's political and economic upheaval has helped rather than hurt his business, by creating fresh demand for his products, persuading investors to seek new opportunities, and making governments more sympathetic to the needs of start-ups.

Time for Mideast to focus on middle class -

The middle class typically serves as a force for positive socioeconomic change. Yet that has not happened in the Middle East and north Africa, where many of the region’s middle-class residents have grown dependent on their governments for jobs and services. Combined with weak social and economic infrastructures, this reliance on the state has prevented middle-class people from advancing and helping their national economies become stronger.
To alter this, governments must first understand the middle class. Yet there is surprisingly little information on this demographic group in the Mena region. To that end, Booz & Company surveyed roughly 1,450 middle-class people in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Morocco.

Dubai raised to overweight at EFG-Hermes on debt plan, economy | Alrroya

Dubai was raised to overweight from neutral at EFG-Hermes Holding SAE as the Arabian Gulf business hub restructures its debt, economic growth accelerates and its property industry shows signs of recovery.

“Macro environment continues to strengthen” in Dubai, analysts Fahd Iqbal and Simon Kitchen wrote in research note dated today. “Debt restructuring will no longer be a major overhang by year-end, with no government-related entities expected to default.”

The biggest Arab investment bank maintained its overweight recommendation on Saudi Arabia, the biggest Arab economy, Qatar and Oman. “We see a further 10 percent upside for Middle East and North Africa in 2012, with large cap stocks outperforming,” according to the note.

Qatar Islamic Bank Q1 net profit 388 mln riyals | Reuters

Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) , the Gulf state's second-largest lender by market value, posted a 20.9 percent jump in first-quarter net profit, the bank said in a statement on Wednesday.

The bank made a net profit of 388 million riyals ($106.6 million), compared with 321 million riyals a year earlier.

UPDATE 1-Dubai's Nakheel plans creditor sukuk issue by end-April - chairman - Yahoo! News UK

The second tranche of a sukuk from Dubai's Nakheel will be 240 million dirhams ($65 million) in size, less than a quarter of the expected value, after the property developer persuaded trade creditors to accept a huge discount on their original claims.
Nakheel will issue further tranches, a spokeswoman said, with some claims from trade creditors yet to be resolved. She declined to reveal the value of these claims.
The sukuk is part of a $16 billion debt restructuring by Nakheel, which overstretched itself building palm-shaped islands and other ambitious projects.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Dubai trading sideways; Abu Dhabi hits 7-wk low - Yahoo! News UK

Dubai's bourse ends lower, trading range-bound as investors await cues from first-quarter earnings, while Abu
Dhabi's index dips to a seven-week low.
Dubai's benchmark finishes 0.4 percent lower at 1,672 points, consolidating its 2012 gains to 23.5 percent.
Dubai Financial Market and mortgage lender Tamweel, fall 0.8 and 0.7 percent respectively. Emaar Properties dips 0.6 percent, while Air Arabia bucks the trend and climbs 0.4 percent.

Persian Gulf Stocks: Al-Rajhi Bank and Alhokair Rallied - Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index (SASEIDX) headed for its longest stretch of losses in more than a year, losing 1.1 percent to 7,468.05, the lowest intraday level since March 10, at 2:03 p.m. in Riyadh. The measure tumbled 5.4 percent this week. The DFM General Index (DFMGI) fell 0.4 percent at the 2 p.m. close in the emirate.

Gulf Times – Dubai refinancing may get harder on new loan rules

Dubai state-linked companies may find it harder to complete the refinancing of $15bn in debt this year as new central bank loan rules force lenders to curtail their exposure to the government.
Banks in the UAE can lend no more than 100% of their capital to local governments and the same to government-related entities known as GREs, the UAE central bank said on April 4. There was no limit under previous rules. The exposure of Emirates NBD, the nation’s biggest bank, to sovereign loans was 130% of regulatory capital at the end of 2011, its financial statements show.
Many UAE banks suffered from an increase in bad loans linked to debt restructuring by state-owned businesses including Dubai World, which shook global markets in 2009 with its request to delay payments on $25bn in loans. Sovereign and GRE issuers have about $32bn of debt maturing in 2012, including $15bn in Dubai, the International Monetary Fund said in a March 14 report.

Dubai at Seven-Week Low on Supply Gains; Margins Up: Asia Crude - Businessweek

Middle East oil benchmark Dubai sank to the lowest in seven weeks on higher production from the Middle East and slowing seasonal demand.

Dubai was down $1.76 to $117.05 a barrel, the lowest since Feb. 21, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The crude’s backwardation, when the price for delivery now is greater than that for later, dropped 10 cents. Swaps for May were $1.40 a barrel more than July, according to data PVM Oil Associates Ltd., a London-based broker. That price spread is down 17 percent so far this month and signals weakening demand from oil refiners for immediate shipments.

“It could be that momentum is changing and that market participants are beginning to notice the stock builds occurring on the back of ramped-up production out of the Middle East,” Vienna-based JBC Energy GmbH said in a research note today. “With Saudi storage facilities now full, the Kingdom’s barrels are entering the market directly and soaking up seasonally lower demand.”

UAE's oil income to soar high | Al Bawaba

The UAE’s hydrocarbon export earnings are expected to climb to their highest ever level of more than $122 billion in 2012 because of high production and prices, said the IMF.

IMF expects country’s output at 2.6 mbpd and crude prices at record $122 bn. The UAE pumped around 2.6 million barrels per day of crude in 2011 and output is projected to remain unchanged in 2012, it said. Global crude prices could climb to a record high average of about $119.7 a barrel this year to break a previous record of $109.6 in 2011.

This high price range will lift the country’s oil and gas export revenues to nearly $122.1 billion in 2012 compared with $111.6 billion in 2011.

Kuwait Markets Authority Sets New Procedures for Acquisitions - Bloomberg

Kuwait’s Capital Markets Authority set new procedures for companies planning to acquire more than 30 percent of a listed stock, including requiring an independent opinion, according to a circular published in local newspapers.
The stock exchange and its regulator must be informed of the offer after an initial agreement between two companies, according to the circular. It must be approved by the competition protection authority, the markets authority and shareholders, it said.
The offer must also be announced on the Kuwait stock exchange’s website and published in at least two local newspapers, the circular said.

Oman to issue debt, sees 2012 growth of 5 pct | Reuters

Oman's economy is expected to growth by 5 percent this year, and may issue sovereign debt of $200 million, the Gulf Arab country's central bank head Hamood Sangour al-Zadjali said on Wednesday.

Inflation was expect to range between 3.5 and 4 percent this year, the sultanate's top banker told Reuters on the sidelines of a banking conference.

The planned merger of HSBC Holdings' operations in Oman with local lender Oman International Bank, which the central bank approved two weeks ago, was expected to close in two to three months, Zadjali said.

UPDATE 1-Qatar boosts offer for Dexia's Turkish unit-sources - Finance News - London South East

Qatar National Bank has made a higher bid for Denizbank, the Turkish unit of stricken Belgian lender Dexia, after earlier talks stalled over price, four sources familiar with the matter said.

'The bid has been reactivated, and is on the table,' said one source.

'The new offer is closer to what Dexia is expecting,' he added, saying that QNB's original offer had been dismissed as too low.

Saudi Arabia’s Economy Grew 6.6 Percent in Fourth Quarter - Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product expanded 6.6 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier on additional government spending and higher oil prices.
The government sector grew by 3.6 percent and the private sector by 9.9 percent, the Central Department of Statistics and Information in Riyadh said on its website today. The oil industry expanded by 6.1 percent.
Saudi Arabia’s economy benefited last year from a 23 percent increase in government spending as the kingdom’s rulers sought to create jobs and build houses in order to avert the kind of popular uprising that swept other Middle Eastern countries.

Al Omaniya’s bond issue oversubscribed: Times of Oman

Al Omaniya Financial Services, Oman’s largest non-banking financial institution (NBFC), announced that the RO10 million bond issue was oversubscribed.

The bond issue was subscribed to the extent of 120 per cent according to preliminary report received from the issue manager. The bond issue will be listed on MSM as soon as the statutory formalities are completed.

The company current paid-up share capital is RO16.33 million and it will be RO20 million approximately after conversion of existing bonds of RO1.555 million and RO7.713 million by end of April and September 2012 respectively.

gulfnews : Cross-border trade key to Gulf Union

The lesson of the European Union is that countries must unite in a full and effective economic and political union. Any half-hearted commitment to collective action will become a drag on their ability to meet their individual development goals or to cope with international upheaval. The lack of a proper fiscal and political union has been a major hindrance to European countries' ability to tackle the debt crisis.
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) leaders will be meeting next month to discuss the final report of a commission set up to study the proposal for member states to form a Gulf Union. The report must tackle the harsh realities that will confront any effort to move from a loose cooperation council to an effective union.
One of these will be the lifting of restrictions on cross-border trade to build a stronger and more competitive bloc, as highlighted by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. He said that trade and economic openness between member countries, especially in the private sector, was key to boosting growth and development in the region.

gulfnews : ADIB joins Dubai Duty Free's $1.1b loan drive

Dubai Duty Free Tuesday said that Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (SDIB) has joined the airport retailer's drive to raise $1.1 billion (Dh4 billion) in loans to support the development at Dubai International Airport (DIA).
The financing comprises a conventional term loan and Islamic facilities.
"Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank has joined the transaction as a mandated lead arranger and bookrunner alongside Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Citigroup, Dubai Islamic Bank, Emirates NBD Capital and HSBC Bank Middle East to jointly arrange its debut $1.1 billion financing facilities," Dubai Duty Free said in a statement.

gulfnews : Kingdom Holding not selling stake in iconic New York hotel

Kingdom Holding Company, controlled by Saudi billionaire Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal, plans to retain its stake in the Plaza Hotel after Sahara India Pariwar made an offer to buy the New York icon.
"Kingdom isn't planning on selling at this point in time," Charles Henry, a spokesman for the company, said Monday in a telephone interview. "The prince's objective is to be a long-term investor in this kind of iconic asset."
Sahara India Pariwar, which bought London's Grosvenor House luxury hotel in 2010, made a $600 million (Dh2.2 billion) offer to Elad Group for the Plaza Hotel, India's Economic Times reported April 6. Kingdom in 2004 sold its stake in the hotel to Elad and bought back a portion soon after, Henry said.

gulfnews : Investors brace for realty merger

Abu Dhabi's stock market has already priced in a one-for-one share valuation in a proposed merger between real estate developers Aldar and Sorouh, analysts said Tuesday.
The share price of each company has moved almost in tandem ever since the companies announced in March they had started talks on a possible merger.
Furthermore, Aldar and Sorouh have moved by the exact same percentage amount in the last five consecutive trading sessions on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX); a situation analysts say is a sign that a merger is being viewed as a formality at a one-for-one share ratio — meaning shareholders will get one share in any new entity for each share they hold in Aldar and Sorouh.

gulfnews : Create more jobs for UAE citizens, FNC told

A member of the Federal National Council urged the government to create more jobs for unemployed Emiratis, citing the Economy Ministry's figures which put joblessness among Emiratis at 15 per cent.
Saeed Nasser Al Khatheri, a representative from Ras Al Khaimah, sought to know from Humaid Mohammad Al Qutami, Minister of Education and chairman of the Federal Human Resource Authority, about what the authority is doing to keep pace with the high demand for jobs. He asked how a country like the UAE with an economy creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and where citizens account for less than 15 per cent of the population, could have an unemployment problem.
"Jobs are provided only to three per cent of jobseekers," Al Khatheri said, stressing that employment was a national priority to achieve the aspirations of the people of the UAE and to ensure their welfare and a decent living for them.

Carlyle prepares to launch IPO next week - Yahoo! News UK

Carlyle Group is expected to launch its IPO as early as next week, according to market sources, coinciding with a step-up in deal size across the US IPO market.
The private equity firm, which first filed for an IPO in September, is widely expected to seek to raise around $1 billion, though to date it has only filed for a "placeholder" raising of $100 million.
JP Morgan, Citigroup and Credit Suisse are leading a team of 21 underwriters on the deal.

Legal titan DLA Piper grooming local talent - The National

The legal profession is changing rapidly in the Arab world, and Abdul Aziz Abdullah Al Yaqout is at the centre of the transformation. Kuwaiti-born and German-educated, he is the only Arab head of a big international law firm in the region. He shares his views on the legal world in the Middle East, and his vision for DLA Piper.

Transparency key to public interest in Drydocks tribunal - The National

The Dubai International Financial Centre and the legal apparatus at its core face a tricky few weeks in weighing up the Drydocks World situation.

The focus will be on the three-man tribunal that will judge the application by the firm, a part of the Dubai World conglomerate, seeking protection from creditors under the emirate's provisions for insolvency, as set out in Decree 57 by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

It is in the interest of Dubai and its business community that the tribunal give the situation its fullest and most transparent consideration.

Qatar Investment Authority looks to invest $10 billion in India - The Economic Times

Qatar Investment Authority, the Gulf state's sovereign wealth fund, is looking to invest up to $10 billion in India every year, according to its executive director Hussain Al Abdulla.

The authority, whose investment portfolio includes iconic brands like Harrods, Sainsbury, Volkswagen, LVMH and Porsche, had invested $29 billion globally last year. "I am interested in anything that is consumer focus and that yields profits," said Abdulla, who is in India as part of the delegation accompanying Qatar's Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani.

Outside Qatar, the authority has opened offices only in Paris, China and India. This Abdulla said reflected the weightage his company gave to India as an investment destination.

Qatar helps to lift Drake & Scull International order book - The National

Drake & Scull International has secured Dh1.3 billion (US$353.9 million) worth of construction projects this year, fuelled by big project developments in Qatar and continuing infrastructure spending across the Middle East and North Africa.

The construction company, based in Dubai, said it anticipated its Qatari arm of the business to "increasingly contribute" to the growth of the company overall, especially within the recently established rail and civil contracting divisions of its operations.