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Tuesday, 11 February 2014

EconoMonitor » Iran’s Return Prompts Changes to Saudi Arabia Energy Strategy

EconoMonitor : EconoMonitor » Iran’s Return Prompts Changes to Saudi Arabia Energy Strategy:

"As the Iranian nuclear deal begins to take effect and international pressure on the regime continues to diminish, Gulf nations have begun re-establishing diplomatic and economic relations with their once-distant neighbor. The deal has struck an optimistic tone in the Middle East, and officials in the United Arab Emirates are taking the opportunity to settle old disputes and increase energy cooperation with their neighbor across the Gulf.

Iran and the UAE are close to reaching an agreement on three long-disputed islands near the Strait of Hormuz, perhaps the world’s most important oil chokepoint. The strait carried roughly 35 percent of all seaborne traded oil in 2011. According to a high level UAE source, “Iran will retain sea bed rights around the three islands while the UAE will hold sovereignty over the land.” Omani officials mediated the talks."

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Qatar Investment Authority backs UK - Telegraph

Qatar Investment Authority backs UK - Telegraph:

"The head of one of the world's largest sovereign wealth funds says the UK remains a "main destination" for investment despite doubts about the country's future in the European Union and the outcome of the general election next year.

Ahmad Al-Sayed, chief executive of the Qatar Investment Authority, said the fund was a "long-term investor" and stressed it was committed to London and the UK.

Mr Al-Sayed was speaking at Harrods, which the QIA bought for about £1.5bn in 2010, as the department store unveiled a new glass chandelier in its grand hall entrance.

He said it was a symbol of QIA's efforts to modernise the famous Knightsbridge store after buying it from Mohamed Al Fayed."

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MIDEAST STOCKS-Dubai extends gains, other markets mixed with few cues | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Dubai extends gains, other markets mixed with few cues | Reuters:

"* Dubai rebounds from intra-day loss

* Gulf's dollar pegs lure money from weak emerging markets

* Kuwait firm after oil refinery bids approved

* Labour crackdown continues to dampen Saudi Arabia

* Real estate-related shares strong in Egypt

By Nadia Saleem

DUBAI, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Dubai's bourse rose further on Tuesday after a choppy session as it tried to break free of the 4,000-point psychological resistance level, while other regional markets were narrowly mixed because of a lack of fresh catalysts.

The Dubai index climbed 1.0 percent to a fresh five-year closing high of 4,065 points after rebounding from an intra-day loss of roughly 1 percent - a sign that buyers remain ready to step in on any weakness in the market.

"Expectations for the earnings we haven't seen yet are high and given the state of emerging markets, there is some interest in dollar-pegged markets like the UAE (United Arab Emirates) from countries where currencies are under pressure," said Amer Khan, head of asset management at Shuaa Asset Management."

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Mubadala says assessing options for $1.25 bln bond maturity | Reuters

Mubadala says assessing options for $1.25 bln bond maturity | Reuters:

"Abu Dhabi's state fund Mubadala is assessing whether to issue a new bond when a $1.25 billion issue matures in May, the fund said on Tuesday.

"As with any debt maturity within the Mubadala group, we are currently assessing options for the May 2014 $1.25 billion bond maturity," a spokesperson said in an e-mailed reply to Reuters questions.

The maturity is part of a $1.75 billion, two-tranche bond which the fund sold in 2009, with the remaining $500 million set to mature in 2019. The only other time Mubadala has publicly sold debt was in April 2011, when it sold a $1.5 billion, two-part bond.

Mubadala, rated AA by Fitch and Standard & Poor's, is an investment vehicle fully owned by the Abu Dhabi government."

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Kazakhstan Devalues National Currency | Business | RIA Novosti

Kazakhstan Devalues National Currency | Business | RIA Novosti:

"ALMATY, February 11 (RIA Novosti) – Kazakhstan’s central bank devalued the national currency by 18.9 percent Tuesday in an effort to prevent the destabilization of the country’s economy.

The oil-rich Central Asian state will keep the tenge at a rate of 182-188 to the US dollar, Kazakhstan’s National Bank said in a statement. The official rate of the tenge was 155.56 to the dollar Monday.

Kazakhstan will ease support for the national currency and reduce interventions on the market, the Almaty-based bank said. In recent years, Kazakhstan had maintained the tenge’s value at 145-155 per dollar."

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After Doubling Backlog, Arabtec Looks to Manage Growth - Middle East Real Time - WSJ

After Doubling Backlog, Arabtec Looks to Manage Growth - Middle East Real Time - WSJ:

"A week after winning a $6.1 billion contract to build 37 towers in the United Arab Emirates, the Dubai-listed Arabtec is setting up five new subsidiaries, an apparent move to better manage the sudden growth.

The contract awarded last week by the Abu Dhabi-based Aabar Properties represented a leap ahead for Arabtec, which was founded in 1975. The deal came with the promise of $20 billion in new construction contracts globally, setting the stage for even more growth. Aabar Investments, the parent of Aabar Properties, is a major shareholder in Arabtec.

Arabtec said Sunday that its board approved the establishment of five units that will invest both inside and outside the U.A.E. and focus on airports, power plants, water projects and other infrastructure. One unit will be focused on Egypt, while another, called Arabtec Capital, will provide financial services to Arabtec divisions and other companies."

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Times of Oman | News :: UAE plans tax on vehicles crossing border

Times of Oman | News :: UAE plans tax on vehicles crossing border:

"Prices of essential commodities, especially cooking oils, pulses and spices, are set to rise if the United Arab Emirates (UAE) clamps a proposed tax on vehicles crossing the border.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) of the UAE has identified 18 goods, including refrigerated trucks, livestock, foodstuff and chemicals that would attract AED500 (OMR50) per trip. In the case of other goods, it has fixed AED100 per truck (OMR10) in addition to AED10 (OMR1) per tonne.

The proposed tax is not only on the trucks. For the passenger buses, it proposes to levy AED100 (OMR10) per bus in addition to AED5 (500 baisa) per seat entering the UAE.

Traders fear that it would be an additional burden on the transport sector in the Sultanate. "We hope the UAE will reconsider its decision and look into all aspects of the taxation proposal," said Dinesh (Dilip) Dawda, president of the Al Itefaq Trading, who imports a huge quantity of cosmetics, stationery and toiletries every month from the UAE to Oman."

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Why the economic outlook for Russia and the GCC Oil States looks so very similar « ArabianMoney

Why the economic outlook for Russia and the GCC Oil States looks so very similar « ArabianMoney:

"Today Brent crude oil is selling for $109 a barrel. That’s a great cash flow for the GCC Oil States and it is also a huge cash cow for the world’s largest producer of oil, among many other natural resources, the Russian Republic which is hosting the Winter Olympics in Sochi on the Black Sea for the next couple of weeks.

Russia currently runs a current account surplus. There’s an enviable $90 billion in a reserve account. Government debt is not much more than 15 per cent of GDP and personal taxation is set at the same low level.

It is a similar story in the GCC Oil States: modest government borrowing is massively offest by the sovereign wealth funds of accumulated oil revenues; current account surpluses due to record oil revenues; low or no taxation."

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EconoMonitor : EconoMonitor » Five Financial Questions for Ukraine #EuroMaidan

EconoMonitor : EconoMonitor » Five Financial Questions for Ukraine:

"There is an interesting debate going on in Western capitals over financial support for Ukraine.  The possibility of political change, coupled with Russia’s decision to suspend disbursements on its $12 billion financial package, has created an opening for meaningful economic reforms and renewed ties with global financial bodies.  There are compelling political arguments for the West to respond with a financing program that makes it economically viable for Ukraine to choose the EU Association Agreement that it rejected last year.  But the economics make a deal hard to put together.  For now, the ball is in Ukraine’s court—tensions remain high and Western aid will require at a minimum a technocratic and reform oriented government be put in place.  But should that happen, here are five economic questions on the table."

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Middle East investors turn to Switzerland | Economy | Saudi Gazette

Middle East investors turn to Switzerland | Economy | Saudi Gazette:

"Crucial factors such as banking secrecy, diverse investment products and services have contributed to Switzerland remaining a premier offshore haven for the Middle Eastern investors, according to a leading Swiss-based asset manager specializing in the Middle Eastern region.

William Spencer, at WT Capital Management S.A, said: “We have seen an increase in demand for wealth management solutions from Middle East region, we have had a surge in requests for custodian services and tailored structured products in 2013 and expect year on year growth in 2014. We believe competitive pricing, enhanced return and a wider range of investments products give Swiss banking a significant edge over regional Middle Eastern banks.”

“We believe independent asset managers will continue to thrive in the Middle Eastern markets, as they are not biased or bound to any single financial institution, this enables them to coherently diversify asset allocation, reduce transactional and custody costs to increase returns for investors,” he added."

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NBAD looks for an alternative to bonds | The National

NBAD looks for an alternative to bonds | The National:

"As the spectre of higher interest rates begins to worry fund managers, National Bank of Abu Dhabi has joined the ranks of asset managers looking for low-risk ways to generate fixed income from financial instruments other than bonds.

NBAD, the biggest UAE bank by market value, already offers its high net worth clients with at least US$10 million to spare discretionary trade finance portfolios, but is looking to start a trade finance fund this year, domiciled either in the Cayman Islands, Luxembourg or the UAE, said Mark Watts, the head of NBAD’s asset management group.

Late last year, the European Islamic Investment Bank (EIIB) and Dubai-based Rasmala together started a Sharia-compliant trade finance fund domiciled in the Cayman Islands that is targeting a 4 per cent rate of return. It is expecting that investors this year will pour $100m into the niche fund that offers an asset class that is otherwise difficult to tap."

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Anti-fraud law: Bill proposes two-year jail, fine up to Dh1m |

Anti-fraud law: Bill proposes two-year jail, fine up to Dh1m |

"A federal committee to combat commercial fraud would be set up, members of the Federal National Council (FNC) said on Sunday. The committee will have sweeping powers to close down offending businesses, be they inland or in free zones, and bring to task officials of these firms, once the existing draft bill turns into a law, according to FNC.

“The law would cover fraud in goods, contractual jobs and services offered by businesses across the UAE including free zone companies,” Ali Eisa Al Nuaimi, a member of the Federal National Council, told Gulf News on Sunday.

The committee, which will report to the Ministry of Economy, will work out anti-fraud strategies and policies, study reports of fraud submitted by competent authorities and take decisions on it. Subcommittees with powers to close down offending businesses for up to two weeks; order confiscating of goods and reach settlement with businesses involved or refer cases to the court, will also be created in each emirate."

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EU Banks’ Debt Addiction Threatens ECB-Led Overhaul - Bloomberg

EU Banks’ Debt Addiction Threatens ECB-Led Overhaul - Bloomberg:

"When Europe’s leaders set out in June 2012 to break the “vicious circle” between banks and sovereigns, they left rules for treating government bonds untouched, an oversight that may subvert their drive to prevent a recurrence of the debt crisis.

Under EU rules, banks can rate all debt issued by the bloc’s 28 national governments as risk-free, avoiding any increase in their capital requirements. This encourages so-called carry trades, whereby lenders borrow at low cost from the European Central Bank and plow the money into state debt that offers higher returns.

Twenty months after leaders pledged to change this behavior, banks hold more sovereign paper than ever. ECB President Mario Draghi said in December that when the Frankfurt-based central bank offered about 500 billion euros ($680 billion) of new low-cost liquidity two years ago, lenders used it “mostly to buy government bonds,” rather than for lending to stimulate the economy."

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Blankfein Says Emerging Markets in Better State Than in ’98 - Bloomberg

Blankfein Says Emerging Markets in Better State Than in ’98 - Bloomberg:

"Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) Chief Executive Officer Lloyd C. Blankfein said emerging markets are better able to weather an investor retreat now than in 1998, when currency turmoil spread and forced international bailouts.

“There were a lot of things in ’98 that don’t exist now,” Blankfein, 59, said in an interview today with Bloomberg Television’s John Dawson in Hong Kong while attending the Goldman Sachs Global Macro conference. Those markets now have “better reserves, more flexibility in exchange rates, better policy orientation,” he said. 

Emerging-market stocks posted their worst start to a year since 2009, evoking comparisons with the Asian financial crisis, as China’s economy slowed and the U.S. Federal Reserve began paring monetary stimulus. Investors including Mark Mobius, who oversees $50 billion in developing-nation assets at Templeton Emerging Markets Group, are predicting the worst isn’t over."

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S&P Outlook Portends Mounting Risk to Fund Flows: Turkey Credit - Bloomberg

S&P Outlook Portends Mounting Risk to Fund Flows: Turkey Credit - Bloomberg:

"Turkey may be one downgrade away from losing access to billions of dollars in bond flows.

Standard & Poor’s reduction of Turkey’s credit outlook to negative last week signals mounting risk that Moody’s Investors Service or Fitch Ratings will return the country to junk. The loss of an investment-grade ranking from either could trigger selling by funds that track bond ratings, according to Cagdas Dogan at BGC Partners Inc. Two-year yields reached a 24-month high in January amid a graft probe that has implicated members of the government.

A loss of foreign investment threatens to increase Turkish borrowing costs and disrupt trade as the nation struggles to service the second-largest current-account deficit among 25 emerging markets, according to the International Monetary Fund. A downgrade might cost Turkey the $22 billion of net inflows that its sovereign bonds attracted in the 12 months prior to it receiving a second investment-grade debt rating in May 2013, said Istanbul-based Dogan, an analyst at BGC."

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Emirates to Idle 10% of Jets as Dubai Runway Revamp Cuts Flights - Bloomberg

Emirates to Idle 10% of Jets as Dubai Runway Revamp Cuts Flights - Bloomberg:

"Emirates, the biggest international airline by passenger traffic, will idle 10 percent of its fleet for almost three months, crimping sales, as runway repairs curtail capacity at its Dubai International hub.

The largest operator of Boeing Co. (BA) 777 long-range jets and Airbus Group NV (AIR) A380 superjumbos will ground 18 to 20 planes, President Tim Clark said in Dubai. Fleet expansion won’t be affected, with Emirates still looking to add 22 jets this year.

Growth at Emirates fueled a 15 percent jump in passenger numbers to more than 66 million at Dubai International last year as takeoffs and landings rose 7.5 percent. The airport is upgrading terminals and runways to boost capacity to 90 million.

The disruption “has an impact on revenue and we have to manage that,” Clark said the 2014 United Arab Emirates Government Summit. “We will try to fit all that revenue on the remaining services.”"

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