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Monday, 16 July 2018

Oil Falls as Saudis Offer More Supply, U.S. Weighs SPR Release - Bloomberg

Oil Falls as Saudis Offer More Supply, U.S. Weighs SPR Release - Bloomberg:

Oil retreated below $71 a barrel as Saudi Arabia was said to offer extra crude to some customers, while the U.S. reportedly considered tapping emergency supplies, to offset output losses around the world.

Futures in New York slid as much as 1 percent after falling 3.8 percent last week. Saudi Arabia offered additional cargoes of its Arab Extra Light crude to at least two buyers in Asia, people familiar with the matter said. Meanwhile the U.S., which is seeking to choke off crude exports from Iran, is said to be mulling releasing oil from its 660 million-barrel Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Prices are retreating from the three-year high hit last month as Saudi Arabia and its allies move to counteract supply losses elsewhere in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, such as the spiraling crisis in Venezuela, erratic flows in Libya and renewed U.S. sanctions on Iran. Oil is also slipping on concern that trade tensions between the U.S. and China will hurt demand.

IMF Says Bahrain Needs Comprehensive Package of Economic Reforms - Bloomberg

IMF Says Bahrain Needs Comprehensive Package of Economic Reforms - Bloomberg:

Bahrain needs a comprehensive package of reforms to reduce its fiscal deficits over the medium term, the IMF said, as the island kingdom seeks to secure crucial support from rich neighbors to avoid a currency devaluation.

"Despite planned fiscal consolidation measures, fiscal and external deficits are projected to continue over the medium term, due to the large and growing interest bill," IMF’s Executive Board said in a report on Sunday. "Public debt is expected to increase further over the medium term and reserves are projected to remain low."

Bahrain, one of the most vulnerable Gulf Arab economies to lower oil prices, confirmed last month that it was in talks with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait for support that would help reduce ballooning debt and shore up foreign-exchange reserves. The country hired investment bank Lazard Ltd. to advise on how to repair its strained public finances, people with knowledge of the matter said earlier this month.

Iran to Saudi Arabia: OPEC's decision does not give members right to pump oil above target | Reuters

Iran to Saudi Arabia: OPEC's decision does not give members right to pump oil above target | Reuters:

Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh told his Saudi Arabian counterpart that last month’s OPEC decision does not give member countries the right to raise production above their targets, according to a letter reported by news agency Shana. 

OPEC agreed with Russia and other oil-producing allies last month to raise output from July, with Saudi Arabia pledging a “measurable” supply boost but giving no specific numbers.

“Member countries committed themselves to reach a production adjustment conformity level of 100 percent, as of July 1, 2018,” Zanganeh wrote in a letter sent to Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih, according to Shana.

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf markets mixed as Dubai rises on property shares | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf markets mixed as Dubai rises on property shares | Reuters:

Gulf markets were mixed early on Monday with Dubai and Abu Dhabi shares in positive territory despite a backdrop of lower oil prices.

Oil prices fell as the market shifted focus from concerns over supply disruptions to potential production increases from Russia and other oil producers.

In Dubai, the index was up 0.4 percent, helped by gains in property shares. Major developer’s Emaar Properties and DAMAC Properties were up 1.6 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Emirates NBD reveals $38.9m exposure to Abraaj | GulfNews.com

Emirates NBD reveals $38.9m exposure to Abraaj | GulfNews.com:

Emirates NBD on Sunday said its exposure to Abraaj stands at $38.9 million (Dh142.87 million), raising total exposure to the embattled private equity firm to more than $2 billion.

Emirates NBD has an exposure of $21.3 million through an equity investment in the management company. In addition, the bank has a total exposure of $17.6 million invested across three of the Abraaj funds, the bank said in a statement posted on Dubai Financial Market’s website.

This brings listed companies’ total exposure to Abraaj to the tune of $2.4 billion.

Gulf airlines Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways seen flying under radar at Farnborough Airshow

Gulf airlines Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways seen flying under radar at Farnborough Airshow:

The aviation industry heads to the UK’s Farnborough International Airshow on Monday in rude health, with higher oil prices and a strong global economy leading to predictions of a large number of orders at the week-long show.

But this time around, significant orders from Gulf carriers such as Etihad, Emirates and Qatar Airways are unlikely to materialize, as the region’s carriers continue to take stock after a period of bruising losses.

Over 1,500 exhibitors and 100,000 trade visitors are expected to attend this week’s airshow, one of the most important events for the global aviation industry.

Charges dropped against Abraaj founder over $48m bounced cheque | Financial Times

Charges dropped against Abraaj founder over $48m bounced cheque | Financial Times:

A court in the United Arab Emirates has dropped a criminal complaint against Arif Naqvi, the founder of Abraaj, for issuing cheques with not enough funds, as the embattled private equity company struggles to recover from a damaging few months.

A judge in Sharjah said on Sunday that the case, pertaining to a $48.2m cheque, had been dismissed at the request of the complainant Hamid Jafar, a businessman in Sharjah and founding shareholder in Abraaj.

The settlement relieves some personal pressure on Mr Naqvi as Abraaj tries to implement a restructuring process overseen by liquidators appointed by a Cayman Islands court. This process followed investor concerns over claims of mismanagement.

Liquidators probe Abraaj as complaints disrupt asset sales | Financial Times

Liquidators probe Abraaj as complaints disrupt asset sales | Financial Times:

Abraaj’s liquidators are investigating “serious allegations” against the troubled private equity company as investor concerns over claims of mismanagement disrupt the group’s efforts to sell assets.

PwC said several parties had raised issues such as “mismanagement, commingling of funds and misappropriation of assets”, according to its first report to the Cayman Court.

Dubai-based Abraaj has been reeling since claims early this year that it had mishandled investors’ money in its $1bn healthcare fund. A confidence crisis and mounting debt defaults forced the firm, founded by Arif Naqvi in 2002, into provisional liquidation last month in the Cayman Islands.

Iran's supreme leader calls for government to be backed in face of U.S. sanctions | Reuters

Iran's supreme leader calls for government to be backed in face of U.S. sanctions | Reuters:

Iran’s supreme leader on Sunday called on state bodies to support the government of President Hassan Rouhani in fighting looming U.S. economic sanctions, saying America’s “conspiracy” could be defeated, according to his official website. 

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei used a speech to members of Rouhani’s cabinet to call for support for the government and action against alleged financial crime to ease popular concerns fueled by U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from world powers’ 2015 deal with Iran on its nuclear program.

The likely return of U.S. economic sanctions has triggered a rapid fall of Iran’s currency and protests by bazaar traders usually loyal to the Islamist rulers, and a public outcry over alleged price gouging and profiteering.

U.S. oil boom delivers surprise for traders - and it's costly | Reuters

U.S. oil boom delivers surprise for traders - and it's costly | Reuters:

The world’s biggest oil traders are counting hefty losses after a surprise doubling in the price discount of U.S. light crude to benchmark Brent WTCLc1-LCOc1 in just a month, as surging U.S production upends the market.

Trading desks of oil major BP (BP.L) and merchants Vitol [VITOLV.UL], Gunvor [GGL.UL] and Trafigura [TRAFG.UL] have recorded losses in the tens of millions of dollars each as a result of the “whipsaw” move when the spread reached more than $11.50 a barrel in June, insiders familiar with their performance told Reuters.

The sources did not give precise figures for the losses, but they said they were enough for Gunvor and BP to fire at least one trader each.

Qatar Islamic Bank Q2 net profit rises, beats estimates | Reuters

Qatar Islamic Bank Q2 net profit rises, beats estimates | Reuters:

Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB), the Gulf state’s largest sharia-compliant lender by assets, beat the average forecast of analysts as it reported a 14.8 percent jump in second-quarter net profit on Sunday, according to Reuters calculations.

It made a net profit of 700.1 million riyals ($192.3 million) during the three months to June 30, compared with 609.7 million riyals in the same period a year earlier, Reuters calculated from financial statements in the absence of a quarterly earnings breakdown.

Three analysts polled by Reuters had forecast on average the bank to make a quarterly net profit of 619.0 million riyals. The bank is the second major Qatari lender to report earnings this quarter after Qatar National Bank, which reported a 6.3 percent gain in second-quarter profit.

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf stocks rise on higher oil prices, Q2 results | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf stocks rise on higher oil prices, Q2 results | Reuters:

Most Gulf stock markets closed higher on Sunday, bolstered by firmer oil prices and a clutch of positive financial results.

Oil prices edged up about 1 percent on Friday as strike actions in Norway and Iraq hit supplies. But prices on course for a second straight week of falls after Libyan ports reopened and on the view that Iran might still export some crude despite U.S. sanctions.

The Saudi index gained 0.5 percent, with petrochemical group Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) rising 1.1 percent and Al Rajhi Bank climbing 0.5 percent. Other banks were also big gainers, with Banque Saudi Fransi climbing 1.7 percent.

Abraaj's `Unusual' Ways Revealed as PwC Seeks Missing Documents - Bloomberg

Abraaj's `Unusual' Ways Revealed as PwC Seeks Missing Documents - Bloomberg:

Abraaj Holdings had an “unusual” business model reliant on short-term borrowing, and key financial statements are missing or nonexistent, according to one of the firms tasked with salvaging the Dubai-based private-equity firm’s assets.

In a report seen by Bloomberg News, PricewaterhouseCoopers said it has “been unable to obtain standalone annual financial statements or management accounts for the company.” It noted “multiple layers of leverage” as the company borrowed to offset a "long-running liquidity shortfall between the investment management fees and operating expenses.”

This is “an unusual practice for a structure operating in a private equity capacity,” PwC said. “It creates a highly unstable business model, sensitive to volatility and potential liquidity crises, particularly where the cost base cannot be funded by ongoing revenues,” according to the report, which was filed to a Cayman Islands court on July 11.

Abraaj Founder Reaches Initial Deal on $300 Million Loan - Bloomberg

Abraaj Founder Reaches Initial Deal on $300 Million Loan - Bloomberg:

Arif Naqvi, the founder of embattled Dubai-based private equity firm Abraaj Group, reached an interim settlement with a creditor on a $300 million loan, his lawyer and a person close to the creditor said.

A deal was reached last week on the entire loan although it has yet to be signed, said Naqvi’s lawyer Habib Al Mulla, executive chairman of Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla. The settlement is only interim and not final, said the person close to creditor Hamid Jafar. They didn’t disclose the terms of the deal.

On Sunday, a court in Sharjah, the United Arab Emirates dismissed a bounced check case against Naqvi and Abraaj director Muhammad Rafique Lakhani after the complainant dropped the case. Checks had been issued as a security on a loan of about $200 million to Abraaj and $100 million to Naqvi, Al Mulla said last month.

Iranian Official Urges Trump Not to Use U.S. Strategic Oil Reserve - Bloomberg

Iranian Official Urges Trump Not to Use U.S. Strategic Oil Reserve - Bloomberg:

A senior Iranian oil official urged U.S. President Donald Trump not to use the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve to push prices lower, and instead drop sanctions on Iran’s crude exports.

“My advice to you, Mr. President, is to avoid touching the SPR - to cool down and give up sanctioning Iranian oil," Hossein Kazempour Ardebili, Iran’s representative to OPEC, said by email.

The Trump administration is actively considering tapping into the nation’s emergency oil inventories as political pressure grows before congressional elections in November, according to people familiar with the matter. Trump is also trying to choke off Iran’s oil exports after quitting a nuclear deal with the country.

CEO Interview: RAK Ceramics' image overhaul has helped it to avoid price battles | ZAWYA MENA Edition

CEO Interview: RAK Ceramics' image overhaul has helped it to avoid price battles | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

The past couple of years have been tough for any company operating in the Gulf's construction sector - especially for those with exposure to Saudi Arabia.

The value of contract awards in the kingdom fell dramatically in 2015 and 2016 as the government stopped signing any new deals and reviewed its spending commitments following a dramatic fall in oil prices in 2014.

According to project and cost consultancy Faithful + Gould, the value of contracts awarded fell to $22 billion in 2016 and 2017, declining from $35.5 billion in 2015, $49.1 billion in 2014 and $69.1 billion in 2013.

After Saudi, Kuwait sees prospects of MSCI bourse upgrade improving | ZAWYA MENA Edition

After Saudi, Kuwait sees prospects of MSCI bourse upgrade improving | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

Despite facing low levels of liquidity, Kuwait's stock exchange has an increasing probability of joining its peer GCC stock markets in Saudi, UAE and Qatar in gaining a market status upgrade by global index compiler Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI), analysts argue, especially with the intensive market reforms it has undergone.

MSCI announced in late June that it will include the Kuwait index in its 2019 Annual Market Classification Review for a potential reclassification from frontier to emerging market status. The index compiler will consult with market participants on the proposed reclassification of the Kuwait index, and will announce its decision in June 2019, with a potential implementation in May 2020.

Last year, the governance board of the Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE) Russell index compiler added Kuwait to its Secondary Emerging Market Index, in a transition that is set to take place in two stages in September and December in 2018.

UAE says sanctioned exchange houses not linked to Iran crackdown | Reuters

UAE says sanctioned exchange houses not linked to Iran crackdown | Reuters:

The United Arab Emirates’ decision to punish seven currency exchange houses is unrelated to a crackdown on a network funneling illicit funds to Iran, the UAE central bank said on Sunday.

“The seven exchange houses had their licenses downgraded because they were found to be in violation of central bank regulations, including anti-money laundering regulations, and then failed to regularize their status during a grace period,” a central bank statement to Reuters said.

It added that the downgrade, originally announced in June, was not linked to a disclosure by Washington that the United States and the UAE had disrupted a currency exchange network transferring funds to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards.

UPDATE 1-Court dismisses criminal case against founder of UAE's Abraaj | Reuters

UPDATE 1-Court dismisses criminal case against founder of UAE's Abraaj | Reuters:

A United Arab Emirates court on Sunday dismissed a criminal case against the founder of private equity firm Abraaj, Arif Naqvi, and another executive for issuing a cheque without sufficient funds, after the claimant dropped the complaint.

The dismissal of the case provides breathing room for Naqvi as Dubai-based Abraaj tries to sell its investment management business after filing for provisional liquidation in the Cayman Islands last month.

Investor confidence in the Middle East’s largest private equity fund had already been shaken by a dispute with investors over the use of their money in a $1 billion healthcare fund, which has led to a halt in fund-raising activities and sparked debt repayment problems. Abraaj denies any wrongdoing.

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi up on higher oil prices; Aramex down in Dubai | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi up on higher oil prices; Aramex down in Dubai | Reuters:

Gulf markets were mixed on Sunday as investors digested a late rise in oil prices that still left the commodity lower for the week.

Oil prices edged up about 1 percent on Friday as strike actions in Norway and Iraq hit supplies. Still, futures were set for a second straight week of decline after Libyan ports reopened and on the view that Iran might still export some crude despite U.S. sanctions.

The Saudi index gained 0.1 percent, with petrochemical giant Saudi Basic Industries Corporation rising 0.2 percent and Jabal Omar Development climbing 0.5 percent.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Saudi Arabia boosts fintech drive with UAE and Bahrain talks

Saudi Arabia boosts fintech drive with UAE and Bahrain talks:

Saudi Arabia is discussing a coordinated approach to the regulation and nurturing of fintech startups with the UAE and Bahrain.

Such discussions form part of the Kingdom’s attempts to boost its nascent fintech ecosystem and to encourage the increased adoption of technology by incumbent lenders.

Discussions with central banks in the UAE and Bahrain would help to coordinate the fintech activities of financial centers around the Gulf region, all of whom are seeking to attract international and domestic entrepreneurs, said Mishari Al-Assailan, the acting head of Fintech Saudi, the division of the Saudi central bank charged with growing the sector in the Kingdom.

Rouhani says U.S. isolated on Iran sanctions, even among allies

Rouhani says U.S. isolated on Iran sanctions, even among allies:

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday the United States was more isolated than ever over sanctions against Iran, even among its allies, in remarks carried live on state television.

“Today, we are in conditions in which the United States is more isolated than ever over the sanctions issue. America’s illegal actions ... have even isolated it among its own allies as we just saw,” Rouhani said, referring to protests held in Britain against the visit of President Donald Trump.

Friday, 13 July 2018

Iran Touts Russia's Plan to Invest in Its Oil With Sanctions Looming - Bloomberg

Iran Touts Russia's Plan to Invest in Its Oil With Sanctions Looming - Bloomberg:

Iran said Russia is ready to invest as much as $50 billion in its oil industry even as Western majors are pulling out of deals with the republic amid the threat of U.S. sanctions.

President Vladimir Putin has confirmed the spending plan, with at least three deals worth some $15 billion already on the table, Ali Akbar Velayati, foreign policy adviser to Iran’s supreme leader, said in Moscow Friday. Russia is ready to invest in crude exploration and production, as well as refining, he said.

Iranian news agencies published similar comments from Velayati on Thursday, following his meeting then with President Putin in the Russian capital. Russian companies that have been in talks with Iran on joint hydrocarbon projects wouldn’t comment on the outcome when contacted by Bloomberg. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also declined to comment on Velayati’s statements.

Russia Says OPEC+ Could Boost Oil Supply More Than Pledged - Bloomberg

Russia Says OPEC+ Could Boost Oil Supply More Than Pledged - Bloomberg:

OPEC and its allies could boost oil production by more than the 1 million barrels a day agreed last month if needed, Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak said. 


“I can’t rule out that if there is a need for more than 1 million barrels we will be able to quickly discuss it all together and make all necessary decisions,” Novak told reporters in Moscow on Friday. The producers have “all needed tools,” if necessary, he said.

Oil prices have remained near their highest in more than three years despite pledges by Russia, Saudi Arabia and their allies last month to boost production. Supplies are being strained by deepening losses in Venezuela, erratic flows from Libya and the prospect of renewed U.S. sanctions on Iran which could curb its exports.

Dana Gas seeks to complete sukuk settlement | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Dana Gas seeks to complete sukuk settlement | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

Dana Gas is keen on fulfilling all the legal requirements for the settlement in the sukuk case in the UAE and UK by the end of the month, head of investor relations Mohammmed Mubaideen told Mubasher.

In June, Dana Gas announced that its offer to restructure and refinance the $700 million disputed sukuk was approved by 96.7% of sukukholders.

The Abu Dhabi-listed company and the sukukholders committee entered into an agreement to end all their litigations and waive claims.

Saudi Prince Alwaleed pledges support for crown prince's reforms | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Saudi Prince Alwaleed pledges support for crown prince's reforms | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

Saudi Arabian billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who was detained for three months in an anti-corruption campaign under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, pledged support on Thursday for the young leader's programme of sweeping reforms.

"I was honoured to meet with my brother HRH the Crown Prince and to discuss economic matters and the private sector's future & role in #Vision2030 success," he tweeted with a photograph of the royal cousins embracing in front of a desk.

It is the first publicly disclosed meeting between the two men since the anti-corruption crackdown was launched in November.

Oman's Dhofar Generating Company’s upcoming IPO garners sizeable interest | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Oman's Dhofar Generating Company’s upcoming IPO garners sizeable interest | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

Oman-based Dhofar Generating Company (DGC)’s Intial Public Offering (IPO) has seen an increase in interested investors following a roadshow meeting held in collaboration with Bank Dhofar, the issue manager.

The meeting, was attended by a wide cross-section of investor groups including institutional investors, high-net worth individuals as well as established family offices, according to local newswire, ONA.

Naif al-Awaaid, CEO of DGC, said the project founders, Mitsui & Co, ACWA Power and Dhofar International Development as well as Investment Holding Company SAOG (DIDIC) will remain shareholders post-IPO, with an aggregate holding of 60 per cent and they will continue to ensure reliable management and governance of the company.

Oil rises but declines for the week as supply concerns ease | Reuters

Oil rises but declines for the week as supply concerns ease | Reuters:

Oil prices rose about 1 percent on Friday as strike actions in Norway and Iraq hit supplies, but futures were set for a second straight week of decline after Libyan ports reopened and on the view that Iran might still export some crude despite U.S. sanctions.

Brent crude LCOc1 rose 88 cents to settle at $75.33 a barrel, a 1.18 percent gain. The global benchmark fell about 2.7 percent for the week.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 futures rose 68 cents to settle at $71.01 a barrel, but lost about 3.9 percent this week.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Dubai lenders Mashreq, CBD join FAB in declaring Abraaj exposure  - The National

Dubai lenders Mashreq, CBD join FAB in declaring Abraaj exposure  - The National:

Commercial Bank of Dubai and Mashreq Bank are the latest lenders to disclose their exposure to embattled private equity firm Abraaj Group that is reeling under allegations of misusing investors funds.

Dubai-headquartered CBD has $166.25m (Dh611.8m) worth of exposure to the buyout firm through “secure credit facilities," it said on Thursday in a statement to Dubai Financial Market. Mashreq owns 16.7 million shares in Abraaj Holding valued at Dh66.03m, the lender said in a separate statement to the bourse. The bank also holds 12.5 million shares in Menasa Capital Holding, a Dubai International Financial Centre subsidiary of Abraaj, worth Dh459,125, it said.

"Based on the disclosures made so far, it seems that for most banks the impact is manageable," Shabbir Malik, banking analyst at EFG-Hermes, said. "For Mashreq and most banks who disclosed exposure to Abraaj, there should not be a material impact on their profitability."

QNB Group’s net profit grows by 7% in H1, 2018 - The Peninsula Qatar

QNB Group’s net profit grows by 7% in H1, 2018 - The Peninsula Qatar:

QNB Group, the largest financial institution in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, recorded a net profit of QR7.1bn ($1.9bn) for the first half of 2018, reflecting a 7 percent growth compared to last year.

Driven by loans and advances, the QNB’s total assets increased by 10 percent from June 2017 to reach QR846bn ($232bn), the highest ever achieved by the Group.

The loans and advances grew by 9 percent to reach QR604bn ($166bn). This was mainly funded by customer deposits which increased by 9 percent to reach QR614bn ($169bn) from June 2017. This helped to maintain QNB Group’s loans to deposits ratio at 98.4 percent as at June 30, 2018.

Mubadala Is in Talks With Potential Bidders for Cepsa - Bloomberg

Mubadala Is in Talks With Potential Bidders for Cepsa - Bloomberg:

Mubadala Investment Co. is holding talks with potential bidders for its Spanish oil company Cepsa Trading SA as it weighs alternatives to an initial public offering planned for later this year, according to people familiar with the matter.

Investment firms including CVC Capital Partners and Blackstone Group LP as well as industry players may be interested in part or all of the company, which could be valued at about 10 billion euros ($11.7 billion) in either an IPO or a sale, the people said, asking not to be identified because the discussions are private.

No final decisions have been made as Mubadala continues to prepare for the listing, the people said. Discussions are at an early stage, they said. A spokesman for Mubadala referred to a statement that Musabbeh Al Kaabi, the head of the firm’s petroleum and petrochemicals platform, made in a March interview with English-language U.A.E. newspaper, the National. In it, Al Kabbi said they’re exploring options for Cepsa including a listing in Spain or bringing in a strategic partner. The spokesman declined to comment further.

RAK Ceramics weighing up acquisition opportunities | ZAWYA MENA Edition

RAK Ceramics weighing up acquisition opportunities | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

RAK Ceramics is set to hit the acquisition trail as the company seeks to move back onto a growth footing after spending the past three years implementing a 'value creation plan'.

Speaking to Zawya at the company's headquarters in Ras Al Khaimah in May, chief executive Abdallah Massaad said that any potential target would have to operate within its core markets of tiles, tableware and sanitaryware.

"This is the core business. We are not looking to invest in other than our core business products," Massaad said.

Some investors want new Abraaj review, potentially delaying key sale - document | Reuters

Some investors want new Abraaj review, potentially delaying key sale - document | Reuters:

Some investors in funds managed by Dubai-based Abraaj want to block the sale of assets to Colony Capital pending a review of Abraaj’s handling of funds, according to a report seen by Reuters, potentially delaying a deal key to the survival of the investment management business.

United States-based Colony offered last month to buy the fund management unit that runs Abraaj’s Latin America, Sub Saharan Africa, North Africa and Turkey funds after months of turmoil at Abraaj triggered by a dispute with investors over the use of their money in a $1 billion healthcare fund.

Abraaj denies any wrongdoing, but the row has weighed heavily on the Middle East and Africa’s largest private equity firm, which filed for provisional liquidation in the Cayman Islands last month.

COLUMN-Brent stumbles as market resets after year-long rally: Kemp | Reuters

COLUMN-Brent stumbles as market resets after year-long rally: Kemp | Reuters:

Brent crude prices registered their largest one-day fall in more than two years on Wednesday, in what was probably an indication hedge fund managers and other traders are realising profits after a year-long rally.

Front-month futures slumped by $5.46 per barrel, or just under 7 percent, a daily price move more than three standard deviations away from the mean, and the largest one-day decline since February 2016.

The market has suffered a larger percentage decline on only 44 days since the start of 1990, and it comes after a long period in which price volatility has been very low by historical standards.

MIDEAST STOCKS-Most markets slightly down on oil price concerns | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Most markets slightly down on oil price concerns | Reuters:

Most stock markets in the region closed on a slightly negative note on Thursday amid concerns about oil price declines and absence of local catalysts that would push the markets higher.

 Brent crude prices had slumped $5.46 or 6.9 percent on Wednesday after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened new tariffs on China and Libya said it would resume oil exports. Prices recouped some losses on Thursday and traded around $74.30 by 1210 GMT.

The Saudi index lost 0.3 percent with 96 declining stocks out of 179 stocks traded.

OPEC Output May Be Stretched to Limit by Supply Crises, IEA Says - Bloomberg

OPEC Output May Be Stretched to Limit by Supply Crises, IEA Says - Bloomberg:

OPEC’s Gulf members may need to pump almost as much crude as they can to cover swelling supply losses from Venezuela to Iran and beyond, the International Energy Agency said.

Saudi Arabia might have to draw harder than ever before on its spare production capacity as a spiraling economic crisis in Venezuela, renewed U.S. sanctions on Iran and disruptions in Libya strain global markets, the agency predicted.

“Rising production from Middle East Gulf countries and Russia, welcome though it is, comes at the expense of the world’s spare-capacity cushion, which might be stretched to the limit,” the Paris-based IEA said in its monthly report. “This vulnerability currently underpins oil prices and seems likely to continue doing so.”

U.S. says disrupts Iran finance operation in UAE to squeeze Tehran | Reuters

U.S. says disrupts Iran finance operation in UAE to squeeze Tehran | Reuters:

The United States and the United Arab Emirates have broken up a network funneling illicit funds to Iran as Washington steps up a drive to restrict Iranian trade and access to hard currency in the region, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday.

“We jointly disrupted a currency exchange network that was transferring millions of dollars to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Force,” said Sigal Mandelker, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence at the U.S. Treasury.

She said the network was dismantled in May. Currency exchanges had used the UAE financial system to transfer cash out of Iran and convert it into U.S. dollars for use by Iranian-supported proxy groups in the region, she said.

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi down on lower oil prices; Emaar rebounds | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi down on lower oil prices; Emaar rebounds | Reuters:

Gulf markets opened mixed on Thursday as oil prices fell and investors found no local catalysts that would push the markets higher.

Brent had slumped on Wednesday $5.46 or 6.9 percent after United States President Donald Trump threatened new tariffs on China and Libya said it would resume oil exports. Prices recouped some losses on Thursday and traded around $74.50 by 0820 GMT.

The Saudi index lost 0.5 percent The main drag was petrochemical giant SABIC, which dropped 1.3 percent.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Dubai's Shuaa Capital joins First Abu Dhabi Bank in reporting Abraaj exposure - The National

Dubai's Shuaa Capital joins First Abu Dhabi Bank in reporting Abraaj exposure - The National:

Shuaa Capital and Ajman Bank joined a growing list of UAE-listed companies with direct or indirect exposure to Abraaj Group, the embattled private equity firm that has been roiled by allegations of misusing investors' funds.

Dubai's Shuaa Capital and its clients hold a 3.6 per cent stake collectively worth $8.83 million (Dh32.5m) in The Abraaj Buyout Fund II, it said in a statement to the Dubai Financial Market, where its shares are traded.

This includes an amount of "$4.9m for Shuaa Capital and $3.92m for Shuaa Capital's clients", the company said in the bourse filing on Wednesday.

Former DSI chief refutes allegations of wrongdoing | GulfNews.com

Former DSI chief refutes allegations of wrongdoing | GulfNews.com:

The former head of Drake & Scull International (DSI) on Wednesday refuted allegations that he owes any money to the construction company.

Khaldoun Al Tabari also refuted suggestions that he was guilty of any wrongdoing. 

“I refute in the strongest terms any suggestion that I or my daughter owe Drake & Scull International any money at all, let alone the huge sums mentioned by some media outlets, and any suggestions that the previous management of DSI was guilty of any wrongdoing, impropriety, negligence, or incompetence,” said Khaldoun Al Tabari, who is the former chief executive officer of DSI.

Dubai rent, sale prices continue quarterly fall

Dubai rent, sale prices continue quarterly fall:

Dubai’s residential property market witnessed a continued decline in rents and sales prices during the second quarter of 2018 according to a new report on the emirate’s real estate sector.

Figures released by Cavendish Maxwell, in its 2Q 2018 Dubai Market Report, registered quarterly declines of 1.1 percent in residential sales prices and an average 2.5 percent drop in rental values.

International City (Clusters), The Greens in Emirates Living, Discovery Gardens and Al-Furjan witnessed the most pronounced decline.

Saudi Wealth Fund Plans First Multi-Billion Dollar Loan - Bloomberg

Saudi Wealth Fund Plans First Multi-Billion Dollar Loan - Bloomberg:

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund has started approaching banks for its first-ever loan, aiming to establish a group of banks with which it will work on future deals, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Public Investment Fund, or PIF, has asked lenders to participate in a multi-billion dollar loan, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. Lenders that participate in the deal will form the core banking group for the PIF, which has ambitions of becoming the world’s largest sovereign fund, the people said.

A spokesman for the PIF declined to comment.

Trump’s OPEC Tweets Have Putin Preparing for Oil Talks - Bloomberg

Trump’s OPEC Tweets Have Putin Preparing for Oil Talks - Bloomberg:

When Russian President Vladimir Putin meets Donald Trump next week, he’ll armed to discuss oil production following the U.S. leader’s series of tweets targeting OPEC, according to people familiar with preparations for the summit.

The Kremlin sees Trump as likely to raise the issue of adding crude supplies to the market in a bid to lower gasoline prices before the U.S. elections in November, according to one of the people. While Putin’s spokesman said last week that oil isn’t at the top of the list for the July 16 summit in Helsinki, officials are preparing extensive briefing notes for Putin, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Crude prices have jumped about 14 percent since April on supply concerns following Trump’s promised renewal of sanctions against Iran and outages at fields in Libya and Venezuela. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its partners in production cuts, including Russia, have agreed to boost output to alleviate tightness, but concerns remain that it won’t be enough.

Abu Dhabi, Al Ain house rents continue to decline | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Abu Dhabi, Al Ain house rents continue to decline | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

Villa and apartment rents recorded a continued decline in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain in Q2 2018, according to Asteco, a property services company.

In Abu Dhabi, apartment and villa rents decreased by two per cent and four per cent in Q2 2018, and witnessed an annual drop of 10 per cent and nine per cent respectively.

The highest drops in the villa rental market since Q2 2017 were registered for Golf Gardens (14 per cent) and Al Raha Gardens (13 per cent).

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf markets end mixed as oil prices fall on U.S. tariff threat | ZAWYA MENA Edition

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf markets end mixed as oil prices fall on U.S. tariff threat | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

Gulf stock markets ended mixed on Wednesday as sentiment was hurt by a more than $2 a barrel drop in Brent crude after United States President Donald Trump threatened new tariffs on China.

Qatar shares , down 0.4 percent, and Oman's index, 1 percent lower, led the declines. But Abu Dhabi .ADI rose 0.5 percent, and Kuwait's premier index added 1.4 percent, extending gains from a day earlier.

Elsewhere, the concern of U.S. tariffs on a further $200 billion of Chinese goods weighed on commodities and Asian stock markets.

FIFA to take legal action against pirated sports channel | Reuters

FIFA to take legal action against pirated sports channel | Reuters:

Soccer’s governing body FIFA said on Wednesday it has engaged legal counsel to take action in Saudi Arabia against television channel beoutQ, which is widely available in the kingdom, for continuing to illegally broadcast the 2018 World Cup.

FIFA last month warned that it was exploring all options to stop the infringement of its rights over beoutQ’s airing of the opening games of the soccer tournament taking place in Russia.

Saudi Arabia says beoutQ is not based in the kingdom and that it has “relentlessly” combated the channel’s activities and is committed to protecting international property rights.

Education company GEMS shelves multibillion dollar London IPO: sources | Reuters

Education company GEMS shelves multibillion dollar London IPO: sources | Reuters:

The initial public offering (IPO) of Blackstone-backed (BX.N), Middle East-focused education company GEMS has been shelved, three sources familiar with the matter said.

Sources familiar with the deal had said the London listing was delayed after authorities in Dubai unexpectedly decided to freeze tuition fees, meaning the company’s financial forecasts had to be adjusted.

“Bankers knew this wouldn’t go ahead as GEMS was unsure about its expansion plans, given that many students were leaving as families were packing up due to job losses,” a banker in the region said.

UPDATE 1-Bahrain's economy shrinks in Q1 as oil production sags | Reuters

UPDATE 1-Bahrain's economy shrinks in Q1 as oil production sags | Reuters:

Bahrain’s economy shrank on an annual basis in the first quarter of 2018 for the first time in at least seven years, hit by a fall in oil production, data from the official statistics agency showed on Wednesday.

The figures may increase concern about the health of Bahrain’s economy as it struggles with a current account gap and a large state budget deficit, which have dragged down prices of its international bonds and pushed the Bahraini dinar to a 17-year low against the U.S. dollar late last month.

The dinar then partly recovered after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait said they would soon announce an assistance programme to support the country’s fiscal stability and economic reforms.

UPDATE 1-Qatar National Bank sees Q2 boost in net interest income | Reuters

UPDATE 1-Qatar National Bank sees Q2 boost in net interest income | Reuters:

Qatar National Bank (QNB) reported a 6.3 percent increase in second-quarter net profit on Wednesday, as a rise in net interest income helped offset an increase in bad loans for the Middle East and Africa’s largest lender.

The bank made a net profit of 3.67 billion riyals ($1.01 billion) in the three months to June 30, compared with 3.45 billion riyals in the corresponding period of 2017, according to a financial statement.

Reuters had earlier calculated the profit rise at 5.7 percent in the initial absence of a quarterly breakdown, with the difference largely due to rounding.

OPEC sees lower 2019 demand for its oil, points to return of surplus | Reuters

OPEC sees lower 2019 demand for its oil, points to return of surplus | Reuters:

OPEC on Wednesday forecast world demand for its crude will decline next year as growth in consumption slows and rivals pump more, pointing to the return of an oil market surplus despite an OPEC-led pact to restrain supplies.

Giving its first 2019 forecasts in a monthly report, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said the world would need 32.18 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude from its 15 members next year, down 760,000 bpd from this year.

The drop in demand for OPEC crude means there will be less strain on producers such as Saudi Arabia in making up for supply losses such as falling Venezuelan and Libyan output, and an imminent drop in Iranian exports as U.S. sanctions return.

Qatar Is Said to Seek $4 Billion Loan for Typhoon Fighter Jets - Bloomberg

Qatar Is Said to Seek $4 Billion Loan for Typhoon Fighter Jets - Bloomberg:

Qatar is seeking to raise more than $4 billion from banks to finance the purchase of Eurofighter Typhoon combat jets, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The government is working with financial advisers on the deal that will be backed by export credit agencies, the people said, asking not to be identified because the talks are private. Qatar has invited lenders to participate in the loan and a transaction could be finalized within a month, they said.

The gas-rich Gulf state is also holding talks with banks and credit export agencies from Italy, France and the U.K. to raise billions of dollars in loans for other defense deals, two other people said. A Qatari government official said the Typhoons “will advance Qatar’s strategic efforts towards stability” but that the “method and mechanism of payment has not been decided yet.”

Court case over Abraaj founder's bounced cheque adjourned until July 15 | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Court case over Abraaj founder's bounced cheque adjourned until July 15 | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

A case involving the founder of private equity firm Abraaj, Arif Naqvi, and another executive for issuing a cheque without sufficient funds was adjourned on Wednesday until July 15 by a court in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The adjournment was announced by judge Natheer al-Sousi in a court in Sharjah, one of the seven emirates in the UAE.

The court case relates to a cheque for 177.1 million dirhams ($48 million), signed by Naqvi and a fellow executive, and written to Hamid Jafar, another founding shareholder in Dubai-based Abraaj, a prosecution document showed.

UAE firms have up to $1bln exposure to Abraaj Group | ZAWYA MENA Edition

UAE firms have up to $1bln exposure to Abraaj Group | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

UAE businesses and listed companies have an exposure of up to $1 billion to Abraaj Group, which is struggling to regain investor trust in the wake of a criminal case filed against its founder Arif Naqvi in a Sharjah court last month.

Sources said some of the major listed companies have big exposure to the struggling group which allegedly misused investor money in a healthcare fund. The firm has denied the allegations.

According to the sources, Commercial Bank of Dubai, Mashreq Bank, Societe Generale and Commercial Bank International are among secured lenders who have a significant exposure to the embattled group, while Kuwait Pension Funds and Actus Fund figure on the list of unsecured lenders.

Oil falls on trade fears after Trump tariff threat | Reuters

Oil falls on trade fears after Trump tariff threat | Reuters:

Oil prices fell on Wednesday after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to levy new tariffs on China, deepening a trade dispute that could depress energy demand.

The specter of tariffs on a further $200 billion of Chinese goods sent commodities lower along with stock markets, as tension between the world’s biggest economies intensified.

Benchmark Brent crude LCOc1 was down $1.50 at $77.36 a barrel by 0815 GMT, having fallen as low as $77.21. U.S. light crude CLc1 was down 60 cents at $73.51.

Owners of Saudi schools operator weigh sale of business: sources | Reuters

Owners of Saudi schools operator weigh sale of business: sources | Reuters:

The owners of Ma’arif for Education & Training, the largest owner and operator of private schools in Saudi Arabia, are in talks about selling the business, two sources familiar with the discussions told Reuters on Tuesday.

They are looking at either an outright sale or spinning off assets through a real estate investment trust, the sources said.

Ma’arif, owned by the Al Blehed family, runs more than 100 schools across the kingdom, offering Arabic, British and American curricula, according to its website.

MIDEAST STOCKS-Most Gulf markets open lower on financials, property shares | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Most Gulf markets open lower on financials, property shares | Reuters:

Gulf markets opened lower on Wednesday as financials weighed on Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabian shares, while Qatar and Dubai were slightly down.

Abu Dhabi’s index was down 0.5 percent, pulled down by a 0.4 percent drop in First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) and a 0.6 percent decline in Emirates Telecom (Etisalat).

Saudi Arabia shares index were down 0.3 percent with Samba Financial Group falling 1.7 percent and National Commercial Bank shedding 0.8 percent.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

String of UAE firms disclose exposure to Abraaj Group - The National

String of UAE firms disclose exposure to Abraaj Group - The National:

First Abu Dhabi Bank, the UAE's largest lender, Al Qudra Holding and Waha Capital, among other entities, disclosed limited direct or indirect exposure to Abraaj Group, the private equity company undergoing a court-supervised restructuring amid allegations of mismanagement of investors’ funds, according to regulatory filings on Tuesday.

FAB, the bank formed with the merger of First Gulf Bank and National Bank of Abu Dhabi, said it has direct exposure to Abraaj through a fully secured three-year $21.4 million (Dh78.6m) loan, due to mature in April 2019. The loan is “collateralised with Abraaj Holding stakes in its funds which invested in various companies globally”, FAB said in a statement to the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange.

United Arab Bank has indirect exposure “through customers represented with two entities [funds] that are partially (and indirectly) owned by Abraaj”, the bank said in a filing to ADX.

Atlas Jewellery plans relaunch of retail operations in Dubai | GulfNews.com

Atlas Jewellery plans relaunch of retail operations in Dubai | GulfNews.com:

The owner of Atlas Jewellery hopes to pull in new investors to relaunch a retail presence in Dubai and revive operations elsewhere in the Gulf, which will be the first step to clear off the remaining debts on its books. In Dubai, the plan is to launch a single store and create a sustainable cash flow over the next two years, according to Ramachandran Nair, the founder.

Simultaneously, there is a plan to have a private placement to raise funds by selling shares in its India subsidiary, registered in Mumbai. The India operations are listed — the share is at Rs154.7 as against the original face value of Rs10. Nair hold 50 million shares of the 100 million issued. At the current price, a private placement should generate a decent amount and help with the raising of new funds.

The move comes as part of a “final settlement plan” involving Nair and more than 10 creditor banks. A meeting was held early this week, during which new funding options were raised. There will be monthly meetings to chart progress of the revival plan.

Cerberus and Colony Are Making New Offers for Abraaj Funds - Bloomberg

Cerberus and Colony Are Making New Offers for Abraaj Funds - Bloomberg:

Cerberus Capital Management LP and Colony Capital Inc. made new offers to buy Abraaj Group assets as the embattled Dubai-based private equity firm works on a court-supervised restructuring, according to people familiar with the matter.

Cerberus made a bid for all of Abraaj’s funds, but hasn’t offered to buy the limited-partnership stakes in the underlying funds, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. Cerberus was engaged in talks with Abraaj to acquire its funds before Colony reached a principle agreement last month.

Colony, which in June agreed to buy some of Abraaj’s funds and oversee others, made a revised offer for some of the funds, as well as its limited-partnership interests in the underlying funds, the people said. The offers are being reviewed by provisional liquidators Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers and any agreement needs investor approval, the people said.

Swiss Say 1MDB Used as Ponzi Scheme to Bribe Officials - Bloomberg

Swiss Say 1MDB Used as Ponzi Scheme to Bribe Officials - Bloomberg:

Malaysia’s 1MDB economic development fund was used as a Ponzi scheme by a clutch of conspirators to pay bribes and enrich themselves, Switzerland’s top prosecutor said days after former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was charged with corruption for his role in the affair.

Swiss authorities are now investigating six people for their alleged involvement in the multi-billion dollar 1MDB scandal and two Swiss banks -- Falcon Private Bank and BSI SA -- remain under suspicion, Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber told reporters Tuesday in Putrajaya following a meeting with his Malaysian counterpart Tommy Thomas.

Switzerland has been investigating how billions of dollars earmarked for economic development through 1Malaysia Development Bhd. was diverted and made its way into Swiss banks for the personal enrichment of the accused. Lauber, working with Singaporean and U.S. authorities, had been publicly critical in the past of Malaysian officials for their lack of cooperation. After Najib lost his bid for re-election in mid-May to rival and former premier Mahathir Mohamad, the new governmen

Oil rises on supply disruptions, large U.S. crude stock drawdown | Reuters

Oil rises on supply disruptions, large U.S. crude stock drawdown | Reuters:

Oil rose on Tuesday, supported by a larger-than expected U.S. stock draw and supply concerns in Norway and Libya, though gains were tempered by the United States’ indication that it would consider requests for waivers from Iranian oil sanctions.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 gained 79 cents to settle at $78.86 per barrel. Earlier, the global benchmark hit a session high of $79.51.

U.S. crude futures CLc1 rose 26 cents to settle at $74.11, after hitting a high of $74.70.

Saudi securities regulator awards first two fintech licenses | Reuters

Saudi securities regulator awards first two fintech licenses | Reuters:

Saudi Arabia’s securities regulator approved its first two financial technology licenses on Tuesday, part of a drive to develop a fintech sector in the Arab world’s biggest economy under reforms designed to reduce reliance on oil exports.

The Capital Market Authority approved licenses allowing Riyadh-based start-up Manafa Capital and another firm, Scopeer, to offer crowdfunding investment services on a trial basis, the CMA said on Tuesday.

Individual investors will use electronic platforms operated by the companies to fund small and medium-sized enterprises in exchange for shares in those enterprises.

Saudi defense ministry official arrested on bribery charges | Reuters

Saudi defense ministry official arrested on bribery charges | Reuters:

Saudi Arabia has arrested a defense ministry official on charges of receiving a 1 million riyal ($267,000) bribe and abusing his position, the SPA state news agency reported on Tuesday.

“The official sought to facilitate irregular procedures for the disbursement of financial dues to a company, taking advantage of his professional influence,” a statement quoted Attorney General Sheikh Saud al-Mujib as saying.

It added that the official admitted the crime of bribery and the involvement of two others in the same case, who were also arrested. No names were given.

MIDEAST STOCKS-Earnings hopes lift Qatar, Saudi petrochem, banks rise | ZAWYA MENA Edition

MIDEAST STOCKS-Earnings hopes lift Qatar, Saudi petrochem, banks rise | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

Most Gulf stocks ended higher on Tuesday, led by Qatar, whose main index surged to an over five-month high on expectations of strong corporate earnings, while firm oil prices boosted petrochemical stocks in Saudi Arabia.

Qatar index  closed 1.4 up at 9,396 points, its highest since January 30 this year. The gains were fuelled by a 2.2 percent gain in Qatar National Bank QNBK.QA and a 2.1 percent rise in Industries Qatar .

QNB Financial Services said in a note it estimates banks, under its coverage, are expected to post an annual increase of 18.4 percent in earnings during the second quarter, largely due to a base effect stemming from Qatar's Commercial Ban .

Natural Gas Drillers Are Fighting for Their Lives - Bloomberg

Natural Gas Drillers Are Fighting for Their Lives - Bloomberg:

The natural gas industry is on a mission to prove it can keep up with the green energy industry, whose price reductions are starting to become a competitive threat to fossil fuels.

Gas and oil producers have slashed overheads by a third since 2014 and are finding deeper reductions harder to come by, according to energy consultants Wood Mackenzie. That’s spurring them to rewrite supply contracts, build mobile liquefied natural gas terminals and take more prosaic steps like fixing leaky pipes.

“This is about getting affordable energy out,” said Jens Okland, executive vice president of marketing, midstream and processing at Equinor ASA, Norway’s biggest energy company. “A lot of these LNG projects are huge. You need to make them cheaper, quite simply.”

Switzerland Says Up to $7 Billion Flowed Through 1MDB - Bloomberg

Switzerland Says Up to $7 Billion Flowed Through 1MDB - Bloomberg:

Swiss investigators found that up to $7 billion of funds flowed through Malaysian state fund 1MDB, according to Swiss Attorney-General Michael Lauber.

Do not blame OPEC, oil producer group says of Trump criticism | Reuters

Do not blame OPEC, oil producer group says of Trump criticism | Reuters:

The president of OPEC defended the oil producer group on Monday against U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent demands for higher oil output, saying OPEC does not shoulder the blame.

“OPEC alone cannot be blamed for all the problems that are happening in the oil industry, but at the same time we were responsive in terms of the measures we took in our latest meeting in June,” Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries President Suhail al-Mazrouei told Reuters in an interview in Calgary, Alberta.

 “I feel OPEC is doing its part.”

Oil prices rise as looming Norway strike adds to disruptions | Reuters

Oil prices rise as looming Norway strike adds to disruptions | Reuters:

Oil prices rose on Tuesday on escalating concerns over potential supply shortages, with Brent crude leading the way as hundreds of oil workers in Norway were set to strike later in the day.

Brent crude LCOc1 added 55 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $78.62 per barrel by 0638 GMT, following a 1.2-percent climb on Monday.

U.S. light crude futures were up 47 cents, or 0.7 percent, at $74.32.

MIDEAST STOCKS-Most Gulf markets up on financials, petrochemicals | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Most Gulf markets up on financials, petrochemicals | Reuters:

Most Gulf markets traded higher early on Tuesday, as financials boosted Kuwait and Qatar, and higher oil prices lifted Saudi petrochemical stocks.

Qatari shares were up 0.4 percent, lifted by a 1.3 percent rise in Qatar National Bank a day before its quarterly earnings. Qatar Islamic Bank climbed 2 percent.

Bahrain-based broker SICO said in a report QNB could post a net profit 3.47 billion riyals ($952.90 million) in the second quarter, little changed from a year earlier based on a consensus estimate.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Kuwait's NBK second-quarter profit up 16% on strong domestic conditions - The National

Kuwait's NBK second-quarter profit up 16% on strong domestic conditions - The National:

National Bank of Kuwait (NBK), Kuwait’s largest lender, posted a 16.3 per cent rise in net profit in the second quarter of 2018, boosted by a strong domestic operating environment and increased spending on infrastructure in the Arabian Gulf, and said it plans to expand its business in Saudi Arabia, the region’s largest economy.

Second-quarter net profit grew to 92.3 million Kuwaiti dinars (Dh1.13 billion) from 79.3m dinars in the year-earlier period – the strongest growth the bank has registered in six quarters, NBK said on Monday.

Net operating income grew by 10.9 per cent year-on-year to 442.2m dinars during the second quarter, driven by robust lending volumes, improving margins and strong fee business. Total assets grew by 5.7 per cent 26.9bn dinars while total shareholders’ equity increased by 4.1 per cent to 3bn dinars.

Adnoc to deepen ties with Chinese energy firms | GulfNews.com

Adnoc to deepen ties with Chinese energy firms | GulfNews.com:

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) is planning to deepen investment and partnership opportunities with Chinese energy firms as demand for energy and petrochemical products grows in the world’s top oil importer. “Energy cooperation is an important aspect of the UAE’s relations with China, which is the number one oil importer globally and a major growth market for Adnoc’s crude, refined products and petrochemicals,” said Dr Sultan Ahmad Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and Adnoc Group CEO, who was in Beijing to hold talks with top executives from Chinese energy firms. “We are keen to expand and deepen that relationship and believe there are mutually beneficial partnership and co-investment opportunities across our upstream and downstream value chains. Adnoc is also ready to work with its existing and potential new partners to meet the growing demand for energy and petrochemical products in China.”

Dubai’s construction and retail experience boom in June but travel and tourism flag

Dubai’s construction and retail experience boom in June but travel and tourism flag:

The construction and retail sectors in Dubai saw strong growth last month, as builders took on more work and retailers further slashed prices, according to a monthly survey.
The tourism and travel sector however did not fare so well, with job losses dragging down growth in the industry, according to the Dubai Economy Tracker Index by IHS Markit/Emirates NBD
The index for the construction sector rose to 57.1 in June from 54.6 the previous month on the back of increased output and new work as the emirate pushes forward with new hotel and residential property projects.

Middle East sovereign investors target infrastructure projects

Middle East sovereign investors target infrastructure projects:

While equities remain at the center of most global sovereign investors’ portfolios, a survey conducted by asset manager Invesco found that average allocation to alternatives has doubled in the past five years, reaching a high of 20 percent last year. In the Middle East, sovereign investors increased their allocations into private credit by 44 percent and infrastructure by 33 percent over the past three years. Exposure to private equity and real estate increased at a lesser rate, the survey published on Monday found. The study was based on face-to-face meetings with 126 individual sovereign investors and central bank reserve managers from around the world, representing $17 trillion-worth of assets.

Qatar firms’ Q2 earnings expected to pick up by 13% - The Peninsula Qatar

Qatar firms’ Q2 earnings expected to pick up by 13% - The Peninsula Qatar:

The aggregate earnings of Qatar’s listed companies are forecasted to pickup by 13 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of this year (Q2, 18). IQ (Industries Qatar) bottom line is forecasted at QR1.2bn vs. QR513m YoY, up 73 percent, led by higher petrochemical product prices. In addition, Commercial Bank’s net income is to reach QR410m vs. QR 88m YoY, on healthy balance sheet growth and lower provisioning, according to a ‘GCC consensus estimate’ by SICO Research.

Drake & Scull Probe Said to Find Ex-CEO Owing Up to $272 Million - Bloomberg

Drake & Scull Probe Said to Find Ex-CEO Owing Up to $272 Million - Bloomberg:

An internal probe by Drake & Scull International PJSC into alleged violations by the previous management has concluded that former Chief Executive Officer Khaldoun Al Tabari and his daughter owe the contracting firm as much as 1 billion dirhams ($272.3 million), according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The amount exceeds the market value of the Dubai-based company, whose shares plunged about 70 percent this year -- the most among companies listed in Dubai.

Drake & Scull said last month that it had completed the probe and forwarded the report to authorities in the United Arab Emirates. The central bank asked lenders to freeze accounts belonging to Al Tabari and his family, citing an order by Abu Dhabi’s public prosecutor, according to a June 4 circular seen by Bloomberg News.

Permian Pinch Spurs a Pipeline Binge, and Fears of Overbuild - Bloomberg

Permian Pinch Spurs a Pipeline Binge, and Fears of Overbuild - Bloomberg:

The pipeline crunch threatening the world’s hottest shale play won’t be solved until at least the back half of next year. But then, the floodgates will open.

Pipelines serving the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico were able to carry 2.9 million barrels of oil a day in the second quarter, according to analysts at Bloomberg NEF, and pretty much every line from Midland to the Gulf Coast is full. That’ll change in late 2019 as three major projects are slated to open, potentially adding more than 2 million barrels a day of capacity.

Fixing the pipeline conundrum is key for a shale play where researcher IHS Markit expects output to more than double by 2023 to 5.4 million barrels a day, eclipsing every OPEC nation beyond Saudi Arabia. Pipeline builders are pouring billions of dollars into the basin, but delays are a concern as developers compete for everything from labor to steel.

Expatriate Workers Are Leaving Saudi Arabia in Droves - Bloomberg

Expatriate Workers Are Leaving Saudi Arabia in Droves - Bloomberg:

Saudi Arabia’s expatriate workers are leaving the kingdom by the thousands, and the exodus may not yet be over.

As companies struggle with slower business and authorities impose more fees on foreigners, the biggest Arab economy is losing some of its allure to expats who once flocked to a country awash with petrodollars.

The number of foreign workers declined by 6 percent to 10.2 million in the first three months of 2018 compared with a year ago, taking the cumulative drop over the five past quarters to about 700,000, according to official data released this month. The losses in the first quarter were in sectors including construction -- usually dominated by low-cost laborers -- as well as trade and manufacturing.

A Saudi Stocks ETF Has Beaten All Emerging Markets Peers in 2018 - Bloomberg

A Saudi Stocks ETF Has Beaten All Emerging Markets Peers in 2018 - Bloomberg:

An exchange-traded fund tracking Saudi Arabian shares has delivered the biggest return among peers so far this year as investors anticipate an upgrade of the Middle East’s biggest economy to emerging markets status.

The iShares MSCI Saudi Arabia ETF, or KSA, has returned 17 percent year-to-date, more than any other of the 229 ETFs focused on emerging-market equities tracked by Bloomberg. Its gain compares with an average loss of 6.6 percent for the group in the same period.

5 factors to restore investor confidence to UAE bourses – Analysts | ZAWYA MENA Edition

5 factors to restore investor confidence to UAE bourses – Analysts | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

Analysts have set five the main factors to restore investors’ confidence in the UAE bourses, including the first half of 2018 financial results, in addition to higher liquidity ratios and rising local gains.

By the end of Sunday’s trading session, the Dubai Financial Market’s (DFM) general index edged up 0.17% to 2,885.35 points, while the Abu Dhabi Exchange’s (ADX) general index added 0.27% to 4,615.46 points.

Saudi Arabia's Leejam Sports to offer shares next month | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Saudi Arabia's Leejam Sports to offer shares next month | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

Saudi Arabian sports and fitness business Leejam Sports Co will offer 30 percent of its existing shares in a public offering (IPO) next month, according to a prospectus on the Saudi bourse website.

The listing is the latest in what is expected to be a busy pipeline of public share sales in the kingdom, encouraged by a government drive to entice investment and diversify the economy away from a reliance on oil.

Leejam's subscription period takes place from August 1 to August 7.

Saudi issues draft law for public-private projects worth billions | Reuters

Saudi issues draft law for public-private projects worth billions | Reuters:

Saudi Arabia has published a draft law covering partnerships between the government and private sector in a step toward launching billions of dollars worth of infrastructure projects and attracting fresh foreign investment.

The draft, revealed late on Sunday, offers investors exemptions from labor laws, real state ownership restrictions and other regulations.

The government’s National Centre for Privatisation and Public-Private Partnerships said it would accept public comment on the draft for three weeks, before promulgation of the law on an unspecified future date.

Saudi representatives meet Taiwan bond investors in non-deal roadshow - sources | Reuters

Saudi representatives meet Taiwan bond investors in non-deal roadshow - sources | Reuters:

Saudi Arabian government representatives were in Taiwan last week to meet bond investors in a so-called “non-deal roadshow”, sources familiar with the matter said. 


A potential sale of Formosa bonds – debt securities sold in Taiwan by foreign issuers and denominated in currencies other than the Taiwanese dollar – could allow Saudi Arabia to tap a new investor base at a time of adverse conditions in emerging markets.

To offset lower revenues caused by a slump in oil prices, the Saudi government has borrowed $50 billion through dollar bond sales since its debut in international debt markets in late 2016.

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi stocks close up, most other Gulf markets down | ZAWYA MENA Edition

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi stocks close up, most other Gulf markets down | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

Saudi stocks edged up on Monday with banks and industrial companies driving the index higher, while indexes in Dubai and most other parts of the Gulf slipped.

The Saudi index closed up 1.3 percent, with Al Rajhi Bank and Saudi Basic Industries Corporation the main drivers, climbing 2.5 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively.

The Dubai index closed 0.4 percent down, with Emaar Properties falling 1.4 percent. Dubai Islamic Bank closed 0.6 percent down.

Dubai Aerospace Enterprise approves $300mln bond repurchase programme | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Dubai Aerospace Enterprise approves $300mln bond repurchase programme | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

Dubai Aerospace Enterprise, DAE, announced today that its Board of Directors and shareholders had approved a bond repurchase programme of up to US$300 million.

Repurchases will be conducted through transactions in the open market, the company said, and announced that pursuant to this approval it had repurchased US$43 million of its bonds maturing in 2024.

DAE Managing Director, Khalifa AlDaboos, said, "Our bonds, in our opinion, are currently trading at prices and spreads not consistent with the company’s market position and strong credit profile. The strength of our balance sheet and our projected cash position allow us to repurchase our bonds at a considerable discount and improve the gross leverage position of the company."

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi stocks close up, most other Gulf markets down | ZAWYA MENA Edition

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi stocks close up, most other Gulf markets down | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

Saudi stocks edged up on Monday with banks and industrial companies driving the index higher, while indexes in Dubai and most other parts of the Gulf slipped.

The Saudi index closed up 1.3 percent, with Al Rajhi Bank and Saudi Basic Industries Corporation the main drivers, climbing 2.5 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively.

The Dubai index closed 0.4 percent down, with Emaar Properties falling 1.4 percent. Dubai Islamic Bank closed 0.6 percent down.

Aramco more resilient to oil slump than listed rivals: accounts | Reuters

Aramco more resilient to oil slump than listed rivals: accounts | Reuters:

Saudi Aramco is more resilient to oil price slumps than its biggest listed rivals, its 2016 accounts indicate, giving a rare insight into the state energy giant’s finances ahead of a proposed flotation.

The full-year accounts, not publicly available but seen by Reuters, show Aramco’s net income fell by about 21 percent to $13.3 billion in 2016 - when oil prices collapsed to a 12-year low of $27.10 a barrel due to a global glut of crude.

By comparison, the net income of Exxon Mobil Corp, the world’s largest listed oil company, dropped 51 percent in 2016, while the earnings attributable to shareholders of Royal Dutch Shell, the No.2 listed oil firm, fell 37 percent, excluding items.

Oil prices climb on global demand, U.S. sanctions on Iran | Reuters

Oil prices climb on global demand, U.S. sanctions on Iran | Reuters:

Oil prices rose on Monday as increased global demand and U.S. efforts to shut out Iranian output using sanctions outweighed drilling data suggesting U.S. shale production would climb.

Benchmark Brent LCOc1 was up 70 cents at $77.81 a barrel by 1150 GMT. U.S. crude CLc1 was unchanged at $73.80.

“Oil prices are starting the week on the front foot in anticipation of reduced supplies from Iran after U.S. sanctions,” said Stephen Brennock, analyst at London brokerage PVM Oil Associates.

Saudi Aramco chief warns of oil supply crunch | Financial Times

Saudi Aramco chief warns of oil supply crunch | Financial Times:

The oil industry risks a supply crunch as big energy companies focus on US shale and other short-term efforts over the long-term mega-projects seen in years past, the head of Saudi Arabia’s state energy giant said. Amin Nasser, chief executive of Saudi Aramco, said rising investment into short-cycle output, which ebbs and flows faster than conventional projects, would not be enough to meet rising crude demand. “Something like shale oil …it is not going to really create a major dent in total global supply requirements up until 2040,” said Mr Nasser in an interview with the Financial Times.

GFH to pursue David Haigh's Dubai and London assets in damages enforcement - The National

GFH to pursue David Haigh's Dubai and London assets in damages enforcement - The National:

GFH, the Dubai-listed parent of investment banking company GFH Capital, will start enforcement proceedings in Dubai and London for an award of around $5.1 million (Dh18.73m) in damages it received in a judgment against its former employee David Haigh last week. DIFC Courts last Wednesday ruled that Haigh, a former deputy chief executive of GFH Capital who was convicted of breach of trust by Dubai Criminal Court in 2015, must pay damages to his former employer equivalent to the sum he was convicted of embezzling from the company. “GFH can start enforcement of this judgment on Haigh’s assets in Dubai and the UK,” GFH said in a statement to the Dubai Financial Market, where its shares are listed. “It is expected that the collection of these amounts will have impact on GFH’s financials for the year 2018/2019,” the company said yesterday without giving the details of the likely effect. Haigh’s assets were frozen under an earlier DIFC Courts order.

Stellar H1 performance by QSE, surge in foreign buying - The Peninsula Qatar

Stellar H1 performance by QSE, surge in foreign buying - The Peninsula Qatar:

The Qatar Stock Exchange (QSE) Index emerged as the second best GCC market index performer during the first half of 2018 (H1, 18) by recording an increase of 5.52 percent to reach 9,024 points compared to 8,620 at the beginning of the year. As Saudi’s Tadawul rose by 15.51 percent, the Abu Dhabi Securities Market edged up a lower 3.32 percent and the Kuwait Exchange and Dubai Financial Market recorded a decrease of 6.20 percent and 16.91 percent, respectively. According to market data provided by QSE yesterday, the average daily traded value on QSE has recorded continuous increases in the first half over the last three years; the average daily traded value in the first half of 2016 was QR286.67m.  In the same period of 2017 it rose 14.2 percent to reach QR327.41m, and increased by a further 2.5 percent in the first half of 2018 to reach QR335.48m.

QSE H1 trade turnover keeps rising over last 3 years

QSE H1 trade turnover keeps rising over last 3 years:

The Qatar Stock Exchange (QSE), which is ranked second in performance and capitalisation among the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) bourses, witnessed trade turnover registering continuous increases in the first half (H1) over the last three years.
The average daily traded value in H1 this year was QR335.48mn compared to QR327.41mn during the same period of 2017 and QR286.67mn during 2016, a QSE spokesman said.
Although the QSE has the lowest number of listed companies at 45, it is ranked second, after the Saudi market, which has 181 listed companies, in terms of market capitalisation.

If Trump’s Problem Is OPEC, His Solution Is Iran - Bloomberg

If Trump’s Problem Is OPEC, His Solution Is Iran - Bloomberg:

President Donald Trump has once again taken to Twitter to slam OPEC for driving up oil prices. The group is a useful scapegoat on which to pin the blame for rising gasoline prices at home, but getting it to pump more crude won’t bring them down for long. The way to really lower prices is for him to change his policy on Iran. Unfortunately, that’s not likely to happen, so oil prices could well keep rising. Oil prices have climbed by more than 50 percent in a year, and very nearly touched $80 a barrel last week as traders anticipated that the world’s margin of spare production capacity available to offset supply disruptions is set to seriously shrink. They know something that the president either can’t or won’t understand: When sanctions on Iran come into force in November, producers don’t have the scope to make up for its lost output. If Trump succeeds in halting all of Iran’s oil exports, they will have to replace 2.7 million barrels a day of Iranian supply. That’s a big hole to fill.

Third of sovereign funds plan to cut equity holdings, cite trade war fear | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Third of sovereign funds plan to cut equity holdings, cite trade war fear | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

Over a third of sovereign investors plan to cut their equity exposure over the next three years after a strong run in 2017, citing trade wars, geopolitics and high valuations as headwinds to performance, a study by asset manager Invesco showed. The annual report, which is based on interviews with 126 sovereign investors and central bank reserve managers with $17 trillion in assets, found equities had overtaken bonds to become the biggest asset class in portfolios, averaging 33 percent. This is up from 29 percent in 2017. Nearly half of sovereign investors are now incrementally or materially overweight equities, but while 40 percent said they were happy with the status quo, 35 percent plan to reduce their equity exposure over the medium term, Invesco noted.

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi's Almarai up despite weak results as Gulf markets post gains | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi's Almarai up despite weak results as Gulf markets post gains | Reuters:

Gulf stock markets were up on Sunday, reflecting gains in world stocks last week after the threat of tariffs by the United States and China on billions of dollars of trade became a reality. The Saudi index gained 0.6 percent, with shares in retailer Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair Co rebounding 3.9 percent from heavy losses last week, when it reported a drop in annual profit and announced it would close up to 75 stores. Retail giant Almarai reported profit of 660.6 million riyals ($176 million) for the second quarter, 2 percent down from 674.1 million riyals in the previous period of last year, blaming a downturn in the market in part for its weaker than expected earnings. Shares in the company, which had fallen 4.5 percent in the week before the results, rose 1.4 percent on Sunday.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

UAE markets stabilise | GulfNews.com

UAE markets stabilise | GulfNews.com:

The Dubai Financial Market General Index (DFMGI) rose by 59.42 or 2.11 per cent last week to end at 2,880.42. This was the first positive week in four. There were 28 advancing issues and 11 declining, while volume dipped slightly below the previous week.
For the past eight weeks or so downward momentum has been slowing as measured by the Relative Strength Index (RSI) momentum oscillator with the indicator now showing a bullish divergence. The indicator bottomed at 19.2 nine weeks ago and has been rising since, ending last week back above the 30 oversold level to 33.1. At the low the RSI was the most oversold since the DFMGI bottom in January 2016. Even though price can stay oversold and under pressure for some time when the characteristics of the RSI are combined with recent price behaviour the near-term bullish argument becomes stronger.

Last week’s low of 2,820.67 held above support of the previous week which is at 2,805.44. This creates an inside week where the high to low range was contained within the borders of the prior week’s range. The pattern suggests that selling pressure has diminished as support held above the prior week’s low.

Dubai property deals fall in first half as emirate rolls out reforms

Dubai property deals fall in first half as emirate rolls out reforms:

Dubai Land Department (DLD) said the value of real estate transactions in the first six months of 2018 was 111 billion dirhams ($30.2 billion) across 27,642 transactions. The DLD did not provide comparative figures for the year-earlier period, however data released by the department last year reflects a 16 percent decline in the value of deals and a 22 percent drop in their overall number. The property market in the emirate has been battling headwinds from rising US interest rates, expatriate job losses and a strong US dollar, to which the dirham is pegged, making property purchases expensive for many overseas buyers.

Technical analysis of the QSE index

Technical analysis of the QSE index:

The General Index managed to close up 2.61% from the week before. Better yet, the index managed to sustain a close above the 9,000 level, which puts it in a strong position to reach the 9,500 level. We wait on how that challenge will unfold to determine the next direction for the index. The major resistance levels are around the 9,500-9,600 points and the closest support is around the 8,600 level.

Saudi Aramco’s $2 Trillion Zombie IPO - Bloomberg

Saudi Aramco’s $2 Trillion Zombie IPO - Bloomberg:

It was the moment Saudi Arabia’s reforming young prince told the world he meant business. In early 2016, Mohammed bin Salman said he planned to sell shares in the kingdom’s crown jewel: Saudi Aramco, the giant energy company that produces 10 percent of the world’s oil and finances the Saudi state. The initial public offering—planned for 2018—would be the deal to end all deals, raising more than $100 billion for a new sovereign wealth fund, creating the world’s most valuable listed company, and funneling hundreds of millions of dollars in fees to Wall Street’s elite banks. MBS, as the 32-year-old crown prince is known, said the company would be worth at least $2 trillion—more than double the current market valuation of Apple Inc.—and perhaps as much as $2.5 trillion. Two years later, things look very different. A combination of hubris on the valuation, an overambitious timetable, and indifference—if not derision—from global investors doubtful that an IPO would benefit them, has forced Riyadh to delay the sale until at least 2019. And many observers—including members of the company’s senior leadership—doubt whether it will happen at all. Aramco has become the zombie IPO. Add Donald

Iran calls for EU help as shipping giant pulls out for fear of U.S. sanctions | Reuters

Iran calls for EU help as shipping giant pulls out for fear of U.S. sanctions | Reuters:

One of the world’s biggest cargo shippers announced on Saturday it was pulling out of Iran for fear of becoming entangled in U.S. sanctions, and President Hassan Rouhani demanded that European countries to do more to offset the U.S. measures. 

The announcement by France’s CMA CGM that it was quitting Iran deals a blow to Tehran’s efforts to persuade European countries to keep their companies operating in Iran despite the threat of new American sanctions.

Iran says it needs more help from Europe to keep alive an agreement with world powers to curb its nuclear program. U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned the agreement in May and has announced new sanctions on Tehran. Washington has ordered all countries to stop buying Iranian oil by November and foreign firms to stop doing business there or face U.S. blacklists.

Iranian oil minister calls Trump's order to OPEC insulting | Reuters

Iranian oil minister calls Trump's order to OPEC insulting | Reuters:

Iran’s oil minister on Saturday accused U.S. President Donald Trump of insulting OPEC by ordering it to increase production and reduce prices, adding that Iranian output and exports had not changed as a result of U.S. pressure. 

Trump on Wednesday accused the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries of driving fuel prices higher, and urged Saudi Arabia to pump more if it wanted Washington to continue protecting it against its top rival Iran.

“Mr Trump sends every day a new message that creates uncertainty in the market,” Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said in an interview with state television.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Abraaj founder 'reaches settlement' over bounced cheque, lawyer says - The National

Abraaj founder 'reaches settlement' over bounced cheque, lawyer says - The National:

Arif Naqvi, the founder of private equity firm Abraaj Group, which is battling allegations of misuse of investors’ funds, has reached an out-of-court settlement with a creditor in a criminal case over a bounced cheque and is waiting to sign off on the deal, his lawyer said. “The parties reached an understanding late on Wednesday night over the main issues to repay the loan. A document is underway of drafting,” Habib Al Mulla, executive chairman of Habib Al Mulla Baker Mackenzie, told The National in an emailed statement on Friday. He did not say when the agreement would be signed. A judge in Sharjah was scheduled to rule on Thursday whether the cheque in question was issued without the necessary funds, but adjourned the hearing until July 11.

A 10-year visa is what Dubai’s start-up scene needed | GulfNews.com

A 10-year visa is what Dubai’s start-up scene needed | GulfNews.com:

More innovation in both regulation and technology seems to be the leitmotif of the Dubai Government, and the introduction of the 10-year visa clearly reflects that. While start-ups can reasonably expect further encouragement to help them in their journey, it is the return of investment that will enable start-ups to foster an entrepreneurial spirt and drive growth. Getting a positive return on investment as a new business can be difficult and very often seems like pushing a heavy rock up a hill when someone’s timing you. Similarly, raising investments is time consuming, and there is the constant fear that you’ll run out of money and be forced to close up. With this new rule, start-ups will have time to prove their mettle, while encouraging investors to fund their businesses. When an entrepreneur puts time, money and effort in a business, it is fair that they expect a return. In our experience, start-ups need at least three years to get to $1 Million and then at least two to three more to consolidate that growth, and this new move provides for stability during that period. It will not only give start-ups a chance to to align their practises, but also their profits.

Iran Access to Oil, Financial Markets Unresolved in Vienna Talks - Bloomberg

Iran Access to Oil, Financial Markets Unresolved in Vienna Talks - Bloomberg:

World powers agreed to keep looking for ways to ensure Iran gets the financial and energy benefits it signed up for under a landmark nuclear deal after they fell short of providing tangible guarantees sought by the Islamic Republic.

“The participants stressed their determination to effectively develop and implement practical solutions,” said European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who convened the meeting on Friday in Vienna. Foreign ministers from China, France, Germany and Russia reiterated that Iran should be able to sell its oil and gain international banking access in return for sticking to nuclear limits imposed by the July 2015 accord.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned via Twitter before the meeting that countries needed to “forge practical solutions” rather than make “lofty and obscure promises.” Zarif said he’d transmit the commitments made in Vienna to senior Iranian leaders, according to remarks translated by the Center for Middle East Strategic Studies.

Qatari Venture Wins Approval for Almost 1,000 London Homes - Bloomberg

Qatari Venture Wins Approval for Almost 1,000 London Homes - Bloomberg:

A Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Co. venture won approval to build almost 1,000 homes in the U.K. capital’s Elephant and Castle district.

Southwark Council approved the revised plans to replace a shopping mall with apartment towers, a new college campus and stores late on Tuesday. Investor Delancey, Dutch pension fund APG Asset Management NV and the Qatari sovereign-wealth fund’s property development unit will develop the project using their firm Get Living.

Rentals have been drawing international investors and retirement funds after London’s property boom made homes unaffordable to most people living in the city. The full plan for the plot also includes stores, restaurants and bars, a live music venue, exhibition space and offices.

Oil mixed as investors short-cover and Saudi boosts output | Reuters

Oil mixed as investors short-cover and Saudi boosts output | Reuters:

Oil was mixed on Friday, with short-covering pushing up U.S. crude futures while Brent slipped on global trade tensions and increased Saudi production.

West Texas Intermediate crude futures CLc1 gained 61 cents to $73.55 by 11:30 a.m. (1530 GMT). Global benchmark Brent LCOc1 was down 39 cents at $77 a barrel.

For the week, WTI was on track for a loss of about 0.4 percent while Brent was down about 3 percent.

Case against Abraaj founder adjourned as deal talks move forward | Financial Times

Case against Abraaj founder adjourned as deal talks move forward | Financial Times:

A Sharjah court judge on Thursday adjourned the case against Abraaj founder Arif Naqvi for issuing a $48.2m cheque with insufficient funds as talks to settle the debt move ahead.

Adjournment until July 11 comes after late night negotiations between representatives for Mr Naqvi and Hamid Jafar, the founder of Crescent Group, who loaned Abraaj $300m last December. The criminal case, which had its first hearing on June 28, relates to one of several cheques signed by Mr Naqvi and a co-defendant and written to Mr Jafar, which were dishonoured when presented.

An adviser to Mr Naqvi said the outline of a settlement agreement had been reached between Mr Naqvi and Mr Jafar late on Wednesday.

Bakr, Saleh and Saad Binladin give up 36.2% stake in Saudi Binladin Group | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Bakr, Saleh and Saad Binladin give up 36.2% stake in Saudi Binladin Group | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

Saudi businessmen Bakr, Saleh and Saad Binladin gave up their 36.2 pct stake in the Saudi Binladin Group to Istidama Holding Company, al-Arabiya TV reported on Thursday, citing the Saudi commerce ministry.

The company, crucial to the state's plans for major tourism and infrastructure projects, is now being run by a government-appointed committee after several senior brothers were detained in an anti-corruption purge late last year.

Struggling to save nuclear deal, Iran and world powers meet | Reuters

Struggling to save nuclear deal, Iran and world powers meet | Reuters:

Iran wants world powers to present measures guaranteeing oil revenue and investment into the country despite U.S. sanctions when ministers meet on Friday to save the 2015 nuclear deal, but European states will fall short of its demands, diplomats said.

President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the multinational deal in May under which sanctions on Iran were lifted in return for curbs on its nuclear program, verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Washington has since told countries they must stop buying the OPEC producer’s oil from Nov. 4 or face financial consequences.

6 major wealth funds agree to encourage greener economy

6 major wealth funds agree to encourage greener economy:

The sovereign wealth funds of major oil-producing countries have agreed upon a common roadmap to encourage investments toward a greener economy. The six funds from Norway, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and New Zealand released a joint framework Friday to encourage investors to take climate-related risks into consideration when investing. They also want to improve businesses’ transparency on their strategies toward establishing low-carbon economic growth. The funds hope to send a signal that will impact the international financial system. Altogether, they are worth $3 trillion. Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest of its kind, is worth $1 trillion alone.