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Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Dubai Arabtec blames Q2 loss on project delays | Reuters

Project delays were to blame for Arabtec's second-quarter loss, the Dubai builder's chief financial officer said on Tuesday, predicting the company would bounce back soon as contracts in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi hit the bottom line.

Arabtec, Dubai's largest listed contractor, made a second-quarter loss of 11.6 million dirhams ($3.16 million), its first quarterly loss since the emirate's property collapse and debt crisis in 2009.

"The reason (for the loss was) the delay in major projects starting," Ziad Makhzoumi, chief financial officer told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Dubai.

UPDATE 1-Sovereign funds eying Eni shares in Snam - source | Reuters

Sovereign funds of Singapore, Qatar and Abu Dhabi are interested in buying part of the shares Italian oil major Eni will sell to exit gas transport group Snam, a source close to the matter said on Tuesday.

"The Singapore fund has shown a very strong interest given that it's very much a regulated asset investor," the source said.

In May the government called on state-controlled Eni to sell down its stake in Snam in a move aimed at spurring competition in the domestic gas market and taking a lead in building a European gas transport champion.

MENA stock markets close - September 18, 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)

Abu Dhabi Utility Shuweihat Said to Be Raising $1.2 Billion Loan - Businessweek

Abu Dhabi power utility Shuweihat is raising $1.2 billion from a loan to refinance debt as it seeks to reduce costs and benefit from a drop in interest rates, according to two bankers familiar with the plan.

The 17-year loan is being raised for the Shuweihat S2 power and water unit and pays 1.75 percentage points to 2.25 percentage points above the benchmark London interbank offered rate, the bankers said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. Citigroup Inc. (C), BNP Paribas SA (BNP), Standard Chartered Plc (STAN) and Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. are helping Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority, the Persian Gulf emirate’s utility, raise the loan, they said.

Abu Dhabi National Energy (TAQA) Co., which holds a majority stake in Shuweihat, and its partners had obtained $2.7 billion in financing for the project in October 2009 at a margin of between 2.35 percent to 3.5 percent above the three-month Libor. They now seek to refinance that with the new loan and a planned bond sale this year, according to the bankers.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Abu Dhabi, Doha bourses extend declines; Dubai ticks up - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Abu Dhabi's bourse extends declines from Sunday's six-month peak, which was near major technical resistance, but Dubai's bourse edges up to a higher close.
Abu Dhabi's index slips 0.6 percent to finish at 2,612 points, trimming year-to-date gains to 8.7 percent. It faces chart resistance at 2,643 points, this year's high, which was hit in early March and was then tested unsuccessfully later that month.
Property stocks drag, with Aldar Properties and Sorouh Real Estate down 2.3 and 1.6 percent respectively.

Qatar to launch rating firm for domestic debt issuers - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Qatar will establish an assessment and rating company for domestic non-government debt issuers and institutions, the Gulf state's central bank governor said on Tuesday.
The entity will be a joint venture between Qatar's central bank and Qatar Holding, the investment arm of the country's sovereign wealth fund, Sheikh Abdullah bin Saud al-Thani said at a conference in Doha.
"This is part of our effort to create an institution that will supervise the valuation of domestic issuers and bonds. It
will be for local non-government institutions," he said, adding that the company would be launched in 2013.

Social media shines in a still fairly depressed UAE media scene « ArabianMoney

For those who yawn at the endless repeats on City 7 TV of ‘Korea Sparkling’, Katie Fielder on Lake Como, and the bored looking presenter on a Mediterranean cruise, it’s a relief to learn that at least one sector of the UAE media is growing rapidly, and that is social media.

The GCC Government Social Media Summit that kicked off today at the Ritz-Carlton in the Dubai International Financial Centre underlined its growing importance. Facebook users in the Arab World have tripled in the past two years to 45 million while Twitter handles an amazing six million tweets a day from the region.

Dubai hotels record stable performance in first seven months |

Dubai hotels reported stable performances in the first seven months of the year while those in Abu Dhabi continued on their downward spiral compared to the same period last year, according to the latest reports by Ernst & Young and TRI Hospitality Consulting.
Hotels in Dubai recorded a 10.3 per cent increase in revenue per available room (RevPAR) in the January-July period while average room rates (ARR) increased by 8.7 per cent, Ernst & Young revealed in its Middle East Hotel Benchmark Survey for July. It added that hotels in the capital recorded a 12 per cent decrease in RevPAR while ARR fell by 11.3 per cent.
Monthly performances for hotels in both the emirates, meanwhile, were down with RevPAR for the month of July decreasing by 10.3 per cent in Dubai and 21.2 per cent in Abu Dhabi.

House prices set to drop in Abu Dhabi and Dubai as investors hunt for bargains abroad - The National

Falling European property prices caused by the ongoing crisis in the Eurozone are luring investors away from the Abu Dhabi and Dubai markets, pushing down house prices.

According to new research from property management specialist Tasweek, house prices in Abu Dhabi are set to fall between 2 and 10 per cent over the next quarter while those in less popular areas of Dubai will fall between 2 and 5 per cent as potential investors are lured away by the possibility of cheaper deals outside the UAE.

Masood Al Awar, chief executive of Tasweek said that his company predicts the falls to come as both institutional investors and small time buy to let investors or potential owner occupiers were eyeing European bargains in light of the continent's economic pressures.

Oman economy seen growing by around 5 pct in 2012 - head | Reuters

Oman's economy is expected to grow by 5 percent this year, while inflation in the small Gulf Arab oil exporter should reach 3 percent in 2012, Central Bank Executive President Hamood Sangour al-Zadjali said on Tuesday.

Asked if he was concerned about the impact of rising global food prices on domestic inflation, Zadjali said: "No, at the moment inflation is under control. We expect a rate of about 3 percent for this year."

Zadjali, who was speaking on the sidelines of a financial conference in the Qatari capital, also said he believed the International Monetary Fund's estimate for Oman's unemployment rate of 24.4 percent was too high.

"I'm not sure of the actual number, but it's lower than what the IMF said," he said.END

Oman head says easy policy in line with econ developments | Reuters

Oman's central bank monetary policy settings are in line with current economic developments, Central Bank Executive President Hamood Sangour al-Zadjali said on Tuesday.

Asked if he thought that monetary policy was in line with economic fundamentals, he told reporters: "Yes, very much so. We try to maintain an easy monetary policy to help the development of the economy."

Oman lacks a fully independent monetary policy because its rial currency is pegged to the U.S. dollar. Its central bank has been keeping a loose policy stance since early 2009 as inflation slowed sharply from double-digit rates seen in 2008.

299000 Saudis join civil service |

More than 299,000 Saudi men and women have joined the civil service during 2012 as a result of new employment programs introduced by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah. The figure was announced during the weekly Cabinet meeting yesterday.
The Cabinet, which was chaired by Vice Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Prince Salman, endorsed an agreement with Argentina for the peaceful use of nuclear energy which was signed in Riyadh on June 28 last year.
Prince Salman earlier briefed the ministers on the messages he received and the talks he held with foreign dignitaries during the past week to strengthen bilateral ties and promote global peace and stability.

Saudi Arabia acting to lower oil prices: Gulf source | Reuters

Saudi Arabia is acting to lower oil prices, a senior Gulf source said on Tuesday, adding that the majority of OPEC producers wanted oil prices around $100 per barrel.

The Gulf source told reporters the oil market was well balanced with no shortage of oil supply.

Saudi Arabia was producing around 10 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude and other members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries would be increasing output over the next few months.

Saudi's Mobily has no current financing needs -exec | Reuters

Saudi Arabia's Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) does not require any new financing following the signing of a 10 billion riyal ($2.67 billion), sharia-compliant loan in February, a company executive said on Tuesday.

"That was good enough for the time being. If the business required another financing, we will do so," Khalid al-Kaf, managing director of Mobily, told reporters on the sidelines of a company event.

Mobily, Saudi Arabia's second-largest telecoms operator by market capitalisation, rolled three existing facilities into a new, four-tranche Islamic loan with tenors of between five and seven years, it said in a statement in February.

The carrier is an affiliate of Etisalat, the former monopoly operator in the United Arab Emirates.END

FT Alphaville » A negative spin to crude’s mysterious slide

People are still scratching their heads over what possibly sparked crude oil’s sell-off in the middle the US trading day on Monday.

Explanations in contention include: fat fingers, SPR talk and general illiquidity due to the Jewish New Year.

Yet one of FT Alphaville’s own beady-eyed commenters immediately noticed that the slump coincided almost exactly with the following report from Reuters:

(Reuters) – The ECB could cut its main interest rate, put its deposit rate into negative territory and offer banks a new round of ultra-cheap funding, policymaker Luc Coene said on Monday, adding Spain’s borrowing costs would soar again without a support programme.

BREAKINGVIEWS-Banks can afford political risk of suing Dubai - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Foreign lenders are threatening Dubai with a fresh debt headache. The UK's Royal Bank of Scotland, South Africa's Standard Bank and Germany's Commerzbank have launched a lawsuit against Dubai Group, an entity owned by the emirate's ruler Sheikh Mohammed. The move threatens to derail a two-year effort between
40-odd creditors to agree terms to restructure $10 billion of debt. But the banks playing hardball might be able to afford the political fallout.
Dubai Group has been left hung out to dry by the government, a contrast to the billions of dollars in financial support extended to Dubai World in 2009. Dubai Group's diverse assets include minority stakes in banks around the world and German shopping centres, but are not strategically important to the emirate. Dubai may also be keen to reserve spare cash for a second restructuring of Dubai World, which may become necessary in 2015.

Dana Gas shareholder optimistic about $920 mln sukuk repayment - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Crescent Petroleum, a key shareholder in Dana Gas, is optimistic that the Sharjah-based natural gas producer can meet repayment of its $920 million convertible Islamic bond in October, Crescent's president said on Tuesday.
Abu Dhabi-listed Dana is also in talks with the Government of Egypt to recover delayed receivables from its operations in the North African country, Badr Jafar, Crescent's president, told reporters on the sidelines of an event in Dubai.
"As a shareholder... I believe there are discussions ongoing with the ministry for scheduled payments to recover the receivables," Jafar told reporters on the sidelines of an event in Dubai.

Former Elf oil chief appears on charge of defrauding Emirati - The National

The former chairman of the French oil giant Elf, Loik Le Floch-Prigent, appeared in a Togolese court today, charged with taking part in a scam that defrauded an Emirati businessman of US$48 million (Dh176.3m).

Mr Le Floch-Prigent was arrested in Ivory Coast’s economic capital Abidjan on Friday night as he tried to board an Air France flight to Paris, an Ivorian security source said.

He was transferred to Togo the next day under an international arrest warrant.

Qatar weighs principle and capital - The National

As Qatar dramatically increased its economic stake in China over the past year, it seemed to many a match meant to be.

Qatar, the world's largest gas supplier, was set to forge ties with a country whose voracious appetite for energy has defined the commodity market for the past half decade.

This year, Qatar has tripled its exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the country and trade volume rose from US$3 billion (Dh11.01bn) to $5bn between 2010 and last year.

Opportunity springs from financial crisis - The National

The wave of banking and capital market reforms introduced following the financial crisis is creating fundamental changes in the global banking industry.

With new regulations such as Basel III stipulating higher capital requirements for certain portfolios, banks have been forced to revisit their business models. Many are faced with the tough choice of raising more capital against some of their assets or reducing their balance sheets by selling non-core or non-profitable assets.

The potential impact of these new regulations on global banking is far-reaching. Banks across the world, especially in the United States and Europe, are investing considerable resources in adapting their capital structure to the new regulatory environment. Many are resorting to downsizing business lines that, because of the new rules, are a strain on profitability.

Family businesses embrace change |

The wheel has turned a full circle.
In the mid-90s, I used to do a column titled Enterprise for the newspaper I was then working for. The idea behind the column was to spotlight the spirit of enterprise shown by some of the first and second generation Emirati businessmen, which distinguished them from the rest of their countrymen, who were rather content to remain as sleeping partners in expatriate business ventures.
The series was quite well-received, but in a matter of months, it became clear that sustaining such a column was a difficult task. At the first instance, the list of potential candidates was becoming shorter with each passing month, and even within the availability list, there was a certain reluctance to being featured in a newspaper.

GCC liquidity suffers from global crisis |

The Global Financial Crisis (GFC) has impacted world economies including the GCC. However the biggest issue has been the loss of liquidity in stock markets (as measured by value traded). Stock market investing and real estate are two essential pillars that provided occupational engagement to many GCC nationals. The collapse of both of these asset classes means significant contraction in many respects. This article dwells specifically on the issue of stock market liquidity, reviewing measures that can bring back liquidity at least to some extent if not all.
From a peak value, traded at over $1.6 trillion in 2006, liquidity experienced annual declines of 40 per cent in 2007, 2009 and 2010 each and reached a low of $296 billion in 2010 only to recover slightly to $354 billion in 2011, the first annual increase since 2006. The 2011 value traded is just one-fifth of the all-time peak experienced in 2006. Such a drastic fall led to many brokerage houses closing shop. So far, during the first half of 2012, the value traded has already exceeded that of the full year numbers for 2011 which is somewhat reassuring.

Gulf airlines show lukewarm response to India’s FDI policy |

Five days after India opened up its aviation sector for 49 per cent FDI (foreign direct investment), Emirates says it is not looking at acquiring a stake in any of the Indian carriers, while Etihad Airways says it will make such investments only if it’s convinced of strong commercial prospects.
A lot of it has to do with the fact that the Indian aviation sector on the whole has been ailing for a while with the country’s flagship carrier, Air India, waiting to be thrown a lifeline, and carriers such as Kingfisher Airlines barely managing to survive.
“Emirates has no plans to acquire a stake in another airline in India or anywhere else. We are busy focusing on the many aspects of our own growth including the launch of flights to five new destinations in as many months,” an Emirates spokesperson told Gulf News in an e-mailed statement, adding that the carrier operates 158 weekly flights to India at present.