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Sunday, 19 January 2014

Saudi petrochemical giant SABIC posts 5.7% profit rise - Your Middle East

Saudi petrochemical giant SABIC posts 5.7% profit rise - Your Middle East:

"Saudi petrochemical giant SABIC said Sunday its net profit rose 5.7 percent in the last quarter of 2013, compared with the same period the year before, on the back of lower costs.

SABIC said its net profit reached $1.645 billion in the last three months of last year.

"The increase in net income is due to lower cost of sales and financial charges," the company said in a statement to the Saudi stock market.

SABIC, the Saudi Basic Industries Corp., is the largest publicly traded firm in the Gulf and one of the world's major petrochemicals groups."

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Rouhani to woo business in Davos but Iran hurdles abound | Reuters

Rouhani to woo business in Davos but Iran hurdles abound | Reuters:

"Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will court global business in Davos next week after winning an easing of some economic sanctions, but any trade bonanza depends on the long-term success of nuclear diplomacy.

A U.S. stranglehold on Iran's access to the international financial system, the uncertain future of talks on its nuclear program beyond a six-month initial deal, and vested interests in the Islamic Republic suspicious of Western investment all stand in Rouhani's way.

"I would be surprised if you saw Iran shooting quickly to the top of the list of attractive markets, although it may be attractive for certain manufactured goods companies in the short to medium term," said a Western business consultant who works with many of the world's biggest companies.

"The fact that Iran is making signals in the right direction is welcome but I think the bulk of business people will be cautious and will play a bit of a wait-and-see game," he said, asking - like many involved with Iran - not to be identified due to the political sensitivities."

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MIDEAST STOCKS-Poor blue chip earnings weigh on Saudi; Egypt tumbles after vote | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Poor blue chip earnings weigh on Saudi; Egypt tumbles after vote | Reuters:

"Disappointing earnings from two of Saudi Arabia's largest firms weighed on investors sentiment, while Egypt's market fell in heavy profit-taking after a strong backing for the country's new constitution. Other regional shares were mixed.

Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC), the world's largest chemicals producer and the biggest listed firm in the region by value, dropped 2.3 percent after its quarterly earnings missed estimates.

The firm reported a 5.7 percent rise in fourth-quarter net income to 6.16 billion riyals ($1.64 billion) in the quarter, below the average forecast of 6.58 billion riyals.

Other petrochemical shares were also hit with SABIC subsidiary Kayan Petrochemical losing 5 percent and Rabigh Refining and Petrochemical down 5.9 percent.

Iyad Ghulam, an analyst from Saudi Arabia's NCB Capital, said in a note that lower sales and weak earnings from SABIC subsidiaries were to blame for its miss but the stock remains attractive, underpinned by long-term earnings growth."

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Empower buys cooling firm for $500 million in latest Dubai asset shuffle | Reuters

Empower buys cooling firm for $500 million in latest Dubai asset shuffle | Reuters:

"Dubai district cooling firm Empower bought Palm Utilities from a unit of Dubai World DBWLD.UL for $500 million on Sunday, part of a shuffle of assets between companies ultimately owned by Dubai's government or the emirate's ruler.

Acquiring Palm Utilities, which includes Palm District Cooling, will give Empower about 70 percent of the United Arab Emirates' district cooling market, a company statement said.

District cooling is a centralized system for chilling large buildings, such as offices, factories and tower blocks, instead of having a large number of individual air conditioning units.

Empower will immediately take over all operations, assets and liabilities of Palm Utilities, which was previously owned and operated by Istithmar World."

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Net Capital Outflow for 2013 Rises to $62.7Bln | Business | The Moscow Times

Net Capital Outflow for 2013 Rises to $62.7Bln | Business | The Moscow Times:

"Russian companies and banks raised their net capital outflows in 2013 even as the country's current account surplus halved, according to Central Bank data, underscoring the weak state of the economy and the fragility of the ruble.

The negative trends for both trade and investment flows highlight the growing problems facing the economy, which has recently seen a sharp slowdown in growth.

Typically, surpluses in the current account of the country's balance of payments are balanced out by deficits on the capital account, meaning net capital outflows. A fall in the current account surplus should mean there are less surplus savings to be invested outside the country.

But the Central Bank late last week estimated that the net capital outflow last year came to $62.7 billion, up from a $54.6 billion outflow in 2012, while the current account surplus more than halved to an estimated $33 billion from $72 billion in 2012."

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Renewable Energy Critical for Gulf States | Crossroads Arabia

Renewable Energy Critical for Gulf States | Crossroads Arabia:

"The National newspaper out of Dubai sees Saudi Arabia as the bellwether of renewable energy in the Gulf. The article notes Saudi planning on solar, wind, waste, and geothermal sources. It also gives brief outlines of what the other Gulf states have on the drawing board.

The reasons behind this expanded interest in renewable energy is that the countries of the GCC — with Saudi Arabia again in the lead — are becoming major energy consumers. To date, the countries have met this need through the use of domestically produced oil and gas. The day is coming, though, when domestic demand will outstrip production. This will not only impact those who rely on the energy being produced, but will kill the economies based on the export of oil."

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Bahrain Courts Asia Airlines in Bid to Narrow Gap With Gulf Hubs - Bloomberg

Bahrain Courts Asia Airlines in Bid to Narrow Gap With Gulf Hubs - Bloomberg:

"Bahrain Airports Co. said it’s in talks with Asian airlines as it seeks to attract more services to a hub that’s undergoing a $980 million upgrade aimed at doubling capacity to 13.5 million passengers over five years.

BAC is targeting half a dozen carriers from China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore with “aggressive incentives,” Chief Executive Officer Mohamed Yousif Al-Binfalah said yesterday in an interview. The state-owned company expects to boost passenger numbers 6 percent in 2014 from last year’s 7.4 million.

Bahrain is touting for business after losing out to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar in the competition for major hub status after national carrier Gulf Air grew at a slower pace than local rivals, leading to losses that resulted in job and route cuts. Terminal-expansion work at Bahrain International Airport should begin at the end of this year following a tender for construction contracts in the third quarter, Al-Binfalah said."

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Australian Marcus Lee flies home from Dubai after four-year legal nightmare - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Australian Marcus Lee flies home from Dubai after four-year legal nightmare - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation):

"Australian businessman Marcus Lee has boarded a flight and left Dubai more than four years after he was first arrested on fraud charges he was later cleared of.

Mr Lee served nine months in prison before being acquitted twice of fraud charges relating to a property deal.

On Friday, Mr Lee and his wife tried to board a flight home but were turned away by authorities.

The Australian Ambassador to Dubai intervened and gave high-level assurances the Lees would be allowed to leave Dubai on a flight the next day.

Mr Lee's lawyer, John Sneddon, says he has received word today that his client has cleared customs and is on a flight to Sydney."

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Abu Dhabi Index Rises to 5-Year High Led by Banks; Saudi Drops - Bloomberg

Abu Dhabi Index Rises to 5-Year High Led by Banks; Saudi Drops - Bloomberg:

"Abu Dhabi’s benchmark index, the world’s fourth-best performing measure last year, rose to the highest in more than five years, as investors bet on strong bank earnings. Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul Index fell.

The ADX General Index gained for a third day, advancing 0.9 percent to 4,561.96, its highest close since August 2008. United Arab Bank rose more than 8 percent. First Gulf Bank PJSC (FGB), the United Arab Emirates’ third-biggest lender, rose as much as 2.6 percent on more than four times the three-month average daily volume. Dubai’s benchmark DFM General Index (DFMGI) added 0.2 percent.

Share prices in Abu Dhabi, which rose 63 percent last year, have benefited from a recovery in the U.A.E.’s financial and property markets and beat all except three benchmarks of more than 90 tracked by Bloomberg. The sheikhdom’s economy is expected to grow at an average 5.7 percent a year through 2016, according to the emirate’s economic development department. That compares with estimated global growth of 2.8 percent this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg."

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$64bn in transactions marks the Dubai property boom in 2013 but will the recovery falter this year? « ArabianMoney

$64bn in transactions marks the Dubai property boom in 2013 but will the recovery falter this year? « ArabianMoney:

"The total amount of property sold or mortgaged in Dubai jumped by a staggering 53 per cent to $64 billion last year, according to new data from the Dubai Land Department. So the $64 billion question is clearly now whether this will continue or even accelerate this year.

The number of individual property transactions rose by 52 per cent to 63,652 with $17 billion worth of apartments and villas either sold or mortgaged. Land sales and mortgages of more than $47 billion represented a huge inflow of capital into the emirate in advance of its successful bid for the Expo 2020."

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Qatar sending 50 jets to Saudi Arabia for new airline | Plane Talking

Qatar sending 50 jets to Saudi Arabia for new airline | Plane Talking:

"
A Qatar Airways A320, soon to 'colonise' Saudi skies? Wiki Commons
While Gulf airlines seem to be demonised in the same terms by their opponents in the debate about how all of them apart from Emirates are bad for Qantas Australia, the three majors, which include Etihad and Qatar Airways are rapidly becoming less similar to each other.

In the case of Qatar this was underlined at the recent Bahrain Air Show, where it gave more detail to previously announced plans for its launching this year of a new domestic airline in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi airline market bears some resemblance to Australia’s at the end of the two airline policy. The kingdom is open to foreign backed domestic competition and decades of stasis, but the barriers that remain are substantial, as described in this earlier CAPA analysis of the plans for the new carrier, which will be called Al Maha.

Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said that apart from some possible short leases, Al Maha wouldn’t need to buy any airliners for its 50 strong fleet of single aisle and wide body Airbuses. To summarise his comments, Qatar has more than enough planes already and will send what is needed into neighboring Saudi Arabia."

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Israeli delegation at Abu Dhabi meet puts UAE on defensive | The Times of Israel

Israeli delegation at Abu Dhabi meet puts UAE on defensive | The Times of Israel:

"An Israeli minister visited the United Arab Emirates for the first time in several years Saturday, but was met by protests and a promise from the Emirate that it was not normalizing ties with Jerusalem.

Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom attended a meeting of the International Renewable Energy Agency, headquartered in Abu Dhabi.

It was the first state visit by a high-ranking Israeli official since before the 2010 assassination of Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a Dubai hotel room, a killing Israel was blamed for.

Israel does not have diplomatic relations with the UAE; it was the first time Israel sent a delegation to the meeting of IRENA, which was founded in 2009."

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POLITICS - Turkey avoids getting involved with dispute between Iraqi Kurds and Baghdad on oil deal

POLITICS - Turkey avoids getting involved with dispute between Iraqi Kurds and Baghdad on oil deal:

"Ankara avoids interfering with an ongoing dispute between the central government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) over the latter’s plans to export oil abroad via Turkey.

Turkey, instead, prefers to see the outcome of ongoing talks between parties with an “I do not want to influence the process” attitude, a Turkish official told Hürriyet Daily News.

The issue came up at a meeting between Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and his Iraqi counterpart Hoshyar Zebari on Jan. 17. Minister Davutoğlu expressed Turkey’s will for an immediate solution to the dispute.

The Turkish government has been saying it sides with a peaceful solution to be reached with Baghdad and Arbil, asserting it has no interest in interfering with the Iraqi governments’ business."

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Saudi Gazette - GCC growth, debut issues to drive sukuk rebound in 2014

Saudi Gazette - GCC growth, debut issues to drive sukuk rebound in 2014:

"Qatar’s imminent sukuk issuance of roughly $3 billion will kick-start what may be a record year for the Shariah-compliant debt market, Fitch Ratings said. Regional growth and robust government spending are likely to be partially funded through sukuk programs in established Gulf Cooperation Council sukuk markets. At the same time, strong investor demand is likely to attract debut issues from Islamic and non-Islamic states in 2014.

The push by sovereigns in the region to be become an Islamic finance hub is also likely to spur sukuk issuance.

“We estimate that issuance dropped around 12 percent to $120 billion in 2013 due in part to market jitters over US bond purchase tapering. However, demand remains strong and we expect this decline to be a blip in the longer-term trend of steady growth, with 2014 issuance likely to be at least in line with 2012’s record of $137 billion,” Fitch Ratings said."

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UAE holds jobs fair in London to prepare for next stage of development | The National

UAE holds jobs fair in London to prepare for next stage of development | The National:

"The UAE reached out to a world of bright young talent on Saturday, looking for Emirati and foreign students who could provide skills and leadership needed for the country’s next phase of development.

A careers fair opened in London to provide graduates and undergraduates with introductions to a wide range of opportunities.

About 800 young people signed up for the event, with more arriving to register as the exhibition opened.

In the keynote speech at the opening ceremony, Noura Al Kaabi, chief executive of the Abu Dhabi media zone authority twofour54, said: “There has never been a more exciting time to work in the UAE.”"

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Dubai Investments, Union Properties to develop plots around Dubai Expo 2020 site | The National

Dubai Investments, Union Properties to develop plots around Dubai Expo 2020 site | The National:

"Khaled bin Kalban, the Dubai Investments chief executive, says the company will be tying up with Union Properties to develop pockets of land around Dubai’s Expo site.

Other pieces of land that the investment company owns bordering the Expo site will be developed under the DI banner.

“We will be an announcing some major projects in two to three months with regard to our sites around the Expo site,” said Mr bin Kalban yesterday. “Some we will tie up with Union Properties and others we will develop on our own as Dubai Investments.”

DI invests in joint ventures and local companies with about 40 subsidiaries. It has interests in property developers and building materials along with other businesses."

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Saudi leads the way as Arabian Gulf countries embrace renewable energy | The National

Saudi leads the way as Arabian Gulf countries embrace renewable energy | The National:

"The UAE’s Arabian Gulf neighbours have announced various renewable energy plans aimed at reducing their reliance on oil and gas for power and water generation, with Saudi Arabia leading the way with an ambitious programme, as the drop in solar energy prices encourages governments.

“Governments are well aware that our oil and gas resources are not infinite and require careful management,” said Gus Schellekens, Middle East sustainability leader, and Hannes Reinisch, senior manager for sustainability and renewables, at PricewaterhouseCoopers. “There is a crossover point where our own domestic economies will use more of the hydrocarbon production than is exported, reducing the revenues we can derive from international markets."

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Dubai property transactions soar 53 per cent on wave of optimism | The National

Dubai property transactions soar 53 per cent on wave of optimism | The National:

"The amount of Dubai property changing hands in 2013 rose by an eye-watering 53 per cent last year to Dh236 billion, according to official figures.

According to new data issued yesterday by the Dubai Land Department, the total amount of property or land in the city which was sold or mortgaged rose from Dh154 billion in 2012 to Dh236bn last year.

The organisation’s Real Estate Sector Development Department said that the number of property transactions taking place in Dubai also rose 52 per cent compared with the previous year to 63,652."

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Inflationary beast yet to be tamed in the Gulf | GulfNews.com

Inflationary beast yet to be tamed in the Gulf | GulfNews.com:

"In these post-crisis times, inflation has almost become regarded around the world as a good thing. Certainly it seems the settled position of both policymakers and commentators that the opposite condition, deflation, is a very, very bad thing indeed.
As discussed here last week, governments and their agencies the central banks are doing their utmost to keep prices rising, to enable the steady diminution of accumulated debt on the one hand, and prod consumers into spending rather than saving their cash on the other.
Such is the fright that the potential for deflation creates that the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, last week referred to it as an “ogre that must be fought decisively”. Doubtless, with special concern for the workability of the Eurozone, that warning was heartfelt."

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