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Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Corruption and cronyism hinder Kurdistan - FT.com

The Kurdish city of Erbil in the north of Iraq is often described as “the new Dubai” because of its booming development since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003.
But beyond the gleaming new suburbs, five-star hotels and flashy cars lies an ancient city in which critics say corruption remains a problem and the lines dividing government and business are unhealthily blurred.

Unresolved conflicts leave Bahrain’s economy struggling to recover | beyondbrics

An air of normality has returned to Bahrain’s central business district and the government is keen to focus on positive matters. But violent protests continue and, as events this week have demonstrated, political reform and economic progress still face severe obstacles.

On Monday, official statistics showed the economy slowed sharply in the second quarter. Adjusted for inflation, GDP fell 1.3 per cent between the first and second quarters after growing 0.9 per cent during the last quarter of 2011. It was the first quarterly decline since the pro-democracy demonstrations of February 2011 caused a 6.6 per cent slump in output.

Compared with the same quarter last year, GDP grew 4.3 per cent, after growing 5.9 per cent in the first quarter compared with the unrest-blighted first quarter of 2011.

MIDEAST MONEY-Gulf investors see value in post-revolution Egypt - Yahoo! News Maktoob

After shunning Egypt for over a year because of political instability, Gulf Arab investors are returning to the country, lured by signs that politics are settling down and by the opportunity to buy assets at beaten-down prices.
The interest of Gulf Arabs, who tend to be more familiar with Egypt's political dynamics and business culture than Western investors, is a positive sign for the country's battered economy - especially since some Western firms are pulling out of Egypt because of financial pressures in their home markets.
"There has been a renewed improvement in Gulf investor appetite for Egypt this year. This is not confined just to the financial industry - the pick-up has been across sectors," said Declan Hayes, managing director for transaction services at Deloitte Middle East, a consultancy.

Euro bank retreat raises costs for Abu Dhabi's Emal | Reuters

Emirates Aluminium (Emal) will have to pay much higher rates to borrow money from banks to help finance a $4 billion smelter expansion due to the impact of the euro zone crisis on infrastructure lending in the Middle East.

Emal, a joint venture between Abu Dhabi's Mubadala and Dubai Aluminium, aims to raise about $2.8 billion via the loan. The company will also invite banks to pitch for a bond mandate at the end of September, banking sources said on Wednesday, a sign that companies are having to turn to bond investors for cash as the euro crisis makes bank loans more difficult to access.

The loan portion of the finance package, currently being studied by banks, will cost Emal more than double what it paid for financing on the first phase of the smelter.

Dubai Shares Fall on Concern Rally Is Overdone; Kuwait Rises - Businessweek

Dubai’s shares fell for the second time this week amid concern the recent rally was overdone and as investors awaited third-quarter earnings.

Emirates NBD PJSC (EMIRATES), the United Arab Emirates’ biggest bank by assets, fell the most in more than a week, while logistics company Aramex PJSC (ARMX) dropped the most since Aug. 28. Drake & Scull International PJSC (DSI), the Dubai-based electrical and mechanical engineering company, retreated 1.4 percent. The DFM General Index (DFMGI) declined 0.3 percent to 1,550.13 at the close, while the Bloomberg GCC 200 Index was little changed.

Dubai’s benchmark index has still gained 6.8 percent this quarter amid speculation the U.S. Federal Reserve will act to boost growth in the world’s biggest economy and as oil prices climbed. It has lost 2.4 percent in the two weeks since Aug. 23.

Al Habtoor Group in talks to become Dubai’s first big family IPO « ArabianMoney

The chairman and founder of the Al Habtoor Group, Khalaf Al Habtoor today met with senior officials from the Dubai financial sector to discuss a proposed initial public offering of the company on the recently merged Dubai Financial Market/Nasdaq Dubai. He welcomed Jeffrey Singer and Hamed Ali, Acting CEO, Nasdaq Dubai.

A statement from the group said it was ‘considering an IPO amid further strengthening the UAE’s prominent position in the capital markets and increased inflows from the eurozone. The group already has a high level of corporate governance and its financial statements are prepared under IFRS and audited by an independent firm.’

UAE only Arab country included in the GCR - Khaleej Times

The UAE ranked 24th out of 144 countries globally in the Global Competitiveness Report, released yesterday by the World Economic Forum.
This is an improvement by three ranks from last year and ahead of countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Spain. Classified as an innovation-driven economy, the UAE was placed alongside countries such as the United States, Japan, Germany, Singapore, and has been classified  as innovation-driven for seven consecutive years—the only Arab country with this distinction.
The Global Competitiveness Report assesses countries’ competitiveness along with the 12 pillars corresponding to three main stages of economic development: Stage 1- - Factor Driven; Stage 2 -- Efficiency Driven; and Stage 3 -- Innovation Driven. Countries are also classified in the transitions from one stage to the next as they progress in their economic development.

Pipeline changes landscape of UAE oil industry | GulfNews.com

With the inauguration of the Habshan-Al Fujairah pipeline for carrying oil from Abu Dhabi’s productive oil fields to the exporting port in Fujairah on the Oman gulf, the UAE has taken an important strategic, economic, and environmental step.
This pipeline, which extends 350 kilometres from oil fields overlooking the Arab Gulf to Fujairah, resembles a quantum leap in the UAE’s oil industry.
This is the first time the UAE is able to export around 1.5 million oil barrels a day or 50 per cent of the UAE’s oil production without having to pass through the Strait of Hormuz which is surrounded by dangers and where almost 30 per cent of the world’s crude oil exports pass.

MENA stock markets close - September 5, 2012

 ExchangeStatus IndexChange  
 
 TASI (Saudi Stock Market)
 
7049.51-0.01%  
 
 DFM (Dubai Financial Market)
 
1550.13-0.26%  
 
 ADX (Abudhabi Securities Exchange)
 
2556.240.15%  
 
 KSE (Kuwait Stock Exchange)
 
5909.850.31%  
 
 BSE (Bahrain Stock Exchange)
 
1072.480.18%  
 
 MSM (Muscat Securities Market)
 
5535.830.04%  
 
 QE (Qatar Exchange)
 
8450.14-0.23%  
 
 LSE (Beirut Stock Exchange)
 
1121.85-0.54%  
 
 EGX 30 (Egypt Exchange)
 
5510.45-0.56%  
 
 ASE (Amman Stock Exchange)
 
1915.80.05%  
 
 TUNINDEX (Tunisia Stock Exchange)
 
5203.74-0.11%  
 
 CB (Casablanca Stock Exchange)
 
9905.8-0.59%  
 
 PSE (Palestine Securities Exchange)
 
425.13-0.90%  


STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Saudi recovers early-session dip; Kingdom Holding surges - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Saudi Arabia's bourse recovers early-session declines but ends lower for the week as investors are cautious
before Thursday's European Central Bank (ECB) policy meeting.
The index eases 0.01 percent to end at 7,050 points, recovering from an intra-day low of 7,027 points. The market declines for the fifth straight session, taking the week's losses to 1.3 percent.
Analysts predicted slight profit-taking if monetary stimulus in the United States was not announced. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke put off monetary easing on Friday, but kept the door open if economic indicators worsen.

Etisalat says will not bid in India airwaves auction - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Etisalat, the United Arab Emirates' biggest telecommunications company, said on Wednesday it has decided not to bid for airwaves in an Indian state auction scheduled in November.
Etisalat earlier this year shut down its Indian mobile operations, after a court ordered to revoke cellular permits including those granted to its local affiliate in a scandal-tainted 2008 sale.
The airwaves auction is the last chance for carriers affected by the court ruling to win back their permits.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Kuwait resumes rally; Dubai trade slumps - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Kuwait's bourse resumes gains as investors shift funds to smaller-cap stocks, while trading volumes in Dubai
slump to a six-weeks low with traders wary ahead of a European Central Bank policy meeting on Thursday.
Kuwait's index ends 0.3 percent higher at 5,910 points, up for 12 sessions in the last 15.
Small-caps Ithmaar Bank and Commercial Real Estate Co gain 2 and 4.2 percent respectively, two of
the top traded five stocks.
Bluechips have underperformed the benchmark of late, with small-cap stocks the biggest gainers. The latter are largely the preserve of retail investors who typically speculate for short-term gains, but analysts say improving economic fundamentals are a factor in the recent rally.

Qatari bank expands reach in Middle East - FT.com

Qatar National Bank, the state-backed lender of Qatar, is extending its Middle East reach through acquisitions as it takes advantage of the downsizing of European banks and of Doha's new-found political clout.
The lender, which is 50 per cent-owned by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, is in early talks to buy French bank Société Générale’s majority stake in its Cairo-based unit, according to a stock market filing on August 30. On the same day, the Qatari lender, now the biggest in the Middle East and north Africa with $91bn in assets, boosted its stake in Dubai-based Commercial International Bank.

Dubai July passenger traffic climbs 6 pct y/y | Reuters

Passenger traffic at Dubai International Airport climbed 6.0 percent from a year earlier in July, with monthly traffic surpassing 5 million passengers for the first time, Dubai Airports said on Wednesday.

The airport, one of the world's busiest, handled 5.01 million passengers in July, up from 4.72 million in July 2011.

Annual growth slowed from June's 16.0 percent, however, because of the impact on traffic of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began in July this year and affected Gulf and Middle East routes.

Petrofac Said to Raise $1.5 Billion 5-Year Loan for Operations - Bloomberg

Petrofac Ltd. (PFC), a U.K. oil and gas company, is raising about $1.5 billion from a five-year loan to fund operations, helped by Barclays Plc (BARC) and Standard Chartered Plc (STAN), according to two people familiar with the situation.
About 10 other banks are expected to participate in the revolving credit facility that pays interest of 150 basis points to 200 basis points above the benchmark rate, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. The loan was increased from an original $750 million to $1 billion on demand from the banks, one of the people said.
Petrofac, which operates in 29 countries, said Aug. 14 it won a $100 million contract for work on offshore oil facilities in southern Iraq. The company had profit before some items of $323.7 million in the six months through June, compared with $246 million a year earlier. Total debt at the London-based company is $67 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, while it has project commitments for about $9.1 billion.

Oman- PDO 20th largest oil producer outside US: Survey - MENAFN

Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), the premier hydrocarbon exploration and production company in the sultanate, has been ranked among the top 20 leading oil producers and reserve holders based outside the US by the Oil and Gas Journal (OGJ), a leading industry publication.

According to the Journal's annual survey of top 100 leading oil and gas companies based outside the US, PDO was ranked 20th this year in terms of both output and reserves.

The survey report, released on Monday, said that PDO's oil output in 2011 was 315.4mn barrels, while its reserves stood at 5.5bn barrels.

Qatar most competitive in Mena; Swiss tops

Qatar is the most competitive economy in the Middle East and North Africa region, according to The Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013, released today by the World Economic Forum.

Switzerland, for the fourth consecutive year, topped the overall global rankings, Singapore remained in second position and Finland in third position, overtaking Sweden (4th).

Northern and Western European countries dominated the top 10 with the Netherlands (5th), Germany (6th) and United Kingdom (8th). The United States (7th), Hong Kong (9th) and Japan (10th) complete the ranking of the top 10 most competitive economies.

GCC FDI down in 2011 for third year - Emirates 24/7

Foreign director investment (FDI) flow into Gulf oil producers plunged by nearly 35 per cent in 2011 for the third successive year mainly because of the cancellation of large projects in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the largest Arab economies.

FDI into the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which controls over 40 per cent of the world’s proven oil deposits, totalled around $25.9 billion last year, far below the peak flow of $60.3 billion in 2008.

“Inflows are, consequently, at their lowest level since 2004,” National Bank of Kuwait said, citing a report by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Indian equities may fall 5-20% before more than tripling in 18 months says Gaurang Shah « ArabianMoney

Indian equities are facing a correction of five to 10 per cent ‘that could turn out to be 15-20 per cent’ but will then stage a spectacular rally back past previous highs with the index more than tripling in value in 12-18 months, the celebrated analyst Gaurang Shah of Geojit BNP Paribas told an event organized by Barjeel in Dubai last night.

Mr. Shah admitted that the headwinds facing the Indian economy are now enormous, not least of which a possible downgrading of Indian debt to ‘junk status’ that would lead to a massive exit of foreign investors, and he could not see this as yet fully discounted in current low share prices.

Business - UAE to buy $224b of planes in two decades

The UAE is on track to emerge as the world’s third single biggest market for new aircraft deliveries with total orders worth $223.9 billion in 20 years, said Airbus, the world’s leading manufacturer of passenger jets.
The European aircraft maker, raising its global industry forecast for aircraft deliveries by about five per cent, said the UAE would take delivery of 882 aircraft in the next 20 years as across the globe there would be a demand for some 28,200 passenger and freighter aircraft (of 100 seats or more) between 2012 and 2031 worth nearly $4 trillion.
China heads the world’s top 10 aircraft markets with new orders worth $634 billion, followed by the US at $544 billion. Indian will be fourth market with new aircraft orders valued at $173.7 billion.

Kuwait’s Khaled al-Saad to Head GCC Monetary Council, SPA Says - Businessweek

Kuwait’s Khaled al-Saad was appointed chief executive of the Gulf Cooperation Council monetary council, Saudi Press Agency reported.

Al-Saad, who served as a World Bank executive director for five years, is Kuwait’s deputy minister for higher education, the agency said, citing a statement from the council. The Riyadh-based council is responsible for unifying the monetary systems of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain.

Kuwait’s Gatehouse Bank completes UK acquisition

Gatehouse Bank plc (Gatehouse), a Kuwaiti-owned wholesale Shariah compliant investment bank based in the City of London, has completed the £33.4 million acquisition of the Debenhams department store in the centre of Leeds in the UK. Working closely with its sister company GSH Kuwait, Gatehouse is able to deliver to its GCC client base a unique investment opportunity with an annual cash yield of 7.00 percent.
Fahed Boodai, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Gatehouse Bank commented: “This latest deal cements the reputation of Gatehouse Bank for delivering premium international investment opportunities that generate solid returns for the benefit of our clients. The team has a proven track record in the UK real estate market, and the acquisition of this impressive asset represents yet another milestone in terms of our objective to present investors with a strong pipeline of high quality transactions that offer long term growth potential and security of return.”

Drydocks misses chance to sink whispers, winks and nudges - The National

The use of formal bankruptcy procedures by Drydocks World (DDW), Dubai's shipbuilding and repair business that ran into US$2.2 billion of debt problems, has been heralded as a brave new world in the emirate's treatment of corporate insolvency.

Let's hope so. The application of the Decree 57 rules, originally intended to deal with any fallouts from Dubai World's $24.9bn (Dh91.45bn) restructuring in 2009, is certainly a step forward, and DDW is the first to test the water in this controversial area.

It has gained the agreement of 97.5 per cent of its creditors to restructuring proposals. DDW is a sound cash-generating business that made the same mistake as so many others by borrowing too much in the good times. Good luck to it, I say.

Merchants of Dubai enriched by Saudi spending power - The National

Much of the recent serious coverage of Saudi Arabia - I'm thinking particularly of long think-pieces in the Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal - has been in the "at a crossroads" style of journalism.

Venerable commentators pointed to the multiple geo-political challenges facing the kingdom, such as the fall-out from the Arab Spring, the ongoing regional tension over the Iranian nuclear programme, the possible repercussions of the Syrian revolt and perennial questions of the ruling succession.

They concluded the kingdom was at a decisive junction in its 80-year history.

Global woes stay abroad as UAE's economy powers on - The National

A pickup in new orders helped to sustain expansion in UAE business activity last month as the private sector showed resilience to the global slowdown.

Growth in the non-oil private sector dipped slightly to 53.3 last month, down from 53.4 the previous month, according to data released yesterday from the HSBC purchasing managers' index (PMI). But the reading remained above the 50 mark that indicates expansion.

"It's a very solid number compared with much of the world and what's particularly encouraging is the bounce in the new export orders index, after a somewhat worrying drop in July," said Liz Martin, the senior economist in the Middle East at HSBC. "Of course, we remain concerned about the impact of the weak global demand climate but these numbers suggest continued resilience so far."

Housing data reveals lending conundrum - The National

The amount of money lent to buy or refinance property in the UAE has flatlined, according to the latest Central Bank data, contradicting increasing signs the country's property market is picking up.

Lending to the property sector as a whole reached Dh240.6 billion (US$65.5bn) during the second quarter, the same amount as during the same period of last year, the data showed. On a quarterly basis, property loans rose 0.3 per cent from Dh239.9bn in the first quarter.

The three months to the end of June marked at least the fourth quarter in a row of stagnant property lending - a big change compared with the boom years when double-digit rises were recorded.

Morocco debt risk drops as IMF help offsets Europe | GulfNews.com

Morocco’s default risk had the biggest monthly drop in 10 after the Arab nation obtained financing from the International Monetary Fund to shield the economy against a worsening of Europe’s debt crisis.
The North African country’s five-year credit default swaps fell 48 basis points in August, the largest retreat since October, to 225 on August 31, according to data provider CMA. That outpaced a 19 basis-point decrease to 276 in the Middle East’s average credit risk, excluding Morocco, while contracts of Asia Pacific nations lost seven basis points to 190, the data show.
Almost two thirds of Morocco’s 2011 exports were destined for Europe. Eurozone economies will contract 0.4 per cent in 2012, the median estimate of 39 economists compiled by Bloomberg shows. Morocco received a $6.2 billion (Dh22.8 billion) liquidity line from the IMF on August 3 to draw on if Europe’s policy makers fail to contain the debt crisis.