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Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Big player set to make Zawya a headline act - The National

Basil Moftah and Russell Haworth have just pulled off something of a coup in the Middle East internet space.

The two executives run the regional arm of Thomson Reuters, a global information conglomerate, and this week they picked up Zawya, probably the region's best known business website, for about US$40 million (Dh146.9m).

There were others in the bidding, including the Financial Times owner Pearson, as well as Emap, a British company that owns the website AMEinfo based in the UAE. But Thomson Reuters got it - not exactly for a steal but for less than some in the market had suggested.

Arab brands must aim to create more fizz - The National

There is a "huge gap" between Middle East brands and the likes of Coca-Cola or Apple, according to a regional branding expert.

Gautam Sen Gupta, the managing director of Brand Finance Middle East, says just three Arab brands - Emirates Airline, Etisalat and Saudi Telecom Company -rank among the world's 500 most valuable.

Apple is the world's most valuable brand, with its name worth more thanUS$70 billion (Dh257.12bn), according to rankings by Brand Finance.

Food firm in US defence deal denies pay claims - The National

Dubai company that won a contract worth as much as US$8.1 billion (Dh29.75bn) to supply food to American troops in Afghanistan was last year accused of grossly overcharging the US government in Iraq.

Anham, which strenuously denies the Iraq accusations, was involved in a supply deal dispute last year after Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction (Sigir), accused it of overbilling the Pentagon by at least $4.4 million for spare parts and equipment.

"The audit found weak oversight in multiple areas that left the government vulnerable to improper overcharges," said Mr Bowen's report released last year.

Property firms fined total of Dh900,000 - The National

Twenty-two property companies and brokerages in the emirate have been fined a total of Dh900,000 for repeated offences, an official said yesterday.

Circulars were issued as warnings to the offenders before the fines were levied, said Yousef Al Hashmi, director of the licensing department of the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera).

Rera staff reported 10 types of breaches over six months.

Gulf Times – Qatar eyes asset management hub after QFC-BNRI deal

Qatar’s objective of building a regional asset management hub has taken firm steps following the partnership with Barclays Natural Resource Investment (BNRI), Qatar Financial Centre Authority (QFCA) acting CEO Shashank Srivastava said.
“Under the partnership with BNRI, QAMC (Qatar Asset Management Company) will co-invest $250mn in BNRI’s current and future portfolio companies and a substantial proportion will be allocated to BNRI’s existing $2.1bn portfolio,” Srivastava told Qatar News Agency (QNA) in an interview. “Our agreement with BNRI is a major step forward in the development of the QFC as an asset management centre.”
BNRI is a global private equity business and a subsidiary of leading British bank Barclays.

Qatar wants better terms in Glencore-Xstrata deal | Reuters

Qatar's sovereign wealth fund said on Tuesday it wants better terms in commodities trader Glencore's (GLEN.L) deal with miner Xstrata (XTA.L), throwing a new twist in the mega merger between the two companies.

Qatar, which has built an 11 percent stake in Xstrata since the deal was announced, said it believes that an exchange ratio of 3.25 new Glencore shares for every existing Xstrata share would provide a more appropriate distribution of benefits of the merger.

Qatar Holdings, which is being advised by Lazard (LAZ.N), said it still sees merit in the merger.

Exclusive: Tycoon nears deal for Drydocks' South Asia operations: sources | Reuters

A company linked to Malaysian billionaire Robert Kuok is close to a deal to buy a majority stake in the Southeast Asia operation of Dubai shipbuilder Drydocks World, two sources said on Tuesday.

Drydocks, the shipbuilding and repair arm of Dubai World DBWLD.UL that is restructuring $2.2 billion of debt, sought insolvency protection in April. It is scheduled to announce a "global strategic alliance agreement" in Dubai on Wednesday.

The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the business linked to Kuok Group, the conglomerate owned by Robert Kuok, is poised to take a majority stake in Drydock's operations in Singapore and Indonesia. It was not immediately clear which Kuok subsidiary would perform the transaction.

MENA stock markets close - June 26, 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)

ENERGY - Turkey, Azerbaijan sign major pipeline deal

Turkey signed today a deal with Azerbaijan on building the $7 billion Trans-Anatolian natural gas pipeline (TANAP) to carry Azeri gas to European markets.

"Today we have taken a historic step," said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in his speech at the signing ceremony.

"We firmly support the southern natural gas corridor projects that envisage to transfer Caspian basin and the central Asia natural gas to Europe via alternative routes as to provide our own energy supply security and as to contribute to the energy supply security of Europe."

Realizing southern natural gas corridor is also important for Azerbaijan to carry its natural gas reserves to Europe in a safe way, Erdoğan noted.

In real estate, EMs are more like DMs | beyondbrics

Ever been put off buying property in emerging markets because of a lack of market transparency? Well, it may be time to think again.

EM countries such as Turkey, until recently plagued by uncertainty, have made huge strides in real estate transparency, according to the latest biannual survey by Jones Lang Lasalle, an international real estate agent.

Not surprisingly, JLL’s global ranking is dominated by countries such as the US, UK, Australia and the Netherlands. But sharp increases in transparency among EMs led to a rebalancing at the top of the ranking: With Poland, Brazil, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, as well as Malaysia, Hong Kong, and South Africa, there are now seven “transparent” EM real estate markets in a list otherwise dominated by western countries.

Dubai's Tamweel issues price guidance for rare Gulf securitisation | Reuters

Tamweel, a unit of Dubai Islamic Bank, plans to sell a $235 million sharia-compliant asset-backed securitisation, arranging banks said on Tuesday.

The Islamic instrument, due 2046 but callable after five years in July 2017, is seen pricing at between 335 and 345 basis points over the 1-month London interbank offered rate (Libor).

Dubai-based Islamic mortgage provider Tamweel concluded investor meetings on Monday and said any eventual transaction will be backed by properties and receivables located in Dubai.

Zain Saudi Snaps 5-Day Drop on Capital Plan Delay: Riyadh Mover - Bloomberg

Mobile Telecommunications Co. (ZAIN) Saudi Arabia (SABIC) rose, snapping a five-day drop, after the phone company known as Zain Saudi said a meeting to vote on a capital reduction plan didn’t take place due to lack of quorum.
The company, whose shares tumbled 17 percent in the five trading days through yesterday, advanced 1.9 percent to 8.05 riyals at 2:57 p.m. in Riydah. Zain Saudi, which has surged 45 percent this year, was the most traded stock by volume on Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index today. The benchmark gained 0.1 percent.
“The shares were being sold in anticipation of the meeting on capital reduction” and rebounded today after the announcement of a delay, said Turki Fadaak, head of research at Riyadh-based Albilad Investment Co. “The company will still need to make an announcement, particularly before second-quarter results are released.”

Gulf banks' capital expected to remain high, says S&P report -

Banks in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region have capitalization that generally exceeds their international peers', says Standard & Poor's Ratings Services in its report "Gulf Banks' Capital Positions Compare Well With Those Of Global Banks," published today.

Our risk-adjusted capital (RAC) framework, which we use to measure banks' capital adequacy, indicates that the average RAC ratio for GCC banks stood in the 12%-13% range as of end-December 2011--about 5 percentage points higher than the 7.4% average we projected for the 100 largest banks we rate in September 2011.

"We believe there are two primary factors underlying GCC banks strong capitalization metrics," says Standard & Poor's credit analyst Paul-Henri Pruvost.

Qatar Telecom Offers to Buy $1.9 Billion Wataniya Stake - Bloomberg

Qatar Telecom (QTEL) QSC offered to buy a stake valued at about $1.9 billion in Kuwait’s National Mobile Telecommunications Co. as it steps up acquisitions amid competition at home.
Qatar Telecom offered to buy the shares it doesn’t already own in National Mobile, also known as Wataniya Telecom, the Capital Markets Authority said in a statement to the Kuwait Stock Exchange. The shares of Wataniya Telecom (NMTC) will remain suspended until the regulator takes a decision on the request, it said, without providing further details.
Qatar Telecom, the nation’s biggest phone company, owns a 52.5 percent stake in Wataniya Telecom, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Based on Wataniya Telecom’s closing share price yesterday, the stake Qatar Telecom is seeking to acquire is valued at 526.7 million dinars ($1.9 billion), according to Bloomberg calculations.

UPDATE 1-Bahrain eyes 10-yr benchmark bond this week - leads | Reuters

Bahrain, the Gulf Arab state hit by ongoing social unrest, plans to issue a benchmark-sized 10-year dollar bond this week, lead arrangers said, after testing investor appetite in roadshows that conclude on Tuesday.

Initial price guidance for the issue, which appears to be a single-tranche deal, was at a spread of 462.5 basis points over midswaps.

At current swap prices, that equates to a coupon of 6.375 percent; 10-year midswaps were quoted at 1.75 percent on Tuesday.

UAE mall developer MAF eyes $350-500 mln from bond sale - exec | Reuters

UAE mall developer Majid Al Futtaim Holding (MAF) expects to raise between $350 million and $500 million from a potential second bond issue this year, a senior company executive said on Tuesday.

MAF, the sole franchisee of French hypermarket chain Carrefour, launched meetings with investors in Singapore and London on Wednesday and is expected to issue a dollar-denominated bond, subject to market conditions.

"We think markets are conducive and we want to refresh our story out there," Daniele Vecchi, senior vice president for treasury at MAF said, adding the developer is looking to raise between $350 million and $500 million.

Persian Gulf Stocks: Tamweel in Dubai and Zain Saudi Arabia - Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index (SASEIDX) rose 0.3 percent, the biggest intraday gain since June 20, to 6,703.38 at 1:34 p.m. in Riyadh. The measure has dropped 14 percent this quarter, trimming the gain for the year to 4.5 percent. Dubai’s benchmark DFM General Index (DFMGI) fell 0.1 percent and Qatar’s QE Index (DSM) decreased 0.4 percent.

Eurozone crisis: How a Greek bank infected Cyprus | Financial Post

Like many Greek tycoons these days, Andreas Vgenopoulos is in trouble.

The self-made businessman built one of Greece’s leading corporate empires over the past two decades. Among its jewels was a major bank in the nearby Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus. Then it all started to unravel.

In 2010, Marfin Investment Group (MIG), the firm Vgenopoulos managed which has stakes in everything from privatized national carrier Olympic Air to food giant Vivartia, lost 1.8 billion euros (US$2.2 billion). The loss, largely made up of write-downs on goodwill, was the biggest ever for a Greek company to that point. There is a joke in Athens that MIG’s initials stand for “Money Is Gone.”