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Wednesday, 5 December 2012

UPDATE 2-US LNG exports to help economy, govt-backed study says - Yahoo! News Maktoob

* Report says the greater the exports, the more benefits
* Export application decisions after comment period-DOE
* Report confirms prices will rise for consumers-Lawmakers
* More than dozen companies waiting on export approval
WASHINGTON, Dec 5 (Reuters) - A U.S. government-sponsored report offered a strong endorsement for expanding liquefied natural gas exports on Wednesday, saying that shipping the nation's surplus gas abroad would clearly help the overall economy even though it will cause domestic energy prices to rise.

[snap] Investors pile in on Morocco’s $1.5bn issue | beyondbrics

The “Genghis bonds” issued by Mongolia last week might already be losing its sparkle as political turmoil rocks the country. But the specter of political risk hasn’t deterred investors from piling in on Morocco’s dual-tranche $1.5bn offering on Wednesday.

The North African country, which is under pressure to plug budget gap and avert the kind of protests that have swept the wider Middle East, received about $6bn of orders for the 10-year $1bn tranche of the issue, allowing it to price the bond at a yield of just 4.25 per cent. The 30-year $500m tranche of the issue, priced at a yield of 5.5 per cent, received $2bn in orders, a source told beyondbrics.

Regulating the GCC’s job market |

The regulation of the job market in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states is one of the most important measures which would contribute effectively to the creation of appropriate conditions for healthy relations between workers and employers — a move that would reflect positively on productivity and growth in general.
Recently, the GCC job market has seen many reforms that were not confined to Gulf citizens but also expatriate workers — who constitute the majority of the workforce — in line with international standards and International Labour Organisation’s rules.
The reform procedures began more than 20 years ago when a decision was issued to ban the transport of uncovered vehicles, and oblige companies, especially contracting corporations to transport workers in busses that protect them against the danger of roads and harsh climate conditions.

Business councils in Dubai to be treated as commercial institutions |

Dubai Business Councils and business groups will be treated as commercial institutions, according to a recent decree to define the role of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry and issued by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and the Ruler of Dubai.
Effective immediately, Dubai Business Councils will be granted official licence to open headquarters and have the authority to hire staff and sponsor visas for new employees..
The new decree gives Dubai Chamber more authority to enhance the role of Dubai businesses not only locally but across regional and world markets.

Government incentives for private sector essential in affordable housing market |

The government needs to give the private sector more incentives to encourage investment in the affordable housing market, which traditionally has low profit margins, industry experts said.
Public-private partnerships (PPPs) is the long-term solution to increase the supply of affordable housing in the market, they said yesterday at the MENA Mortgage and Affordable Housing Congress.
Traditionally, the government has directly intervened in providing affordable homes but it needs to shift towards being an “enabler” of private sector participation, Maysa Sabah Shocair, MENA advisor at the Affordable Housing Institute, told Gulf News.

Middle East at the heart of surge in steel production - The National

Huge infrastructure spending in the Middle East is driving strong demand for steel and fuelling investment in steel projects.

Crude steel production in the Middle East has doubled from 10 million tonnes in 2000, to 20 million last year, at an annual growth rate of about 6 per cent, according to an analysis of the industry by Frost & Sullivan, the international research company.

At the same time, production throughout the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region has increased from 15 million tonnes in 2000 to more than 28 million by the end of last year, a rise of 5.2 per cent, as the region's production hubs have shifted from their traditional centres in Iran and Egypt, with the GCC countries emerging as the leading steel producers.

Oil frontier in Iraq loses its allure - The National

The Kurdish region in northern Iraq has been hailed as one of the last frontier oil territories, but it has recently begun to lose some its allure as the dispute over energy autonomy between Baghdad and Erbil rumbles on.

International oil companies (IOCs) are continuing to pile into Kurdistan, lured by good prospects and favourable contracts. However, established producers are tiring of the endless uncertainty over payments for their hydrocarbons.

On Sunday, the central government released about US$1 billion (Dh3.67bn) to IOCs operating Kurdish assets, bringing relief to the small and mid-sized companies that must cope with the funding shortfall.

UAE the only Gulf state to improve in corruption ranking - The National

The UAE has risen by one place in a global ranking of countries perceived as the least corrupt - the only Arabian Gulf state to make an improvement in this year's survey.

The Berlin-based Transparency International's annual study of outside perceptions of dealing with public sector officials showed the UAE had risen to a tie for 27th, alongside Qatar, which fell five places from last year.

The group asks governance and business analysts to rank 176 nations on the likelihood of bribery and the accountability of public officials. But despite revolutions during the Arab Spring last year that overthrew governments perceived as corrupt, not all newly democratic Arab nations have improved.

UAE Nov business activity hits 3-month low

Growth in the UAE's non-oil private sector eased to a three-month low in November as the surge in new orders lost a little steam, a survey showed on Wednesday.

The HSBC UAE Purchasing Managers' Index, which measures the performance of the manufacturing and services sectors, edged down to 53.7 points last month from 53.8 in October.

The adjusted index remained well clear of the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction in the survey of 400 private sector firms, although the headline reading was well below that of neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

MIDEAST MONEY-Saudi businesses fear impact of new fees for foreign workers | Reuters

Glancing through the newspapers one morning last month Saudi Arabian businessman Ihsan al-Naeem was stunned by a government announcement that he fears will threaten the survival of his family's 30-year-old contracting business.

In the latest and most aggressive of a series of labour reforms, the government has started imposing fees on companies that hire more foreign than local workers. The requirement covers everyone from expat professionals to hospital workers and labourers on construction sites and is in addition to quotas already in place to limit foreign staff numbers.

The new rule is aimed at reducing unemployment of 10.5 percent among Saudi nationals by getting them into jobs now performed by 8 million expatriates in the country, a long-term Saudi goal given fresh impetus by the uprisings in Arab countries last year that were partly driven by high unemployment.

MENA stock markets close - 5 December, 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)

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Egypt extends gains; Saudi ticks up - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Egypt's bourse climbs in late-trade, extending gains as non-Arab foreigners buy on attractive prices, while Saudi Arabia's market resumes a rally.
Cairo's benchmark climbs 1.6 percent to finish at 5,072 points, trimming its losses to 6.7 percent since President
Mohamed Mursi issued a decree that gave him more powers and triggered a political crisis.
Local investors are selling among fresh protests planned. Muslim Brotherhood called for a rally backing Mursi, outside his palace on Wednesday and leftists planned a counter-demonstration, raising fears of clashes in a crisis over a disputed push for a new constitution.

UAE bankruptcy law draft may be delayed until end-2013 -lawyer | Reuters

A draft of changes to United Arab Emirates bankruptcy law aimed at simplifying the process and letting failing companies restructure is taking longer than expected and may not be ready until the end of 2013.

The draft, which has been in the works since 2009, should enable both listed and family-owned companies that get into trouble to restructure and be rescued rather than being forced to go through lengthy bankruptcy or liquidation proceedings.

The OPEC member's government hopes the new rules will reassure foreign investors and help bring in more cash from overseas.

Kuwait Posts First-Half Surplus of $45 Billion: NBK Report - Bloomberg

Kuwait posted a preliminary budget surplus of 12.6 billion dinars ($45 billion) in the first half of the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013, National Bank of Kuwait SAK said, citing official data.
“This surplus is equivalent to 26 percent of annual 2012 GDP and is 3.8 billion dinars higher than the comparable period in the previous fiscal year,” Kuwait’s biggest bank said in an e-mailed report today.
Revenue was 16 billion dinars, including oil revenue of 15.4 billion dinars, which was 15 percent higher than revenue in the same period of the last fiscal year, NBK said. Spending in the six months to Sept. 30 was 3.4 billion dinars and “remains low for this time of the year, at just 16 percent of planned full-year expenditures,” the bank said. NBK projects a budget surplus this year of 12 billion dinars. Government spending “typically accelerates in the second half,” the bank said.

Morocco launches dual-tranche USD deal | Reuters

The Kingdom of Morocco, rated BBB-/BBB-, has launched a dual-tranche 144a/Reg S US dollar-denominated bond deal, according to a source.

The sovereign has launched a previously announced USD1bn 10-year tranche at a spread of 275bp over US Treasuries, at the tight end of revised guidance of 280bp over plus or minus 5bp.

It has also added a USD500m 30-year tranche, which was launched at a spread of 290bp over US Treasuries.

Strong quarter of UAE earnings growth -

Bahraini company earnings dropped the most in the Gulf in the third quarter while companies in the United Arab Emirates outperformed their regional peers.
Bahraini corporate net earnings slumped 45 per cent year on year, according to a report by Markaz, the Kuwaiti investment bank. That compares with growth of 8 per cent year on year for the six Gulf Co-operation Council countries.
Company performance in the oil-rich Gulf has diverged as regional political unrest has lured investors to some and deterred them from others. The United Arab Emirates has benefited from its haven status while countries such as Bahrain have struggled to lure new investors.

BRIEF-Kuwait's Global Investment House in formal restructuring deal | Reuters

Global Investment House KSCC :
* Global signs formal restructuring agreement with creditors
* Global says to split core fee business from non-core principal investments, transfer debt obligations
* Global says existing shareholders to own 30 percent of firm, remaining 70 percent to be owned by creditors special purpose vehicle
* Global's business after deal includes asset management, investment banking and brokerage operations

Qatar approves law establishing single regulator | Reuters

Qatar's emir has given a long-awaited green light to regulatory reform which investors hope will help to simplify the slow and complex process of doing business in the Gulf Arab state.

A central bank spokesman said Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani had approved a law paving the way for a single financial regulator, but gave no timetable for completing a reform first mooted five years ago.

The law provides for an umbrella body to regulate banks, financial services and insurance companies and the country's bourse as well as banking, financial and insurance companies licensed by the Qatar Financial Center, the spokesman said.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Kuwait extends declines after protests; UAE mkts flat - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Kuwait's bourse extends losses as retail investors book profits amid fresh protests, while UAE markets end flat.
Kuwait's Interior Ministry said it would take all necessary measures to prevent "unauthorised assembly" in the Gulf Arab state after dispersing protestors it said threw stones and tried to mow down police with cars.
The demonstrations are a part of a wave of public protests since late October triggered by changes to voting rules used in Saturday's parliamentary election.

Abu Dhabi's TAQA launches two-tranche $2 bln bond - leads - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Abu Dhabi National Energy Co (TAQA) launched a $2 billion two-part bond on Wednesday, arranging banks said, with final pricing tighter than earlier indicated due to strong demand for the deal.
The company, 75-percent owned by the Abu Dhabi government, will sell a $750 million bond maturing 2018 at a spread of 200 basis points over U. S. Treasuries and a $1.25 billion bond maturing 2023 at 210 basis points over U. S. Treasuries.
TAQA had issued slightly wider guidance for both tranches earlier on Wednesday.

Korean Air, Qatar Airways interested in Czech Airlines | Reuters

The Czech government will decide on the privatization of Czech Airlines (CSA) as early as April next year after weighing possible bids from Korean Air (003490.KS) and Qatar Airways.

The state is in early talks with the two airline groups, and expects tentative bids by the end of January and offers for the loss-making Czech airline a month later.

"Talks are taking place, and if these talks are successful, then the government could decide on its privatization sometime in April or May," Prime Minister Petr Necas said after a cabinet meeting.

Dubai’s ‘old guard’ join the bounce back -

Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has trimmed the board of the emirate’s sovereign wealth fund and appointed a new director of his media office.
When combined with the city’s recent eye-catching (or perhaps eyebrow-raising) property and tourist launches, these personnel changes have given the impression that Dubai’s “old guard” are not only back, they are growing in power.
The board of the Investment Corporation of Dubai, a holding body that controls the emirate’s corporate crown jewels, such as Emirates Airlines, has been reduced from six to five members.

Bahrain MPs vote against new Gulf Air board

Bahrain’s parliament yesterday voted to replace the entire Gulf Air board, which was only appointed last month, and tear up the contracts of two consultancy firms recruited by the airline, a report said.

Five MPs had submitted the proposal, arguing that neither the new board nor the consultants had sufficient commercial aviation experience, said the report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister newspaper.

Parliament's decision will now be referred to the Cabinet, the GDN said.

UPDATE 1-Fastjet says in partnership talks with Emirates Airline - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Low-cost African carrier Fastjet Plc said it was in potential partnership talks with Emirates Airline, sending it shares up as much as 7 percent on London's AIM.
"Talks are at an early stage but this represents a great opportunity for both parties," Fastjet Chief Executive
Ed Winter said in a statement.
Fastjet, which began commercial flights last month, was set up after British investment firm Rubicon acquired the aviation unit of industrial group Lonrho Plc for $86 million in June.

Saudi Gazette - Investors in MENA favor Dubai realty

Dubai is the preferred market for real estate investors in the MENA region, with sentiment towards the emirate improving significantly over the past 12 months, according to a new survey by Jones Lang LaSalle.

The seventh Jones Lang LaSalle Real Estate Investor Sentiment Survey (REISS), which queried more than 150 institutional investors from across the Mena region, found that real estate remains a popular asset class among Middle East investors, with more potential buyers than sellers in most markets.

The report said Dubai has regained its status as the preferred market in the region due to a number of factors including its recovery in prices and rental values, stable political situation, improved economic fundamentals, and better transparency compared to other regional markets. — SG

UAE business activity at 3-month low - survey -

Growth in the United Arab Emirates' non-oil private sector eased to a three-month low in November as the surge in new orders lost a little steam, a survey showed on Wednesday.
The HSBC UAE Purchasing Managers' Index, which measures the performance of the manufacturing and services sectors, edged down to 53.7 points last month from 53.8 in October.
The adjusted index remained well clear of the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction in the survey of 400 private sector firms, although the headline reading was well below that of neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

Qatar Holding raises stake in QE to 88pc; NYX holds 12pc

Qatar has upped its stake in its bourse from 80 percent to 88 percent, with NYSE Euronext holding the remaining 12 percent stake.
According to a press statement issued by Qatar Exchange (QE) yesterday, Qatar Holding which had 80 percent stake in the bourse, has bought back eight percent stake from NYSE Euronext.
Qatar Holding is the direct investment arm of Qatar’s strategic sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA).

Qatar National Bank launches debt fund

The Qatar National Bank (QNB), a leading regional lender, has launched a debt (bond) fund which is open for subscription to retail as well as corporate and institutional investors with the minimum subscription amount being QR20,000 ($5,479.4). Further investment can be made be in multiples of QR 10,000.
The fund will be denominated in Qatari riyal (QR), a QNB release said yesterday adding that QNB is the first Qatari bank to float a debt fund. The unique features of the QNB Debt Fund provide an attractive platform for subscribers to invest in debt securities which are issued by GCC-based sovereign and corporate entities.
Amid often- challenging global market conditions, GCC bonds offer a combination of attractive rates of return (and superior levels of underlying credit risk) which is not generally available elsewhere.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Fresh protests may weigh on Egypt; Arabtec in focus - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Egypt's bourse is likely to be under pressure after mass protests outside President Mohamed Mursi's palace in
Cairo on Tuesday prompted the leader to leave the building. Officers fired tear gas at up to 10,000 demonstrators angered by Mursi's drive to hold a referendum on a new constitution on Dec. 15.
Cairo's bourse rallied on Tuesday as regional institutional investors bought shares after the Supreme Judicial Council cleared the way for a vote on a new constitution. The market may give these gains back on persisting political turmoil.
Elsewhere, UAE's markets gained on Tuesday upon resuming trade after a long weekend, with Dubai's index rising 0.2 percent to finish at 1,611 points.

Update: Problems with Sale of Aqaba Port | Impatient Bedouin

We have it on good authority that the Jordanian government has made a major mistake yet again, selling the current port of Aqaba before the new port is ready, which requires them to lease it back from the investor who acquired the port for $1 billion.

This is a major problem. As mentioned in the previous post, this still affects Jordan economically. In one year, they lose $500 million. If it takes longer it could reach into the billions. When your people are economically struggling, this is a big deal and should be taken very seriously.

How can one raise fuel-subsidies for the citizens but then engage in such a disastrous deal? There is no excuse, those who are running a country are held to a higher standard, and therefore must put their citizens above all else.

Dubai Again Is Setting Its Sights High -

Seeking to cement its position as a Middle East center for transport and tourism, Dubai has unveiled several grandiose construction projects that bear some of the hallmarks of the debt-laden boom years that nearly brought the emirate to its knees.

Last month, Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum ordered the construction of a new city development named after himself, a project that could cost $10 billion, according to some estimates. It envisages 100 hotels, the world's largest shopping mall, parks, art galleries and exhibition centers. Soon after, he announced plans for a $2.7 billion leisure complex of five theme parks.

Dubai also is pushing its candidacy to host the World Expo in 2020, the first time a city in the Middle East would host this event, which would involve the construction of an exhibition center on the outskirts of the emirate.