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Wednesday, 23 May 2012

India’s latest $29bn corruption scandal | beyondbrics

The ill-fated 2010 Commonwealth Games were meant to be the country’s international coming-out party – à la Beijing’s 2008 Olympics – but are best remembered for $80 rolls of toilet paper, ineptitude and allegations of widespread graft.

So it is perhaps unsurprising that one of that boondoggle’s biggest projects has now come under the scanner, with the Comptroller & Auditor General of India alleging a $29bn corruption scam surrounding the modernisation of the Delhi Airport.

The Hindustan Times first reported about the auditor’s investigation, which is set to be tabled in parliament, on Wednesday, and a senior official familiar with the report confirmed the details to beyondbrics. In the report, the CAG alleges that the government leased land worth $29.2bn to its private sector partner, Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL), for $324m for 60 years.

INTERVIEW-Abu Dhabi's TAQA targets N.Africa utility needs - Yahoo! News Maktoob

North Africa and the Middle East are ripe with opportunities for new power and water projects, said the CEO of state-owned utility firm Abu Dhabi National Energy Co (TAQA), which is eyeing expansion across the region after a foray into Turkey.
Last year's Arab Spring highlighted the region's urgent need for improved power and water supplies, believes TAQA's chief executive Carl Sheldon, who expects the company's future growth to come from building such infrastructure.
"One interpretation of the Arab Spring is that its the manifestation of rising expectations in young, growing populations. Within that bundle of expectations, inescapably, is the expectation of reliable utilities," Sheldon told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.

UPDATE 2-Gulf stakes buttress LSE future confidence - Yahoo! News Maktoob

The London Stock Exchange Group fortified its defences against takeover on Wednesday after a stake sale by Italian banks cemented the dominance of its two largest shareholders seen as in for the long haul.
The LSE, which was a continual takeover target for rivals such as Deutsche Boerse and Nasdaq OMX through the middle of the last decade, has been seen by analysts as potentially back on the block this year.
A takeover has been mooted since the high-profile $7.4 billion merger of potential bidders NYSE Euronext and
Deutsche Boerse collapsed in February. This followed the failure of the LSE's own 2.3 billion pounds plan to buy Canada's TMX Group last June.

Some 20 pct of MENA banks face capital shortfall -report - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Fresh capital could be needed by up to 20 percent of banks in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to safely meet requirements under the global Basel III banking rules, a research report from Arqaam Capital said on Wednesday.
Of the 54 banks covered by the firm, seven were considered to be undercapitalised, including the largest lenders in Dubai and Bahrain - Emirates NBD and Ahli United Bank
A further five banks, including Kuwait's biggest Islamic bank, Kuwait Finance House, and Commercial Bank of
Qatar, the state's second-largest conventional bank, risked requiring more capital due to paying out high dividends.

FEATURE-Succession question fuels uncertainty in Oman | Energy & Oil | Reuters

Oman's Sultan Qaboos bin Said rules his perch on one of the world's busiest shipping lanes as an absolute monarch, without checks from a parliament or judiciary.

But at 71, he has not named a successor, and with much of the Arab world in turmoil, the lack of certainty surrounding the future leadership of the strategically placed country is becoming a cause for concern.

Nearly 42 years after overthrowing his father Sultan Taimur with British backing, Sultan Qaboos is credited with transforming Oman from an isolated backwater beset by poverty and insurgency into a stable welfare state with an exporting oil industry and modern infrastructure.

Qatar stakes in Siemens, Shell reflect drive to step up development | Reuters

Qatar's purchase of stakes in engineering group Siemens and oil giant Shell follow a pattern of the Gulf Arab state investing to accelerate its domestic development and, in the case of Shell, underlines its long-term faith in commodity prices.

Infrastructure development is particularly important as the world's No.1 liquefied natural gas exporter implements a $95-billion public spending plan by 2016, spearheaded by its preparation for hosting the 2022 soccer World Cup.

The purchase of a $3 billion stake in Siemens, Germany's most valuable company, by a Qatari state-backed entity this month, reflects a broader trend in the region to step up infrastructure development, analysts say.

MENA stock markets close - May 23, 2012

 ExchangeStatus IndexChange  
 
 TASI (Saudi Stock Market)
 
7061.43-0.59%  
 
 DFM (Dubai Financial Market)
 
1480.1-1.10%  
 
 ADX (Abudhabi Securities Exchange)
 
2475.520.18%  
 
 KSE (Kuwait Stock Exchange)
 
6366.95-0.22%  
 
 BSE (Bahrain Stock Exchange)
 
1137.65-0.06%  
 
 MSM (Muscat Securities Market)
 
5721.27-0.51%  
 
 QE (Qatar Exchange)
 
8467.42-0.37%  
 
 LSE (Beirut Stock Exchange)
 
1154.11-0.92%  
 
 EGX 30 (Egypt Exchange)
 
4921.881.19%  
 
 ASE (Amman Stock Exchange)
 
1917.010.56%  
 
 TUNINDEX (Tunisia Stock Exchange)
 
5121.840.06%  
 
 CB (Casablanca Stock Exchange)
 
9815.710.69%  
 
 PSE (Palestine Securities Exchange)
 
454.09-0.19%  


Dubai’s Shares Retreat Most in a Week on Greece Concern, Oil - Bloomberg

Dubai’s shares fell the most in a week, leading a decline in most Persian Gulf markets, as concern grew that Greece may exit the euro and oil prices fell.
Emaar Properties PJSC (EMAAR), developer of the world’s tallest skyscraper in Dubai, slumped the most since May 2. Gulf Navigation Holding (GULFNAV), a company specialized in the shipping of oil and chemicals, dropped 2.7 percent. The benchmark DFM General Index (DFMGI) decreased 1.1 percent, the biggest retreat since May 16, to 1,480.1 at the 2 p.m. close in the emirate. The Bloomberg GCC 200 Index (BGCC200) slipped 0.3 percent at 1:25 p.m. in Riyadh.
“The market is down on concern about Greece’s exit, and weak oil prices,” said Nabil Farhat, a partner at Abu Dhabi- based Al Fajer Securities. “Also the sharp drop in Asian markets and weak U.S.” future indexes “is not helping sentiment.”

Dubai creates another enterprise from art - FT.com

Dubai’s gradual recovery from the nadir of its 2009 financial crisis is being played out in the familiar settings of offices parks, hotels and warehouses – but also in the strikingly unconventional milieu of art galleries.
Like the international merchant traders who have long shifted goods through Dubai’s freeports, a new generation of gallerists has made the city a centre for modern art, produced in places from Pakistan to Egypt and sold on to a regional and global audience.
“Dubai’s entrepreneurial spirit goes very well with contemporary art,” says Claudia Cellini of The Third Line, a bustling local gallery. “There’s just something about it.”

Turkmenistan Signs TAPI: Now What? | EurasiaNet.org

After almost a generation of endless speculation, Ashgabat has finally signed an agreement to ship natural gas to South Asia, Reuters reports.

Turkmengaz, Turkmenistan's state gas monopoly, signed the agreement to supply Afghanistan, Pakistan and India via the long-stalled TAPI pipeline during an annual gas congress in the Caspian Sea resort town of Avaza (TAPI is an acronym for the four countries the pipeline traverses).

Long a sticking point, Ashgabat has demanded all its gas be sold at its border, ensuring payment before the gas moves out of its control.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Heavyweights drag Saudi; halts 3-day rally - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Saudi Arabia's heavyweights drag down the bourse, halting a three-day rally on investor concerns European leaders will be able to find a quick resolution to the bloc's debt crisis.
The index drops 0.6 percent to 7,061 points.
Heavyweight Al Rajhi Bank sheds 1 percent, Saudi Electricity slips 0.4 percent and Samba Financial Group eases 0.2 percent.
Developer Dar Al Arkan, the most traded stock on the index, rises 1.4 percent, bucking the downbeat trend after it said it would sell part of a residential project for 741.7 million riyals ($197.77 million) to chemicals giant Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC).

Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi to cut Bahrain ops - sources - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (BTMU) plans to scale back its operations in Bahrain, spurred by political unrest in the country and becoming the latest foreign bank to relocate staff to Dubai, three sources familiar with the matter said.
The Japanese bank, one of the largest foreign lenders operating in the kingdom, will move most of its approximately 60 staff members to Dubai and maintain a small presence in Manama, Bahrain's capital, the sources said on Wednesday.
"The bank is moving most of its team to Dubai, keeping a skeleton operation in Bahrain," one banker aware of the matter said. "The decision to move headquarters was taken before the Bahrain uprisings, but last year's incidents sped up the process." The move was expected as early as next month.

MIDEAST WEEKAHEAD-Egypt traders doubt election will end woes | Reuters

Foreign investors sold Egyptian stocks ahead of the first stage of presidential elections this week and are likely to remain cautious as traders doubt a new leader will be able to ease the country's political and economic woes.

All candidates in the vote are promising more equal distribution of wealth, less corruption, better education and big industrial projects to boost the ailing economy after 15 months of military rule. Final results are due on June 21 and with no reliable opinion polls, no one knows who will win.

Investors fearing a new bout of political turmoil are uneasy over the line-up of top candidates - ranging from old-school army man Ahmed Shafiq, who is hated by the young revolutionaries who led the campaign to topple President Hosni Mubarak, to the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Mursi and leftist Hamdeen Sabahy.

Number of expats in Kuwait falls by a fifth - Telegraph

Local reports suggest that the decline was largely driven by government attempts to deport “illegal migrants”, who live and work in the oil-rich Middle Eastern state without correct visas, as well as those who are involved in criminal activity.
Raids in areas popular with expats have become increasingly common. Earlier this week, over 700 foreigners who were allegedly violating Kuwaiti laws were seized in an industrial area to the south of Al Jahra city.
“There are many bogus companies that are trafficking workers, thereby spoiling Kuwait’s reputation... This is one of the reasons why raids are being held, to reduce the number of marginal laborers,” an official told The Kuwait Times.

Saudi Banks Face Risk From Asset Liability Mismatch, Alinma Says - Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia’s banks face the biggest risk from a maturity mismatch between assets and liabilities and need to find “creative” ways to bridge the gap, the chief executive officer of Alinma Bank (ALINMA) said.
The mismatch needs to be monitored and can be bridged by issuing long-dated securities like Islamic bonds, Abdulmohsen Al Fares, told reporters at a conference in Riyadh today. Some foreign banks cut lending in Saudi Arabia after the debt crisis in Europe which is creating “opportunities for local banks as well as for others like Asian banks,” he said.
Short-term demand deposits make up almost 60 percent of the kingdom banks’ overall deposits, according to data from the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency. Banks may have to turn to bonds amid the fastest pick-up in lending to the private sector in three years. Loans to private businesses grew 13 percent in the year to March, SAMA data shows.

Dubai Islamic Bank $500 Million Sukuk Oversubscribed - Bloomberg

Dubai Islamic Bank PJSC (DIB) said demand for its Islamic bond exceeded the $500 million on sale by four times.
The issue, the lender’s first since March 2007, was priced at 365 basis points above the benchmark midswap rate and was the most expensive sale by a bank in the Persian Gulf this year, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
“The new issue is driven by the need to maintain a presence in the international debt capital markets and a prudent strategy to diversifying our funding sources,” Deputy Chief Executive Officer Adnan Chilwan said in an e-mailed statement today.
Investors from the Middle East bought 73 percent of the bonds, while 15 percent was sold to buyers from Europe and 12 percent from Asia. Banks comprised 61 percent of investors, funds 24 percent, private banks 8 percent, and sovereign and supra national agencies 7 percent, according to the statement.

Dubai resumes slide; Abu Dhabi developers dip - Stocks - ArabianBusiness.com

UAE bourses slip, with Dubai's index halting two days of gains as investors book profits amid fresh jitters on global markets.
Dubai's benchmark is down 0.7 percent at 1,486 points, trimming year-to-date gains to 9.8 percent. It slumped to a 15-week low last week.
Investors sell mid-cap stocks. Mortgage lender Tamweel and National Central Cooling (Tabreed) decline 2.6 and 1.6 percent respectively.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Oman dips from 2-wk high; Kuwait extends fall - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Oman's index slips from Tuesday's two-week high as foreign investors sell shares, while Kuwait also ends
lower.
Muscat's benchmark falls 0.5 percent to close at 5,721 points, trimming year-to-date gains to 0.5 percent.
Ahli Bank drops 2 percent, while National Aluminium Products and telecoms operator Nawras slide 2.1 and 1.6 percent respectively.

Tunisia to issue $300-$350 mln US-backed debt in July | Reuters

Tunisia plans to issue $300 million to $350 million in debt guaranteed by the U.S. government in July, a finance ministry official said on Wednesday, as it taps international debt markets for the first time in five years.

"The maturity is highly likely to be seven years. We have not yet decided which banks to mandate but they will be international," Chaker Soltani, director general at the finance ministry, said on the sidelines of an Arab Monetary Fund conference in the UAE capital.

The U.S. guarantees will enable Tunisia to borrow at much lower rates than its risk profile would normally allow. Soltani said he expected rates around 50 to 75 basis points over U.S. Treasuries.

UAE needs unified sharia board to boost market: central bank

The United Arab Emirates needs a centralized body for the Islamic finance industry to help develop its sukuk market further, a top central bank official said on Wednesday.

Saif al-Shamsi, assistant governor for monetary policy and financial stability, said the law calls for a central sharia committee at the federal level that would work with sharia boards at the corporate level but that has not been implemented yet federally.

“Despite the advanced state of the UAE in issuing Islamic sukuk, we believe that we still need to do more,” he said in a speech. “This includes finding a unified body for the main fatwas (decrees) in the Islamic financial services domain, as is the case in Malaysia.”

Qatar oil minister says markets well supplied; no shortage anywhere: report - Oil | Platts

Qatari Oil Minister Mohammed al-Sada said Wednesday that oil markets were currently well supplied and there was no shortage anywhere in the world, official Qatar news agency QNA reported.

"We do not see any shortage of oil supplies in any part of the world," he told reporters on the sidelines of a cement conference in the Qatari capital Doha.

Sada also said that OPEC ministers due to meet in Vienna on June 14 would review markets and the supply situation at that time, refusing to speculate on the likely outcome of the meeting.

Saudi's Tasnee prices $533 mln debut riyal sukuk - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Saudi Arabia's National Industrialization Co (Tasnee) has priced a 2 billion riyals ($533.3 million) Islamic bond, or sukuk, the first time the petrochemicals firm has tapped the bond markets.
The privately-placed, seven-year transaction was issued at par and carried a profit rate of 105 basis points over the six-month Saudi Interbank Offered Rate, a document from HSBC's Saudi Arabian unit, which arranged the deal, said.
The issue attracted an order book of 5.2 billion riyals and was sold to government institutions, insurance companies, investment funds and banks, a Tasnee bourse filing said late on Tuesday.

Egypt Starts Vote as Investors Doubt Crisis Over: Arab Credit - Bloomberg

Egypt starts presidential elections today with its debt-risk premium almost double the level when Hosni Mubarak was ousted, evidence that investors doubt the vote alone can pull the country out of an economic slump.
The extra yield investors demand to hold Egyptian debt over U.S. Treasuries rose 94 basis points this quarter to 583 on May 21, outpacing a 57 basis-point gain in the Middle East spread, JPMorgan Chase & Co. data show. The rate was 299 on Feb. 10, 2011, the day before Mubarak’s three-decade rule came to an end.
Investors may avoid Egyptian assets until the nation secures a $3.2 billion loan it’s seeking from the International Monetary Fund to shore up public finances and the new president’s powers are clearly defined said analysts, including Michael Cirami of Eaton Vance Corp. (EV) With opinion polls showing none of the 13 candidates commanding a clear lead, results may not be known before June 21, following a second round of voting.

Youth unemployment in Mena soars to more than 25 per cent - The National

Unemployment is often cited as one cause of the Arab Spring. New data shows the unrest has now made the problem even worse.

Joblessness among youths in the Arab world rose to more than 25 per cent last year as civil unrest crippled economic activity in some countries.

Unemployment among young people in North Africa jumped five percentage points, to 27.9 per cent from the year earlier, a report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) showed yesterday.

With Kazakhstan at crossroads, level heads must prevail - The National

Over a 21-year time frame, Kazakhstan's economy is arguably the most successful of those that broke away from the Soviet Union in 1991.

It has not had the fastest rate of growth over that period. According to IMF statistics, that honour goes to Azerbaijan, which has averaged 4.9 per cent against Kazakhstan's 2.6 per cent annually.

Nor is it the biggest economy. Ukraine takes that prize by some way and Kazakhstan's estimated US$216 billion (Dh793.43bn) output last year is smaller than that of the UAE and about the same size as Israel's.

Prizes aimed at revving up $1bn trades - The National

Some high-volume investors may already own fleets of luxury sports cars, but an Abu Dhabi brokerage is hoping the chance to win one more will provide them an extra incentive to trade on the markets.

ADS Securities, is offering clients who have a "prime" account and make the best returns the chance to win prizes including luxury watches and watercraft.

Any investor who trades more than US$1 billion (Dh3.67bn) next month will be placed in contention to win, with the grand prize a new Mercedes SL500 worth $140,000.