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Monday, 5 November 2012

Cameron sets sights on Saudi trade -

David Cameron is poised to visit Saudi Arabia in the next leg of a Gulf tour aimed at boosting trade and investment as a series of political tensions threatens to undermine the UK’s relationship with the region.
The prime minister’s trip on Tuesday comes the day after he visited the United Arab Emirates, where he went to an air base as part of an effort to win a £3bn contract for Typhoon fighters against competition from France and the US.
Mr Cameron’s three-day itinerary – taking in two countries whose officials have recently criticised Britain – is aimed at restoring a relationship with Gulf countries which the government claims was neglected under Labour.

A Dana Gas default | FT Alphaville

From Bloomberg earlier on Monday:

Nov. 5 (Bloomberg) — Co. asks certificate holders to confirm whether they wish for the trust to be dissolved, according to statement carried by the regulatory news service.

That notice, says Exotix’s Gus Chehayeb, officially confirms that a technical default has occurred on Dana’s $920m Islamic bond, and that there was no official standstill agreement in place.

The default could also be a first for UAE public bonds.

UAE banks and financial institutions on solid ground, says Central Bank |

UAE banks are in healthy strong positions with many positive financial indicators that reflect their very good performance and clients’ confidence in spite of the very political chaos in the region which disseminated many countries, affecting their economies badly.
“The Banking and financial institutions are insulated from the current turmoil in financial markets and political chaos in the region,” said the UAE Central Bank in a statement following its board’s 7th meeting for the year 2012 in Abu Dhabi.
“Based on positive financial indicators, the board had reviewed a report on the monetary and fiscal policies of the UAE and its financial stability,” said the Central Bank.

British firms seek larger slice of the UAE’s £1.4tr construction pie |

British companies are aggressively targeting the UAE’s £1.4 trillion worth of construction and infrastructure development programme that will help boost bilateral trade between the two countries to £12 billion by 2015.
According to Abdul Rahman G. Al Mutaiwe’e, UAE’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, bilateral trade between the UAE and the UK surged to more than £8.6 billion last year and is expected to cross £12 billion by 2015,
“The trade relations between the UAE and the United Kingdom is at its best, in fact, it could not have been better,” Al Mutaiwe’e told Gulf News at the Big 5 show. “I am expecting a number of agreements to be signed between the two countries during the prime minister’s visit.”

Saudi central bank expects inflation pressure to ease in Q4 Asharq Alawsat Newspaper (English)

Saudi Arabia's central bank expects inflationary pressures in the biggest Arab economy to continue decreasing in the fourth quarter of this year, it said in a report on Monday.

Spending usually increases during the annual Haj pilgrimage season, which ended last week, as nearly 3 million pilgrims flock to Mecca and Medina. But Saudi Arabia's annual inflation rate has been slowing gradually since peaking at 5.4 percent in February and March.

"The available data indicates...the expectation of a continuing slowdown in inflation levels during the fourth quarter of 2012," the report said.

MIDEAST STOCKS-Kuwait rebounds from 8-yr low; Gulf mixed | Reuters

Kuwait's market made its largest one-day gain in eight months on Monday, rebounding from an eight-year low as investor confidence improved after a political protest was less violent than investors had feared, while other Gulf bourses ended mixed.

Kuwaiti security forces fired tear gas to disperse an unauthorised demonstration on Sunday by thousands of opposition supporters. The country will hold parliamentary elections on Dec. 1.

"I doubt there will be demonstrations until the elections -that's giving relief to small investors to put money back into the market," said Fouad Darwish, head of brokerage at Global Investment House.

Kuwait Energy Gets Ukraine Court Ruling to Restore Gas Accord - Bloomberg

Agreement with Ukrgasproduction, a subsidiary of state-owned NAK Naftogaz Ukraine, enables Kuwait Energy to resume developing the Bilske and Kulychkhynske gas- condensate fields in the Poltava region, according to statement today. * Resumed operations est. to add 460 bbl per day, the equivalent of the co.’s 25% ownership in the fields’ working interest.

MENA stock markets close - November 5, 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)

Qatar tackles barriers to women at work -

Qatari women may know what careers they want, but they remain hindered by traditional values and preconceptions in male-dominated industries.
More Qatari women have university degrees than men, yet female participation in the workforce is only about 35 per cent, well below national percentages in developed countries.
This striking imbalance, which is reflected in other Gulf countries, is the focus of concern for the Qatar International Business Women Association. The organisation recently held its third annual forum in Doha, in which representatives from 12 Arab countries, and private companies, participated.

Top Abu Dhabi banker becomes new chairman of UAE central bank - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Top Abu Dhabi banker Khalifa Mohammed al-Kindi is the new chairman of the United Arab Emirates' central bank, a statement from the bank after a board meeting showed on Monday.
Sultan Nasser al-Suweidi remains governor of the bank for now, according to the bank statement, although his term, which expired in July, has yet to be officially renewed.
The chairman, who heads board meetings and has the final say on policy decisions, is involved in strategic decision-making, while the governor steers the bank's day-to-day operations andrepresents it at high-level international events.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Saudi heads for fourth gain; investors wary - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Saudi Arabia's bourse climbs higher after a muted open, with small-cap stocks leading gains as investors skirt
risk ahead of Tuesday's U.S. elections.
The index rises 0.4 percent to 6,838 points, heading for its fourth straight gain.
Retail investors are targeting stocks driven by domestic demand, rather than those more affected by global sentiment. Insurance stocks dominate trade, with the sector's index up 1.3 percent.

Mubadala seeks to alter terms on $3.4 bln in bonds - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Abu Dhabi's state-owned investment fund Mubadala is seeking bondholders' consent to alter certain contract terms on outstanding bonds worth about $3.4 billion.
Mubadala Development Co, which owns stakes in General Electric and Carlyle, said the main impact of the proposal would be the amendment of clauses relating to an event of default to remove reference to principal subsidiaries and principal joint venture companies.
The proposed changes also affects a clause which says that the Abu Dhabi fund will not pledge any of its assets in a way which negatively affects other creditors.

Fitch lifts Turkey to investment grade | beyondbrics

Fitch on Monday became the first international credit rating agency to upgrade Turkey to investment grade.

The lira jumped on the news – strengthening by about 0.6 per cent against both the euro and the US dollar. While some investors had expected an announcement in advance of a Fitch conference in Istanbul this week, others weren’t sure the agency would move so soon.

Fitch said in a statement:

Fitch Ratings has upgraded the Republic of Turkey’s Long-term foreign currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) to ‘BBB-’ from ‘BB+’ and the Long-term local currency IDR to ‘BBB’ from ‘BB +’. The Outlooks on the Long-term ratings are Stable. The agency has also upgraded Turkey’s Short-term foreign currency IDR to ‘F3′ from ‘B’ and the Country Ceiling to ‘BBB’ from ‘BBB-’.

UAE's Dana Gas says not aware of sukukholder action against co | Reuters

Sharjah-based Dana Gas, which failed to repay a $920 million Islamic bond, or sukuk, on maturity last week, said it is unaware of any action from bondholders against the company.

A source close to holders of the bond said creditors will stake claim to the natural gas producer's extensive Egyptian assets, after Dana became the first firm from the United Arab Emirates not to repay a bond on maturity.

"With reference to recent media reports that Dana Gas' sukukholders will pursue enforcement action against the company, Dana Gas confirms that it has no knowledge of such action and that discussions with the adhoc committee of sukukholders continue to progress constructively," Dana said in a statement.

Kuwait's Kipco Q3 net profit down 7 pct - statement | Reuters

Kuwait Projects Company (Kipco), the country's largest investment company by assets, posted a 7 percent drop in third-quarter net profit, it said in a statement on Monday.

The firm made 6.6 million dinars ($23.4 million) in the three months to September 30, versus 7.1 million dinars in the same period last year, the statement said.

Net profit for the first nine months of 2012 stood at 23.7 million dinars, a 0.4 percent increase on the 23.6 million dinars reported for the same timeframe in 2011, it added.

UPDATE 1-Saudi dairy firm Almarai to issue private sukuk - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Saudi Arabian dairy and food producer Almarai Co plans to issue the second tranche of a riyal-denominated Islamic bond programme in the coming months to private investors, the company said in a bourse on Monday.
The Gulf's largest dairy firm raised 1 billion riyals ($266.6 million) through the first tranche in March in a deal
which was 4.7 times oversubscribed.
"This second tranche of sukuk will be a private offering to sophisticated investors resident in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," the company statement said.

Bahrain's Investcorp to buy Denmark's Georg Jensen for $140 million | Reuters

Bahrain-based alternative asset manager, Investcorp, is buying Danish luxury retailer Georg Jensen for $140 million, Investcorp's spokesman confirmed on Monday.

The Financial Times reported the deal earlier on Monday, quoting Hazem Ben-Gacem, Investcorp's European private equity head, who will co-chair Georg Jensen, as saying Investcorp planned to expand the Danish brand in Asia, especially China.

The deal, which is expected to close on Monday, will be cash-only and fully paid by Investcorp, said Firas El Amin, head of corporate communications.

UPDATE 1-Dubai Investments Q3 profit soars on fair value gains - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Conglomerate Dubai Investments, which has been eyeing opportunities to divest some of its businesses, said its third-quarter net profit more than doubled as it booked gains in the value of its investment properties.
The company, in which sovereign fund Investment Corp of Dubai (ICD) owns 11.5 percent stake, posted third-quarter net profit of 81.4 million dirhams ($22.16 million), compared with a profit of 24.9 million dirhams for the year-ago period, it said in a bourse statement on Monday.
Quarterly profit was mainly boosted by a 60 million dirhams gain on fair value of investment properties. It had booked a fair value gain of 8 million dirhams for the same period last year.

Abu Dhabi Investment Authority no longer has the world’s richest sovereign wealth fund says SWFI « ArabianMoney

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority has lost its crown as the world’s richest sovereign wealth fund to Norway, according to a ranking compiled by the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute.
The Norwegian Government Pension Fund has $656 billion under management, that’s $29 billion more than ADIA. However the Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund for less than one million nationals is still bigger than the $533 million estimated for Saudi Arabia’s SAMA Foreign Holdings and the Kuwait Investment Authority whose asset base was severely hit by the Iraqi occupation.

DFM must work on investment interest - The National

The Dubai Financial Market (DFM), the only Arabian Gulf stock market to sell shares to the public, has reported another quarter of losses.

The third quarter loss of Dh1.71 million, albeit lower than last year's, is a reminder that despite the recent increase in trading volumes, much more work is required to increase the level of investment interest for the bourse to break even.

Margin trading reached Dh337.5m after the recent regulatory introduction. The DFM is optimistic that the accreditation of four brokerages to conduct margin trading will enhance volumes and revenues.

Middle East airlines beat global trend on growth - The National

Middle East airlines led the world in passenger traffic growth for September, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) said yesterday.

According to Iata's global traffic returns, demand for Middle East airlines rose 13.3 per cent year-on-year compared to worldwide demand for passenger traffic of just 4.1 per cent above September 2011 levels.

For air cargo, demand growth was even weaker globally, at 0.6 per cent, said Iata, but the Middle East's carriers had a 16.3 per cent rise in cargo demand on a 6.9 per cent increase in capacity.

Iraq energy situation is precarious |

Like most oil producing countries in the Middle East and North Africa, Iraq’s energy supply depends largely on its oil and gas consumption.
According to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) report Iraq Energy Outlook, energy consumption in 2010 was 38 million tonnes of oil equivalent (mtoe) where about 84 per cent oil, 15 per cent gas and one per cent hydroelectric. It is understandable why hydro energy is at such low contribution though Iraq installed hydroelectricity generation capacity of 2300 megawatt (MW) should contribute more albeit for the reduced flow in Iraq Rivers due to upstream projects in Turkey. Perhaps oil consumption at 32 mtoe is over estimated by the amount of surplus fuel oil that is re-injected back to the crude export, which is over seven million tonnes a year.
Of course gas consumption is low because of the flared gas as discussed last week.

BP oil concession in Abu Dhabi at risk in political row between UK and UAE | Business | The Guardian

One of BP's longest-running energy concessions is threatening to become a high-profile victim of tensions between the United Arab Emirates and Britain over criticism of the Middle East state's crackdown on Islamist extremist groups.

BP was first given a stake in a vast onshore oil field in Abu Dhabi back in 1939, but the concession comes up for renewal in 2014 and BP has been excluded from the bidding list.

The UAE is one of the top five oil exporters in the world and Abu Dhabi is the headquarters for BP's entire exploration and production operation across the Middle East – the birth place a century ago of the business as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company.

UAE woos Emiratis into tourism sector - The National

Rafia Al Ameemi is a rare sight in a UAE hotel. One of just a handful of Emiratis in the country interacting with tourists, she is at the front desk of one of the country's most famous landmarks, the Burj Al Arab.

She knows her decision to go into hospitality is unusual, and even unpopular, but says the job makes her proud as an ambassador of her country.

Ms Al Ameemi has just graduated from the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management where she gained her postgraduate certificate in hospitality operations, and earned an associate degree.

David Cameron flies out to smooth ruffled Gulf feathers | Politics | The Guardian

David Cameron's Gulf mission is a conspicuous attempt to calm relations between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, both vital trading partners, after spats caused by the changes during the Arab spring and fears over the growing strength of Islamist groups in the Middle East.

The trip is part of an ongoing effort to smooth recently ruffled feathers in the two autocratic states and ensure that billions of pounds worth of defence sales and other UK economic interests are not affected.

Problems on the prime minister's agenda include sudden difficulties over renewing a key BP oil concession in Abu Dhabi, the largest of the Arab emirates, and worries about a £7bn fighter aircraft deal with Saudi Arabia. Both countries are bristling over criticism of their human rights records – though little of it is from the British government. UK trade with the Gulf is worth £17bn a year.

Emir Turns Qatari Riches Into Power Behind Middle East - Businessweek

When the Qatari emir stepped out of a helicopter and crossed into Gaza last month, the placards bearing his face and the flags draped from buildings marked more than just gratitude for $400 million of investment.

Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani’s visit to the coastal enclave, the first by a head of state since Hamas’s violent takeover in 2007, was the culmination of a 20-year journey turning Qatar into the world’s richest country and a regional leader from a fragile, debt-ridden Persian Gulf emirate.

“It adds to his prestige as the first Arab leader to go there,” Allen Keiswetter, a scholar at the Washington-based Middle East Institute and retired foreign service officer, said in a telephone interview. “Qataris have an ambitious leadership, they have lots of money and they are quite capable of chewing gum and walking at the same time.”