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Tuesday, 9 October 2012

A Trip to Abu Dhabi's Creative Industries Cluster - The Hollywood Reporter

Right at Abu Dhabi's Khalifa Park, just off a wide road that leads through the city, there are three identical modern buildings with a half-dozen floors. They are distinguishable by pink, blue and green coloring around their respective entrances.

A couple of minutes down the road, there is a similar building with lime-green coloring. All four carry the logo "twofour54 Abu Dhabi."

UAE's Emal picks banks for up to $1 bln bond issue - sources | Reuters

Emirates Aluminium, a joint venture between Abu Dhabi's Mubadala and Dubai Aluminium, has mandated three banks for a bond issue up to $1 billion, two banking sources familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

Emal has picked Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and local lender Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, the sources said, declining to be identified.

The bond is expected to be a part of a $4 billion financing package for a smelter expansion.

Iran – rial difficulty -

Imagine if monetary policy was implemented by police and militia waving truncheons. That was the state of affairs in Iran over the past week as the government tried to stop the country’s currency, the rial, from slipping into free fall. It wanted to stop currency shops from stoking the rial’s decline and to centralise currency trading in a single market. A hit to hard currency earnings as a result of western sanctions on its oil exports has added to Iran’s economic woes. Can president Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad hold up the Iranian economy as embargoes on its oil exports continue?
The problem with assessing the state of Iran’s economy is that accurate figures are hard to come by. Oil exports have halved since EU sanctions came into effect in July from earlier levels of about 2m barrels per day. Iran’s central bank said it had $150bn in foreign currency reserves to buffer the currency. But liquidity could be an issue. Big buyers of Iranian oil, such as China and India, pay for it using their own non-convertible currencies.

Qatar Membership Opens Africa, Middle East For Oneworld

Qatar Airways’ pending membership with Oneworld gives the global alliance access to emerging markets, particularly in Africa, and a controlling presence at a new airport in Doha, which Oneworld deems one of the primary gateways in the Middle East.

Speaking at the formal announcement of Qatar’s designation in New York, Oneworld’s CEO Bruce Ashby on Oct. 8 said Qatar will increase the alliance’s market share in the Middle East to 10% from 4%. International Airlines Group (IAG) CEO Willie Walsh added that the Persian Gulf cannot support three large hubs so close to each other, but the “smart money” is on Doha and Emirates Airline’s Dubai base winning out over Etihad Airways’ Abu Dhabi operation.

The Qatari government’s $15 billion investment in a new airport at Doha augurs well for Qatar’s future growth and made the decision to admit the airline to Oneworld easier, Walsh added.

Alcoa paying $85 million cash to settle with Bahrain's Alba | Reuters

Alcoa Inc (AA.N) will pay $85 million in cash and enter long-term raw material supply contracts with Aluminum Bahrain ALBH.BH (Alba) to settle the Bahraini firm's racketeering and fraud lawsuit against Alcoa, the companies said on Tuesday.

Alba had accused Alcoa in U.S. federal court of conspiring with a businessman to orchestrate bribes in Bahrain and to overcharge it for alumina, the crucial material used to make aluminum. Alba had sought damages in excess of $1 billion.

Alcoa admitted no liability in the settlement but still faces investigations by the U.S. Justice Department and the Securities Exchange Commission into the allegations.

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi extends slide as global outlook darkens - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Saudi Arabia's benchmark slumped to a fresh 10-week low on Tuesday as investors fretted that a gloomier outlook for the global economy would lead to lower oil receipts for the world's top crude exporter.
Other Middle East markets were mixed, with investors cautious as third-quarter earnings season got under way.
The International Monetary Fund cut its growth forecasts for the second time in six months on Tuesday, warning the global economic slowdown was worsening.

UAE federal budget gap swells to $762 mln in H1 -report | Reuters

The United Arab Emirates' federal budget deficit has swollen to 2.8 billion dirhams ($762 million) in January-June, far above the government's original forecast for the shortfall, because of lower-than-expected revenue, a top finance ministry official was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

Younis al-Khouri, undersecretary and director-general at the ministry, said revenue was 17.98 billion dirhams in the first six months of this year, or 43 percent of the planned amount for all of 2012, the Al Ittihad daily reported. Expenditure was 20.79 billion dirhams, half of the projection for this year.

The ministry wants to focus on austerity measures and prioritising expenditures because of the half-year deficit, the newspaper reported.

Saudi Banks Offer ‘Buying Opportunity’ on Valuation, Arqaam Says - Bloomberg

Banks in Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s biggest economy, offer a “buying opportunity” after underperforming the benchmark stock index, Arqaam Capital said.
Saudi Arabian banks have a price-to-earnings ratio of 11.8 times compared with 14.3 times for the benchmark Tadawul All Share Index (SASEIDX) and more than 16 for the MSCI World/Financials Index. (MXWOOFN) Saudi Hollandi Bank (AAAL), Samba Financial Group, Arab National Bank (ARNB) and Riyad Bank (RIBL) offer the highest upside in Saudi Arabia, Jaap Meijer, Dubai-based Arqaam analyst, said in an e-mailed note today. The banks “have de-rated and now offer compelling value,” he said.
Shares of Saudi banks have underperformed the benchmark index even as loan growth in the country climbs at the fastest pace in more than three years. Profit growth at the nation’s banks probably slowed to 8.7 percent in the third quarter, Arqaam said. Cumulative profits expanded 23 percent in the first quarter and 15 percent in the second, according to central bank data.

Kingdom poised for 6% GDP growth [Arab News (Saudi Arabia)]

Saudi Arabia is heading for real GDP growth of 6 percent in 2012, according to Moody's Investors Service. It also said the outlook for Saudi Arabia's banking system remains stable.
The Kingdom's nonoil private-sector real GDP to expand by 5.2 percent in 2012 and 5.5 percent in 2013, following 6.4 percent growth in 2011, with overall real GDP growth forecast at 6 percent in 2012, one of the highest rates in the GCC, Moody's said.
Commenting on Moody's report, Asim Bukhtiar, vice president and head of research at Riyad Capital, said: "Considering that the Kingdom managed 4.6 percent GDP growth in a difficult 2010, the projected 6.0 percent in 2012 should be achievable." He said: "Strong commercial credit demand suggests that the economic engine is humming along. However, 2013 may present challenges as trading partners grapple with deteriorating growth prospects." The Moody's report said economic activity and banking-system credit growth will be supported by the positive effects of high government spending and increased private-sector business activity.

MENA stock markets close - October 9, 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)

British Airways Delivers Qatar Coup After Charm Offensive - Businessweek

Qatar Airways Ltd.’s move to become the first Gulf member of a global airline alliance represents a coup for British Airways (IAG) chief Willie Walsh, who had pursued the accord, and may lead to deeper ties between the companies.

The deal secures the second-biggest unattached carrier for Oneworld and gives British Airways and allies including American Airlines access to destinations in high-growth markets in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, where the U.K. operator has lagged behind rivals Air France-KLM Group (AF) and Deutsche Lufthansa AG. (LHA)

Qatar Air will become a Oneworld member within 18 months, with British Airways as its mentor, the companies said yesterday in New York. The accord was secured after Walsh, chief executive officer of BA parent IAG, courted counterpart Akbar Al Baker and comes after Qantas Airways Ltd. (QAN) ended a 17-year tie-up in favor of a deal with Emirates, the top Gulf carrier, and Air France agreed to start code-sharing with regional No. 3 Etihad Airways.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Saudi extends slide on darkening global outlook - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Saudi Arabia's benchmark slumps to a fresh 10-week low as investors fret that a gloomier outlook for the global economy will lead to lower oil receipts for the world's top crude exporter.
The International Monetary Fund cut its growth forecasts for the second time in six months on Tuesday, warning the global economic slowdown was worsening.
"This will obviously put some pressure on the petrochemical sector," says Farouk Miah, head of research at NCB Capital. "Fundamentally there are concerns and added to that are the geopolitical issues that are continuing in the region."

Saudi Arabia set to pump 10 million barrels per day again in October: Naimi | Reuters

Saudi Arabia is likely to produce around 10 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil in October, in line with production last month, Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi said on Tuesday.

"They are all around 10 mln bpd," Naimi said when asked by reporters how much crude the world's top oil exporter produced in September and how much it was expected to pump in October.

"If there's demand, we will meet we have the ability to produce 12.5 million bpd but global demand doesn't need this amount... If we produce 10 mln bpd around 2.5 mln bpd as spare."

Kuwait Raises Spending as IMF Forecasts Economic Slowdown - Businessweek

Kuwait plans to increase spending by 9.3 percent in the current fiscal year, as the International Monetary Fund forecasts a slowdown in the economy of OPEC’s third-biggest producer.

The 2012-2013 budget, approved late yesterday by the Cabinet, has projected spending of 21.2 billion dinars ($75.5 billion), above expenditures of 19.4 billion dinars forecast in the last fiscal year that ended on March 31, state-run KUNA news agency reported, citing Finance Minister Nayef Al-Hajraf. Revenue is forecast at 13.9 billion dinars. KUNA didn’t say what oil price the budget is based on.

“It’s good news, because the initial spending forecast was 22.7 billion dinars,” Jassim Al-Saadoun, head of Kuwait-based Al-Shall Economic Consultants, said by phone today. “Spending is still too high and unsustainable, and in the medium to long term it will be disastrous.” Spending projections include about 9 billion dinars for salaries and wages, he said.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-UAE indices end slightly higher in muted trade - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Dubai's index ends slightly higher but gives up early gains as investors stay on the sidelines ahead of the third-quarter corporate results.
The index ends up 0.08 percent at 1,628 points. It hit a 23-week closing high on Sunday, but fell 1.1 percent the day after.
"We have the third quarter results coming up now and by year-end we may see dividend announcements too. There are enough catalysts coming up and investors are waiting for that," says Haissam Arabi, chief executive and fund manager at Gulfmena Investments.

Oil still too high, should fall towards $100-Naimi - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Benchmark Brent crude oil prices currently around $112 a barrel are still too high and Saudi Arabia would like them to fall towards $100, Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi said on Tuesday.
"We would like to see it fall lower, towards $100 a barrel," Naimi told reporters after a meeting of Gulf Arab oil ministers.

Abu Dhabi bank settles lawsuit against Dubai crown prince's firm - sources - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) has settled a $107.13-million legal claim it filed against indebted Zabeel Investments, which is owned by the crown price of Dubai, two sources said.
ADCB sued last month saying Zabeel, which has hospitality, property and private equity assets, had failed to meet repayment obligations. The case was filed in the Dubai International Financial Centre's (DIFC) court.
"They settled the full amount that they filed for at the DIFC," said one source familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Have the ‘Big Boys’ Given Up On Islamic Banking? |

HERE’S some good news: HSBC bank will focus its Islamic financing operations in Saudi Arabia. Here’s the bad news: It’s dropping its Islamic banking operations in seven other countries, including the United Kingdom, and has already divested its assets in nearly 30 other countries.

HSBC’s reasons for getting out of the Islamic banking game in some countries is because of the pitiful state UK banks have been in since the global economic meltdown of 2008 and the restructuring efforts now underway to revive the industry. But HSBC, as a conventional bank, also could not really compete against the big Islamic banks.

A case in point was HSBC’s success in becoming the first Western global bank to sell $500 million sukuk, but still falling far short to become a significant competitor against the big Islamic banks.

The rial-ity of Persia-stroika | FT Alphaville

Hyperinflation or not. Immediate collapse of the regime or not. This situation is scary if what is coming out of Iran is accurate.

This is from the FT’s Najmeh Bozorgmehr in Iran:

“Chi mikhad beshe?” – what is going to happen? – is the most common question Iranians ask each other. It is asked in taxis, grocery stores, hairdressers and in the queues to buy bread. No one, however, seems to know the answer.

IEA predicts boom for Iraq’s oil industry -

Iraq’s oil output is to more than double by the end of the decade and by the 2030s it will be the world’s second-largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia, according to an in-depth study by the International Energy Agency.
Fatih Birol, the IEA’s chief economist, told the Financial Times ahead of the launch of the report on Tuesday that Iraq’s oil production would be “crucial for the health of the global economy”. He said Iraq would account for 45 per cent of the anticipated growth in global oil supply over the current decade.

Bahrain Plans to Pump $491 Million Into Gulf Air, Al-Watan Says - Bloomberg

Bahrain’s cabinet is seeking parliamentary approval to inject 185 million dinars ($491 million) into the troubled state-owned carrier Gulf Air, Al- Watan reported, citing members of the parliament.
The cabinet and parliament will hold a meeting today to discuss a rescue plan for the airline as its losses mount, the newspaper said.

National Bank of Abu Dhabi to expand Islamic banking business | Reuters

he National Bank of Abu Dhabi, the second-largest bank in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by assets, plans to triple its contribution from Islamic banking by introducing sharia-compliant services in Egypt, Oman and Malaysia.

NBAD aims to derive up to 10 percent of its operating income from Islamic banking by 2020, from 3 percent presently, chief executive Michael Tomlin told reporters at the launch of its Malaysian subsidiary on Monday.

NBAD has invested 310 million ringgit ($101.49 million) in paid-up capital to establish a wholly-owned subsidiary in Malaysia where it will focus on conventional products for wholesale clients.

UPDATE 1-UAE extends lending cap by six months -NBAD - Yahoo! News Maktoob

National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) said the United Arab Emirates central bank had extended its deadline to comply with limits on commercial banks' lending to state-linked companies by six months.
The central bank unveiled the rules in April, introducing caps for loans made to local governments and their entities. Lenders had until Sept. 30 this year to comply with the rules.
"The (central bank) governor announced it was extended for six months at the last central bank meeting (with commercial banks in September)," Abdulla Saleh Abdulraheem, NBAD's deputy chief executive, told Reuters on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia rejects IMF's 'doomsday scenario' for Kingdom's economy - The National

An economic forecast has become the subject of a public disagreement between Saudi Arabia and the International Monetary Fund.

During the weekend, Saudi Arabia's finance minister rejected an IMF prediction that his country's budget would turn a minor deficit beginning in 2017.

"They have been working on scenarios assuming, I would say, a doomsday scenario which I don't agree with," finance minister Ibrahim Al Assaf said, speaking after the IMF chief Christine Lagarde joined a meeting of Gulf finance ministers in Riyadh. "But we appreciate they are raising these issues in order to be ready."

Taqa all fired up over plan to power oilfields in southern Iraq - The National

Abu Dhabi's power company plans to provide electricity to the oil sector in southern Iraq to help to fuel the nation's ambitious crude production targets.

Abu Dhabi National Energy (Taqa) hopes by next year to announce the details of a power project at one of the south's massive oilfields.

"We're working on a project with partners that we've put together," said Frank Perez, Taqa's executive officer for power and water. "The oil and gas majors, particularly in the south, have huge concessions and have huge power needs, and they need someone to build some plants for them and provide them energy within their area of influence and the area of their concessions."

UAE brokers see a boon in margin trading - The National

Brokerages are rushing to offer margin trading services to their clients, a boon for the industry as it tries to accommodate a renewed interest in local stocks.

"The appetite is really huge right now with the current market conditions," said Talal Toukan, the head of research at Al Ramz Securities in Abu Dhabi. "It is a considerable amount of money we are talking about, which will translate to bigger trading volumes, the lifeblood of our business."

Al Ramz Securities became the fifth brokerage firm to secure accreditation yesterday. The Abu Dhabi-based brokerage said it expects to offer margin accounts as early as this month.

12 months' advance rent hurts market - The National

Rarely are consumers asked to pay a bill one year in advance. Utility bills, bank loans and other expenses usually hit consumers month by month. But rent, for many people across the UAE, has long been paid a full year in advance at the start of the lease.

Fortunately, that is beginning to change. Since the recession of 2009, property oversupply has started, slowly, to tip market conditions more in favour of tenants. Anecdotal evidence abounds: many landlords will take payment, over the course of a one-year lease, in four, six or even 12 cheques. A growing chorus of opinion is supporting this change.

The Associated Press: Qatar Airways joins airlines alliance

Qatar Airways is joining an alliance of airlines including American Airlines, British Airways and nine other carriers that coordinate routes and allow passengers to earn frequent flier miles on each other's flights.
The inclusion in the oneworld alliance — aimed at allowing passengers to hop around the globe easier — signals the growing importance of Persian Gulf carriers such as Doha-based Qatar.
"Alliances are playing an increasingly important role in the airline industry today — and that will continue long into the future," Qatar's CEO Akbar Al Baker said in a statement.

Gulf Times – Qatar bourse on track for listing by GCC firms: CEO

The Qatar Exchange is on track to witness the advent of listed companies from other Gulf countries and allow securities lending and borrowing (SLAB) as part of attracting more foreign investments.
We are in discussion with a number of GCC-listed companies who are actively working toward listing here in Qatar,” Qatar Exchange’s newly appointed CEO Rashid bin Ali al-Mansoori told the Meed Qatar Banking Summit.
He also confirmed that the exchange was actively engaged with several local private companies who are working toward initial public offerings (IPOs) and a number of government-related companies that are in “advanced” discussions with banks.

MidEast oil exporters' economic growth to accelerate in 2012-IMF - Yahoo! News Maktoob

The Middle East and North Africa's oil exporting countries will see economic growth accelerate in 2012
to 6.6 percent, mainly due to a strong rebound of activity in Libya, the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday.
The forecast marked a rare upgrade in the IMF's semi-annual World Economic outlook report after it downgraded its expectations for global growth.
The IMF had forecast growth of 4.8 percent across the oil producing economies of the Middle East and Africa in its previous semi-annual review in April. Growth in 2011 was 3.9 percent.
However, it forecast that 2012 GDP in Iran, suffering from international sanctions over its disputed nuclear programme, would fall 0.9 percent to produce the country's first economic contraction since 1994. In April, it had forecast growth of 0.4 percent.