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Sunday, 30 April 2017

DIFCI reports 4% growth in gross operational profit in 2016 | GulfNews.com

DIFCI reports 4% growth in gross operational profit in 2016 | GulfNews.com:

"DIFC Investments (DIFCI) on Sunday reported a 4 per cent increase in its operating profits to $149 million (Dh546.8 million) in 2016, compared to the previous year. Cash and cash equivalents increased to $345 million, an 11 per cent increase on 2015, and total assets increased to $3.08 billion, a 2 per cent increase on 2015. Fair market value of investment properties rose to $2.55 billion compared to the 2015 figure of $2.49 billion while rental income increased 5 per cent in 2016, to $147 million. “We continue to deliver stable revenue and growth thanks to our resilient business model and steady rental cash flows in a challenging macroeconomic climate. DIFCI continued to create value and achieve profitable growth, delivering a solid operational and financial performance,” Essa Kazim, the Chairman of DIFC Investments LLC (DIFCI) and Governor of DIFC, said in a statement. "



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Iran self-sufficient in petrol production, aims to export | Reuters

Iran self-sufficient in petrol production, aims to export | Reuters:

"Iran said on Sunday it was now self-sufficient in petroleum production as President Hassan Rouhani opened a refinery in the southern city of Bandar Abbas. The Persian Gulf Star refinery has the capacity to produce 12 million litres of Euro IV petrol. Once fully operational, the refinery will produce 36 million litres of petrol. "By the opening of the first phase of this refinery an old dream came true ... We are self-sufficient in petrol production and in near future we will be able to export," Rouhani was quoted as saying by the oil ministry's news agency SHANA."



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UPDATE 1-UAE's Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank Q1 profit up 8 pct, beats forecasts | Reuters

UPDATE 1-UAE's Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank Q1 profit up 8 pct, beats forecasts | Reuters:

"Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank on Sunday posted an 8 percent rise in first-quarter profit, slightly above analysts' forecasts, helped by a double-digit percentage increase in non-interest income.

The emirate's second-largest bank by assets made a net profit attributable to shareholders of 1.11 billion dirhams ($302.2 million) in the three months to March 31, compared to 1.02 billion dirhams in the same period a year ago, according to its financial statement.

Three analysts polled by Reuters had on average forecast a net profit for the quarter of 995.4 million dirhams."



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Siemens, SAP sign cooperation deals with Saudi Arabia: officials | Reuters

Siemens, SAP sign cooperation deals with Saudi Arabia: officials | Reuters:

"Saudi Arabia wants German companies Siemens (SIEGn.DE) and SAP (SAPG.DE) to play an important role in furthering the kingdom's "digital transformation", company officials said on Sunday during German Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit to the country.

Top executives at the engineering conglomerate and the business software company who were traveling with Merkel signed declarations of intent to work with the Saudi authorities, the officials said.

Saudi Arabia is pushing a long-term economic transformation dubbed "Vision 2030" to reduce the country's reliance on oil, attract investment and improve the lives of its citizens.

"



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U.A.E.'s Adnoc Will Cut Oil Sales to Buyers by 10% in June - Bloomberg

U.A.E.'s Adnoc Will Cut Oil Sales to Buyers by 10% in June - Bloomberg:

"The United Arab Emirates is cutting back supplies to customers in June as part of its agreement with OPEC to curb production. Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. will reduce sales by 10 percent, a company spokesman said Saturday by phone. The state-owned producer, known as Adnoc, cut supplies for May by 7 percent. The most important market news of the day.

The U.A.E., the fourth-biggest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, will exceed its commitment to OPEC’s production cuts, with maintenance scheduled on fields through May, Energy Minister Suhail Al Mazrouei said earlier in April. OPEC agreed to production limits for most of its members at a meeting in November, and brought 11 other nations on board in December. The U.A.E.’s average compliance with the agreement so far in 2017 is 51 percent, the International Energy Agency said in an April 13 report."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Q1 earnings buoy Saudi petchems, rest of region subdued | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Q1 earnings buoy Saudi petchems, rest of region subdued | Reuters:

"Higher petrochemical share prices helped lift the Saudi Arabian bourse index on Sunday after strong first-quarter earnings in the sector, but other regional market indexes sagged in thin trade. The Saudi index rose 1.0 percent as Saudi Kayan Petrochemical hit its 10 percent daily price limit after the company reported a net profit of 265.5 million riyals ($70.8 million), having made a loss of 195 million riyals in the same period last year. Analysts at NCB Capital had forecast a profit of 121 million riyals, while Aljazira Capital had expected 69.5 million riyals. "



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Friday, 28 April 2017

Gazprom targets increased gas sales in Europe

Gazprom targets increased gas sales in Europe:

"Gazprom, the world’s largest gas producer, on Thursday reported a 21 per cent rise in profit in 2016 as the Russian energy company signalled it would continue to target increased sales in Europe despite rising competition.

Record demand from Europe helped state-controlled Gazprom shrug off a fall in gas prices last year, and the company is pushing ahead with two new large pipelines to boost shipments to the EU.

Gazprom, which has been beset by political pressure and legal challenges in the EU over allegations that it abuses its role as the region’s leading gas supplier, reported net income of Rbs951.6bn ($16.7bn) for 2016, up 21 per cent compared with 2015 and exceeding analysts’ estimates."



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Mediclinic in record jump on Abu Dhabi policy move

Mediclinic in record jump on Abu Dhabi policy move:

"Hospital operator Mediclinic had its best day on record on Thursday after Abu Dhabi scrapped cost-sharing on private medical treatment. Effective immediately, United Arab Emirates residents with Thiqa medical insurance cover will no longer have to pay 20 per cent of the bill for private treatment, Abu Dhabi crown prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahya announced during a hospital visit aimed at promoting medical tourism. The UAE had introduced the co-pay rule in July 2016, which triggered a 40 per cent slump in Mediclinic’s local patient volumes and led to staff shortages."



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Thursday, 27 April 2017

Saudi shake-up strengthens king's powerful son - World - Dunya News

Saudi shake-up strengthens king's powerful son - World - Dunya News:

"A recent Saudi government and security shake-up aims to strengthen King Salman’s increasingly powerful son against a royal rival and to bolster ties with Washington, analysts and diplomats say. Royal decrees at the weekend saw a number of allies of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman moved into key positions and another son of the king named as ambassador to Washington. The goal, a foreign diplomat told AFP, is "to strengthen MBS (Mohammed bin Salman) and the Salman branch" of the al-Saud family which has ruled Saudi Arabia since the country’s founding."



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Kuwait Energy plans London IPO

Kuwait Energy plans London IPO:

"Kuwait Energy, an oil and gas company with assets in the Middle East, will next week resurrect plans for an initial public offering in London that could value the group at about $1bn (£780m).

The company, which was set up in 2005 and has operations in Egypt, Iraq, Yemen and Oman, is planning to raise $250m through the offering, which will test investor appetite for assets in countries that have been struck by geopolitical difficulties in recent years.

Funds raised will be used to accelerate the company’s growth plans, particularly in southern Iraq. Bank of America Merrill Lynch, EFG Hermes and Numis are advising Kuwait Energy on the IPO."



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Peak oil demand still decades away: Saudi Aramco CEO

Peak oil demand still decades away: Saudi Aramco CEO:

"Switching oil for cleaner fuels will be a “long and complex” transition meaning demand for crude to meet the world’s growing energy needs will remain robust, the chief executive of Saudi Aramco said on Thursday. According to prepared remarks, Amin Nasser, the head of Saudi Arabia’s state energy giant, said:"



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OPEC output cuts whet Asia's appetite for North Sea oil | Reuters

OPEC output cuts whet Asia's appetite for North Sea oil | Reuters:

"OPEC production cuts have created record Asian demand for European oil and made China the second biggest consumer of North Sea crude as flows from its usual Middle East suppliers dip. Rising Asian appetite for North Sea crude has largely been fueled by the falling premium charged for North Sea crude over rival Middle East oil and this demand could last beyond OPEC's supply cuts if that favorable pricing persists. Thomson Reuters Eikon data shows China imported almost 38 million barrels of North Sea crude from the start of the year until late April, compared with about 8 million barrels by the same point in 2016."



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UPDATE 1-Total CEO says could consider participation in Saudi Aramco IPO | Reuters

UPDATE 1-Total CEO says could consider participation in Saudi Aramco IPO | Reuters:

"French oil and gas major Total could consider taking a stake in the planned listing of part of Saudi Arabia's Aramco, the company's chief executive said on Thursday.

Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne told an oil summit in Paris that it was all premature as the market was still awaiting details on how the initial public offering (IPO) would be done, but added it could be a meaningful partnership for Total in Saudi Arabia.

"We may consider it," Pouyanne said, who also stated that any final decision was "a matter of profitability and best allocation of capital.""



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi banks strong in light of brewing changes in industry; region subdued | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi banks strong in light of brewing changes in industry; region subdued | Reuters:

" Shares in two Saudi banks that are in early merger talks moved in opposite directions on Thursday while other regional markets ended the week down as investors had little fresh company earnings and news to reallocate their funds or build positions. Alawwal Bank extended the previous session's 8.6 percent gains, adding 2.2 percent. Shares in Saudi British Bank (SABB), however, slipped 0.9 percent after jumping 6.8 percent on Wednesday. Six other commercial lenders rose, with the largest by assets, National Commercial bank up 1.0 percent. If"



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First Bank Merger in 20 Years Sets Saudi Up for More Deals - Bloomberg

First Bank Merger in 20 Years Sets Saudi Up for More Deals - Bloomberg:

"A combination of the Saudi Arabian ventures of HSBC Holdings Plc and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc will break an almost 20-year drought for mergers and acquisitions in the country’s banking industry that may spur more deals across the kingdom.

The potential merger of HSBC’s Saudi British Bank and Alawwal Bank comes as lenders in the Persian Gulf’s biggest economy grapple with slowing growth and uncertainty around a government plan to reduce its dependence on oil, which is weighing on demand for loans. At the same time, the country’s overhaul presents an opportunity for banks to get in on major deals, like the listing of Saudi Arabian Oil Co., in what could be the largest-ever initial public offering."



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China's ICBC Doha clears more than $86 bln in yuan transactions | Reuters

China's ICBC Doha clears more than $86 bln in yuan transactions | Reuters:

"Industrial and Commercial Bank of China has cleared more than 590 billion yuan ($86 billion) in transactions in Qatar in the nearly two years since it opened its clearing centre in the Gulf state, an executive told Reuters.

The move reflects a surge in trade and investment between China and Gulf Arab states in recent years, though most business between the two sides is still conducted in U.S. dollars.

The clearing centre was launched in June 2015 as the Middle East's first location for clearing transactions in the yuan to promote business ties. A clearing centre can handle all parts of a currency transaction from when a commitment is made until it is settled, reducing costs and time taken for trading.

"



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Dubai's Alabbar to Weigh Buying Into Venture Capital Firms - Bloomberg

Dubai's Alabbar to Weigh Buying Into Venture Capital Firms - Bloomberg:

"Dubai-based business-tycoon Mohamed Alabbar is weighing buying in to venture capital firms in the Middle East to help kick start his $1 billion technology fund, according to people familiar with the matter. Representatives for Alabbar held talks with several regional companies, including Middle East Venture Partners and BECO Capital, about either buying them entirely, joining as a co-investor or making a significant investment in the firms, the people said, asking not to be identified as talks are private. Final agreements haven’t been reached with any party and discussions may not result in a deal, they said. Alabbar, who is also chairman of the Middle East’s largest listed developer -- Emaar Properties PJSC -- is increasingly focusing on technology investments and set up the technology investment fund with other regional investors. Separately, he raised $1 billion from investors including Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund to create e-commerce firm Noon. Emaar’s mall unit missed out to Amazon.com Inc. last month when it bid for online retailer Souq.com for $800 million."



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Saudis Seen Losing Market Share to Iran, Iraq on Oil Cuts - Bloomberg

Saudis Seen Losing Market Share to Iran, Iraq on Oil Cuts - Bloomberg:

"Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude exporter, is losing market share to Iraq and Iran as a result of OPEC’s agreement to curb supplies to bolster prices, according to the head of research at Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. “If you’re talking about winners, you can count Iran and Iraq,” Christof Ruehl said Wednesday at a conference in Dubai. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed to production limits for most of its members at a meeting in November and brought 11 other nations on board with the deal in December. Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s biggest producer, agreed to cut output by 486,000 barrels a day while Iraq said it would cut 210,000 barrels a day. Iran was permitted to increase output by 90,000 barrels a day, according to the OPEC accord."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi bank Alawwal extends gains on merger talks, region subdued | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi bank Alawwal extends gains on merger talks, region subdued | Reuters:

"Shares in two Saudi banks that are in early merger talks moved in opposite directions on Thursday while other regional markets moved little in thin volumes.

Alawwal Bank extended the previous session's 8.6 percent gains, adding 0.9 percent after 20 minutes of trade. Shares in Saudi British Bank (SABB), however, slipped 0.2 percent after jumping 6.8 percent on Wednesday.

Other commercial lenders were mixed, with the top two by total assets, making small gains; National Commercial bank was up 0.3 percent and Al Rajhi Bank up 0.4 percent."



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Wednesday, 26 April 2017

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi's Alawwal, SABB surge on initial merger talks, Egypt joins EM higher | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi's Alawwal, SABB surge on initial merger talks, Egypt joins EM higher | Reuters:

"Two Saudi banks soared on Wednesday after saying they were in initial stages of a merger, helping lift the mood in other lenders while first quarter financial results buoyed the shares of two blue chips in other Gulf countries. On Wednesday Saudi's Alawwal Bank agreed to start talks with Saudi British Bank (SABB) about a tie-up that could create the kingdom's third biggest bank with assets of nearly $80 billion. Shares in Alawwal soared by 8.6 percent in their heaviest daily traded volume since May 2012 while SABB jumped 6.8 percent in the largest single day volume since November last year."



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Iran hardliners struggle to present united front ahead of poll

Iran hardliners struggle to present united front ahead of poll:

"Shortly after Ebrahim Raisi was confirmed as a hardline candidate for Iran’s presidential election, he revealed a surprise weapon in his campaign armoury: his wife. In a move almost unheard of for a conservative cleric running for political office, Mr Raisi posted a video on social media in which he lauded Jamileh Alamolhoda, a professor at Shahid Beheshti University, as a successful career woman. “If I go home and she’s not there, I don’t mind. If there is no supper, I don’t mind,” Mr Raisi says in the video, a picture of Ms Alamolhoda appearing at the end. “I genuinely believe that her work helps her and the country . . . and she is having an impact.”"



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Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange delays short-selling to allow time for training | The National

Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange delays short-selling to allow time for training | The National:

"The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) has delayed the introduction of short-selling, claiming that more time is required to acquaint market participants with the practice. The ADX announced plans in December to introduce technical short-selling as a means of boosting market liquidity and attracting more foreign investors, with initial plans to allow the practice by the end of March. However the exchange is now saying that a survey of dealers, brokers, board members of listed companies and investors found that more training was required before short-selling could be properly introduced."



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Nakheel reports Q1 2017 net profit of Dh1.48b | GulfNews.com

Nakheel reports Q1 2017 net profit of Dh1.48b | GulfNews.com:

"Nakheel on Wednesday announced net profits of Dh1.48 billion for the first quarter of 2017. That’s marginally higher than the same period last year (2016), when it announced a net of Dh1.47 billion. Nakheel said the latest figures were in line with company forecasts. The firm awarded Dh5 billion worth of construction contracts during the quarter, signed deals with two Thai hotel operators, opened a fifth Pavilion retail centre, and announced a Dh150 million investment to create a network of new cycle tracks across Dubai."



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Riyadh's new financial hub struggles with ownership uncertainty | Reuters

Riyadh's new financial hub struggles with ownership uncertainty | Reuters:

"A glitzy $10 billion financial district in Riyadh hopes to open its first phase for business this year but is struggling with red tape and uncertainty about its ownership, showing the challenges facing Saudi Arabia's economic reforms.

The plan to build the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) began in 2006, but the project has been plagued by construction delays, cost overruns and doubts about finding enough tenants.

The government said in 2016 it would rescue the project as part of efforts to diversify the oil-reliant economy. It said it would transform the district into a special business zone with competitive regulations, financial incentives and visa exemptions for foreigners working there."



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MIDEAST DEBT-Record issuance marks Gulf's shift towards bonds from loans | Reuters

MIDEAST DEBT-Record issuance marks Gulf's shift towards bonds from loans | Reuters:

"The volume of international bond issues from the Gulf may hit a record high for a second straight year in 2017 as lower oil prices crimp the capacity of banks to finance billions of dollars of investments and state budget deficits.

Issuance data shows the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council's bond market is on track to become more important than its syndicated loan market in a region traditionally dominated by relationship-driven bank lending.

This historic shift is positive for economies because it eases risks and liquidity pressures for the region's banking system, which has been hurt by smaller flows of petrodollars, bankers and economists say.

"



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HSBC, RBS Saudi Ventures in Talks to Form $78 Billion Lender - Bloomberg

HSBC, RBS Saudi Ventures in Talks to Form $78 Billion Lender - Bloomberg:

"HSBC Holdings Plc and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc’s Saudi Arabia ventures are exploring a potential merger to create the kingdom’s third-largest lender with $78 billion in assets. Alawwal Bank, which is 40 percent owned by RBS, plans to start initial talks with HSBC’s Saudi British Bank, according to a statement on Saudi stock exchange website Tuesday. Both lenders are based in Riyadh, with HSBC owning 40 percent of SABB. The negotiations come as banks grapple with how to approach the Middle East’s biggest economy, which is embarking on an unprecedented diversification and privatization plan but still blocks foreign control of local banks. The combined entity would be the kingdom’s biggest after National Commercial Bank and Al Rajhi Bank, and follows the merger of other regional lenders as they battle with sustained low oil prices, slower economic growth and a decline in asset quality."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Alawwal, SABB soar on merger talks, TAQA sinks on credit rating downgrade | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Alawwal, SABB soar on merger talks, TAQA sinks on credit rating downgrade | Reuters:

"Two Saudi banks soared in early trade on Wednesday after saying they were in initial stages of a merger helping lift the mood in other lenders while shares of Abu Dhabi's TAQA slump after a corporate rating downgrade. On Wednesday Alawwal Bank agreed to start talks with Saudi British Bank (SABB) about a tie-up that could create the kingdom's third biggest bank with assets of nearly $80 billion. Shares in Alawwal soared by 9.5 percent, not far off the 10 percent daily limit, after 20 minutes of trade while SABB jumped 6.8 percent."



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Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Cardiff Airport gets first-ever scheduled long-haul flight in deal with major global airline - Wales Online

Cardiff Airport gets first-ever scheduled long-haul flight in deal with major global airline - Wales Online:

"Cardiff Airport has received its biggest ever boost after landing one of the world's best known and fastest growing airlines, Qatar Airways. Qatar Airways is investing in a new, frequent long-haul direct service from the Rhoose-based airport to the Middle Eastern hub of Hamad International Airport in Doha. The deal was announced by Qatar Airways Group chief executive, HE Mr Akbar Al Baker."



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Etisalat posts Dh2.1b in net profit in the first quarter of 2017 | GulfNews.com

Etisalat posts Dh2.1b in net profit in the first quarter of 2017 | GulfNews.com:

"The net profit of Etisalat grew by 5 per cent in the first quarter of 2017 to Dh2.1 billion when compared to Dh2 billion during the same period last year. However, consolidated revenue for the first quarter of 2017 amounted to Dh12.5 billion representing a decline of 3 per cent in comparison to the same period last year due to unfavourable exchange movements mainly in Egypt, the company said in a statement on Tuesday. In the UAE, revenue in the first quarter increases year on year by 5 per cent to Dh7.6 billion as a result of growth of the subscriber base with increased bundle propositions and strong performance of eLife segment. The company attributed increase in profit to lower depreciation and amoritisation, lower forex losses and lower royalty charges that was partially offset by higher share of losses from associates and higher net finance costs."



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Alitalia Teeters Toward Bankruptcy as Staff Spurns Bailout - Bloomberg

Alitalia Teeters Toward Bankruptcy as Staff Spurns Bailout - Bloomberg:

"Alitalia SpA said it exhausted all options after workers voted against job cuts aimed at salvaging the cash-strapped Italian airline, pushing it toward administration for the second time in a decade. A 2 billion-euro ($2.2 billion) recapitalization tied to the savings plan is effectively dead and Alitalia will start appropriate “legal procedures” as funds run out, the Rome-based airline said. The carrier was last put into bankruptcy in 2008 after political and labor opposition thwarted sale plans, and has stumbled on since, with ties to Air France-KLM Group and Etihad Airways PJSC failing to end losses. Chances of a last-minute rescue appear slim. Italy has said it won’t nationalize Alitalia whatever the circumstances. Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, the carrier’s main backer, said the employees’ rejection means “all parties lose,” and that it supports the board’s move to hold a shareholders’ meeting Thursday “to start preparing the procedures provided by law.”"



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UPDATE 1-Emirates chairman says demand 'holding' on U.S. routes not hit by cuts | Reuters

UPDATE 1-Emirates chairman says demand 'holding' on U.S. routes not hit by cuts | Reuters:

"Passenger demand on flights to United States cities where Emirates airline is not cutting its services is "holding," chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum said on Tuesday.

The Dubai-based company announced last week it would reduce flights to five U.S. cities from May after a decline in demand that it blamed on President Donald Trump's travel restrictions.

Emirates flies to 12 cities in the U.S and is reducing frequencies to Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Seattle, Boston, and Los Angeles. Other destinations such as New York, Houston and Chicago are not impacted."



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Khamenei Deepens Economy Divide With Rouhani as Election Nears - Bloomberg

Khamenei Deepens Economy Divide With Rouhani as Election Nears - Bloomberg:

"Iran’s supreme leader said candidates in next month’s presidential election should pledge not to rely on foreign investment to strengthen the economy, reinforcing his apparent differences with incumbent Hassan Rouhani, who has sought to woo international investors.

All candidates need to “promise the people that in order for the country to progress, for economic growth and to untie the knots, their eyes won’t be set outside our borders but on the nation itself,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told officials on Tuesday, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.

The May 19 election will help determine whether Iran remains committed to Rouhani’s engagement with the West. The moderate cleric is facing mounting frustration over the landmark 2015 nuclear deal that critics say hasn’t yet benefited poor Iranians -- criticism echoed recently by Khamenei, who has final say over state matters. "



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Saudi's Alawwal Bank and HSBC-backed SABB in merger talks | Reuters

Saudi's Alawwal Bank and HSBC-backed SABB in merger talks | Reuters:

"Saudi lenders Alawwal Bank 1040.SE and Saudi British Bank 1060.SE have agreed to start talks about a merger that could create the kingdom's third biggest bank with assets of nearly $80 billion. The announcement by the lenders on Tuesday is the latest example of consolidation in the Gulf's banking sector, where profit margins are being squeezed by lower government and consumer spending because of weak oil prices. "The consolidation points to the fact that you need stronger banks to sustain in this challenging macro environment. You need large, efficient banks to serve," said Murad Ansari, an analyst at EFG-Hermes in Saudi Arabia."



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Citigroup Gets Saudi Investment Bank License After 13 Years - Bloomberg

Citigroup Gets Saudi Investment Bank License After 13 Years - Bloomberg:

"After a 13-year absence, Citigroup Inc. is back in Saudi Arabia.

The bank received a license from the kingdom’s regulator “to provide a full range of investment banking, debt and equity capital markets, markets and securities research capabilities to local and international institutional clients," it said in a statement Tuesday.

The announcement seals Citigroup’s return to the kingdom after it lost its license when it sold its stake in Samba Financial Group in 2004. Saudi Arabia is becoming more attractive to foreign lenders as it overhauls its economy and plans to list Saudi Arabian Oil Co., or Aramco, in what could be the largest-ever initial public offering. The New York-based bank tried unsuccessfully to return to the country in 2006 and 2010."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Dubai, Qatar resilient despite some weak Q1 results, Saudi slips | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Dubai, Qatar resilient despite some weak Q1 results, Saudi slips | Reuters:

"Stock markets in the Gulf most exposed to foreign trade held their ground on Tuesday, with Dubai and Qatar showing resilience in the face of disappointing results from blue-chip companies.

In Dubai, shares of Emirates Integrated Telecommunications (Du) lost 3 percent after reporting a net profit of 364.9 million dirhams ($99.35 million) in the three months to March 31, down 24 percent from the prior year period.

Analysts at SICO Bahrain forecast the telecommunication provider would make a net profit of 447.33 million dirhams and EFG Hermes estimated 474.02 million dirhams."



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Oman to Follow Abu Dhabi With Sovereign Fund Merger Plans - Bloomberg

Oman to Follow Abu Dhabi With Sovereign Fund Merger Plans - Bloomberg:

"Oman, the largest Arab oil producer outside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, is considering a merger of its two main sovereign wealth funds amid a slump in oil prices, people familiar with the matter said.

The Gulf state is seeking to combine State General Reserve Fund with smaller peer Oman Investment Fund to create an entity with about $25 billion in assets, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. The discussions are preliminary and no financial advisers are currently involved, the people said. Final agreements haven’t been reached and talks may still falter, they said.

 Oman is studying ways to improve its investment management and a merger of the two funds could include other investments, one of the people said. Countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council, a group of six oil-producing Arab monarchies, are restructuring national oil companies -- selling shares, merging units and cutting costs -- after crude slumped by more than half since 2014."



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Shuaa Capital posts first profit rise in 7 quarters | The National

Shuaa Capital posts first profit rise in 7 quarters | The National:

"Shuaa Capital, the Dubai-based investment bank in the midst of a financial clean up, said its net profit for the first three months of the year rose for the first time in seven quarters after a reduction in money set aside to cover bad debt as well as cost cutting. The firm said it registered a first quarter profit of Dh24.8 million compared with a loss of Dh27.5m in the same period last year. It was the first quarterly profit since the third quarter of 2015. Shuaa’s small and medium sized enterprise lending arm, Gulf Finance, saw a significant reduction in provisions amid write-offs and more stringent asset-backed loans. As a result, money set aside to cover bad loans fell to Dh1.9m versus Dh34m in the same period last year. "



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Gulf Royal-Backed Samena to Raise $700 Million for Asia - Bloomberg

Gulf Royal-Backed Samena to Raise $700 Million for Asia - Bloomberg:

"Samena Capital, an investment firm managing about $650 million, plans to raise as much as $700 million for a special situations fund to invest in the Indian subcontinent and Asia. Samena, which focuses on emerging markets with offices in London, Dubai and Hong Kong, plans to close its third private equity fund in the next 12 to 18 months, Founder and Vice Chairman Shirish Saraf said in an interview in Dubai on Thursday. The company is working on five deals, targeting investments in India, Myanmar, Indonesia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and China, he said. “We focus on countries with young populations, stable political structures and who will benefit from lower oil prices and lower interest rates,” he said. “The Middle East still has some challenges ahead due to lower oil prices.”"



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UAE telco Du Q1 net profit falls 24 pct | Reuters

UAE telco Du Q1 net profit falls 24 pct | Reuters:

"Du, the United Arab Emirates' No.2 telecom operator, reported a 24 percent fall in first-quarter net profit on Tuesday, missing analysts' expectations. The company has been squeezed since late 2014 as growth of the mobile market has been offset by a steady increase in the royalty - or tax - paid to the government. Du, which ended rival Etisalat's domestic monopoly in 2007, made a net profit of 364.9 million dirhams ($99.35 million) in the three months to March 31, down from 480.1 million dirhams in the year-earlier period."



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HSBC wins mandate on $100 billion Saudi Aramco IPO: CEO | Reuters

HSBC wins mandate on $100 billion Saudi Aramco IPO: CEO | Reuters:

"HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA.L) has been formally mandated as an adviser on the initial public offering of Saudi Arabia's national oil giant Aramco IPO-ARMO.SE, expected to be the world's largest ever IPO, HSBC's chief executive said on Monday. Europe's biggest bank joins peers including JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) and Morgan Stanley (MS.N) on the deal, which is expected to raise some $100 billion and is the centrepiece of the Saudi government's ambitious strategy to diversify away from oil. HSBC's Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver announced the bank's appointment on the deal at a shareholders' meeting in Hong Kong, confirming a Reuters report in February that the bank was close to being mandated on the hottest investment banking ticket in the world."



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Oil Veteran Says OPEC Needs Year to Pull Off Elusive Mission - Bloomberg

Oil Veteran Says OPEC Needs Year to Pull Off Elusive Mission - Bloomberg:

"OPEC needs a year more to accomplish what’s at the moment proving to be mission impossible, according to a veteran oil analyst. Saudi Arabian oil minister Khalid Al-Falih acknowledged last week that the group and its allies, after three months of limiting output, have failed to hit their target of eroding oil inventories below the five-year historical average. The reductions need to be prolonged to not only until the end of 2017, but also extended through the first half of next year for the goal to be met, said Fereidun Fesharaki, the head of industry consultant FGE."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Poor Q1 results weighs on Qatar, Dubai; oil drags Saudi petchems | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Poor Q1 results weighs on Qatar, Dubai; oil drags Saudi petchems | Reuters:

"Two Qatari blue chip shares weighed on the local index in early trade on Tuesday after reporting a disappointing set of quarterly earnings, while Dubai was dragged lower by telecommunications operator Du. Qatari Islamic lender Masraf Al Rayan lost 0.5 percent after reporting a 6.5 percent year-on-year fall in its first-quarter net profit to 510 million Qatar riyals ($140.1 million) and below the average of three analysts' estimate of 517.1 million riyals.# Commodities shipper Qatar Navigation was down 1.0 percent after it made a net profit of 236 million Qatar riyals ($64.81 million) in the three months to March 31, down 33 percent from the prior year period and below the 369.2 million riyals analysts at QNB Financial Services had estimated."



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Monday, 24 April 2017

Hayward finds life anything but easy in Kurdistan

Hayward finds life anything but easy in Kurdistan:

"When in 2011 Tony Hayward announced an investment vehicle he had set up with financier Nat Rothschild was to buy a Turkish oil company with assets in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq, the former BP boss described the area as “the last big onshore ‘easy’ oil province . . . anywhere in the world”. The deal for the Turkish company — called Genel Energy — was supposed to mark a successful return to the oil and gas industry for Mr Hayward, who just a year earlier had resigned as chief executive of BP following fierce criticism of him and the UK energy group during its response to the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the US. It also promised to be a potentially highly lucrative transaction for the four founders of the investment vehicle, called Vallares, as the deal was structured so they would receive ordinary shares in Genel equivalent to a combined 6.7 per cent stake. The founders, who also included Julian Metherell, the former head of UK investment banking for Goldman Sachs, had originally put £100m into Vallares."



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Gazprom to receive funding for Nord Stream 2 pipeline

Gazprom to receive funding for Nord Stream 2 pipeline:

"Five European energy companies will each pay €950m to fund a new Gazprom gas pipeline as part of a finance package that clears a significant hurdle for a project that has faced strong resistance from many EU member states. Anglo-Dutch group Royal Dutch Shell, Austria’s OMV, France’s Engie and Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall will each provide loans covering 10 per cent of the €9.5bn cost of the pipeline, with Gazprom providing the remaining 50 per cent. Monday’s announcement marks a significant milestone for one of Europe’s most contentious energy developments, under which Gazprom’s gas would be transported from Russia through a pipeline called Nord Stream 2 running across the Baltic Sea to Greifswald in north-east Germany."



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World-Cup spending presses Qatar banks as deposit deadline nears | GulfNews.com

World-Cup spending presses Qatar banks as deposit deadline nears | GulfNews.com:

"Qatari banks are in a bind.
On the one hand, they need to finance building projects for the 2022 soccer World Cup. On the other, they must attract more deposits to match their loans.
Lenders seeking to lure money into their coffers to meet a central bank deadline have driven the local inter-bank rate to among the highest in the Gulf. However, their efforts are being undermined because loans are rising much faster than in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
"



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Dubai Joins Jet-Lease Elite as AWAS Deal Lands $14 Billion Fleet - Bloomberg

Dubai Joins Jet-Lease Elite as AWAS Deal Lands $14 Billion Fleet - Bloomberg:

"Dubai Aerospace Enterprise Ltd., the Middle East’s biggest plane-leasing company, propelled itself into the top ranks of global players with a multi-billion dollar agreement to buy Dublin-based AWAS Aviation Capital Ltd. from U.K. private equity firm Terra Firma Capital Partners.

The transaction will swell DAE’s fleet to 394 aircraft valued at more than $14 billion with the addition of 263 jets that AWAS owns, manages or has on order, the Dubai-based company said Monday. While terms weren’t disclosed, Terra Firma spent 5.68 billion euros ($6.2 billion) on AWAS, according to its website."



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REFILE-UPDATE 2-Qatar Airways closes in on Italy deal, to own minority stake in Indian airline | Reuters

REFILE-UPDATE 2-Qatar Airways closes in on Italy deal, to own minority stake in Indian airline | Reuters:

"Qatar Airways will finalise a long-negotiated agreement to buy 49 percent of Italy's Meridiana in the coming days, and soon apply with Qatar's sovereign wealth fund to start an Indian airline. Qatar Airways will sign the agreement with Italy's second biggest airline in the next "few days", Chief Executive Akbar al-Baker told reporters in Dubai on Monday. The airline has been negotiating to buy a stake in Meridiana for more than year, a deal that could help the loss-making Italian carrier's ability to compete in Europe."



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Qatar Air Adds San Francisco After Emirates' Trump Cuts - Bloomberg

Qatar Air Adds San Francisco After Emirates' Trump Cuts - Bloomberg:

"Qatar Airways Ltd. announced plans to add San Francisco to its network of U.S. destinations, plotting expansion just days after rival Emirates moved to reduce flights to the country citing President Donald Trump’s travel restrictions. The Doha-based carrier will serve the California city starting in 2018, the company said Monday at a press conference in Dubai. The Persian Gulf airline will use Boeing Co. 777-300 aircraft on the route, which will become its 15th U.S. destination. Qatar Airways has remained bullish on the U.S. even after Trump’s administration targeted the region with an attempt to block travel from six predominantly Muslim nations and a ban on carrying on laptop and tablet computers on flights from Middle East airports, including Doha. Emirates, which is based in Dubai, last week cited weaker demand caused by the restrictions as the cause for scaling back flights on five of its 12 U.S. routes. American rivals have accused Emirates and Qatar Air with unfair competition."



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UAE's Etihad Airways appoints new boss in charge of airline stakes | Reuters

UAE's Etihad Airways appoints new boss in charge of airline stakes | Reuters:

"Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways on Monday said it had appointed Robin Kamark as chief executive officer, Airline Equity Partners. Kamark will replace Bruno Matheu who has held the position since May 2016 and is leaving for personal reasons, the company said in a statement. Kamark will be responsible for leading and developing the Group’s minority equity investment strategy, which includes stakes in airberlin, Alitalia, Jet Airways , Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, Etihad Regional and Virgin Australia."



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Saudi Aramco names company veteran to oversee IPO preparations - sources | Reuters

Saudi Aramco names company veteran to oversee IPO preparations - sources | Reuters:

"State oil giant Saudi Aramco has appointed company veteran Motassim al-Maashouq to officially oversee preparations for its initial public offering (IPO), industry sources told Reuters.

Maashouq, who most recently worked as vice president of corporate planning and is viewed by industry insiders as well connected with the financial community, has taken up the position of vice president of IPO development, the sources said.

Saudi Aramco said it did not comment on rumour or speculation."



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Oil Falls Sixth Day as U.S. Rig Count Gain Seen Boosting Output - Bloomberg

Oil Falls Sixth Day as U.S. Rig Count Gain Seen Boosting Output - Bloomberg:

"Oil fell a sixth day as the ramp-up of U.S. drilling signaled further production gains in the world’s biggest crude-consuming nation.

Futures extended last week’s 6.7 percent decline in New York. U.S. explorers added 5 rigs last week to cap the longest stretch of gains since 2011, Baker Hughes Inc. data show. An OPEC committee concluded that a six-month renewal of an output-cut deal is needed, delegates with knowledge of the matter said. Money managers boosted wagers that U.S. oil futures would increase in the week to April 18, government data showed. Oil rose earlier along with global equities while the dollar weakened after the first round of the French presidential election."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Mobily holds back Saudi index as Dubai drops and Egypt stabilises | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Mobily holds back Saudi index as Dubai drops and Egypt stabilises | Reuters:

"Saudi Arabian telecoms company Mobily slumped after worse than expected results on Monday, but the market was buoyed by stronger quarterly earnings from the insurance sector, while performance across the rest of the region was mixed.

Shares of Etihad Etisalat(Mobily) tumbled 6 percent to 21.05 riyals after it swung to a net loss of 163 million riyals ($43.47 million) in the first quarter, compared with a 20 million riyal net profit a year earlier. Average analyst expectations were a net loss of 69.39 million riyals.

Mobily attributed its third consecutive quarterly loss to a drop in revenue and higher interest and financial charges."



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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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