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Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways to raise $2 billion for deliveries in 2014 | Reuters

Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways to raise $2 billion for deliveries in 2014 | Reuters:



"Etihad Airways plans to raise $2 billion to pay for aircraft deliveries this year, the Abu Dhabi-based airline said on Wednesday after road shows in New York and London.



Etihad will take delivery of 18 aircraft this year that include 10 Airbus aircraft and 8 Boeing planes, a statement from the airline said.



"The airline is looking to raise US$2 billion to finance its fleet deliveries in 2014 which will include its first A380 and Boeing 787 aircraft," Etihad said in a statement, without giving details of how the money will be raised."



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Abu Dhabi's Hilal Bank reports 2013 net profit up 42 pct | Reuters

Abu Dhabi's Hilal Bank reports 2013 net profit up 42 pct | Reuters:



"Abu Dhabi government-owned Al Hilal Bank said its 2013 net profit jumped 42 percent on the back of strong asset growth.



The Islamic lender, owned by Abu Dhabi Investment Council, made a net profit of 441.4 million dirhams ($120.16) in 2013 compared to 310.3 million dirhams in the prior year, a statement from the bank said on Wednesday.



"The significant net profit upsurge for the full year of 2013 is largely attributed to growth in assets along with improvement in asset quality and liability mix," the statement said."



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Ukraine’s Next Casualties Could Be Its Farmers - Businessweek #EuroMaidan

Ukraine’s Next Casualties Could Be Its Farmers - Businessweek:



"After taking part in protests that toppled President Viktor Yanukovych in February, some Ukrainian farmers rushed back to their land to prepare for spring planting.



The question now is whether they can afford to grow what they plant. A 25 percent decline in the hryvnia currency this year has pushed up the cost of fertilizer and other essentials, while the government’s deteriorating finances are choking off farmers’ access to credit. Russia is adding to farmers’ woes by canceling discounts on fuel it sells to Ukraine—and by annexing Crimea, the site of several Black Sea ports that are important for agricultural exports. 




“Neglecting these problems can cause the country another crisis—food,” Alex Lissitsa, president of the Ukrainian Agribusiness Club, said on March 18. The Kiev-based industry group is predicting that 20 percent of acreage set aside for grain and oilseed planting will go unsown this year."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Property, bank stocks lift UAE bourses, other mkts muted | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Property, bank stocks lift UAE bourses, other mkts muted | Reuters:



"* Dubai's Shuaa Capital surges on hopes for lucrative IPO deals



* Abu Dhabi's TAQA falls for second day since posting 2013 loss



* Qatar Islamic Bank gains on Turkey acquisition plan



* Batelco rises after bond buyback proposal



By Olzhas Auyezov

DUBAI, March 26 (Reuters) - Banks and property stocks lifted Dubai and Abu Dhabi's markets on Wednesday, while other regional bourses were little moved.



Dubai's bourse added 0.9 percent as Emaar Properties and contractor Arabtec Holding rose 0.8 and 2.8 percent respectively.



Investment bank Shuaa Capital was the top gainer, surging 14.7 percent on bets it may benefit from an expected increase in initial public offerings in the United Arab Emirates. Shuua's trading volume was its largest of 2014.



The UAE government has indicated it will soon approve a long-awaited companies law that analysts hope will cut the minimum free float in IPOs to 30 percent from 55 percent at present."



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Guest post: soft war, or when finance is the continuation of politics by other means | beyondbrics #EuroMaidan

Guest post: soft war, or when finance is the continuation of politics by other means | beyondbrics:

By Roland Nash of Verno Investment Research
As the conflict between Russia and the west for influence in Ukraine unfolds, finance has found itself in the unfortunate position of sitting squarely in the front line. From the acceptance by Viktor Yanukovich of a $15bn loan from Russia to the freezing of oligarch bank accounts in the US and Europe, finance has been used as a tool to push the political agenda of both sides.

The immediate consequence has been a fall in the value of Russian assets, the latest of many that have plagued Russia over the past 20 years. If a market correction is the only impact, recent weeks will prove little more than another example of how Russian markets have a tendency to overreact to newsflow. But there could well be a more far reaching impact – and perhaps with rather different consequences from those intended by the US and EU.

In the 14 years that Vladimir Putin has dominated Russian politics, arguably the biggest threat to his authority was the 2008 financial crisis. By suddenly facing the removal of access to financing, Russian businesses and the elites that controlled them found they were unable to meet obligations – not just to the west, but to each other, the Russian public and the Russian government. The equity market lost $1tn in value in the space of three months, western banks threatened to take control of Russian industry in lieu of debts, and the economy declined by 8 per cent in 2009 – the biggest recession of any major country globally. While Putin had created a highly successful power-vertical in Russia, it transpired that the whole edifice of the Russian economy could be threatened by what was little more than collateral damage from decisions taken in the US and Europe to support their own economies.

By the same token, the crisis also demonstrated the soft power of western finance in Russia. It is one of the great ironies of Russia’s post-Soviet experience that one of the events that did most to restore the influence of the state across the Commonwealth of Independent States was a financial crisis in the west. With the removal of sources of external private finance, businesses, banks, oligarchs and even governments had no choice but to turn to the Russian state for liquidity. Into the vacuum left by western finance walked the only entity that had been saving during the 10-year post 1998 economic boom: the Russian state. Through Sberbank, VTB and VEB, the state provided liquidity and in return gained influence.

The experience of 2008 was a lesson that appears to have been learned by both the West and Russia. From the western standpoint, finance has been chosen as one of the few mechanisms available to apply pressure on Russia in response to events in Crimea. Targeted asset freezes and restricting certain Russian companies’ access to finance are measures that appear to be viewed as a surgical way of directly pressuring those making decisions related to Ukraine. Rumours of the threat of wider sanctions abound, with the effect of artificially creating the circumstances that so impacted Russian economic stability in 2008. Actual concrete decisions are not always necessary – rumour alone can be highly destructive.

From the Russian standpoint, just as the lesson from 1998 was not to let government finances ever become over-exposed to the west, so the lesson in 2008 was to limit private sector exposure. Companies and banks have been encouraged to increase domestic borrowing and decrease reliance on the west. Oligarchs have been far more reluctant to leverage their holdings through western banks. From a policy standpoint, the central bank has floated the rouble and the Kremlin has been vocal about its awkwardly titled policy of “de-offshorisation”.

Both sides are manoeuvring. Russian stocks are particularly vulnerable to geopolitics because so much of the free float is owned by foreigners, creating the opportunity for considerable value destruction if holders become nervous of deteriorating politics. Of the 18 per cent fall in the equity market so far in 2014, at least half can be directly attributable to the impact of events in Ukraine, which would imply a $60bn cost to Russia.

But equally, a collapse in Russian valuations hurts foreign funds disproportionately because they own so much of the market. Indeed, Russian corporates are looking at lower valuations as an opportunity to buy back their stock from foreign holders. A similar trend is under way in debt markets. Companies that borrowed in western financial markets at 5 per cent are now able to buy back their debt at yields several hundred basis points higher.

In Ukraine itself, finance is likely to play a key role as military tensions subside. The west’s arsenal of multilateral lenders is likely to be deployed to prop up the Ukrainian economy and persuade it of the advantages of looking west. In Crimea, Russia is likely to want to illustrate the merits of stronger ties with the homeland and, given the smaller scale of the project and the relative priority of policy, could well prove to be the more successful.

In the longer term, the costs to Russia are likely to prove more substantive. Partly this will reflect a lower availability of financing at a time when Russia needs to be investing. But it’s the quality of financing rather than the quantity that may have the bigger impact. Russia is only capital constrained because such a large proportion of domestic savings are exported abroad. Financial markets are global, and if the west is not prepared for political reasons to provide financing, then other sources are likely to take advantage of any improved economics. Organisations like the Russian Direct Investment Fund have already proved successful at both raising and deploying institutional funds in Russia. But if, as is likely, capital deployment in the absence of the west involves greater state involvement, then there could well prove to be an efficiency loss that will cost Russia over the longer term.

From the west’s standpoint, financial engagement has been one of the major successes of the integration of Russia into the global economy since the break-up of the Soviet Union. Incentivising Russian organisations to adopt the standards and the disciplines that most effectively ensure access to western finance encourages many of the trends that the west should, in its own interests, be working to achieve. Disincentivising western finance from engaging with Russia may indeed damage Russian growth, but it will also undermine some of the most encouraging trends of the last decade.

There is a feeling in Moscow that the model of finance that has developed in Russia over the last 20 years may have been permanently changed by the reaction to events in Ukraine. This, like other crises before it, will undoubtedly create opportunities for capital deployment. But it may also change attitudes that will have unintended costs for both sides.



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Russia's Capital Outflow Could Reach $100Bln in 2014 - Putin's aide | Business | RIA Novosti

Russia's Capital Outflow Could Reach $100Bln in 2014 - Putin's aide | Business | RIA Novosti:



"March 26 (RIA Novosti) - Capital flight from Russia may reach some $100 billion in 2014, a presidential aide said Wednesday.



“I believe that the figure would be around $60-80 billion, but counting interventions [by Central Bank to reduce volatility], it could be some $100 billion,” Andrey Belousov said.



According to Central Bank data, net capital outflow from Russia increased from $54.6 bln in 2012 to 62.7 bln last year.



The World Bank warned earlier on Wednesday that Russia may see capital outflow at $150 bln this year due to the current standoff with the West over the Crimean crisis."



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Live chart: World GDP - YouTube

Live chart: World GDP - YouTube: ""



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Kuwait to scrap controversial sponsor system - Politics & Economics - ArabianBusiness.com

Kuwait to scrap controversial sponsor system - Politics & Economics - ArabianBusiness.com:



"Kuwait will scrap the controversial sponsorship system for foreign workers and hand sole responsibility for recruiting expats to the newly established Labour Public Authority later this year, local media has reported.



The authority was approved by the parliament last year in a bid to reduce abuse of the sponsorship system, which requires employers to take responsibility for a foreign worker.



MPs argued the system – of which similar systems are used across the GCC – had too many loopholes that led to visa trafficking and even allegations of a widespread visa fraud ring within high levels of government, including members of the ruling family. The allegations are being investigated.



International human rights groups also have criticised the sponsorship programmes in Gulf states such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which forbid employees from leaving the country or changing companies without the permission of their employer."



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Why Doesn’t Russia Seem Concerned About Sanctions?: Video - Bloomberg

Why Doesn’t Russia Seem Concerned About Sanctions?: Video - Bloomberg: ""



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Kuwait based Arab Fund to invest record $412 in Egypt | Al Bawaba

Kuwait based Arab Fund to invest record $412 in Egypt | Al Bawaba:



"Egypt’s interim government signed two agreements with the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (AFESD) on Monday to finance projects in the electricity sector, a statement from the cabinet said.



A power station in Assiut, which is currently being upgraded to increase Egypt’s electric capacity by 650MW, will be funded by AFESD’s first $200m assistance package.



In December 2013, the Upper Egypt Electricity Production Company (UEEPC) and Banque Misr signed an EGP 285m loan agreement to fund renovations and replacements in Assiut’s power station.



The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) allocated $220m in February to finance the Assiut station. The allocation came as a part of a nearly $705m initiative to fund projects focusing on infrastructure, human development and education in “Muslim communities”, the bank said."



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Gazprom boasts of South Stream progress - UPI.com

Gazprom boasts of South Stream progress - UPI.com:



"March 25 (UPI) -- Russian energy company Gazprom said it placed a high priority on developing the South Stream gas pipeline network for the benefit of European consumers.



Alexei Miller, chairman of the Russian energy company, met in Moscow with Vasily Golubev, governor of the Rostov region of Russia, which borders the Sea of Azov.



The company said in a statement both sides reviewed the prospects for the construction and eventual supplies for the planned South Stream natural gas pipeline.



"Gazprom gives high priority to developing the infrastructure for South Stream, [a] strategic project aimed at strengthening the European energy security," it said Monday."



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Really ready for higher rates? - YouTube

Really ready for higher rates? - YouTube: ""



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Gulf Capital plans to sell remaining stake at Gulf Marine Services after raising $600m in IPO | The National

Gulf Capital plans to sell remaining stake at Gulf Marine Services after raising $600m in IPO | The National:



"Gulf Capital plans to sell off the remainder of its stake in Gulf Marine Services over the next two years after generating gains of more than US$600 million through the firm’s initial public offering.



Through its buyout fund, Gulf Capital reduced its shareholding in GMS from 80 per cent to 49.7 per cent last week through the offshore contractor’s IPO on the London Stock Exchange.



The deal marks one of the most lucrative private equity exits in the Middle East and gives a fillip to the region’s fledgling buyout industry."



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Taqa shares slide after $884m Canadian gas writedown | The National

Taqa shares slide after $884m Canadian gas writedown | The National:



"Taqa shares tumbled 10 per cent after the energy investor disclosed a US$884 million writedown on its Canadian gas assets.



The company known also known as Abu Dhabi National Energy downgraded the value of the North American holdings by 13.8 per cent to take into account a drop in gas prices since cheap shale volumes appeared in North America. It will not pay investors a dividend for 2013 because of the loss.



Shares fell to a six-month low of Dh1.26 on the Abu Dhabi bourse after the announcement."



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Etihad secures regulatory approval to buy 49% stake in Air Serbia | GulfNews.com

Etihad secures regulatory approval to buy 49% stake in Air Serbia | GulfNews.com:



"Etihad Airways has secured the approval of Serbian regulatory authorities for it take a 49 per cent stake in Air Serbia.



In August 2013, Etihad announced it would inject $200 million (Dh734.6 million) into the struggling Serbian national carrier as part of its bid to become a minority stakeholder.



Etihad’s initial loan of $40 million to Air Serbia will now be converted to equity.



The two airlines already have a codeshare agreement with Air Serbia flying from Belgrade to Abu Dhabi."



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An escalated Ukraine issue will not be localised | GulfNews.com

An escalated Ukraine issue will not be localised | GulfNews.com:



"How important is Ukraine for the UAE? In a nutshell, not really. The Ukraine-Russia crisis has been in the media spotlight in the last few weeks, and potential implications of an increase in tension in the Black Sea have been the focus of numerous analyses.



However, its impact on the Gulf region is unclear. Ukraine plays a marginal role for the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC): trade exchanges are minimal and investment flows almost non-existent. In 2012, Ukrainian exports to the UAE amounted to only $414 million (Dh1.52 billion), 29 per cent of total exports to the GCC but equivalent to only 0.24 per cent of Ukrainian GDP.



UAE’s exports to Ukraine were insignificant, reaching only $68 million in 2012 or 0.02 per cent of Emirati exports. This pattern is not particular to the UAE. Exchanges between Ukraine and the GCC have been historically small."



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Ukraine Awaits IMF as Obama Warns Russia of Consequences - Bloomberg

Ukraine Awaits IMF as Obama Warns Russia of Consequences - Bloomberg:



"Ukraine will receive an assessment today from the International Monetary Fund on the country’s bailout request as the U.S. continues to muster global support for penalizing Russian encroachment on Ukrainian territory.



An IMF mission was completing talks in Kiev on a loan that Ukrainian Finance Minister Oleksandr Shlapak said yesterday would amount to between $15 billion and $20 billion. Shlapak said the team would announce its findings today.



As the government in Kiev pursues the help it needs to avert default, U.S. President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak today on what the standoff with Russia over Ukraine means for European security. Yesterday, he warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia would face more sanctions if it moved further into eastern Ukraine after its annexation of Crimea.



“It is now up to Russia to act responsibly and show itself to be once again willing to abide by international rules,” Obama said at a news conference in The Hague. “If it fails to do so, there will be additional costs.”"



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Occidental’s $8 Billion Deal Stalled by Brotherhood Row - Bloomberg

Occidental’s $8 Billion Deal Stalled by Brotherhood Row - Bloomberg:



"Occidental Petroleum Corp., (OXY) seeking to raise as much as $8 billion by selling a stake in its Middle East business, said a political dispute in the region is complicating plans to sell to a single investor group. 




The oil and gas producer may need to break up the assets and sell them to individual countries because political tensions has made it too complicated to win agreement for a single sale to a group made up of Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, Chief Executive Officer Steve Chazen told investors at the Howard Weil Energy Conference in New Orleans yesterday.



“The notion that they were going to somehow cooperate with each other in an oil investment is difficult at best right now,” Chazen said. “At their suggestions, we’ll probably make separate deals with the three countries with somewhat different assets in each one. In some ways, that’s a lot simpler.”"



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