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Wednesday, 27 June 2012

CPI Financial | News | Dubai Holding establishes Board for TECOM Investments

The move is in continuation of Dubai Holding’s efforts to further strengthen corporate governance at its entities. Dubai Holding’s Corporate Governance model constitutes of three independent non-executive directors and two executive directors. The Board will be responsible for defining the investment philosophy, setting long-term business strategy and overseeing implementation; ensuring adequacy of internal controls and strategic risk management.
Ahmad Bin Byat, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Holding, said, “Strengthened corporate governance forms a key pillar of Dubai Holding’s strategic guidelines. In accordance with international best practices, Dubai Holding is pleased to announce the appointment of a strong and experienced board for TECOM. We are confident that with such solid governance framework, TECOM will continue to further build on its success.”

Three banks in Egypt face the threat of downgrade - The National

The ratings agency Standard & Poor's yesterday said three of Egypt's biggest banks could be in for a downgrade.

The news came days after S&P said Egypt's long-term debt was on watch for a possible cut as political and economic turmoil in the aftermath of the country's revolution took its toll.

Commercial International Bank (CIB), the largest private-sector lender in the country, and two of the country's largest domestic banks, National Bank of Egypt (NBE) and Banque Misr were placed on credit watch with negative implications because they faced "significant sovereign risk" as political tensions escalate, the ratings agency said.

Banker to fight four-year term for embezzlement - The National

Majid Al Refai, the banker sentenced to four years in prison by a Bahraini court for embezzlement, is to fight the verdict from his native Kuwait, says his adviser.

The former chief executive of Bank Alkhair, an Islamic wholesale bank based in Bahrain, Al Refai was this week found guilty by a Bahraini court of embezzlement, misappropriating bank funds and destroying bank records.

"He continues to assert his innocence of these charges, and is exploring all legal routes for challenging the verdict from Kuwait," said one of his advisers, who declined to be identified.

NBAD looks West for expansion - The National

National Bank of Abu Dhabi says it will expand in western countries as the lender, along with many counterparts in the Arabian Gulf, has avoided the credit rating downgrades hammering many big rivals in the West.

"Our strong credit ratings will certainly create opportunities in geographies where many local banks have been downgraded and where customers and investors are looking for a safe haven for their funds," said Abdulla AbdulRaheem, NBAD's group chief operating officer.

Downgrades of 15 global investment banks by Moody's Investors Service last week left half a dozen regional lenders among the world's most highly-rated. Six banks - NBAD, Qatar National Bank (QNB), National Bank of Kuwait, Sabb (Saudi British Bank), Banque Saudi Fransi and Samba Financial Group - are currently rated Aa3 and were left unscathed by the ratings agency's knife.

gulfnews : Kuwait and economic diversification

Economic diversification represents one of the main strategic goals set by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). This approach was adopted in 1986 after the collapse of oil prices that reached seven dollars per barrel. This called for the introduction of policies of austerity and led to delay in payment of salaries in some institutions and the postponement of many projects due to cuts in expenditure.
Since then, successes made by GCC countries have varied greatly and relatively. The UAE and Saudi Arabia, for example, achieved significant progress in diversification of sources of income and reducing reliance on oil.
A few years later, Qatar followed suit and made significant progress, as the UAE managed to develop important sectors, such as tourism, services, and some modern industries in the UAE and energy -based industry. Saudi Arabia succeeded in developing consumer products, while Qatar has developed gas-related industries and services.

Saudi giant plans to merge two oil carriers - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Saudi Arabia's oil giant Aramco on Wednesday announced plans to merge its company Vela with Saudi firm Bahri to form the world's fourth largest oil transporter.
Under a non-binding memorandum of understanding, Bahri would pay Vela $1.3 billion, made up of $832,000 in cash and the rest in stocks.
"By creating a new global leader in shipping, Saudi Aramco hopes to build a strong company that can leverage its capabilities in the shipping sector and would meet its growing business portfolio," it said.

THE DAILY STAR :: News :: Middle East :: Obama, UAE prince talk Iran, Syria, oil -White House

U.S. President Barack Obama discussed conditions in Iran and Syria as well as global energy prices with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan on Wednesday, the White House said.

They agreed there was an urgent need to stop the bloodshed in Syria and for political transition there, and also said Iran should meet its international obligations related to its nuclear program, according to a statement issued after their meeting.

"Noting the profound changes taking place in other countries in the Middle East, they called on governments and citizens alike to avoid violence, advance tolerance, and protect human rights - particularly the rights of women," the White House said.

Qatar, Glencore and Xstrata: many shares, much power | beyondbrics

Opposition from Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund to the terms of the planned merger between Glencore and Xstrata merger has brought the $65bn deal to the verge of collapse.

The Qatari fund’s move shows the extent to which big sovereign funds, many from emerging markets, have begun flexing their muscles, and of the influence they may now exert on big developed nation corporations.

The Qatar Investment Authority owns 10 per cent of Xstrata and has several similar stakes in some of the world’s biggest companies.

Analysis: Politics hinders aid to Arab Spring economies | Reuters

When Saudi Arabia withdrew its ambassador to Cairo in late April, yields on Egyptian Treasury bills rose and stock prices slipped as investors feared Egypt would be cut off from billions of dollars of Saudi financial aid.

The diplomatic row, triggered by street protests in Cairo against Saudi Arabia's arrest of an Egyptian lawyer, was quickly patched up. The ambassador returned to Cairo within a week and a few days later, Saudi Arabia placed a $1 billion, eight-year deposit in Egypt's central bank.

But more than a year after the start of the Arab Spring uprisings around the Middle East, the incident showed how countries hit by the unrest face uncertain prospects for obtaining foreign aid, which is badly needed to rebuild their economies and ease social tensions.

Azerbaijan-Turkey-Europe: Raising a Glass to Gas |

Just when you thought it would never happen, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has announced that Azerbaijan, Turkey and Europe will soon be tied “organically." The organic matter in question is, of course, natural gas, soon to flow through a new pipeline, per a long-awaited June 26 agreement between Azerbaijan and Turkey.  

Europe’s organic dependence on Russia could decrease after some 16 billion cubic meters (bcm) of Azerbaijani gas start to flow each year via the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP), to be completed in 2018. Turkey will be happily siphoning off six billion cubic meters of the gas, while the rest will head further afield, to Europe. The volumes are projected to nearly double by 2023 and further increase to 31 bcm by 2026.

Shah Deniz 2, the second stage of development of a massive gas field off Azerbaijan's Caspian-Sea coast, will provide the bulk of the supplies, but Erdoğan expressed hope that, in future, the gas will come not only from Azerbaijan, but from its across-the-Caspian-Sea neighbors in Central Asia.

Investcorp signs $504 million debt refinancing deal: sources | Reuters

Bahrain-based investment company Investcorp INVB.BH has signed up to a $504 million-equivalent loan aimed at refinancing debt due in 2013, with the final amount potentially being increased in the coming weeks as more banks join the lending syndicate, sources said on Wednesday.

The loan heads off any refinancing risk next year for the firm, which once owned luxury brands Gucci (GUCG.PK) and Tiffany & Co (TIF.N) but like other private equity houses in the Gulf has been hit in more recent times by unfavorable market conditions.

Investcorp wanted to secure funds ahead of its financial year-end on June 30 so the loan could be included in its full-year results, two banking sources said.

Bahrain Said to Offer Record-High Yield in Bond Sale - Businessweek

Bahrain, which quashed anti- government protests in 2011, will pay more to raise $1.5 billion than it did in prior 10-year bond sales, a person familiar with the sale said, as investors focus on political risks.

The smallest member of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council priced bonds at 437.5 basis points over similar-maturity midswaps, or about 6.15 percent, according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Bahrain last sold 10-year debt in March 2010 at 5.5 percent, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The yield on the bonds due in March 2020 was 5.54 percent at 4:31 p.m. in Dubai.

“International investors are still a bit unsettled about the situation there and they would demand a premium to reflect their nervousness,” Nick Stadtmiller, head of fixed income research at Dubai-based Emirates NBD PJSC (EMIRATES), said today. “Credit spreads for Bahrain are quite a bit wider than they were a couple of years ago, which largely has to do with political uncertainty.”

Gulf banks rated high for capital ratios -

Gulf banks are on average better capitalised than their global peers and look set to remain largely immune to the European crisis in the coming years, according to a report by Standard & Poor’s, the rating agency.
The 26 Gulf banks covered by the agency have risk-adjusted capital ratios – a measure of a bank’s ability to absorb risks – of 12-13 per cent, about 5 percentage points higher than the 100 largest global banks covered by S&P.
The strong capitalisation is thanks in part to high regulatory requirements, but also because of conservative management at the banks.

MENA stock markets close - June 27, 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)

CNBC announces new Middle East programme -

CNBC, First in Business Worldwide, today announced that it is launching a new series covering business and finance in the Middle East, significantly increasing its news coverage of the region.

Each fortnight, starting on 4 July, CNBC’s Yousef Gamal El-Din will present a new half-hour series, Access: Middle East which will air in primetime programming.  Gamal El-Din will travel around the region taking an in-depth look at the key business centres, interviewing top business leaders and policy makers.  The programme will examine the economy and highlight those industries leading the growth.

Access: Middle East will air across CNBC’s regional networks in EMEA, Asia-Pacific and on CNBC World in the United States, with a combined reach of more than 190 million homes.  The series will be produced from CNBC’s bureau in Dubai.

Bulgaria pins hopes on Black Sea gas | beyondbrics

These are early days, but interest from energy majors in Bulgaria’s offshore gas potential is raising hopes that the country can reduce its dependency on Russian imports.

ExxonMobil of the US, Total of France and Melrose Resources of the UK have submitted bids for the 15,000 sq km Khan Asparuh field in the Black Sea near the maritime border with Romania. A five-year exploration permit should be awarded in coming days and, if deposits are found, extraction could start in three to four years.

Exxon and OMV of Austria recently found natural gas deposits of 40bn to 80bn cubic metres in a field on the Romanian side of the border. Delyan Dobrev, Bulgaria’s energy minister, said a similar discovery at Khan Asparuh would cover domestic gas needs for up to twenty years.

Ex-adviser to Russian government: “zero prospect” of Moscow being international financial centre | Emerging Markets, Emerging Views

Tim Reucroft, a London-based consultant who has advised Russia and other emerging markets on capital market infrastructures, has said the Kremlin’s plan to turn Moscow into an international financial centre has “zero prospect” of materialising.

An IFC is all about cross-border flows, and so the Russians are wrong to be focusing on the domestic infrastructure, Reucroft, director of research at the Thomas Murray cash and securities risk management firm, argued at a conference in Moscow early this month and in a subsequent emailed interview with

Reucroft advised the Russian government on the IFC project back in 2008 and designed an architecture for cross-border financial business in Moscow and St Petersburg.

Saudi Stocks Head for Biggest Drop in Three Weeks - Businessweek

Saudi Arabia’s shares headed for the biggest drop in more than three weeks as oil prices fell, raising investor concerns that the world’s top oil exporter may reduce the size of a $500 billion government stimulus.

Nama Chemicals Co. (NAMA), a developer of industrial projects in chemicals and petrochemicals, plunged 6.5 percent. Al Rajhi Bank (RJHI), the kingdom’s biggest lender by market value, fell the most since June 19 in intraday trading. The Tadawul All Share Index lost 1.8 percent, poised for the biggest drop since June 2, to 6,579.00 at 1:13 p.m. in Riyadh. The measure has lost 16 percent this quarter, the worst since the fourth quarter of 2008. The Bloomberg GCC 200 Index retreated 0.6 percent.

“Oil below $80 just creates a psychological effect that the government will reduce spending and the economy will be affected,” said Marwan Shurrab, assistant fund manager and chief trader at Gulfmena Investments Ltd in Dubai. The drop “is more related to global growth and global demand for commodities,” he said.

Tunisia president sacks cbank head in policy row | Reuters

Tunisia's central bank governor Kamel al-Nabli will be relieved of his duties due to disagreements over economic policy, the spokesman for the presidency said on Wednesday, a move that could alarm investors already jittery after last year's revolution.

"The president has taken, in agreement with the prime minister, the decision to end the mission of the central bank governor. The decision has been referred to the constituent assembly for approval," Adnen Moncer told Reuters.

"The reason is linked to the administration of the bank and the financial affairs of the country in recent months."

African private equity: start small-ish | beyondbrics

With Africa playing catch-up on developed countries and other emerging markets, it’s easy to focus on the infrastructure projects or the big consumer market plays. And at the other end of the spectrum, for (really) small investments, there’s microfinance.

That leaves something of a “forgotten middle”: African SMEs with the potential for high growth but are not big enough to get on the radar of most western investors, and have trouble getting lending from local banks.

Large private equity funds in Africa will, by virtue of their size, grab the attention. For example, in May, Brazilian billionaire André Esteves launched the biggest private equity fund for Africa, promising to raise at least $1bn for investments in energy and infrastructure.

MIDEAST DEBT-MAF in second stab at bond as mkt, Dubai improve | Reuters

A year after it called off its maiden conventional bond issue in the international market, Dubai's Majid Al Futtaim Holding is trying again. This time, stronger global demand for Gulf debt, and better investor sentiment towards Dubai in particular, mean a much smoother ride for MAF.

The shopping mall developer is eyeing a seven-year, $500 million conventional bond, longer than the five-year tenor favoured in the region. It released price guidance at 5.375 percent on Wednesday.

It tapped the global market with a $400 million, five-year sukuk (Islamic bond) in February at 5.85 percent. The sukuk has since rallied to yield 4.47 percent on Wednesday - meaning the company is offering about 90 basis points for an additional 2-1/2 years with its conventional bond. That is seen as an ample premium by many potential investors.

StanChart: EM currency warning | beyondbrics

Standard Chartered Bank on Wednesday became the latest company to warn of the impact of this year’s sharp decline in emerging market currencies.

The bank said in a statement that growth income and in pre-tax profits would be below 10 per cent in the six months to the end of June,  due to the slow down in Asia and a drop in Asian currencies against the US dollar, not least in the Indian rupee.

StanChart shares fell 2 per cent early in Hong Kong, before investors decided that there wasn’t much in the announcement that they didn’t know already – and the stock recovered to trade 1 per cent lower.  But StanChart is not alone. Procter&Gamble and Philip Morris International have both this month warned of the impact of EM currency swings on their results. There will be others.

Dubai's Drydocks in S. Asia JV with Kuok Group | Reuters

Drydocks World, the indebted Dubai shipbuilder, said on Wednesday it has inked a joint venture for its Southeast Asia operations with a company linked to Malaysian billionaire Robert Kuok.

Drydocks, which is restructuring $2.2 billion in debt and sought insolvency protection in April, said the venture with Kuok Group's Pacific Carrier Ltd. will be based in Singapore.

Drydocks' Southeast Asia operations are based in Singapore and Indonesia. No financial details were given.

Analysis: Kuwait to weather crisis but faces long-run instability - Terra USA

Kuwait is likely to face more instability in the long run even when it emerges from its latest crisis, as its opposition pushes for more say in governing the major oil exporter and U.S. ally.
The Gulf state has escaped the kind of mass popular protests that forced four Arab dictators out of office in 18 months. But the success of those uprisings has heightened opposition calls for a full parliamentary democracy in Kuwait in which governments are chosen by elected majority blocs.
The Gulf state's cabinet resigned on Monday, days after a top court annulled a February election that gave the Islamist-led opposition a majority. It ruled that a previous assembly friendly to the government should replace it instead.

Oman plans Islamic finance rules before year-end | Reuters

A regulatory framework for Islamic finance is taking shape in Oman as government bodies move towards meeting the country's stated aim of making sharia-compliant products available to the public this year. But logistical challenges and the limited size of the market may prevent entrants to the business from making quick profits.

Legislation covering takaful (Islamic insurance) and sukuk (Islamic fixed income securities) is expected to be finalised by the end of the third quarter of the year, Capital Market Authority officials told Reuters.

Approval of the country's first takaful licence will follow soon afterwards, as three applications have already been received by the regulator, Ahmed Al Harrafi, takaful team leader at the CMA, said by telephone.

RPT-Qatar flexes muscle in shock Glencore move | Reuters

Qatar Holding's shock rebuff of Glencore's offer in its $30 billion takeover bid for miner Xstrata indicates a new, muscular stance by the sovereign fund which had long been content to be the quiet investor in its big-name portfolio.

Late Tuesday, Qatar, Xstrata's second largest shareholder and a potential kingmaker for the deal, said Glencore should pay 3.25 of its shares per Xstrata share, rather than the 2.8 on offer.

The 11th hour move will make it difficult for Glencore and Xstrata to push the merger through on current terms, several sources close to the deal said, leaving only until Thursday evening for Glencore to sweeten the deal or be forced to delay shareholder meetings scheduled for mid-July.