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Thursday, 10 January 2013

Focus: At your marks | The Economist

EACH month The Economist asks leading banks and financial institutions for their latest economics forecast across 14 rich-world economies. Our latest poll has forecasts for GDP growth, inflation (measured by consumer prices) and the current-account balance in 2012 (official data has not yet been released) and 2013. 2012 proved to be a dismal year for much of the rich world, not least for the 17 countries that use the euro. But according to our poll, euro-area countries will fair little better in 2013. Meanwhile the resource-rich countries of Australia and Canada are expected to perform well. The opinions of our pollsters vary quite significantly however, which indicates that a lot of uncertainty remains.

France Telecom in Qatar JV -

The business affiliate of France Telecom (FTE - Analyst Report) – Orange Business Services – has agreed to set up its operating arm in Qatar through a joint venture. Orange, in partnership with Sheikh Fahad Bin Ghanem [Al Abdul Rahman] Al Thani, will launch the subsidiary company EGN LLC.

Orange Business Services aims to capture the market opportunities in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in Qatar through the newly formed business unit. This most recent project of the company in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) is the very first one to be associated with large systems integration programs and operations. In recent times, the upcoming market of MEA is attracting a lot of foreign companies that are trying to capitalize on the business prospects of the region.

A team of higher-ranking and efficient professionals including program directors, senior architects, project managers, subject matter specialists, and operations’ directors will be employed for the office. The personnel will work toward designing and building various ventures in oil and gas, the government sector, telecom company systems integrators, new cities and large infrastructure projects.
France Telecom in Qatar JV -

Turkey’s unorthodox monetary policy gets a thumbs up | beyondbrics

Fresh from receiving a gong that ranks him above his peers, Turkey’s top central banker has received a further vote of quiet confidence for his management of the country’s consumption -hungry economy.

Erdem Basci, recently chosen as Central Banker of the Year by The Banker, the FT’s sister publication, can now also point to a favourable review by Fitch Ratings for one of the complicated mechanisms with which he seeks to slow the economy down.

A year or so ago international investors and bankers would often complain that they simply didn’t understand Basci’s policies – particularly his use of an interest rate corridor, or range, rather than a single policy rate.
Turkey’s unorthodox monetary policy gets a thumbs up | beyondbrics

Qatar’s control over Egypt Asharq Alawsat Newspaper (English)

The Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim says that what is being said about his country trying to control Egypt is a “silly joke”, adding that “Egypt with its great human and economic assets and potentials cannot be dominated by any other country”. Of course, Sheikh Hamad’s words are true and accurate, given that former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak could not control Egypt, nor could President Mursi, for Egypt's problems are too big for anybody to control. Yet the story is not about this, rather it is about subversion; lending support for something and sabotaging something else. Supporting a specific trend in Egypt at the expense of another is highly destructive. It is well known that Qatar supports the Muslim Brotherhood everywhere, not only in Egypt, and not only financially but also in the media.
Qatar’s control over Egypt Asharq Alawsat Newspaper (English)

Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Eyes Renewable Energy Projects in Serbia - Bloomberg

Mubadala Development Co, Abu Dhabi’s sovereign investment fund, may invest in hydro plants and other renewable energy project in Serbia, the government said.
Mubadala’s Chief Operating Officer Waleed Al Muhairi held talks in Belgrade with Serbia’s energy minister yesterday, which will continue in Abu Dhabi this week. Investments may include thermal plants, the Belgrade-based ministry said on its website.
Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Eyes Renewable Energy Projects in Serbia - Bloomberg

UPDATE 1-Egypt signals $2 bln Qatar loan already spent | Reuters

Egypt's central bank said on Thursday that a $2 billion loan from Qatar arrived in December, suggesting that the money had already been eaten up defending the currency before the foreign reserves crisis became public late last year.

News of the Qatari loan broke this week, and markets assumed that Egypt therefore had a cushion that would allow it to keep the pound's depreciation orderly, supporting Egyptian assets.

Political strife in late November and early December set off a rush to convert Egyptian pounds to dollars, sending the currency to record lows on concerns the government might devalue or bring in capital controls.
UPDATE 1-Egypt signals $2 bln Qatar loan already spent | Reuters

Saudi Arabia Said to Cut December Oil Output to 19-Month Low

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, reduced its crude production in December by 4.9 percent to the lowest in 19 months, according to a Gulf official with knowledge of the kingdom’s energy policy.
The cut of 465,000 barrels a day to 9.025 million is the largest monthly drop since November 2008, when the kingdom and other members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries slashed supplies amid a global recession. Saudi Arabia shipped 9.151 million barrels last month, drawing the extra oil from inventories, the official said, asking not to be identified because the information is confidential.
Brent crude futures today advanced as much as $1.53, or 1.4 percent, to a three-month high of $113.29 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Banks and consultants including Societe Generale SA, the Centre for Global Energy Studies and Jadwa Investment Co. have said OPEC needs to trim production to prevent global markets from being oversupplied amid booming U.S. output and rebounding output from Iraq.
Saudi Arabia Said to Cut December Oil Output to 19-Month Low

Gulf projects back on track |

For the first time since the first quarter of 2010, the UAE has started to show impressive growth rates in terms of projects planned and underway with a six per cent year-on-year increase, up to $614 billion, according to the Mena Construction Projects Tracker.
“This is driven by the recently announced Dubai mega real estate projects,” it stated.
Dubai has added $110 billion worth of real estate projects in November alone, bringing the UAE’s early stage projects to $199 billion, according to the report. This is up by 127 per cent from $88 billion of projects in October.
Gulf projects back on track |

Abu Dhabi man cleared of selling counterfeit car parts - The National

A man was cleared of selling counterfeit car parts - because there were slight spelling differences between his parts and the well-known brands they allegedly imitated.

The Jordanian was sued by a number of manufacturers, including Mercedes, who complained the man was selling parts that appeared to carry their logos.

But the man argued that the label names featured subtle differences, such as being in upper case rather than lower, and slight spelling differences.

The car manufacturers had argued that most customers would not realise the difference and would mistake the products for theirs, but the Misdemeanour Court rejected their argument.
Abu Dhabi man cleared of selling counterfeit car parts - The National

Egypt Exchange close - January 10, 2013

General Index
Intraday  3 month  
 Daily Statistics
 General Index5754.51
 Change (%)-1.92%
 T. Volume90893652
 T. Companies 444
Egypt Exchange

MENA stock markets close - January 10, 2013

 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)
MENA stock markets

Qatar Stocks Rise to 9-Month High Spurred by Bank Profit Bets - Bloomberg

Qatari stocks rose to the highest level in nine months on expectations Qatar National Bank SAQ (QNBK), the Middle East’s biggest lender, will report higher full-year earnings, boosting the outlook for the nation’s banks.
Qatar National, which will probably release results Jan. 13, surged the most since May 2011. Commercial Bank of Qatar QSC, the Persian Gulf country’s second-biggest bank, gained 1.7 percent. The Qatar Exchange Banking Sector Index (DSMBNKI) rallied 1.8 percent, helping lift the benchmark QE Index (DSM) 1 percent to 8,781.70, the highest level since April 12, at the close in Doha. The measure advanced 2.5 percent this week.
Qatar National “will kick off the Qatari earnings season on Sunday and the market is clearly pricing in a strong result,” said Akber Khan, director of asset management at Al Rayan Investment in Doha. “The rally today was all about banks, the sector that held the market back throughout 2012.”
Qatar Stocks Rise to 9-Month High Spurred by Bank Profit Bets - Bloomberg

The Abraaj Group appoints Sarah Alexander as Managing Director - Business Intelligence Middle East - - News, analysis, reports

The Abraaj Group, a leading private equity investor operating in global growth markets, today announced the appointment of Sarah Alexander as a Managing Director. Ms. Alexander joins the Group from the Emerging Markets Private Equity Association (EMPEA), where she currently serves as President and Chief Executive Officer.

In her new role, Ms. Alexander will serve The Abraaj Group’s North American stakeholders providing them with fresh perspectives on global growth markets and drawing on Abraaj’s local presence in 30 of the world’s fastest-growing economies.  She will assume her new role with the Group in February.

Commenting on the appointment, Arif Naqvi, Founder and Group Chief Executive, The Abraaj Group, said: “We are delighted to welcome Sarah to The Abraaj Group.  As the founding Chief Executive Officer of EMPEA she has been a globally recognized voice in private equity for nearly a decade and has nurtured the development of the industry in growth markets.”
The Abraaj Group appoints Sarah Alexander as Managing Director -

Morocco Stalled Tourist Drive Traps Lenders: Mortgages - Bloomberg

Morocco’s drive to emulate Dubai by turning itself into a playground for rich Europeans is hurting lending at home as cash-strapped banks are hit by investments in holiday resorts that soured in the global financial crisis.

Loans to homebuyers and companies grew at the slowest pace in a decade last year through November, according to central bank data. In September, the North African kingdom’s central bank allowed banks to reduce reserves to increase money in circulation.
Morocco Stalled Tourist Drive Traps Lenders: Mortgages - Bloomberg

Dana Gas Set for One-Year High Amid Profit Bets: Abu Dhabi Mover - Bloomberg

Dana Gas PJSC (DANA) headed for the highest level in more than a year on bets the United Arab Emirates fuel producer will collect outstanding payments in Iraq and Egypt, boosting the outlook for earnings.
The shares rose 8.2 percent to 53 fils, set for the highest close since November 2011, at 11:27 a.m. in Abu Dhabi. The company was the biggest gainer in the benchmark ADX General Index (ADSMI) with more than four times the three-month daily average volume. Dana Gas said its board approved the budget for 2013, discussed progress in U.A.E., Egypt and Kurdish region projects as well as efforts made to collect outstanding receivables.
Dana Gas was forced to restructure about $920 million in Islamic bonds last year after political instability in Egypt and Iraq’s Kurdish region led to the payment delays. The gas producer may post 15 percent growth in 2012 net income to 584 million dirhams ($159 million), according to the median estimate of four analysts on Bloomberg. Dana Gas’s shares are undervalued and are worth 90 fils, Exotix Ltd. said last month.
Dana Gas Set for One-Year High Amid Profit Bets: Abu Dhabi Mover - Bloomberg

Dubai’s comeback strategies: architecture and entrepreneurs | SmartPlanet

Being home to the world’s tallest building (the Burj Khalifa) isn’t enough for Dubai. The emirate is pushing its extreme architecture in more over-the-top directions now that its economy has bounced back after it nearly collapsed in 2009.

As The Economist reports, Dubai’s latest daring design is its plan for essentially a mini-metropolis within a metropolis: Mohammed bin Rashid City. Announced in November, it will include 100-plus hotels, the “Mall of the World” (yes, it will be the biggest on the planet), a public park that takes up more space than London’s Hyde Park and the biggest entertainment complex in the Middle East.

Design and sparkly architecture are more than just eye-catching baubles in Dubai, though. As The Economist points out, they are part of the emirate’s plan to diversify its economy beyond oil. Trade and tourism are doing well (hotel occupancy rates are up to 80%); so is real estate (542 apartments in a 63-story Dubai skyscraper sold out in a single day in September 2012).
Dubai’s comeback strategies: architecture and entrepreneurs | SmartPlanet

Times of Oman | Bank Nizwa is first in Oman to open doors for Islamic banking

Bank Nizwa, Oman's first dedicated Islamic bank, formally opened its doors to the public making history for the Sultanate's financial services industry. This pioneering initiative by Bank Nizwa signifies the start of a new era for banking in Oman. The launch was announced soon after the release of the Islamic Banking Regulatory Framework (IBRF) by the Central Bank of Oman (CBO).

Commenting on the occasion, Sayyid Amjad Mohammed Ahmed Al Busaidi, chairman of board of directors, Bank Nizwa, said "We are grateful to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said for his visionary leadership that made Islamic banking a reality in Oman. The Islamic banking regulatory framework, laid down by the CBO has positioned the economy of the nation towards achieving greater success. The launch of Bank Nizwa will propel Islamic banking and the economy of Oman to a higher level of development. "
Times of Oman | Bank Nizwa is first in Oman to open doors for Islamic banking

Gulf Daily News » Business News » Qatar Airways mulling stake

Qatar Airways is studying taking a stake in Czech Airlines (CSA), the chief executive of the Qatari company said yesterday.

"Yes, we are studying Czech Airlines," Akbar Al Baker said. "We are getting data from the banks and entities responsible for arranging the privatisation, but we have not engaged in talks."

Al Baker said the airline would only look at a minority stake. He also said his company was interested in the privatisation of CSA, but had not taken a decision on whether to participate in it.

The Czech government said it was in early stage talks with Qatar Airways and Korean Air over the privatisation of the carrier, adding a decision could be taken as early as April.End

UPDATE 1-Bahrain lender sells Ahli Bank stake to Qatar Foundation | Reuters

Ahli United Bank, Bahrain's largest listed lender, has sold most of its 33 percent stake in Qatar's Ahli Bank to sovereign fund Qatar Foundation.

The sale, involving all but 1,000 of Ahli United's 37.38 million shares, still requires the approval of Ahli Bank shareholders, an Ahli Bank filing to the Qatar bourse said on Thursday.

No price was given but the stake would have been worth 1.93 billion riyals ($530.2 million) at Wednesday's 51.70 riyals closing price.
UPDATE 1-Bahrain lender sells Ahli Bank stake to Qatar Foundation | Reuters