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Thursday, 12 December 2013

British lawyers in Dubai: Money for old laws | The Economist

British lawyers in Dubai: Money for old laws | The Economist:

"WHEN the United Arab Emirates gained its independence from Britain in 1971, little did it expect a second wave of colonialists: British lawyers. Clifford Chance, a London-based legal giant, opened a small office in Dubai in 1975 as it began to emerge as a commercial centre. Allen & Overy followed in 1978. As Dubai boomed, lawyers from Britain and other countries flooded in, soon crowding its legal market. A new type of court may yet give British legal minds an advantage over both local lawyers and foreign rivals.

Hoping to become the Middle East’s legal hub, in 2011 Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) threw open its courts to disputes from any country, provided both parties agree to be bound by its decisions. The attraction is that the courts use the English language and operate in public under English-style common law (Scotland has a different legal system). This makes the legal process more transparent and much less risky for Western firms, which are put off by the reputation of Dubai’s local civil-law courts for favouring Emiratis over foreigners, according to Will Buckby at Beale & Company, a law firm."

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ECONOMICS - Iran plans to build a pipeline to carry gas

ECONOMICS - Iran plans to build a pipeline to carry gas:

"Iran plans to build a pipeline to carry Iranian gas to European countries that want to import its gas, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız said during a meeting yesterday.

“We know Iran plans to build a big pipeline to carry gas to Europe and five European countries have already planned to buy Iranian gas,” Yıldız said, without giving any details about the route of the planned pipeline.

“As long as Iran develops more ties with the world, its relations with Turkey will also improve,” he added.

Turkey neighbors a region that is responsible for some 65 percent of energy production and consumption, Yıldız stressed. "

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ENERGY - Natural gas to overtake coal, says ExxonMobil

ENERGY - Natural gas to overtake coal, says ExxonMobil:

"Natural gas will overtake coal as a global energy source in the middle of the next decade, mainly due to the environmental benefits it offers, according to the latest energy outlook of ExxonMobil, the world’s largest energy company.

In its 2014 Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040, the company says around 2025 gas will become the world’s second most-used fuel on an energy-equivalent basis, behind oil, upon the rising demand for gas in power generation.

The outlook predicts demand for oil and natural gas, Exxon’s main products, will grow steadily because shippers and truckers will need more diesel to move more goods and utilities will need additional natural gas to make electricity for more people."

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High hopes for privatisation in Kuwait | beyondbrics

High hopes for privatisation in Kuwait | beyondbrics:

Kuwait has long grappled with its electricity supply. Every summer offers a reminder that the gap between power generation capacity and demand is woefully tight. In 2010, the working day stopped at midday to save power during the hottest months when Kuwaitis crank up their air conditioning. For the world’s ninth largest oil producer, this was pretty embarrassing.

Many of Kuwait’s power plants were built in the 1980s and are showing their age. Operations and maintenance work has been patchy at best and very few power stations have been built in recent years. Meanwhile, demand for power had risen by about 7 per cent a year over the past decade.

In a bid to boost efficiency, in 2010 the government invited private companies to construct, own and operate new power plants. Kuwait signed its first public-private partnership agreement on Thursday, making it the last Gulf state to adopt the private power model."

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Ukraine tests Templeton star Hasenstab's contrarian style | Reuters

Ukraine tests Templeton star Hasenstab's contrarian style | Reuters:

"The bet paid off in Ireland and it paid off in Hungary but star bond investor Michael Hasenstab's faith in distressed countries honouring their sovereign debts faces an even bigger test in Ukraine.

For the moment at least the fate of a $5 billion-plus punt on Ukraine government debt by the Franklin Templeton manager does not look promising. Political tensions are roiling Ukraine; less than $20 billion stand between it and a huge devaluation-cum-default combo.

But then Hasenstab, who oversees a team managing around $190 billion at Franklin Templeton, has made a name for himself with similarly contrarian investments.

Many were in unloved markets that eventually paid off big time. That has propelled Hasenstab's flagship $70 billion Global Bond Fund to the top of world bond fund league tables at investment research house Morningstar on a 10-year basis."

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Slovenia’s bank stress tests – in the clear? | beyondbrics

Slovenia’s bank stress tests – in the clear? | beyondbrics:

Slovenia is no longer the Switzerland of Eastern Europe – but perhaps not the Cyprus or Ireland, either.

Slovenia’s government is confident that it can now dodge the bullet of an international bailout, announcing on Thursday that it would be able to cover a whopping €3bn recapitalisation of its troubled banks from its own resources, despite that sum totalling nearly 10 per cent of GDP. While the announcement has been made with a palpable sense of relief in the tiny eurozone country, questions remain about implementation – and whether the absence of international pressure will allow Slovenia to stall on much-needed reforms.

The bailout package comes after stress tests by independent consultants, and will involve €2.1bn in government cash, €905m in bonds, and €1.1bn raised by five smaller banks in the country. Junior bondholders in the three biggest state-owned banks will take a €441m haircut."

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Omani rejection of GCC union adds insult to injury for Saudi Arabia - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East

Omani rejection of GCC union adds insult to injury for Saudi Arabia - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East:

Oman's Interior Minister Saud bin Ibrahim Al Busaidi attends the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)
Interior Ministers Conference, Manama, Nov. 28, 2013. (photo by REUTERS/Stringer)

Saudi Arabia’s proposal to move the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) toward unity received a blow during the IISS Manama Dialogue Forum, held Dec. 7 ahead of the council meeting in Kuwait, where ministers plan to discuss the issue.

Omani Foreign Minister Youssef bin Alawi surprised the audience when he bluntly declared that his country is against the union and will withdraw from the new body unless it sees the light. Oman had previously expressed its rejection of the Saudi proposal in 2011 but the minister’s recent statement came at Saudi Arabia’s worst moment, when both international and regional power shifts are increasingly eroding the Saudi position. Alawi’s statement shattered the illusion of cooperation and the chances of Gulf unity at a time when Saudi Arabia is desperate to regain its stature, at least among its Gulf neighbors."

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MIDEAST STOCKS-Dubai's Emaar surges on DWC deal; Egypt recovers to pre-revolution levels | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Dubai's Emaar surges on DWC deal; Egypt recovers to pre-revolution levels | Reuters:

"Dubai's Emaar Properties surged to a 63-month high on Thursday after the developer announced a joint-venture project near the emirate's 2020 World Expo site, while Cairo's bourse rallied to pre-revolution levels.

Emaar's project with Dubai World Central (DWC) includes hotels, malls and golf course communities.

"Emaar will benefit overall from the kind of projects being built around the Dubai real estate recovery as well as the World Expo 2020 - today's announcement is an example," said Ali Adou, portfolio manager at The National Investor. "The only real quality real estate name is Emaar in terms of financials."

Shares in Emaar surged 5.1 percent, the biggest one-day move in three months to hit their highest level since September 2008."

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Russia getting serious about the rouble? | beyondbrics

Russia getting serious about the rouble? | beyondbrics:

Russia has picked a symbol for the rouble kitting out the five centuries old national currency with a contemporary new look to rival the US dollar ($), the British pound (£) and the Japanese yen (¥) . It’s time for traders to take the rouble more seriously.

Hit by hyperinflation in the chaotic early 1990s and then by repeated devaluations, Russia’s rouble has become associated with trouble since the Soviet Union collapsed.

The new symbol launched on the Russian central bank’s website this week is supposed to change that and present a more positive image.

Based on the cyrillic letter “P” (which sounds like a Latin “R”) with a horizontal line superimposed on the stem, the new symbol is designed to “give an impression of the stability of the Russian currency,” according to the central bank.


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Guest post: Ukraine’s choice of Faustian bargains | beyondbrics - #EuroMaidan

Guest post: Ukraine’s choice of Faustian bargains | beyondbrics:

"By Chris Weafer of Macro-Advisory

Newsflow from Kiev is changing almost by the hour but one factor has become clear: President Viktor Yanukovich’s hope of striking a deal with both Brussels and Moscow has all but gone. The resilience of the protesters in Kiev and the pressure coming from both the EU and Russia means that he is fast being forced into making a choice between east or west. There is no longer any possibility of playing one off against the other and the time remaining to make a choice is running out.

There is also increasing speculation of pressure on Yanukovich from within his support group and the oligarchs to make some political concessions, e.g. to agree to a one term limit or to call fresh Rada elections, as a way to diffuse the current tensions. The argument is that in such an event both the EU and Russia would back off and wait to see how the situation developed."

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REFILE-Abu Dhabi broker ADS to enter UK in 2014, starts pricing the yuan | Reuters

REFILE-Abu Dhabi broker ADS to enter UK in 2014, starts pricing the yuan | Reuters:

"Abu Dhabi-based forex and commodities trading firm ADS plans to gain a licence to operate in the UK by early next year and has become one of the first Middle East brokers to start pricing the Chinese currency for customers in the region, its managing director said.

ADS, which is privately owned by investors from the United Arab Emirates, plans to set up an asset management and wealth management business next year and hopes to receive an FSA license from the United Kingdom before the end of this month as part of its international expansion strategy, Philippe Ghanem, managing director and vice chairman, said.

"We at ADS are looking at launching an asset management and wealth management business next year. We now have a fixed-income trading and capital markets brokerage business," he told Reuters in an interview in Abu Dhabi."

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Taqa targets $20m savings with HQ restructure

Taqa targets $20m savings with HQ restructure:

"Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (Taqa), an international energy and water company, aims to reduce general and administrative costs by more than $20 million in 2014 with a reorganisation at its headquarters.

“The corporate centre has grown over recent years to enable us to manage Taqa’s businesses across 11 countries effectively,” said Carl Sheldon, chief executive officer.

“Our commitment to pursuing excellence means we constantly review our cost base and monitor performance to ensure we deliver efficiently on our vision.”

As part of the reorganisation, the headquarters workforce will fall by 16 per cent, reducing the headcount in the corporate centre to 189."

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Putin promises crackdown on $111bln offshore money leak — RT Business

Putin promises crackdown on $111bln offshore money leak — RT Business:

RIA Novosti / Michail Klimentyev
An estimated $111 billion of Russian money, or 20 percent of the country’s exports, is 'lost' offshore, President Putin said. To make Russian companies more transparent, he proposes stricter penalties for firms that avoid paying domestic taxes.

Addressing officials in a state of the nation address Thursday in Moscow, Putin balked at the capital flight and said losses incurred have directly damaged the state budget, and that forces behind Russia's economic slowdown are internal, not external.

Rosneft’s March acquisition of TNK-BP for $55 billion made it the world’s largest listed crude oil producer, but Russia lost out because the sale was outside Russian jurisdiction, as Putin explained to in front of Assembly members of the major investment dollars lost."

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French carmakers poised to re-enter Iranian market -

French carmakers poised to re-enter Iranian market -

Industrial push: exports of cars and heavy vehicles
constitute close to 20 per cent of GDP
The French car industry is in line for a cash windfall as well as the opportunity to reclaim its once dominant standing in the Iranian market following a thawing of relations between Tehran and the international community.
Renault, which was selling nearly 100,000 cars a year in Iran before sanctions came into force, still has around €200m frozen in the country that could be returned to its French coffers, according to people with knowledge of the group.
The French group is also hopeful that it can win back a large part of the market share it once had in the Iranian car market, where total sales hit 1.6m in 2011, the year before new sanctions were introduced by the US and other world powers."

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Investing wobble risk is less - YouTube

Investing wobble risk is less - YouTube:


Like an Olympic gymnast the world economy is performing impressively, but balance is crucial. Alex Friedman, global chief investment officer at UBS, tells the FT's John Authers the beam is wide going into 2014 so wobble risk is low, and suggests how different asset classes may fare."

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Libya pins its hopes on foreign investors to develop shale gas | The National

Libya pins its hopes on foreign investors to develop shale gas | The National:

"Libya plans to allow foreign investors greater stakes in shale gas than in its closely held conventional hydrocarbons industry, part of a bid to create jobs and stability there.

National Oil Corporation (NOC) foresees granting foreign partners joint venture stakes of about 40 per cent, twice the share of existing contracts signed under the former Muammar Qaddafi regime, said Bashir Garea, the company’s exploration manager.

Unleashing fracking on Libya’s estimated 122 trillion cubic feet of shale gas – double the nation’s conventional gas reserves – could help to boost fuel security and create jobs, as it already has in North America."

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GCC bonds can expect to benefit from sustained strong macroeconomic backdrop | The National

GCC bonds can expect to benefit from sustained strong macroeconomic backdrop | The National:

"In line with the strength seen in the previous two months, certain risk assets – particularly equities – continued to perform strongly last month.

Developed-market equities were spurred by a stream of positive economic data from the United States as well as by the dovish tone struck by Janet Yellen, the expected successor to Ben Bernanke as chair of the US Federal Reserve. Renewed speculation about the Fed’s tapering of its monthly asset purchases started to affect benchmark rates, but the central bank continued to placate fears through its commitment to low rates.

European markets were helped by a cut in base rates early in the month and the European Central Bank’s determination to combat the risks associated with disinflation."

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U.S. Warns Ukraine of Sanctions After Protest Crackdown - Bloomberg #EuroMaidan

U.S. Warns Ukraine of Sanctions After Protest Crackdown - Bloomberg:

"The U.S. said it’s considering sanctions against Ukraine after riot police attempted to clear thousands of anti-government activists off the streets of Kiev.

Ukraine’s opposition rejected President Viktor Yanukovych’s offer of a roundtable meeting, saying he must pledge not to use force, release detained protesters and punish those responsible for violence against them before negotiations can begin. The government didn’t rule out further demolition of protest camps, Deputy Interior Minister Viktor Ratushnyak said yesterday.

“All policy options, including sanctions, are on the table,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said yesterday in Washington. “But obviously that still is being evaluated.”"

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