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Wednesday, 30 May 2012

EFG-Hermes linked to Egypt graft claims -

The Middle East’s leading investment bank is tangled up in Egyptian corruption allegations involving two sons of the deposed president Hosni Mubarak, state media reported on Wednesday.
Gamal and Alaa Mubarak, as well as the two chief executive officers and a former CEO of the Cairo-based investment bank EFG-Hermes, are being charged with corrupt stock exchange dealings worth more than $400m in connection with the 2007 sale of Al-Watany Bank of Egypt, state media said. Four others were also indicted.

gulfnews : Middle East airlines' passenger traffic increases 18.6%

Middle Eastern carriers saw passenger traffic increase by 18.6 per cent in the first four months of this year over the same period in 2011, leading the global growth in passenger demand, according to latest statistics released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
In April the region's airlines recorded 16 per cent growth over the corresponding period a year earlier, the global aviation body said yesterday in a statement.
"Middle East airlines' traffic growth has started to pick up pace again, recording a 16 per cent gain in passenger demand for April, after having softened in the second half of 2011," IATA said.

Builder Hastie collapses, risking 2,000 jobs in Middle East - The National

A major Australian builder with contracts across the Emirates has gone bust, threatening 2,000 jobs throughout the Middle East.

Yesterday morning creditors gathered at the Dubai office of Hastie Group in Al Quoz, hoping to learn whether they would be paid.

Hastie worked on projects worth billions of dirhams in the Gulf, including the new campus of Zayed University and Dalma Mall, both in Abu Dhabi.

IMF urges targeted Saudi investments - The National

The Saudi government can help the private sector to grow faster and create jobs through targeted investments, says a senior IMF official.

Reforms could also help to lay the foundations for economic growth in the years ahead, said Masood Ahmed,the director of the agency's Middle East and Central Asia department.

"While there has been progress on diversification, the Saudi economy remains dependent on oil exports, and growth has been driven mainly by factor accumulation," he said after an IMF mission to the kingdom this month.

From revolution to red carpet - The National

The power of the crowd was what defined the Arab Spring, as thousands of protesters successfully overturned unpopular governments in Egypt and Tunisia.

Dragon Oil wins exploration rights in Iraq - The National

Dubai's Dragon Oil is part of a consortium that has won the rights to explore for oil and gas in Iraq, the only block to be awarded at an auction yesterday in Baghdad.

In its first offer of exploration rights since the war, Iraq offered up six blocks to 47 companies - but received only two bids, including one it rejected.

The reluctance of foreign oil companies to sign up to Baghdad's tough contract terms could hamper Iraq's attempts to rebuild its postwar economy and become a powerful Opec producer.

Spectre raised of a 'major sell-off' - The National

Standard Chartered has warned that credit markets in the Gulf could undergo a "major sell-off" if Greece abandons the euro, as world markets lurched through further choppy trading sessions and the troubled European currency fell further.

The London-based bank, which generates most of its income in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, said Greece returning to the drachma would lead many emerging market indexes to fall further, even though the threat of a divorce from the euro zone has already rattled markets for many months.

"For the Asian and Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] credit markets, we would expect a major sell-off in the event of a Greek exit from the euro area," the bank said in a research report.

Case highlights the need for a bankruptcy law - The National

It's hard to defend the actions of failed entrepreneur Simon Ford, who fled the country three years ago after the collapse of his Dubai-based business Blue Banana. Short-lived, the venture provided vouchers that could be exchanged for adventure "experiences" such as hot-air ballooning and skydiving. Yesterday's news that Mr Ford has started an online venture in the UK, and is involved with two other companies, only serves to rub salt into the wounds of his many creditors, suppliers and former employees here in the UAE.

The moral and ethical issues surrounding the swift departure of Mr Ford and his family can be debated endlessly. At the time, he vowed to repay "every last dirham" of the Dh1 million he owes - although inquiries by The National have failed to establish whether this process has begun.

Dubai investor’s plan may doom Shell’s Asian refinery hub option - Business - Manila Standard Today

Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras did not leave enough clues that will give away the identity of the Dubai-listed petroleum company planning to lease at least 100 hectares of land in Bataan. He neither specified the type of project the company would put up on an industrial park owned by PNOC Alternative Fuels Corp. in Bataan.

PNOC Alternative Fuels, according to Almendras, could sign a lease agreement with the Dubai company that would establish a “petroleum facility” in Bataan. PNOC Alternative Fuels, aside from developing alternative types of fuel, is mandated to develop and manage in phases a petrochemical industrial estate, in Limay and Mariveles, Bataan. The company’s estate is approximately 530 hectares in size.

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank opens swanky London branch | Reuters

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, the second-largest Islamic lender in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), opened its first branch in London's swanky Knightsbridge on Wednesday, targeting wealthy Gulf clients in Britain.

The President of the UAE Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan joined Prince Andrew, The Duke of York, to open the office at One Hyde Park, the 1 billion pound luxury Candy and Candy development located near the Harrods department store.

Trad Al Mahmoud, chief executive of ADIB Group, said the bank was hoping to attract clients from the UAE who use London as their base for business and personal transactions and who desire Islamic finance services, based on principles such as a ban on interest and pure monetary speculation.

Holders of Egypt bond face anxious wait -

While local and foreign investors in Egypt have been waiting almost 18 months for a new president and the accompanying economic clarity, one group of bond holders has a more volatile bet on the table as the new leader takes office.
Egypt’s first democratically elected president, to be chosen in a run-off vote, will be sworn in by the end of June. But in July, just weeks after taking office, his government is due to pay off a E£6bn ($1bn) local-currency bond.

MIDEAST DEBT-Grace period only option as UAE lending cap looms - Yahoo! News Maktoob

The United Arab Emirates' central bank will probably have to grant extensions to a September deadline for imposing a cap on bank lending to sovereign and government-related entities as some lenders will be unable to
make the adjustments in time.
The new rules, announced last month, mark the first such regulatory change in nearly two decades and have caused waves in the UAE banking sector, notably at the country's two biggest banks - Dubai's Emirates NBD (ENBD) and National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD).
Lending to governments of the seven-member UAE federation and their non-commercial entities will be capped at 100 percent of a bank's capital base and at 25 percent for lending to
individual borrowers. There is no limit at present.

FACTBOX-Key political risks to watch in United Arab Emirates - Yahoo! News Maktoob

The United Arab Emirates has escaped the popular unrest shaking the Arab world, but the case of six Islamist activists stripped of citizenship rights shows how wary the oil-producing state is about the spread of political Islam after the "Arab Spring."
Analysts say UAE decision-makers fear the Gulf Arab state is not immune to the increasing influence of Islamists in countries like Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Morocco.
Last year, five political activists were arrested and sentenced to prison on charges of insulting UAE rulers.

MENA stock markets close - May 30, 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)

Iraqi banks can fuel vital non-oil growth -

Iraq’s banks are quietly on the move, and the consequences for the economy could be powerful and far-reaching.
In the next two years we can expect mergers and strong loan growth, and ultimately the emergence of a healthier banking industry that can fuel desperately needed growth in the non-oil sector – everything from light manufacturing to housing and retail.

UAE open to some lending limit exemptions - paper - Yahoo! News Maktoob

The United Arab Emirates' central bank could grant exemptions to some banks over planned lending limits to sovereign and state-linked entities, pushing compliance beyond the September 30 deadline, its chairman told a
local newspaper on Wednesday.
The regulator said in April's ruling it would cap lending at 100 percent of a bank's capital base to governments of the seven-member UAE federation and their non-commercial entities, and 25 percent to individual borrowers, the first such change to the rules in nearly two decades.
A number of UAE banks - including the country's big two, Dubai's Emirates NBD and National Bank of Abu Dhabi - are over the limit and have said they would discuss with the authorities about how to manage their balance sheets in light of the rule-change.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Saudi extends losses as oil prices weigh - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Saudi Arabia's market closed on sharp declines after the index broke a key technical support, with most sectors
closing lower as a drop in world shares and oil prices hits sentiment.
The kingdom's index falls 0.8 percent to 6,975 points, breaking below the key psychological level of 7,000.
"Saudi moving from near 8,000 to dipping below 7,000 seems to be the case of summer starting early - clearly investors have lost their enthusiasm a little bit," says Julian Bruce, EFG-Hermes director of institutional equity sales.
"While you see pressure on oil prices and concerns over growth elsewhere, I don't see a short-term upside, especially considering that we're going into summer and then Ramadan."

FEATURE-"Cheap" UAE gasoline: citizens and industry square up - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Emiratis' love of cheap gasoline has caused a fissure in the UAE establishment, setting a top government body, nervous of Arab Spring unrest, against national oil companies fighting to stem losses from producing underpriced
fuel for the home market.
Two years ago the United Arab Emirates considered phasing out generous subsidies that mean both citizens and the larger immigrant population only pay $0.47 for a liter of gasoline. But thoughts of raising fuel prices have been swept away by the Arab Spring that has put pressure on regimes to maintain social benefits, despite foreigners, who make up 89 percent of the population, being the biggest beneficiaries of subsidies that squeeze state coffers and fuel retailers.
This month members of the Federal National Council (FNC), which has no legislative powers, unanimously approved plans to cut gasoline prices for everyone, after complaints that citizens pay too much to fill up.

Emaar Gains as Developer Sells All Units at Project: Dubai Mover - Bloomberg

Emaar Properties PJSC (EMAAR) climbed the most in more than a week amid speculation the developer of the world’s tallest skyscraper will benefit from a recovery in real- estate demand in the emirate.
The shares advanced 1 percent, the most since May 21, to 2.91 dirhams at the 2 p.m. close in Dubai, outperforming the benchmark DFM General Index (DFMGI), which fell 0.3 percent.
Emaar said May 27 that it had sold out units at its “Panorama at the Views” development in Dubai. The company’s first-quarter profit beat estimates, jumping 44 percent to 606 million dirhams ($165 million) on increased sales of properties in Dubai, delivery of homes in Egypt, and higher revenue from malls and hotels. The developer’s profit had suffered after property prices in Dubai, which teetered on the brink of default in 2009, plunged more than 65 percent from a peak in mid-2008.

Saudi Aramco seeks $12.5 billion in debt for Dow project: PFI - Yahoo! News Maktoob

State-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco is seeking to raise $12.5 billion in debt to help finance its joint venture with Dow Chemical , according to a report in Project Finance International (PFI), a unit of Thomson Reuters.
Saudi Aramco has sent an information memorandum to local and international banks detailing the $20 billion project with Dow Chemical. The project is due to be completed in 2016, and will produce more than 3 million metric tons a year of petrochemicals.
The multi-tranche, multi-tenor financing strategy will include an export credit agency (ECA) portion, a commercial bank tranche and a capital markets part, most likely a 144a issue, open to U. S. investors, or an Islamic bond.

Mubarak sons face charges over stock market fraud - Yahoo! News Maktoob

The two sons of Egypt's ousted President Hosni Mubarak will face charges of stock market manipulation, the public prosecutor said on Wednesday, three days before a court was due to issue a verdict in a separate trial for their role in alleged corruption.
Gamal and Alaa Mubarak are already standing trial with their father in a case in which the former president is facing charges of graft, as well as complicity in the killing of protestors who rose up against him last year. The verdict in that trial is expected on Saturday.
Mubarak's eldest son, Alaa, is a businessman. His youngest son, Gamal, a former banker, was widely viewed as a being groomed for Egypt's top job until Mubarak was toppled on February 11, 2011. Both are in their 40s.

MIDEAST WEEKAHEAD-Egypt bourse awaits Mubarak verdict; Gulf cautious | Agricultural Commodities | Reuters

The verdict in the trial of ousted President Hosni Mubarak, due on Saturday, is a new cloud hanging over Egyptian stocks which were hammered this week after the country's two most divisive figures made it to the presidential election run-off.

Mubarak, 84, was charged with graft, abuse of power and ordering the killing of protesters during the 18-day uprising that ousted him on Feb. 11, 2011. Court hearings in the trial concluded earlier this year and the verdict is due on June 2.

A not-guilty verdict would probably work against Ahmed Shafiq, who was Mubarak's last prime minister, in the presidential election run-off but analysts say any violent street protests against such a verdict could work in his favour.

Dubai Shares Poised for 4-Month Low on Oil Drop, Europe Concern - Bloomberg

Dubai’s shares headed for the lowest level in four months as oil prices fell and investor concern that Europe’s debt crisis may worsen curbed appetite for riskier assets.
Shuaa Capital PSC (SHUAA), the investment bank controlled by Dubai’s ruler, plunged to the lowest level in more than three months. Gulf General Investment Co. (GGICO), a Dubai-based investment company, tumbled 6.8 percent. The DFM General Index (DFMGI) lost 0.9 percent to 1,461.88, poised for the lowest close since Feb. 2, at 12:36 p.m. in the emirate. The Bloomberg GCC 200 Index, which tracks the biggest 200 companies in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, fell 0.1 percent.
“Prices are falling on worries over Europe’s debt problems and falling oil prices,” said Nabil Farhat, a partner at Abu Dhabi-based Al Fajer Securities. About 49 million shares were traded in Dubai, compared with a daily 12-month average of about 140 million shares, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Felda Secures 10 Cornerstone Investors, Including Qatar Holding, For US$3 Billion Malaysia IPO - Sources | Fox Business

Malaysian state-owned plantation firm Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd. has secured commitments from 10 cornerstone investors, including Qatar Holding LLC, the global investment arm of the Qatar Investment Authority, and Malaysia's Employees Provident Fund for a third of its more than $3.0 billion initial public offering, two people familiar with the matter said Wednesday.

Hong Kong-based funds firm Value Partners Group Ltd. (0806.HK) is also a cornerstone investor, another person familiar with the deal said, joining a list that includes Hong Kong-based insurance giant AIA Group Ltd. (1299.HK) and two state-run funds, the Pilgrim Fund Board and Retirement Fund Inc., the people said.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Saudi dips for day; cement stocks rally - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Saudi Arabia's bourse falls for a second day as mid-cap stocks weigh, although the kingdom's index holds above a key psychological level.
The benchmark eases 0.06 percent to 7,029 points, trimming year-to-date gains to 9.5 percent. The 7,000 level is a strong support for the index.
Telecoms operator Zain Saudi sheds 1.5 percent, down from Tuesday's five-week closing high.

UPDATE 1-Kuwait's Global Investment Q1 net loss narrows | Reuters

Global Investment House, the Kuwaiti investment firm currently undergoing its second debt restructuring in three years, saw its first-quarter loss narrow compared to the opening three months of last year, it said in a statement on Wednesday.

The company made a loss of 11 million dinars ($39.3 million) in the three months to March 31, versus a 22 million dinars loss for the same period of 2011, the statement to the Dubai stock exchange said.

The improved performance was helped by a drop in writedowns, with gains on investments recorded at 746,000 dinars versus a 10.6 million dinar loss in Q1 2011.

Ex-Zain CEO urges Gulf telcos to merge, privatize | Reuters

Gulf telecoms companies, most of which are ultimately government-controlled, must further privatize and consolidate to survive in an increasingly tough environment, the former chief executive of Kuwait's Zain (ZAIN.KW) said on Tuesday.

Saad al-Barrak led Zain's rise over the last decade, turning it from a former monopoly operator with fewer than a million subscribers to a global player with operations in 23 countries.

Outspoken and flamboyant in a sector with a dominant culture of secrecy, Barrak's strategy of expansion was imitated by rival operators, but regional telecoms firms must now adapt again, he warned, as falling voice margins weigh heavy on the bottom line.

The Times of Oman: Shares of OIB soar on board election news

Oman International Bank (OIB) will conduct an ordinary general meeting of shareholders on May 31 to elect a new board, which will include HSBC representatives.

The shareholders' meeting for electing a seven-member board will be conducted at the Al Bustan Palace Hotel. The new board will have a three year term, till the bank's annual general meeting in 2015.

Sources said that HSBC Oman will have a sizable representation on the board, in line with its proposed 51 per cent stake in the merged entity.