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Thursday, 24 May 2012

Kuwait finmin resigns after push by opposition | Reuters

Kuwait's Finance Minister Mustapha al-Shamali resigned on Thursday after a questioning session led by opposition lawmakers over alleged financial irregularities in departments he oversees.

The 69-year-old Finance Ministry veteran repeatedly had denied allegations of mismanagement on his watch.

His resignation marked fresh political discord between the government and parliament, which was only elected three months ago.

Investment: Prudence without a purpose | The Economist

GENGHIS KHAN SQUARE in Kangbashi, a new city in the northern province of Inner Mongolia, is as big as Tiananmen Square in Beijing. But unlike Tiananmen Square, it has only one woman to sweep it. It takes her six hours, she says, though longer after the sandstorms that sweep in from the Gobi desert. Kangbashi, or “new Ordos”, as it is known, is easy to clean because it is all but empty. China’s most famous “ghost city”, it has attracted a lot of journalists eager to illustrate China’s overinvestment, but not many residents.

Ordos was one of the prime exhibits in an infamous presentation by Jim Chanos, a well-known short-seller, at the London School of Economics in January 2010. Mr Chanos argued that China’s growth was predicated on an unsustainable mobilisation of capital—investment that provides only for further investment. China, he quipped, was “Dubai times 1,000”.

Sberbank nears $4bn deal for DenizBank -

Russia’s Sberbank has entered exclusive talks to buy Turkish lender DenizBank for up to $4bn in a rare expansion move at a time when many western banks are retrenching to their core markets.
Russia’s largest bank by assets is hoping to sign a deal within weeks for the retail bank that was put up for sale by ailing Franco-Belgium lender Dexia last year.
A takeover of the Istanbul-listed bank would be one of the largest global bank deals this year at a time when lenders from emerging markets are seeking to capitalise on the weaknesses of European rivals.

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf slightly down on Greece woes, Egypt gains - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Gulf markets extended declines in muted pre-weekend trade on Thursday on worries over a possible Greek exit from the euro zone, while Egypt's bourse climbed further on the second day of presidential elections.
Abu Dhabi's benchmark snapped a three-day rally, shedding 0.4 percent, as developers dragged. Aldar Properties and Sorouh Real Estate declined 0.9 and 1 percent respectively.
"In the UAE, generally valuations are attractive but the downside will be big in case we have a global downturn again," said Ali Adou, portfolio manager at The National Investor. "We're in a jittery month and it remains a tricky situation until the euro zone comes up with a solution -- at this point a Greek exit is already priced in the markets."

MENA stock markets close - May 24, 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)

Kuwait gives funds until June to cap stock ownership | Reuters

Kuwait's financial watchdog is giving investment funds until the end of June to comply with new rules on the ownership of individual financial securities.

The Gulf state is home to a large number of investment firms which have been hard hit by the global financial crisis, many of them had trading in their shares frozen.

The Capital Markets Authority, the first of its kind in Kuwait, was set up last year to try to address such issues.

UPDATE 2-Dow says wins $2.16 bln in Kuwait arbitration | Reuters

Kuwait's state-run chemical company must pay Dow Chemical Co $2.16 billion under an arbitrator's ruling for wrongly cancelling a planned plastics joint venture in 2008, Dow said on Thursday.

The ruling against Petrochemical Industries Co (PIC) of Kuwait by the International Chamber of Commerce's International Court is final and binding. It is believed to be one of the largest-ever arbitration awards, according to Dow's law firm, Shearman and Sterling LLP.

Kuwait pulled out of the planned $17.4 billion "K-Dow" petrochemical joint venture as the global economy sunk into the deep recession nearly four years ago, triggering charges from Dow that the move violated its agreements.

Saudi Arabia is getting the job done -

When Ali Naimi, Saudi Arabia’s veteran oil minister, wrote in the Financial Times in late March that the kingdom wanted “lower oil prices”, some analysts and traders doubted Riyadh’s determination.
Two months later, it is clear that Saudi meant business: production is climbing above 10m barrels a day and Saudi Aramco is offering attractive prices so refiners take the barrels – either for consumption or storage.
Crude oil stocks in OECD countries have been rising for the past 10 weeks, albeit from very low levels in Japan and the European Union. In the US, commercial crude oil stocks have surged to 382.5m barrels, the highest since August 1990. The stock build-up is well above the seasonal norm, confirming that Riyadh, as Mr Naimi says, is aiming to over supply the market.

Abu Dhabi Stocks Head for Biggest Drop in a Month on Europe - Businessweek

Abu Dhabi shares were set for the biggest drop in more than a month after German business confidence fell more than economists forecast damping the outlook for Europe’s debt crisis.

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank PJSC (ADIB), the United Arab Emirates’ second-biggest Shariah-compliant lender, slumped 1.9 percent. In neighboring Dubai, Air Arabia PJSC (AIRARABI) declined for a second day. Abu Dhabi’s ADX General Index (ADSMI) decreased 0.4 percent, headed for the biggest drop since April 19, to 2,465.09 at 1:11 p.m. in the emirate. The measure has slipped 0.1 percent this week. Dubai’s DFM General Index (DFMGI) and the Bloomberg GCC 200 Index (BGCC200) fell 0.1 percent.

“Full attention is on Europe, at least leading to the next election in Greece next month,” said Ibrahim Masood, who helps manage about $400 million at Mashreqbank PSC. (MASQ) “There’s not a lot of news flow to expect domestically for the next several weeks.”

Arab Spring redefines Mena’s investment trends | Alrroya

The Middle East and North Africa’s (Mena) investment climate has seen a dramatic shift in focus among investors, particularly those from oil-rich Gulf nations, a private equity investor said.

More than a year after the renowned Arab Spring revolution nearly overhauled the region’s political scene, local investors have started to look for opportunities within Mena, said Karim Saada, Executive Vice President and Country Head-Egypt of investment firm Amwal AlKhaleej.

He admits that some investors remain wary of short-term risks particularly in unrest-hit countries that are in a period of transition, but he believes that the long-term outlook for the region is promising. Now, after the dust has settled, is actually the best time to cherry-pick assets with good value at reasonable price.

Proposals adopted to insulate UAE from global crises

The UAE Higher Committee overseeing the crafting of laws to regulate the country’s financial sector on Wednesday adopted several recommendations aimed at insulating the country from any future global financial crises.
A committee meeting chaired by Shaikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance, instructed a technical team to complete the task of reviewing the draft laws in preparation for submitting it to the cabinet for approval.

The committee discussed a number of topics on its agenda and reviewed previous resolutions issued by the federal government to address the effects and reduce the impacts of global financial crises by forming a temporary ministerial committee headed by the Minister of State for Finance, the Minister of Economy and the Governor of the UAE Central Bank.

The Times of Oman: HSBC Oman, OIB merger 'halted' in Oman

Oman's Ministry of Commerce and Industry has halted the merger of HSBC Oman and Oman International Bank (OIB) following an objection raised by an India-based businessman.

The order (seen by Times of Oman) issued on May 16 by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Directorate-General of Commerce in Muscat, states that according to Article 13 bis 8 of Commercial Companies Law 4/74, the merger has been suspended unless the objection raised by the businessman is settled or withdrawn by him. Another option is that the said objection is overruled by a court order.

Meanwhile, when contacted, HSBC declined to comment on the matter.

Banking tightens UAE-India ties - The National

For JR Gangaramani and many other wealthy Indians, the UAE is an extended suburb of Mumbai.

Mr Gangaramani first arrived on a visit visa nearly 40 years ago after his parents told him they could not afford for him to study a master's in civil engineering in the United States.

Here, he found a job helping to build the World Trade Centre in Dubai, the first tall building to spring up from the emirate's dusty terrain.

Gulf’s $46 Billion Ports Bring Capacity Seeking Market: Freight - Businessweek

Persian Gulf states risk creating a glut in container capacity as they spend $46 billion on port projects amid sputtering global economic growth.

More than 35 ports stretching from Kuwait at the head of the Gulf to Oman on the Indian Ocean plan to add space for as many as 60 million standard containers in little over a decade, more than doubling capacity from the current 50 million boxes.

The plans will extend an oil-funded infrastructure splurge that’s also set to endow the Gulf with some of the world’s biggest airports. Unlike those hubs, which will serve a global market, its ports rely on a local population of 40 million people and lack the urbanized hinterland that helps sustain major global harbors such as Rotterdam and Hong Kong.