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Monday, 19 August 2013

Stability, not an election, is what Egypt needs now - FT.com

Stability, not an election, is what Egypt needs now - FT.com:

"If you are going to intervene in a foreign country, it helps to know what you want to happen. But on Egypt – and Syria, too – western policy is buffeted by a mass of conflicting instincts. The US and the EU are pro-democracy but anti-Islamist; pro-stability but anti-crackdown; opposed both to jihadists and to their enemies in the security state. No wonder that the Arab world is confused. The one thing that unites the Egyptian military and the Muslim Brotherhood is that they both claim to have been betrayed by the US.
If America and its European allies are to frame a coherent response to the tragedy in Egypt, they urgently need to clarify their goals."

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Russians’ investment into Virgin Islands jump 15 - fold, channeling profits from TNK-BP sale abroad — RT Business

Russians’ investment into Virgin Islands jump 15 - fold, channeling profits from TNK-BP sale abroad — RT Business:

"Russians have redirected their offshore investment to the British Virgin Islands from troubled Cyprus, despite the government’s calls to bring the money back to Russia. TNK-BP sale helped boost Russian capital in the British tax haven to $31.7bn.

Overall, Russians invested $70 bn during the first quarter of 2013 into their offshore jurisdictions, according to the data by the Central Bank of Russia (CBR).

The British Virgin Islands was the most popular location, with Luxembourg taking the second place."

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Oman's growth outlook ‘vulnerable to oil prices’

Oman's growth outlook ‘vulnerable to oil prices’:

"Oman's A1 rating with stable outlook is based on the economy's robust growth outlook and the government's sound fiscal metrics, but both are vulnerable to a downturn in global oil prices, said Moody's Investors Service in a report.

The rating agency's report is an update to the markets and does not constitute a rating action.

Moody's assessment of Oman's economy strength reflects comparatively high levels of per-capita income and the medium-sized economy's robust outlook in the long term due to ongoing economic diversification."

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Dubai’s gold trade waits on India windfall | GulfNews.com

Dubai’s gold trade waits on India windfall | GulfNews.com:

"UAE’s gold and jewellery trade aims to be a direct beneficiary as India imposes further controls on domestic consumption of the metal in all its forms. India has just raised import duty on bullion from 8 per cent to 10, which would further raise retail prices for shoppers in India.
This is where opportunity exists for Dubai’s jewellery retailers. Already a substantial gap has built up between prices here and what the same would cost in India. (For instance, a no-frills 10-sovereign gold chain will cost Dh2,800-Dh3,000 less if bought in the UAE as compared to what it would be in the southern state of Kerala, where there is a sales tax of 5 per cent. Sales tax varies from state to state; for instance Gujarat’s is lower at 1 per cent.)"

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Central Bank predicts stagnation for Russian economy | @RussiaBeyond The Headlines

Central Bank predicts stagnation for Russian economy | Russia Beyond The Headlines:

"
The Central Bank says that economic modernisation is key to speeding up growth in the mid-term.
Source: ITAR-TASS
By the end of 2013, the Russian economy will grow by a mere 2 percent. Growth rates could pick up gradually in 2014 but will most likely not show any significant boost. This is the Central Bank’s assessment of the economic development prospects as set out in its quarterly monetary policy report.

In spring the Ministry of Economic Development cut its 2013 forecast growth rate from 3.6 to 2.4 percent, and in 2014-2015 an increase in growth rates at 3,7 and 4,2 percent correspondingly is to be expected. However, the slowdown in GDP growth in the 2nd quarter ‒ from 1.6 percent in the first quarter to 1.2 percent (year-on-year from 2012) ‒ questions even the downgraded forecast for 2013.

According to the calculations provided by Nikolay Kondrashov of the Centre for Development at Higher School of Economics, the half-year economic growth reached 1.4 percent, and with the seasonal discount the second quarter growth against the January-March period was only 0.1 percent."

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More clients set up shop at Abu Dhabi's twofour54 free zone - The National

More clients set up shop at Abu Dhabi's twofour54 free zone - The National:

"
Abu Dhabi's twofour54 has been been ranked as one of the top free zones in
the Middle East by Foreign Direct Investment Magazine. Jaime Puebla / The National

Abu Dhabi’s media hub twofour54 reported an increase in the number of companies based in the free zone in the first half of year, including the television production company making the Arabic version of children’s show Sesame Street.

The company registered 55 new clients in production, post-production and broadcasting. Occupancy rates for its studios was 92 per cent with post-production occupancy at 63 per cent and 1,384 production days booked. Since its launch five years ago, twofour54 has generated 15,864 hours of television broadcasting content.

It has also been ranked as one of the top free zones in the Middle East by Foreign Direct Investment Magazine (fDi)."

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Qatar government spending growth slows sharply in 2012/13 | Reuters

Qatar government spending growth slows sharply in 2012/13 | Reuters:

"* Spending up 2.2 pct at record 178 bln riyals

* Govt undershoots spending plan for first time since 1990

* Revenue jumps 24.7 pct to 277 bln riyals

* Surplus more than doubles to record 99 bln riyals

* Plans to raise spending to 211 billion riyals this year

By Martin Dokoupil

DUBAI, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Qatar's government spending rose 2.2 percent to a record 178.2 billion riyals ($48.9 billion) in its last fiscal year, slowing sharply from double-digit increases seen in the previous decade, official data showed.

It was the first time that the government's annual spending undershot its budget plan since 1990 - a sign of the difficulties which Qatar is having in pushing forward huge and complex infrastructure projects.

Some big projects, such as a new airport, have been delayed by difficulties in planning, coordination and arranging the necessary resources for them, as well as by bureaucratic obstacles. So the government has so far ended up spending less than it aimed to spend."

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Arab states ready to cover any cuts in aid to Egypt: Saudi Arabia | News , Middle East | THE DAILY STAR

Arab states ready to cover any cuts in aid to Egypt: Saudi Arabia | News , Middle East | THE DAILY STAR:

"Saudi Arabia said on Monday that Arab and Islamic countries will step in to help Egypt if Western nations cut aid packages to Cairo over its deadly crackdown on Islamist protesters.

"To those who have announced they are cutting their aid to Egypt, or threatening to do that, (we say that) Arab and Muslim nations are rich... and will not hesitate to help Egypt," Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said in a statement carried by the kingdom's SPA state news agency.

Prince Saud was speaking upon his return from France, where he held talks with President Francois Hollande who has strongly condemned the violence in Egypt."

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MIDEAST STOCKS-Qatar back above 10,000; Egypt stabilises | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Qatar back above 10,000; Egypt stabilises | Reuters:

"* Qatar index makes second rise above 10,000 points

* Government aims to boost state spending

* Egypt's stability may be temporary

* Property stocks traded heavily in Dubai

* Saudi Arabia hits new 59-month high

By Nadia Saleem

DUBAI, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Qatar's bourse rose back above the psychologically important level of 10,000 points on Monday, buoyed by second-quarter corporate earnings and government budget plans, while Egypt stabilised after big losses due to political violence.

The Qatari index rose 1.3 percent to 10,038 points, extending its 2013 gains to 20.1 percent. Trading volume jumped to its highest this month. The index broke 10,000 points last week for the first time since September 2008."

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Maersk's big bet - FT YouTube



Ukraine not facing threat of default < News < Home

Ukraine not facing threat of default < News < Home:

"Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov has advised citizens not to trust various "horror stories" from experts who predict default for the country. He wrote this on his Facebook page. "The government is taking a number of measures that have already helped us reach a surplus of the balance of payments. We will continue to pursue the policy that will ensure the financial and economic stability of the state and its economic development," Azarov wrote.

He also cited the figures published by the State Statistics Service, according to which GDP grew by about 2.5% in July 2013.  The premier also expressed hope that as a result it would be possible to reach a small GDP growth this year. "This is a very difficult task, but I think that we will cope with it," he wrote."

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UAIndex decline continues with all parameters in negative territory - Business - News - Ukraine Business Online

UAIndex decline continues with all parameters in negative territory - Business - News - Ukraine Business Online:

"The UAIndex closed last week at 4,145.00, down -2.23% for the day.

All of Friday’s news centered on the Worst Performing category with major players making major negative moves.

Worst hit percentage-wise was Avangard, down -6.69% on volume of only 6,180 shares traded.

Next came Kernel, down -4.16% on 167,477 shares traded.

Agroton came third, down -3.34% on trade of 234,163 shares, also giving it Volume Leader status. In addition, Fitch Ratings dropped Agroton rating from C to RD, its Restricted Default category that does not bode well for Agroton’s continued operations."

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Bahrain Investcorp sells Skrill to CVC Capital for 600 million euros | Reuters

Bahrain Investcorp sells Skrill to CVC Capital for 600 million euros | Reuters:

"Bahrain-based Investcorp INVB.BH said on Monday that it had agreed to sell British online payments services firm Skrill Group to private equity group CVC Capital Partners CVC.UL for 600 million euros ($800 million).

As part of the deal, Investcorp will keep a "substantial" minority position in the company and retain a seat on Skrill's board, the company said in an emailed statement. It did not elaborate on the size of the stake.

Investcorp Technology Partners, the private equity firm's technology arm, bought Skrill, or Moneybookers as it was formerly called, for 105 million euros in March 2007, according to Thomson Reuters LPC data.

At the time of the acquisition, Skrill generated revenues of 7.8 million euros and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of 3.7 million euros. It now employs about 700 people and in 2012, generated over 200 million euros in revenues and 50 million euros in EBITDA, Investcorp said.

Barclays (BARC.L) advised the Bahraini firm on the sale."

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How cities grow, slump and recover: Wonderful congestion



Good old-fashioned EM sell-offs? | FT Alphaville

Good old-fashioned EM sell-offs? | FT Alphaville: "That’s the Jakarta Composite down more than 5.5 per cent at pixel time on Monday, anyway.











This was being pegged to more bad news late last week on Indonesia’s current account, though reserves have been weakening for a while. Moves more correlated to India?

Seems like only last month people could still see as Indonesian shares as “safe havens”, enough for investment-bank research to try and disabuse them of the idea.


Oh wait — they did! (BofAML chart from July)."

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INTERVIEW-Ukraine snubs Russian gas, stepping up Europe imports | Reuters

INTERVIEW-Ukraine snubs Russian gas, stepping up Europe imports | Reuters:

"Ukrainian state energy firm Naftogaz has reduced Russian gas imports by 30 percent so far this year and will further cut them in 2014 by doubling imports from Europe, Ukraine's Energy Minister Eduard Stavytsky told Reuters in an interview.

"I think that (imports from Europe) will be 2.0-2.5 billion cubic metres this year and in 2014, no less than 5 billion cubic metres, judging from the plans and bids that I have already seen," Stavytsky said.

He said the development of domestic shale gas deposits and Black Sea fields would further offset the role of Russian energy supplies.

Kiev plans to sign a deal with a consortium led by ExxonMobil and Shell to develop the Skifska field on the Black Sea shelf "within two months", he said. "

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UAE investors: 'Compensate us for cancelled projects' | GulfNews.com

UAE investors: 'Compensate us for cancelled projects' | GulfNews.com:

"Property investors in emirates outside of Dubai have lamented the financial losses they have incurred from delayed and cancelled projects, and some would like to see a panel set up to oversee the liquidation of cancelled projects.
Last month, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, issued a decree to set up a judicial committee to liquidate cancelled real estate projects in Dubai. It will provide settlements, resolve grievances and address procedural issues.
“Investors in Ajman properties say the same scheme should come up for Ajman properties,” said Hamsa Shetty, an investor from Ajman. In theory, a similar panel could be established in other emirates as they have the authority to do so, according to Nassif Bu Malhab, partner at international law firm Clyde and Co."

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UAE banks lending at their fastest rate in two years - The National

UAE banks lending at their fastest rate in two years - The National:

"The financial sector issued the most new loans in June since 2011, as a rebounding domestic economy encourages cash-rich lenders to extend credit to businesses and consumers.

Banks have now extended Dh48.3 billion in new loans during the past six months, outstripping the total lent in the 18 months before that.

Net loans and advances increased Dh16.3bn to Dh1.14 trillion during June alone, reflecting the highest rate of credit growth since September 2011, according to data from the Central Bank."

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Standard Chartered plans to expand in Iraq with UK government help - The National

Standard Chartered plans to expand in Iraq with UK government help - The National:

"Standard Chartered is counting on the assistance of the British government to help it to open branches in Iraq by the end of the year.

The move is part of its bid to steal a march on banks from the United States as the coalition allies who ousted Saddam Hussein attempt to carve up Iraq's market for financial services.

The British bank is preparing to launch three branches in the country within the next year and a half as it seeks to tap into the financing needs of oil-rich Iraq's reconstruction from a decade of conflict."

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UAE central bank says monetary aggregate rose 7.8% on year | GulfNews.com

UAE central bank says monetary aggregate rose 7.8% on year | GulfNews.com:

"The UAE Central Bank said yesterday during the first six months of 2013, monetary aggregate M2 increased 7.8 per cent on year, while bank loans and advances surged 4.4 per cent and total bank deposits were up 7.5 per cent year-on-year as a result of an increase in resident deposits by 9.2 per cent.
“The rise of loans and deposits reflects that there’s greater confidence of investors in the UAE economy,” Dr Abdul Hameed, an Abu Dhabi-based economist at the Ministry of Economy told Gulf News by telephone.
In June, the country’s apex bank said in a statement, the money supply aggregate M0 (currency in circulation plus currency at banks) decreased 1 per cent to Dh59.4 billion from Dh60.0 billion at the end of May 2013."

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Russia readies tighter customs if Ukraine signs EU deal | GulfNews.com

Russia readies tighter customs if Ukraine signs EU deal | GulfNews.com:

"Russia is preparing tighter customs controls with Ukraine in case Kiev makes the “suicidal” move of signing an association agreement with the European Union, an aide to President Vladimir Putin was quoted as saying on Sunday.
Russian border guards imposed new time-consuming checks on all Ukrainian cargo last week as Putin piles pressure on Kiev to join a Moscow-led regional trade bloc.
Ukraine has refused to join because it hopes to sign a free trade and political association agreement with the EU in November and the two deals are mutually exclusive."

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New rules and products lay groundwork for Nigerian Islamic finance | GulfNews.com

New rules and products lay groundwork for Nigerian Islamic finance | GulfNews.com:

"Nigeria is gradually opening up to Islamic finance, a move that could bring non-interest banking to over 80 million Muslims and develop one of Africa’s fastest-growing consumer and corporate banking sectors.
Home to the largest Muslim population in sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria is trying to establish itself as the African hub for Islamic finance, which follows religious principles such as bans on interest and gambling.
In recent months, a string of regulatory initiatives have set the groundwork for products such as Islamic bonds (sukuk), insurance (takaful) and interbank lending products, although there is still only a small number of local market participants."

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Sberbank says Russia doing better than other emerging markets | EmergingMarkets.me

Sberbank says Russia doing better than other emerging markets | EmergingMarkets.me:

"At a time when few analysts are upbeat about the current state of Russia’s economy, Sberbank has released a research piece arguing that the country has a set of major advantages over other emerging markets.

“Russia enjoys a current account surplus, is close to fiscal breakeven, and has a flexible currency, limited debt levels, and significant foreign reserves,” Kingsmill Bond, chief strategist at Sberbank-CIB, the investment arm of Russia’s biggest lender, and his colleagues Andrey Kuznetsov and Iskander Abdullaev say in their study.

 “We believe the Russian market is more attractive … than markets with twin deficits like Turkey, markets which have early stage commodity dependency like Brazil, or markets with major debt deleveraging issues,” they say."

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‘High energy consumption alarming’ | Arab News

‘High energy consumption alarming’ | Arab News — Saudi Arabia News, Middle East News, Opinion, Economy and more.:

"Naif Al-Abadi, director general of the Saudi Energy Efficiency Center (SEEC), has warned against the alarmingly high rate of energy consumption in the Kingdom.
He said the per capital consumption of electricity in Saudi Arabia was three times higher than the world average. He attributed the unbridled consumption of power to the cheap cost of electricity in the Kingdom.
“Air conditioners consume more than 70 percent of power, particularly during the summer, putting an operational and financial burden on the electrical system in the Kingdom,” he said.
Al-Abadi said that sales of air conditioners in the Kingdom registered a 12 percent growth annually, putting the number of air conditioners used in the country at 17 million."

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Chocolate Wars | Eastbook - blog on EU Eastern Partnership

Chocolate Wars | Eastbook - blog on EU Eastern Partnership:

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Saudi Gazette - Some GCC insurers face default risk: S&P

Saudi Gazette - Some GCC insurers face default risk: S&P:

"A small number of well-established insurers are reaping the benefits of the fast-growing insurance markets in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, Standard & Poor’s rating services said Sunday.

Meanwhile, inflated valuations and a reluctance to relinquish control are preventing smaller insurers from consolidating. In trying to avoid reporting losses, S&P said revenue-starved insurers could distort market pricing for all.

It noted that insurance in the GCC region continues to benefit from generally robust economic growth because the considerable hydrocarbon wealth of the GCC states sustains their expanding economies. Real GDP growth in the region was nearly 6 percent in 2012, and S&P forecast this growth momentum to continue in 2013 and beyond. The GCC insurance sector grew to nearly $16 billion in terms of gross premium written, with growth rates of over 10 percent in the region's largest insurance markets in 2012. Ample capital is available within the industry to back the growth in insurance premiums, S&P further said."

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Saudi Gazette - MENA M&A value drops 43% in Q2 2013

Saudi Gazette - MENA M&A value drops 43% in Q2 2013:

"The Middle East & North Africa (MENA) value of disclosed inbound deals increased from $5.1 billion in H1 2012 to $10.6 billion, a rise of 108 percent, according to EY’s MENA M&A update. Outbound deal value dropped by 37 percent from $10.5 billion in H1 2012 to $6.6 billion in H1 2013 and domestic deal value decreased by 13 percent.

Phil Gandier, MENA Head of Transaction Advisory Services, EY said  “seeing the value of inbound deals double since H1 2012 is an interesting trend, as both inbound and outbound deal flows have seen a reversal compared to a year ago, where outbound deal value was nearly double the value of inbound deals. The UAE continues to play a key role in attracting investment to the region being the target country focus of 25 percent of inbound deal volume for H1 2013. This overall positive improvement of inbound investment could signify a continued level of confidence in the MENA market irrespective of the continued political uncertainty in the region.”"

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