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Thursday, 2 July 2015

Can Winston Churchill’s grandson save Serco? And is it worth saving? | Sam Knight | Business | The Guardian

Can Winston Churchill’s grandson save Serco? And is it worth saving? | Sam Knight | Business | The Guardian:



"Serco used to be the biggest company you had never heard of. For three decades it grew in the borderlands between the state and society, the government and us. Its name stands for “service company” and Serco, which combined great ambition with a desire to be unseen, wanted to be everywhere and nowhere at the same time. It was as much a formula as a company: a way to implement outsourced public services on behalf of governments, but with the elan of a restless entrepreneur. It didn’t matter what the service was, where it had to happen, or to whom it was delivered. Serco started out operating radars in Yorkshire and traffic lights in London, but it came to work with schoolchildren and doctors, commuters and prisoners, pilots and refugees. It was designed to be limitless, and to grow for ever. At its peak, Serco had a workforce of 125,000, contracts on four continents, and revenues of £5bn. But in 2013, the formula faltered. Everybody heard about Serco, and the roof fell in.



The trouble started in the spring. A young civil servant, a fast-streamer in the Ministry of Justice, noticed strange numbers in the documents submitted by Serco and G4S (another large outsourcing company) as the firms prepared to renew two electronic tagging contracts that they held with the British government. Since 2005, the two companies had earned around £700m from monitoring thousands of criminals, suspects and recently released convicts via tracking devices attached to their ankles – a practice introduced by the Home Office to reduce prison costs in 1999. But according to the junior civil servant, whose findings were initially dismissed, they were overcharging the state.



The paperwork that embodies government outsourcing, the physical contracts themselves, tells you a lot about how vexatious the whole business is. Capturing exactly what the state wants done on its behalf – the running of a railway system, the rehabilitation of prisoners – can produce dizzying piles of paper for even mundane tasks. The government chivvies its contractors to do a thousand things correctly. Private companies seek to minimise their risks, and ensure a quiet profit at the end of the day. Everyone covers their arse furiously. The documents that emerge are hundreds of pages long, dense with KPIs (key performance indicators) and SLAs (service level agreements) and kept secret from the customers – us, the public – whom they are supposed to benefit. Once they are signed, they are rarely looked at again."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf retail investors help support stock markets | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf retail investors help support stock markets | Reuters:



"Gulf stock markets were narrowly mixed in quiet trade early on Thursday as the Greek debt crisis and soft oil prices weighed on equities, but bargain-hunting by local retail investors on dips prevented any major losses.



Dubai's stock index dipped 0.5 percent as Amlak Finance, again the most heavily traded share, slipped 1.8 percent.



However, construction firm Drake & Scull rose 3.5 percent in unusually heavy trade after saying it had raised its limit for ownership by Gulf Cooperation Council nationals to 100 percent from 49 percent. GCC nationals currently own 57 percent."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Egypt falls on security worries; Saudi market flat | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Egypt falls on security worries; Saudi market flat | Reuters:



"Egypt's stock market fell in early trade on Thursday because of security worries after bloody clashes with militants in Sinai.



Reopening after a two-day holiday, the market slid 0.5 percent to 8,333 points. It has been falling for a month, heading for a test of technical support at its May low of 8,261 points.



The army said on Wednesday that more than 100 militants and 17 soldiers were killed after simultaneous assaults on military checkpoints in North Sinai. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks."



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Enoc sets Dragon Oil deadline with official £3.7bn buyout offer | The National

Enoc sets Dragon Oil deadline with official £3.7bn buyout offer | The National:



"Emirates National Oil Company (Enoc) officially launched its offer to buy out minority shareholders in Dragon Oil at 750 pence a share yesterday.



The move, which confirms an offer price floated last month, starts the clock under Irish Stock Exchange rules. This means the minority shareholders have until July 30 to decide whether or not to accept.



Enoc already owns 53 per cent of Dragon Oil, whose main asset is an oilfield in Turkmenistan that reached a production rate last month of about 100,000 barrels per day."



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Abu Dhabi’s Taqa denies merger talks | The National

Abu Dhabi’s Taqa denies merger talks | The National:



"Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (Taqa) said on Thursday that it was not holding merger talks.



The company “confirms that it is not engaged in merger discussions with any government or other entity”, it said in a brief statement to the bourse.



Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters this week that Abu Dhabi might merge its national energy company into another state-owned business to make the firm’s debts more manageable and try to turn around its performance."



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Ipic profits hit as oil prices slide | GulfNews.com

Ipic profits hit as oil prices slide | GulfNews.com:



"International Petroleum Investment Company (Ipic) said its revenue for the year 2014 fell to Dh188 billion compared to Dh194 billion in 2013, a decline of Dh6 billion largely due to fall in crude in oil prices offset by new acquisitions made by the group in 2014.



The Abu Dhabi government-owned company released its full year financial statement for the year 2014, news agency WAM reported late on Tuesday.



The company said its profits for 2014 were down by Dh2.3 billion compared to a year earlier, adding that it made a profit of Dh7.9 billion in 2013, which reduced to Dh5.6 billion in 2014 as a result of the decrease in revenue offset by the exchange gains on Euro denominated financial liabilities."



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Capital controls in Greece explained | FT World - YouTube

Capital controls in Greece explained | FT World - YouTube: ""



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Morgan Stanley Said Hired to Advise on Sale of Abu Dhabi’s Dunia - Bloomberg Business

Morgan Stanley Said Hired to Advise on Sale of Abu Dhabi’s Dunia - Bloomberg Business:



"Dunia Finance LLC, whose shareholders include Mubadala Development Co. and a unit of Temasek Holdings Pte, hired Morgan Stanley to explore a sale of the company, people with knowledge of the matter said.



A formal sale process for the consumer finance business has started and is likely to attract banks and other financial institutions, four people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. Dunia, based in Abu Dhabi, may fetch about $400 million in a sale, the people said.



Dunia profits rose 61 percent to 191 million dirhams ($52 million) and it had assets of 1.6 billion dirhams in 2014, the company said in March. It was established in 2008 and offers financial products including loans, credit cards, deposits for non-individual customers, and finance for small businesses, according to its website."



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A Deal With Iran Is More Likely Than Not: Soltvedt - Bloomberg Business

A Deal With Iran Is More Likely Than Not: Soltvedt - Bloomberg Business:



"Verisk Maplecroft Principal MENA Analyst Torbjorn Soltvedt and Rabobank Senior FX Strategist Jane Foley discuss the Iran nuclear deal and the possibility of lifting sanctions. They speak with Bloomberg’s Anna Edwards on “Countdown.” "



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Ex-Deutsche Banker Goes Solo With Abu Dhabi Sheikh’s Backing - Bloomberg Business

Ex-Deutsche Banker Goes Solo With Abu Dhabi Sheikh’s Backing - Bloomberg Business:



"A former Deutsche Bank AG banker is starting a Middle East-focused private-equity and advisory firm backed by an Abu Dhabi sheikh that plans to capitalize on rising investment opportunities in the region.



Shailesh Doshi, previously co-head of the German bank’s Gulf investment-banking coverage, is setting up Aramis Partners in the Dubai International Financial Centre, he said in an interview. The firm, which is seeking a regulatory license, will be chaired by Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family who’s on the emirate’s supreme council and chairman of its Department of Transport.



“The Middle East is going to play an increasingly important role in the global business landscape going forward,” Doshi said. “There’s a meaningful opportunity for a well-connected firm like ours to provide high-quality advice and make targeted private-equity investments,” he said."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf mixed; Abu Dhabi's TAQA up on merger hope | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf mixed; Abu Dhabi's TAQA up on merger hope | Reuters:



"Gulf stock markets were mixed on Wednesday as retail investors bought shares on dips but concern about the Greek debt crisis and weak oil prices prevented any major gains. Abu Dhabi National Energy Co surged on merger hopes.



The Saudi Arabian index fell in early trade but closed 0.2 percent higher. Telecommunications operator Zain KSA added 5.3 percent, while Atheeb Telecom rose 1.7 percent in unusually heavy trade.



Zain has been strong since Sunday, when rival Etihad Etisalat (Mobily), whose shares remain suspended, said it had decided to increase provisions for "Zain account receivables" by 800 million riyals ($213 million)."



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