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Monday, 11 June 2012

US exempts more nations from Iran sanctions -

The Obama administration said that seven more economies would be exempt from its Iran-related sanctions that come into force at the end of the month, but left open the prospect that China could still face sanctions.
The state department announced Monday that Turkey, India, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, South Africa and Sri Lanka had all reduced purchases of Iranian oil by a large enough amount to be given a six-month exemption from the sanctions, which come into operation on June 28.

Opec's contest for the top job is no laughing matter - The National

There was once a Saudi, an Iranian, an Iraqi and an Ecuadorian. This is not a complicated joke, but instead, the line-up to be Opec's next secretary-general, succeeding the long-serving Libyan Abdullah El Badri.

The contest sheds interesting light on the emerging struggle that will define oil markets and Opec's own role over the next decade. It features the incumbent champion for Saudi Arabia (and its candidate Majid Al Moneef), the declining rival (Iran and Gholamhossein Nozari), the rising star (Iraq and Thamir Ghadhban) and the unexpected outsider (Ecuador and Wilson Pastor).

Interestingly, the real Opec heavyweights rarely provide the secretary-general.

Oil price spurs return to surplus for UAE - The National

The UAE reached a fiscal surplus last year for the first time in three years, despite a bigger than expected spending increase in Abu Dhabi.

Surpluses reached Dh38.6 billion (US$10.5bn), or 2.9 per cent of GDP within the consolidated budget, which includes spending and revenues for all the emirates and the federal Government, according to an IMF report.

Higher oil prices and increased production helped revenues to rise 41 per cent to Dh440bn.

Overhaul for rules on ownership of shares - The National

The market regulator yesterday unveiled a major reform of share ownership rules that require greater disclosure by investors building big stakes in listed companies.

The new rules require investors to inform the market immediately if they intend to acquire a shareholding in a listed company of 30 per cent or greater.

The market and regulator have the right to reject the transaction if they believe it would be contrary to the interests of the national economy, the ruling said. The regulations also require all investors to disclose so-called direct and indirect holdings in publicly listed companies.

gulfnews : India keen to attract portfolio investments from Gulf

India’s finance ministry is working on an elaborate plan to attract portfolio investments from Gulf nationals and institutions as part of the government’s recent decision to allow qualified foreign investors (QFIs) to invest in Indian capital markets, said R. Gopalan, secretary of economic affairs at the Ministry of Finance.
Speaking to Gulf News during an interview ahead of a roadshow in Dubai to promote India as an attractive investment destination to Gulf nationals and institutions, Gopalan said the recent changes in investment rules have made investing in Indian capital markets easy for foreign nationals.
In a major policy decision, the Indian government announced in January that QFIs could directly invest in Indian equities. In its latest budget, the government also proposed to open the Indian corporate debt market to QFIs.

gulfnews : IATA cuts Gulf carriers' profit forecast to $400m

The profit forecast for the Middle Eastern carriers has been downgraded slightly by International Air Transport Association (IATA) to $400 million (Dh1.468 billion) for 2012, from the March projection of $500 million on worsening European crisis, higher oil prices and the political situation in the Middle East.
The projected drop is a significant, according to IATA, compared with 2011, when the region’s carriers returned a profit of $1 billion.
“Since our last forecast, profitability [of Middle Eastern airlines] is down slightly to $400m from $500m earlier. It’s still a reasonably good picture compared to the industry,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director-General and Chief Executive.

gulfnews : A380 operators to ground fleet for 8 weeks

Airbus SAS said airlines flying the A380 double-decker will need to ground their aircraft for as long as eight weeks when the wings undergo permanent repair work that is more complex than a short-term fix being done now.
Airbus Chief Operating Officer John Leahy confirmed the time frame, after Emirates President Tim Clark said the final fix can take eight weeks.
“Of course we are not happy, but we have to live with it,” Clark said in the interview on Monday in Beijing. “There was an error in design and specification of metals and plastic composite to the aircraft. They are making detailed studies of what happened and what they have to do.”

Sabic’s ambitions reveal shrewd moves -

It is one of the world’s biggest companies, and one of the Gulf’s few global corporate players. But few users of products made by Saudi Arabian Basic Industries Company would know, or care, of the workings of the state-backed petrochemicals conglomerate.
Tapping away on their BlackBerry phone or cruising in a Range Rover, most are oblivious to the fact that the plastics, metals and chemicals used to create their favourite toys can be traced to the Riyadh-based company known as Sabic . From the luxurious to the banal, its products are used for everything from the majority of milk cartons in the UK to fertilisers in India.

gulfnews : UAE to issue banking laws for SMEs by year's end

A new law on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that is underway in the UAE, is expected to simplify and streamline bank loans and help regulate this important segment of the UAE’s private sector, a senior government official said.
The new law will be issued by the end of this year as part of an ongoing economic reform aimed at attracting investment and ensuring sustainable growth by strengthening the non-oil sector and reduce the country’s dependence from the volatile oil prices, Mohammad Saleh Shelwah, Assistant Undersecretary for Economic Polices Affairs, told Gulf News.
He remarked that the law will strengthen competitiveness of the UAE economy and boost the SME sector.

Oman To Issue 10-Yr, OMR100 Mln Sovereign Bond On June 19 - Ctrl Bk - Financial Services - Zawya

Oman will issue a ten-year, 100 million rial ($259 million) sovereign bond later this month, proceeds of which will help bridge in part the sultanate's budget deficit this year, according to its top central banker.

The government development bonds, to be issued on June 19, carry an annual coupon rate of 5.5% per annum, Hamood bin Sangoor Al Zadjali, the Arab Gulf country's central bank governor, told Zawya Dow Jones via email Monday.

Al Zadjali said the development bond, the sultanate's 40th such issue to date, is part of its plan to sell sovereign debt of about OMR200 million during 2012. This will help the country cover in part the estimated budget deficit of OMR1.2 billion or 5% of the gross domestic product this year.

Bahrain’s top banks to vote on 3-way merger

Kuwait Finance House – Bahrain (KFH-Bahrain), Elaf Bank and Capital Management House, top Bahrain-based Islamic banks, said they will be voting on a three-way merger in shareholder meetings to be held by the end of June.

If approved, the newly created entity will have a shareholders’ equity of almost $350 million and assets in excess of $400 million, which would give them a scale that would make them more competitive in the market. The transaction would be the first three way merger to take place in Bahrain.

In addition to shareholder approval, the merger is subject to regulatory and other approvals and is expected to be completed within the second half of 2012.

MENA stock markets close - June 11, 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)

INTERVIEW: World Bank seeks investors for MENA fund - Yahoo! News Maktoob

The World Bank is hoping to raise a $500 million fund to invest in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), saying that the region's needs in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings are more than it can manage itself.
International Finance Corp, a unit of the World Bank, is setting up the fund in addition to the $2.2 billion to
$2.4 billion it expects to invest in the region over the next year, aiming to take advantage of a surge in investment
opportunities since the Arab Spring, its regional director said on Monday.
"We've invested $2.4 billion in the past 12 months in MENA countries and expect to do the same range next year," Mouayed Makhlouf, regional director for IFC in the Middle East and North Africa, told Reuters.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Saudi mkt extends gain; banks support - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Saudi Arabia's index ends higher, extending gains from the previous session, as banking stocks support.
Al Rajhi Bank rises 1 percent and Banque Saudi Fransi adds 1.5 percent.
Heavyweight SABIC advances 0.8 percent, after oil prices rose above $100 on Monday following a rescue package for Spanish banks which calmed fears of an imminent euro zone collapse.
The index ends 0.6 percent higher at 6,791 points.

Saudi's Dar Al Arkan Has Sufficient Liquidity To Repay SAR3.75B Sukuk -S&P - Islamic Finance - Zawya

Saudi's Dar Al Arkan (4300.SA), the kingdom's second-biggest property company, now has sufficient liquidity to repay a 3.75 billion Saudi riyal ($1 billion) Islamic bond, or sukuk, due in July, ratings agency Standard & Poor's said on Monday.

S&P, in a statement, affirmed Dar Al Arkan's 'B+' long-term corporate credit rating and removed it from CreditWatch after downgrading the developer in February, arguing at the time that its high level of debt left it exposed to swings in property demand.

The latest S&P action comes after Dar Al Arkan raised cash through the sale of part of a residential project to Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (2010.SA), or Sabic, for SAR741.7 million Saudi riyals ($197.8 million) late last month. It has also raised new bank debt of SAR563 million and showed strong operating cash flow in the first quarter of the year, S&P said.

Saudi-Iran Rivalry Looms Over OPEC Meeting

When OPEC meets next week in Vienna, Iran and others are expected to press Saudi Arabia to scale back its record output--or else face the risk of a new oil-price collapse.

Much has changed since the group last met in December and managed to put aside its differences to agree to collectively produce 30 million barrels a day. For one thing, oil prices in London have fallen below $100 a barrel as the world economic outlook has worsened. For another, world powers have raised the pressure on Iran's nuclear program while urging Saudi Arabia to pump more oil to make up for any Iranian shortfall.

The combination of these factors has sown discord in OPEC, with several members fretting over the current output level. Yet despite the rhetoric, few analysts expect OPEC to make dramatic shifts next week.

Dubai court to wind up US law firm -

A Dubai court will next week issue a winding-up order on the law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf’s operations in the United Arab Emirates as former staff in the Gulf seek to recoup unpaid dues amid bankruptcy proceedings in the US and UK.
Sir John Chadwick, a judge at the Dubai International Financial Centre court, will issue a winding-up order on Dewey at a hearing on June 18 if, as expected, no objections are forthcoming from creditors and interested parties, according to a court order.

Dubai Stocks Advance to Two-Week High on Spanish Bailout - Bloomberg

Dubai’s benchmark stock index climbed to the highest level in two weeks on optimism a bailout for Spain’s banks will help ease Europe’s debt crisis and as oil rose the most in five months.
Emaar Properties PJSC (EMAAR), the developer of the world’s tallest tower, was set for the highest close in almost two weeks. Deyaar Development (DEYAAR) PJSC, the developer controlled by Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB), climbed as much as 3.3 percent. The DFM General Index (DFMGI) advanced 0.9 percent to 1,480.84 at 11:48 a.m. in the emirate, bringing the gain in the past five days to 3.1 percent. The Bloomberg GCC 200 Index (BGCC200) was little changed and Qatar’s shares rose less than 0.1 percent.
Dubai, the second-largest of seven sheikhdoms that make up the United Arab Emirates, relies on foreign trade, tourism and property for growth. Spain requested as much as 100 billion euros ($126 billion) of bailout funds after weeks of escalating concern that bad loans at the nation’s banks might overwhelm public finances. Global stocks also surged after Chinese exports topped forecasts.

Saudi's Kingdom Holding picks banks for debut bond - sources | Reuters

Kingdom Holding, the investment vehicle of Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, has picked two banks to manage its maiden debt issue, a local currency bond, two sources said on Monday.

No date has been set for the issue, which is not seen as imminent.

The firm, which is 95-percent owned by Prince Alwaleed, a nephew of Saudi Arabia's king and a shareholder in Citigroup Inc., has mandated Banque Saudi Fransi and Deutsche Bank to arrange the riyal-denominated transaction, the sources said.

Go west, again: Asian asset managers look to US for funding | beyondbrics

For what seems like ages, the punchline to introductory remarks at every other Asian themed business conference has been: “They used to say ‘Go west, young man’ – today, that should be ‘Go east!’” (Guffaws all round).

Now, Asian-based asset manager Eastspring Investments is turning the cliche around again by, er, going west and launching an institutional sales push in the US – a move that could be repeated by other regional fund groups looking to drum up business in developed markets.

The company, part of UK-based life assurer Prudential, has hired a couple of senior sales people to open a US office, which means criss-crossing the country to land allocations from large institutional investors such as pension funds, other insurance companies, family offices and endowments.

U.A.E. May Exclude Bonds From Bank Lending Limit, Khaleej Says - Bloomberg

The United Arab Emirates central bank may exclude bonds from a limit imposed on banks lending to local governments and related entities, Al Khaleej reported, citing people it didn’t identify.
Such lending mustn’t exceed 100 percent of banks’ capital, the central bank said on April 4. There was no limit under previous rules.

gulfnews : GCC bond sales set for record first half

Gulf bond sales are set for a record first half as lower borrowing costs enable companies in the region to refinance debt and raise money for expansion.
Governments and businesses in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council have sold $18.2 billion (Dh66.8 billion) in bonds this year, 76 per cent more than in the same period in 2011, data compiled by Bloomberg show. That’s the most for the first half since Bloomberg started tracking the data in 1999.
GCC sales expanded almost four times faster than those in emerging markets, which are up 20 per cent in 2012, the data show.

Downward property spiral is over in Dubai - The National

Dubai's property market appears to be on the recovery path. Prices registered their first quarterly improvement at the beginning of this year since the price correction that started in the second half of 2008.

The increase was supported by a return of investors' confidence and a gradual increase in economic activity resulting from improved trade and tourism.

However, average property prices still stand 64 per cent lower than they were at the peak of average prices in Dubai in September 2008.

Dubai beats Paris, Tokyo on risk level for business - The National

Dubai is a safer place to conduct business than Paris, Tokyo, Berlin and other major world cities, a new survey has found.

Low rates of crime, violence and terrorism meant Dubai was named the least riskiest city in the Middle East and North Africa, according to the Aon Hewitt 2012 People Risk Index.

Government support also helped to lift Dubai to 29th, overall, in the international ranking.