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Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Analysis: Saudi oil sales to U.S. robust despite refinery upsets | Reuters

Saudi Arabia appears to be keeping its pledge to ensure global markets are well supplied with oil, barely letting up in shipments to the United States even after two of its biggest refining customers suffered crippling glitches.

A Reuters analysis of U.S. import data shows sales to the world's top oil consumer have dipped less than 10 percent from a four-year high hit earlier this year. That decline was far less than expected given a six-month outage at a joint venture refinery in Texas and a devastating fire at a Chevron Corp. plant in California.

The robust supplies came at a time when U.S. and European sanctions have slashed Iranian crude shipments to the world oil market. Some estimates show Iranian crude supplies down 60 percent in September from 2011 levels.

Crown prince rises to key role in Qatar -

From international diplomacy to high-profile investments, the tiny peninsula of Qatar has been extending its reach in recent years – largely thanks to the 60-year-old emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, and his prime minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani.
But increasingly a third name is cropping up in connection with the running of the country: the emir’s second son, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.
“If he started out more apparent than heir, he is now more heir than apparent,” says one observer.

Adib Group 3Q net profit up 3 per cent to Dh328.5 million |

Abu Dhabi-based lender Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (Adib) said yesterday the group’s fiscal third quarter net profit rose 3 per cent on the year to Dh328.5 million while its net revenue jumped 12.1 per cent to Dh924.1 million.
In a statement, Adib said the group’s total credit provisions and impairments for Q3 2012 were Dh202.1 million, representing a 34 per cent increase from the same quarter a year earlier.
The bank’s net profit for the quarter rose 14.5 per cent on the year to Dh405.7 million while revenue rose 11.7 per cent to Dh930 million.

On trial in Dubai, Australian begs Sunland: do the humane thing

ONE of two Australian executives trapped in Dubai for almost four years, fighting property corruption charges, has pleaded with Gold Coast developer Sunland to do the ''humane thing'' and tell prosecutors it has no case against him.

Former Dubai Waterfront executive Marcus Lee - in his first public statement since he and colleague Matt Joyce were arrested in January 2009 and jailed for nine months - has asked Sunland's executive chairman Soheil Abedian and development manager David Brown to set the record straight.

Tomorrow, Dubai prosecutors will start a second trial against Mr Joyce, Mr Lee and others after a court ruled that evidence in their first marathon trial did not match the charges.

MENA stock markets close - October 16, 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)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Kuwait drops to 3-wk low after protests; other Gulf mkts gain - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Kuwait's bourse dropped to a three-week low on Tuesday after a protest rally against possible changes to the country's election law that prompted an investor sell-off, while most other Gulf markets closed higher. Kuwait's index fell 0.9 percent to its lowest level since Sept. 25.
At least five people were arrested and several were hurt in skirmishes at the rally late on Monday, attended by at least 5,000 people, calling on the emir to set a date for upcoming parliamentary elections. Protesters also voiced concern that Kuwait may change its electoral law in a way that would favour pro-government candidates.
"All this negative sentiment is spilling over to the market - there is a lot of retail selling and high net worth
individuals are sitting out," said a Kuwait-based trader who asked not to be identified.

UAE to foreign diplomats: stay away from financial sector | beyondbrics

The United Arab Emirates has clamped down on meetings between foreign diplomats and local financial institutions, highlighting rising sensitivities in a country that is both a major global investor and central to western economic pressure on Iran.

A directive sent to embassies by the ministry of foreign affairs warned that direct talks between envoys and local banks, exchanges and investment companies were “contrary to international norms” and that the ministry itself was the only approved point of contact. The central bank issued a similar warning to lenders in a separate circular.

The diktat – one of a flurry issued by the UAE government in recent months – has surprised diplomats, who see it as a sign that the country’s leadership is trying to tighten control on information as it grapples with increasing tensions over Iran and what is says is a domestic Islamist cell.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Smaller-caps draw focus as Saudi mkt extends gains - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Saudi Arabia's bourse extends gains from Sunday's 11-week low as investor focus shifts to smaller-cap stocks in the insurance and food and agriculture sectors.
Shares in dairy and food producer Almarai Co close 2.2 percent higher at 69.75 riyals, having surged to 71.50
riyals intra-day in heavy trading.
The firm posted a 4.7-percent rise in quarterly net profit on Monday but fell short of analysts' forecasts as higher
commodity prices and expansion costs ate into earnings.

Saudi Savola says Q3 net profit rose by 32% on year - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Saudi Savola Group posted a 31.6 percent rise in its third-quarter net profit on the back of higher sales and market share, it said in a bourse statement on Tuesday, comfortably beating analyst forecasts.
The firm, which owns the Middle East's biggest sugar refining business, made 405 million riyals ($108 million) in the three months ending September 30 compared with 308 million riyals in the same period a year earlier.
The company added it would distribute a quarterly dividendof 150 million riyals, or 0.30 riyals a share, in November.

France Telecom buys service contract from Egyptian partner | Reuters

France Telecom will pay Egyptian partner Orascom Telecom Media and Technology (OTMT) 110 million euros for taking over a management services contract for their mobile phone venture Mobinil.

Egypt is a key part of France Telecom's efforts to expand in high-growth emerging markets such as Africa and the Middle East. It bought most of OTMT's stake in Mobinil this year for 19 billion Egyptian pounds, lifting its majority stake to 94 percent.

OTMT's announcement of the France Telecom payment surprised some analysts, who had expected the Egyptian company simply to lose the service contract fees because of its reduced ownership of Mobinil.

Insight: Leeds United suitor looks to have little financial muscle | Reuters

Having seen an Abu Dhabi billionaire's money help Manchester City become English soccer champions last year, Leeds United supporters dared to dream of something similar at Elland Road, the ground the club was forced to sell to stay afloat.

But the Dubai-based investment firm negotiating to take over Leeds, one of English soccer's most famous clubs, appears to have little financial fire power to complete the deal, accounts of its Bahrain parent firm Gulf Finance House show.

The Bahrain company, meanwhile, has previously taken big fees from projects that rarely see completion, according to an internal document from 2010 reviewed by Reuters and verified by four former insiders.

UAE’s telecoms confusion | beyondbrics

A tug of war between the United Arab Emirates’ two telecommunications companies and their regulator over sim card security is baffling customers and doing little to enhance the image of a growing and internationally ambitious industry.

Fears are growing that the state-controlled operators might start cutting off customers who don’t re-register their sim cards, hobbling communications and business in a country that is a leading oil producer and an important hub for world trade.

In the latest twist in a saga that began in June, the government Telecommunications Regulatory Authority said it was extending a deadline of early 2014 for the more than 12.8m mobile phone sim cards in national circulation to be re-registered. The regulator criticised the telecoms operators, Etisalat and du, for not doing more to aid the process – although it gave no details of a new cut-off date, issuing only a muddled edict whose lack of clarity seems to sum up the entire re-registration venture to date.

$1 billion in blocked 'Arab spring' assets in Swiss coffers | News , Middle East | THE DAILY STAR

Switzerland has blocked nearly one billion Swiss francs ($1.07 billion) in stolen assets linked to dictators in four countries at the centre of the Arab spring - Egypt, Libya, Syria and Tunisia - the Swiss foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

Swiss authorities are cooperating with judicial authorities in Tunisia and Egypt to speed restoration of the funds, 700 million francs of which are tied to former President Hosni Mubarak and his entourage, said Valentin Zellweger, head of the international law department at the Swiss foreign ministry.

"Today a total of one billion francs is blocked in the framework of Arab spring," he told a news briefing in Geneva, giving the latest figures for funds seized since early 2011.

INTERVIEW-Dubai bourse targets oil buyers, region's banks - Yahoo! News Maktoob

The Dubai Mercantile Exchange (DME) aims to revitalize its Oman crude futures contract by attracting major consumers and Middle East banks, rather than national oil company (NOC) producers in the region, its new
chief executive said.
Top U.S. futures exchange CME Group Inc doubled its stake in DME in February. Sources in the industry have said that it is unhappy with the slow progress of the flagship Oman contract.
"I want to take the DME on a totally different direction in terms of the focused approach on NOCs. Obviously, we will always be interested in having discussions with them but they are not our primary focus at the moment," Christopher Fix said in an interview.

UPDATE 1-Zain Saudi Q3 net loss widens; says in advanced loan talks - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Telecoms operator Zain Saudi said its third-quarter net loss widened, citing a move in call traffic from international to national calls, and added it was in advanced talks to refinance a loan worth 9 billion riyals
($2.4 billion).
Saudi Arabia's No.3 mobile company, an affiliate of Kuwait's Zain, made a net loss of 493 million riyals in the
three months to Sept. 30. This compares with a net loss of 484 million riyals in the year-earlier period.
In a bourse statement, the company said "the principal reason for the increase in the net loss...has been the
rebalancing of significant volumes of traffic from international to national destinations."

Kuwait’s offices half empty after hub bid runs aground

Almost half the office space in Kuwait’s financial centre lies empty after plans to become a regional business hub rivalling Dubai were wrecked by the financial crisis and the difficulties of doing business in the Gulf state. Kuwait’s economy has long been underpinned by its oil production but growth in other sectors has only been moderate and observers such as the International Monetary Fund have stressed the need for Kuwait to diversify its economy. Developers went on a building spree after the overthrow of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein in 2003, believing that businesses would flock to Kuwait once the region stabilized.

The Times of Oman: Bank muscat net grows 20 per cent in third quarter

Bank Muscat, the leading financial institution in Oman, said its net profit for the first nine months of this year soared by 20 per cent to RO104.19 million from RO87.13 million posted for the same period of 2011.

The bank said its net interest income grew by 5.2 per cent at RO168.28 million from RO159.91 million. Excluding a one-off positive impact in the net interest income in the nine-month period in 2011, the same would have increased by 9.3 per cent.

bank muscat's non-interest income at RO67.43 million was higher by about 11 per cent compared to RO60.77 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2011, the bank said in a press statement.

NBF sets its sights on Hong Kong - The National

National Bank of Fujairah (NBF) is to take its first step out of the UAE with plans to establish a subsidiary in Hong Kong.

The lender, which has gained market share from bigger rivals by specialising in niche sectors such as precious metals, has signed an agreement with Wells Fargo of the United States to boost its trade finance business among Asian exporters.

NBF is seeking to provide goods from China with a faster route to the UAE by reducing the time it takes to process payments.

High time Lufthansa buried the hatchet - The National

Lufthansa is looking increasingly isolated as fast-growing Arabian Gulf airlines are pushing into the European market with alliances and stake purchases.

The German national carrier, Europe's largest airline by numbers of passengers, has steadfastly resisted cooperation with rivals based in the Gulf and has lobbied hard to restrict the number of slots they have at German airports.

Lufthansa argues that they enjoy an unfair competitive advantage because their expansion is being bankrolled with state oil revenues.

Gulf Air receives $490.6m in new funding |

Gulf Air on Monday said it would receive 185 million Bahraini dinars ($490.6 million) in new funding, welcoming the announcement of the issue of a Royal Decree by Bahraini Ruler, King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa.
The funds would be utilised to recapitalise the loss-making airline, in order to actively address its current position and secure its long-term sustainability, Gulf Air said in a statement. “The funding will be used to fulfil the airline’s current debt obligations and meet its future restructuring costs.”
It added that working together with the Government of Bahrain and its shareholder, Mumtalakat, to review its existing fleet and network, Gulf Air will implement an accelerated strategy and aggressive restructuring programme to achieve more dramatic cost and liability reductions and put the airline firmly back on the road to sustainability following a difficult 2011.