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Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Ramadan a time for your best protocol - The National

Business usually slows down during Ramadan, which starts next week, but it is actually a good time to reach out to Emirati decision-makers and build relations. British-born Amal Loring, who converted to Islam about five years ago and owns MindBody Dynamixs, which advises people on stress management and cultural issues, explains why.

Saudi banks report big returns for quarter - The National

Saudi Arabia's banks reported a strong quarter of growth as the kingdom's infrastructure and housing projects boosted their profits.

Al Rajhi Bank, the kingdom's biggest lender, generated a net profit of 2 billion riyals (Dh1.95bn) for the second quarter, an increase of 13.5 per cent on last year's second quarter.

Saudi British Bank topped estimates with a profit of 915 million riyals for the second quarter, up 7.3 per cent from the same period last year, while Samba Financial Group generated a profit of 1.1bn riyals, an increase of 5 per cent.

gulfnews : Chinese links with the Gulf remain firmly commercial

China is wrestling with a huge incoherence in its relations with the Arab states of the Gulf. China has a vital strategic interest in ensuring a secure supply of oil, yet it has no geopolitical point of contact with the Gulf states. Their regional and Arab concerns are largely irrelevant to the Chinese as Beijing looks to reinforce its self-perception as the premier Asian power, and one of the world’s two superpowers.
This has meant that China has been able to quietly build a strong commercial alliance with Iran, and also sought long-term access to oil, seeking to manage and develop oil fields in places, including Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, as well as signing long-term supply contracts. But at the same time, China has avoided taking any position on the Gulf states’ political concerns, in stark contrast to the Americans. The Chinese have watched the Americans walk into one Middle East entanglement after another, while they have avoided any such traps and simply kept signing the cheques to keep their oil supplies safe.

gulfnews : Advertisers loosen their purse strings in the UAE

With June proving an exceptionally busy month and spending patterns holding steady in the other five months, the UAE was easily the top regional market for advertising. The first-half of the year saw advertiser spending $755 million (Dh2,773 billion).
This represents an 8 per cent gain over the $698 million advertisers ploughed in during the corresponding period of 2011, an indication that key sectors such as retail, travel and hospitality have the confidence to mount major ad campaigns. Saudi Arabia ranked second in the regional rankings with $752 million, up 16 per cent from a year ago.
Estimates suggest that advertisers loosened their purse strings and spent $146 million last month, according to data from Pan Arab Research Centre (Parc). The numbers are based on the official media rate cards and do not take into account any discounts that media owners provide.

gulfnews : Qatar Airways will bid for Saudi aviation licence

Qatar Airways will bid on Saudi Arabia’s new domestic and international aviation licence, its chief executive said on Tuesday.
“We are in the process of receiving an RFP [request for proposal] and submitting the RFP,” Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said at the Farnborough International Air Show.
Saudi Arabia moved a step closer to allowing new airlines to operate out of the kingdom on Tuesday, after its top aviation authority short-listed companies vying for a licence to cater to fast-growing demand in the Middle East’s biggest economy. The General Authority Of Civil Aviation, or GACA, has prequalified seven out of the 14 companies that had bid earlier this year for a new airline licence to operate domestic and international flights in the kingdom, according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency, or SPA.

gulfnews : Qatar debt priced at world’s lowest sovereign

Qatar, the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas, will pay less for $4 billion (Dh14.7 billion) than any other sovereign issuing Islamic bonds.
The government priced five-year sukuk to yield 115 basis points more than the benchmark midswap rate, or about 2 per cent, two people familiar with the transaction said on Wednesday.
The 10-year notes were sold at 155 basis points over midswaps, or about 3.2 per cent, they said. That’s below the 3.56 per cent average yield of 12 constituents in the HSBC/Nasdaq Dubai Sovereign US Dollar Sukuk Index.

MIDEAST MONEY-Politics, policy dismay Gulf investors in Lebanon | Reuters

Mohammed Khalaf Al Habtoor says he will not visit Lebanon any time soon and doesn't plan any fresh investments in the tiny Mediterranean country.

The chief executive of Al Habtoor Group, and the son of prominent United Arab Emirates business tycoon Khalaf Al Habtoor, is fed up with continuous conflict among Lebanese politicians and tensions spilling over from neighbouring Syria.

He is one of a number of investors from the wealthy Arab Gulf states who are putting their investment plans for Lebanon on hold or rethinking their strategies in the country. This could deal a blow to the Lebanese economy.

Analysis: Ouster of Etisalat chairman may herald foreign strategy shift | Reuters

When Gulf telecommunications giant Etisalat replaced its veteran chairman last week, he became the latest casualty of a multi-billion dollar foreign expansion which has failed to translate into profits and may prompt the firm to sell overseas assets to offset a decline in income.

Such a retreat would have been unthinkable just a few years ago when Etisalat ETEL.AD, the United Arab Emirates' largest listed company, conceived its publicly stated ambition to become one of the world's top 10 telecommunications firms.

But Mohammad Omran's exit suggests strategy changes may be on the cards. It also serves as a warning to cash-rich Gulf companies which could be tempted to snap up overseas assets as the global financial crisis makes them cheaper: Etisalat found buying assets easier than making them profitable.

UPDATE 2-Massive demand helps Qatar sell largest USD sukuk | Reuters

Qatar sold the largest dollar-denominated Islamic bond ever seen on Wednesday, taking advantage of heavy interest in high-grade Gulf debt, which is being sought as a safe haven from the global financial crisis.

The world's top liquefied natural gas exporter priced a $4 billion, two-tranche sukuk, attracting a massive order book of over $24 billion. It was the Qatari government's first Islamic debt issue for nine years.

The five- and 10-year tranches of the sukuk were each $2 billion in size. Qatar was able to sell the debt very cheaply: the five-year tranche carried a yield of 2.099 percent and the 10-year tranche sold at 3.241 percent, lead arrangers said.

Saudi's NCB posts 13 pct rise in Q2 net profit | Reuters

Saudi Arabia's National Commercial Bank (NCB), the kingdom's biggest bank by assets, posted a 12.9 percent rise in its second-quarter net profit, the lender said on Wednesday.

State-owned NCB made a net profit of 1.6 billion Saudi riyals ($427 million) in the three months ended June 30, compared with 1.4 billion riyals in the same period a year earlier, it said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

NCB said its loans and advances portfolio increased by 15.4 percent to 150 billion riyals, while its net income from special commissions rose 7 percent. It did not give absolute figures.

Claim over judge’s alleged doze rejected -

A Dubai tribunal rejected a call from government-owned property developer Nakheel for a retrial because one of its judges had appeared to fall asleep at a previous hearing, describing the application as “mischievous” with “no merit whatsoever”.
The Dubai World Tribunal, after reviewing video evidence that was not shown in court, on Wednesday accepted that one of its members, Chief Justice Michael Hwang, was “inattentive” for six minutes during the two-day trial in May.
At the trial, Showkat Dalal was claiming back Dh57m ($15.5m) of payments made for three islands on The World, an offshore Dubai development controlled by Nakheel, which has been the focus of a series of claims since the city’s property crash. A judgment will be issued on the matter at a later date.

MENA stock markets close - July 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)

UPDATE 1-Qatar Islamic Q2 net profit dips 8.7 pct | Reuters

Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) , the Gulf state's second-largest lender by market value, posted an 8.7 percent drop in second-quarter net profit on Wednesday, Reuters calculations show, missing analysts' expectations.

The bank made a net profit of 348.9 million riyals ($95.8 million) for the quarter, according to Reuters calculations, falling short of the 382 million riyals it recorded a year earlier and below analysts' average forecast of 397.8 million riyals.

It made a first-half net profit of 736.9 million riyals, a five percent increase from the year-earlier period, the lender in a statement. QIB did not provide quarterly numbers in the statement.

Debt deals boost banks in Middle East -

Fees earned on Middle Eastern debt capital market transactions doubled in the first half of this year, offering a welcome boost for investment banks that have seen regional business dry up.
Bankers pulled in fees of almost $55m in the first six months, as the total volume of debt capital market transactions rose 51 per cent compared with the same period last year to $6.9bn, according to data from Thomson Reuters. Germany’s Deutsche Bank topped the debt capital market fees league table, earning 10 per cent of the pot.

UPDATE 1-Saudi oil output bounces back in June | Reuters

Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia showed no sign of cutting back supply in June following last month's OPEC agreement to rein in production, instead raising output by 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) from May to 10.1 million bpd, an industry source said.

After reducing output in May to 9.8 million bpd from April's 30-year high of 10.1 million bpd, the world's largest oil exporter raised production again in June, the source said on Wednesday.

Internal demand for Saudi crude rises sharply in the hot summer months from June to August. Export volumes were not available.

Emerging Stocks Fall to 2-Week Low on Corporate Earnings Concern - Bloomberg

Emerging-market stocks dropped for a sixth day, dragging the benchmark index (HSCEI) to a two-week low, on concern a deepening global economic slowdown will hurt earnings.
The MSCI Emerging Markets Index (MXEF) lost 0.2 percent to 932.51 as of 8:05 a.m. in New York, poised for the longest losing streak since May 18. Tamweel PJSC (TAMWEEL) slid 3.1 percent, the most in more than a month, after the Dubai-based mortgage lender reported a 33 percent plunge in second-quarter profit. Russia’s Micex Index (INDEXCF) retreated 1.5 percent, while Poland’s WIG20 (WIG20) Index slipped to the lowest in more than two weeks. China Southern Airlines Co., the nation’s biggest carrier by passengers, dropped 2.2 percent in Shanghai after saying first-half profit may fall more than 50 percent.

Xstrata sets September 7 for Glencore vote | Reuters

Miner Xstrata (XTA.L) said September 7 was the new date for a shareholder vote on its planned $26 billion takeover by Glencore (GLEN.L), after changes to retention deals for executives forced it to push back a meeting initially planned for this week.

The delay will give commodities trader Glencore, Xstrata's largest shareholder, weeks more to hammer out a deal over the terms of the takeover with rival shareholder Qatar, which is demanding better terms - easing speculation that the current deadlock between the two could put the tie-up on ice.

Xstrata shareholders had been due to meet on July 12, but the miner said last month it would adjust retention packages for its executives in response to shareholder outcry over the mostly cash deals, forcing the vote to be postponed.

Oman May budget surplus widens, inflation at 27-mth low | Reuters

Oman's budget surplus rose to 1.6 billion rials ($4.2 billion) in the first five months of this year as oil revenue soared, while inflation slowed sharply, data showed on Wednesday.

The budget surplus is equivalent to about 5.7 percent of the sultanate's 2011 nominal gross domestic product, according to a Reuters calculation.

Oman, which faces a challenge to create tens of thousands of jobs every year for its fast-growing population, has raised its budget by 23 percent to 10 billion rials this year compared to its original projection for 2011.

UPDATE 1-Dubai's Tamweel Q2 profit drops 33 percent | Reuters

Islamic mortgage lender Tamweel posted a 33 percent drop in second-quarter profit on Wednesday as revenue fell and costs rose, the Dubai-based firm's second straight quarterly profit fall.

Tamweel, majority owned by Dubai Islamic Bank, made a net profit of 18.6 million dirhams ($5.1 million) in the three months to June 30, down from 27.7 million dirhams in the prior-year period. The firm's first-quarter profit also fell.

Quarterly revenue dropped slightly to 136.9 million dirhams, from 141.6 million dirhams a year earlier, while "depositors' share of profit" - sales costs - rose 8.7 percent to 88.9 million dirhams.

RBS Pressures Dubai as $10 Billion Debt Talks Stall: Arab Credit - Bloomberg

Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, Commerzbank AG and Standard Bank Group Ltd may be betting Dubai will improve terms on a $10 billion debt restructuring to protect its reputation after a near default in 2009.
The banks walked away from talks with government-owned Dubai Group after 18 months without an accord, two people familiar with the situation said July 9. The banks disagreed with demands for loan maturities of 12 years, one of the people said, asking not to be identified because the negotiations aren’t public.

UAE's Emaar Properties eyes 7-yr benchmark sukuk - sources | Reuters

Emaar Properties, builder of the world's tallest tower, plans to issue a seven-year benchmark-sized Islamic bond, or sukuk, this week, two market sources said on Wednesday.

Initial profit talk for the sukuk is indicated to be at 6.75 percent. The company is due to meet investors in London on Wednesday, with pricing due early on Thursday, the sources said.

Benchmark-sized is normally understood to mean at least $500 million.

Qatar launches two-tranche $4 bln sukuk; order books over $24 bln | Reuters

Qatar launched a $4-billion, dual-tranche Islamic bond on Wednesday, lead arrangers said, in a deal which has attracted one of the biggest order books ever for a sharia-compliant issue.

The world's top liquefied natural gas exporter will sell $2 billion in five-year sukuk at a spread of 115 basis points over midswaps and $2 billion in 10-year paper at 155 basis points over midswaps.

Final pricing terms are tighter than revised guidance released on Tuesday owing to order books in excess of $24 billion, three market sources said.

Dubai's Drydocks World Receives Official Nod on $2.2B Debt Deal - Zawya

Drydocks World , a Dubai ship-building and repair firm, received almost unanimous support for its proposed $2.2 billion debt restructuring Tuesday at a creditors' meetings in Dubai.

Creditors holding more than 97% of the debt to be restructured officially agreed to the deal, according to a statement from professional services firm PwC, which is advising Drydocks on the restructuring alongside law firm Clifford Chance.

"The approval of the proposals at today's meetings is a fundamental step to concluding Drydocks ' debt restructuring," said Ian Schneider, a partner at PwC. "The level of support received by the companies far exceeded the two thirds majority required by the Decree 57 legislation to approve these proposals."