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Wednesday, 19 December 2012

U.A.E. Requires Women Board Members -

Make some room in the boys’ club: It is now mandatory to have female board members in every company and government agency in the United Arab Emirates, according to a new instruction from the U.A.E. government.

The requirement, the first of its kind in the Arab world, was announced via Twitter by Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president of the U.A.E. and ruler of Dubai, on Dec. 9.

“Historically, our Arab economies have been planned and run exclusively by men, so introducing a critical mass of capable women into strategic roles will help evolve our economies,” said Najla Al Awadhi, one of the first female members of the U.A.E. Parliament and the first Arab woman to become chief executive of a state-run media organization, Dubai Media.

Banks take predictions to the extreme - The National

Imagine a world in which oil sells for US$50 a barrel, the United Kingdom is not part of Europe and Ukraine is one of many Russian satellite states. If you're thinking 1970s, then think again and let your mind take you back to the future.

For all three of these scenarios are not a distant memory, but some of the more unusual predictions for 2013 made by some of the world's leading investment banks.

In an effort to ram home the implications of broad economic trends and political developments, analysts from various banks and research houses have come up with extreme case scenarios that could evolve in the coming year.

Pulled IPOs cast doubt for growth of UAE's stock markets - The National

Traders have warned that the future growth of the UAE's stock markets could be stunted as family firms shelve plans to head to market.

Al Habtoor Group, the family-owned conglomerate, which operates hotels in Dubai, several automobile franchises and a joint venture with Australia's Leighton Group, said on Tuesday that it was planning to delay a long-anticipated listing.

Al Habtoor Group's statement followed comments from Al Ghurair Investment suggesting that the management of the conglomerate would prefer to avoid an initial public offering if possible.

The Abraaj Group exits investment in Hot Pot through successful IPO on Thai stock exchange -

The Abraaj Group, a leading private equity investor operating in global growth markets, today announced that it has successfully exited its investment in the restaurant chain Hot Pot, through an initial public offering (IPO) on the local Thai stock exchange that was more than three times oversubscribed.

The Abraaj Group first invested in the restaurant chain in 2006. Since then, the restaurant chain’s revenues have grown at an impressive compound annual growth rate of approximately 25% and restaurant branches have expanded from 58 to 126.

The IPO is yet another successful exit for Abraaj’s first South East Asia Fund.(1)  Earlier this year, the Group sold its stake in Yupi, a leading Indonesian confectionary company and exited its investment in Cirtek Electronics, a semi-conductor business, through an IPO on the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE).

Emaar signs US$500 million financing facility to develop 'Emaar Square' in Turkey -

Emaar Properties PJSC, the global property developer, has signed a new financing facility amounting to US$500 million (approx AED 1.835 billion) with a consortium of banks including Standard Chartered Bank, Emirates NBD Capital Limited and HSBC Bank PLC.

Underlining the financial strength and commitment of the company to undertake large scale projects, the new financing facility will be used for the development of Emaar Square, the second mixed-use development by Emaar in Turkey. The facility will be repaid in seven years.

Mohamed Alabbar, Chairman of Emaar Properties PJSC, said: “Having recorded strong financial performance this year, Emaar is focused on the on-schedule completion of our master-planned projects in key emerging markets and in Dubai. The new financing facility highlights Emaar’s ability to raise long-term finance and reiterates the strong market confidence in our development competencies and our ability to successfully deliver projects.”

What will 2013 look like? - YouTube

Oman takes strict approach in Islamic banking rules | Reuters

Oman's central bank took a strict approach to regulating Islamic banking in rules for the sector which it released on Wednesday, setting higher standards for the industry than many other countries.

The sultanate announced last year that it would introduce Islamic finance, becoming the last country in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council to do so. Business activity is expected to start early next year.

The central bank's rules cover areas including banks' liquidity management, the administration of boards of sharia scholars who oversee Islamic financial institutions, and the operation of conventional banks' Islamic windows - and in many cases, the rules appear considerably stricter and more detailed than regulations in other countries.

Private equity group eyes Abu Dhabi healthcare IPO in 2013 | Reuters

The private equity consortium which owns half of Abu Dhabi healthcare provider Al Noor Medical is reviving plans to sell its stake through a stock market listing in 2013, four sources aware of the matter said.

The group, including Dubai-based Ithmar Capital and Qatar First Investment Bank, is looking for new advisers after dropping HSBC Holdings and JP Morgan Chase, following an aborted previous listing, three of the source said.

The banks had held informal investor meetings on an Abu Dhabi initial public offering (IPO) in late 2011 but a significant discrepancy between owners and investors over the company's valuation stalled the plan, two of the sources said.

Gulf Union to be announced mid-2013 – Bahraini official Asharq Alawsat Newspaper (English)

A Bahraini official informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the Gulf Union is expected to be announced in mid-2013, although he refused to divulge the precise number of states that will initially comprise this international organization. He revealed that the Gulf Union would be announced at a consultative summit scheduled to be held in Saudi capital Riyadh next year.
Whilst Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa confirmed that Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] moving from a stage of “cooperation” to one of “union” will not be announced at the forthcoming GCC summit scheduled to take place on 24 and 24 December in Manama. He added that this will take place at a special summit held in Riyadh, according to the decision of the GCC Supreme Council at its most recent consultative summit.

MIDEAST STOCKS-Egypt surges ahead of voting; Gulf mkts rise - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Egypt's bourse extended gains on Wednesday, as Arab investors continued to buy into risk ahead of a second round of voting on the new constitution, while most Gulf markets also gained.
Cairo's benchmark index rose 1.9 percent to finish at 5,420 points, back to the pre-crisis levels of late November when the market plunged because of the controversy over President Mohamed Mursi's moves to award himself wider powers and push through a new constitution.
Small-caps dominated trading with Palm Hills Development rising 3.7 percent, Citadel Capital up 6.3 percent and El Saeed Contracting gaining 2.5 percent.

Gulf banks ready to invest in Egypt -

Gulf banks are betting on Egypt despite anti-government protests continuing in several cities.
Hot on the heels of Qatar National Bank’s deal last week to buy Société Générale’s Egypt’s unit for $2bn, Dubai government-controlled Emirates NBD is looking to buy BNP Paribas’ Egyptian retail banking business, according to people familiar with the deal.
While most analysts agree that Egypt’s combination of large population and diversified economy means it is an appealing place to invest, few international buyers outside the oil-rich Gulf are willing to take the political risk involved.

MENA stock markets close - December 19, 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)

Tehran’s bourse: a broken compass | beyondbrics

For the past few months the Tehran Stock Exchange has looked like a green island surrounded by lava flows. State-run media have boasted of growth unprecedented in the bourse’s 46-year history, as the main index, the Tedpix, has leapt 45 per cent since September, sending the market capitalisation of traded companies to a run of record highs.

On that evidence, you would think the country’s economy was prospering – and not facing unprecedented sanctions and international pressure over its nuclear programme.

From April to September the bourse was gripped by economic stagnation, the consequences of tightening sanctions and the possibility of war with Israel. Trading volume was half what it had been a year earlier.

Mena fixed income ‘to remain strong’ in 2013: MENA Fund Manager

Mena debt markets performed strongly and consistently in 2012 and will continue to favour the investor next year, according to Mohieddine Kronfol of Franklin Templeton.

Kronfol, who is Chief Investment Officer (Global Sukuk and Mena Fixed Income) at the firm, said that Mena debt had performed particularly well in the second half of 2012, against the backdrop of problems in the Eurozone and a slowdown in China.

“In 2012, performance of Mena debt markets, particularly the GCC, was strong and consistent throughout the year,” wrote Kronfol in a report to investors. “Returns for GCC debt of 11.62%, measured by the Citi MENA Broad Bond Index GCC, are on track to become the strongest since 2009. Regional debt and Sukuk markets have also delivered competitive risk-adjusted returns when compared to global fixed income sovereign and credit indexes, namely the Citi World Government Bond and Barclays Capital Global Aggregate Indexes.

ADIB Drops on Bets Bank Dividend to Disappoint: Abu Dhabi Mover - Bloomberg

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank PJSC (ADIB) fell the most in eight months on speculation the United Arab Emirates’ second-biggest shariah-compliant lender may recommend a full- year dividend that’s below expectations.
The stock retreated 3.1 percent, the biggest drop since April 12, to 3.08 dirhams at the close in the U.A.E. capital. About 2.56 million shares were traded today, more than 13 times the three-month daily average. Abu Dhabi Islamic was the biggest decliner in percentage terms on the benchmark ADX General Index (ADSMI), which rose less than 0.1 percent.
The lender last month raised $1 billion from the sale of Tier-1 perpetual sukuk, which don’t mature, paying a coupon of 6.375 percent. The notes, which can be treated as equity, come as Abu Dhabi Islamic seeks to boost its Tier-1 capital ratio to more than 15 percent from 13.7 percent at the end of September as part of plans to expand lending. The lender paid a 0.2442 dirham cash dividend for 2011, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Global Financial Integrity - Reports - Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries 2001-2010 - Overview

Top 10 countries with the highest measured cumulative illicit financial outflows between 2001 and 2010 were:

China: US$2.74 trillion
Mexico: US$476 billion
Malaysia: US$285 billon
Saudi Arabia: US$210 billion
Russia: US$152 billion
Philippines: US$138 billion
Nigeria: US$129 billion
India: US$123 billion
Indonesia: US$109 billion
United Arab Emirates: US$107 billion

TEXT-S&P afrms Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah 'A/A-1' rtngs; otlk stbl | Reuters


-- In our view, the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah's public finances remain strong on the back of prudent fiscal policy and the benefits of United Arab Emirates (UAE) membership.

-- We are therefore affirming our 'A/A-1' sovereign credit ratings on Ras al Khaimah.

2012 overview of UAE real estate market: Dubai sees selective growth whilst Abu Dhabi still addressing key challenges -

As we approach the end of 2012, Jones Lang LaSalle, the world's leading real estate investment and advisory firm, provides a summary overview of the UAE’s real estate market over the past year as it prepares to launch its 2013 annual Top Trends Report later in January.

Dubai: There are grounds for cautious optimism about the prospects for the Dubai real estate market in 2013 with most sectors of the Dubai market ending the year in the early upturn stage of their cycle. While the real estate sector has lagged the overall economy during 2012, there are now signs that confidence is returning among both investors and developers, particularly in the last six months with a number of major new projects announced.

Jones Lang LaSalle’s recent Real Estate Investor Sentiment Survey (REISS) confirms that investors remain confident with the city emerging as the clear favourite among major real estate investors across the MENA region.

BP to sell Yacheng gas field to Kuwait Foreign Petroleum | Reuters

British oil major BP Plc (BP.L) said it would sell its 34.3 percent stake in the Yacheng gas field in the South China Sea to Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company (KUFPEC) for $308 million in cash.

"This sale is part of BP's ongoing global portfolio optimisation," BP China President Chen Liming said.

The sale takes BP's total divestments announced since 2010 to $37.8 billion.

Luxembourg Buys Qatar Air’s Cargolux Stake After Strategy Spat - Businessweek

Luxembourg’s government agreed to buy the 35 percent stake in Cargolux Airlines International SA purchased by Qatar Airways Ltd. only last year following a dispute over strategy at Europe’s biggest freight-only airline.

Infrastructure Minister Claude Wiseler brokered a deal to pay $117.5 million for the holding during a visit to Doha last weekend, the government said in a statement. While contractual details have yet to be sealed, a transaction should be completed by the end of this year, spokeswoman Danielle Frank said today.

Cargolux Chairman Albert Wildgen stepped down on Nov. 30 after Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker made what the European company termed a series of demands that were difficult to accept. The No. 2 Gulf carrier bought its stake as part of a push to become a major freight operator by 2015.

Unemployment in Saudi Arabia growing | Al Bawaba

Unemployment in Saudi Arabia reached almost two million, announced Minister of Labour Adel Faqih. This is out of a 26 million population and translates to 10.5 per cent - a 500 thousand increase over last year.

Unemployment among women is exceptionally high in Saudi Arabia as it surpasses that of men by almost 30 per cent, to reach a total of 1.7 million unemployed female citizens. Almost half of those women hold university degrees, the Saudi labour ministry indicates.

Rising unemployment triggered governmental efforts to restructure the country's mostly-immigrant workforce by pushing to replace expatriate labour with Saudis.

Oman investment firm eyes stake sale for banking arm | Reuters

Oman International Development and Investment Co (Ominvest) is exploring potential stake sales in its banking arm, Oman Arab Bank, on top of existing plans to list part of its unit on the Muscat bourse, the investment firm said.

Ominvest had said in April that it was eyeing a 25 percent initial public offering of the banking unit but a floatation has yet to materialise. It said in June it had delayed the offering to September but it has not happened.

"At present, the Board of Directors of Ominvest is also exploring possible opportunities for selling additional part(s) by way of private placement concurrently with the IPO," said a statement to the Oman stock exchange, adding further details would be provided once firm plans were in place.

UPDATE 1-Telco Zain Saudi extends $2.4 bln loan for 6th time | Reuters

Zain Saudi extended the maturity of a 9 billion riyals ($2.40 billion) Islamic loan for another six weeks on Wednesday, the sixth time the loss-making telecom operator has deferred payment.

The company, an affiliate of Kuwait's Zain, has agreed with lending banks to put back the maturity of the murabaha facility - a sharia-compliant cost-plus-profit arrangement - originally due in July 2011, until Jan. 30.

A longer term deal appears to remain elusive.

Don’t Fall for the Shale Boom Hype – Chris Martenson Interview « naked capitalism

We are in the midst of an amazing energy boom, but by sweeping the idea of peak oil under the rug we are ignoring a significant fact: the relationship between hydrocarbon reserves and flow rates are not the same as they used to be—reserves have increased but flow rates are not as high or sustainable.

Perhaps the most important thing we need to pay attention to is net energy returns, on which we run society. Massive new discoveries are only netting a fraction of the returns compared to earlier decades.

While we must proceed into the energy future with caution—and the knowledge that analysts may be overselling the shale boom—there are also, as always, major opportunities in this story and they can be found in the wider trends related to improving energy efficiency.

Times of Oman | Three Omani firms plan to float sukuks next year

Abdullah Al Salmi Pic: AR Rajkumar/Times of Oman

At least three Omani companies, including Tilal Development Company (TDC), are planning to float Islamic debt instruments or sukuks next year. "We have given initial approvals for Tilal Development Company and an institution to float sukuks," said Abdullah bin Salem bin Abdullah Al Salmi, Executive President of the Capital Market Authority (CMA).

He was talking to the media on the sidelines of an interactive session organised by the CMA. TDC earlier said that it is planning to float a RO50 million issue, which is seen by the end of January next year. Al Madina Financial and Investment Services is the lead arrangers of sukuk issue for TDC, which will use the proceeds of the issue for funding the expansion of its complex at Bausher.

Al Madina Financial and Investment Services Chief Investment Officer Khalid Ali Saif Al Yahmadi told Times of Oman on Monday that a semi-government entity is also considering the possibility of issuing sukuk to fund a green field manufacturing unit, which is coming up either in Sohar or Duqm.