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Tuesday, 21 August 2012

For GCC Countries, a Challenge Within Reach: The Gulf Rail Network

With budget surpluses accumulating over the past few years (and trade balance expected to reach around $500 billion in 2012) Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have multiplied their spending and have been able to use this revenue to boost their economies in contrast with the of the Arab world, which is still piecing itself together in the wake of the uprisings and Arab Spring protests. A significant part of the spending has been allocated to much-needed infrastructure projects. Among these, an ambitious project to construct an approximately 1,200 mile rail route extending from Kuwait to Oman and linking all GCC countries, with the possible inclusion of Yemen in the future.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Egypt shares gain on IMF optimism - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Egypt's main share index edges up 0.3 percent, with local retail investors buying on optimism a visit to Cairo by the head of the IMF will help clear the way toward a $4.8 billion loan the government is seeking.
International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde arrives in Cairo on Wednesday in what the IMF said is a show of support during a period of transition. Newly elected President Mohamed Mursi appointed his first government last month.
"Trading volume was dominated by retail and local investors today," says Tariq Hussein of CIBC Brokerage. "It went up early in the session on optimism over the IMF visit, but then fell back later in the day."

Kuwait Recommends OPEC Keep Current Output Ceiling, Al Rai Says - Bloomberg

OPEC should maintain its production ceiling at its next meeting in December because oil prices have been rising, Kuwait’s Oil Minister Hani Abdulaziz Hussain said, according to the Al Rai newspaper.
The market is “balanced,” with positive effects from a better-than-expected performance in the U.S. economy and stability in Europe, he said, the Kuwaiti paper reported. The crude oil market will have a surplus, leading to a decline in prices, once the international crisis over Iran’s nuclear program eases and the Islamic country’s oil exports return to normal, he said.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries comprises Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela. It plans to meet next on Dec. 12.

Business - UAE oil, gas companies eye investment in Iraq

The UAE’s oil and gas industry is expected to make a major impact at the third annual Basra Oil and Gas International Conference and Exhibition officially supported by ministry of oil and organised by Expotim & Pyramids International.
 As the first largest international participating country, UAE oil and gas companies are expecting to capitalise on the opportunities being presented during the four-day event in December.
Taking place from December 6-9 and officially supported by the Iraq ministry of oil, UAE companies represent a significant portion of event participants, and this number has grown year-on-year since its inception in 2010. Last year saw a massive 93 per cent increase in UAE exhibitors, with no less than 70 per cent anticipated for 2012.

Glencore Will ‘Move On’ If Qatar Blocks Xstrata Deal, Chief Says - Businessweek

Glencore International Plc (GLEN), the Swiss commodities trader seeking to buy Xstrata Plc (XTA) for $30 billion, said it will “move on” should Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund block its bid for the mining company.

“If they vote against the deal, they will block the deal,” Chief Executive Officer Ivan Glasenberg said in a phone interview. “From my point of view, from Glencore’s point of view so be it. It’s not the end of the world. We will move on.”

Glencore’s planned takeover of Xstrata, set for an investor vote on Sept. 7, has a 60 percent chance of being rejected, UBS AG said yesterday. Glasenberg has repeatedly rebuffed calls to raise the bid even as Qatar Holding LLC has boosted its stake to near 12 percent while saying it wants a sweetened offer.

TEXT-S&P affrms 'AA/A-1+' rtgs on Abu Dhabi-based IPIC;otlk stable - Yahoo! News Maktoob

-- Under our criteria for government-related entities, we consider International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) to play a "critical" role for its owner, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and to have an "integral" link with the government.
-- We believe that extraordinary support from the Abu Dhabi government would be "almost certain" should IPIC come under financial stress.
-- We are therefore affirming our 'AA' long-term and 'A-1+' short-term ratings on IPIC, equalizing them with our ratings on Abu Dhabi.

Debenhams’ city store gets a new owner - Business News - Yorkshire Post

AN Islamic investment bank backed by Kuwait’s sovereign wealth fund is the new owner of the Debenhams department store in Leeds city centre.

Gatehouse Bank bought the 107,000 sq ft building for £33.4m from accountancy firm KPMG, receiver to a failed Irish property company.

The deal represents a net initial yield of 6.35 per cent.

Nabucco Remains In Competition For Azerbaijan Gas Eurasia Review

The Nabucco West project still has a chance of winning the contest to transport gas from Azerbaijan to European countries, even after a rival consortium signed a funding deal, an executive of the country’s state oil firm said.

Azerbaijan is prepared to cooperate further with Nabucco West and the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) via Greece to Italy, the representative of the SOCAR gas company said yesterday (19 August).

“The agreement with TAP gives the partners more legal and planning security. It is not a decision against Nabucco-West,” Elmar Mamedov, SOCAR representative for Germany said in a statement quoted by Reuters, adding that his company wanted to agree the same deal with the Nabucco West consortium.

EXCLUSIVE-Iran looks to Armenia to skirt bank sanctions - Yahoo! News Maktoob

With international sanctions squeezing Iran, the Islamic Republic is seeking to expand its banking foothold in the Caucasus nation of Armenia to make up for difficulties in countries it used to rely on to do business, according to diplomats and documents.
Iran's growing interest in its neighbor Armenia, a mountainous, landlocked country of about 3.3 million people,
comes at a time of rising international isolation for Tehran and increasing scrutiny by Western governments and intelligence agencies of Iranian banking ties worldwide as they attempt to stifle the country's nuclear program.

MIDEAST DEBT-UAE banks profit from Europeans' retreat - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Banks in the United Arab Emirates are filling the gap left by European institutions pulling back from the country's loan market - a trend that benefits local lenders even as margins face pressure and regulation weighs on growth.
Lending in the UAE, the second biggest Arab economy, grew just 1.8 percent in June from the end of December, according to central bank data.
But most local banks reported loan growth that exceeded the market rate. Six of the eight largest local banks by stock market capitalisation did so, led by First Gulf Bank with a 6 percent rise and Mashreq, up 5.1 percent.

BUSINESS - Azeri firm to become largest investor

Azerbaijan’s state-run energy company Socar will become the largest single foreign investor in Turkey within six years, according to Kenan Yavuz, the chief executive Turkey Enerji A.Ş., the local subsidiary of the Baku-based company.

“If we look at the whole picture of investments currently being made by Socar in Turkey, it will reach $17 billion by 2018,” Yavuz said in an interview published on the website of Business New Europe yesterday. “At the end of the day, Socar and Azerbaijan will be the biggest single investor in Turkey.”

Enable prisoners to work off their debts - The National

Sometimes, through no fault of their own - perhaps by losing a job or receiving unexpected bills - people end up owing more money than they can pay back. But, unless you have brought it on yourself by behaving recklessly or fraudulently, bankruptcy should not make you a criminal.

As we have noted on these pages before, UAE law is tough on people who bounce cheques or accumulate unpayable bills. Do it, and you will go to jail until you can settle the debt - and that could mean you languish behind bars longer than thief.

Prisons serve a necessary role in the community, not least by keeping criminals apart from the rest of us. Motivated inmates can learn a skill or acquire an education that will serve them well on the outside. But one thing you can't currently do in jail is earn money to pay off a debt.

UNB, a “buy”, say analysts |

While Union National Bank (UNB) succeeded in beating analysts consensus estimates by 8 per cent, with net profits rising by 9.7 per cent to Dh455.7m, in the second quarter, there has been some concern about the deterioration in its asset quality.
Notwithstanding this, the share price of Union National Bank has risen more than 10 per cent in 2012, though one year (52 week) return has only been 1.72 per cent until last week. But, analysts are positive about the outlook for the stock.
But first the concerns. Non-performing loans (NPLs) increased by around 18% in the second quarter, while loans decreased marginally (1.4%) resulting in nearly flat year to date growth. And both these indicators aren’t likely to get better in the remaining quarters of the year.

Qatar investments in Egypt to top $10 billion | Al-Shorfa

Economic experts said Qatar's recent pledge to provide aid to Egypt will help restore the Egyptian economy after its downturn in 2011.

The aid pledge came after talks on August 11th in Cairo between the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, and President Mohamed Morsi.

The two sides discussed ways to co-operate and methods for Qatar to bolster the Egyptian economy, including a $2 billion bond infusion into the Central Bank of Egypt.

Comment: Qatar’s the main winner as BAA is pared back - News -

IF THEY knew then what they know now it is very unlikely that Spanish infrastructure group Ferrovial would have swooped six years ago to buy BAA, the privatised former British Airports Authority.

BAA’s decision yesterday to give up the fight to keep Stansted airport after a three-year battle with the Competition Commission is just a continuation of the way the wind has been blowing.

The wheels have not come off Ferrovial’s British adventure, but the Spanish are clearly chastened by a regulatory clampdown that has demolished the arithmetic that supported its move on BAA in 2006.