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Sunday, 6 July 2014

Western banks start to pull out of Iraq -

Western banks start to pull out of Iraq -

"The growing crisis in Iraq has forced western banks that launched themselves into the Iraqi market with gusto in recent years to tighten controls on clients’ funds and pull senior staff out of the country amid growing security concerns.

Standard Chartered, which opened branches in Baghdad and Erbil in 2013, has moved the head of its Iraqi business and another British colleague to Dubai, from where they continue to oversee operations.

The head of Citigroup’s representative office in Baghdad has moved to Amman in neighbouring Jordan. The US bank has also advised its multinational corporate clients to reduce the amount of cash they keep in Iraq to a minimum."

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Supermarkets -- time to check out? - YouTube

Supermarkets -- time to check out? - YouTube: ""

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MIDEAST STOCKS-UAE mkts recover further; earnings, dividends lift Saudi | News by Country | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-UAE mkts recover further; earnings, dividends lift Saudi | News by Country | Reuters:

"Blue-chip banks and property-related stocks, led by Dubai construction firm Arabtec , lifted markets in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday while earnings reports supported Saudi Arabia's bourse.

Dubai's main index jumped 4.4 percent as shares in Arabtec surged their daily 15 percent limit. Among other top gainers were bourse operator Dubai Financial Market and developer Union Properties, up 12.6 and 10.5 percent respectively. 

Emaar Properties, the emirate's largest listed developer, added 2.0 percent and Dubai Islamic Bank jumped 3.1 percent."

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Dubai's finances stronger but still vulnerable, IMF says | Reuters

Dubai's finances stronger but still vulnerable, IMF says | Reuters:

"Dubai's ability to finance its debts has improved because of stronger economic growth and more conservative spending, but the emirate would still be vulnerable in a major dowturn of the global economy, the International Monetary Fund said. 

Dubai's government debt is expected under a baseline scenario to fall gradually to 41.6 percent of gross domestic product in 2019 from 60.2 percent last year, the IMF said after annual consultations with the United Arab Emirates.

That would be well below a peak of 66 percent in 2009, when a property market crash pushed Dubai to the brink of default and jolted financial markets around the world - though it would still be far above 15.4 percent in 2007, before conditions started deteriorating."

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Azerbaijan and the Two EUs « Wider Black Sea

Azerbaijan and the Two EUs « Wider Black Sea:

"Of the six countries in the EU’s Eastern Partnership (EaP), Azerbaijan is the only one that has not chosen to definitively align itself with either the EU or Russia. With the signing of Association Agreements with the EU on June 27, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia declared their strategic choice to further integrate with the EU and, despite Russian opposition and aggression, stated full membership as their goal. Meanwhile, Belarus and Armenia have taken another path, choosing Russia’s Eurasian Union (EaU).

Azerbaijan, as Georgia and Armenia, is located at very sensitive and volatile geopolitical crossroads, sandwiched between Russia, and Iran. However, unlike its neighbours, Baku has chosen a policy of “choosing not to choose”, having a cautious approach, not wanting to openly confront and create waves with Russia. Nevertheless, when analyzing Azerbaijan’s relationships with the West and Russia, it seems that Baku’s feet are increasingly under the West’s table. In fact, this engagement is nothing new. It began 20 years ago when former President Heydar Aliyev signed the “Contract of the Century” with a consortium of Western energy companies. Over the last two decades ties with Euro-Atlantic institutions have gradually deepened, although Azerbaijan has no aspirations to join either the EU or NATO. However, Baku wants Western “know-how” to work on modernizing the country including vocational training, best practices in sectors such as energy, science and technology and education.

For the EU Azerbaijan is an important and reliable partner. While energy is the backbone of relations, with Azerbaijan the enabler of the Southern Gas Corridor, there is a desire from both sides to broaden areas of cooperation. This was underlined during a recent speech, on 12 June, at Azerbaijan’s Diplomatic Academy, by President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso. Today the two partners are moving ahead with a “Strategic Partnership for Modernization (SPM)” along with ongoing Association Agreement talks. THE SPM, which will act as a framework for cooperation, is almost ready for signature, with EU officials hoping this can be done before the end of the present European Commission in the autumn. However, with the ongoing crisis between Russia and Ukraine and the ramifications this has had on the broader region it is not impossible that signature may take place at a later date, possibly at the 2015 EU EaP Riga Summit."

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Sawiris’ EFG-Hermes Bid Poised to Fail Amid Bets Price Too Low - Bloomberg

Sawiris’ EFG-Hermes Bid Poised to Fail Amid Bets Price Too Low - Bloomberg:

"Billionaire Naguib Sawiris’ second bid in as many years for a stake in EFG-Hermes Holding SAE may fail after holders of Egypt’s biggest investment bank agreed to sell less than a quarter of the shares sought.

Owners of about 18.5 million shares approved the sale as of the 10 a.m. market-open in Cairo, well below the 114.7 million Sawiris and Cairo-based Beltone Financial Holding are seeking, according to Ashraf Akhnoukh, manager for Middle East and North Africa at Commercial International Brokerage Co., who cited bourse data available to traders. Sawiris and Beltone are seeking a 20 percent stake at 16 Egyptian pounds per share.

HC Securities & Investment, an independent adviser hired by EFG-Hermes to price its stock, arrived at a valuation of 22.93 pounds. The stake sale won’t be executed unless Sawiris’s bid gets all the stock it’s targeting, Sherif Samy, chairman of the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority, said June 18. Beltone would own about 2 percent of EFG-Hermes, according to the offer."

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Dubai Shares Climb as Aabar Revives Confidence; Abu Dhabi Rises - Bloomberg

Dubai Shares Climb as Aabar Revives Confidence; Abu Dhabi Rises - Bloomberg:

"Dubai stocks rose, led by Arabtec Holding Co. (ARTC), as state backing for the construction company revived investor confidence in a market that tumbled more than 22 percent last month. Abu Dhabi’s index also advanced.

The DFM General Index (DFMGI) gained for a fourth day, rising 4.4 percent to 4,593.57, the highest close since June 15. Arabtec, the United Arab Emirates’ biggest listed builder, rallied 15 percent to the strongest close in more than two weeks, bringing its advance in the past four days to 55 percent. Union Properties PJSC was the most-traded stock in the gauge, adding 11 percent. Abu Dhabi’s ADX General Index (ADSMI) climbed 1.7 percent.

Khadem Al Qubaisi, the chairman of Abu Dhabi state-run Aabar Investments PJSC, Arabtec’s second-biggest shareholder, said last week at a press conference the company may increase its stake in the builder. Aabar last month cut its holding in Arabtec to about 19 percent from almost 22 percent, stoking speculation the builder was losing government backing. Qubaisi said the sale was “misunderstood” by investors."

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Rising Dubai Real Estate Prices Pose Risk for UAE, IMF Says - Middle East Real Time - WSJ

Rising Dubai Real Estate Prices Pose Risk for UAE, IMF Says - Middle East Real Time - WSJ:

"Dubai needs to introduce further measures to shield its real estate market from an increase in speculative demand that could cloud the United Arab Emirates’ buoyant economic outlook, the International Monetary Fund said after a consultation visit to the country.

The emirate’s fast-rising property sector and the country’s continued dependence on oil-related income are the major concerns for the U.A.E., where economic growth is nevertheless expected at 4.8% in 2014 and 4.5% in the coming years as tourism continues to flourish and new large-scale construction projects are being launched, the IMF said.

Despite the U.A.E.’s solid economic outlook, the IMF identified “potential risks from rapidly rising residential real estate prices and, more broadly, from the economy’s dependence on the global oil market, despite some recent progress in economic diversification.” The U.A.E. does possess “sizeable buffers” should it need to absorb a shock, the IMF said."

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Europe’s shale gas backers are living in a fantasy world - The Globe and Mail

Europe’s shale gas backers are living in a fantasy world - The Globe and Mail:

"The Ukraine crisis has come as a godsend to the shale gas cheerleaders in Europe.

Russian natural gas exports to Western and Central Europe, half of which flow through Ukraine, are unreliable, they argue; we need our own gas and – wouldn’t you know it – we’re sitting on an underground ocean of energy. Our policy should be drill, baby, drill and if we turn the continent into a pincushion, we will be energy independent and competitive with the Americans, who have so much gas they’re practically giving it away.

On paper, it’s a compelling argument. Parts of Europe, from England to Poland, are sitting on vast amounts of shale gas. On Monday, even Scotland, which may decide in September to break away from the United Kingdom, learned from the British Geological Survey that it has enough shale gas to supply all of Britain’s gas needs for 30 years. That’s good news for Scotland, whose North Sea oil and gas fields are running out of puff."

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The Peninsula Qatar - At 40, QP aims bigger as assets soar 85 times

The Peninsula Qatar - At 40, QP aims bigger as assets soar 85 times:

"The combined assets of Qatar Petroleum (QP) soared by 85 times over the past four decades. The total revenues of QP increased by 40 folds and net profits surged by 300 times during the period, H E Mohamed bin Saleh Al Sada, the Minister of Energy and Industry and Chairman of QP said on Friday.

The minister was addressing a gathering attended by ministers, top government officials, diplomats and energy industry captains in Qatar, to mark celebration of the 40th anniversary of the issuance of Emiri Decree July 4, 1974, establishing what was then known as the “Qatar General Petroleum Corporation.” 

The event was held under the patronage of H E Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior at Katara. H E Dr Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al Kuwari, the Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage, H E Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohamed Al Thani, the Minister of Economy and Trade, H E Dr Issa Saad Al Jafali Al Nuaimi, the Minister of Administrative Development, "

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The Peninsula Qatar - Qatar’s growth momentum to pick up further: QNB

The Peninsula Qatar - Qatar’s growth momentum to pick up further: QNB:

"Qatar’s economy accelerated in the first quarter of 2014, driven by strong growth in construction, financial services and trade, restaurants and hotels, according to figures released last week by the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics (MDPS). 

Qatar real GDP growth accelerated to 6.2 percent in the year to Q1, 2014 with the non-hydrocarbon sector expanding by 11.5 percent owing to rapid progress with the implementation of major projects. The pickup in growth came despite a 1.2 percent contraction in hydrocarbon real GDP as a result of falling crude oil production and flat production at LNG facilities, QNB said in its weekly research note.

QNB Group expects real GDP growth to continue to pick up during 2014 as hydrocarbon production stabilizes and non-hydrocarbon growth remains high. Overall, the new GDP data are in line with the QNB Group’s expectations for real GDP growth of around 6.8 percent in 2014. "

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Britain’s economy forecast to stay on global A-list |

Britain’s economy forecast to stay on global A-list |

"London Forecasters have good news for those fearing that Britain faces a long, slow decline into economic mediocrity: the UK will still stand tall among the world’s biggest economies in 2030, having overtaken France and even made progress on closing the gap with Germany.

Only India will leapfrog the UK on the rich list of nations, according to the report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), as the previously fast-growing countries Russia and Brazil struggle to make ground on the global league table.

According to the report, the youthful vigour of the UK economy, with its high birth rate and flexible labour market, will contrast markedly with the ageing populations of mainland Europe."

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Dubai reworks strategy of pre-empting future demand |

Dubai reworks strategy of pre-empting future demand |

"By lifting the veil on the Mall of the World development, Dubai is showing it will stick with the strategy of creating mega-projects to fuel tomorrow’s economic growth.

It is a game plan that has served the emirate well over the decades, through creations such as the Jebel Ali Free Zone, the series of expansions at Dubai International Airport and the subsequent announcement of Dubai World Central, the billion-dollar fleet additions from Emirates, and the Palm and Burj launches, to name a few. In short, the “build (or place orders in Emirates’ case) and they’ll come” dictum had served the emirate’s economic interests.

But through the tiring years of the financial crisis, which had been set off by the excessive tapping of debt, it was thought that Dubai would require a change in its time-tested growth tactic. Instead, it was felt that scaled down versions would suit it just as well."

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