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Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Etihad to seal 'one or two more deals' before ending expansion policy - The National

One of the major keystones in the expansion strategy of Etihad Airways – snapping up minority stakes in foreign airlines – is about to come to an end, according to James Hogan, the carrier's president and chief executive.

Speaking in London while attending the Future of Air Transport Conference, Mr Hogan said only two further deals were likely, before he shelves the policy of equity investments.

Etihad, which has minority stakes in Air Berlin, Virgin Australia, Aer Lingus and Air Seychelles, has bought into local carriers in the belief that it is the best way to gain a foothold in regions where it wishes to expand.

Aircraft demand to soar in Middle East as orders expected to hit $470bn - The National

Middle East airlines will acquire 2,370 new airliners, worth an estimated US$470 billion (Dh1.72 trillion), over the next 20 years, according to a market forecast from Boeing.

A new survey by the US plane maker shows that long-range, twin-aisle aircraft - such as Boeing's 777 and 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A330 - will lead the Middle East's order books, reflecting the global priorities of the region's leading carriers, Etihad Airways, Emirates Airline and Qatar Airways.

It forecasts that from this year through 2031, 730 aircraft, equivalent to 31 per cent of the region's fleet, will be bought to replace current aircraft. The remaining purchases will be driven by the rapid growth of air travel in the region.

Dana Gas receives welcome boost with $50m Iraq payment - The National

The finances of Dana Gas were given a shot in the arm this week as the company received payments worth nearly US$50 million (Dh183.6m) for gas produced in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

The payout comes as political developments in Iraq and Egypt cast doubt over future payments, after outstanding receipts worth hundreds of millions prevented Dana from repaying a maturing bond in October.

Dana, which produces natural gas and condensate in the region, on Sunday received $48m - 40 per cent of the $120m paid out to the joint venture it operates under - from the central government.

UAE growth to remain stable in 2013, says Merrill Lynch |

Merrill Lynch on Tuesday put its 2013 GDP growth forecast for UAE at a stable 3.2 per cent, citing a steadily recovering domestic economy and a better year for emerging markets.
Although the forecast is in line with the modest global growth rate of 3.2 per cent, it warned of risks, including a tough first half for the Eurozone.
“Locally, [there’s] a fair amount of stability post the crisis,” said Johannes Jooste, head of strategy, chief investment office at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, Europe, Middle East and Africa during a press conference in Dubai. “Certainly my impression is that the property market is stabilising.” He also cited tourism and trade sectors as positives for the local economy.

Times of Oman | Kuwait's bad debt provisions may be highest in Gulf states

Provisions as a percentage of total loans at banks in the country will reach 5.6 per cent this year and 6.7 per cent in 2013, according to Dubai-based investment bank Arqaam Capital.
That compares to 5.5 per cent and 6.5 per cent respectively for lenders based in the United Arab Emirates, it said.

Some Kuwaiti companies, including Global Investment House, have defaulted since the onset of the global financial crisis after the value of their assets collapsed and frozen credit markets prevented them from raising new loans.

The average yield on Kuwaiti debt was 5.28 per cent on Monday, JPMorgan Chase's CEMBI Broad Kuwait Blended Yield index shows. That's above 1.92 per cent in Saudi Arabia, 3.75 per cent in the United Arab Emirates and 2.86 per cent in Qatar.

Ghost property projects in UAE reborn with new purpose - The National

Skeletal and empty, their once-bustling cranes hang motionless, as though in silent testimony to difficult times past.

Amid the growing signs in Dubai of a strong recovery from the global financial crisis that hit property markets hard worldwide, the view from the 124th floor of Burj Khalifa shows a number of office blocks and apartment buildings that have remained unfinished.

It is a seemingly incongruous sight, given the news from local estate agents that some house prices in the emirate are rising faster than those in prime central London areas. However, a series of announcements made last week by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, that billions of dirhams is to be invested into new property developments in the city lends weight to their arguments.

Walsh sees Dubai bigger than Heathrow by 2015 - Transport -

The head of British Airways' parent company on Tuesday warned that Heathrow will be overtaken by Dubai as the world's biggest international airport "within two to three years".
Speaking to the House of Commons Transport Committee, IAG chief executive Willie Walsh said that the Dubai airport had grown massively over the last decade.
He told MPs that in 2001 Dubai was the 99th biggest international airport in the world and by 2011 it was fourth.

Sanctions boost Iranian manufacturers -

At the Kanoon Towlid Iran textile factory, workers are quietly confident of their future – thanks to sanctions against their country’s nuclear programme.
Only last March Kanoon, a medium-sized plant 15km west of Tehran, laid off almost half of its 130 workers amid a grim economic outlook.
Since then, US and EU banking and oil sanctions over Iran’s nuclear programme have come into effect, reducing the country’s foreign exchange revenues and causing the Iranian rial to plummet.

Focus: Metro economies | The Economist

CITIES are booming. The world's largest 300 metropolitan economies account for 19% of the global population and almost half the world's GDP. Last year, incomes and jobs tended to grow faster in these urban areas than their national averages, according to a report from the Brookings Institution, a think-tank. The fastest growing metro areas are in poor countries. Places in Asia and Latin America never faced a recession or have enjoyed a recovery, unlike most cities in the West. (In North America, some urban centres only reached pre-recession levels of income and employment in 2012.) Most regions of the world saw modest economic and jobs growth last year, but Western Europe has been walloped by the euro area crisis. For instance, Spain's three biggest cities have seen employment atrophy by around 3% every year since 2007. Yet the rich world's metro economies still make up around two-thirds of the world's 300 largest metropolitan economies' combined GDP.

MENA stock markets close - December 4, 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)

Investment opportunities worth $70b in Qatar |

Qatar holds a pool of investments worth $70 billion that are needed to meet the fastest growing economy in the region, Hamad Buamim, Director General of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Gulf News on the sidelines of Country Focus Briefing: Qatar 2012.
He said: “According to latest report by McKenzie, between 2014 and 2022 Qatar will invest around $70 billion across all business sectors to boost its economy.”
“The country will have investment opportunities in roads and transportation worth $21 billion, while $25 billion will go to infrastructure and hospitality, $10 billion in logistics and $4 billion in building stadiums.”

Bahrain Q3 real GDP grows 0.7 pct q/q - BNA | Reuters

Bahrain's economy grew 0.7 percent in inflation-adjusted terms in the third quarter of 2012 from the previous three months, the country's state news agency BNA quoted the head of its statistics office as saying on Tuesday.

Real gross domestic product (GDP) of the non-OPEC oil producer rose 3.1 percent year-on-year in July-September, Mohammed al-Amer, Central Informatics Organisation's head, also said according to BNA.

Bahrain's economic output fell 1.3 percent quarter-on-quarter and expanded 4.3 percent on an annual basis in April-June. Analysts polled by Reuters in September forecast the Gulf Arab country's real GDP growth to accelerate to 2.8 percent in 2012 from 1.9 percent in 2011.

UPDATE 1-TAQA, GIB to price bonds in late-year Gulf flurry - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Abu Dhabi National Energy Co (TAQA) is preparing to price a two-tranche dollar-denominated bond issue, maturing 2018 and 2023, after roadshows conclude on Tuesday, arranging banks said.
TAQA, which is 75-percent owned by the Abu Dhabi government, joins Gulf International Bank in pricing new issues as regional borrowers line up to get deals away before investors close books for the year.
TAQA, which is buying a number of BP's North Sea assets, said last week it had hired banks to arrange investor meetings ahead of a benchmark-sized issue, typically at least $500 million.

Recovery hopes send Indian stocks soaring -

Tourists to India often return home talking about their visit to a land of jarring contrasts. Yet rarely has this description seemed so apt for the country’s markets too.
Asia’s third-largest economy is still stuck firmly in reverse: quarterly gross domestic product fell back again to 5.3 per cent last week, while overall growth this year will almost certainly be the lowest for a decade. Added to this, the most recent round of corporate earnings were unimpressive at best.

Oman takes steps to improve transparency |

The State’s Financial and Administrative Audit Institution has initiated steps to improve financial transparency in government bodies.
According to decisions taken by Shaikh Nasser Bin Hilal Al Maawali, Chairman of the State’s Financial and Administrative Audit Institution, government officials will have to file annual disclosure forms that would include all financial transactions with government units and establishments in which the government owns more than 40 per cent of capital.
The government officials will have to file a personal Financial Disclosure Statement, which should cover a full account of all movable and real estate owned by the declarant, the spouses and children and the sources of funds from movables or properties, whether such funds exist in the Sultanate or abroad. This information will be kept confidential and cannot be disclosed unless permitted by the chairman of audit institution and as required by the public interest.

Saudi Arabia Details Plan for Nuclear, Wind, Eqtisadiah Says - Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia plans to produce 18 gigawatts of electricity from nuclear plants and 9 gigawatts from wind energy by 2032, Eqtisadiah daily reported, citing an official at the agency developing the country’s renewable energy program.
The country also plans to generate 1,000 megawatt from geothermal energy sources and 3,000 megawatt by turning waste into a fuel, Khalid al-Suliman, vice president at the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, told the Riyadh- based newspaper.
Al-Suliman told the daily that officials are considering selling solar power to the European Union during winter seasons through Turkey and that the agency have completed feasibility study for the project.

NCB Capital plans Islamic equity and sukuk funds -

NCB Capital, Saudi Arabia's largest asset manager, is launching a range of Irish-domiciled Islamic mutual funds, as it seeks to broaden its investor base and appeal to emerging market investors, according to senior executives.

The Jeddah-based firm, which manages US$12.1 billion in assets, has launched two funds which invest in Saudi Arabian and GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) equities, with plans to launch other funds including one that will invest in sukuk, or Islamic bonds.

"We are very keen on offering a gateway to the region. The hope is to have a broad investor base," Faysal Badran, chief investment officer and head of asset management at NCB Capital, told Reuters late on Monday.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Egypt rallies after judges agree to oversee vote - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Egypt's bourse rallies after the Supreme Judicial Council cleared the way for a referendum on a new constitution
which President Mohamed Mursi hopes will end a political crisis that has split the country.
Cairo's benchmark rises 2.9 percent to 4,965 points, with trading volatile since Mursi's decree on Nov. 22 that expanded his powers and sparked widespread protests.
Some judges had called for their colleagues to shun the Dec. 15 plebiscite, which must be supervised by the judiciary like all elections in Egypt. But the council's decision suggests enough officials can be mobilised to oversee the vote.

Abu Dhabi's TAQA eyes two-tranche bond, pricing this week | Reuters

Abu Dhabi National Energy Co (TAQA) is planning to issue a dual-tranche dollar-denominated bond this week, arranging banks said on Tuesday.

The company, rated A by Standard & Poor's and majority-owned by the Abu Dhabi government, will issue two tenors, maturing January 2018 and January 2023.

TAQA completes investor meetings on Tuesday and has mandated BNP Paribas, Citigroup Inc, HSBC Holdings , National Bank of Abu Dhabi and Standard Chartered Plc to arrange the deal.

Jordan's Latest Disaster: Port of Aqaba Secretly Sold | Impatient Bedouin

In a developing story, the Jordanian government has authorized the sale of the port of Aqaba to a foreign company  investor or company for $500 million, with a transfer date scheduled for this month, December 2012. The estimated value of the Port of Aqaba is $5 billion. The Jordanian government planned to replace the current port with a new one that was supposed to have been completed by the transfer date, but the new port is not yet ready.

Jordan is already facing protests from fuel subsidy cuts, failed reform promises, unemployment, inflation and corruption.  Last month, Jordan witnessed one of its biggest protests, dubbed “November Uprising”, in which for the first time the people called for King Abdullah’s resignation. On Friday, thousands of protesters gathered in Amman for a rally called “A Popular Uprising for Reform” headed by former Prime Minister Ahmed Obeidat, and backed by a broad coalition of opposition groups.

Duqm gas pipeline construction to be awarded by end-2013 | Oman Observer

A contract for the construction of a major gas pipeline that will supply natural gas from central Oman to a new industrial and maritime hub under development at Duqm, is due to be awarded by the end of 2013.
Oman Gas Company (OGC), the state-owned entity that owns and operates the country’s gas transportation grid, is overseeing the implementation of the 240km pipeline, which will serve as a lifeline for industries and utilities envisioned at Duqm. Total investment in the pipeline project is estimated at $250 million, it is learnt.
OGC’s chief executive officer, Yousuf al Ojaili, said the 36-inch pipeline will supply gas from Saih Nihayda in central Oman to Duqm. “We will be awarding the contract for the supply of pipelines for the project in the first quarter of 2013. A number of international companies are bidding for this supply contract. Bids are under evaluation. However, an award for the actual construction of the pipeline is scheduled towards the end of 2013,” Al Ojaili stated.

BRIEF-Kingdom Holding completes New York's Plaza Hotel sale for $575 mln - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Kingdom Holding Co :
* Saudi Arabia's Kingdom Holding says completes sale of New York's Plaza Hotel for $575 million
* Says retains 25 percent equity stake; sees gain of $32.9 million from sale to India's Sahara

Through the looking glass: curious tale of rising oil prices - The National

If 2011 was a remarkable year for oil exporters, 2012 was a Wonderland. Last year, for the first time, the oil price averaged more than US$100 per barrel of Brent crude. This year, the price has been even higher - $111.90. As Lewis Carroll's Alice would have observed, it was curiouser and curiouser that such high prices persisted despite a weak global economy and rising stocks.

Reflecting on the high oil prices from 2003 until now reveals three key drivers. Developing Asian countries, above all China, were undergoing economic booms and fast-rising demand. Non-Opec production was weak. And therefore Opec, enjoying tight markets, was able to maintain discipline - making sharp production cuts to revive prices after the 2008 economic crash.

Over the past decade, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait made only measured increases in production while potential rivals - Iran, Iraq, Venezuela, Libya and Nigeria - struggled.

Afghan bank attempts to overcome the obstacles - The National

Afghanistan International Bank (AIB), the biggest commercial bank in the country, is seeking to attract business in Dubai and to invest its US$800 million (Dh2.93 billion) worth of liquidity with banks abroad. But it is facing difficulties.

The Afghan nascent banking system has been "tainted" after the collapse of Kabul Bank, Ronald Stride, the chairman of the board of supervisors at AIB, said in an interview with The National.

"The picture has been painted in a very negative way and people have … not a wrong impression, but a one-sided impression," he said. "So we have taken it upon ourselves to try and paint a more balanced picture of banking and finance in Afghanistan."

Post Etihad deal, Jet may shift global base to Abu Dhabi

The deal between Jet Airways and Etihad, likely to be wrapped up by end-December, could result in the Naresh Goyal-promoted airline shifting its international base from Brussels to Abu Dhabi.
The deal, under which Etihad is to pick 24 per cent stake in the Indian carrier for Rs 1,600 crore, could also give Jet access to aviation turbine fuel at much cheaper rates, according to the broad contours of the deal that has now entered the final stages of negotiations.