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Monday, 9 December 2013

Saudi Call for Gulf Arab Union Faces Hurdles at Summit - NYTimes.com

Saudi Call for Gulf Arab Union Faces Hurdles at Summit - NYTimes.com:

"Saudi Arabia's dream of binding the Gulf Arab states into a union will get a skeptical hearing at a summit this week, with differences over Iran, Egypt and Syria demonstrating that the Gulf's absolute monarchs do not all speak with one voice.

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah proposed two years ago for a stronger union with Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emeriates. The plan is expected to be one of the main topics on Tuesday when the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council hold their annual meeting in Kuwait.

But just days before the leaders were due to arrive, Oman dismissed the proposal with unusual directness in a region where the royal courts are usually not known for their bluntness."

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SOFAZ to start financing Azerbaijan's share in TANAP project - AzerNews

SOFAZ to start financing Azerbaijan's share in TANAP project - AzerNews:

"Azerbaijan's state oil fund SOFAZ will soon start financing Azerbaijan's share in the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) project.
The news was announced by Executive Director of the fund Shahmar Movsumov at the third Caspian Forum in Istanbul on December 5.
"The Oil Fund has financed a part of the state's share in the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline project, and also began to invest in the construction of Star oil refinery in Turkey this year. We will continue to invest in major infrastructure projects in Turkey in the future," Movsumov said.
SOFAZ has directed 800 million manats (about $1.02 billion) to the implementation of the TANAP construction project.
The TANAP project, jointly developed by Azerbaijan's SOCAR, Turkish state pipeline company Botas, and energy company TPAO, will deliver Shah Deniz gas to the Turkish-Greek border from eastern Turkey."

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Ukraine’s muddle-through: running out of time? | beyondbrics - #EuroMaidan

Ukraine’s muddle-through: running out of time? | beyondbrics:

"Reports from Kiev say opposition party headquarters have been raided by government troops and independent media outlets taken off the air. Meanwhile, in what looked like a conciliatory move, President Viktor Yanukovich said he would meet three former presidents on Tuesday to find a compromise to Ukraine’s rapidly-deteriorating political crisis.

It looks like a high-stakes version of muddle-through, the strategy that has kept Yanukovich in power as Ukraine’s economy has sunk into recession. But how long can the president last?

Chris Weafer of Macro-Advisory, a bespoke consultancy service covering Russia and the CIS, says frankly that it is “too early, and far too speculative, to make any predictions about what happens next”. That said, he offers some pointers."

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Abraaj successfully completes 15 exits in 2013 across global growth markets - bi-me.com

Abraaj successfully completes 15 exits in 2013 across global growth markets - Business Intelligence Middle East - bi-me.com - News, analysis, reports:

"The Abraaj Group (“Abraaj”), a leading investor operating in growth markets, announced today that it has successfully completed 15 exits through its Funds in 2013, including most recently:

•      The sale of Abraaj’s 50 per cent shareholding in Turkish health insurance company Acıbadem Sağlıkve Hayat Sigorta A.Ş. to Khazanah Nasional Berhad, the Government of Malaysia's strategic investment fund;

•      Abraaj’s full exit from its investment in GEMS Education, one of the world’s leading K-12 education providers;

•      The exit from Tunisian pharmaceutical company Opalia Pharma S.A. via the sale of its shareholding to Recordati, an international pharmaceutical company listed on the Italian stock exchange;"

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The Gulf States must deter Oman from leaving the GCC | The National

The Gulf States must deter Oman from leaving the GCC | The National:

"What are Oman’s motives for publicly rejecting the Gulf union and threatening to withdraw from the Gulf Cooperation Council if such a union is formed? This was the question posed by Jame El Theyabi in the London-based newspaper Al Hayat.

The Omani stance against upgrading the six-member GCC to a political union is not new and was voiced by Muscat immediately after Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz called for increased military and political cooperation between the GCC States during the 2011 GCC summit.

Asked by the writer about why Oman was unwelcoming to the Gulf Union, Omani foreign minister Yusuf bin Alawi said on the sidelines of Gulf Summit in Bahrain last year that: “Several other fields require integration before rushing into the Union.”

Despite the writer’s attempts to bring up Iran’s interference and the Syrian tragedy, the Omani minister argued: “We must steer clear of regional and international conflicts. We in Oman see that achieving peace starts by not entering conflicts and militarising the region and people.”"

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Ukraine Agrees With Slovakia on Piping Natural Gas From Europe - Bloomberg

Ukraine Agrees With Slovakia on Piping Natural Gas From Europe - Bloomberg:

"Ukraine agreed with neighbor Slovakia on conditions for supplying natural gas from the European Union through Slovak pipelines to reduce dependence on Russia.

The two sides agreed on conditions for flows of gas from west to east and will sign a memorandum as soon as Ukraine is ready, Vahram Chuguryan, a spokesman for Slovak pipeline company Eustream, said by phone. Ukraine may sign the deal this week, Kyiv Post online said, citing Energy Minister Eduard Stavytskyi.

Importing gas from the EU through Slovakia would provide an alternative to Russian supplies at a time when Ukraine has been rocked by protests led by pro-EU opposition to President Viktor Yanukovych. The president backed off European integration deals under pressure from Russia. In the biggest protests since the 2004 Orange Revolution, hundreds of thousands gathered yesterday in Kiev, where a statue of Vladimir Lenin was toppled."

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Banks cannot ease Ukraine’s reserve pain | Global Investing

Banks cannot ease Ukraine’s reserve pain | Global Investing:

"The latest data from Ukraine shows its hard currency reserves fell $2 billion over November to $18.9 billion. That’s perilously low by any measure. (Check out this graphic showing how poorly Ukraine’s reserve adequacy ratios compare with other emerging markets:


http://link.reuters.com/quq25v)

Central banks often have tricks to temporarily boost reserves, or at least, to give the impression that they are doing so. Turkey, for instance, allows commercial banks to keep some of their lira reserve requirements in hard currency and gold. Others may get friendly foreign central banks to deposit some cash. Yet another ploy is to issue T-bills in hard currency to mop up banks’ cash holdings. But it may be hard for Ukraine to do any of this says Exotix economist Gabriel Sterne, who has compared the Ukraine national bank’s plight with that of Egypt."

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▶ HSBC discusses UK spin-off - YouTube

▶ HSBC discusses UK spin-off - YouTube:

"The queue of UK banks considering an initial public offering is getting longer, and HSBC could join them by floating a stake in its UK retail and commercial business. Lex's Robert Armstrong and Oliver Ralph discuss the latest developments.


"

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MIDEAST STOCKS-Abu Dhabi crosses 4,000 mark; Dubai surges on real estate | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Abu Dhabi crosses 4,000 mark; Dubai surges on real estate | Reuters:

"Abu Dhabi's bourse crossed the 4,000 mark for the first time in five years on Monday, playing catch-up to gains on neighbouring Dubai's market, which extended a rally driven by the recovery in the real estate sector.

Abu Dhabi's index climbed 0.3 percent to 4,001 points, it's highest close since September 2008.

The market is up 52.1 percent year-to-date, while Dubai's index has rallied 91.1 percent in 2013.

Shares that were previously lagging the benchmark performance led gains on Monday. National Bank of Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi National Energy (TAQA) advanced 1.6 and 3.8 percent respectively."

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Gazprom to Offer Settlement in EU Investigation of Business Practices | Business | The Moscow Times

Gazprom to Offer Settlement in EU Investigation of Business Practices | Business | The Moscow Times:

"Gas export monopoly Gazprom has promised to present proposals this week to end a year-long investigation into its business practices and avert a possible fine of as much as $14.3 billion, the EU's anti-trust chief said Monday.

The European Commission last year told Gazprom that it may have impeded the free flow of gas in Central and Eastern Europe, blocked rival suppliers and overcharged customers by linking the price of its gas to oil.

The European Union competition watchdog earlier this year threatened to send formal charges to Gazprom, which supplies a quarter of Europe's gas consumption needs.

Bowing to EU pressure, Gazprom's deputy chairman Alexander Medvedev told EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia last week that the company was willing to settle the case."

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Abu Dhabi’s new Midfield Terminal set to feature metro link | The National

Abu Dhabi’s new Midfield Terminal set to feature metro link | The National:

"Abu Dhabi Airports Company (Adac) is in talks with the Department of Transport to provide road and railway connectivity to the new Midfield Terminal project.

“Part of the connectivity of the Midfield Terminal includes a significant interchange with the Department of Transport to link [the terminal] to the main highway,” said Tony Douglas, the chief executive of Adac.

Adac is also planning to provision space for a light rail or metro, once the project is ready."

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Abu Dhabi May Need To Lower Industry Growth Target » Gulf Business

Abu Dhabi May Need To Lower Industry Growth Target » Gulf Business:

"Abu Dhabi probably won’t reach its target for industrial growth by 2020 and will need to lower it, a senior government official said on Monday.

The oil-exporting emirate is investing billions of dirhams to diversify its economy, but the goal for industry is hard to reach, Ayman al Makkawy, director-general of the emirate’s new Industrial Development Bureau (IDB), said on Monday.

The original target was for industry to contribute 19 per cent of the economy by 2020 and 24 per cent by 2030. It now accounts for about 5.9 per cent.

“Progress has been flat after the (global) crisis. It is not impossible, but it is difficult to achieve,” al Makkawy said at a MEED conference. “We may take a fresh look at the original targets.” The world has changed after the targets were set a few years ago, he added."

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UK to boost UAE, Oman, Qatar tourists with fast-track visa - Politics & Economics - ArabianBusiness.com

UK to boost UAE, Oman, Qatar tourists with fast-track visa - Politics & Economics - ArabianBusiness.com:

"Passport holders of the UAE, Oman and Qatar will be able to visit the UK for up to six months using an electronic visa waiver (EVW) from January 1.
The EVW, which can be created online, offers a free, fast and simple alternative to a visit visa, the UK's Border Agency said in a statement. There are also plans to expand the visa to Kuwait later next year.
From Monday, applicants from the three countries can download an EVW using visa applications system Visa4UK. It can be used for travel to the UK on or after January 1 2014."

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Kazakhstani Company’s Retreat From London Raises Governance Questions - Transitions Online

Kazakhstani Company’s Retreat From London Raises Governance Questions - Transitions Online:

"When Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Nazarbaev, rang the bell to open trading on the London Stock Exchange in late November 2006, he was symbolically ushering in a new era. Companies flush with cash from Kazakhstan’s energy-driven economy were flocking to list in London, where they were welcomed as rising stars.

Seven years later, one of the Kazakhstani stars on the London exchange burned out: On 22 November, the Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC) beat an ignominious retreat from the LSE, buffeted by tumbling share prices, corruption scandals, legal tussles, and boardroom backstabbing.

It was a far cry from the triumphant day in 2007 when ENRC floated in London, worth 6.8 billion pounds ($11 billion) and pricing shares at 540 pence (about $8.75). By the end of its last day of trading, share values had plummeted by 60 percent, to 217.25 pence (about $3.50) apiece. And in a double whammy, the Kazakhstan Stock Exchange downgraded ENRC as it exited the LSE."

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Julius Baer Buys Merrill Wealth Units in U.A.E, Bahrain - Bloomberg

Julius Baer Buys Merrill Wealth Units in U.A.E, Bahrain - Bloomberg:

"Julius Baer Group Ltd. (BAER) took over businesses in Lebanon, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates as Switzerland’s third-largest wealth manager integrates the Merrill Lynch operations acquired last year.
“Gaining new footholds in the Middle Eastern markets of Lebanon and Bahrain and strengthening our existing Dubai presence is an important step for us and will enable us to further expand our footprint in this key growth region,” Remy Bersier, a member of the Zurich-based bank’s executive board, said in an e-mailed statement today.
The employees, client relationships and majority of assets from the three units were transferred in the first days of this month and the process should be completed in the first quarter of next year, the company said."

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Azerbaijani State Oil Fund Increases Stake Of Shares In Structure Of Investment Portfolio Eurasia Review

Azerbaijani State Oil Fund Increases Stake Of Shares In Structure Of Investment Portfolio Eurasia Review:

"
Against the background of recovery of the global economy, State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan (SOFAZ) will increase the stake of shares in its investment portfolio from the current five percent to 10 percent, SOFAZ Executive Director Shahmar Movsumov told Trend on Dec.6.

This is envisaged by the draft investment policy of the fund for 2014 adopted by SOFAZ Supervisory Board and submitted for the approval of the Azerbaijani president.
The stake of shares will be increased through decreasing the share of bonds to 80 percent, Movsumov said.

Today some 85 percent of the total value of SOFAZ investment portfolio is formed by money market instruments and debt market. Under the current investment policy, up to five percent of the investment portfolio may be invested in shares, up to five percent in real estate, up to five percent in gold."

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Minister: Qatar to see more competition, lower internet prices by 2016 | Doha News

Minister: Qatar to see more competition, lower internet prices by 2016 | Doha News:

"Government officials released Qatar’s first national broadband strategy on Sunday, a plan designed to guide and accelerate the rollout of high-speed internet across the country.

One of the key components of the document involves lowering prices and increasing accessibility for residents by injecting more competition into Qatar’s internet market.

Speaking at the opening of the Qatar National Broadband Symposium yesterday morning, Hessa Al-Jaber, the country’s minister of information and communications technology said:

“The speed and affordability of both fixed and mobile broadband remain major issues … (We want to) make the internet available to every citizen regardless of their social or economic situation.”"

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Qatar's non-oil, gas sector set for major growth - Politics & Economics - ArabianBusiness.com

Qatar's non-oil, gas sector set for major growth - Politics & Economics - ArabianBusiness.com:

"Qatar’s diversifying economy is set to reap rewards with the non-hydrocarbon sector predicted to be worth more than half of the country's GDP by 2015, according to the country’s biggest bank.
Speaking ahead of the Euromoney Qatar Conference  in Doha this week, Joannes Mongardini, Head of Economics at QNB Group, said the Qatar economy was booming and entering a new phase of economic growth not solely dependent on the traditional gas and oil sector.
“Large investments in construction, transport, real estate and petrochemical sectors will result in double-digit growth of the non-hydrocarbon sector over the next few years,” he said."

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Fresh setback for Gulf Navigation as recovery plan stalls | The National

Fresh setback for Gulf Navigation as recovery plan stalls | The National:

"Gulf Navigation’s plans to stay afloat hit a fresh obstacle after the company failed to gain shareholder approval for its recovery plans.

The company announced yesterday that an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) scheduled to take place last Thursday has been postponed, after it failed to reach the required attendance of shareholders holding at least 50 per cent of the company’s capital. The meeting has been rescheduled for January 5.

“It’s very disheartening,” said Sandeep Kadwe, Gulf Navigation’s managing director. “We were only short by a couple of per cent.”"

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Stars are aligned for a solid 2014 for UAE markets | The National

Stars are aligned for a solid 2014 for UAE markets | The National:

"The major news event for the UAE markets last month was Dubai winning the right to hold the World Expo 2020.

Topic Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange Dubai Financial Market Abu Dhabi 2030 Economic Vision
Many investors had anticipated a win and were proven right, and the market reacted well to the news. On the geopolitical front, the Middle East made headlines as the P5+1 group entered into a temporary six-month agreement with Iran, that if followed through with a wider long-term agreement, could lead to a fundamental change in the dynamics of the region.

The global environment also supported UAE markets as China unveiled a new focus on market-driven reforms and US equity markets hit record highs. UAE markets last month delivered slightly positive returns; Abu Dhabi’s benchmark index rose 0.1 per cent, and Dubai’s edged up 0.8 per cent."

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Canadian banks promoted across the Arabian Gulf | The National

Canadian banks promoted across the Arabian Gulf | The National:

"The virtues of Canadian banks, which survived the financial crisis of 2008 with their credit ratings and reserves intact, are being promoted this week in the region by Janet Ecker, Toronto’s financial services ambassador.

Mrs Ecker, the president and chief executive of the Toronto Financial Services Alliance (TFSA), a public-private partnership between Canadian municipal governments and the financial services industry, yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding with the Dubai International Financial Centre. It includes sharing information on regional and international as well as Islamic banking trends.

Mrs Ecker was last week in Bahrain, where she attended an Islamic banking conference, an area of finance in which she is keen to learn more about as Canada boasts a large Muslim population."

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Poland May Leave Rates at Record Low Through 2014, Chojna Says - Bloomberg

Poland May Leave Rates at Record Low Through 2014, Chojna Says - Bloomberg:

"Poland’s central bank may keep its benchmark interest rate at a record low for as much as half a year longer than its official guidance as inflation risk remains subdued, policy maker Elzbieta Chojna-Duch said.
“It should be possible to keep rates unchanged even until the end of next year,” Chojna-Duch said in a Dec. 7 interview in Warsaw. “Short-term forecasts suggest inflation could be lower than our projection of 1.7 percent and there isn’t going to be any wage or price pressure with the economy growing at its current pace.”
The Narodowy Bank Polski last month pledged to hold its seven-day reference rate at 2.5 percent until the middle of 2014, reiterating that stance after policy makers left borrowing costs unchanged on Dec. 4 for a fifth month. It eased policy by 2.25 percentage points since November 2012 as the economy may grow this year at its slowest pace in a decade."

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BIS Sounds Alarm Over Record Sales of Payment-in-Kind Junk Bonds - Bloomberg

BIS Sounds Alarm Over Record Sales of Payment-in-Kind Junk Bonds - Bloomberg:

"Record sales of high-yield payment-in-kind bonds is triggering uneasiness among international regulators who are concerned investors may suffer losses when central banks tighten monetary policy.
Issuance of the notes, which give borrowers the option to repay interest with more debt, more than doubled this year to $16.5 billion from $6.5 billion in 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. About 30 percent of issuers before the 2008 financial crisis have since defaulted, the Bank for International Settlements said in its quarterly review.
Companies are taking advantage of investor demand for riskier debt as central bank stimulus measures suppress interest rates and defaults approach historic lows. The average yield on junk-rated corporate bonds fell to a record 5.94 percent worldwide in May, Bank of America Merrill Lynch index data show, while global default rates dropped to 2.8 percent in October from 3.2 percent a year earlier, according to a Moody’s Investors Service report."

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WTI Oil Trades Near Six-Week High as China’s Crude Imports Climb - Bloomberg

WTI Oil Trades Near Six-Week High as China’s Crude Imports Climb - Bloomberg:

"West Texas Intermediate traded near the highest price in almost six weeks as China’s net crude imports rebounded in November and the U.S. jobless rate fell, signaling a recovery in the world’s biggest oil consumers.
Futures were little changed in New York after advancing 0.3 percent on Dec. 6 to cap a six-day advance, the longest rising streak since August. China’s net oil imports rose 19 percent to 5.73 million barrels a day last month, climbing from the lowest level in 14 months, data from the Beijing-based General Administration of Customs showed yesterday. The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 7 percent in November, the smallest in five years, according to Labor Department figures.
“The market is holding its gains,” said Ric Spooner, a chief analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney who predicts investors may sell West Texas contracts as prices approach $100 a barrel. “We’re into a zone of resistance after the rally we’ve seen so far. People will be watching to see what it does from here.”"

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