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Thursday, 9 January 2014

Shake-up at Standard Chartered

Middle East and North Africa: key economic issues in 2014 - @Baptist_Simon

Middle East and North Africa: key economic issues in 2014:

"Since the onset of the Arab Spring in 2011 the Middle East and North Africa has in effect been a tale of the "haves" and "have nots". The countries most affected by unrest, and in some cases war, have seen their economies stagnate. The more stable countries—which, not coincidentally, have also typically been oil-rich—have boomed on the back of fiscal stimulus and high oil prices. Yet 2014 should see the start of an unwinding of this trend, as the oil-rich "haves" take their foot off the fiscal pedal and the "have nots" begin to benefit from the upturn in the euro zone."

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Uncertainty hangs over future running of Abu Dhabi's big oilfields | Reuters

Uncertainty hangs over future running of Abu Dhabi's big oilfields | Reuters:

"* Output seen unaffected, ADNOC needs to sell much more crude

* Majors unlikely to offer help, technology despite staff staying

By Daniel Fineren

DUBAI, Jan 9 (Reuters) - The long-term future of fields that produce about half Abu Dhabi's oil remains unclear with only one day of a 75-year partnership with western oil companies left to run.

Some of the world's largest energy companies - ExxonMobil , Royal Dutch Shell, Total and BP - have been pumping crude from the Abu Dhabi desert for decades, taking payment in oil.

From midnight on Friday, the 9.5 percent equity stakes that each held in the venture operating the fields will expire."

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Czech: billionaire Babis, would-be FinMin, agent of change | beyondbrics

Czech: billionaire Babis, would-be FinMin, agent of change | beyondbrics:

"For most people becoming finance minister is a huge professional promotion – for Andrej Babis, whose fertiliser-to-media empire has made him the Czech Republic’s second wealthiest man, it will mark a bit of a comedown.

Under a preliminary agreement to create a new coalition government, Babis looks set to take over the finance ministry, one of his demands to bring his newly formed Ano party into the government.

If approved as minister, Babis plans to spend his time cracking down on tax cheats, improving the flow of EU funds into the Czech economy and battling to ensure corporate taxes do not rise. That dovetails with the reason Babis gave for going into politics in an interview with beyondbrics before October’s election."

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Bulls hold firm on UAE bourses |

Bulls hold firm on UAE bourses |

"Bulls continued to hold firm on UAE bourses on Thursday on hopes of strong economic recovery and growing investor confidence.
Banks and real estate shares got a boost in Dubai with the DFM General Index closing higher by 1.77 per cent at 3504.66 points. Both volume and value crossed the one-billion mark on strong trading activity.
The index opened at 3,443.76 points and so far the index has gained four per cent for the year.
Among the gainers, Al Salam Sudan rose for the second straight day by 14.71 per cent to Dh2.73, followed by Al Salam Bank — Bahrain by 9.09 per cent to Dh1.68 and Drake & Scull by 8.67 per cent to Dh1.63."

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Dubai’s developers raise the stake higher against speculation |

Dubai’s developers raise the stake higher against speculation |

"The stakes are being further raised against speculative buying and selling of off-plan property in Dubai. Now, developers are not giving the green signal to those off-plan purchases where the investor has paid up to 50 per cent of the property cost, say industry sources.
“We have received feedback from some affected off-plan buyers to this effect in the last fortnight or so,” said Robin Teh, country manager at the property services firm Chesterton International. “These buyers had paid 50 or more of the value and as such there is nothing to prevent them from selling.
“But the concerned developer declined to issue a no-objection certificate for the deal to go ahead; we are trying to ascertain whether this applies to an individual developer or others are also doing it.”"

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World’s Biggest Wealth Fund Sees Backing to Expand Mandate - Bloomberg

World’s Biggest Wealth Fund Sees Backing to Expand Mandate - Bloomberg:

"Norway’s $820 billion sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, is closer to getting the go ahead to expand into more asset classes as it struggles to meet return targets.

Investing in pipelines, roads and other infrastructure would be a good fit for the wealth fund as the government considers ways to get more out of the investor, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said yesterday in an interview in Oslo.

The 52-year-old Conservative Party leader is reviewing how the fund is managed after taking office in October. Built from oil and gas revenue, the fund has missed a 4 percent return target over the past decade, in part as financial market turmoil that started in the U.S. and spread to Europe led to record investment losses.

Broadening the mandate to infrastructure is “part of the discussion that we will have,” Solberg said. “The most important part is that we have security in our investments. We should do it conservatively and without much risk-taking.”"

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EFG-Hermes Soars on Buyback After Trades Annulled - Bloomberg

EFG-Hermes Soars on Buyback After Trades Annulled - Bloomberg:

"EFG-Hermes Holding SAE jumped on a share buyback plan after yesterday’s trades in the Egyptian investment bank were canceled on suspicion of insider trading.

The stock soared by the daily limit of 10 percent to 9.79 Egyptian pounds at the close in Cairo, the highest since February, after EFG-Hermes’s board approved a 1 billion-pound ($143 million) purchase of its own shares. The benchmark EGX 30 Index advanced 1.3 percent.

Yesterday’s transactions were annulled after the stock gained the most since July on volumes of 2.5 times the three-month daily average. The moves led the bourse to suspect an information leak, said an official who asked not to be identified because he isn’t authorized to speak on the matter. Investigations of insider trading are almost always settled out of court in Egypt, according to Wafik Dawood, director of institutional sales Mega Investments Securities.

“An exceptional rally on exceptional volumes triggers a red flag for the bourse,” Cairo-based Dawood said by phone. “Usually insider trading is pretty hard to detect. In this case, the leakage was obvious.”"

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Daily chart: More valleys than hills | The Economist

Daily chart: More valleys than hills | The Economist:

"Commodity prices are close to the bottom of the cycle

GROWTH has slowed in China, the destination of most of the world’s exports of iron ore, copper and other metals, as well as increasing quantities of oil and corn. Many analysts have declared that the China-driven commodities "supercycle" has run out of steam. But that may be premature. While global population growth is slowing, the number of people added each year is still increasing. Similarly, China’s economy will be 65% bigger in 2014 than it was in 2008. Macquarie, a bank, reckons that the growth of global demand for steel will slip to 3.1% a year between 2012 and 2018, compared with 3.3% in the previous six-year period, but that in absolute terms it will go from 45m tonnes a year to 50m tonnes a year. The same trend will apply to copper, aluminium, nickel, lead, zinc and tin. In terms of its impact on demand, Chinese growth of 7.5% today is the equivalent to 12% growth in 2008. On top of this there is growth from other Asian economies and the recovery of the American economy. The pace of increase in commodity prices may not match that of yesteryear, but the next upward climb looks set to start in 2014.


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Alcoa Subsidiary Pleads Guilty to Bahrain Bribery - ABC News

Alcoa Subsidiary Pleads Guilty to Bahrain Bribery - ABC News:

"A subsidiary of Alcoa Inc. has pleaded guilty and the company will pay $384 million for paying bribes to the Middle Eastern Kingdom of Bahrain through a London-based middleman.

The corporate secretary for Alcoa World Alumina LLC pleaded guilty on behalf of the company on Thursday in federal court in Pittsburgh.

The company acknowledged violating the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Parent company Alcoa says it's not being charged and continues to cooperate with the investigation.

The criminal charges are related to a lawsuit filed by Aluminum Bahrain BSC, also known as Alba.

Alba contends Alcoa affiliates bribed Bahrain officials and Alba executives, resulting in Alba overpaying for raw materials.

Alcoa will pay $223 million in criminal penalties. Separately, it settled civil allegations filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission and pay it $164 million."

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India’s earnings season: big picture fine, details less so | beyondbrics

India’s earnings season: big picture fine, details less so | beyondbrics:

"Indian markets have been upbeat of late. Investors appear to have put concerns over liquidity and EM currencies behind them, while many expect a stable government to emerge after this year’s general election.

As the country’s earnings season begins on Friday the upbeat mood is expected to continue, with analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch expecting profits to rise 22 per cent year-on-year for Sensex listed companies on a consolidated basis.

Before labelling this a turning point however, analysts at the bank point out that just five companies are responsible for almost 70 per cent of that growth, and that profits are expected to drop for six of the 30 companies included in their calculations."

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CY, Qatar Airways finalising $20m sale of Heathrow slot (updated) | Cyprus Mail

CY, Qatar Airways finalising $20m sale of Heathrow slot (updated) | Cyprus Mail:

"Cyprus Airways (CY) said on Wednesday it was in the final stage of a deal with Qatar Airways for the sale of the national carrier’s time slot at London’s Heathrow airport for $20 million (€14.7 million).

The two sides’ legal advisers were in the process of drafting the agreement and further statements will be made after it was finalised, the airline said.

Workers had voiced opposition to the sale in the past.

Pilot union PASYPI said it had written to four ministers – finance, communications, commerce, and labour — asking for financial support to avoid selling the time slot.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, PASYPI said the board wanted to sell one of two time slots at Heathrow because of significant deficits in the “guaranteed” provident fund caused by bad management."

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Named after an opera by Verdi, a top Hungarian official recalls it as a soap opera

Named after an opera by Verdi, a top Hungarian official recalls it as a soap opera:

"South Stream: The Evolution of a Pipeline in Budapest, Hungary was an event about the prospects for building the South Stream natural gas pipeline, but Hungarian State Secretary for Energy Affairs, Pál Kovács, recalled a melody waning in the background: Nabucco.

In June 2013, he recalled, the Shah Deniz consortium chose the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) over the Nabucco West pipeline for numerous reasons.

Of Nabucco, Minister Kovacs commented: “First of all, the international company didn't do everything it could have toward the success of this project. Let us just consider that 10 years was not enough for them to put together a realistic and competitive concept; in that time they just tired everyone out, collected top fees and salaries, but in 10 years we saw things clearly.

“Children grow up in 10 years, so it's too long a time for making a project successful.”

He noted that TAP had achieved its objective in 1 year, and recalled the “SEEP” project, which would have relied upon existing infrastructure, adding bits and pieces when necessary from the Bulgarian-Turkish border to the Austrian hub."

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ENERGY - Iraqi Kurdistan’s first oil exports via Turkey pipeline seen by end-Jan

ENERGY - Iraqi Kurdistan’s first oil exports via Turkey pipeline seen by end-Jan:

"The first crude has started to flow through the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region's new pipeline across Turkey and the first independent exports are expected to begin at the end of this month, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said on Jan. 8.

The first parcel of 2 million barrels of oil will be sold via a tender, KRG’s Ministry of Natural Resources said on the government’s web site. It invited bidders for the January tender.

The monthly export parcels will then increase to 4 million barrels and 6 million barrels in February and March respectively, it said. The monthly exports are estimated to reach 10-12 million barrels in December."

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▶ Party like it's 1999? - YouTube

▶ Party like it's 1999? - YouTube:

"It could be time to party like it's 1999 - when stock markets had a ball. David Bowers, co-founder of Absolute Strategy Research, explains to John Authers that the chances of sparking growth rest on three regime changes


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End of Abu Dhabi’s oil concession nigh but partners to stay on behind the scenes | The National

End of Abu Dhabi’s oil concession nigh but partners to stay on behind the scenes | The National:

"Abu Dhabi’s oldest oilfield concession expires on Friday, but the departing foreign shareholders will stay on behind the scenes as de facto partners.

The prized constellation of onshore oilfields, held since the Second World War by a consortium of companies from western countries, is to have Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) as its sole shareholder until new partners are selected in what is expected to be a year’s time."

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Insurance and realty shares lift Dubai index up 1.96 per cent |

Insurance and realty shares lift Dubai index up 1.96 per cent |

"Dubai’s benchmark measure DFM General Index rose 1.96 per cent to 3,443.76 points on Wednesday after some recent bouts of profit-taking, led by insurance and real estate shares.
The Fed is expected to release the minutes of its December policy meeting and the US jobs data late last night [Wednesday night] which are expected to be positive and this fuelled rally in stock markets across the world.
“I believe the UAE market had over reacted on announcement of new margin lending rules. The new rules are actually positive for the market in the long-term but may lead to more volatility in the short-term,” Vijay Harpalani, assistant fund manager at Al Mal Capital, told Gulf News."

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Iraq Is New Schism for Saudis in Strained Alliance With West - Bloomberg

Iraq Is New Schism for Saudis in Strained Alliance With West - Bloomberg:

"Few goods transit the desert border between the Middle East’s two biggest oil producers, and Saudi authorities have built a fence to help ensure that political instability in Iraq doesn’t cross over either.

Dysfunctional ties between the countries have come into focus as a wave of violence sweeps Iraq, turning it into another arena where Saudi interests are diverging from those of the U.S. Fighting is centered in Anbar province, bordering Saudi Arabia, where Sunni fighters with ties to al-Qaeda are rebelling against the Shiite-led government of Nouri al-Maliki, which is supported by Iran.

The Saudi view is that Maliki is “aggravating the feelings of marginalization that some Iraqi Sunnis have long complained about, and that are at the root of the current violence,” said Fahad Nazer, a political analyst at Vienna, Virginia-based intelligence analyst JTG, and a former analyst for the Saudi embassy in Washington."

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