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Monday, 25 June 2012

Tea with FT Middle East: Mike Merritt -

In 1996, Mike Merritt retired from a 15-year career at Investcorp, the Bahrain-based private equity house, pledging to leave behind the itinerant expatriate life.
The Vietnam war veteran had promised his Vietnamese wife a return to the US, to put down roots for their three children. For the next 15 years, he did just that, turning his mind to day trading from his house in Indiana.

Abu Dhabi signs up for $6bn Oman refinery - The National

International Petroleum Investment Company (Ipic) has formed a joint venture to build a US$6 billion (Dh22.04bn) refinery and petrochemicals complex in Oman.

The Duqm Refinery and Petrochemicals Industry Company - owned equally by Ipic and the Oman Oil Company (OOC) - will process 230,000 barrel per day (bpd) by 2017 in its first phase, Ipic said yesterday.

This will be followed by petrochemicals facilities.

gulfnews : Standard Chartered to offer Islamic financial products to private clients

Standard Chartered Plc will begin offering Islamic financial products to its private-banking clients to boost its share of a fast-growing market.
The products, which comply with Islam’s ban on interest, include deposit accounts, property financing, equities, Islamic bonds or sukuk and mutual funds, the London-based lender said in a statement before a news conference in Dubai today.
Standard Chartered’s five-year-old private-banking business manages more than $50 billion (Dh183.65 billion) in assets and reported a 21 per cent rise in revenue in 2011 to more than $500 million, the bank said.

Anham wins $8bn deal to supply US forces - The National

A Dubai company has won a contract worth an estimated US$8.1 billion (Dh29.75bn) to supply food to American troops serving in Afghanistan.

Anham will take over from the long-standing supplier Supreme Foodservice, which has been embroiled in billing dispute with the Pentagon.

Anham was awarded the deal after a month-long competition and welcomed the news, saying it was grateful for the opportunity to expand its support to "those serving around the world".

Politics drags down Kuwait's stock market - The National

Kuwait's shares declined for a fifth day as the country's political crisis worsened.

The latest fall came after Kuwait's constitutional court ruled this year's parliamentary elections were unconstitutional and called for the body to be dissolved.

Gulf Finance House declined 1.4 per cent to 35 dinars per share on the Kuwait Stock Exchange. Ithmaar Bank tumbled 6.1 per cent to 31 dinars per share. Al Madina for Finance and Investment dropped 5.2 per cent to 45 dinars.

Francophilia spurs Qatar's latest empire expansion - The National

From football and handball to some of the finest hotels of Paris and the Côte d'Azur, Qatar's French connection is at the heart of the latest expansion of the Gulf state's international business empire.

In another deal fuelled by Qatar's gas and oil riches, an intent to purchase has been signed for the Concorde Lafayette and Louvre hotels in Paris and two five-star seafront hotels, the Palais de la Méditerranée in Nice and the Martinez in Cannes. The cost is estimated at €700/750 million (Dh3.2/3.4 billion).

The acquisitions, expected to be ratified soon by the current US owners, Starwood Capital, will add to an impressive portfolio assembled as Qatar continues to extend its overseas business reach.

Etihad, Qatar Airways eye stake in SpiceJet

No-frills airline, SpiceJet, is in discussions with two West Asian airlines, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways, for a minority stake sale. The move comes amidst expectations that the government would allow foreign airlines to invest directly in Indian carriers.

When contacted, a SpiceJet spokesperson said, “We do not comment on any market speculation.” Some foreign carriers have expressed interest in picking up a stake in SpiceJet if there would be a change at the policy level by the government. Various investors have approached SpiceJet and we are in talks with them. As of now, we have not finalised any deal but if everything goes well, we may enter into a mutually beneficial deal,” he added.

gulfnews : Prepaid cards catch up with credit cards in popularity

Retailers and money exchange houses are expecting the number of prepaid card users to exceed credit card holders as people struggle to control personal debt following the financial crisis.
However, some banking analysts find this argument for prepaid cards invalid.
Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) Finance has seen a 95 per cent increase in the number of prepaid card users in the first half of 2012 compared to the same period last year, Rasool Hujair, chief executive of MAF Finance, said.

Abu Dhabi says steps taken to pay contractors - Banking & Finance -

The government of Abu Dhabi said on Monday it had taken "appropriate steps" to make sure its entities would pay off money owed to contractors working on billions of dollars worth of construction projects in the oil-rich emirate.
Construction companies, consultancy and architectural firms have faced slow and irregular payments from some Abu Dhabi government-linked entities, in some cases leading to severe financial difficulties.
No total value for the amount owed by the Abu Dhabi government and its entities to contractors has been made public, but it is likely to be several billion dollars, according to estimates by three sources in the construction industry.

MENA stock markets close - June 25, 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)

Egypt: will the relief rally last? | beyondbrics

Investors have responded with relief to the Egyptian presidential poll result which saw the Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Mursi confirmed as the country’s first democratically-elected leader.

The Egyptian stock index was up over 7 per cent on Monday, following Sunday’s 3 per cent gain, while benchmark bond yields plunged nearly 40 points. There seemed to be almost as much joy in the market as in Tahrir Square.

But it might not last long. Egypt remains at the mercy of political conflict between the old regime and the representatives of the would-be new order.

Saudi Arabia Won’t Cut Oil Output This Summer, Paper Says - Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia won’t reduce oil production in the coming three months even if oil prices continue to drop, Asharq al-Awsat newspaper reported, citing unidentified people aware of the country’s output plans.
The desert kingdom’s daily rate of crude production will range from 9.7 million to 10 million barrels in the next three months, the London-based pan-Arab daily said, citing the people. These levels are similar to the country’s pumping rate of the past few months, it said.

Qatar sees heavy non-oil investment through 2018 | Reuters

Qatar plans to invest about $130 billion in its non-hydrocarbon sector in 2012-2018, the General Secretariat for Development Planning (GSDP) said on Monday.

Infrastructure spending should average more than 10 percent of the OPEC member's gross domestic product in coming years, the GSDP also said in a statement.

Egypt equity trading suspended after index surges | Reuters

The Egyptian Exchange suspended trading for half an hour on Monday after share prices soared following the country's presidential election result.

The benchmark index was up 6.7 percent when trading was paused automatically, in line with stock market rules.

Among the most heavily traded stocks were Orascom Telecom Media and Technology, up 5.2 percent, and Orascom Construction, which gained 7.9 percent.

Dubai's non-oil foreign trade grows 6.6% to US$81 billion in first quarter 2012 -

Dubai's non-oil foreign trade has achieved 6.6 per cent growth during the first quarter of 2012, amounting to over AED 298.1 billion (US$81.2 billion), compared to AED 279.7 billion achieved in the first quarter of last year, according to latest statistics released by Dubai Customs.

H.E. Ahmed Butti Ahmed, Executive Chairman of Ports, Custom and Free Zone Corporation, Dubai Customs Director General, said, “The continued growth in Dubai’s foreign trade reflects the strength and resilience of the UAE economy, thereby affirming the wise approach adopted to support economic diversity.”

Butti further explained that the statistics presented include non-oil direct trade, free zone trade and customs warehouses. The Dubai Custom’s top official shared that the growth of Dubai’s trade flow with countries from different parts of the world can be widely attributed to the implementation of several economic, tourism and construction projects, which also includes the development of modern infrastructure like customs facilities at ports and airports and the provision of more advanced services.

Egypt's stock index jumps after election result | Reuters

Egypt's benchmark index surged almost 5 percent on Monday after Islamist presidential candidate Mohamed Morsy was declared winner a week after ballots were cast, putting an end to uncertainty over the result.

The benchmark index was up 4.8 percent by 0855 GMT, after the result was announced on Sunday afternoon following the close of the day's trading.

The market had tumbled over the course of the presidential election on fears the vote could be derailed or marred by violence. However, voting and the result announcement passed off peacefully.

Adia chief warns of Europe’s ‘limitations’ -

The head of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, warned that investors in Europe need to understand the “inherent limitations” of the political response to the eurozone crisis.
Adia allocates 25-35 per cent of its estimated $342bn in assets under management to Europe, making it an important source of potential funds for governments and companies in the eurozone. With such exposure, Europe’s debt crisis remained a recurrent theme of the fund’s annual review released on Monday.

Qatar sees heavy non-oil investment through 2018 | Reuters

Qatar plans to invest about $130 billion in its non-hydrocarbon sector in 2012-2018, the General Secretariat for Development Planning (GSDP) said on Monday.

Infrastructure spending should average more than 10 percent of the OPEC member's gross domestic product in coming years, the GSDP also said in a statement.

Qatar sees growth slowing to 4.5 pct in 2013 | Reuters

Qatar's economic growth is expected to slow to 4.5 percent in 2013 from a projected 6.2 percent this year, and the country sees large risks in the global economy, particularly in the euro zone, the General Secretariat for Development Planning (GSDP) said on Monday.

The authority also predicted inflation would hover between 2 and 3 percent in 2012 and 2013.

The growth forecast was slightly lower than the consensus of private economists. Analysts polled by Reuters in March expected real gross domestic product growth of the world's top liquefied natural gas exporter to decelerate to 5.0 percent in 2013 from 6.6 percent this year and 14.0 percent in 2011.

Abu Dhabi SWF sees value in emerging equities | Reuters

Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), the cash-rich emirate's sovereign wealth fund, expects emerging market stocks to outperform in the long-term and said it took a "selective" approach in deploying money at its fixed income unit in 2011.

ADIA, whose assets range from Citigroup bonds to a stake in Britain's Gatwick airport, said high volatility in emerging market stocks had more to do with increased risk aversion among investors than fundamental concerns.

"Looking forward, it is likely that such volatility will decline over time as investors gain confidence in the ability of emerging markets to manage the various challenges they face and begin to focus more on economic fundamentals," the fund said in its 2011 review.

UAE banking worries overdone? - Financial Services - Zawya

Public sector lending limits may not be good news for Emirates NBD and National Bank of Abu Dhabi , says SICO, but worries over the UAE banking sector's health are overdone.
While the Saudi and Qatari banking sector have emerged stronger after the global financial crisis, the UAE banking sector is still in the midst of improving its asset quality.
In fact, provisioning will continue to drag banks' profitability over 2012 and 2013, as they try to build up specific and collective provisioning reserves, notes Chiradeep Ghosh, an analyst at Manama-based SICO.

UPDATE 1-UAE mall developer MAF picks banks for possible bond | Reuters

UAE mall developer Majid Al Futtaim Holding (MAF) has picked banks to arrange investor meetings ahead of a potential second bond issue this year, lead managers said on Monday.

MAF, the sole franchisee of French hypermarket chain Carrefour will meet investors in Singapore and London starting June 26 following which the company may issue a dollar-denominated bond, subject to market conditions.

J.P. Morgan Chase, National Bank of Abu Dhabi , Barclays Plc, Standard Chartered Plc and UBS AG have been mandated to arrange roadshows.

Oman's Bank Muscat plans $251 mln rights issue - document | Reuters

Bank Muscat, Oman's largest bank by market value, is planning to raise 96.7 million rials ($251.17 million) from selling shares to existing holders, as the lender seeks to fund its credit growth and venture into Islamic finance.

Bank Muscat, in which Dubai Financial Group has a 14.7 percent stake, is offering 226.5 million shares at 0.427 rials per share as part of the issue, a document from the lender seen by Reuters showed.

Proceeds from the sale will be used to fund the bank's credit expansion and future foray into Islamic finance, the document said.

Zawya sold to Thomson Reuters -

Saffar, a Middle East and North Africa (MENA)-focused financial services and investment group, has announced the sale of Zawya Limited, the leading MENA online business intelligence platform, to Thomson Reuters, the world’s foremost provider of information for businesses and professionals.

With the sale to Thomson Reuters, Saffar’s investment in Zawya becomes one of the most successful internet and media investments in the MENA region. Since Saffar’s acquisition of a majority stake in the company, Zawya has grown from a start-up to become the leading MENA business information platform, reflecting Saffar’s ability to identify compelling regional investment opportunities.

Saffar created sustainable value in the business by expanding the business model, forming strategic partnerships and institutionalising the corporate structure.

Robust growth projected for GCC - Zawya

Despite heightened regional geopolitical risks, four out of six GCC countries and the UAE in particular are poised to witness robust economic growth this year in comparison to the previous year, revealed a study by Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The latest International Monetary Fund (IMF) data, combined with data from national authorities, indicated that the UAE will see a year on year GDP growth of 4.5 percent in 2012 while Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain will record a year on year growth of 4.9 percent, 4 percent and 3 percent in 2012 respectively. The study said that upward trajectory of oil prices should strengthen the fiscal and current account balances of GCC countries.

In Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE, larger fiscal surpluses and greater accumulation of reserves are projected. As such, for the GCC as a whole, IMF projects that fiscal and current account surpluses will stand at 13.1 percent and 22.2 percent of GDP in 2012 respectively.

A strict policy of following oil price - The National

Economic policymakers in GCC countries are watching the decline in the price of oil and wondering whether they have they got their sums right in planning state budgets.

The price of a barrel of Brent crude hit an 18-month low last week, falling below the US$90 level. At that price, it is hovering close to the levels at which some countries in Opec have drawn up their annual spending plans.

"It is not panic yet, but it's a risky situation. It's important to bear in mind how markets have behaved in the past, especially in 2008," says Jarmo Kotilaine, the chief economist with National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia.

Qatar National Bank prepares $1.5bn loan ahead of repayment - The National

Qatar National Bank is preparing a US$1.5 billion (Dh5.51bn) loan as it seeks additional capital ahead of a $1.85bn repayment coming due next month.

The bank, Qatar's largest lender, hired Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Deutsche Bank, HSBC Middle East, JPMorgan and Standard Chartered to arrange the loan. QNB is seeking a $1.5bn unsecured term loan repayable over three years.

The loan will be used for "general corporate purposes", the bank said in a statement to the Qatar Exchange, without giving further details. The funding would be the biggest yet arranged this year in Qatar, according to data from Bloomberg News. Banks have arranged $14.5bn of syndicated loans so far this year across the Middle East, Bloomberg data shows.

Morsi faces economic battle after Egyptian market rout - The National

The new Egyptian government faces an immediate challenge to restore confidence in the economy after more than 15 billion Egyptian pounds (Dh9.1bn) was wiped off the value of leading shares sinceHosni Mubarak was forced out as president in February last year.

Mohamed Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood, was elected president with 51.7 per cent of the vote yesterday, defeating Ahmed Shafiq, a former general, the state election committee said.

"Egypt is in a much more fragile place than it was before the revolution," said Saleem Khokhar, the head of equities at National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD).

gulfnews : The Emirati investor: Outside-in or inside out?

According to Nietzsche “out of life’s school of war: what does not destroy me, makes me stronger”. Investing in the period from Q4 2008 (Lehman’s) up until today has felt like a war-zone. Without wishing to belittle the horror of war; the angst of poor investment performance has its stresses and reaches far into the community; but it doesn’t kill us!
We survive, and “good” survival means understanding our environment. Listening to a debate between Multi-Managers: Sean Daykin (Emirates NBD), and Glyn Owen (Momentum) — it is quite clear that the research departments of both take the view that low growth and the stresses of continued global deleveraging will hang around for some time. Single digit investment performance to these guys is the “new normal”.

gulfnews : Pipeline to Fujairah and UAE determination

The UAE media reported recently the long awaited operation of the Habshan-Fujairah crude oil pipeline thereby enabling the UAE to export a large portion of its oil without passing through the traditional sea route of the Strait of Hormuz.
The pipeline is 48 inches in diameter and 350 kilometres in length and it will deliver 1.5 million barrels a day (mbd) to the loading terminal at the port of Fujairah. It was constructed at a cost of over $2.7 billion (Dh10 billion). Official statements indicated that the capacity can be increased to 1.8 mbd at a later stage.
The media and most analysts have concentrated on the strategic importance of the pipeline and its operation with the heightened tension in the region as the confrontation between the West and Iran intensifies. Iran has threatened many times to close the Strait of Hormuz in case of war or the stoppage of its exports through sanctions.

Gulf Times – Final investment decision on new Qatar petrochem project in 2014

The “final investment decision” on the proposed multi-billion-dollar world scale petrochemical complex being set up jointly by Qatar Petroleum and Royal Dutch Shell at Ras Laffan, is expected in 2014, Qatar Shell chairman Wael Sawan has said.
“Currently, we are at the cusp of moving into the front-end engineering and design — FEED stage,” Sawan said in an exclusive interview with Gulf Times in Doha.
The plant, with a capacity of 1.5mn tonnes a year of mono-ethylene glycol will be the “largest MEG site” in the world, Sawan said.