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Wednesday, 18 April 2012

EGM nod for Oman Arab Bank’s IPO plan | Oman Observer

Oman Arab Bank SAOC (OAB) has approved changing the legal status of the bank from an SAOC to SAOG through an Initial Public Offering (IPO) of 25 per cent of its outstanding issued share capital.
The nod came at an extra-ordinary general meeting (EGM) of OAB held earlier this week, shareholder Oman International Development & Investment Co SAOG (Ominvest) announced yesterday in a disclosure notification to the Capital Market Authority.
Of the 290,000,000 shares (of nominal value of RO 0.100 each) that will be offered for public subscription, 243,600,000 (21 per cent) will come from Ominvest’s stake in OAB. The remainder, amounting to 46,400,000 (4 per cent), will come as a result of Arab Bank plc’s disinvestment in OAB.

Gulf Times – IIF urges Qatar to re-think stay on LNG expansion

Qatar needs to “reassess” the global market, especially in light of major gas discoveries such as those in the US, once the moratorium on LNG expansion expires in 2015, Institute of International Finance has said in an overview.
In Qatar, the moratorium on expanding liquefied natural gas (LNG) production capacity, in effect until 2015, will moderate growth, it said.
“But continued strength in public spending on infrastructure will maintain non-hydrocarbon growth of around 8% in Qatar through 2015,” the Washington-based IIF said in the overview published yesterday.

MENA stock markets close - April 18, 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)

Russia’s VTB Plans Middle East Push as Others Withdraw - Businessweek

VTB Capital, the investment banking unit of Russia’s second-biggest lender, is expanding its equities division in Dubai as brokerages retreat from the region.

The bank started trading Middle East, Turkish and Polish shares in February and plans to expand its investment banking services in the Gulf Cooperation Council region, Makram Abboud, chief executive officer of the Middle East and Africa said in e- mailed responses to questions from Bloomberg yesterday. The company declined to say how many people it employs in Dubai.

“VTB Capital does not have the legacy issues that are impacting many other firms,” said Abboud, who was appointed in January. “We are able to grow our business at a time when many others are downsizing, reducing their capabilities and withdrawing from specific markets and businesses.”

Emirates reaches limits of organic growth strategy | Reuters

Emirates airline is changing its flight path. After more than a decade of organic growth, the Dubai carrier announced this week that it is studying foreign acquisitions. While the airline says it hasn't entered any talks for the moment, the shift comes amid rising competition. Meanwhile, India is due to decide whether to allow foreign airlines to own up to 49 percent of its local carriers.

The Dubai airline, which carries more than 30 million passengers a year, faces competition from its equally ambitious, deep-pocketed rival Etihad, the Abu Dhabi-owned official carrier of the UAE. Emirates airline is larger and has been profitable for longer. But the upstart has started to cherry pick minority stakes in the very markets Emirates is eyeing, and it is growing fast.

The German market is a case in point. Emirates for years lobbied for landing slots at Berlin airport - in vain. Then Etihad waltzed in last year by picking up a near 30 percent stake in cash-strapped Air Berlin for a total of $350 million in loans and fresh capital.

HSBC: back to basics in Oman | beyondbrics –

HSBC is hoping to extend its red and white tentacles across Oman, the oil-rich Gulf state, after it agreed to merge its local unit with publicly-traded Oman International Bank.

HSBC plans to take a 51 per cent stake in the combined entity which will be re-named HSBC Bank Oman, the company said today. As part of the deal, HSBC will inject $97.4m into the joint lender. But why merge when other banks just expand?

This kind of deal, a merger between a local bank and an international bank, is pretty rare in the region, where M&A activity had almost ground to a halt.  The value of completed deals in the Middle East was down 28.2 per cent in the first quarter, according to Thomson Reuters data.

MIDEAST WEEKAHEAD-Saudi Arabia stocks to resume gains at steadier pace | Reuters

Saudi Arabia's stock market rebound looks poised to continue next week as a spate of encouraging corporate earnings reports has boosted sentiment and valuations look attractive after the market's recent sharp correction.

Forecast-beating earnings from chemicals giant Saudi Basic Industries (SABIC) h elped push the blue chip index off a seven-week trough on Tuesday, halting a correction that had seen stocks plummet 8 percent in the last two weeks, cutting into a 31 percent rally over the previous four months.

Analysts now expect blue chips, which have underperformed small caps this year, will lead shares higher.

Abu Dhabi Shares Rise Most in 2 Weeks Before Quarterly Earnings - Businessweek

Abu Dhabi’s benchmark stock index advanced the most in more than two weeks after company earnings in Saudi Arabia (SABIC) beat expectations, boosting demand for Persian Gulf assets. Oil traded near the highest close in two weeks.

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC (ADCB), the United Arab Emirates third-biggest bank by assets, gained 1.3 percent. Sorouh Real Estate Co. (SOROUH), which may post a 24 percent increase in first- quarter earnings, advanced the most in more than a week. Abu Dhabi’s ADX General Index (ADSMI) rose 0.3 percent, the most since April 1, to 2,513.01 at the 2 p.m. close in the emirate. The Bloomberg GCC 200 (BGCC200) Index was little changed at 1:16 p.m. in Riyadh and Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index (SASEIDX) added 0.1 percent today after surging 3.2 percent yesterday.

“Earnings in Saudi Arabia have lifted sentiment here as investors await first-quarter results of the heavy-weight companies,” said Ziad Dabbas, a financial analyst at National Bank of Abu Dhabi PJSC, the U.A.E.’s second-biggest bank by assets.

Dubai 2011 Foreign Trade Reached Record 1.1 Trillion Dirhams - Bloomberg

Dubai’s foreign trade climbed to a record 1.1 trillion dirhams ($299 billion) in 2011, up 22 percent from the previous year, according to the customs authority.
Imports increased 21 percent to 442 billion dirhams, while exports rose 44 percent to 98 billion dirhams. Re-export trade climbed 18 percent to 161 billion dirhams, the authority said.
India was Dubai’s No. 1 trade partner last year, while trade with Iran, which lies across the Persian Gulf, is still “good,” Ahmed Butti Ahmed, director general of the Dubai customs union, told reporters today.

Is another financial catastrophe looming? - Zawya

Capital Club Dubai, the region's premier private business club and a member of the ENSHAA group of companies, and Cass Business School , part of City University London, will host an interactive discussion with eminent financial expert Guy Fraser-Sampson who will shed light on the current status of sovereign debt, deficit financing and liquidity worries and share his views on what does it mean for investors around the world.

Delivering the talk on "Is this a new stage of the financial crisis?" on April 22, the Senior Fellow at Cass Business School will share his analysis of the present situation and his thoughts for the future.

This is perhaps the most opportune time to discuss these issues as a number of leading financial analysts have expressed apprehensions that the USA, United Kingdom, Japan and others may join Greece, Ireland and Portugal among others staring at the looming financial abyss.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-UAE mkts end mixed; Qatar banks dip - Yahoo! News UK

Late-session selling pressure on Dubai's small- and mid-cap stocks drags the emirate's index to a lower close, while property sector gains lift Abu Dhabi.
Shares in Dubai mortgage lender Tamweel drop 9.5 percent, cutting year-to-date gains to 105.6 percent, after it
posted a 33 percent fall in first-quarter profit, hit by litigation provisions.
Air Arabia drops 9.4 percent, after going ex-dividend.

HSBC merges Oman unit with local lender OIB | Reuters

HSBC is to merge its business in Oman with Oman International Bank (OIB) and hold a majority stake in the enlarged operation, Europe's biggest bank said on Wednesday.

HSBC will hold 51 percent of the combined group, to be named HSBC Bank Oman SOAG. OIB is Oman's fifth largest bank with the second largest branch network in the country, with gross assets of $3.2 billion.

HSBC is pulling back from countries where it is unprofitable or lacks scale and restructuring operations elsewhere, and has been reviewing its Middle Eastern operations.

Banque Saudi Fransi Sets Up $2 Billion Islamic Bond Program - Bloomberg

Banque Saudi Fransi, a Saudi Arabian lender part-owned by Credit Agricole SA (ACA), set up a $2 billion Islamic bond program as part of the Riyadh-based lender’s plans to diversify its sources of financing.
“We are properly equipped to raise funding when and if needed from the international market,” Chief Financial Officer Philippe Touchard said in a phone interview from Riyadh today. “The $2 billion program might be used during different phases over the next five years.”
Islamic bond sales in Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, rose to a record $6.55 billion so far this year as the government’s spending plan encourages companies to raise funds to invest. The state-run General Authority of Civil Aviation sold 15 billion riyals ($4 billion) of Islamic bonds in January. Saudi Electricity Co. (SECO) last month raised a combined $1.75 billion from an issue of five- and 10-year sukuk, securities that pay returns on assets to comply Islam’s ban on interest.

INTERVIEW-Gulf Capital eyes $500 mln-plus gain from GMS sale - Yahoo! News UK

Abu Dhabi private equity firm Gulf Capital expects to raise more than $500 million from the sale of its 79 percent stake in Gulf Marine Services (GMS) before the end of June, the company's chief executive told
Reuters on Wednesday.
Gulf Capital, which has around $1 billion of assets under management, has shortlisted six bidders from more than a dozen interested buyers, Karim El Solh said in an interview.
"Among the short listed bidders are American and Asian strategic trade buyers as well as regional buyout firms," El Solh said.

Dubai's Abraaj eyes investments in Saudi Arabia | Reuters

Dubai-based private equity firm Abraaj Capital is looking at three to four investments in Saudi Arabia valued up to $150 million each, a senior executive said on Wednesday.

The Middle East's largest private equity firm will close one of these deals in the next three to four months, Ahmed Badreldin, senior partner at Abraaj, said on the sidelines of an industry event in Dubai.

"We are looking at three investments in Saudi Arabia currently. The equity contribution in those transactions would be between $100 to $150 million each," said Badreldin.

UPDATE 1-Ominvest eyes 25 pct IPO of banking arm | Reuters

Oman Arab Bank, the banking arm of Oman International Development and Investment (Ominvest) has approved an initial public offering of 25 percent of its share capital.

In a statement to the stock exchange, Ominvest said that 290 million shares would be offered in the IPO.

Of these, 243.6 million shares, or 21 percent of the company's share capital, will be offered by Ominvest. The remaining 4 percent will be sold by Jordan-based Arab Bank, which owns 49 percent of Oman Arab Bank.

IMF Says MENA Region Vulnerable To Worsening In Europe Crisis - Zawya

A renewed crisis in Europe would push down oil prices and hurt economic growth in several Middle East and North African countries, adding to the uncertainties for the region caused by rising tensions with Iran, the International Monetary Fund said Tuesday.

In its latest World Economic Outlook, the IMF said the Middle East and North African (MENA) region is especially vulnerable to an intensified European debt crisis, because it would depress oil prices and affect the close trade and tourism links between the two regions. The IMF calculated that a reemergence of the European crisis would depress growth in the whole MENA region by 3.25%, which it said was "the largest spillover effect for any region outside Europe."

Saudi Arabia and other oil exporting countries in the Middle East have greatly increased their spending on social programs in the aftermath of the Arab spring, in an effort to deter any spread of unrest, making them reliant on continued high oil prices. Even a relatively small fall in the price of oil due to a worsening crisis in Europe could create budget deficits in some oil exporting countries, the IMF said.

Betting on Vegas Comeback -

In the heat of the real-estate boom, MGM Resorts International MGM +0.66% and Dubai World made an ill-fated bet that the Las Vegas real-estate and gambling market would stay strong for years to come, launching an $8.5 billion casino resort called City Center soon before the market turned.

Now, after years of struggles, they are betting that the Las Vegas condo market is approaching a bottom.

In an effort to jump-start sales, the owners of City Center are lowering prices of 602 unsold condominium units in two properties. The reduction, set to be announced Wednesday, includes a 10% drop in face price and incentives like monthly condo association fees and a premium concierge service. All combined, it amounts to a 25% discount off the current prices, the company says.

Schumpeter: Mall of the masses | The Economist

DUBAI boasts some of the world’s most spectacular shopping malls, including the Mall of the Emirates with its indoor ski slope and the Dubai Mall with its 33,000-creature aquarium. But for anyone with an eye to the future the most interesting mall is one that few tourists visit: 20 minutes’ drive from downtown, through scrubland and past abandoned building projects.

The embellishments on the Dragon Mart are feeble by Dubai standards. The architects did try to make the building look like a dragon; at least, they gave it some curves and stuck scalelike spikes into the roof. There is also a dragon coiled around a giant golden globe near the main entrance. Yet the mart is resolutely utilitarian. The most colourful decorations are giant Chinese flags. The first thing the visitor encounters upon entering the dragon’s mouth is the Zhong Dong Sanitary Ware Centre, “the largest sanitary ware centre in the Middle East”.

New Silk Road can smooth Dubai's path to top role in finance - The National

It's not often you hear a call from economic or political leaders to go back to the world of 1,000 years ago, but that was the message from a forum of business leaders in Dubai.

The gathering, held under the auspices of the global banking group HSBC and Gulf Intelligence, a regional information consultancy, was discussing the issue of trade relations between the Middle East and China.

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, the UAE Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, quoted Tabari, an Arab historian, who said in the 10th century: "There is no obstacle between us and China; everything on the sea can come to us on [the sea]."

Egypt looks abroad for funding - The National

Egypt has increased efforts to protect the country's embattled economy by selling plots of land and certificates of deposit to Egyptians living abroad in an effort to raise as much as US$4.5 billion (Dh16.52bn).

The moves represent the government's latest tactic to address a rapidly depleting pot of international reserves and a widening balance of payments deficit as Egypt teeters on the edge of a fiscal crisis.

The government is offering almost 8,000 plots of city land worth $2.5 bn and $2bn of certificates of deposit to its citizens living in Gulf states including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait.

Dubai's most popular malls race ahead - The National

Rental rates in Dubai's three most popular malls have increased by as much as 20 per cent in the past six months as the gap widens between the best-performing shopping centres and the rest of the pack.

Mall of the Emirates, Deira City Centre and Dubai Mall have all hiked rents, according to analysts and retailers, as the shopping sector has flourished on the back of more tourists and an increased confidence among residents to spend.

Most retailers negotiate rents based on a percentage of revenues and, given the strong performance among stores in the past year, both retailers and malls have benefited from robust sales.

IMF forecast on Mena encouraging - The National

Economic growth should speed up to 4.2 per cent in the Middle East and North Africa this year as several countries rebuild after a wave of unrest, the IMF says.

The organisation's forecast for the region is more upbeat than its outlook of 3.5 per cent growth for the overall global economy. But the regional forecast reveals widening differences between the fortunes of oil exporters and importers.

The GCC and other oil exporters should grow by 4.8 per cent, more than twice the 2.2 per cent expansion of oil importers, the IMF said in a report released yesterday.

CityCenter developers cut prices on high-rise condos - Business -

CityCenter developers are announcing a renewed effort to sell high-rise condominiums at the Strip development, discounting prices by about 25 percent in hopes of jump-starting an otherwise stagnant market.

The remaining 602 condominiums in two CityCenter projects -- 441 units in Veer Towers and 161 units in Mandarin Oriental -- will have their initial face price marked down by 10 percent. CityCenter is also offering prospective buyers another 15 percent in incentives, such as reductions in condo association fees, over a three-to-four-year period.

The desire, said CityCenter Executive Vice President Tony Dennis, is to spur interest in a luxury high-rise residential market that may have hit bottom.

gulfnews : UAE carriers to add 20 Boeings this year

Boeing will deliver more than 20 aircraft this year to Emirates, Etihad Airways and flydubai, said Jeff Johnson, president of Boeing Middle East.
"Etihad will be our first UAE 787 Dreamliner customer and they'll take delivery in 2014," Johnson said. "What's exciting about Etihad is that they'll be the biggest operator of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner," he said.
Boeing currently has over 140 B787 Dreamliners on order in the Middle East.

gulfnews : UAE leads in attracting FDI projects in region

The UAE attracted the highest number of foreign direct investment (FDI) projects in the Middle East and Africa last year, according to the latest ranking of FDI destinations by fDi Intelligence, part of The Financial Times.
The UAE attracted the highest number of projects (328), while Saudi Arabia attracted the highest capital investment, which grew 40 per cent in 2011 to just over $14 billion (Dh51.4 billion). However, this is still far below the $42 billion in capital investment recorded in Saudi Arabia in 2008.
The Middle East and Africa (MEA) attracted a total of 1,530 projects last year, up 16 per cent over the previous year although capital investment was down slightly by 1 per cent.

MENA stock markets close - April 17, 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)