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Thursday, 27 September 2012

UAE: Report Highlights Need for Worker Protections | Human Rights Watch

A report by an independent monitor underscores the need for companies involved in the United Arab Emirates’ Saadiyat Island project to ensure that their projects comply with international labor standards for migrant workers.

The government-owned developer of Abu Dhabi’s high-profile Saadiyat Island project, the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), faces “significant challenges” to carry out agreed-upon minimum labor standards, says the September 23, 2012 report published by independent auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Saadiyat Island will be home to branches of the Louvre and Guggenheim Museums and a New York University (NYU) campus, and has been the focus of criticism over migrant workers’ rights.

“The concerns raised in this report by the independent monitor it appointed should serve as a wake-up call to the UAE tourism agency and government, and should alarm the cultural and educational institutions involved with the island project,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “In an area where exploitation has been widespread, codes of conduct are not substitutes for good laws and meaningful enforcement.”

UPDATE 2-Abu Dhabi bank sues Dubai crown prince's firm | Reuters

An Abu Dhabi bank has filed a legal claim against Dubai's Zabeel Investments, according to court papers seen by Reuters, the second time in a month a creditor has resorted to the courts to recover debt from a company owned by the emirates top royals.

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) filed the case on Sept. 19, claiming $107.13 million from Zabeel, owned by the crown prince of Dubai, saying it failed to meet repayment obligations.

"It's about time. People can't let things linger like this, a decision regarding the debt and restructuring had to be made," said a source familiar with the matter.

US Eximbank OKs $5.0 bln loan for Saudi petrochemical complex | Reuters

The U.S. Export-Import Bank has approved a record-breaking $4.975 billion direct loan to help build a petrochemical complex in Saudi Arabia, the bank said on Thursday.

The loan to the Sadara Chemical Company is the biggest in the bank's history, and "will support more than 18,000 American jobs across 13 states," Ex-Im Bank President Fred Hochberg said in statement.

It will allow Sadara to buy goods and services from approximately 70 American exporters, including KBR, ABB Inc, the Dow Chemical Company and more than 20 small businesses, the bank said.

U.S., Gulf countries agree to strengthen trade ties - Yahoo! News Maktoob

The United States on Thursday said it has signed a framework agreement with Saudi Arabia and other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council to explore ways to boost trade and investment with the oil-rich region.
The GCC also includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Total two-way trade between the United States and the GCC totaled almost $100 billion last year, with the U.S. running about a $24 billion trade deficit.
"This important trade and investment agreement will help to grow and strengthen our economic ties with the Gulf Cooperation Council, which is a key strategic U.S. partner in the Middle East and North Africa region," U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said in a statement.

Abu Dhabi bank takes legal action against Dubai crown prince's firm - docs | Reuters

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank ADCB.AD has launched legal action against Zabeel Investments, which is owned by the crown prince of Dubai, to reclaim $107.13 million from the troubled firm, according to court documents seen by Reuters.

The bank, Abu Dhabi's third-largest by market capitalization, filed the action on September 19 in the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts, claiming breach of contract due to Zabeel's failure to meet repayment obligations, the document said.

Zabeel, which has hospitality, property and private equity assets, owes approximately 6 billion dirhams ($1.6 billion) to mostly local banks. Talks on restructuring the debt ground to a halt in January.

BofA expects UAE central bank to extend loan rules by 6 months -

The United Arab Emirates’ central bank may extend by six months a deadline for banks to comply with new loan rules that limit lending to governments and its entities, Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch unit said.

“We expect the start of implementation to be extended by another six months to end of the first quarter of 2013, and include exceptions that would not derail the overall Dubai government-related entities’ refinancing process,” analyst Jean-Michel Saliba wrote in research note dated today.

Banks in the U.A.E. can lend no more than 100% of their capital to local governments and the same to government- related entities known as GREs, the central bank said in April. There was no limit under previous rules, and banks were to comply with the rules by Sept. 30. The exposure of Emirates NBD PJSC (EMIRATES), the nation’s biggest bank, to sovereign loans was 130% of regulatory capital at the end of 2011, its financial statements show.

MENA stock markets close - September 27, 2012

 ExchangeStatus IndexChange  

 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-Kuwait rallies to new 15-wk high; Gulf mkts mixed - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Kuwait's bourse rose to a fresh 15-week high on Thursday on talk of state-linked buying and on hopes the political deadlock in the Gulf state may soon reach a resolution, while other Gulf markets finished mixed.
Large-cap stocks rose in heavy trading. Telecom operator Zain climbed 1.4 percent, Kuwait Finance House
gained 2.7 percent and Gulf Bank added 1.2 percent.
Market sentiment lifted this week on talk the Kuwait government institutions are buying bluechip stocks, helping
support the market which is up 5.5 percent from August's eight-year low.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-UAE mkts end slide; Qatar down again - Yahoo! News Maktoob

UAE markets rose from Wednesday's multi-week lows as bargain hunters step in, while Qatar's measure falls for a fifth session in the last six.
Dubai's index climbs 0.4 percent to finish at 1,570 points, rising from a two-week low.
Top trader Drake & Scull gains 1.2 percent, Emaar Properties ends flat and courier Aramex climbs 1.5 percent.

Dubai firm "confirm" Leeds United takeover | Calendar - ITV News

After months of speculation it has been confirmed that a Dubai-based consortium is to takeover control of Leeds United.

GFH Capital Ltd, which is a subsidiary of the Bahrain investment bank Gulf Finance House, has confirmed that it has signed an exclusive deal to acquire Leeds City Holdings, the parent company of Leeds United.

News of the deal was confirmed in a letter from GFH to the bahrain Stock Exchange.

Is Dubai kissing goodbye to banking? | Al Bawaba

Big US and European banks are cutting investment banking jobs in the Middle East as the promise of emerging markets is overshadowed by a need to slash costs and a dearth of deal activity

Institutions including Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse and Japan's Nomura Holdings have all cut jobs in their investment banking teams for the region in recent weeks.

And where previous cuts have seen junior bankers shown the door, the recent round has included directors and, in Nomura's case, the head of its investment banking operations in Dubai.

Dubai state firm to manage troubled Zabeel-sources | Reuters

State-owned property firm Dubai Real Estate Corp (DREC) has taken over management of troubled Zabeel Investments, which is owned by the crown prince of Dubai, two sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

Zabeel, which has hospitality, property and private equity assets, owes approximately 6 billion dirhams ($1.6 billion) to mostly local banks.

In January, several sources involved in the process told Reuters that talks with banks to restructure Zabeel's debt had ground to a halt, with multiple loans in limbo and few assets available for sale, leaving banks facing the possibility of steep losses on their loans.

ETFs in Asia: gathering steam | beyondbrics

Exchange Traded Funds are on the march in Asia and a new listing this week in Hong Kong highlights two of the main trends investors can expect to see.

Lippo Limited, the Hong Kong investment company of Indonesia’s Riady family-run Lippo Group, listed the first Hong Kong ETF focused on solely in property in greater China – the Lippo Select HK & Mainland Property ETF.

These funds, which are meant to give investors quick and easy entry – and exit – into various kinds of investment have had a slow start in Asia, but launches have picked up recently. The chance to get direct exposure to China is expected to stimulate investor demand, while an investor base that is slowly becoming more sophisticated is leading to the first sector-specific funds – such as the Lippo property ETF.

Workers’ Remittances and investment opportunities |

Savings of expatriates in the GCC countries are very important to the economies of their countries through remittances. They are also important to the Gulf economies, especially since remittances are considerably increasing year after year as a result of the increasing number of expatriates and high living standards in the GCC.
A decade ago, a call was made to find the necessary channels to attract a proportion of these savings and invest them in the GCC countries in an attempt to reduce remittances that increase at an annual average of 10-12 per cent. Statistics show that remittances stood at $55 billion (Dh201.96 billion) last year, against $40 billion (Dh146.88 billion) registered in 2008, and thus it would be vital to re-inject part of these transfers into GCC economies.
Although some of these approaches were embraced, such as allowing expatriates to work in the Gulf stock markets and easing restrictions on real estate investing, other approaches still hold some reservation.

Paradigm shift in world energy |

The World Energy Forum 2012 will seek to form a roadmap for a new paradigm for sustainable energy that will benefit all people and promote a global adoption of safe and sustainable sources of energy that are accessible to all, Saeed Al Tayer, Vice Chairman of the Supreme Council of Energy for Dubai (SCE) and Vice Chairman of the WEF 2012 Higher Organising Committee, said in an interview to Gulf News.
Moreover, he remarked that the forum will discuss ways to achieve social equity, face global poverty challenges, and solve the issue of access to electricity for 1.5 billion people around the globe and the impact of energy on education, health and infrastructure.
The World Energy Forum will be held for the first time outside of the United Nations Headquarters in New York, under the theme, ‘A Forum for World Leaders’.