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Monday, 28 May 2012

Energy offers GCC rationale for real economic union - The National

When the leaders of a regional grouping wanted to build economic cooperation as a road to greater political unity, they looked to energy and heavy industry as the key.

This is not the GCC in 2012, but the European Coal and Steel Community, the forerunner of today's European Union, first proposed in May 1950 by the visionary French foreign minister Robert Schuman.

The idea of a closer Gulf federation, raised by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia last December, suddenly returned to prominence this month at the GCC leaders' meeting in Riyadh. But with only Bahrain enthusiastic and Qatar giving a probably tactical welcome, the prospects of immediate closer union seem doubtful. As with Europe, economics may be a better place to start - and petroleum is the Gulf's key resource, as coal was for Europe in the 1950s.

British brands find hope in the Gulf - The National

They did it before and had their fingers burnt. Who can forget the ignominious retreat from France by Marks & Spencer, which 11 years ago had to lower the Union Jack on its European stores.

But now British retailers are pushing overseas again and the Middle East is one of their priority markets.

Faced with low growth or even no growth at home, they are looking overseas to counter the chill on the British high street. Familiar brands like M&S have been taken to heart by the local Gulf communities: the company sold 160,000 bras in the region last year, a 74 per cent increase on 2010.

Corruption 'rife among Middle East companies' - The National

Two thirds of business executives in the Middle East believe corruption is widespread.

Backhanders and bribes are often used to win contracts and deals, according to a survey commissioned by the international audit firm Ernst & Young (E&Y).

The research found that a fifth of respondents felt it was not possible to conduct business in the region without engaging in bribery or other forms of corruption.

gulfnews : Adnoc deal to help cut Emarat losses

Effective June, petroleum products retailer Adnoc Distribution, a unit of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) will take over the running of 74 petrol stations operated by Emarat in Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah, with the Abu Dhabi-based company assuming full management control of the pumps from January next year, a top-ranking oil industry source told Gulf News yesterday.
Adnoc and Emarat yesterday announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) through which Adnoc will acquire the 74 Emarat petrol stations.
"Initially, Emarat will assist Adnoc in running of the stations. Emarat will continue to honour its ongoing contracts with contractors and suppliers of gasoline, most of which will end by end-2012. By January, Emarat will be out and Adnoc will take full control of supply and distribution at the pumps," said the source, adding in this deal no financial transaction is involved and that the Emarat retail section employees at the pumps will be absorbed by the Adnoc unit under its expansion plan.

gulfnews : Oil slide will prove costly in the future

Three weeks ago I took the view that "rarely has the world economy been in such an uncertain condition with oil supply plentiful and at the same time oil prices the level they are".
Well, oil prices are on the decline as the price of the Opec basket of crude oils fell from $124.64 a barrel on March 13 to $117.08 on May 1 and then further persistent and sharp decline took it to $103.49 on May 24. The average price for May is likely to be around $109 a barrel as compared to $118 a barrel for April.

gulfnews : Sovereign wealth funds' investment abroad soars

Sovereign wealth funds and other government entities in the UAE greatly increased their overseas investments during 2011 as higher oil prices led to a large rise in the country's balance of payments surplus, new figures from the UAE Central Bank indicate.
Capital outflows from UAE public sector entities rose to Dh95 billion ($26 billion) in 2011 from Dh10 billion in 2010, according to the recently-released Central Bank annual report for 2011. That was the highest outflow since 2008, when the global financial crisis led to a sharp drop in the UAE's oil revenues.
Economists said the jump in capital outflows last year likely reflected higher overseas investments by the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, which invests the emirate's surplus oil income in overseas markets, and by other wealthy government-owned investment vehicles such as the International Petroleum Investment Co, which invests in oil and gas ventures overseas, and Mubadala Development Co., which leads the Abu Dhabi government's diversification strategy away from the oil and gas sector.

gulfnews : Kuwaiti shaikh sues UBS for unpaid adviser fees

A member of Kuwait's ruling family, Shaikh Mesha'al Jarah Al Sabah, is suing Swiss bank UBS in Dubai, alleging unpaid fees.
UBS AG invited Shaikh Mesha'al to apply for a non-executive position with the bank soon after it became the lead adviser to Kuwait's Mobile Telecommunications Company (Zain) on the $10.7 billion (Dh39.30 billion) sale of its African assets, the Swiss investment bank said.
Shaikh Mesha'al, who is suing UBS for $21.4 million alleging he was not paid for helping the bank win the February 2010 deal to advise Zain, met executives of the Swiss bank in connection with his job application that spring, the UBS court filing said.

gulfnews : UAE's bellwethers

In October 1973, the late President Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan issued Decree 13 incorporating the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) for Distribution.
As the first government-owned company specialising in the marketing and distribution of petroleum products in the UAE, Adnoc Distribution has grown to become a national institution, a major economic driver of the UAE economy, and a major employer.
In 2000 the company launched the first of the new Adnoc service stations, which include the Oasis convenience store, oil change centre and car wash. Adnoc also offers tyre-changing facilities at select locations.
Today, Adnoc Distribution owns and operates more than 150 service stations across the UAE, with new locations being added regularly, and older stations being upgraded to meet the needs of customers. Adnoc Distribution employs 5,000 staff.

Saudi Aramco Pumped 9.1 Million Barrels a Day Oil in 2011 - Bloomberg

Saudi Arabian Oil Co., the world’s largest crude exporter, pumped 9.1 million barrels a day of oil on average last year, the state-run company known as Saudi Aramco said in its annual review.
Average daily output rose 15 percent from 2010, according to the review posted today on Aramco’s website. Reserves of crude oil and condensates fell 0.2 percent to 259.7 billion barrels compared with the previous year, while deposits of natural gas increased 1.3 percent to 282.6 trillion standard cubic feet, it said.
Saudi Arabia has started a program to explore for energy resources in frontier areas including the Red Sea, Ali al-Naimi, the country’s oil minister, said at a May 14 conference in Adelaide, Australia. The government wants to increase the recovery rate at the country’s biggest producing fields to 70 percent from 50 percent, he said. The desert kingdom is exploring for gas, a fuel used in power plants, to help meet rising domestic demand for electricity.

Middle East construction disputes doubled in value in 2011, finds EC Harris -

The average value of disputes in the Middle East construction industry more than doubled in 2011 according to this year’s ‘Global Construction Disputes´ report from EC Harris, the global Built Asset Consultancy.

Whilst the average value of disputes fell around the world, the Middle East bucked the trend, with disputes having an average value of US$112.5 million, compared to US$56.25 million in 2010.

 EC Harris found that construction disputes in the Middle East lasted, on average, 9 months in 2011, compared to 8.25 months in 2010.  This was one of the lowest in the report, with only the UK seeing a quicker resolution of disputes at 8.7 months.  Disputes in the US took the longest to resolve at 14.4months, with the global average being 10.6months.

gulfnews : Adnoc move to buy Emarat pumps tackles fiscal woes

Adnoc's planned acquisition of Emarat stations in the northern emirates still does not address the main cause of petrol retailers struggling with subsidised fuel prices — but tackles Emarat's financial problems, according to an energy analyst.
Adnoc and Emarat yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding in which Adnoc will acquire 74 Emarat petrol stations in Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah.
"It comes as part of a move to resolve the subsidies issue and financial problems of petrol retailers. Emarat is a federal company and it is natural for them to make a deal with Adnoc," said Robin Mills, head of consulting at Manaar Energy. "Adnoc has no financial problems, it produces oil and there are high oil prices. Emarat is struggling and had to have a cash injection from the government."

gulfnews : Dubai's gold trade loses its sparkle

The Indian rupee's rapid decline has taken the sheen off Dubai's gold and jewellery retail prospects in the past two weeks, with prospective shoppers preferring to send funds back to their home country and making full use of the exchange rate benefits. Interestingly, this sentiment has taken hold at a time when gold prices have dropped and the dollar strengthened.
Same-store sales at some of the leading jewellery chains are reportedly down by 20-30 per cent from a month ago. More worryingly, the prospects of an improvement in the first few days of June look remote.
"It's proving to be a quiet period for the trade and if the rupee's weakness continues it will not bode well in the weeks leading up to summer," said Cyriac Varghese of Sky Jewellery.

Qatar Telecom $1.87 bln rights issue covered - statement | Reuters

Qatar Telecom has raised 6.8 billion riyals ($1.87 billion) from a fully subscribed rights issue, the firm said in a statement on Tuesday.

The capital will be used for general corporate purposes and to refinance existing debt, according to a regulatory filing to the London Stock Exchange where Qtel has bonds listed.

"Qtel continues to optimise its capital structure to ensure the financial efficiency of the company as it delivers on its strategy," Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al-Thani, Qtel chairman, said.

UAE banks set to resist lending rules -

The United Arab Emirates will struggle to impose new rules that are aimed at preventing a repeat of Dubai’s debt crisis by capping bank lending to government bodies, analysts and bankers say.
Local lenders are responding to the central bank’s decision in April to restrict lending to UAE government entities. The regulations limit banks to lending a maximum of 100 per cent of their capital base to government entities, with no more than 25 per cent of a bank’s capital to be loaned to any individual government borrower.
Fears over banks’ exposure to Dubai government debt in 2009 prompted concerns about the stability of the financial system. As the UAE seeks to recover from its debt woes, the authorities are trying to prevent future shocks.

MENA stock markets close - May 28, 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)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi snaps 3-day losing streak; other mkts mixed - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Saudi Arabia's bourse snapped a three-day losing streak on Monday as fears eased of a disorderly Greek exit from the euro bloc, while Egypt's market fell ahead of the release of official presidential election results.
The Saudi kingdom's index finished 1 percent higher at 7,056 points, tracking late-day gains in European shares.
Greek polls on Saturday suggested the pro-bailout conservatives could win elections on June 17, keeping the
country in the euro zone and making a swift collapse of the currency bloc less likely.

Master of eastern retail turns westward -

For the Gulf resident who takes a morning shower with soap from The Body Shop, dons an H&M outfit and grabs a Starbucks skinny latte on the way to work, it may come as a surprise that the daily routine comes courtesy of a single office in dusty Kuwait City.
MH Alshaya, the Kuwaiti family-owned retailer founded in 1890, holds the franchise agreements to more than 50 popular brands in the region, as well as having a foothold in Turkey and Europe. The brands include household names from Victoria’s Secret and Harvey Nichols to Starbucks and PizzaExpress.

Kuwait appoints acting finance minister - KUNA - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Kuwait's cabinet appointed Nayef al-Hajraf as the country's acting finance minister, state news agency KUNA said on Monday. Nayef, who is higher education minister, replaces Mustapha al-Shamali on an interim basis.
Shamali resigned on May 24 after opposition lawmakers accused him in parliament of failing to deal with alleged
financial irregularities in his departments. Shamali denied all allegations of mismanagement on his watch.

Hastie spree proved a step too far

The collapse of the engineering services group Hastie had its roots in an expensive and poorly executed acquisition spree and a culture of secrecy that buried bad news and falsified the company's accounts over a number of years.

The corporate regulator is investigating the accounting irregularities that took place from 2009 and continued well after the company issued a prospectus to shareholders to raise $160 million last year. The company's auditors and board signed off on that prospectus, which contained false and misleading information.

The victims of the collapse are the 2500 staff who have lost their jobs, seven banks which stand to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in loans and bank guarantees, and thousands of shareholders who have watched their shares tank over the past few years. At least half of the $243 million worth of bank guarantees were expected to be called overnight.

UAE: making the most of haven status | beyondbrics

Dubai’s recovery after 2011′s regional unrest has been plain to see. The city’s hotels are bursting again, and real estate agents are smiling as the property market bounces off last year’s floor.

The flow of deposits into the UAE as money fled the regional unrest was spotted in central bank figures last year, but new statistics show that Dubai’s financial centre recorded an even more dramatic increase in deposits.

The Dubai International Financial Centre recorded a 76 per cent full-year increase in deposits through 2011 as the emirate became a financial haven during the Arab spring. Deposits at the DIFC reached $12.9bn in the fourth quarter, a rise of 40 per cent from the Q1 2011 figure of $9.2bn. Loans rose 38 per cent as new companies opened up.

Tea with FT Middle East: Fadi Ghandour -

Weeks before the start of the uprisings that have turned the Arab world upside down, Fadi Ghandour had a memorable chat with another regional business titan, the Egyptian telecommunications magnate, Naguib Sawiris.
During an onstage interview by Mr Ghandour at a November 2010 event in Dubai, Mr Sawiris shocked the audience by saying that his idea of change in the Middle East would be “if everybody sitting here will overturn the governments we have.”

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-UAE mkts end lower in thin trade; Qatar rises - Yahoo! News Maktoob

UAE markets end lower with investor participation thin as uncertainty over Greece's position in the euro weighs on sentiment, while Qatar's bourse extends gains.
Dubai's index finishes 0.2 percent lower at 1,477 points, and Abu Dhabi's bourse slips 0.2 percent to 2,457
Opinion polls on Saturday suggested the pro-bailout conservatives could win elections on June 17, keeping the
country in the euro zone and making a swift collapse of the currency bloc less likely.

DIFC deposits boom as a safe haven from the Arab Spring and base for Chinese expansion « ArabianMoney

Banks based in the Dubai International Financial Centre have been growing their loans and deposits at a rate that rival global financial centres can only dream about in the worst period for international banking in living memory.

However, a total DIFC staff number of around 13,000 and the attraction of only 100 new companies since 2009 shows that this growth has been lower than originally forecast because of the ongoing global financial crisis.

Qatar Surplus Reached 85 Billion Riyals, Al-Sharq Says - Bloomberg

Qatar’s budget surplus for the fiscal year ended March 31 reached 85 billion riyals ($22.7 billion), Al-Sharq reported, citing unnamed officials.

Saudi Market Won’t Open to Foreigners Now, Eqtisadiah Says - Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul stock exchange doesn’t plan to open the market to overseas investors at the moment, Al-Eqtisadiah reported, citing Tadawul Chief Executive Officer Abdullah bin Saleh al-Suwaylme.