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Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Time to act if Dubai wants to keep pole position in finance - The National

Qatar, it was reported this week, believes it can challenge Dubai's position as the premier financial hub in the Arabian Gulf.

Topic DIFC Central Bank of the UAE Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange Dubai Financial Market
Expert opinion is still divided on whether Doha can overtake Dubai's lead. Some believe the advantages the emirate already has are too significant to allow Qatar to catch up, let alone overhaul Dubai.

Others believe Dubai, through a mixture of natural disadvantages such as the lack of serious energy revenue, coupled with misjudgements on the part of policymakers, is in danger of letting its lead slip.

Barriers broken down for working women - The National

Nadereh Chamlou is a senior adviser in the office of the chief economist for the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region at the World Bank. Based in Washington DC, she was in Dubai on Monday to participate in a panel discussion at the Arab Women Leadership Forum. Here, she talks about women's participation in the workforce.

What was the main message you wanted to impart at the forum?

My main message is this: the next big push for growth is going to come from the employment and the better utilisation of women in the workforce. This is true of female potential in any economy, but is especially important in these [Mena] economies because labour market participation rates [of women] are fairly low.

Bank regulators aim for tighter rules on Gulf's private wealth - The National

The world of Arabian Gulf private wealth is facing increased scrutiny as global banking regulators aim their spotlights at the so-called "shadow banking" sector.

Shadow banking is a catch-all term for an industry that encompasses hedge funds, private equity firms and structured investment vehicles, which blossomed outside the conventional bank sector during the past decade. It accounted for as much as US$67 trillion (Dh246.11tn) of transactions globally last year. But many proved vulnerable to shocks during the financial crisis, which spilled over into the banking sector.

On Sunday, the Financial Stability Board (FSB), the body that coordinates international banking standards and which is best known for the Basel rules governing banks' capital adequacy, began a consultation for oversight of financial firms that do not fit into the traditional categories of banking, insurance and pension funds.

Women’s inclusion on boards vital | GulfNews.com

Eminent panelists agreed over panel discussions at the Third Arab Women Leadership Forum organised by the Dubai Women Establishment that diversity in boardrooms through a greater presence of women is essential for improving the quality of corporate governance in the region. The panel noted that women need to be empowered and their contributions recognised in family-owned, public as well as corporate enterprises in order for the next generation to take their rightful places on boards across the region.
Speaking under the topic “Families and Boards – Nurturing the Next Generation of Business Leadership,” in the first session on the second day of the forum today, eminent business personalities felt that trust in the capabilities of women was important for them to be confident enough to make the difference that they are inherently capable of. The panel comprised Mohi-Din Bin Hendi, President and Chairman of the Board, Bin Hendi Enterprises, Dubai; May Makhzoumi, President of the Makhzoumi Foundation and Director of Future Pipe Industries, Lebanon; Leonardo Peklar Founder, International Chairmen’s Forum, London, UK; and Sarah Al Ayed, Co-Founder & Partner of TRACCS, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Oman's nominal GDP rises 16% in H1 - Muscat Daily

Oman's nominal GDP, which is measured at current market prices, grew 16.2 per cent in the first half of this year to RO15.2bn against RO13.08bn in the same period of 2011, according to the statistics released by the National Center for Statistics and Information (NCSI) on Tuesday.

The sultanate's budget surplus swelled to RO2.9bn in the first nine months of this year compared to RO906mn in the same period last year, statistics also showed.

Buoyed by higher oil prices and increased activity in the oil and gas sector, the sultanate's oil-based GDP rose 19.9 per cent to RO7.86bn in the first half compared to RO6.56bn in the same period last year, while total non-oil output expanded 12.6 per cent to RO8.18bn.

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf mkts steady; Egypt recovers on preliminary IMF loan - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Gulf markets steadied on Tuesday even as investors remained cautious amid a prolonged Israeli air raid on the Gaza Strip, while Egypt recovered after reaching a preliminary loan deal for $4.8 billion with the International
Monetary Fund.
Saudi Arabia's index, the largest Gulf market, ended at a five-week low, although bourse selling pressure eased
following a sustained slump. The kingdom's index eased 0.07 percent, its ninth straight decline.
Insurance stocks rallied, with the sector's index closing 1.1 percent higher. The sector, which constitutes only a
small part of total market capitalisation, dominates trade, signalling nervous investors are looking beyond bluechip stocks for short-term gains.

A sharp protest vote at Xstrata (but the deal goes on) | FT Alphaville

Maybe this was inevitable after the Qataris said they would approve Xstrata’s merger with Glenstrata, but would abstain on the retention bonuses. But the raw numbers of shareholders here saying payments to management were excessive suggest a very aggressive mood amongst institutions. Remember, this is a revised incentive scheme, where shareholders were supposed to have been listened to…

The result from Xstrata’s shareholder meeting on Tuesday…


Still, Glencore Xstrata is born, subject to competition clearance in various parts of the world.

MENA stock markets close - November 20, 2012

 ExchangeStatus IndexChange  
 
 TASI (Saudi Stock Market)
 
6662.04-0.07%  
 
 DFM (Dubai Financial Market)
 
1591.40.78%  
 
 ADX (Abudhabi Securities Exchange)
 
2660.80.02%  
 
 KSE (Kuwait Stock Exchange)
 
5809.930.46%  
 
 BSE (Bahrain Stock Exchange)
 
1040.49-0.26%  
 
 MSM (Muscat Securities Market)
 
5578.75-0.41%  
 
 QE (Qatar Exchange)
 
8396.050.18%  
 
 LSE (Beirut Stock Exchange)
 
1118.63-0.03%  
 
 EGX 30 (Egypt Exchange)
 
5409.89-0.07%  
 
 ASE (Amman Stock Exchange)
 
1910.590.30%  
 
 TUNINDEX (Tunisia Stock Exchange)
 
4850.88-0.49%  
 
 CB (Casablanca Stock Exchange)
 
9699.160.07%  
 
 PSE (Palestine Securities Exchange)
 
452.560.06%  


REFILE-REUTERS SUMMIT-Bahrain c.bank to foster capital markets | Reuters

Bahrain's central bank (CBB) plans steps to encourage securities issuance and lure foreign investors who have been deterred by the global financial crisis and political unrest in the Gulf island kingdom.

The CBB will soon issue a directive on the offering of securities covering both Islamic and conventional paper, governor Rasheed al-Maraj said in an emailed interview, part of the Reuters Middle East Investment Summit.

"This initiative will encourage foreign investors to use Bahrain as a base for their capital market activities," he said.

PRAGMATIC CAPITALISM – Read of the Day: 10 Things Your Mutual Fund Company Won’t Tell You

This is a nice summary of the flaws in many mutual funds.  Too many mutual funds are simply index funds disguised as something else.  And most of the rest are simply attempts to market a product that isn’t designed to actually add value (but sounds fancy enough to accumulate assets).  If you missed John Bogle’s discussion on the flaws in the mutual fund industry you should watch it here.

The 10 things via MarketWatch:

1. “Cheap funds often outperform pricey ones.”
2. “We can’t beat the market.”
3. “When skill fails, we just double (or quintuple) our odds.”
4. “People aren’t buying our product…”
5. “…except when we pay them kickbacks.”
6. “Hedge funds are our idols.”
7. “Our boards are rubber stamps.”
8. “Blame us for runaway CEO pay.”
9. “We played a starring role in the financial crisis.”
10. “Our lobby crushed bipartisan efforts at reform.”"


STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST- Kuwait rises to one-wk high; Dubai halts decline - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Kuwait's measure rises to a one-week high as investors' risk appetite returns and Dubai's bourse picks up
from Monday's seven-week low on bargain hunting.
The index ends 0.5 percent higher at 5,810 points, its highest close since Nov. 13.
"The market is absorbing the political instability...there is continued support from the emir's comments on improving the economy," says Fouad Darwish, head of brokerage at Global Investment House.

Egypt & the IMF: the deal is done | beyondbrics

Egypt has finally reached a long-awaited preliminary agreement with the International Monetary Fund for a $4.8bn loan.

The deal, made public on Tuesday, is designed to help Cairo reinforce its finances, stabilise its reserves, and restore investor confidence. But the announcement leaves some key details unclear, notably the fate of the currency, widely seen as overvalued.

“We have a preliminary agreement with the technical team of the IMF,” said Planning and International Cooperation Minister Ashraf al-Araby, according to Reuters.

Shaikh Mohammad reconstitutes ICD board | GulfNews.com

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in his capacity as Ruler of Dubai, on Tuesday issued Decree No. 17 of 2012 setting up the board of the Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD).
Shaikh Mohammad will be the chairman of the board. The board members will include Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince, the vice-chaiman of the board, and Shaikh Maktoum Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group, and Mohammad Ebrahim Al Shaibani, Director of the Dubai Ruler’s Court, who will also serve as Chief Executive of ICD.
The decree comes into effect from the date of its issuance and is to be published in the official gazette. The third article of the decree states that any resolutions issued by board members appointed through Decree No. 50 of 2009 until May 2012, and up to the date when this current decree comes into effect, were carried out in a legal manner.

Qatar Telecom agrees $500 mln debut Islamic finance deal | Reuters

Qatar Telecom (Qtel), one of the Gulf Arab region's largest telecoms firms, has signed its debut Islamic financing facility, the operator said on Tuesday.

The $500 million deal, which runs for 18 months and is structured as a revolving Murabaha facility, was provided by Qatar Islamic Bank in a capacity as sole mandated lead arranger, the former monopoly said in an emailed statement.

A murabaha is a sharia-compliant cost-plus-profit arrangement.

UAE’s first-ever Islamic Margin Trading rolled out by Al Ramz Securities | Al Bawaba

Al Ramz Securities, one of the UAE's leading brokerage houses, has once again reaffirmed its pioneering role in local industry by introducing the country’s first-ever Islamic Margin Trading service.

The service is patterned after the ‘Murabaha’ type of Shariah-compliant ‘cost-plus’ financing, where a fund purchases goods and resells them to a third party at an agreed-upon price. The price includes the cost of the goods plus a profit margin, with the cost and margin predetermined by the parties involved in advance.

Under its Islamic Margin Trading scheme, Al Ramz buys Islamic-compliant shares specifically agreed upon with the client and then sells them to the latter following the Murabaha sharing concept, with the payment mode chosen in advance. The service has been approved by an advisor from the Sharia Board.

Dubai's largest bank looks beyond Gulf for growth | Reuters

Emirates NBD ENBD.DU, Dubai's largest bank, is looking for acquisitions in fast-developing African markets to satisfy investor demand for growth it is unlikely to deliver at home.

The Dubai-based bank is targeting international revenues of around 15-20 percent of its total in five years' time, up from 5 percent at present, its Chief Executive Rick Pudner said in an interview at the Reuters Middle East Investment Summit.

Acquisitions are likely to play a role in this, given the difficulties of achieving organic growth in the current economic environment, Pudner said, marking a significant shift from the bank's previous strategy of building the business organically.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Saudi extends declines as petrochems drag - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Saudi Arabia's bourse gives back early-session gains and petrochemical stocks drag as investor caution remains
intact as Gaza-Israel clashes continue unabated.
The index slips 0.5 percent to 6,634 points, extending declines after Monday's five-week closing low.
Petrochemical stocks decline. Saudi Basic Industries Corp trades flat, while Yanbu National Petrochemical
drops 2.3 percent and Saudi Kayan Petrochemical dips 0.8 percent.

Glencore shareholders back Xstrata takeover - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Shareholders in commodity trader Glencore voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday in favour of its long-awaited $31 billion takeover of miner Xstrata.
Glencore, which is controlled by its management team and is already Xstrata's largest shareholder, has offered 3.05 new shares for every Xstrata share which it does not already own.
Glencore said 99.4 percent of voting shareholders supported the resolution on the tie-up.

Bahrain bank Alkhair wins key ruling

The Bahrain Chamber of Dispute Resolution (BCDR) has issued a verdict in favour of Bank Alkhair against Falah Nasser Hamad Al Falah, a former employee of the bank, and its former chief executive Majid Al Refai, said a report.

Founded in 2004 and headquartered in Bahrain, Bank Alkhair is an Islamic wholesale bank, with an international presence in Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Turkey.

The BCDR ordered Al Falah and Al Refai to jointly and severally pay the bank about $1.7 million for misappropriation of bank funds and unauthorised activity during Al Refai's tenure as chief executive, said a report in the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.

Dubai prime real estate still only at the very start of a long recovery with much higher prices to come « ArabianMoney

Markets climb a wall of worry and house prices are back as a hot topic of dinner table conversation in Dubai, almost four years to the day since the real estate boom ended and crashed into the bust of 2009 when prices dropped by up to 60 per cent in the city.

It was one of the worst real estate busts of modern times, another world record for Dubai but perhaps one it would rather not have. Once bitten twice shy, it has taken the local real estate market several years to digest its debt mountain and for an economic upturn based on higher oil prices and the Arab Spring ’safe haven’ effect to bring the market back to life.

Dubai authorities are playing a zonal marking system - after warning firms in the emirate’s free zones that they can’t do business elsewhere without the right paperwork | 7 Days Dubai

Dubai authorities are playing a zonal marking system - after warning firms in the emirate’s free zones that they can’t do business elsewhere without the right paperwork.

The Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) has shown the red card to firms who believe they can set up outside of their zone without the correct permit from the DED.

“Under no circumstances can a free zone company in Dubai operate outside its jurisdiction unless it has a branch licenced by DED,” said Mohammed Shael Al Saadi, CEO of business registration and licensing at the department.

Fake Plastic Souks: Are We Back On Track?

You might have noticed the volume creeping up recently - apparently we're back in the game, the bad times they are behind us and the road ahead is green shoots all the way.

Emaar's apartment sales have tripled. Nakheel says confidence is back. Abu Dhabi's GDP is predicted to post solid growth while much of the rest of the world is struggling to baulk a tide of decline.

Which is, don't get me wrong, great. There has been little doubt that, even in the doldrums of the past four years, the UAE has been one of the best places in the world to be.

Aabar sells stake in Mercedes Formula One team | GulfNews.com

Aabar Investments PJSC agreed to sell its stake in Mercedes-Benz’s Formula One racing team to the luxury-car brand’s parent Daimler AG as the Abu Dhabi investor further cuts ties to the automaker.
Aabar will sell its holding in Mercedes Grand Prix Ltd. to Daimler UK Ltd. for an undisclosed sum, Aabar’s parent International Petroleum Investment Co. said on Monday in a statement. The deal is conditional on approval from German and Italian antitrust authorities.
The Abu Dhabi sovereign-wealth fund unloaded its remaining voting stake in Daimler in October. Aabar had bought a 9 percent stake in the Stuttgart, Germany-based manufacturer in March 2009 after financial markets collapsed. As part of that partnership, Aabar acquired 40 percent of the Mercedes Formula One team.

JoyAlukkas diversifies into business jet, real estate and money exchanges | GulfNews.com

Dubai-based jeweller JoyAlukkas Group is in the process of investing more than Dh1.81 billion (Dh6.67 billion) in expanding its retail network of jewellery stores in the Gulf and India, a top official said.
“We are planning to add up to a total of 200 stores including 100 stores in the next three years, covering all the Tier II, III and IV cities and towns in all the major states in India,” JoyAlukkas, chairman of the group told Gulf News. “Additionally, our current expansion plan in the GCC remains on course.”
He said per outlet requires an investment outlay of Rs500 million (Dh33 million).

UK visa: the failing grammar | GulfNews.com

Kings in ancient India vied with one another to patronise the most intelligent and learned person in their court. And they had a system to determine who was worthy of ascending that exalted position: the victor had to defeat everyone else in a debate, the subject of which could be anything under the sun or beyond. To ensure that the debate was held as per the highest standards, the participants had to follow a well-codified grammar of communication so that there was no gap in understanding each other’s argument. Every sentence used in the argument had to meet certain conditions and be free from certain faults so that the person sitting on the other side understood exactly what was meant by the person speaking.

Emirati women ups the economic ante | GulfNews.com

The size of investment in the UAE by Emirati women has passed the dozen billion dirhams while the number of investors is about 12,000 businesswomen, Dr. Mohammad Ahmad Al Murr, Speaker of the UAE Federal National Council, said in his keynote speech at the opening of the 3rd Arab Women Leadership Forum in Dubai.
“The growth of participation by Emirati women in economic sectors was remarkable at 25.3 per cent per annum and the total value of female investment across the UAE contributed Dh12.4 billion,” Al Murr added.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, inaugurated the forum, accompanied byu Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Princess Ameerah Al Taweel, Vice Chairwoman and General Secretary of Al Waleed Bin Talal Foundation.

Gulf Daily News » Business News » Consolidation 'is vital for Bahrain's banks'

BMI Bank in Bahrain has now completed five quarters of profitability as it works to establish itself as a bigger player in the kingdom.

It has also opened four new branches with plans to open a further two in Tubli and Salmabad before the end of the year but even this expansion is not good enough for chief executive Jamal Al Hazeem.

"There are too many banks in Bahrain and many are too small so the future lies in consolidation and mergers," said Mr Al Hazeem who joined BMI Bank in 2010.

UAE Nuclear Power Corp. to raise $2 bln in loans | Business , Middle East | THE DAILY STAR

Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp., which is building the Gulf Arab region’s first nuclear power plant in Abu Dhabi, is raising $2 billion from bank loans to finance construction, according to two bankers familiar with the plan.

The 20-year facility being raised by the government-owned company pays interest of 175 basis points, or 1.75 percentage points, above the London interbank offered rate, according to the bankers, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. The interest rate will rise over the loan’s life to 260 basis points above the benchmark, the bankers said. The signing of the agreement is imminent, they said.

HSBC Holdings Plc and Credit Suisse Group AG are advising Emirates Nuclear Energy on the fundraising, according to the bankers. Standard Chartered Plc, National Bank of Abu Dhabi PJSC, First Gulf Bank PJSC and Union National Bank PJSC may also to lend to Emirates Nuclear Energy, they said.

Gulf Times – Mobius to lift Saudi market exposure

Mark Mobius, one of the world’s best-known emerging market investors, will increase his exposure to Saudi Arabia once the largest Gulf Arab state opens its markets to foreigners.
Saudi Arabia, the top Opec producer, has been considering a wider opening of its market for several years; currently foreigners have only very limited opportunities to invest through indirect ownership and exchange traded funds.
“Right now, we don’t have much in Saudi Arabia as the current system opens us up to counterparty risks. Once the market is fully open, we probably will increase our exposure, provided all things remain equal,” Mobius, executive chairman of Franklin Templeton’s emerging markets group, said in a telephone interview as part of Reuters’ Middle East Investment Summit.