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Sunday, 2 September 2012

Bahrain economy shrinks in second quarter | Reuters

Bahrain's economic output fell in the second quarter of this year after moderate growth in the previous three months, data showed on Sunday, as political unrest continued to weigh on the small oil producer.

Gross domestic product, adjusted for inflation, dropped 1.3 percent quarter-on-quarter in April-June compared with 0.9 percent growth in the previous quarter, the figures from the Central Informatics Organisation showed.

The quarterly decline is the first since a 6.6 percent slump in the first three months of 2011, when the government crushed a pro-democracy protest movement led by majority Shi'ite Muslim citizens.

Oman’s fiscal surplus quadruples in first half |

Oman’s fiscal surplus quadrupled in the first six months the year as increased hydrocarbon production and higher crude oil prices more than offset a jump in public spending, the sultanate’s economy ministry said in a report posted on its website.
Oman’s first half fiscal surplus reached 1.606 billion Omani riyals (Dh15.3 billion), up from 386.6 million riyals in the year earlier period, official numbers showed.
Income from gas rose 66 to 837.2 million riyals, while oil revenue increased 35 per cent to 7.37 billion riyals. Public spending meanwhile surged 46 per cent in the first half to 5.76 billion riyals.

Dubai offers Dh72m fee exemption to SMEs |

Dubai SME, the agency of the Department of Economic Development (DED) in Dubai, yesterday announced that it is offering its members a fee exemption of more than Dh72 million.
Small and medium entrepreneurs (SMEs) will not be charged more than a Dh1000 annually during the first three years of business in Dubai,” Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO of Dubai SME, said.
This move seeks to encourage SMEs to focus on growing their enterprises without cost concerns.

Barclays’ Azar Sees Pick-Up in Middle East M&A, Fee Income - Bloomberg

Middle East merger and acquisition deals will probably rise in the next year as sovereign wealth funds look for ways to spend cash from oil sales and regional companies seek expansion, a Barclays Plc (BARC) executive said.
M&A activity is “picking up and our deal pipeline feels much better than two or three years ago,” Makram Azar, vice chairman of investment banking at Barclays, said in an interview at the bank’s Dubai offices on Aug. 30. Sovereign wealth funds “need to put their cash to work, particularly outside the region, in emerging and high growth markets or in opportunistic deals in Europe where valuations are depressed,” he said.

Saudi Regulator Fines Five Companies for Disclosure Violations - Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia’s market regulator issued 300,000 riyals ($80,000) in fines against five companies that were in breach of corporate disclosure regulations in the Arab world’s biggest economy.
Mediterranean & Gulf Insurance & Reinsurance Co. (MEDGULF), Riyad Bank (RIBL), Saudi Steel Pipe Co. (SSP) and Tabuk Cement (TACCO) were each fined 50,000 riyals for the violation of corporate governance regulations, the Capital Market Authority said in statements on the Saudi bourse website today. Saudi Indian Co. for Co- operative Insurance was fined 100,000 riyals, it said.

MENA stock markets close - September 2, 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)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Most Gulf bourses slip after U.S. shelves policy action; Egypt rallies - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Most Gulf markets closed lower on Sunday after the United States put off further monetary easing, while Egypt's bourse rallied on talks of a possible stake purchase in France's Societe Generale's unit.
Saudi Arabia's bourse, the largest Gulf market, finished lower for a second session since Wednesday's 16-week high. The index lost 0.6 percent with large-cap stocks weighing.
Bellwether Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) dropped 1.4 percent, Al Rajhi Bank dipped 0.7 percent
and Samba Financial Group fell 1.5 percent.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Egypt closes at 25-wk high on NSGB sale talks - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Egypt's benchmark index climbs 1.7 percent, boosted by news that Qatar National Bank is in talks to buy a controlling stake in the Egyptian unit of France's Societe Generale, traders say.
The Paris-based bank, which owns 77.17 percent of Egypt's National Societe Generale Bank, said the talks were preliminary, but the news led the market to its highest level since March 7, with banking stocks performing especially well.
NSGB surges 10 percent, the highest increase allowed under stock market rules. Commercial International Bank, Egypt's biggest listed privately owned bank by assets, rises 5.4 percent.

Saudi Justice Ministry clamps down on money laundering and terrorism financing Asharq Alawsat Newspaper (English)

The Saudi Justice Ministry has issued new guidelines tasking all lawyers to report any suspected cases of money laundering and terrorism financing to the Interior Ministry’s Financial Investigative Unit.
In a recent speech, Saudi Justice Minister Muhammad Bin Abdul Karim Issa, called on all lawyers to take the appropriate action to reduce the threat that money laundering and terrorism financing has on the national security of Saudi Arabia. He called on all Saudi lawyers, and there are 2,115 lawyers registered with the Justice Ministry, to tighten requirements regarding the identification of clients. He stressed that all lawyers must be certain regarding the identity of their clients and who is benefiting from their legal expertise, before establishing any working relations with individuals or companies.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Saudi down for 2nd session from 16-wk high - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Saudi Arabia's bourse finishes lower for a second session since Wednesday's 16-week high as investors cut
positions in large-caps after the U.S. Federal Reserve put off further monetary easing.
The index loses 0.6 percent to end at 7,091 points, trimming year-to-date gains 10.5 percent.
Bellwether Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) drops 1.4 percent, Al Rajhi Bank dips 0.7 percent and
Samba Financial Group falls 1.5 percent.

Qatar National Bank picks JP Morgan for Egypt buy: sources | Reuters

Qatar National Bank, the state lender seeking to boost its regional presence through acquisitions, has hired J.P. Morgan Chase to advise on its planned buy of Societe Generale's Egyptian arm, three sources said.

SocGen is in early talks with QNB to sell its 77.2-percent stake in National Societe Generale Bank - the Egyptian lender which has a market value of around $2.3 billion - as the French bank seeks to shore up its capital through divestments.

"The talks are initial but they definitely have the firepower for an asset of that size. J.P. Morgan is assisting QNB on the deal," one of the sources said.

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad ups stake in Virgin Australia to 10 percent, says it doesn’t want control - The Washington Post

Abu Dhabi’s fast-growing Etihad Airways says it has increased its stake in Virgin Australia to 10 percent as it looks to deepen its ties to the Australian market.

Government-backed Etihad said Sunday it bought the 221 million shares on the open market in recent months. Financial details weren’t disclosed.

Kuwait's Global shareholders approve final debt restructuring plan - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Shareholders in Kuwait's Global Investment House approved on Sunday a final plan to create new special purpose vehicles that will carry the company's debt as part of the $1.7 billion debt restructuring plan.
Global, which is undergoing its second debt restructuring in three years, will create at least two SPVs, one to hold company assets along with a debt of $1.3 billion and one which will take part in a capital increase for the parent company and which will carry a debt equivalent of $430 million, Managing Director Maha al-Ghunaim told a news conference.
"One special purpose vehicle is going to hold the assets from our balance sheet which will be moved to that company," al-Ghunaim said.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-UAE mkts give back gains; Qatar slips - Yahoo! News Maktoob

UAE bourses give back earlier gains as investors look for new catalysts to increase risk and regional and foreign
institutional selling pushes Qatar's market lower.
Dubai's bellwether Emaar Properties sheds 0.9 percent, engineering firm Drake and Scull falls 1.3 percent and contractor Arabtec slips 0.4 percent.
"Some over-bought names are pulling back slightly and until Q3 earnings, there isn't any regional catalyst," says Amer Khan, fund manager at Shuaa Asset Management.

Dubai daring to dream again - Zawya

The world's economic, financial and political troubles are playing into Dubai's hands, especially a real estate sector making a steady recovery
Dubai's real estate recovery is, by most accounts, now in full swing.

While memories of the dark days of the downturn - when the city's property sector was brought to its knees by the emirate's crippling debt crisis - were jogged last month by the flight and subsequent re-arrest of Zack Shaheen, the former chief executive of developer Deyaar who had been jailed for fraud, the sentiment is now mostly of optimism among the business community, developers, analysts and consultants.

Shell wins $150 mln contract to explore oil in Tunisia | Reuters

Royal Dutch Shell has won a $150 million oil exploration deal in Tunisia as part of plans to attract investments to the energy sector, the industry minister said on Saturday.

"Shell will drill oil wells in the centre of the country at a cost of $150 million," Lamine Chakari said.

Exploration and drilling operations will take place in the areas of El Jem, Kairouan, Sousse and Sfax, he said, without giving more details.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-UAE up on property stocks; Kuwait at 8-wk high - Yahoo! News Maktoob

UAE markets edge higher in early trade as investors buy property stocks after last week's declines, while Kuwait's bourse hit an eight-week high.
Dubai's bellwether Emaar Properties is the main support, rising 0.9 percent. Contractor Arabtec gains
1.4 percent and Deyaar adds 1.1 percent.
The emirate's index climbs 0.4 percent to 1,553 points, heading for its second gain in last six sessions.

The Times of Oman: BP plans to invest $24b for developing Oman's gas fields

British oil giant BP is expected to invest a whooping $24 billion for the first phase full-field development of its block 61 tight gas fields in north-central Oman.

"The initial upfront investment will be $24 billion,- said Shaikh Ali bin Thabit Al Battashi, Adviser to the Ministry of Oil and Gas, on the sidelines of a signing ceremony between the Ministry of Oil and Gas and Sohar International Urea and Chemical Industries.

He said the first phase of the development programme is spread over a 25 year-concession period and aimed at producing 6.7 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of natural gas, which is equivalent to one billion standard cubic feet of gas per day.

Kizad port expands economic horizons - The National

Today's official opening of the Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi is a step forward for the emirate and for the UAE.

When Mina Zayed opened, 40 years ago, it too was a symbol of progress and a tool for modernisation. But times change. The 5.4 square-kilometre port that seemed so up-to-date when the country was new is insufficient for the 21st century. And expansion was blocked: Mina Zayed is wedged awkwardly into one corner of Abu Dhabi Island and has fast-developing Saadiyat Island next door. A commercial and administrative metropolis is not the right place for an industrial port.

Kizad, as the new port and its industrial-park hinterland are known, is on a vastly larger scale: when completed, it will cover 417 sq km, offering improved efficiency for trans-shipments and warehousing, as well as for the import trade and industrial exporting. (Mina Zayed, meanwhile, will be dedicated to the cruise-ship industry, a logical use for an urban port.)

Abu Dhabi's new Dh26bn port opens for business - The National

A new Dh26.2 billion cornerstone of Abu Dhabi's economic future opened for business yesterday, on time and on budget.

Khalifa Port began unloading containers from the 153,000-tonne vessel MSC Bari at 7am, the culmination of a six-year project to deliver the first computer-controlled, semi-automated port in the region.

Phase 1 of the new port can handle 2.5 million containers a year, and 12 million tons of general cargo.

Kuwait’s budgetary surplus is excessive |

Recording of an exceptionally strong exceptional budgetary surplus is at best a mixed blessing for Kuwaiti economy. Pluses include maintaining an attractive credit rating and absence of inflationary pressures. Yet, the adverse effects entail limited economic growth rates on the back of relatively cautious spending, with all implications for foreign investors.
Similar to Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) fellow state of Qatar, the fiscal year in Kuwait runs from April to March. The practice is partly meant to provide members of executive and legislative branches sufficient time to sort out details of the budget at the start of the calendar year.
Sadly, the two branches are known for their public disputes over policy choices and spending priorities. The country has experienced six government resignations and shakeups over the past few years reflecting deficiency of a functioning relationship with successive chamber of deputies.

Iraq oil exports highest in more than 30 years |

Iraq’s oil exports reached their highest level in more than three decades last month as the country’s output has continued to increase, oil ministry officials said on Saturday.
Overall exports averaged 2.565 million barrels per day (bpd), bringing in $8.442 billion (Dh31.049 billion) in revenues on the back of average oil prices of $106 per barrel, Falah Al Amiri, head of the State Oil Marketing Organisation, said.
Exports averaged 2.516 million bpd in July.

GCC countries avoid inflation during rebound |

Recent forecasts for the Gulf region suggest an enviable outlook, with GDP growth well into substantial recovery, inflation under control, and the overall financial balances of government budgets and balance of payments on current account in comfortable surplus. It’s a world away from the deficit-ridden countries of much of the developed world.
Much has changed locally since the parallel slumps in growth and inflation in 2009 among the GCC states, and legacy trends since then. Real GDP slid fairly precipitously around that time, while inflation simply fell off a cliff.
A few weeks ago this column wondered aloud how the future might be, considering that the basic monetary setting of interest rates would remain very accommodating, through the US dollar peg. The quoted analysts suggested that the needs of the US and the Gulf respectively were not so out of line right now, and that other counter-cyclical measures were available to the central bank to contain any recurrence of a surging uptrend.

Barclays' Qatari ghosts haunt bank - Telegraph

In November 2008, Barclays chief executive John Varley and his finance director, Chris Lucas, looked like the smartest bankers in town.
While Barclays' rivals HBOS and Royal Bank of Scotland had plunged over the proverbial financial cliff, with nothing left between them and bankruptcy but the taxpayer, the duo finalised a sovereign wealth fund bail-out that pulled the British bank back from the edge of the credit-crisis precipice.
The recapitalisation deal saw the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al- Nahhan, a member of Abu Dhabi's royal family, and Japanese bank Sumitomo pump an extra £6.8bn of capital into the bank. While the deal ruffled the feathers of Barclays' City shareholders, it did at least leave the bank triumphantly independent.