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Thursday, 5 December 2013

Bahraini minister tried to intervene in UK bribery case, court hears | Reuters

Bahraini minister tried to intervene in UK bribery case, court hears | Reuters:

"* Businessman on trial in UK over alleged Bahrain bribery

* Court sees letter from Bahraini deputy prime minister

* Witness says Serious Fraud Office not swayed by letter

* Sensitive trial comes at time of unrest in Bahrain

By Estelle Shirbon

LONDON, Dec 5 (Reuters) - A deputy prime minister of Bahrain sought to intervene in a British bribery prosecution by writing to the head of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and to the British government's legal adviser, a London court heard on Thursday.

Lawyers said Jawad bin Salem al-Urayed wrote about the case of Victor Dahdaleh, a businessman accused of paying some $67 million in bribes to former managers of Aluminium Bahrain (Alba) in return for a cut of contracts worth over $3 billion.

One of Britain's biggest bribery trials for years, the case involves allegations of corruption at senior levels of government and business in Bahrain, a sensitive issue at a time of political unrest in the secretive Gulf kingdom."

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Atlantis sale: Dubai state fund buys hotel for undisclosed sum | Arab News

Atlantis sale: Dubai state fund buys hotel for undisclosed sum | Arab News — Saudi Arabia News, Middle East News, Opinion, Economy and more.:

"A unit of Dubai World has sold its Atlantis resort, which sits at the head of a palm tree-shaped island in the emirate, as the state-owned group raises funds to meet huge debt repayments after a $25 billion restructuring in 2011.
Investment Corp. of Dubai (ICD), a holding company of some of the emirate’s top groups which is also state-owned, has bought the resort from the unit, Istithmar World, for an undisclosed sum, ICD said.
“Our acquisition of an asset that is a major contributor to the domestic tourist industry is in line with our overall strategy to support long-term sustainable growth for Dubai,” Khalifa Al Daboos, deputy chief executive officer of ICD, said in the statement.
A spokesman for Istithmar in Dubai declined to comment.
The sale adds to a series of disposals by Dubai World, which had promised to sell non-core assets under the debt-restructuring plan drawn up when the group fell victim to a property market crash in the emirate and the after-effects of the global financial crisis."

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December: season of EM currency drops (usually) | beyondbrics

December: season of EM currency drops (usually) | beyondbrics:

"As Christmas approaches in London, flutter-hungry bookies start taking bets on the likelihood of snowfall.

Are EM currency falls this month a safer bet?

Benoit Anne of Société Générale has crunched the numbers and found that EM currencies tend to lose value in December, to a greater extent than the yearly average.

Looking at average monthly exchange rate movements from 2000 to 2012, he finds that only six of 20 EM currencies generate a positive spot return in December – the Hungarian forint, the Czech koruna, the Romanian new leu, the Russian rouble, the Serbian dinar and the Mexican peso. These currencies were the only ones for which December outperformed the yearly average.

December is a bad month for holders of all other currencies that Anne looks at – in terms of negative, lower-than-average spot returns. It is the worst month for holders of the Chinese renminbi, the Indian rupee, the Philippine peso and the Chilean peso. It is not the cruellest month in toto. That epithet goes to July and (as fans of TS Eliot know) April."

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Road rage in the Czech Republic | beyondbrics

Road rage in the Czech Republic | beyondbrics:

"Road construction in the Czech Republic has long been a murky business. But insiders grumble that new depths for the industry have been plumbed following a barrage of criticism aimed at plans to renovate the country’s main D1 motorway and revelations from Prague city that the contract to build the now almost-complete €1.3bn Blanka tunnel complex was legally questionable from the start.

Remaining work on the Blanka tunnel complex is due to be suspended on December 7 after Metrostav, the country’s largest construction company, and the Prague city authorities failed to find a solution to a legal dispute over the project, which means it will now go to arbitration."

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Russia Faces Budget Gaps – Report | Business | RIA Novosti

Russia Faces Budget Gaps – Report | Business | RIA Novosti:

"Russia’s federal budget will likely face a shortfall of around 10 trillion rubles ($302.5 billion) in revenues needed to finance the government’s budget commitments in the period 2017-2020, according to a government strategy document.
Growing pension liabilities, a likely fall in revenues from raw materials exports, shrinking tax revenues and a reduced contingency Reserve Fund of windfall energy revenues may drain the country’s budget even further, the Russian edition of Reuters said Thursday, citing the report.
The rising social commitments come as the government is conducting a massive rearmament program for the armed forces, boosting defense spending to a two-decade high.
The situation may be rectified by cutting spending and raising oil sector taxes, according to a long-term budget strategy for the period to 2030 that the Finance Ministry is to submit to the government this week."

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MIDEAST STOCKS-Dubai crosses 3,000 for 1st time in 5 yrs; Egypt rallies | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Dubai crosses 3,000 for 1st time in 5 yrs; Egypt rallies | Reuters:

"Dubai's bourse closed above 3,000 points for the first time in five years on Thursday as investors repositioned into stocks ahead of earnings and dividend season, while Egypt's bourse rallied on prospects of fresh investment inflows.

Dubai index climbed 0.9 percent to 3,013 points, its highest close since October 2008.

"The positive moves come after a couple days of consolidation, which created opportunities for people to position into select stocks going into year-end," said Marwan Shurrab, fund manager and head of trading at Vision Investments.

Shares in Union Properties rose 1.9 percent, extending year-to-date gains to 165.8 percent. Emaar Properties climbed 1.6 percent and contractor Arabtec added 1.2 percent."

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Abu Dhabi's TAQA invites banks ahead of potential bond - Bonds - ArabianBusiness.com

Abu Dhabi's TAQA invites banks ahead of potential bond - Bonds - ArabianBusiness.com:

"State-owned Abu Dhabi National Energy Co (TAQA) has sent out an invitation to banks to pitch for arranger roles on a possible international bond offering, according to sources.
TAQA was last in the market exactly a year ago, pricing a $2bn dual-tranche bond, which was managed by BNP Paribas , Citigroup, HSBC, National Bank of Abu Dhabi and Standard Chartered.
None of the big Abu Dhabi government-related entities - International Petroleum Investment Company, TAQA or Mubadala - have come to market this year, and demand for any one of them is likely to be extremely strong if they did, one Gulf-based debt capital markets banker said."

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Commercial Bank affiliate UAB sets up Turkey desk in UAE

Commercial Bank affiliate UAB sets up Turkey desk in UAE:

"United Arab Bank (UAB), a Commercial Bank affiliate, has set up a dedicated desk to support Turkish businesses in the UAE, in a quest to become the preferred local bank for the Turkish business community in the emirate. The mutual relationship will also support UAE businesses when trading in the Turkish market.

UAB said it continuously strives to offer customers clear, compelling reasons to choose UAB as their bank of choice. Through the strategic alliance formed between Alternatifbank in Turkey and Commercial Bank, a major stakeholder in both UAB and Alternatifbank, the bank will be able to serve the needs of UAE clients in Turkey in areas including investment banking, corporate banking, trade finance and mortgage financing. Furthermore, UAB will serve the banking needs of Turkish customers and companies doing business in the UAE.

Through this alliance UAB aims to tap into the ever-growing Turkish commercial banking market in the UAE and a potential retail customer base of approximately some 20,000 Turkish expatriates, representing mainly white collar professionals benefiting from a higher income level."

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Ukraine corporate bonds hit by fear of devaluation, capital curbs | Reuters

Ukraine corporate bonds hit by fear of devaluation, capital curbs | Reuters:

"Dollar bonds issued by Ukrainian companies back in the easy-money times are taking a hit on doubts over the country's solvency and fears that a currency devaluation or capital curbs might propel firms into default.

Mass protests against the government's decision to spurn a cooperation deal with the European Union in favour of closer ties with Russia are inflicting more damage on an economy already in recession. And unless external aid materialises, the central bank, with just $20 billion in hard currency reserves, may struggle to hold the hryvnia's peg to the dollar.

Corporate bond prices have dropped 2-3 points across various maturities in recent days, some hitting lows they haven't visited for many weeks or months.

"Ukraine's problems are more on the sovereign side than on its corporate sector," said Apostolos Bantis, a corporate credit strategist at Commerzbank in London. "(But) a default scenario of the sovereign would have major spillover effects.""

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India’s current account deficit: smoke and golden mirrors? | beyondbrics

India’s current account deficit: smoke and golden mirrors? | beyondbrics:

"When the Reserve Bank of India put out its latest statement on the nation’s current account deficit on Monday it looked like good news.

The gap narrowed to $5.2bn, or 1.2 per cent of GDP, in the three months to September from $21.0bn, or 5 per cent of GDP, in the same period a year earlier. But are these numbers simply a mirage?

As the RBI said in its statement:

The lower CAD was primarily on account of a decline in the trade deficit as merchandise exports picked up and imports moderated, particularly gold imports."

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ENERGY - Qatar still interested in huge coal project in Turkey, says Minister Yıldız

ENERGY - Qatar still interested in huge coal project in Turkey, says Minister Yıldız:

"Qatar wants to invest in the Afşin-Elbistan coal reserves in the eastern province of Kahramanmaraş, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız said in an interview with CNN Türk on Dec. 5.

“We’ll all see some new investment flow to Turkey from Qatar,” said Yıldız, adding that one of the main topics of Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan’s visit to Qatar Dec. 4 was energy.

The minister said Qatar may ink a deal to renew its investment in Afşin-Elbistan in three months.

Abu Dhabi National Energy Co. (TAQA), the state-owned oil explorer and power supplier, has delayed plans to start the construction of 8,000 MW of coal-fired power plants in Turkey to 2014, citing other spending priorities. "

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UAE Energy Profile: One Of 10 Largest Oil And Natural Gas Producers In World - Analysis Eurasia Review

UAE Energy Profile: One Of 10 Largest Oil And Natural Gas Producers In World - Analysis Eurasia Review:

"

Since declaring independence from the United Kingdom in 1971, the United Arab Emirates (UAE)—a federation of the seven emirates of Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Al Fujayrah, Dubai, Ras al Khaymah, Sharjah, and Umm al Qaywayn—has relied on its large oil and natural gas resources to support its economy. In 2012, hydrocarbon export revenues were $118 billion according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), up from approximately $75 billion in 2010. Overall, the hydrocarbon economy accounts for approximately 80% of government revenues and more than half of the country’s goods exports.

Beyond the hydrocarbon economy, the UAE is becoming one of the world’s most important financial centers and a major trading center in the Middle East. Investments in non-energy sectors, such as infrastructure and technology, continue to provide the UAE with insurance against oil price declines and global economic stagnation. Recovering oil prices and robust trade growth have buoyed the UAE’s economy, and International Monetary Fund (IMF) data indicate their GDP grew by 4.3% in 2012."

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DFM up 93% with best performance this year since 2005 but will it crash next like in 2006? « ArabianMoney

DFM up 93% with best performance this year since 2005 but will it crash next like in 2006? « ArabianMoney:

"The Dubai Financial Market General Index is up 93 per cent year-to-date making it the world’s top stock exchange again, a crown it last held in 2005 when the index advanced 102 per cent.

However, in January 2006 the DFMGI started a long plunge down and lost 85 per cent of its value in a bear market that only finally hit rock bottom in January 2012.

Welcome to the wonderful world of volatile emerging market stock markets. They are incredibly difficult to invest in successfully. Our sister ArabianMoney investment newsletter (sign-up here) advised buying in July 2010 and waiting for the recovery whatever happened to share prices in the interim period."

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Ukraine government prepared to discuss elections - FT.com | #EuroMaidan

Ukraine government prepared to discuss elections - FT.com:

"Ukraine’s deputy prime minister late on Wednesday said his government was prepared to discuss snap elections to defuse an escalating stand-off with pro-European protesters, in the first sign of potential compromise in the country’s worst political crisis in nearly a decade.
Asked on Ukrainian television if snap presidential and parliamentary elections could resolve the turmoil, Serhiy Arbuzov, first deputy prime minister – considered close to President Viktor Yanukovich – answered: “Absolutely.”"

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Will Ukraine's Riots Batter a Star Bond Investor? - Bloomberg

Will Ukraine's Riots Batter a Star Bond Investor? - Bloomberg:

"One of the world's most successful investors has a big bet going on Ukraine. It could prove to be a big mistake.
Michael Hasenstab, a portfolio manager at Franklin Templeton Investments, has won many prestigious awards in the fund management industry. He has consistently outperformed his peers, delivering an annualized total return of 7.1 percent on his bond investments over the past 12 years, according to data provider FE Trustnet. The Irish Independent reported that he made $2.6 billion for his investors by accumulating about 10 percent of Ireland's government debt in 2011 and 2012 and making a windfall as the nation stepped back from the brink of default.
Now Hasenstab has a much riskier gamble going in Ukraine. As of Sept. 30, Templeton funds managed by Hasenstab held Ukrainian government bonds, denominated in dollars and euros, with a market value of about $3 billion. Even before more than half a million anti-government demonstrators took to the streets of the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, the country's creditworthiness was not looking good."

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UK courts Chinese money - YouTube

UK courts Chinese money - YouTube:

"

Ahead of this year's Autumn Statement, David Cameron is hoping for a tightening of commercial ties between the UK and China, reports Seb Morton-Clark. But is there much substance beyond the headline projects?"

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▶ Russian bears - YouTube

▶ Russian bears - YouTube:

"

Russian shares are driven by foreign investors who care about two things: the oil price and the chance of reform under Putin. Kingsmill Bond, of Sberbank CIB, tells John Authers this creates a worrying outlook but there are still ways to find value"

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Emaar hires debt collectors to chase defaulters | GulfNews.com

Emaar hires debt collectors to chase defaulters | GulfNews.com:

"After banks, it is now the turn of property developers to hire debt collection companies.
In what appears to be a desperate bid to recover outstanding service fees, Emaar has signed up with Dubai-based firm Innovations to chase defaulters across various communities.
Defaulting owners in The Lakes community said they received an email from Innovations on November 27 asking them to pay contentious outstanding ‘special levy fees’. “I never thought they would use a debt collection company. I am shocked,” said an Indian resident living in the community."

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UAE brokerages: survival of fittest or a step too far? | The National

UAE brokerages: survival of fittest or a step too far? | The National:

"Bigger trading volumes on the country’s bourses concentrated among a handful of brokerages have sparked questions on whether some firms are providing excessive leverage, with quotas above the one-to-one ratio legally allowed.

That level was set by the Emirates Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA), the market regulator.

“Nowadays, any stock brokerage that doesn’t offer margin services to their clients doesn’t make money,” says Khaldoun Jaradat, a trader at Brokerage House Securities in Dubai."

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Abu Dhabi a ‘natural choice’ for Middle East yuan clearance centre | The National

Abu Dhabi a ‘natural choice’ for Middle East yuan clearance centre | The National:

"Abu Dhabi is the “obvious” location to develop a Middle East clearing centre for the Chinese currency, says the managing director of a leading securities brokerage in the capital.

Philippe Ghanem, the managing director and vice chairman of ADS Securities, was speaking as competition hots up among global financial centres to grab a slice of the growing yuan offshore trading market.

“The obvious place to develop a Middle East hub would be in Abu Dhabi as part of the Abu Dhabi Global Market [ADGM],” he said. “The ADGM is the only specialist market-making and price-producing financial centre. It has the necessary financial infrastructure with the necessary laws covering clearing and settlement which would allow it to host a renminbi [the yuan’s other name] global clearing house.”"

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Khodorkovsky Amnesty Bets to Spur Rally: Russia Overnight - Bloomberg

Khodorkovsky Amnesty Bets to Spur Rally: Russia Overnight - Bloomberg:

"Prospects that Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former Russian billionaire jailed a decade ago, will be freed in an amnesty program is leading Swedbank Robur and Prosperity Capital Management to predict a stock market rally.
The government is considering pardoning Khodorkovsky, whose case came to represent investor concern about the rule of law in Russia, as soon as next week, Mikhail Fedotov, the human rights adviser to President Vladimir Putin, said yesterday. The benchmark Micex Index, which plunged 13 percent on the day the former owner of Yukos Oil Co. was arrested in 2003, pared losses yesterday on Fedotov’s comments before closing down 0.7 percent. The Bloomberg Russia-US Equity Index fell 0.3 percent.
Freeing Khodorkovsky, whose oil company was seized by the government after he was convicted of fraud, would signal Putin is seeking to address the human rights and corporate governance concerns that have spurred the biggest outflows from Russian equity markets since 1996, according to Prosperity Capital. "

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Saudi Sipchem Expects Share-Swap Merger With Sahara Next Year - Bloomberg

Saudi Sipchem Expects Share-Swap Merger With Sahara Next Year - Bloomberg:

"Saudi International Petrochemical Co. (SIPCHEM) expects to sign a share-swap merger agreement with Sahara (SPC) Petrochemicals Co. in the first half of next year, seeking to create a company with about $5 billion in market value.
Saudi International Petrochemical, also known as Sipchem, will issue 0.685 new shares for every one of Sahara under the terms of the proposed merger, the companies said in a statement to the Saudi stock market. They signed a memorandum of understanding to start due diligence and continue the non-binding talks. Sipchem will issue 300.6 million new shares to Sahara shareholders.
The companies’ proposed merger comes as Saudi Basic Industries Corp., the world’s biggest petrochemicals maker by market value, seeks investment opportunities in the U.S. State-run General Retirement Organization and Al Zamil Holding Group are shareholders in both Sipchem and Sahara, according to data compiled by Bloomberg."

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