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Thursday, 10 May 2012

Qataris target 10% Xstrata stake -

Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund plans to buy at least 10 per cent of Xstrata as part of a long-held strategy to invest in Glencore, suggesting the Gulf state could provide crucial support to the pair’s $90bn merger deal.
The world’s biggest commodities trader and the miner have spent weeks wooing investors but several of Xstrata’s shareholders, including Standard Life and Schroders, have said they would oppose the deal unless Glencore improved its offer of 2.8 shares for each Xstrata share.

MENA stock markets close - May 10, 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)

ADCB profit to slow down this year - Emirates 24/7

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) profit to remain strong but growth will slow down this year due to cut-throat competition in the UAE banking sector.

Fitch Ratings said on Thursday it expects profitability of ADCB to remain robust but to grow at a slower pace in 2012 due to strong competition, low loan growth and an increase in funding costs.

ADCB's pre-impairment operating profit has steadily increased by 13 per cent per annum for the past three years. Lower loan impairment charges and a large one-off gain from the sale of its Malaysian associate additionally boosted ADCB's net income in 2011.

Qtel eyes $1 bln commercial paper programme - sources - Yahoo! News UK

Qatar Telecom has asked banks for proposals about a $1 billion commercial paper programme, three sources said on Thursday, in what would be a rare example of a Middle Eastern entity using such an instrument.
Qtel, the former state monopoly in the Gulf Arab state, issued the proposal last month to explore options concerning a possible programme, which would be used to assist short-term liquidity management.
Talks are still exploratory in nature, said two of the sources, who declined to be named because the information is not public, and it could be a number of months before Qtel issues commercial paper if it decides to go ahead.

Emirates feels the fuel squeeze | beyondbrics –

Dubai’s Emirates Airline may still be the subject of plenty of insinuation from its western rivals about subsidies and the luxuries of operating from an oil-rich country. But in its annual results released on Thursday, the airline said high fuel prices hit hard in the last year – harder even, it reported, than some of its European rivals.

Despite record revenues of AED62.3bn ($17bn) for the year, net profit dropped to AED1.5bn, down a full 72 per cent on the previous year. While regional political turmoil caused flight cancellations and similar headaches, the airline wrote in its annual report that fuel prices were the main culprit. With an AED24.3bn fuel bill up 44.4 per cent on the prior year – representing a full 40 per cent of total operating costs – Emirates said high oil prices remain the factor to watch in the coming year.

Islamic repo agreements struggle for traction | Reuters

Islamic repurchase agreements may struggle to gain wide acceptance as a tool for financial institutions because the industry lacks clear rules governing their use, participants at a major industry conference told Reuters.

Liquidity management products such as Islamic repos were one of the main themes at the annual meeting of the Bahrain-based Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) in Manama this week.

The shortage of such instruments is becoming increasingly problematic for Islamic finance as the industry grows, bankers and analysts said. By allowing investors to lend out assets for short periods, Islamic repos could help to solve the problem by giving banks a way to balance their short-term liquidity flows with demand.

Dubai Star Owners Settle Claims for $1.9 Million: Courthouse News Service

The owners of a ship that spilled 422 gallons of bunker fuel into San Francisco Bay in October 2009 agreed to pay $1.9 million for the cost of responding to the accident plus penalties.
     The settlement reached on Tuesday ends a lawsuitfiled earlier the same day.
     The California Department of Fish and Game, which is a party to the agreement, found that more than 100 seabirds had been killed as a result, "including grebes, brown pelicans and coots," the agreement says. In all, "over 200 acres of rocky intertidal, sandy beach, marsh/mudflat and eelgrass habitat from Alameda Point to the Oakland Airport" were affected.

Qatar National Bank in loan talks - sources | Reuters

Qatar National Bank, the Gulf state's largest bank, is in talks with banks on refinancing a $1.85 billion loan maturing July 22, two sources said on Thursday.

Refinancing the full amount could prove tricky, the bankers said, given the reluctance of European banks to commit new funds in the face of the euro zone crisis.

"(Also,) they are better rated than many of the banks they are going to, so the banks will have to take it as a loss-leader as their funding costs will be higher than for QNB," a London-based banker involved in the talks said, on condition of anonymity.

UPDATE 2-Du eyes Saudi move after strong profit - Yahoo! News UK

Du may bid for a virtual operator licence in Saudi Arabia in its first foreign foray, its chief executive said, after the UAE's No. 2 telecom operator reported a 62 percent jump in quarterly profit.
Du, majority-owned by government institutions and which ended rival Etisalat's domestic monopoly in 2007, said
on Thursday mobile data revenue more than doubled in the first quarter and it added subscribers.
It operates in a market with one of the highest penetration rates in the world - 1.45 mobile subscriptions per person in the United Arab Emirates - leaving limited growth prospects at home.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Dubai, Doha at 3-mth lows; global mkts weigh - Yahoo! News UK

The Dubai and Qatar benchmarks slump to three-month lows and Abu Dhabi also falls as investors cut risk
ahead of the regional weekend, with sentiment shaken by sustained losses on global markets.
Dubai's index ends 0.8 percent lower at 1,515 point, its lowest close since Feb. 12. It has technical support at around 1,500 points.
Builder Arabtec falls 6.7 percent, trimming year-to-date gains to 94.8 percent and accounting for a fifth of all shares traded on the index.

Qatar agency lifts Xstrata stake to near 8.29% - MarketWatch

Qatar Investment Authority, owner of Qatar Holding LLC, Thursday said it bought 2.27 million shares in diversified mining group Xstrata PLC at 1,099.68 pence and 2.284 million at 1,094.9 pence, lifting its total holding to 248.9 million shares, or 8.289%.

- Xstrata shares at 0940 GMT, down 7 pence, or 0.64%, at 1,090.5 pence valuing the company at GBP32.94 billion

Qatar’s Tasweeq to Increase Bank Financing Outside Europe - Businessweek

Qatar International Petroleum Marketing Co., the state marketer of oil and gas products, will seek to diversify its funding sources to include banks outside Europe in the next year, an official said.

Qatar International, known as Tasweeq, will rely more on Asian banks, particularly Japanese lenders, because of concern for the European economic outlook and the possibility of bank failures, Roger Hickman, the company’s executive director of finance, said in an interview in Singapore.

“We’re trying to spread out across more banks than we currently have, so that we have access to funds,” he said after speaking at the Eurofinance conference in the city-state. “We are looking to aggressively balance our bank concentration risk to avoid excessive exposure to Europe,” Hickman added.

UPDATE 1-UAE's TAQA Q1 net soars on assets sale | Reuters

Abu Dhabi National Energy Co , a state-owned oil explorer and power supplier, on Thursday said first-quarter net profit more than tripled, helped by a gain on sale of some of its non-core Canadian assets.

The state-owned utility made a profit of 534 million dirhams ($145.5 million) for the quarter, compared with 152 million dirhams in the year-ago period, it said in a statement to the Abu Dhabi bourse.

TAQA, which is 75-percent owned by the government of Abu Dhabi, disposed of certain non-core assets in Canada during the first-quarter, making a gain of 378 million dirhams, it said.

Emirates 2011 profits sag 72 percent, hit by fuel | Reuters

Dubai's flagship carrier Emirates EMIRA.UL reported a 72-percent drop in 2011 profits on Thursday as soaring fuel prices accounted for nearly half of the Gulf carrier's costs.

Emirates, among the top 10 in the world by passenger numbers, had profit of 1.5 billion dirhams ($409 million) for the fiscal year ended March 31, compared to profit of 5.4 billion dirhams in 2010.

Revenue at the Dubai government-owned airline was 62.3 billion dirhams in 2011, up 14.9 percent.

UPDATE 1-Kuwait's CBK Q1 profit drops 75 pct | Reuters

Commercial Bank of Kuwait (CBK) , the Gulf state's fourth-largest lender, reported a 75-percent drop in first-quarter net profit on Thursday.

Net profit was 329,000 Kuwaiti dinars ($1.19 million) in the first three months of the year, compared with 1.33 million dinars in the same period of 2011, according to a bourse filing.

Trading in the bank's shares was halted at the beginning of April along with those of several other companies that had been unable to report previous earnings on time. The bank appointed a new chairman and chief executive last month.

UPDATE 1-UAE telco du Q1 profit up 62 pct as mobile data surges | Reuters

United Arab Emirates' du on Thursday reported a 62 percent rise in first-quarter net profit, beating analysts' estimates, as the telecoms operator added subscribers and mobile data revenue more than doubled from a year earlier.

Du, which is majority-owned by government institutions, made a profit of 333.1 million dirhams ($90.69 million)in the three months to March 31, up from 205.8 million dirhams in the year-earlier period, according to a statement to the Dubai bourse.

A one-off gain of 30 million dirhams from "favourable settlements" also boosted this year's first-quarter profit. The company did not provide further details on the gain.

gulfnews : Job creation proving a major challenge

The creation of jobs in Arab countries, including the Arabian Gulf, is likely to top the list of priorities over the next decade — given that a recent study by the World Bank found that Arab nations need to create 100 million new positions by 2025.
This poses a real challenge, especially with the increasing number of unemployed in the region. The ways to solve this problem is multi-faceted and involves not only revising previous economic policies regarding employment, but those relating to investment, economic restructuring and foreign investment.
Employment policies in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have relied basically on state agencies over the past four decades, especially with regard to employment of GCC citizens, where the state played an active role in offering job opportunities.

gulfnews : Stronger laws needed to target UAE pirates

Fighting a seemingly losing battle against illegal downloads and file-shares, music and movie distributors in the UAE have been given hope by a recent landmark judgment in the UK. Last week, the high court issued a ruling that the UK's ISPs should block users' access to the file-sharing portal Pirate Bay as it violates copyright laws.
The judgment follows an appeal by an industry grouping representing some of the leading music companies in the UK. Now the industry — or some elements within it — is looking to see whether this can be replicated elsewhere, including the UAE.
"Last year was a catastrophe for the retail side of the music business in the UAE and there's no need to search far and wide for the reason," said a senior industry executive representing one of the biggest music labels. "File-share and downloads have reached epidemic proportions here, so much so that the official music business did not even get a lift from any of the concerts held in the UAE last year and featuring world-renowned artists. It was never the case before."

US shale gas changes the face of the market - The National

The United States has found relief from the costs associated with its voracious appetite for energy after new production techniques greatly increased the amount of accessible reserves of oil and gas.

Access to gas trapped in shale formations, in particular, transformed a gas market that became flooded with new supply.

After a precipitous drop that resulted in US natural gas prices falling from as much as US$8 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) in 2006 to slightly over $2.3 per mmBtu, there is now upside to gas.

Aabar signs $2bn deal with Chinese - The National

Aabar has signed a US$2 billion (Dh7.34bn) deal with China to develop 30 properties in Abu Dhabi.

China State Construction Engineering Corporation has an agreement with Aabar, an Abu Dhabi Government investment vehicle, to develop the projects including office buildings, hotels and apartments, the Chinese company said.

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) will provide Aabar with the funding, while China State Construction will be the contractor for the projects, China State Construction said in a statement to the Shanghai stock exchange yesterday according to official Chinese media.

2009 Dubai Star Spill Spawns New Lawsuit: Courthouse News Service

The district attorneys of two Bay Area counties filed suit Tuesday against the owners of the vessel Dubai Star, seeking damages for a 2009 fuel spill into San Francisco Bay.
In October 2009, the vessel spilled 422 gallons of bunker fuel into the bay during refueling operations. A valve broke and the ship's crew failed to properly monitor what was going on or react quickly enough to prevent a fuel tank from overflowing, the complaint says.
"The oil from the spill caused injuries to natural resources at sea and along the shore, including injuries to birds and fish, harm to various intertidal, subtidal and shoreline habitats, and adverse impacts on recreational uses of such resources in and around the San Francisco Bay," the lawsuit reads.

gulfnews : UAE lending falls short of forecast

Lending by the UAE's biggest banks is falling short of industry estimates as slower growth in the second-largest Arab economy damps credit demand.
Combined lending by the top seven banks climbed 0.6 per cent in the first quarter to Dh749.5 billion ($204 billion), their earnings statements show. Morgan Stanley and Cairo-based EFG-Hermes Holding both forecast a 5 per cent increase in loan growth in 2012.
UAE economic growth will decelerate to 3 per cent this year from 4.9 per cent in 2011 as oil output growth eases, according to the average forecasts of 12 analysts compiled by Bloomberg.