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Thursday, 14 September 2017

Emirates NBD chief sparks fresh debate over bounced cheques - The National

Emirates NBD chief sparks fresh debate over bounced cheques - The National:

"Banks and senior legal figures are divided over whether bouncing a cheque should remain a criminal offence, with some calling for the law to be axed and others warning the move could send the wrong signal to scammers and fraudsters. The CEO of Emirates NBD sparked a renewed debate of the issue when he told a radio station recently that he did not believe it was right that the action could land someone in jail. But Shayne Nelson drew a clear distinction between account holders that could be punished for making a genuine mistake and fraudsters that use dud cheques to rip people off. "



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Mashreq to shed 10 per cent of headcount in next 12 months as artificial intelligence spending pays off  - The National

Mashreq to shed 10 per cent of headcount in next 12 months as artificial intelligence spending pays off  - The National:

"Mashreq Bank, the Dubai-based lender controlled by the Al Ghurair family, will shed 10 per cent of its workforce of over 4,000 in the next 12 months as investments in artificial technology are lessening its reliance on human resources, its chief executive said. 

"The know-how of artificial intelligence did not exist before, more and more of it is becoming available," Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair said in an interview with The National on Wednesday. 

"Once used, it will replace simple, repetitive jobs at the bank. By using artificial intelligence, employment at the banks will shrink over time," he added.  "



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Bahrain prices $3bn, three-tranche bond deal; demand tops $15bn

Bahrain prices $3bn, three-tranche bond deal; demand tops $15bn:

"The Kingdom of Bahrain has priced its $3bn, three-tranche bond issue at 5.25 per cent for 7.5-year money, with a 12-year maturity at 6.75 per cent and a 30-year tranche at 7.5 per cent. Strong investor demand drove books to top $15bn. The deal includes an $850m, 7.5-year maturity sukuk – the biggest Islamic finance bond to launch since the start of a row over sukuk bonds issued by UAE-based energy company Dana Gas threatened to derail the Islamic finance market earlier this year. "



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Breakingviews - Saudi can afford to scrap Aramco IPO plan

Breakingviews - Saudi can afford to scrap Aramco IPO plan:

"Saudi Aramco’s initial public offering is an idea that deserves to be put back in the ground. The sale of a 5 percent stake in Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil giant may be pushed back into 2019, according to Bloomberg. Achieving the desired $2 trillion valuation always looked a stretch. If Riyadh really wants the money it has better options. Buying a bit more time to prepare what could be the world’s largest IPO makes sense. First, the timing of the sale – a pet project of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – is awkward. Saudi is embroiled in a bitter diplomatic feud with neighboring Qatar, which has undermined Arab unity and investor confidence in the region. Closer to home the House of Saud has also been shaken by internal strife. The prince replaced his older cousin as heir to the throne in June, in what looked more like a coup than a royal reshuffle. Since political risk will be a big input into Aramco’s valuation, it would be logical to wait for calmer times. Then there is the valuation. The prince thinks the sale could raise $100 billion, but he is in a minority. According to a Breakingviews calculation, oil prices would have to trade at around $80 per barrel over the next decade – a 45 percent premium on Brent’s current value – to achieve this windfall. Tinkering with royalties and taxes is one way of juicing up the valuation. Even then, the pricing could be sensitive. Too cheap, and it will look like the kingdom has given away a piece of its crown jewel too easily. Too expensive, and the shares could fall, embarrassing the Saudi elite."



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Oil prices expected to stay in a range of $50-$60, says BP CEO

Oil prices expected to stay in a range of $50-$60, says BP CEO:

"Oil prices are expected to hold between $50 and $60 a barrel as bloated global stocks fall after a deal between OPEC and other producers to trim output, BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley said on Thursday.

“It was always going to take quite a while for stocks to come down. But for the OPEC and non-OPEC producer agreement, from everything we see, there is broadly compliance in place and stock levels are coming down,” Dudley said in an interview with Reuters.

“We don’t expect a spike up in prices nor do we expect a big drop in prices. So we’re all trying to make our way in this world of between $50 and $60 and I would expect that to continue.”"



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Telcos hurt Saudi, Dana Gas up on sukuk hopes, Qatar sinks

MIDEAST STOCKS-Telcos hurt Saudi, Dana Gas up on sukuk hopes, Qatar sinks:

"Telecommunications shares weighed on the Saudi Arabian stock market on Thursday after authorities moved to remove the ban on voice and video calls over the Internet, while Qatar continued to fall as foreign buyers intensified their selling. The Riyadh index fell 0.1 percent as the top three telecommunications providers dropped. Saudi Telecom lost 3.5 percent, the worst performer. The communications minister said on Wednesday that the government planned to unblock internet voice and video calls which could hurt revenues from traditional phone calls, especially those by the 10 million foreign workers who live in Saudi Arabia calling their home countries."



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Iran cracks down on Revolutionary Guards business network

Iran cracks down on Revolutionary Guards business network:

"Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps is being forced to shrink its sprawling business empire and some of its senior members have been arrested as part of President Hassan Rouhani’s attempts to curb the elite force’s role in the economy.

In the past year, the guards, who have interests in sectors ranging from oil and gas to telecoms and construction, have had to restructure some holding companies and transfer ownership of others back to the state, a regime insider and a government official told the Financial Times.

At least a dozen guards members and affiliated businessmen have been detained in recent months, while others are being forced to pay back wealth accrued through suspect business deals, the officials said."



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Bahrain raises $3 billion in largest ever debt sale  - The National

Bahrain raises $3 billion in largest ever debt sale  - The National:

"Bahrain raised US$3 billion, about 10 per cent of its economic output, in a three-part international bond sale that may help narrow a gap in its finances left by a more than 50 per cent drop in oil prices since 2014.

The sale includes an $850 million Islamic bond, according to a person familiar with the deal who is not authorized to speak publicly. It also raised $1.25bn in 12-year notes and $900m due in 30 years, the person said.

The Gulf kingdom, like other oil-exporting countries across the region, has made repeated use of international debt markets to bolster public budgets since energy markets slumped. Bahrain’s fiscal deficit reached 15 per cent of economic output last year."



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Riyadh must do more to capitalize on Saudi financial transformation | Arab News

Riyadh must do more to capitalize on Saudi financial transformation | Arab News:

"Saudi Arabia has some pretty big ambitions in the financial sector. The largest initial public offering (IPO) in history is progressing as Saudi Aramco gets ready for the market next year; the $200 billion privatization drive is also moving ahead under the revamped National Transformation Program. So why is Riyadh, capital of the Kingdom, not capitalizing on the unprecedented surge in financial activity underway there? In Abu Dhabi earlier this week (and simultaneously in China) the twice-annual Global Financial Centers Index (GFCI) was unveiled to an expectant audience of bankers, regulators and other professionals in the money-making world. The GFCI is increasingly viewed as an important indicator of the respective strengths of the cities that are aiming for “financial hub” status."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Dana Gas up on sukuk hopes, telcos drag on Saudi

MIDEAST STOCKS-Dana Gas up on sukuk hopes, telcos drag on Saudi:

"Shares in Abu Dhabi’s Dana Gas rose early on Thursday after its sukuk holders proposed a deal to end a dispute over payments on the debt, while Saudi telecommunications shares fell as officials moved towards allowing voice and video calls over the Internet. Holders of about $700 million of Islamic bonds issued by Dana Gas submitted a proposal to restructure the sukuk to the company’s management, in an effort to end the legal battle over Dana’s refusal to redeem them, a committee for the holders said on Wednesday. Dana called the proposal unacceptable, however, and it is not clear that it will change the stand-off over the bonds. A court hearing of the case in London is due to start next week."



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Saudis Prepare for Possible Aramco IPO Delay to 2019 - Bloomberg

Saudis Prepare for Possible Aramco IPO Delay to 2019 - Bloomberg:

"Saudi Arabia is preparing contingency plans for a possible delay to the initial public offering of its state-owned oil company by a few months into 2019, according to people familiar with the matter. While the government is still aiming for a Saudi Aramco IPO in the second half of next year, that timetable is increasingly tight for what’s likely to be the biggest share sale in history, the people said, asking not to be named discussing internal deliberations. Saudi Aramco said in statement the IPO "remains on track. The IPO process is well underway and Saudi Aramco remains focused on ensuring that all IPO related work is completed to the very highest standards on time.” It didn’t give a timeframe. The comment was echoed by a Saudi government source Wednesday. Officials have previously said the most likely schedule is the second half of next year."



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Saudi Arabia’s Economic Overhaul Claims a Victim - Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia’s Economic Overhaul Claims a Victim - Bloomberg:

"At a Riyadh office of construction giant Saudi Oger Ltd., dust covers the desks, cigarette butts and empty water bottles litter the floor, and the mailbox is stuffed with crumpled envelopes. The parking lot of another Oger facility a mile away is barricaded and filled with trash. And at headquarters, a few blocks farther west, a lone administrator is left to handle the concerns of angry workers."



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