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Monday, 24 April 2017

Italians probe Emirati for alleged insider trading in UniCredit

Italians probe Emirati for alleged insider trading in UniCredit:

"Italian prosecutors are investigating a former Emirati sovereign wealth fund official over allegations of insider trading in UniCredit shares in 2010 as the fallout from the Malaysian 1MDB scandal spreads through Abu Dhabi’s overseas investment portfolio.

Prosecutors in Milan placed Khadem al-Qubaisi, the jailed former managing director of Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company (Ipic), under investigation “several months ago,” said a person briefed on the probe. 

The Italian prosecutor's office confirmed the probe and said it is “currently working to collect the final elements” for the investigation. A spokesman for the office declined to comment further."



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Oil recovers lost ground, but market remains under pressure | Reuters

Oil recovers lost ground, but market remains under pressure | Reuters:

"Oil prices recovered lost ground on Monday following big losses last week, driven by expectations that OPEC will extend a pledge to cut output to cover all of 2017, although a relentless rise in U.S. drilling capped gains. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures CLc1 added 32 cents, or 0.64 percent, by 0649 GMT(2:49 a.m. ET), but were still just below the $50 mark pierced on Friday at $49.84 a barrel. Brent crude futures LCOc1 rose 35 cents, or 0.67 percent, to $52.31 per barrel."



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If Saudi Future's So Bright, Why Can't These Banks Find Buyers? - Bloomberg

If Saudi Future's So Bright, Why Can't These Banks Find Buyers? - Bloomberg:

"Saudi Arabia is about to cast off its oil-dependence, build brand-new industries and open its economy to foreign investment, according to the government. That might make it a good time to buy into a Saudi bank. And substantial stakes in two of them are up for sale. But in both cases, it’s international lenders who are seeking to get out -- and there are no big-name global banks eager to buy, according to analysts and people familiar with the transactions; what interest there is comes from local or regional groups. That reflects concerns about prospects under Saudi Arabia’s ambitious reform program, as Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman cuts back the government spending that’s traditionally buoyed the economy. One result of austerity is the worst growth since the world recession of 2009, and it’s forecast to slow further this year. New construction projects are scarce, and payments to builders got held up last year. That’s hurting banks that lend to them, including the two on the market. Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc has reportedly been seeking for years to sell its 40 percent stake in Alawwal Bank, while Credit Agricole SA is considering a sale of its 31 percent stake in Banque Saudi Fransi, according to people familiar with the matter."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Mobily slump weighs on Saudi shares, Alhokair jumps | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Mobily slump weighs on Saudi shares, Alhokair jumps | Reuters:

"Saudi Arabia's second largest telecoms firm, Mobily, slumped on a disappointing set of first quarter results on Monday, as profit-taking hit other shares. Riyadh's index slipped 0.3 percent, retreating from a 1.0-percent gain in the previous session on Saturday's news that the government had reversed the public sector workers' allowance cut. Consumer cyclical shares, which were the chief performers on Sunday, fell with home improvement retailer Saudi Hardware Company down 1.9 percent."



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Sunday, 23 April 2017

Parsons chief remains upbeat on region despite payment issues | The National

Parsons chief remains upbeat on region despite payment issues | The National:

"The chief executive of Parsons has said that he sees "several good signs" in the Middle East market, despite the challenges that it has faced in getting payments from some clients over the past 12 months.

In an interview with The National, Chuck Harrington cites a stabilisation of the oil price, greater Arabian Gulf sovereign debt issuance, projects linked to Dubai Expo 2020, Qatar’s 2022 Fifa World Cup and Kuwait’s modernisation attempts as factors for optimism in the region.


The US engineering consultancy, which has about one-third (4,213) of its 13,000-plus global employees based in the Middle East, also envisages greater opportunities for providing defence and security consultancy, systems and services to regional governments."



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Shale's the Wild Horse OPEC Can't Tame - Bloomberg Gadfly

Shale's the Wild Horse OPEC Can't Tame - Bloomberg Gadfly:

"It was all so simple. By lifting restraints on output, Saudi Arabia would stop subsidizing high-cost oil producers and halt the rapid rise in U.S. production that was eating into OPEC's market share. At least, that was the logic back in November 2014.But things haven't gone according to plan. OPEC's four-month experiment with production curbs has failed. More worryingly, the strength of shale's rebound suggests that OPEC faces a long-term struggle against this new source of supply in an industry where technological advances are the norm and today's niche play becomes the next decade's global standard.Even when the group restored production curbs last year, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said he didn’t expect a big supply response from American shale producers in 2017. In fact, it turns out that response had already begun, and it is much stronger than anyone had expected."



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Malaysia Reaches Deal on $2.5 Billion of 1MDB Bonds - Bloomberg

Malaysia Reaches Deal on $2.5 Billion of 1MDB Bonds - Bloomberg:

"The battle over the repayment of 1MDB bonds may be coming to an end. 


Malaysia has reached an agreement to pay Abu Dhabi $2.5 billion as partial debt settlement for embattled government fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd., according to a person familiar with the matter.

Under a deal that’s expected to be announced Monday on the London Stock Exchange, Malaysia will pay Abu Dhabi $1.2 billion before the end of this year, said the person, who asked not to be identified as the information isn’t yet public. Malaysia will also assume the coupon obligations for two dollar bonds issued by 1MDB and co-guaranteed by Middle Eastern sovereign wealth fund International Petroleum Investment Co., the person said. "



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Trophy assets lose lustre as Qatar embraces prudence and ETFs

Trophy assets lose lustre as Qatar embraces prudence and ETFs:

"Qatar, owner of London landmarks the Shard and Harrods, is moving cash into exchange traded funds and index funds as part of a more “prudent” investment strategy, two people familiar with the investment strategy said. The shift away from so-called trophy assets at the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the world’s ninth-largest sovereign wealth fund know as an aggressive deal hunter, makes it the latest high-profile convert to a low-cost, passive style of investment. It follows a change of leadership in December 2014, when Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohamed bin Saud al-Thani was appointed chief executive of the country’s historically secretive sovereign wealth fund."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi boosted by civil servant perk restoration, Egypt corrects | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi boosted by civil servant perk restoration, Egypt corrects | Reuters:

"Saudi stocks rose in heavy volumes on Sunday as investors cheered news that King Salman had issued a royal decree restoring financial allowances for civil servants and military personnel, while Egypt fell steeply on profit taking. The allowances were reduced last September as part of austerity measures due to low oil prices. Officials said on Saturday the cuts had been cancelled because of better-than-expected budgetary performance in the first quarter of 2017. The move is likely to boost consumption, benefiting the retail and food sectors, according to economists at Riyadh-based Alrajhi Capital."



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UAE’s banks on the brink of revival, first-quarter results show | The National

UAE’s banks on the brink of revival, first-quarter results show | The National:

"UAE banks maybe on the cusp of revival amid cost cutting and higher interest rates – if the first batch of first-quarter results are anything to go by. Among the big banks to report over the past week both the National Bank of Abu Dhabi and Emirates NBD, the country’s two biggest lenders, posted earnings that also showed an improvement in non-performing loans, a sign that the debt crisis that plagued small and medium-sized enterprises in the wake of the oil price crash are subsiding. "System liquidity is improving and concerns with SME credit quality have eased," said Sanyalaksna Manibhandu, the head of research at NBAD Securities."



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What comes next in UAE markets will be telling | GulfNews.com

What comes next in UAE markets will be telling | GulfNews.com:

"Last week the Dubai Financial Market General Index (DFMGI) dropped by 39.52 or 1.13 per cent to close at 3,469.82. There were eight advancing issues and 31 declining, while volume exceeded the prior week’s level. The DFMGI remains in a precarious position as this is the second week in a row that it has closed below the long-term uptrend line on a weekly basis, and it has again ended the week below the 200-day exponential moving average (ema). Each of those trend indicators tells us something about the strength or weakness of the long-term uptrend. The DFMGI has now closed below the trend line in four out of the past five weeks and below the 200-day ema three out of the past five weeks. It is a sign of weakness that the index is closing below both indicators. At the same time the price area of the trend line is still supportive. A move out of the six-week range should tell us the next direction. Support is around the recent swing low of 3,435.14. That price area was tested last week and held as last week’s low was 3,445.86. If support continues to hold around those lows we may have the beginning of a double bottom reversal pattern forming."



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Saudi Plans More Bond Sales, Cheap Loans for Job-Rich Industries - Bloomberg

Saudi Plans More Bond Sales, Cheap Loans for Job-Rich Industries - Bloomberg:

"Saudi Arabia may offer “almost interest-free” loans to companies in labor-intensive industries as part of a plan to stimulate an economy squeezed by low oil prices and spending cuts, Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said. Al-Jadaan, speaking in an interview in Washington, also said the government is on track to slash its budget deficit by 30 percent this year to about 200 billion Saudi riyals ($53 billion), and aims to finance it mainly through debt sales instead of drawing on reserves. This means the kingdom will likely tap global bond markets again this year after raising $9 billion from its debut Islamic debt sale, he said. Saudi Arabia has embarked on what it describes as an unprecedented shakeup of an economy that’s heavily reliant on oil. The so-called Vision 2030, spearheaded by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was announced last year and includes plans to sell shares in state companies and curb government spending on subsidies and wages."



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Saudi King Restores State Employee Bonuses With New Changes - Bloomberg

Saudi King Restores State Employee Bonuses With New Changes - Bloomberg:

"Saudi Arabia’s King Salman restored bonuses and allowances for state employees, scaling back an austerity program that generated widespread criticism among citizens used to generous state handouts. The government said bonuses canceled in September were reinstated because higher-than-expected revenue helped to drive down the budget deficit. Minister of State Mohammed Alsheikh said in a statement to Bloomberg that the injection of more money was expected to stimulate economic growth, but others said the kingdom’s rulers were responding to the public discontent the cutbacks created. The decision “constitutes a step back in terms of forging a new social contract that no longer offers the Saudi public cradle-to-grave welfare,” said James M. Dorsey, a Saudi specialist and senior fellow in international studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. It suggests the government is worried that its economic overhaul plan hasn’t been accepted “by segments of the population who have the most to lose from diversification and streamlining of the economy, including the bureaucracy,” he said."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi shares up on news civil servant, military allowances restored | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi shares up on news civil servant, military allowances restored | Reuters:

"The Saudi stock index jumped in early trade on Sunday on overnight news that King Salman had issued a royal decree restoring financial allowances for Saudi civil servants and military personnel.

The allowances were reduced last September as part of austerity measures due to low oil prices. Officials said on Saturday that the cuts had been cancelled because of better-than-expected budgetary performance in the first quarter of 2017.

Advancing shares outnumbered declining ones 152 to 6, taking Riyadh's index 1.4 percent higher after 25 minutes of trade, with domestically focused shares in the lead."



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Saturday, 22 April 2017

OPEC panel recommends six-month extension of oil output cuts: source | Reuters

OPEC panel recommends six-month extension of oil output cuts: source | Reuters:

"An OPEC and non-OPEC technical committee recommended that producers extend a global deal to cut oil supplies for another six months from June, a source familiar with the matter said, in an effort to clear a glut of crude that has weighed on prices. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Russia and other producers originally agreed to cut production by 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) for six months from Jan. 1 to support the market. Compliance numbers were also reviewed at the meeting in Vienna on Friday that comprised of officials from countries monitoring adherence to agreed output levels, namely OPEC members Kuwait, Venezuela, Algeria and non-OPEC Russia and Oman."



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Oil dives below $50 as confidence in Opec wavers

Oil dives below $50 as confidence in Opec wavers:

"Oil was set for the biggest weekly drop in a month as market confidence in Opec’s ability to overpower a resurgent US shale industry wavered.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate fell below $50 a barrel on Friday — down $1.32 to $49.39 — by 6.45pm in London. The global Brent marker dropped $1.24 to $51.75 a barrel.

Both benchmarks fell by more than 7 per cent this week, marking the biggest falls since early March."



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Friday, 21 April 2017

Emirates made the right move, will help save costs | GulfNews.com

Emirates made the right move, will help save costs | GulfNews.com:

"Emirates’ decision to cut down on its US flights is being viewed by aviation industry experts as the right move, and one which will result in saving costs for the airline. “I think it is the right move to save costs. They [Emirates] need to better match capacity and demand. So while it hurts revenue a bit, it does far more by cutting costs, and in the end they end up losing much less,” says Addison Schonland, Partner at US-based AirInsight. Emirates made a commercial decision on Wednesday of reducing its flights to five of the 12 US cities it currently operates services to in the wake of the electronics ban and travel restrictions imposed by the Trump administration. The move has resulted in airline experiencing a drop in demand on the route."



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Oil dips, on course for biggest weekly drop in a month | Reuters

Oil dips, on course for biggest weekly drop in a month | Reuters:

"Oil prices edged lower on Friday, on course for the biggest weekly drop in a month, over doubts that an OPEC-led production cut will restore balance to an oversupplied market.

Front-month Brent futures LCOc1 were at $52.87 a barrel at 0820 GMT (4:20 a.m. ET), down 12 cents from their last close and set for a 5.4 percent weekly drop, the most since the week of March 10.

Front-month U.S. crude futures CLc1, which rolled over on Friday, were at $50.61 a barrel, down 10 cents and on course for a 4.8 percent weekly decline, also the most since March 10."



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Thursday, 20 April 2017

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf falls with oil but UAE's Union Properties, TAQA jump | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf falls with oil but UAE's Union Properties, TAQA jump | Reuters:

"Profit-taking and weak first-quarter earnings weighed on Gulf stock markets on Thursday, with Saudi Arabia's index pulled lower by petrochemical shares after oil prices fell sharply, but Dubai's Union Properties and Abu Dhabi's TAQA bucked the trend.

Dubai's index lost 1.0 percent as financially troubled builder Arabtec, which had jumped almost 11 percent on Wednesday after shareholders approved its capital restructuring plan, retreated 4.4 percent.

Union Properties, however, leapt 5.8 percent to close at 1.03 dirhams in its heaviest trade since Jan. 23 and accounted for almost half of trading volume on the exchange. It ended off its intra-day high of 1.12 dirhams, failing to conclusively break chart resistance at the end-February peak of 1.07."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Petchems, banks weigh on Saudi; Qatar's GIS slumps on weak Q1 | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Petchems, banks weigh on Saudi; Qatar's GIS slumps on weak Q1 | Reuters:

"Petrochemical shares were the main drag on Saudi Arabia's stock market in early trade on Thursday after oil prices fell sharply overnight, while Qatar's index was hit by weak earnings from oil rig provider Gulf International Services.

The Saudi index was down 0.5 percent after half an hour of trade as almost three-quarters of listed petrochemical shares fell, with heavyweight Saudi Basic Industries dropping 0.5 percent.

Most petrochemical producers have not yet reported first-quarter earnings. Companies in Saudi Arabia are now obliged to report earnings based on IFRS standards, and the securities regulator said last year that firms could report interim earnings as long as 30 days after the end of each period, rather than 15 days as previously."



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Russian oil groups shrug off western sanctions to explore Arctic

Russian oil groups shrug off western sanctions to explore Arctic:

"His fur coat heavy with snow and protecting him from temperatures of minus 18C, Igor Sechin, the chief executive of Russian oil company Rosneft, clutched the radio in his thick gloves and relayed to his engineers the simple order he had just been given by Russian President Vladimir Putin: “Start drilling.” A rig operator confirmed his request. Moments later, a drill began its 5,000m journey downwards, in search of oil deposits that the country is banking on to provide more than a quarter of its future output. Perched on the edge of a peninsula deep in the Arctic Circle, Tsentralno- Olginskaya-1 will be Russia’s northernmost oil well. Closer to the North Pole than to any city, it is a feat of engineering that uses equipment shipped 3,600km through icy waters navigable only for two months of the year."



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Saudi oil minister raises hopes of Opec deal extension

Saudi oil minister raises hopes of Opec deal extension:

"Consensus is building towards agreement to extend an Opec deal to limit output by three to six months as the producer group seeks to achieve its goal of bring down inventory stocks, Saudi Arabia’s oil minister Khaled al-Falih said. “Consensus is building, but it is not done yet,” he told reporters on the sidelines of an industry event in Abu Dhabi on Thursday. “We are still in consultations.” His comments reflect growing intent within the group to extend a deal which saw Opec countries and those outside of the cartel such as Russia agree to cut their output by around 1.8m barrels a day in the first six months of 2017."



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Abu Dhabi's Mubadala attracts $2.5 billion in Europe private equity deal | Reuters

Abu Dhabi's Mubadala attracts $2.5 billion in Europe private equity deal | Reuters:

"Mubadala Capital, an arm of Abu Dhabi's state fund Mubadala, said it had conudcted a private equity transaction with European fund manager Ardian, which had committed to invest $2.5 billion in the deal. It is the first time that Mubadala Capital is accepting capital from third-party investors, Mubadala said in a statement on Thursday. The deal has two components: Ardian is acquiring an interest in a private equity portfolio currently managed by Mubadala Capital, and Mubadala is establishing a new private equity fund in which Ardian will be a lead investor."



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Oil prices claw back losses, but oversupply still weighs | Reuters

Oil prices claw back losses, but oversupply still weighs | Reuters:

"Oil prices regained some ground on Thursday after steep losses the previous day, as Kuwait said it expected an OPEC-led effort to cut supplies would be extended beyond the middle of the year.

Brent crude futures were at $53.34 per barrel at 0715 GMT (3:15 a.m. ET), up 41 cents, or 0.77 percent, from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 32 cents, or 0.63 percent, to $50.76 a barrel."



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Amid Aramco IPO Plans, Oman Oil Prepares Its Own - Bloomberg

Amid Aramco IPO Plans, Oman Oil Prepares Its Own - Bloomberg:

"Oman Oil Co., the sultanate’s state-owned energy producer, is seeking advice from banks to sell some energy assets and list units on the local stock market, following plans by its larger peer Saudi Arabian Oil Co. to offer shares to the public.

The oil and gas producer, which has stakes in overseas businesses, plans to sell some energy assets, Oman Oil Minister Mohammed Al Rumhy said in an interview in Abu Dhabi. The company is also considering an initial public offering of shares for some units on Oman’s stock market, he said. He didn’t identify the banks.

“We are looking at the IPO option because we want to give a boost to the local stock market, and we want to see more foreign direct investments coming to the country,” he said. "



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Adnoc hires advisers as it eyes new partnerships | The National

Adnoc hires advisers as it eyes new partnerships | The National:

"The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) has hired new financial public relations advisers as it moves to the next stage of its strategy, which includes developing a wider range of international partnerships.

The state oil company has hired Teneo, a relatively young firm best known for its high-level connections through co-founder and president Douglas Band, a long-time adviser to former president Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation, and the Irish-born co-founder and chief executive Declan Kelly, who was appointed by former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton as an envoy to Northern Ireland when she was in office.


Adnoc executives said the move does not presage any plan for an initial public offering or capital markets transactions, such as issuing debt, but rather is part of the next stage of its strategy, which has included looking for a broader range of international partners and more innovative deals to develop Abu Dhabi’s oil, gas, refining and petrochemicals projects."



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Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Abu Dhabi's Taqa Seeking to Sell Energy Assets in North America - Bloomberg

Abu Dhabi's Taqa Seeking to Sell Energy Assets in North America - Bloomberg:

"Abu Dhabi National Energy Co., the government-run company known as Taqa, is generating cash from overseas oil and natural gas operations and wants to sell some higher-cost wells in North America after reporting a record $5.2 billion loss last year.

After a two-year program to cut costs, Taqa’s oil and gas businesses in North America and Europe are “cash-flow positive,” Saeed Hamad Al Dhaheri, acting chief operating officer, said in an emailed response to questions. Taqa plans to invest more in the hydrocarbon business in Canada’s Alberta province, he said.

Taqa has written off assets, sold businesses and cut jobs and spending after losing money due to acquisitions and lower crude prices over the past two years. The company earlier this month reported a loss of 19 billion dirhams on one-time impairments for 2016. It lost 1.8 billion dirhams the previous year. Taqa currently has a market capitalization of 3.4 billion dirhams.

"



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Promise of Saudi Reforms Attracts Qatari Money - Bloomberg

Promise of Saudi Reforms Attracts Qatari Money - Bloomberg:

"Saudi Arabia has attracted the attention of global investors and investment banks looking to benefit from the kingdom’s plans for economic transformation. It’s also drawing regional money. Amwal LLC, a Doha-based asset manager, is buying Saudi stocks in anticipation of the market’s inclusion in emerging-market benchmarks. The Qatari firm plans to boost the Saudi Arabian exposure in its four equity funds to as much as 60 percent by the end of the year, said Rami Jamal, a portfolio manager at Amwal, which oversees around 1 billion riyals ($275 million) in assets. That’s up from close to 30 percent in the beginning of 2017. “Take off for Saudi is this year,” Jamal said in an interview in Doha on April 13. “Saudi is still trading at slightly higher multiples than the region, but the growth potential is there and it is worth it. You are buying into the future.”"



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Emirates Trims U.S. Flights After Trump's Bans Cut Demand - Bloomberg

Emirates Trims U.S. Flights After Trump's Bans Cut Demand - Bloomberg:

"U.S. airlines stand to benefit from flight cutbacks by Dubai-based Emirates, which blamed President Donald Trump’s travel restrictions for weakening demand from Middle Eastern passengers. Emirates will pare service to five U.S. cities after the U.S. banned on-board electronics on flights from some Middle Eastern airports and attempted to block travel from six predominantly Muslim nations. That trims competition from the biggest Persian Gulf carrier -- a persistent irritant to long-haul U.S. operators that see it as an unfair rival. “Any reduction in capacity from them is only a good thing for U.S. airlines,” said Joe DeNardi, an analyst at Stifel Financial Corp. “To some extent it was an unintended byproduct of Trump’s plans.”"



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UPDATE 1-Newly-merged UAE bank posts 12 pct rise in Q1 profit | Reuters

UPDATE 1-Newly-merged UAE bank posts 12 pct rise in Q1 profit | Reuters:

"National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) and First Gulf Bank (FGB), which merged on April 1 to create one of the largest banks in the Middle East and Africa, posted on Wednesday a 12.4 percent rise in combined "pro-forma" first quarter net profit. Pro-forma net profit reached 2.93 billion dirhams ($797.80 million) in the three months to March 31, they said in a statement, up from 2.60 billion dirhams in the year earlier period. Analysts only provided forecasts for the two separate lenders - 1.31 billion dirhams for NBAD and 1.41 billion dirhams for FGB, according to the average estimates of three analysts polled by Reuters."



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Exclusive: China gathers state-led consortium for Aramco IPO - sources | Reuters

Exclusive: China gathers state-led consortium for Aramco IPO - sources | Reuters:

"China is creating a consortium, including state-owned oil giants and banks and its sovereign wealth fund, that will act as a cornerstone investor in the initial public offering of Saudi Aramco, people with knowledge of the discussions told Reuters.

Saudi Aramco, a key exporter to China along with Russia's Rosneft (ROSN.MM), is due to list next year, with a potential $100 billion equity sale that is expected to be the world's largest to date.

The planned Chinese investment makes it more likely that the national energy giant would seek a listing in Asia, with Hong Kong currently the frontrunner among bourses in the region, the same people said."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Cement companies hold back Saudi index, Dubai's Arabtec shines | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Cement companies hold back Saudi index, Dubai's Arabtec shines | Reuters:

"Construction-related shares underperformed Riyadh's stock market on Wednesday because of poor first-quarter earnings, though troubled Dubai builder Arabtec jumped after shareholders approved a capital restructuring plan. Riyadh-listed Arabian Cement slid by 5 percent after reporting net profit for the three months to March 31 down 55 percent year on year, citing lower sales volumes and prices. Other cement companies have also reported double-digit declines in quarterly earnings, with analysts saying the sector's outlook does not look promising. Government sources told Reuters this weak that the government is embarking on a review of unfinished projects to shelve some of them indefinitely as a cost-saving measure."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Cement caps gains in Saudi, Dubai's Arabtec leaps | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Cement caps gains in Saudi, Dubai's Arabtec leaps | Reuters:

"Construction-related shares underperformed Riyadh's stock market in early trade on Wednesday because of poor first-quarter earnings, though troubled Dubai builder Arabtec jumped after shareholders approved a capital restructuring plan.

The Saudi index was almost flat after 30 minutes of trade. But Arabian Cement slumped 5.6 percent after it posted a net profit for the three months to March 31 of 100.1 million riyals ($26.7 million), down 55.4 percent from the prior-year period. The company attributed the fall to lower sales volumes and prices.

It said its adoption of IFRS accounting rules had made no significant changes to its results. Companies in Saudi Arabia are now obliged to report earnings based on IFRS, and the securities regulator said last year that firms could report interim earnings as long as 30 days after the end of each period, rather than 15 days as previously."



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Arabtec shares up 10% in trade | GulfNews.com

Arabtec shares up 10% in trade | GulfNews.com:

"Arabtec shares jumped nearly 10 per cent on Wednesday after reports that the company would announce a profit for the first quarter of 2017.
Arabtec shares were up 8.93 per cent to be at Dh0.915, after hitting a high of Dh0.966.
The wider Dubai index was up 0.29 per cent at 3,505.91."



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U.S. says Iran complies with nuke deal but orders review on lifting sanctions | Reuters

U.S. says Iran complies with nuke deal but orders review on lifting sanctions | Reuters:

"The Trump administration said on Tuesday it was launching an inter-agency review of whether the lifting of sanctions against Iran was in the United States' national security interests, while acknowledging that Tehran was complying with a deal to rein in its nuclear program. In a letter to U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, the top Republican in Congress, on Tuesday U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Iran remained compliant with the 2015 deal, but said there were concerns about its role as a state sponsor of terrorism. Under the deal, the State Department must notify Congress every 90 days on Iran's compliance under the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). It is the first such notification under U.S. President Donald Trump."



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Ex-Goldman Banker to Run Dubai's $35 Billion Investment Firm - Bloomberg

Ex-Goldman Banker to Run Dubai's $35 Billion Investment Firm - Bloomberg:

"Dubai Holding LLC named Edris Alrafi chief executive officer as the investment company owned by the emirate’s ruler seeks to grow after years of restructuring. Alrafi, formerly chief commercial officer at government-backed property developer Meraas Holding LLC, replaces Fadel Al Ali. He joins as Dubai Holding “focuses on a new organizational structure and debt management program to achieve a stronger balance sheet," according to a statement late Monday."



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UPDATE 1-Dubai's Emirates NBD Q1 profit rises 4 pct, meets forecasts | Reuters

UPDATE 1-Dubai's Emirates NBD Q1 profit rises 4 pct, meets forecasts | Reuters:

"Emirates NBD, Dubai's largest lender, reported a 4 percent rise in first-quarter net profit on Wednesday as expenses and provisions for bad loans declined.

Net profit came in at 1.87 billion dirhams ($509 million) in the three months ended March 31, Emirates NBD (ENBD) said in a statement, compared with 1.81 billion dirhams in the year-ago period.

That was in line with the average forecast of three analysts polled by Reuters, who had expected a net profit of 1.79 billion dirhams."



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IMF Lowers Saudi Arabia Growth Forecast After Oil Output Cut - Bloomberg

IMF Lowers Saudi Arabia Growth Forecast After Oil Output Cut - Bloomberg:

"The International Monetary Fund lowered its growth forecast for Saudi Arabia next year, as oil production cuts and austerity measures take a toll on the biggest Arab economy.

The Saudi economy is expected to expand 1.3 percent in 2018, down from a 2.3 percent projection in January, the IMF said in its World Economic Outlook report on Tuesday. The Washington-based lender left this year’s forecast unchanged at 0.4 percent, citing “lower oil production and ongoing fiscal consolidation.”"



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Tuesday, 18 April 2017

MIDEAST STOCKS-Dubai outperforms in broad rally, most of Gulf sluggish | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Dubai outperforms in broad rally, most of Gulf sluggish | Reuters:

"Dubai's stock market rose in a broad-based rally on Tuesday while other Gulf bourses were sluggish, with Saudi Arabian banks trading mixed after first-quarter earnings announcements. The Dubai index rose 0.9 percent to 3,496 points, rebounding from near technical support on its March low of 3,435 points. Nine of the 10 most heavily traded stocks gained with GFH Financial, the most active, adding 2.7 percent. Emaar Properties climbed 3.3 percent as an executive said its Address Downtown hotel in Dubai, which was damaged in a New Year's Eve fire in 2015, was on track to reopen in the fourth quarter."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Dubai surges in broad rally, rest of region sluggish early on | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Dubai surges in broad rally, rest of region sluggish early on | Reuters:

"Dubai's stock market rose sharply in a broad-based rally early on Tuesday but other Gulf bourses were sluggish, with Saudi Arabian banks mixed after first-quarter earnings announcements. The Dubai index gained 1.3 percent to 3,509 points, rebounding from near technical support on its March low of 3,435 points. All 10 most heavily traded stocks rose with GFH Financial, the most active, adding 3.6 percent. Abu Dhabi dropped 0.7 percent, however, because of a 2.3 percent fall by telecommunications firm Etisalat as it went ex-dividend. "



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UAE banking sector on its way to recovery, report says | The National

UAE banking sector on its way to recovery, report says | The National:

"While UAE banks’ profitability has been dented in recent years because of low oil prices, the industry remains in better shape overall than its global peers, according to a report on the UAE banking industry by the global consultants Alvarez & Marsal.

The consultancy also said in its inaugural report on the country’s banking sector that there are increasing signs of recovery following several dismal years amid a rise in bad debts and lacklustre lending growth.


The report, which is to be published on a quarterly basis, also said the biggest banks in the UAE, which have the most diversified portfolios of loans and have operations abroad, have fared the best."



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War for Talent Shows Nuclear Deal Rewards for Skilled Iranians - Bloomberg

War for Talent Shows Nuclear Deal Rewards for Skilled Iranians - Bloomberg:

"Aryan’s timing was impeccable: Months after he returned to Iran from college in Canada, job offers started to pile up. A decade of economic sanctions was drawing to an end in early 2016 as he settled back home, prompting a frenzied chase for Iran’s small pool of white-collar professionals.

“It’s a battle for talent,” said Aseyeh Hatami, founder and managing director of Iran’s leading jobs website, Iran Talent. Those with skills “and who are fit for a professional work environment are seized immediately,” she said.

The thriving metropolitan upper middle class that includes Aryan is a natural constituency for moderate President Hassan Rouhani, the architect of the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers that ended Iran’s isolation, as he seeks a second term at May 19 elections. Less clear is the degree of his support among the poor, leaving him vulnerable to accusations by hardline critics that his policies have failed to spread the benefits ."



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Oil edges down after expected climb in U.S. output | Reuters

Oil edges down after expected climb in U.S. output | Reuters:

"Oil prices fell in thin trade on Tuesday after the Easter holiday break shut many markets for as long as four days and as a U.S. government report indicated rising production.

Benchmark Brent crude futures were down 4 cents at $55.32 at 0649 GMT (2:49 a.m. ET). They ended a quiet session on Monday down 53 cents at $55.36, after rising the three previous weeks.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were also down 4 cents at $52.61 a barrel. They settled down 53 cents at $52.65 a barrel."



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Saudi Wealth Fund to Get Airports in Step Toward Privatization - Bloomberg

Saudi Wealth Fund to Get Airports in Step Toward Privatization - Bloomberg:

"Saudi Arabia will transfer airports to its sovereign wealth fund by mid-2018, as part of a nationwide privatization drive spurred by low oil prices. Airports will be turned into companies before being handed over to the Public Investment Fund, to help improve accountability, Faisal Al-Sugair, chairman of Saudi Civil Aviation Holding Co., said in a phone interview. The transfer will also boost oversight as the General Authority of Civil Authority will no longer be both an operator and regulator, he said. The kingdom aims to win investment in airports as its seeks to revive an aviation industry that’s been dwarfed by competitors in nearby Dubai and Qatar. It’s also looking at privatizing seaports as depressed crude prices weigh on state spending plans."



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Monday, 17 April 2017

Women are a growing influence on banking in the Middle East | The National

Women are a growing influence on banking in the Middle East | The National:

"As well as being a member of Emirates NBD’s group executive committee, Lubna Qassim also sits on the board of a Lebanese bank. It’s a rare position for a female to be in, given the global average of women sitting on boards today is 16 per cent and in the GCC it’s a dismal 2 per cent, according to a recent study by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (Acca) Middle East. Ms Qassim, an Emirati, says other board members at the Lebanese bank are former ministers and influential members of the Lebanese community, ranging in age from 70 to 90. "It was amazing just to see the reaction at the first board meeting," she says. "For the first time in their entire careers, a woman walks in. Of course, I giggled internally. They had worked with women – their PAs, their supporters – but here there was a female board member who was not only there to nod heads, but to speak smartly." Ms Qassim recently shared her story at a Dubai Business Women’s Council panel talk on why gender balance and diversity make good business sense, held at Dubai’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry."



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Saudi Arabia says tax on tobacco, drinks to raise up to $2.7 billion: Al Arabiya TV | Reuters

Saudi Arabia says tax on tobacco, drinks to raise up to $2.7 billion: Al Arabiya TV | Reuters:

"Saudi Arabia's government estimates a new tax on tobacco and sugary drinks will raise between 8 billion and 10 billion riyals ($2.1 billion to $2.7 billion) annually, Al Arabiya television quoted the General Authority of Zakat and Tax as saying on Monday. The government has previously said it will introduce the tax, part of efforts to close a budget deficit that totaled 297 billion riyals last year, in the second quarter of this year. A 50 percent levy will be imposed on soft drinks and 100 percent on tobacco and energy drinks, according to an official statement last December."



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Dubai builder Arabtec asks banks to waive debt terms -sources | Reuters

Dubai builder Arabtec asks banks to waive debt terms -sources | Reuters:

"Dubai-listed Arabtec Holding , which reported accumulated losses of 4.6 billion dirhams ($1.25 billion) last year, is asking banks to waive terms on its debt, two banking sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters. The building company has been in talks with its main creditors over the past month to waive the right for banks to call in facilities extended to the business, said the sources, who declined to be identified because the matter had not been made public. The waiver request comes as Arabtec seeks to ensure that the proceeds of a planned 1.5 billion dirham ($408.4 million) rights issue will go to the company rather than be used to settle its liabilities, one of the sources said, adding that Arabtec will no longer be in breach of debt covenants after the rights issue."



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Citigroup Names Saudi Arabia CEO - Bloomberg

Citigroup Names Saudi Arabia CEO - Bloomberg:

"Citigroup Inc. named Carmen Haddad to rebuild its Saudi Arabian business more than 10 years after losing a key banking license in the kingdom, according to people familiar with the matter. Haddad is leading Citigroup’s strategy and business development for the kingdom, where the New York-based bank doesn’t have a local presence, said the people, asking not to be identified because the appointment hasn’t been made public. She’s also set to become the lender’s chief executive officer in Saudi Arabia once it gets a banking license from the market regulator, the people said. Citigroup is in advanced discussions with Saudi Arabia’s Capital Market Authority for an investment-banking license to operate in the country, people said last month. The firm lost a key banking license when it sold its stake in Samba Financial Group in 2004. Saudi Arabia is becoming more attractive to foreign lenders as it takes steps to overhaul its economy, including plans for what could be the largest ever initial public offering with the sale of shares in Saudi Arabian Oil Co."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Two Saudi telcos surge, Abu Dhabi's Eshraq rebounds on tie-up with fund | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Two Saudi telcos surge, Abu Dhabi's Eshraq rebounds on tie-up with fund | Reuters:

"Two Saudi Arabian telecommunications stocks surged on Monday on hopes that troubled operators have finally turned the corner, while Abu Dhabi real estate firm Eshraq was helped by a plan to tie up with state fund Mubadala. The Saudi stock index edged up 0.1 percent as Zain Saudi jumped 8.9 percent and Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) added 3.6 percent. Last week Zain reported its first-ever quarterly net profit, and this raised hopes for Mobily, which has also been struggling to make money. "I believe the market is expecting Mobily to report profits just like Zain did," said Iyad Ghulam, senior equity analyst at NCB Capital."



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After taking big loss on assets, Taqa sets recovery course | The National

After taking big loss on assets, Taqa sets recovery course | The National:

"Abu Dhabi National Energy Company’s top management is putting together a recovery plan after taking the long-delayed decision last month to write off an enormous Dh22 billion (US$6bn) of value in its oil and gas portfolio. The Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority (Adwea), the majority shareholder in Taqa, as the company is known, filled the hole left in Taqa’s balance sheet by transferring land valued at Dh18.7bn from Adwea’s power and water plant sites, swallowing the entire loss of equity value itself, according to Taqa’s annual results. Having spent $25bn building up an international portfolio of oil, gas and power assets under previous management before oil and gas prices crashed, last year’s writedown leaves that portfolio with a book value of about $9.5bn."



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How Qatar Plans to Diversify Its Economy - Bloomberg

How Qatar Plans to Diversify Its Economy - Bloomberg:

"Qatar Financial Centre Authority CEO Yousef Mohammed Al-Jaida discusses Qatar's plans to diversify its economy. He speaks on "Bloomberg Markets: Middle East." (Source: Bloomberg)"



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Troubled Saudi Oger sells 2.8 pct stake in Saudi Investment Bank | Reuters

Troubled Saudi Oger sells 2.8 pct stake in Saudi Investment Bank | Reuters:

"Financially troubled construction company Saudi Oger sold a 2.8 percent stake in Saudi Investment Bank, bringing its stake in the bank down to 5.8 percent in the course of a single trading day, stock exchange data showed on Monday.

The data did not reveal the identity of the buyers and the companies could not immediately be contacted for comment.

Saudi Investment Bank, which offers retail, corporate, treasury and asset management services, had a market capitalisation of $2.62 billion at the market's last close, implying the sale could have raised about $73 million."



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Crude Slips Below $53 as U.S. Drilling Surge Stokes Output Fears - Bloomberg

Crude Slips Below $53 as U.S. Drilling Surge Stokes Output Fears - Bloomberg:

"Oil declined below $53 a barrel as the U.S. continued to ramp-up drilling, stoking fears the nation’s surge in output this year will counter OPEC-led efforts to cut a global supply surplus.

Futures fell as much as 1 percent in New York, paring last week’s 1.8 percent advance. U.S. explorers added 11 rigs last week, capping the longest stretch of gains since 2011, according to Baker Hughes Inc. data. Prices fell even after Saudi Arabian Oil Co. Chief Executive Officer Amin Nasser said the global oil market is moving closer to balance despite the U.S. shale boom."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi banks buoyed by results, Eshraq rises on fund tie-up | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi banks buoyed by results, Eshraq rises on fund tie-up | Reuters:

"Two Saudi Arabian banks outperformed in early trading on Monday after reporting their first-quarter earnings, while shares in Abu Dhabi real estate firm Eshraq were boosted by a plan to tie up with state fund Mubadala. Shares in the second largest Saudi lender by assets, Al Rajhi Bank, rose 0.8 percent after it reported a net profit of 2.22 billion riyals ($589 million), up 10.1 percent from the prior-year period and in line with analysts' average forecast of 2.16 billion riyals. The Islamic bank had dropped 2.3 percent on Sunday on news that it was among Saudi companies being sued by U.S. insurers over the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. "



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Sunday, 16 April 2017

UAE exchange houses told to do 'cross-check' on security | GulfNews.com

UAE exchange houses told to do 'cross-check' on security | GulfNews.com:

"Businesses facilitating money remittances from the UAE have been advised to take precautionary measures following unfounded reports that the funds transfer system in the region has been compromised. An official from the Foreign Exchange and Remittance Group (Ferg) in the UAE said on Sunday that exchange houses need to ensure that the firewall protection they use is safe from intrusion by hackers, and that no outsider emails are opened in PCs intended for cash transactions. “As the amounts involved are very large, it is important to cross-verify the security features of the firewall using some other company. Emails, specifically incoming with attachments, need to be separated from the PC that is used for processing remittances,” Rajiv Raipancholia, Ferg treasurer told Gulf News. “Regular updates of the virus scanners are required to keep your PCs clean."



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Abu Dhabi state fund considers venture with property firm Eshraq | Reuters

Abu Dhabi state fund considers venture with property firm Eshraq | Reuters:

"Abu Dhabi government fund Mubadala is considering forming a venture with loss-making real estate developer Eshraq Properties in the latest example of Abu Dhabi state money coming to the aid of a local company that has run into difficulties. Mubadala and Eshraq are exploring opportunities to establish a joint real estate development venture in Abu Dhabi, they said in a statement on Sunday. The proposed venture would develop plots of land in Abu Dhabi owned by Mubadala on Al Maryah Island and by Eshraq on Al Reem Island. "



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Iran Boosts Gas-Output Capacity With New Projects at Giant Field - Bloomberg

Iran Boosts Gas-Output Capacity With New Projects at Giant Field - Bloomberg:

"Iran, holder of the world’s biggest natural gas reserves, boosted output by inaugurating six projects at the giant South Pars offshore field. The country raised total production capacity at South Pars to 570 million cubic meters a day of gas, putting it almost on par with neighboring Qatar, which produces from an adjacent portion of the same deposit, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said Sunday at a ceremony in the port city of Assaluyeh. Iran invested $20 billion to complete the six projects, or phases, President Hassan Rouhani said at the event. Iran is on track to out-produce Qatar, the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas, at the Persian Gulf deposit. Iranian officials want to gain market share for gas shipments and attract foreign investment, even as U.S. President Donald Trump ratchets up confrontational rhetoric against Iran. "



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MOVES-Dubai's Arabtec appoints Peter Pollard as Group CFO-sources | Reuters

MOVES-Dubai's Arabtec appoints Peter Pollard as Group CFO-sources | Reuters:

"Dubai-listed builder Arabtec Holding has appointed Peter Pollard as group chief financial officer (CFO), sources told Reuters on Sunday.

Pollard's appointment comes days ahead of the company's shareholder meeting on Tuesday, in which Arabtec will be seeking investor approval for its 1.5 billion dirhams ($408.39 million) rights issue.

Pollard, who will be overseeing the company's recapitalisation programme, will succeed acting group CFO Ravi Murthy, according to three sources, declining to be identified because the matter is not public."



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Exclusive: Saudi to shelve, reform billions of dollars of unfinished projects - sources | Reuters

Exclusive: Saudi to shelve, reform billions of dollars of unfinished projects - sources | Reuters:

"Saudi Arabia's government is ordering its ministries and agencies to review billions of dollars' worth of unfinished infrastructure and economic development projects with a view to shelving or restructuring them, government sources said. Riyadh's Bureau of Capital and Operational Spending Rationalization, set up last year to make the government more efficient, is compiling a list of projects that are under 25 percent complete, the sources told Reuters. Many of these projects are relics of a decade-long boom of high oil prices and lavish state spending, which ended when oil began sliding in mid-2014, making it increasingly difficult for Riyadh to find the money needed to complete their construction."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi banks down on 9/11 lawsuit, real estate weighs on Abu Dhabi | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi banks down on 9/11 lawsuit, real estate weighs on Abu Dhabi | Reuters:

"Saudi Arabia's two largest listed banks were the main drag on the index on Sunday on news that U.S. insurers have filed a lawsuit against the lenders over the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, while real estate shares and troubled Dana Gas weighed on Abu Dhabi. Shares of Al Rajhi Bank dropped 2.3 percent and, National Commercial Bank (NCB) lost 2.4 percent after the lawsuit was filed late on Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, by more than two dozen U.S. insurers affiliated with Travelers Cos, in the latest effort to hold entities in Saudi Arabia liable for the attacks. The two banks, and companies affiliated with Osama bin Laden's family and several charities are being sued for at least $4.2 billion."



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OPEC Sees a World That Still Has Too Much Oil - Bloomberg Gadfly

OPEC Sees a World That Still Has Too Much Oil - Bloomberg Gadfly:

"The oil market is tipping slowly from glut to equilibrium, as output cuts from OPEC and 11 non-OPEC countries start to reduce crude flows.It's not quite there yet. Indeed, the grand "re-balancing" of supply and demand has yet to take place, although the International Energy Agency does at least believe "that the market is already very close to balance," according to its latest monthly report."



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The Oil Major Hiding Inside BHP Billiton That Paul Singer Wants Spun Off - Bloomberg

The Oil Major Hiding Inside BHP Billiton That Paul Singer Wants Spun Off - Bloomberg:

"The usual suspects have planted their flags along the dusty byways of the Permian Basin, declaring where they’ve staked claims. There are names like Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Anadarko Petroleum Corp., Pioneer Natural Resources Co. And, on signs fronting a barbed-wire fence, BHP Billiton Ltd.

For the world’s largest mining company, the heart of the U.S. shale boom in West Texas might seem to be strange territory, a very long way from the iron-ore deposits of Australia or the copper mines of Chile’s Atacama desert. But BHP actually has been in the oil business for years, with operations stretching from Texas to the North Sea. Its U.S. assets alone are so valuable that activist investor Paul Singer urged the company to spin them off -- a suggestion BHP rejected Monday, setting the stage for a tussle with the billionaire."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-U.S. 9/11 lawsuit against Saudi banks main drag, NBK up on Q1 earnings beat | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-U.S. 9/11 lawsuit against Saudi banks main drag, NBK up on Q1 earnings beat | Reuters:

"Saudi Arabia's two largest listed banks were the main drag on the index in early trade on Sunday on news that U.S. insurers have filed a lawsuit against the lenders over the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, while National Bank of Kuwait rose on strong first quarter results. Shares of Al Rajhi Bank were down 1.5 percent and, National Commercial Bank down 2.1 percent on news that the lawsuit was filed late on Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, by more than two dozen U.S. insurers affiliated with Travelers Cos, in the latest effort to hold entities in Saudi Arabia liable for the attacks. The two banks, and companies affiliated with Osama bin Laden's family and several charities are being sued for at least $4.2 billion."



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Hackers release files indicating NSA monitored global bank transfers | Reuters

Hackers release files indicating NSA monitored global bank transfers | Reuters:

"Hackers released documents and files on Friday that cybersecurity experts said indicated the U.S. National Security Agency had accessed the SWIFT interbank messaging system, allowing it to monitor money flows among some Middle Eastern and Latin American banks.

The release included computer code that could be adapted by criminals to break into SWIFT servers and monitor messaging activity, said Shane Shook, a cyber security consultant who has helped banks investigate breaches of their SWIFT systems.

The documents and files were released by a group calling themselves The Shadow Brokers. Some of the records bear NSA seals, but Reuters could not confirm their authenticity.

"



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Dubai SWIFT service provider denies being hacked | GulfNews.com

Dubai SWIFT service provider denies being hacked | GulfNews.com:

"A Dubai-based provider of SWIFT services on Saturday denied that it had been hacked. The statement from EastNets comes one day after documents were released on online that suggesting the National Security Agency (NSA) had penetrated the SWIFT banking network and monitored a number of Middle East banks. “The reports of an alleged hacker-compromised EastNets Service Bureau (ENSB) network is totally false and unfounded. The EastNets Network internal Security Unit has ran a complete check of its servers and found no hacker compromise or any vulnerabilities,” it said. SWIFT stands for Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications and provides a messaging network for financial institutions to “quickly, accurately, and securely send and receive information such as money transfer instructions.”"



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Most oil producers want extension of output cuts: Iran minister | Reuters

Most oil producers want extension of output cuts: Iran minister | Reuters:

"Most oil producers support an extension of output cuts by OPEC and non-OPEC countries, and Iran would also back such a move, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh was quoted as saying.

"(Zanganeh) stressed that most countries want OPEC's decision to be extended," the Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA) reported.

"Iran also supports such a decision and if others comply, so would Iran," Zanganeh told reporters late on Saturday, according to ISNA."



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Saturday, 15 April 2017

US government 'hacked global bank system' - BBC News

US government 'hacked global bank system' - BBC News:

"A huge range of security weaknesses, said to be worth over $2m if sold on the black market, have been leaked online.
The tools are said to have been created by the US National Security Agency (NSA), and accompanying documents appear to indicate a possible breach of the Swift global banking system.
Such a hack could have enabled the US to covertly monitor financial transactions, researchers said."



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Saudi Aramco chief warns of looming oil shortage

Saudi Aramco chief warns of looming oil shortage:

"The head of Saudi Arabia’s state energy giant has warned of a looming oil shortage as a $1tn drop in investments into future production takes effect. 

Amin Nasser, chief executive of Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil producing company, said on Friday that 20m barrels a day in future production capacity was required to meet demand growth and offset natural field declines in the coming years.

“That is a lot of production capacity, and the investments we now see coming back — which are mostly smaller and shorter term — are not going to be enough to get us there,” he said at the Columbia University Energy Summit in New York. "



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Friday, 14 April 2017

Rouhani Enters Iran Election Race Focused on His Economic Record - Bloomberg

Rouhani Enters Iran Election Race Focused on His Economic Record - Bloomberg:

"Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani will seek a second term, ending weeks of speculation by joining an election field with hardline stalwarts including his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and leading cleric Ebrahim Raisi, who’s seen as his most credible challenger. Rouhani, the 68-year-old moderate cleric who prioritized engagement with the West and was the architect of Iran’s 2015 landmark nuclear deal, registered for the May 19 poll at the interior ministry on Friday. Raisi, a close ally of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, followed within hours. All candidates are subject to a vetting process by the powerful Guardian Council, and those who qualify are to be announced by April 27. “I’ve come back again for Iran, I’ve come back again for Islam, for better stability across our country, for greater security and more progress,” Rouhani said after registering. “We have to gather again for Islam, to build Iran together. ”"



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Saudi's Bond Bling - Bloomberg Gadfly

Saudi's Bond Bling - Bloomberg Gadfly:

"Saudi Arabia's $9 billion sale of Islamic bonds will be a landmark in the market's transition from niche to mainstream.  For an idea of how these new bonds from the world's biggest oil producer could perform, look no further than the latest environmentally-friendly bonds.

Less than six months after raising a record $17.5 billion in the largest conventional bond sale by an emerging market country, Saudi Arabia received a warm reception for its first dollar-denominated sukuk this week. Investors ordered more than three times the amount of securities on sale, according to the Finance Ministry."



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Thursday, 13 April 2017

Saudi debt binge amid oil gains eases liquidity drought | GulfNews.com

Saudi debt binge amid oil gains eases liquidity drought | GulfNews.com:

"Saudi Arabia’s repeat visits to international bond markets and a partial recovery in the price of oil, its biggest export, is easing a liquidity squeeze that was hampering its financial system. As the country finalised its first issue of dollar-denominated Islamic notes, six months after selling the biggest ever bond by an emerging market country, an interest rate used by Saudi banks to price loans stood at its lowest level in almost 14 months. That rate, known as Saibor, will probably fall further after the latest sukuk issue, according to Anita Yadav, head of fixed-income research at Emirates NBD PJSC, Dubai’s biggest bank. Saibor has been falling since reaching a seven-year peak of 2.386 per cent on October 17, immediately before the country’s debut dollar-bond sale, as oil export revenue dwindled, sending the state budget into deficit. Cost cutting by a government usually associated with vast reserves of petrodollars, and a drawing down of its bank deposits to prop up spending, prompted a cash squeeze in the economy, helping drive Saibor higher."



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Turkish banker pleads not guilty in New York in Iran sanctions case | Reuters

Turkish banker pleads not guilty in New York in Iran sanctions case | Reuters:

"An executive at the Turkish state-owned bank Halkbank on Thursday pleaded not guilty to charges he violated U.S. sanctions against Iran in a politically charged case that has drawn the ire of Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a deputy general manager at Halkbank, entered his plea through his lawyer at a hearing in Manhattan federal court. The lawyer, Victor Rocco, said his firm also counts the Republic of Turkey as a client, adding another potential conflict of interest to be vetted by the court. U.S. prosecutors arrested Atilla last month, accusing him of conspiring with Turkish gold trader Reza Zarrab to conduct hundreds of millions of dollars of illegal transactions through U.S. banks on behalf of Iran's government and other entities in Iran. "



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Oil Stocks Rose in First Quarter Despite OPEC Cut, IEA Says - Bloomberg

Oil Stocks Rose in First Quarter Despite OPEC Cut, IEA Says - Bloomberg:

"Global oil inventories probably increased in the first quarter despite OPEC’s near-perfect implementation of production cuts aimed at clearing the surplus, the International Energy Agency said.

While cutbacks by OPEC and Russia since January have brought world markets “very close to balance” and should deplete stockpiles in the second quarter, inventories nonetheless expanded “marginally” because of production increases just before the deal took effect, the IEA said in its monthly report on Thursday. The agency lowered estimates for global demand growth because of weaker-than-expected economic activity in India and Russia."



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UPDATE 2-Iran completes long-awaited ATR turboprop aircraft deal | Reuters

UPDATE 2-Iran completes long-awaited ATR turboprop aircraft deal | Reuters:

"Iran secured a contract with a third Western aircraft supplier on Thursday since the easing of sanctions by completing a deal to buy 20 regional turboprops from Europe's ATR, part of an effort to modernise the nation's creaking fleet.

After months of talks that required navigating a way through separate U.S. sanctions and regulations still in place, ATR and Iranian officials said the contract with national carrier IranAir was signed in Tehran.

Iran initially announced the signing on Monday, but ATR said at the time elements were still being finalised."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Profit taking main drag as company Q1 result optimism fades | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Profit taking main drag as company Q1 result optimism fades | Reuters:

"Profit taking dragged most stock markets in the Middle East lower on Thursday, erasing most of the previous session's gains as some of the optimism generated by generally positive first quarter results faded. Saudi Arabia's index retreated 0.3 percent, after rising 0.9 percent on Wednesday when Saudi British Bank reported an earnings beat and banking shares rose. The optimism failed to keep markets afloat even though another lender, Banque Saudi Fransi, reported first-quarter results that exceeded estimates after Wednesday's market close."



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Opec and the outlook for the oil price

Opec and the outlook for the oil price

Mediclinic’s Middle East arm still struggling, but margins better than expected

Mediclinic’s Middle East arm still struggling, but margins better than expected:

"Things still aren’t looking great at Mediclinic’s recently-acquired Middle East business, but they’re not quite as bad as the FTSE 100 hospital operator thought, according to its latest trading update. Mediclinic bought a group of hospitals in Abu Dhabi in 2015 via a reverse takeover of Al Noor, but integrating the purchase has proven harder than the company expected. In February the company, which also runs private hospitals in Switzerland and southern Africa, warned that full-year revenues and profit margins at the unit would be lower than previously forecast. In a pre-close trading update today, however, it said full-year revenues from the Middle East business fell in line with February’s guidance, but said its underlying profit margin was not quite as low as expected, at between 10.5 per cent and 11.5 per cent."



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DMCC looks to expand into new commodities | GulfNews.com

DMCC looks to expand into new commodities | GulfNews.com:

"Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) saw a 500 per cent increase in the value of murahaba transactions, a Sharia-compliant line of credit, last year, rising from Dh11.6 billion in 2015 to Dh58.4 billion in 2016. Over the same period, the number of companies registered at the DMCC Free Zone rose from 11,588 to 13,176, according to the organisation’s annual report, published on Thursday. DMCC executive chairman Ahmad Bin Sulayem said the free zone was registering seven new companies a day."



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Arab Populists Also Blame Foreigners as Gulf Austerity Sets In - Bloomberg

Arab Populists Also Blame Foreigners as Gulf Austerity Sets In - Bloomberg:

"The angst against foreigners that’s sweeping the globe isn’t skipping the oil-rich Middle East. Safa Al-Hashem, the only woman in Kuwait’s 50-seat parliament, is capitalizing on a growing resentment of foreigners to build support for a movement that’s taking shape as the nation’s ruling al-Sabah family withdraws some handouts in an era of cheap oil."



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Dubai's Shuaa moving HQ to Abu Dhabi -sources | Reuters

Dubai's Shuaa moving HQ to Abu Dhabi -sources | Reuters:

"Dubai-listed investment bank Shuaa Capital plans to move its headquarters to Abu Dhabi, sources told Reuters on Thursday.

Shuaa, which has been based in the Emirates Towers for more than 10 years, is set to move to Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), according to two sources familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity as the matter is not public.

The move comes as Shuaa Capital's major shareholder Abu Dhabi Financial Group (ADFG) seeks to reduce costs for the investment bank, consolidate the bank with its affiliates, and win mandates in Abu Dhabi, the sources said.

"



'via Blog this'

Oil Inventories Rose in First Quarter Despite OPEC Cut, IEA Says - Bloomberg

Oil Inventories Rose in First Quarter Despite OPEC Cut, IEA Says - Bloomberg:

"Global oil inventories probably increased in the first quarter despite OPEC’s near-perfect implementation of production cuts aimed at clearing the surplus, the International Energy Agency said.



While cutbacks by OPEC and Russia since January have brought world markets “very close to balance” and should deplete stockpiles in the second quarter, inventories nonetheless expanded “marginally” because of production increases just before the deal took effect, the IEA said in its monthly report on Thursday. The agency lowered estimates for global demand growth because of weaker-than-expected economic activity in India and Russia."



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U.S. Shale Investment Is Back on the Upswing - Bloomberg View

U.S. Shale Investment Is Back on the Upswing - Bloomberg View:

"Global upstream oil and gas merger and acquisitions reached $136 billion in 2016, according to Evaluate Energy's global M&A 2016 review. And one area seeing a jump in activity was the U.S. Marcellus shale, where close to eight times more was invested in asset and corporate acquisitions in 2016 than in 2015.

The Marcellus formation, which runs through northern Appalachia, primarily in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York and Ohio, is considered the second-largest natural gas field in the world, after Northfield in Qatar and Iran. Marcellus spans approximately 60.8 million net acres with an estimated 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, about 50 trillion cubic feet of which is recoverable using current technology.

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MIDEAST STOCKS-Positive mood fades as investors book profits in early trade | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Positive mood fades as investors book profits in early trade | Reuters:

"Stock markets in the Gulf erased some of the previous session's gains in early trade on Thursday as some of the optimism generated by generally positive first quarter results faded. Saudi Arabia's index was down 0.1 percent, after rising 0.9 percent on Wednesday on the back of banking shares after Saudi British Bank reported an earnings beat. The positive mood failed to keep markets afloat even after another lender, Banque Saudi Fransi, reported first-quarter results ahead of estimates after Wednesday's market close."



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Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 Progress Report - Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 Progress Report - Bloomberg:

"Saudi Transport Ministry Strategy Planning Advisor Mohammed Al Suwayed discusses the level of economic growth needed to achieve the goals of Saudi Vision 2030. He speaks on "Bloomberg Markets: Middle East." (Source: Bloomberg)"



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Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Saudi Arabia Set to Raise $8 Billion in Debut Islamic Bond Sale - Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia Set to Raise $8 Billion in Debut Islamic Bond Sale - Bloomberg:

"Saudi Arabia plans to raise about $8 billion in its first dollar-denominated Islamic bond sale, people familiar with the matter said, less than six months after the kingdom sold $17.5 billion of conventional bonds. The government is selling the five-year sukuk tranche at 100 basis points over the mid-swap rate and the 10-year tranche at a spread of 140 basis points to the benchmark, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. Investors submitted more than $33 billion in bids, which were evenly split between the two offerings, the people said."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Q1 results buoy banks; Zain Saudi soars on record profit | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Q1 results buoy banks; Zain Saudi soars on record profit | Reuters:

"Generally positive first-quarter results from Gulf banks helped lift financial stocks on Wednesday, while Saudi Arabia's third-largest telecoms operator jumped by its daily limit after reporting its first ever quarterly net profit.

Shares in Qatar National Bank, the largest lender by assets in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), rose 1 percent after it announced net profit of 3.2 billion riyals ($879 million) for the three months to March 31, up 12 percent from the prior year period and beating Arqaam Capital analysts' forecast of 3.0 billion riyals.

Loan growth was up 33 percent year on year to 536 billion riyals, while customer deposits rose by 34 percent to 541 billion riyals.

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Abu Dhabi Financial Group launches Etihad REIT | GulfNews.com

Abu Dhabi Financial Group launches Etihad REIT | GulfNews.com:

"Abu Dhabi Financial Group (ADFG) said on Wednesday it is launching Etihad REIT, a Sharia-compliant real estate investment trust. The REIT comprises a seed portfolio of 10 income producing assets situated in the UAE.
Etihad REIT expects to raise further capital through an initial public offering (IPO) on a stock exchange in the UAE at an appropriate time and subject to regulatory approvals, the ADFG said an emailed statement.
Etihad REIT is the most diversified REIT in the UAE, with holdings in a variety of real estate sub-sectors including residential, retail, warehousing and staff accommodation.
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Oil Set for Longest Gain Since 2012 as Saudis Seen Extending Cut - Bloomberg

Oil Set for Longest Gain Since 2012 as Saudis Seen Extending Cut - Bloomberg:

"Oil advanced for an eighth day in London, the longest gain since 2012, on confidence Saudi Arabia will support an extension to OPEC-led output cuts just as stockpiles show signs of shrinking. Brent futures rose 0.6 percent, after rising 6.4 percent in the previous seven sessions. Saudi Arabia is likely to back prolonging the curbs into the second half of 2017 in an effort to boost prices, according to a person familiar with the kingdom’s internal discussions. Several other countries, including Kuwait, have also expressed public support for an extension. Industry data was said to show U.S. crude supplies fell last week and OPEC’s monthly report said international inventories dropped in February."



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UAE's Mashreq Q1 net profit up 2.7 pct | Reuters

UAE's Mashreq Q1 net profit up 2.7 pct | Reuters:

"Mashreq, Dubai's third-biggest lender by assets, on Wednesday reported a 2.7 percent rise in first-quarter net profit as bad loans eased.

Net profit rose to 546 million dirhams ($148.7 million) in the three months to March 31, it said in a statement, up from 532 million.

Mashreq said the rise was primarily due to a 15 percent drop in impairment charges."



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UPDATE 1-Saudi Arabia seen pushing for size with debut dollar sukuk - investors | Reuters

UPDATE 1-Saudi Arabia seen pushing for size with debut dollar sukuk - investors | Reuters:

"Order books for Saudi Arabia's debut international sukuk were in excess of $25 billion on Wednesday, lending support to expectations that the kingdom could push for a deal of at least $10 billion, fixed income investors said. Saudi Arabia is raising funds internationally to diversify its revenues and to plug a budget deficit caused by a slump in international oil prices. Its debut Islamic dollar bond, which is set to be the largest sukuk ever, would be Saudi's second record-breaking debt sale, after its first $17.5 billion conventional bond issued in October last year - the largest ever bond sold across emerging markets."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Q1 results buoy banks, Zain Saudi soars on first net profit | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Q1 results buoy banks, Zain Saudi soars on first net profit | Reuters:

"Generally positive first-quarter results from banks in the Gulf helped lift confidence in financial stocks in early trade on Wednesday, while Saudi Arabia's third largest telecommunications operator jumped by its daily limit after it swung to its first ever quarterly net profit. Shares in Qatar National Bank rose 0.9 percent after it reported net profit of 3.2 billion riyals ($879 million) in the three months to March 31, up 12 percent from the prior year period and beating Arqaam Capital analysts' forecast of 3.0 billion riyals. Loan growth was up 33 percent year on year to 536 billion riyals, while customer deposits rose by 34 percent to 541 billion riyals."



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Oman Oil Is Seeking Strategic Advice Following Aramco's IPO Plans - Bloomberg

Oman Oil Is Seeking Strategic Advice Following Aramco's IPO Plans - Bloomberg:

"Oman Oil Co., the sultanate’s state-owned energy producer, is seeking advice from banks on strategic options for its business, according to people familiar with the matter, following plans by larger peer Saudi Arabian Oil Co. to sell shares to the public.

The oil producer has asked international investment banks to pitch for roles to advise on plans to restructure its portfolio, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. Oman Oil may sell assets or list some of its portfolio businesses on the stock market, the people said.

A representative for Oman Oil didn’t have an immediate comment."



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Oil prices rise on potential extension of output cuts | Reuters

Oil prices rise on potential extension of output cuts | Reuters:

"Oil prices rose on Wednesday, putting crude futures on track for their longest streak of gains since August 2016, as Saudi Arabia was reported to be lobbying OPEC and other producers to extend a production cut beyond the first half of 2017. Brent crude futures were up 20 cents, or 0.36 percent, at their highest since early March at $56.43 per barrel at 0656 GMT (02:56 a.m. EDT). If Wednesday's rise holds, it would mark the seventh straight daily increase. That would beat a six-day bull-run from August 2016, although the price jump then was 17.5 percent versus a 6-percent rise in the current rally."



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Saudi Arabia's Debut Islamic Bond Sale Gets $17.5 Billion Orders - Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia's Debut Islamic Bond Sale Gets $17.5 Billion Orders - Bloomberg:

"Saudi Arabia’s debut dollar-denominated Islamic bond, which is due to price Wednesday, attracted more than $17.5 billion of investor orders as of Tuesday evening, people familiar with the matter said. The government plans to sell the five-year sukuk in the 115 basis points area over mid-swaps and a 10-year tranche at a spread of about 155 basis points, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. Books for sale opened to investors on Tuesday."



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Saudi Arabia Said Likely to Back OPEC Extending Output Cuts - Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia Said Likely to Back OPEC Extending Output Cuts - Bloomberg:

"Saudi Arabia is likely to support extending OPEC output cuts into the second half of 2017 in an effort to boost oil prices, according to a person familiar with the kingdom’s internal discussions.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is scheduled to gather in Vienna on May 25 to discuss whether to roll over for another six months the 1.2 million barrels a day in production cuts it implemented in January. Several OPEC countries, including Kuwait, have expressed public support for an extension."



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Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Goldman registers mutual funds for UAE retail investors | The National

Goldman registers mutual funds for UAE retail investors | The National:

"Goldman Sachs Asset Management (GSAM) has become the first asset manager to directly register foreign investment funds for retail investors in the UAE, taking advantage of mutual funds regulations introduced last year.

The Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) introduced revised regulations in July last year authorising asset managers to register foreign mutual funds for distribution by approved local partners.


The new regulations pare down the requirements for registering foreign funds for distribution within the UAE, with registration previously carried out by local distributors case by case."



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Subsidiary of Qatar’s Al Fardan purchases Carlton Downtown hotel in Dubai | The National

Subsidiary of Qatar’s Al Fardan purchases Carlton Downtown hotel in Dubai | The National:

"Dubai’s Carlton Downtown hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road has been bought by a unit of the Qatari conglomerate Al Fardan Group in a rare hotel investment deal in the emirate. Al Fardan announced on Tuesday that it had purchased the 47-storey tower, formerly known as the Warwick Hotel, comprising 357 rooms, seven restaurants and bars – and home to Dubai’s highest open-air rooftop pool – through its The First Investor subsidiary. The hotel is believed to have changed hands for about Dh500 million, according to sources close to the deal."



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Aircraft leasing firm DAE reports lower income for last year | The National

Aircraft leasing firm DAE reports lower income for last year | The National:



"Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE), an aircraft leasing and maintenance company, said on Tuesday its net income last year was 67 per cent lower than 2015, the year it sold the engineering services provider StandardAero, as it sought to focus on its leasing business. Net profit was US$199 million, down from $610.4m a year earlier, the company said. DAE, whose majority shareholder is the sovereign wealth fund Investment Corporation of Dubai, said revenue rose by 22 per cent last year to $417.8m. It also increased its aircraft fleet last year. Khalifa Al Daboos, DAE’s managing director, said there was a "sizeable opportunity" to expand within the UAE and Middle East’s aerospace sector. "DAE’s growth ambitions will focus on expanding its presence broadly in the sector and in the region," he said."



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