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Thursday, 1 May 2014

Corruption still hinders Arab energy sector - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East

Corruption still hinders Arab energy sector - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East:



"The Arab oil industry continues to play the leading role in the region’s economy. However, this industry is facing significant challenges that will adversely affect economies and performance if current problems are not solved.



The first challenge is the deterioration the oil industry is witnessing due to wars, armed conflicts and international blockade. Wars and blockades have been ongoing since the 1980s, with different repercussions on one country or the other. The subsequent chaos has taken a toll on no less than eight countries. There are, for example, the long wars, blockade and occupation Iraq went through and the blazing of oil wells in Kuwait during the occupation, in addition to the blockade in Libya, and the destruction of oil industry in Sudan and South Sudan due to the wars.

"



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Lionel Barber - can banking clean up its act? - YouTube

Lionel Barber - can banking clean up its act? - YouTube: ""



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UAE determined to weed out money laundering | GulfNews.com

UAE determined to weed out money laundering | GulfNews.com:



"The UAE Federal National Council’s iron will to exterminate money laundering from the country has led to the drafting of a legislation with razor-sharp teeth. All violators — individuals, financial institutions or trading and businesses — will be dealt with zero tolerance. Money laundering damages a country’s economy by chipping away at all its building blocks — from capital resources, interest rates, currency value, foreign investment and gross domestic product growth, to stunting entrepreneurial growth and leading to imprudent governmental adjustments of fiscal policies due to the artificial market demands created by launderers."



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DIB Plans to Buy 40% Stake in Indonesian Lender in Overseas Push - Bloomberg

DIB Plans to Buy 40% Stake in Indonesian Lender in Overseas Push - Bloomberg:



"Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) is in talks to buy a 40 percent stake in an Indonesian Islamic bank as it seeks expansion abroad.



The acquisition will be completed before the end of the year, Chief Executive Officer Adnan Chilwan told reporters today in Dubai, without giving further details. DIB is also planning to open an office in Kenya this year, he said.



“We would never have gone to Indonesia without seeing the potential,” Chilwan said. “It is a market that is very large when you look at the Islamic population, but we didn’t do this transaction five years ago as valuations were too high.”"



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Dana Gas Share Gains Propel World Beating Sukuk: Islamic Finance - Bloomberg

Dana Gas Share Gains Propel World Beating Sukuk: Islamic Finance - Bloomberg:



"Dana Gas PJSC (DANA)’s Islamic bond was the best-performing dollar sukuk in the world last month as the energy company’s rising stock price prompted investors to exchange their debt into shares at a profit.



The fuel producer’s $425 million convertible bond due October 2017 made 3.46 percent last month, compared with an average 0.41 percent return for all dollar-denominated sukuk, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The share conversion price is 75 fils, and Dana Gas gained 4.9 percent in April to 86 fils yesterday. The company received $51 million of conversion notices this year through March 15, it said last week.



“The convertible sukuk’s outperformance recently is mainly driven by the share price, less by the company’s actual performance,” Zafar Nazim, a London-based credit analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co., said by phone yesterday. “There’s an incentive to convert and some holders have.”"



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MIDEAST STOCKS-All Gulf markets rise, Saudi Arabia leads | News by Country | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-All Gulf markets rise, Saudi Arabia leads | News by Country | Reuters:



"All markets in the Gulf edged up on Thursday, led by Saudi Arabia which rose to a six-year high on the back of petrochemicals and cement makers.



The kingdom's main index gained 0.8 percent to 9,660 points, its highest close since June 2008. Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC), up 2.6 percent, was the main support, also topping daily turnover.



Overall, Saudi petrochemicals gained 1.5 percent while cement makers rose 2.6 percent.



Shares in Saudi Public Transport Co (Saptco) jumped 2.8 percent after the company, together with a French partner, won a 7.86 billion riyal ($2.1 billion) contract to operate and maintain buses in Riyadh."



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IMF expects Ukraine's GDP to fall by 5% in 2014, grow by 2% in 2015 #EuroMaidan

IMF expects Ukraine's GDP to fall by 5% in 2014, grow by 2% in 2015:



"The International Monetary Fund expects the real GDP in Ukraine to contract by about 5% percent in 2014 amid weak investor and consumer confidence, however Ukraine's economic prospects will improve in the medium-term.



"Real GDP growth is expected to rebound to 2% in 2015, rising to 4%-4.5% in the medium term," the Fund said in the statement posted on its Web site.



According to the IMF forecast, the inflation is expected to spike temporarily in response to the exchange rate depreciation and gas and heating tariff increases, reaching 16% at end-2014."



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Guest post: What Price Risk? Investing in the Middle East – beyondbrics - Blogs - FT.com

Guest post: What Price Risk? Investing in the Middle East – beyondbrics - Blogs - FT.com:



"By Julie Dickson, Ashmore



There was no shortage of concerns about Emerging Markets (EM) last year. Investors fretted about US Fed tapering, China’s growth, tension escalating in Syria, and Turkey and Egypt facing social and often violent unrest. Global Emerging Markets investors reacted and diverted funds to the developed markets, leaving EM stocks to post a dismal -2.6% return for the year. But investors in Middle East equities saw things differently and enjoyed returns of 30.6% (MSCI GCC US$ Net), outpacing Developed and Emerging Markets by a wide margin. 




Why? How?



Middle Eastern equity markets, defined here as markets covering the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Levant regions, account for US$1,138bn, or roughly 1.8% of total global equity market cap. The oldest stock exchange, the Kuwait exchange, formally opened in 1983. Its predecessor, the Souk Al-Manakh (now closed) was, in 1982, the third largest stock market in the world by market cap. In total, there are over 1,000 listed companies in the GCC and Levant."



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UAE telco du Q1 net profit rises 4.8 percent | Reuters

UAE telco du Q1 net profit rises 4.8 percent | Reuters:



"Du, the United Arab Emirates' No.2 telecom operator, reported a 4.8 percent rise in first-quarter net profit on Thursday, beating analysts' estimates.



The firm, which ended rival Etisalat's domestic monopoly in 2007, made a net profit of 490.3 million dirhams ($133.49 million) in the three months to March 31, up from 467.9 million dirhams in the year-earlier period, according to a bourse statement. 




Analysts polled by Reuters on average forecast du would make a quarterly profit of 433 million dirhams."



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Bonds return - YouTube

Bonds return - YouTube: ""



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Opinion: The IMF or Uncle Vlad – Ukraine makes its choice – beyondbrics - Blogs - FT.com #Euromaidan

Opinion: The IMF or Uncle Vlad – Ukraine makes its choice – beyondbrics - Blogs - FT.com:

Welcome to Ukraine. You’re running a rickety business, mainly cash-in-hand, that has a big gas bill and is losing money. Your shady Uncle Vlad says he will give you cheaper gas, lend you money on suspiciously favourable terms, and perhaps see his way to giving your workers an extra something in their pay packets. In return, all you have to do is back him up in family disputes in perpetuity. Meanwhile Christine, your steely-eyed bank manager, wants you to turn down the thermostat in your offices, lay off half your staff and stop fiddling the books.
It’s not hard to see that the first seems attractive but is basically going to get you nowhere and will land you with a debt you can never pay off. The second is not going to have the office buying you cupcakes on your birthday but might, in a few years’ time, get you legit and into profit. Or it might make you go bust. Your call.
Unsurprisingly, given the orientation of its current government, Kiev has gone withthe IMF-EU-US nexus rather than the Moscow solution. Uncle Vlad, his offer spurned, has taken over the east wing of the office building and is running things very much his own way. We have plenty of experience of this route. Ukraine follows a standard pattern for IMF problem countries back in the 1980s and 1990s, before pegged exchange rates were largely abandoned: a fixed currency, expensive energy subsidies, chronic budget and current account deficits. (Fund staff who worked on Argentina must be feeling particularly nostalgic.)
The bailout conditions are also familiar: unpeg the currency (already done), cut gas subsidies, squeeze domestic demand. Following the 1990s fashion for addressing “governance issues” (corruption), the fund has tacked on conditions about transparency in public procurement.
The problem with the IMF programme is not just the obvious one of the short-term pain arising from a combination of devaluation-induced inflation, rising gas prices and tax hikes clawing significant holes in household income. It is also the medium-term question: where is the growth going to come from? The contraction in domestic demand is intended to knock a hole in the economy through which manufacturing exports can surge. But you can hardly expect an export sector stunted through years of an overvalued exchange rate and sub-standard business climate to shoot hungrily out of the traps.
Ukraine’s problem since independence has been a chronic reliance on commodity exports and failure to go up the value chain into manufactures. There are rewards for being a low-cost manufacturing exporter on the fringes of Europe even if your chances of actually joining the EU are remote. Turkey’s EU membership drive seems indefinitely on hold, but has not stopped it happily increasing sales of car parts, clothes, fridges and washing machines to Europe.
Ukraine’s attempts to do similar have generally been based on secondary measures like restricting exports of steel and other raw materials to divert them cheaply to domestic manufacturers. This form of manufacturing export promotion has been tried elsewhere, as with China’s export quotas on rare earths, but it seems pretty clear it didn’t do much in Ukraine. In any case Kiev was forced (by the EU as it happens) to dismantle such policies before joining the World Trade Organisation in 2008 – a move which also unaccountably failed to ignite a dramatic burst of exports.
Structural transformations of economies take years, or indeed decades. Even if you credit IMF trade liberalisation and privatisation programmes in the 1980s and 1990s for turning round African economies, for example, the “African boom” in growth did not occur until the 2000s.
Having seen Ukraine fail to stick to promise after promise over the last five years, the fund does not want the country on a long drip-feed lending programme. It is all too possible that Ukraine will just about stabilise, and the IMF will leave, without having created the conditions for future growth or indeed left behind much goodwill. The EU could step in and provide longer-term funds for restructuring and investment, but it is unlikely to want to antagonise Russia or its own taxpayers by turning Ukraine into a semi-permanent dependent.
In this context, the appeal of Russia’s short-term populism is clear: cheap gas to keep households warm (in fact, overheated – Ukrainian households consume way more energy than most in Europe), cheap money to finance the current account deficit, and maybe a national version of the increase in pensions and civil service pay already pointedly implemented in Russia-dominated Crimea. With no pesky corruption investigators to deal with, it is a simple deal: cash-for-no-questions-asked.
Yet it’s evident from the performance of Russia’s vassal states like Belarus that coming under the Moscow umbrella is likely to keep Ukraine dependent on commodities indefinitely. If Russia knew anything about diversifying exports it would presumably have done so itself, and a Russia-dominated government in Kiev is unlikely to be keen on encouraging foreign direct investment by European companies. There are echoes here of the Soviets keeping Cuba’s economy afloat for decades by overpaying for its sugar. Only when that lifeline was cut off with the collapse of the Soviet Union did Cuba eventually (and successfully) expand its tourist industry to plug the hole in the balance of payments.
IMF programmes have a fairly good record in easing the adjustment of basically sound economies in currency or debt crises. They have a much less good record in increasing trend growth in dysfunctional economies within the timescale of their own lending programme. (Anyway, that’s the job of the World Bank, or its regional counterparts.) Going with Christine from the local bank rather than dodgy Uncle Vlad is still the right decision, but Ukraine should be aware of the long-term risks as well as the short-term pain involved.
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Serco finance director departs as company seeks emergency funding | Business | The Guardian

Serco finance director departs as company seeks emergency funding | Business | The Guardian:



"Scandal-hit outsourcing company Serco – the business embroiled in controversy over billing the government for electronically tagging prisoners who had died – has parted company with its finance director after unveiling plans to raise an emergency £170m by selling new shares.



The company, whose new chief executive Rupert Soames is due to start work on Thursday, issued a statement to the London Stock Exchange after the market closed revealing the departure of Andrew Jenner, the group's chief financial officer since 2002.



Serco, which runs services ranging from prisons to rail franchises and London's cycle hire scheme, said it would be "uncomfortably close" to breaching its banking agreements and intended to sell nearly 50m new shares to raise cash."



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Arabtec to float 40 pct of construction business on Abu Dhabi bourse - CEO | Reuters

Arabtec to float 40 pct of construction business on Abu Dhabi bourse - CEO | Reuters:



"Dubai builder Arabtec's Chief Executive Hasan Ismaik said on Wednesday that the company will spin off and float 40 percent of its construction business in an initial public offering on the Abu Dhabi bourse slated for 2015.



"We will get approvals for listing the subsidiary in Abu Dhabi. Our plan is to float 40 percent of the subsidiary on the market," he said at a press conference after the company's annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday."



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Mashreq quarterly profit rises 35 per cent amid credit bonanza | The National

Mashreq quarterly profit rises 35 per cent amid credit bonanza | The National:



"The Dubai-based bank Mashreq said its first quarter profit rose 35 per cent, boosted by a jump in interest from loans amid a credit bonanza that has been spurred by cheap financing.



Net income climbed to Dh575 million compared to Dh425m for the same period in 2013, the bank said.



Net interest income at the end of March 2014 was up 41 per cent compared to a year earlier. That was driven by an increase in loans and an improvement in net interest margin, it said."



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Abu Dhabi onshore contract loss hurts oil majors | The National

Abu Dhabi onshore contract loss hurts oil majors | The National:



"The expiry of Abu Dhabi’s historic onshore concession has already eaten into profits at its legacy partners, highlighting the importance for the majors of regaining access to the emirate’s reserves.



Production at BP, Total and Royal Dutch Shell fell by as much as 8.5 per cent this quarter after the January expiry of the Second World War-era contract. ExxonMobil, the fourth major, is due to release results on Thursday."



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Deyaar’s first quarter net profit soars to Dh52.1m | GulfNews.com

Deyaar’s first quarter net profit soars to Dh52.1m | GulfNews.com:



"Dubai headquartered Deyaar Development has had a boost in its first quarter results with net profits of Dh52.1 million, a 168 per cent increase from the Dh19.4 million in the same period last year. The latest numbers were helped by a new off-plan launch as well as the company’s steady progress with handover of ongoing projects.



According to Said Al Qatami, CEO of Deyaar: “The first quarter results are a reflection of Deyaar’s aspirations to achieving sustained growth throughout the year. The real estate market has witnessed an upswing that has buoyed our growth and we believe this resilience will continue not just in 2014, but well into the future.”



The company has more than doubled gross profits to total Dh108.9 million for the first quarter of 2014 compared with Dh48.8 million in 2013. Additionally, revenues were up 55 per cent in the first quarter of 2014 compared to same period last year."



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Fitch Says U.S. Limiting Putin Sanctions to Help Bondholders - Bloomberg

Fitch Says U.S. Limiting Putin Sanctions to Help Bondholders - Bloomberg:



"The U.S. is holding off on sanctions against some Russian companies because it doesn’t want to hurt American holders of their debt, according to Fitch Ratings. 




“We’ve heard quite a lot of anecdotal evidence that there’s actually a lot of consultation with big investors and bondholders in terms of what sanctions might be imposed by the U.S.,” James Watson, a managing director at Fitch, told reporters today in London. “It seems there has been a significant push back on potentially sanctioning companies that have significant foreign debt.”



Fitch has spoken with investors over the past month, he said.

"



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Egyptian Pound Drops Most in 11 Months Amid Absence of Gulf Aid - Bloomberg

Egyptian Pound Drops Most in 11 Months Amid Absence of Gulf Aid - Bloomberg:



"The Egyptian pound capped its worst month in almost a year as Persian Gulf aid dried up and the price of dollars on the black market increased.



The local currency lost 0.1 percent to 6.9976 a dollar at an official currency sale today, according to central bank data on Bloomberg, taking April’s decline to 0.6 percent, or the most since May last year. The interbank rate retreated to 7.0076 a dollar. The government didn’t announce any new aid from Persian Gulf allies in April.



The pound’s weakness comes after the central bank said April 1 it cleared demand for foreign currency from overseas equity investors who sold holdings following the 2011 ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait offered at least $12 billion in aid after Islamist President Mohamed Mursi was forced from office by the military in July."



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BBC News - Profile: Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash

BBC News - Profile: Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash:



"

One of Ukraine's richest men, Dmytro Firtash made his fortune in the Central and Eastern European chemical and energy industry, emerging as a middleman in the trading of Central Asian gas after the collapse of the Soviet Union.



The gas tycoon's business interests centre on his Group DF (Group Dmytro Firtash) - one of the biggest players in the European energy market - with branches in many countries including Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Tajikistan and Ukraine. The 48 year old also owns one of Ukraine's most-watched television channel, Inter TV.



The self-made billionaire is said to come from a humble background in western Ukraine's Ternopil region and to have worked as a fireman before he began to build his business empire in the late 1980s. By 2012, Group DF was estimated to have an annual turnover of $6bn (£3.5bn; 4.3bn euros)."



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BBC News - IMF approves $17bn Ukraine bailout package #EuroMaidan

BBC News - IMF approves $17bn Ukraine bailout package:



"The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved a $17.1bn (£10.1bn) bailout for Ukraine to help the country's beleaguered economy.



The loan comes amid heightened military and political tension between Ukraine and neighbouring Russia.



The loan is dependent on strict economic reforms, including raising taxes and energy prices."



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Non farm payrolls impact on US markets - YouTube

Non farm payrolls impact on US markets - YouTube: ""



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Babbage: Net neutrality 2.0 - YouTube

Babbage: Net neutrality 2.0 - YouTube: ""



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