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Saturday, 26 May 2012

gulfnews : Creating single Gulf currency needs more than political will

It is a strange thing that any group of nations should wish at this time to emulate the most immediately newsworthy precedent of having established a regional monetary union.
Without mentioning names, it would seem that establishing a single currency across a set of neighbouring and even relatively like-minded countries essentially requires political union, preferably in advance.
Otherwise, those who prosper in this type of arrangement will be expected to prop up those who succumb to its pressures, and— since the system has an inherent rigidity which inhibits compensating adjustments — indefinitely so.

A bridge and ever closer financial ties with Saudi - The National

Businessmen say Bahrain is becoming ever closer to neighbouring Saudi Arabia economically, even as plans for a Gulf union meet with loud opposition.

Last weekend there were demonstrations for and against Saudi Arabia's plans for a closer union among member nations of the GCC. But economic ties are strengthening.

Last year, the GCC pledged US$10 billion (Dh36.73bn) each to Bahrain and Oman over a 10-year period to help shore up their economies.

Sukuk payback haunts Dana Gas - The National

When Dana Gas shareholders meet on Thursday to elect a new board, personnel issues are likely to be overshadowed by the company's financial affairs.

Long-suffering equity investors have seen the value of their shares decline by more than 90 per cent from their peak soon after Dana listed with much fanfare on the Abu Dhabi bourse in 2005.

The initial promise shown by the gas producer soon dissipated over stalled projects and payment issues in Dana's key markets - Iraqi Kurdistan and Egypt - where disputes with the central government in Baghdad and political turmoil in Cairo have interfered with revenue. Exploration activity in the company's native Sharjah has also disappointed.

Dana Gas: Sizeable rebound in the offing on value of stock - The National

Shareholders - winners
As it becomes increasingly likely that Dana Gas will restructure its debt, shareholders will be breathing a sigh of relief. Had the company defaulted on the debt, it would have risked losing the assets that were held as a collateral against the bond. Losing substance at a time when the company is trying to diversify out of its core markets and retain its asset base until its gas production is matched by receivables from host countries Egypt and Iraq would have dealt a potentially fatal blow to an entity that is vulnerable but has significant growth potential. Removing the threat of default and buying time to accumulate enough cash to repay its creditors should lead to a significant rebound in Dana’s stock. Some experts predict that the more adventurous among equity investors are already building a position to profit from a rebound.

Where it all went wrong for Dana - The National

In the beginning, the investors were so eager that some slept in their cars to await the IPO. It was 2005, and Abu Dhabi did not have enough hotel rooms to house all the people who had come from Saudi Arabia, Oman and elsewhere in the region seeking a slice of the latest initial public offering - Dana Gas's.

Optimism deserts investors amid crisis - The National

Investors have lost that lovin' feeling when it comes to shares.

Hopes for a recovery have dissipated, wiping out half of the gains made in January and February, and analysts are not yet seeing a bottom.

Regional stock markets are likely to remain subdued this week, with smart money sitting on the sidelines, after last week's volatility on global markets as Europe's debt crisis worsened.

Bahrain seeks economic kick-start - The National

Cranes stand idle over the skyline of Manama. Stalled projects line the city's waterfront, where many completed skyscrapers have struggled to attract tenants.

Compared with the flurry of construction activity elsewhere in the Gulf, the sense of lethargy is palpable - as is the frustration of the kingdom's businessmen with the economic malaise.

"We're currently going through a phase," said Hisham Alrayes, the chief executive of Gulf Finance House, an Islamic investment bank that agreed on a US$110 million (Dh404m) restructuring with creditors last week. "Hopefully, things are evolving to reach a better political environment in Bahrain."

gulfnews : UAE upholds values of free trade

Recently released statistics confirm an established fact, namely that of the UAE embracing the free trade principle in general and imports in particular. In essence, the UAE resembles the US in being receptive to foreign trade. Many countries including China enjoy trade surpluses with the US.
The UAE enjoys a surplus in its trade balance and as such in its current account by virtue of being a key exporter of oil to international markets. Steady oil prices for several years in a row have been helping the country register comfortable surpluses in its external accounts.
In fact, the UAE stands out for being exceptionally receptive to non-oil imports. Statistics released by the Federal Customs Authority, an official entity, showed that the country's non-oil trade rose by 23 per cent last year, undoubtedly a significant gain in a span of one year. In other words, non-oil trade rose by a hefty $47 billion (Dh172.61 billion) to notch a record $253 billion.

GCC: Can The Arab Gulf States Form A Political And Economic Union To Rival The EU And Shut Out Iran? | all - International Business Times

Iran's long conflict with its Arab neighbors in the Persian Gulf region reached a new low recently over a controversial proposal by Saudi Arabia to form a “union” of sorts with Bahrain.

Since an uprising erupted in Bahrain last year, in tandem with the wider 'Arab Spring' revolution, the royal families of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have both accused Iran of interfering with Bahrain's internal affairs.

Bahrain is somewhat unusual in the Middle East in that the ruling elite are Sunni Muslims who govern a populace of predominantly Shi'a Muslims. Iran (a Shi'a power) has reportedly assisted their Shi'a compatriots in Bahrain in their protests against the government. In response, Bahrain's powerful Sunni-dominated ally Saudi Arabia dispatched troops to Manama to quell the rebellion in the tiny kingdom and maintain a tense status quo.

Saudi Stock Market close - May 26, 2012

 General Index
Intraday  3 month  
 Daily Statistics
 General Index7013.91
 Change (%)-0.67%
 T. Volume240751342
 T. Companies 155

WAM | Jawaher Al Qasimi urges support for SMEs

Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs and Honorary Patron of the Sharjah Business Women Council, urged young entrepreneurs to adopt competitive standards in the areas of trade and industry on both local and global levels in order to boost the UAE's in global markets.

"We believe that small and medium-sized enterprises are considered one of the most important essential to raise the level of competition and creativity to ensure maximum growth in economic sectors. The emirate of Sharjah enjoys special characteristics that qualify it to be an effective economic engine in the world if we rely on our capabilities and make the best use of available resources and infrastructure to improve the commercial sectors and open new economic horizons in the emirate," Sheikha Jawaher said as she opened today N VILLA Beauty Center, one of the residential villa projects in the emirate, in line with her ongoing and unlimited support to small and medium sized enterprises.

WAM | The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange upgrades to new trading platform from NASDAQ OMX

The NASDAQ OMX Group announced that it has entered an agreement with the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) to upgrade their trading platform. Under the terms of the agreement ADX renews its contract with NASDAQ OMX for a further five years and commits to upgrade to a trading platform powered by NASDAQ OMX's X-stream technology. The upgrade is expected to be rolled out at ADX in the second half of 2013.

The upgrade to X-stream technology will provide ADX with a proven, functionality rich, multi-asset trading platform that complies with international standards and policies. The platform will handle trading of equities, fixed income and ETFs with the possibility to introduce additional instruments. NASDAQ OMX has been delivering trading technology to ADX since the year 2000.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Saudi shares close down after early gains - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Saudi Arabia's bourse closes down 0.7 percent after making early gains, with falls in both the banking and
petrochemical sectors, the two largest in the exchange.
In early trading the all-share reached 7,080 points from a start of 7,061 points, but it finishes at 7,014 points.
Banking and finance shares drop 1.2 percent, with Al Rajhi Bank, the largest listed, falling 1 percent.
Petrochemical shares fall 0.7 percent, with bellwether Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) closing down 0.5

Sovereign funds prominent investors in infrastructure assets

A report prepared by KFH-Research regarding the performance and status of global infrastructure funds market, mentioned that despite the recent poor performance of subscriptions and money gathering, infrastructure funds are expected to attract more investors and to continue achieving reasonable growth; especially after the growing trend to spend funds on in infrastructure projects and the participation of the private sector in those projects. In addition, the report noted that infrastructure funds began to recover starting from 2010, where total collected money reached $32 billion, before dropping to $16 billion in 2011. The report expected to have the same value this year, which is $16 billion, and mentioned that sovereign funds, especially in the region, are the most prominent investors in infrastructure assets.

Oman's bank Nizwa attracts $1.77 bln in IPO - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Omani lender Bank Nizwa, the sultanate's first Islamic bank, attracted 681 million rials ($1.77 billion) of bids in its initial public offer of shares, 11 times the sum which it was raising, the lead manager for the IPO said on Saturday.
The bank will be listed on the Muscat Securities Market on June 12, Oman Arab Bank said. Bank Nizwa raised 60 million rials by selling 40 percent of its capital.
Oman reversed its prohibition on Islamic finance last year and now intends to develop the industry, seeing economic and political benefits. Bank Nizwa is not yet operational and has only a representative office; three branch openings are planned after the IPO.

Saudi Shares Advance on U.S. Confidence, China Pledge - Bloomberg

Saudi Arabian shares climbed, led by petrochemical companies and banks, on reports that U.S. consumer confidence gained and as China pledged to bolster growth.
Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC), known as Sabic, the world’s largest petrochemical maker, rose 0.5 percent. Al Rajhi Bank (RJHI), the kingdom’s largest bank by market value, and Samba Financial Group (SAMBA) gained the most in four days.
The Tadawul All Share Index (SASEIDX) advanced 0.2 percent in Riyadh at 11:32 a.m. The 152-member index has rallied 10 percent this year.

Is Dubai's building boom an oasis, or a mirage?

I'm leaning over the edge of the viewing platform on the world's tallest building, the 2,723-foot Burj Khalifa in Dubai. From 124 stories above the ground I can see mile upon mile of high-rise offices, housing developments and port facilities, all built during a 20-year boom that has transformed a small fishing village in the United Arab Emirates into one of the world's hottest destinations.

I can also see the world's largest shopping center - mostly empty of shoppers. On the other side of the tower, the World Islands real estate development is rumored to be sinking, financially and literally. Far in the desert haze the vast site of the world's largest amusement park sits empty, the project on hold.

As I hang out the window, I wonder if Dubai is also teetering, or if it is merely taking a quick breath before charging onward with its master plan. And is this lull possibly the best time to visit for those who are curious about the freakish attractions but who were turned off before by the crowds, the hype and the prices?

Qantas Looks at Splitting Licenses Amid Interest From Emirates - Bloomberg

Qantas Airways Ltd. (QAN), seeking to turn around losses on international flights, is looking at getting separate licenses for its international and domestic businesses amid interest from Emirates Airline in an enhanced tie-up between the carriers.
Qantas has a group looking at whether a split license would be the best way of running the businesses after announcing a restructure May 22, Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce told a media event in Sydney today.
Enlarge image
Alan Joyce, chief executive officer of Qantas Airways Ltd. Photographer: Ian Waldie/Bloomberg
“We’re exploring that as we speak” he said. While Qantas’s constitution and a 1992 Australian law cap foreign investment in the carrier at 49 percent, second-ranked Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd. (VAH) recently separated its international and domestic businesses to get around similar rules.

Kuwait group eyes options after $2.16 bln Dow ruling | Reuters

Kuwait's state-run chemical company said it was studying its legal options after an international arbitrator ruled it must pay Dow Chemical Co $2.16 billion for wrongly cancelling a planned plastics joint venture in 2008.

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

"The company's management is discussing with lawyers all of the legal proceedings that are available," state-run news agency KUNA said, citing a statement by PIC's chairman and managing director Maha Mulla Hussain.

The Times of Oman: Personal loan restrictions aimed at avoiding debt trap: CBO chief

Recent restrictions on commercial banks to confine repayment of personal loan to a maximum of 50 per cent of borrower's salary as equated monthly instalment (EMI) and a maximum loan tenure of ten years are expected to ease the burden of borrowers to a large extent and thereby reduces chances of an imminent debt trap, a top-level official of the Central Bank of Oman told Times of Oman.

The Sultanate's banking regulator last week said commercial banks cannot deduct more than 50 per cent of the borrowers' salary as EMI for personal loan, 60 per cent for housing loans, a maximum repayment period of 10 years for personal loans and 25 years for housing loans.

"We do not like to (over) burden the borrowers with a high amount of loan and for an unreasonably long period of time. A ten year entitlement will be adequate for the requirement of a borrower,- said Hamoud Sangour Al Zadjali, executive president of CBO.