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Monday, 15 October 2012

UAE 2011 fiscal surplus Dh36.2b |

The UAE booked a consolidated state budget surplus of Dh36.2 billion ($9.9 billion) in 2011, the country’s finance ministry said on Monday, publicly releasing such data for the first time.
The ministry said the figure included the federal budget as well as the fiscal balances of all seven emirates which form the UAE.
Saeed Rashid Al Yateem, executive director of revenue and budget at the ministry, told a news conference that the data would now be released every quarter starting next year.

Qatar Weighs Stake in Morgan Stanley Commodities Unit - Businessweek

Qatar, the Persian Gulf country seeking to reduce its dependence on gas reserves, is weighing a potential stake in Morgan Stanley (MS)’s commodities unit, Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani said.

“We need a few weeks to look at the details, but we are looking at it seriously,” he told reporters today in Doha in response to a question about Qatar’s interest.

Morgan Stanley has been considering options for its commodities business, run by Colin Bryce and Simon Greenshields, both 56, amid new rules and a pledge by Chief Executive Officer James Gorman to shrink the fixed-income and commodity trading division to help improve returns. The Volcker rule would impair banks’ ability to provide commodity-related hedging and financing services as currently written, Greenshields wrote in a comment letter to regulators in February.

Abu Dhabi bank chief sees room for growth -

When he was a junior Barclays executive based in Barbados 30 years ago, Michael Tomalin felt how closely his trade was tied to the financial fortunes of the small island states where he worked.
The chief executive of the National Bank of Abu Dhabi described seeing the direct link between the movement of the banana boats in and out of St Lucia and the flow of proceeds from the fruit sales into the local economy.

Bahrain's Batelco seeks majority stakes in foreign units - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Bahrain Telecommunications Co (Batelco) wants to increase its holdings in affiliate firms, its chief executive said, as the former monopoly seeks to maximize its control and the returns from the operations.
This would follow similar moves by other Gulf state-controlled operators, which have sought to either take
majority control of foreign units or reduce their holdings.
Larger rival Qatar Telecom (Qtel) this year agreed to pay about $3.3 billion upping its stakes in Kuwait's Wataniya and Iraq's Asiacell, while Etisalat of the United Arab Emirates sold a 9.1 percent stake in Indonesia's PTXL Axiata in September.

MENA stock markets close - October 15, 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)

Exclusive: Derivatives led to Aabar ditching Daimler stake - sources | Reuters

Aabar's disposal of its stake in Daimler (DAIGn.DE) early this month was triggered by a failed derivatives deal underpinning the Abu Dhabi investment firm's purchase of the shares, sources familiar with the matter said.

Last Thursday, the German carmaker said Aabar sold its 3.07 percent stake on October 5, when it had a market value of about 1.25 billion euros ($1.6 billion). Aabar did not reveal the buyer nor the price at which the stake was sold.

However, four sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that rather than selling the stake, Aabar had relinquished it to banks including Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) and Goldman Sachs (GS.N) after failing to finance the derivatives deals.

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi shares rebound; Gulf mkts higher - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Bargain hunters lifted Saudi Arabia's bourse from an 11-week low on Monday despite lingering earnings concerns, and most other Gulf markets also gained.
Heavyweight Al Rajhi Bank was one of the top gainers, rising 1.5 percent and trimming October's declines to
3.1 percent. The bank reported a third-quarter net profit decline of 3.5 percent, missing estimates. The stock witnessed heavy selling pressure in recent sessions, on talks a major shareholder will sell its stake.
Analysts say the weak earnings were priced into the stock. "Rajhi's declining movement for the last two weeks priced in the results, that's why we're not seeing lower price today," said Faisal Al-Othman, portfolio manager at Riyadh-based Arab National Bank.

Sharjah’s economy set to grow faster |

The emirate of Sharjah has chosen four key sectors to fuel its economic growth over the next four years, according to a recent study released by the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq).
The key sectors are travel and tourism, transport and logistics, healthcare, and environment, in addition to other sectors which are projected to offer the most significant investment potential based on Sharjah’s competitive advantages and unique characteristics.
Speaking about Sharjah’s business potential and future prospects, Marwan Bin Jassim Al Sarkal, CEO of Shurooq, said, “Sharjah is capitalising now on four key sectors to drive its economy towards a brighter and more prosperous future, especially after it managed to weather the global financial crisis relatively successfully due to its well-diversified economy, which is ranked as one of the most diversified economies in the region.”

Morocco may sell airline stake to major Gulf player | Reuters

Morocco will offer to sell a 44 percent stake in its flag carrier Royal Air Maroc (RAM) to major Gulf airlines, an official source said on Monday.

The proposal will be made during a rare tour by King Mohammed of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Jordan that starts on Tuesday.

"We will listen to their (Gulf airlines) ideas about how they see this partnership ... For our part, we may propose the sale of up to 44 percent stake in RAM to the selected partner," the source told Reuters.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Dubai up; large-caps lift Qatar to 12-day high - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Dubai's bluechips help lift the measure for a third day in five as investors await earnings, while large-caps
lift Qatar to 12-day high.
Courier Aramex gains 3.7 percent in late-trade. Emaar Properties climbs 0.6 percent and Dubai Financial Market, the Gulf's only listed bourse, adds 1.9 percent.
The emirate's index ends 0.6 percent higher at 1,635 points, up 13.8 percent since June 3's four-month low.
"The markets in UAE remain to be in an uptrend and have been resilient to the drops we've been in seeing in Saudi," says Nabil Al Rantisi, managing director at Menacorp in Abu Dhabi.

Qatar PM Says ‘Looking in Favor’ of Glencore Merger With Xstrata - Bloomberg

Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani said the country is “looking in favor” of Glencore International Plc’s (GLEN) proposed $33 billion takeover for Xstrata Plc (XTA), after the miner sweetened its offer.
“We’re looking in favor of doing something between the two companies,” he told reporters today in Doha, in response to a question on whether Qatar supports the deal.
A Qatari recommendation could bring Glencore’s billionaire Chief Executive Officer Ivan Glasenberg a step closer to combining the two Swiss commodity companies in this year’s largest takeover. The merger, five years in the making, would couple Glencore’s trading operations with Xstrata’s coal, copper and zinc mines, creating a group with 130,000 employees in more than 40 nations.

Iraq held back by slow pace of bank reform -

Iraq’s push to attract international financial services companies could be undermined by a lack of banking reform that industry insiders say is also hurting the wider economy.
As Baghdad officials pop up in London and other capitals to woo foreign investors to their oil-rich country, the banking industry remains dominated by state banks, still ailing after the Saddam Hussein years.
While the slow pace of reform deters some international financiers, the bigger worry is that it is also choking the oil-rich economy where businesses rely on credit to expand. Without progress on restructuring its banking system, Iraq’s $130bn economy has little hope of competing with its Gulf neighbours.

Egypt's Citadel to recover some losses as assets rise | Reuters

Egyptian private equity firm Citadel Capital will recover some losses that were incurred because of falling asset values, Managing Director Stephen Murphy said on Monday.

"As the stock market recovers and asset values improve, that will have a positive impact on our numbers," he said in an interview on the sidelines of a financial conference.

"The losses we reported are very notional. We had to write down the value of some assets in the past but now that the Egyptian stock market is up almost 45 percent since the beginning of the year, we can start writing them back."

Egypt's EFG Hermes gets go-ahead for Qatar deal | Reuters

Egypt's regulator has no objections to EFG Hermes' plan to create a jointly-owned investment bank with QInvest of Qatar, the bank said on Monday.

EFG Hermes and QInvest agreed in May to hive off EFG Hermes's investment banking business into a joint venture in which state-backed QInvest would hold a 60 percent stake.

EFG Hermes shareholders in September reaffirmed their approval of the tie-up after demands by the regulator for more details were met. EFSA had had rejected decisions approved by shareholders in June because the firm had not clarified points including minority rights.

Dubai's Abraaj eyes IPO for Egypt health business in 2013 | Reuters

Abraaj Capital, the Middle East's largest private equity firm, is considering selling shares in its Egyptian medical laboratories business in 2013, its chief executive said on Monday.

The Dubai-based firm's portfolio company, Al Borg Laboratories, entered into a merger agreement with Al Mokhtabar Laboratories in August to create Integrated Diagnostics Holding, the biggest medical laboratories business in the region.

Before that deal, Abraaj owned about 99 percent of Al Borg.

Kuwait's Burgan Bank plans 200 mln dinar bond -paper | Reuters

Kuwait's Burgan Bank plans to issue a bond worth up to 200 million dinars ($711 million), a local newspaper reported on Monday, citing unnamed sources.

Burgan Bank, which is in the process of buying Eurobank's Turkish arm, declined immediate comment on the report in al-Qabas newspaper, which said the bond would be marketed before the end of this year.

The bond will have a maturity of between seven and 10 years and yield around 6.00 to 6.25 percent, the report said, adding that Kuwait's central bank and markets authority would give approval for the issue soon.

Egypt's EFG Hermes gets go-ahead for Qatar deal | Reuters

Egypt's regulator has no objections to EFG Hermes' (HRHO.CA) plan to create a jointly-owned investment bank with QInvest of Qatar, the bank said on Monday.

EFG Hermes and QInvest agreed in May to hive off EFG Hermes's investment banking business into a joint venture in which state-backed QInvest would hold a 60 percent stake.

EFG Hermes shareholders in September reaffirmed their approval of the tie-up after demands by the regulator for more details were met. EFSA had had rejected decisions approved by shareholders in June because the firm had not clarified points including minority rights.

As property booms, a bust is remembered - The National

The rebounding Dubai property market made headlines around the world last week, helped by the triple whammy of rising prices, queuing investors and a Taj Mahal.

But who were the people in the queues? And why did that Taj Mahal project sound familiar? And how much exactly have property prices and rents risen?

After four years hype has returned to the property market as if 2008 was just a bump in the boom. Old projects were trotted out at the annual Cityscape exhibition and developers became brave enough to start bragging again. But analysts urge caution.

Big UAE banks await profits rebound - The National

Analysts are hoping for a long-awaited rebound in profits at Dubai's biggest banks as they report quarterly earnings in the coming weeks.

But a return to full health remains far off for the majority of the sector. The latest Central Bank data showed that levels of capital lent out at the end of August were barely higher than two months earlier. Expectations are that poor revenue growth may yet mar the performance of the rest of the sector.

"Loan growth numbers continue to be sluggish and we do not see the situation improving in the near term, given the ongoing deleveraging process in the corporate sector and tighter regulations surrounding retail, corporate and sovereign exposures," analysts from Deutsche Bank wrote in a research note.

Iraq oil: More realism from IEA |

Last week I wrote about the emerging realities in Iraq oil production and the unrealistic targets set in the contracts signed between the government and the international oil companies.
While Iraq revised its production targets downward to nine million barrels a day (mbd) in 2020 from over 12mbd in 2017, the International Energy Agency (IEA) just published its awaited report “Iraq Energy Outlook” and Iraqi officials must be regretting the invitation given to IEA and the disclosure of information for it to write a report totally in contrast to the official Iraqi line.
Needless to say that the report attempted to please the Iraqi government by some unrealistic statements about improving security and electricity supply and by even setting one of its scenarios to match the Iraqi production target, but the fact remains that the report is far from pleasing and it certainly exonerated all those Iraqi experts who were critical to the oil production targets from day one.

Digitally-empowered Arab youth embrace technology for change |

In January last year, when a group of young Egyptians posted a notice on Facebook urging people to gather at Tahrir Square, no one knew what to expect. In less than a month, history had been created.
The internet, which used to be seen as an enabling tool for global businesses, has become a driver of socio-economic and political change in the Arab world.
Digitisation in emerging countries could deliver as much as $6.3 trillion in additional nominal GDP and create 77 million new jobs over the next 10 years, a latest report by management consultants Booz and Company, says. “Capturing this rich return will require a concerted public and private effort to bring digitisation to the world’s poorest people — those at the bottom of the pyramid.”

Abu Dhabi’s 2011 GDP growth at 6.8% |

Abu Dhabi’s gross domestic product (GDP) at constant prices achieved a preliminary annual growth rate of 6.8 per cent last year, rising to Dh606.6 billion in 2011 while the emirate’s inflation stood at a low 1.9 per cent for the year, latest data from the Statistics Centre Abu Dhabi (SCAD) showed yesterday.
“Abu Dhabi GDP at constant prices grew from Dh567.8 billion in 2007 to Dh606.6 billion in 2011, achieving an annual growth rate of 6.8 per cent,” SCAD said in a statement.
Commenting on SCAD’s data, Mohammad Amerah, an Abu Dhabi-based economist told Gulf News the emirate’s GDP growth was “remarkable” and, more so because it managed to keep its inflation at exceptionally low levels.

Family businesses in Middle East seek government support |

Family businesses in the Middle East and in the Gulf region face dual operational challenges in a difficult global economic environment and a period of managerial transition of businesses to a third generation, business owners told the Gulf News on Sunday following the opening of the Owners Forum – Abu Dhabi 2012
Calling on the government to protect local industries and companies, Mohammad Al Fahim, chairman of Al Fahim Group, told the Gulf News: “In order to survive, grow, and take our places among the many family-run firms in the region and to blossom, we need government support and backing similar to that which was during the leadership of the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan when he supported local companies by ensuring them government work and purchasing their products and services.”
“Businesses for foreign and international companies should be through local companies in order to protect family businesses and to move ahead with a third generation of entrepreneurs. In the GCC, family businesses are relatively young with most of them less than 60 years old in the market,” said Al Fahim.