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Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Shale powers US oil output to heights of 1970

Shale powers US oil output to heights of 1970:

"US oil production has returned to its record high point, 47 years after the previous peak during the final days of the last Texas oil boom, as the shale revolution that was temporarily set back by low crude prices has reignited.

The government’s Energy Information Administration estimated on Wednesday that US output was running at just under 10.04m barrels per day last November, fractionally below the previous record set in November 1970.

Soaring output from shale wells has put the US on course to overtake Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the world’s largest crude producer, shaking up oil markets and the geopolitics of energy."



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Saudi Arabia’s corruption crackdown risks scaring off investors

Saudi Arabia’s corruption crackdown risks scaring off investors:

"Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince and de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, electrified his country, the Middle East and the world some two years ago when he unveiled his “Vision 2030”. The aim was to transform the kingdom from a state-dominated economy almost wholly dependent on oil, to an innovative and private investment-driven powerhouse. The biggest Arab economy would come of age, along with its people, currently trapped between the medieval puritanism of the Wahhabi clerical establishment and the cradle-to-grave welfare patronage of the ruling House of Saud — which is no longer affordable anyway, given the collapse in oil prices.

The young crown prince, known colloquially as MbS, electrified once more in November with his astonishing purge of princes and financiers, ministers and tycoons, broadcasters and potentates. This was a round-up of the richest and most powerful in what was and is advertised as a blow against corruption so decisive as to change the culture of a kingdom almost inured to kickbacks, cosy contracts and sleaze.

Hundreds of detainees (exact figures are hard to come by in this bizarre affair) were held in the gilded cage of the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh. Now, most seem to have cut deals with the authorities to cough up assets in return for their freedom. Some 95 are holding out, and are supposedly to be put on trial. As the Saudi attorney-general, Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb, put it: “The royal order was clear. Those who express remorse and agree to settle will have any criminal proceedings against them dropped.”"



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Qatar makes foray into Mexican oil, wins 4 blocks

Qatar makes foray into Mexican oil, wins 4 blocks:

"Qatar Petroleum, the world’s largest producer of liquefied natural gas, scored big wins in Mexico’s latest deep-water oil tenders, scooping four fields in partnership with Anglo Dutch major Shell. Mexico is auctioning a total of 29 deep-water fields on Wednesday – nine in the Perdido Fold in the north of the Gulf of Mexico, and 10 each in the Cordilleras Mexicanas and Salina basins. Pre-qualified companies include all the oil majors and China’s Cnooc – which won two blocks in the last deep-water tender just over a year ago. State-owned QP has as one of its strategic objectives “to become one of the leading national oil corporations in the world”. Qatar is a member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or Opec. While it has been looking at Brazil, this is believed to be its first investment in Latin America."



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Why GCC states should ditch the dollar peg and switch to a currency basket   - The National

Why GCC states should ditch the dollar peg and switch to a currency basket   - The National:

"The US Fed will be normalising monetary policy in 2018, reversing the loose, unconventional policies it has pursued since the onset of the financial crisis 10 years ago. This means rising interest rates and monetary tightening. The UAE and other GCC countries (with the exception of Kuwait), whose currencies are pegged to the US dollar, will therefore have to follow suit and raise domestic interest rates, their monetary policy driven by the Fed’s actions rather than their own needs. Higher interest rates mean the cost of borrowing (on debt, loans, credit facilities and so on) for government, businesses, households and consumers will become more expensive. Tighter monetary conditions will also result in lower spending and investment. This will dampen economic activity and growth prospects in the UAE, and elsewhere around the region, exacerbating the negative effects of fiscal austerity, recently imposed taxes (VAT and excise duties), geopolitical risks and uncertainty."



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Commercial Bank seeks to benefit from Qatar's Turkish ties - The Peninsula Qatar

Commercial Bank seeks to benefit from Qatar's Turkish ties - The Peninsula Qatar:

"Commercial Bank, Qatar's third largest bank by assets, is deploying more capital and focusing more on Turkey to benefit from closer political ties, its chief executive said. Ankara has emerged as a strong ally of Qatar after Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt announced a blockade of Doha in June 2017. And Qatari lenders have sought to diversify funding sources since the siege began right months ago."



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Qatar c.bank's reserves, liquidity rise in December

Qatar c.bank's reserves, liquidity rise in December:

"The Qatar central bank’s international reserves and foreign currency liquidity rose slightly in December, official data showed on Wednesday, as capital outflows caused by sanctions imposed by other Arab states eased.

The reserves and liquidity, a measure of the central bank’s ability to support the riyal currency, increased to $37.6 billion last month from $36.9 billion in November. "



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Gulf gov'ts to continue tapping global debt markets this year, analysts say | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Gulf gov'ts to continue tapping global debt markets this year, analysts say | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"The amount of bonds and sukuk issued in the Gulf region hit a record high of over $70 billion last year, fuelled by sovereign governments, who raised 70 percent of the total, according to a new study. The figure represented a $10 billion (16.7 percent) increase on the amount of debt raised on capital markets in the previous year, report co-authors Fisch Asset Management (Fisch) confirmed to Zawya by email on Tuesday. The GCC Fixed Income Market: Then and Now, a white paper published by Fisch/Emirates NBD Asset Management on Monday, stated that 2017 represented the second year where sovereign governments had embarked on aggressive external debt issuance programmes as they seek to fill budget deficits caused by lower oil revenues."



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For Saudi tycoons freed from detention, cheers and a business challenge

For Saudi tycoons freed from detention, cheers and a business challenge:

"Cheering supporters greeted Saudi Arabian billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal when he arrived at his skyscraper offices in Riyadh after his release from detention in an anti-corruption crackdown.

But he and other tycoons freed from a luxury hotel in the Saudi capital face a challenge to get back into the swing of running their financial empires in the uncertainty hanging over the business community since their detention in early November.

 Their ability to do so could impact Saudi Arabia’s attempts to lure investors to big projects, an important part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s grand vision to transform the kingdom and reduce its dependence on oil."



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Dubai developer Nakheel's Q4 profit up 58 pct

Dubai developer Nakheel's Q4 profit up 58 pct:

"Dubai developer Nakheel reported a 58 percent increase in fourth-quarter net profit on Wednesday. The developer behind Dubai’s palm-shaped islands made a net profit of 1.67 billion dirham ($454.8 million) in the October-December period, up from 1.06 billion dirham in the same year ago period. Annual net profit grew 14 percent to 5.67 billion dirham, according to a company statement."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Cement shares lift Saudi, other big markets fall

MIDEAST STOCKS-Cement shares lift Saudi, other big markets fall:

"Cement shares lifted Saudi Arabia’s stock index on Wednesday while other big bourses in the region were weak, with real estate shares pulling down Dubai.

The Saudi index rose 0.3 percent as 13 of the 14 cement stocks climbed in unusually heavy trade. Jouf Cement was up 5.4 percent and Tabuk Cement jumped its 10 percent daily limit.

The sector reported weak 2017 earnings because of a slumping construction industry, but some investors expect a stronger 2018 as the government boosts spending under its budget plans."



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Majid Al Futtaim 2017 earnings rise 1% with change in business mix - The National

Majid Al Futtaim 2017 earnings rise 1% with change in business mix - The National:

"Majid Al Futtaim, the UAE-based conglomerate whose business interests include owning and operating shopping malls and developing residential communities, said its annual earnings grew 1 per cent in 2017, as a result of performance changes in the business mix across its portfolio and the currency devaluation in Egypt. “The slower Ebitda (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization) growth predominantly resulted from a change in business mix across the portfolio, with food grocery retail growing at a faster rate than the higher margin properties businesses,” the company said on Wednesday. Ebitda for the privately held company, reached Dh4.2 billion up from Dh4.1bn a year earlier. Revenue grew 8 per cent to Dh32.2bn from Dh29.9bn. At constant FX rates, group revenue would have grown by 14 per cent and Ebitda by 5 per cent, the firm added. The Egyptian pound has lost nearly half of its value since the currency was devalued in November 2016."



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Biggest OPEC Producer Deals Blow to Tiny Rival in Top Market - Bloomberg

Biggest OPEC Producer Deals Blow to Tiny Rival in Top Market - Bloomberg:

"Tiny OPEC producer Qatar is paying the price for top member Saudi Arabia’s oil strategy in Asia.

Oil exports from Qatar, one of OPEC’s smaller crude producers, to Japan last year slumped by almost a quarter to its lowest level since 1990, while shipments from giant supplier Saudi Arabia grew 8.1 percent, boosting its market share in the Asian nation to a record. Over in South Korea, imports from Qatar sank 26 percent to the least in seven years."



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Qatar's Commercial Bank expects 7-9 pct loan growth in 2018

Qatar's Commercial Bank expects 7-9 pct loan growth in 2018:

"Qatar’s Commercial Bank expects loan growth of 7 to 9 percent in 2018, in line with the market, the bank’s group chief executive said on Wednesday.

Tighter liquidity and higher funding costs will mean margins for the bank are under pressure, Joseph Abraham told reporters."



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UAE's ADNOC to expand partnerships with Chinese energy, technology and chemical companies | ZAWYA MENA Edition

UAE's ADNOC to expand partnerships with Chinese energy, technology and chemical companies | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Dr. Sultan bin Ahmad Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State and ADNOC Group CEO, has held a series of meetings with government and corporate leaders in Beijing, focused on strengthening the strategic relationship between the UAE and China and deepening the partnerships between ADNOC and China’s energy, chemical and technology sector. Dr. Al Jaber met today with Wang Yi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China and Ning Ji Zhe, and Vice Chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, NDRC, to discuss business and economic relations between the UAE and China, including growing cooperation between the two countries in the technology, energy, chemical, investment and commercial sectors. China is the UAE’s largest trading partner, with bilateral trade growing 800 fold in the three decades since formal relations were established to top US$50 billion per annum. He highlighted the significant progress made in developing the close ties between the UAE and China and expressed the keen interest of the UAE leadership to further enhance those relationships."



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Oil Pares Strongest January Since 2013 on U.S. Supply Outlook - Bloomberg

Oil Pares Strongest January Since 2013 on U.S. Supply Outlook - Bloomberg:

"Oil slipped for a third day in New York, continuing its retreat from a three-year high, on estimates that U.S. crude stockpiles increased last week.

West Texas Intermediate futures fell 0.5 percent, bringing their monthly advance to 6.2 percent. Data from the U.S. Energy Department is forecast to show that inventories probably rose by 900,000 barrels to 412.5 million, according to a Bloomberg survey.

“Strong U.S. crude supply growth and deteriorating inventory dynamics” could “trigger a sentiment shift and unsettle the record speculative length in the oil market,” said Giovanni Staunovo, an analyst at UBS Group AG in Zurich."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf weak in early trade, real estate pulls down Dubai

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf weak in early trade, real estate pulls down Dubai:

"Gulf stock markets were mostly weak in early trade on Wednesday with real estate shares pulling down Dubai and petrochemicals weighing on Saudi Arabia. The Dubai index was 1.0 percent lower as blue chip Emaar Properties sank 2.2 percent; Union Properties , Deyaar and DAMAC also slid. Dubai Islamic Bank, which had tumbled 4.6 percent on Tuesday after announcing plans for a new share issue, fell a further 1.4 percent."



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Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Emirates NBD shares soar on talks to acquire Turkish DenizBank - The National

Emirates NBD shares soar on talks to acquire Turkish DenizBank - The National:

"Shares in Emirates NBD soared to a two-year high yesterday, after it confirmed it was in talks to acquire a majority stake in Turkish lender DenizBank from Sberbank of Russia. "Discussions are at a very preliminary stage and there is no certainty that any transaction will be entered into," Emirates NBD, Dubai's biggest bank by assets, said in a statement on Tuesday. "Emirates NBD routinely evaluates potential opportunities in different markets. A further announcement will only be made if there is a material development." "



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Governor says UAE will keep dirham tied to US dollar | GulfNews.com

Governor says UAE will keep dirham tied to US dollar | GulfNews.com:

"UAE Government will keep the dirham tied to the US dollar, Mubarak Rashid Al Mansouri, the Central Bank Governor, told the Federal National Council yesterday.

“The UAE dirham is pegged to the US dollar because oil exports are traded in US dollars, which makes the dirham peg to greenback convenient for oil transactions, and helps stabilise the UAE economy,” Al Mansouri said.
Al Mansouri told the House through the peg, the UAE benefits from the US’s financial stability and staves off vulnerability to exchange rate fluctuations."



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UAE's Emaar to distribute $1bln as special dividends | ZAWYA MENA Edition

UAE's Emaar to distribute $1bln as special dividends | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Leading UAE developer Emaar Properties said it has won approval from the company board to distribute Dh4 billion ($1.08 billion) as special dividends (Dh0.56 per share) to its shareholders. The dividends will be paid in two parts with the first tranche of Dh3 billion ($816 million), representing 42 per cent of the capital set for distribution this month, while the second Dh1 billion tranche will be given during the annual general meeting in April, said the top developer in its statement to Dubai Financial Market. "The board considered the funding and cash requirements of the company in light of ongoing development of large projects and approved the proposal to distribute a special dividend of Dh4 billion," the statement added. "



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US, Qatar reach agreement on subsidy spat with airlines

US, Qatar reach agreement on subsidy spat with airlines:

"The United States and Qatar on Tuesday inked a deal to resolve a years-old quarrel over alleged airline subsidies, as Qatar’s government works to defuse tensions with the Trump administration.

A formal announcement came Tuesday, as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis hosted the inaugural round of the U.S.-Qatar strategic dialogue. Agreements, on security and counter-terrorism cooperation and combatting human trafficking, were also signed.

“Qatar is a strong partner and long-time friend of the United States,” Tillerson said, welcoming the agreements. Tuesday’s meeting follows harsh criticism of Qatar from President Donald Trump. He denounced the country last year for allegedly funding terrorism amid a row between the country and other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, who have imposed a land, sea and air blockade on it."



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Saudis Reap $107 Billion in Graft Pacts as 56 Remain Held - Bloomberg

Saudis Reap $107 Billion in Graft Pacts as 56 Remain Held - Bloomberg:

"Saudi authorities have reached agreements to recover more than 400 billion riyal

s ($107 billion) from people held under a controversial corruption investigation but refused to settle with 56 suspects who remain in custody.

The payments are a combination of “various types of assets, including real estate, commercial entities, securities, cash and other assets,” Attorney General Sheikh Saud Al Mojeb said in a statement released by the government’s Center for International Communication.

Some individuals were released due to lack of evidence. A total of 381 people were subpoenaed for questioning either as suspects or to provide evidence. Authorities refused to settle with 56 people “due to other pending criminal cases, in order to continue the investigations process,” according to the statement."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi rises as government winds down graft purge, region mostly weak

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi rises as government winds down graft purge, region mostly weak:

"Saudi Arabian stocks rose on Tuesday as the government indicated it was winding down its crackdown on corruption, while most other major Middle Eastern bourses were weak. The Saudi stock index closed 0.8 percent higher on active volumes after the government’s announcement in late trade. The statement said 56 people were now detained in the purge, down from well over 100 at one stage, and that authorities had reached their target of securing $100 billion of financial settlements from suspects. It is not clear that the government will get any quick infusion of cash: most of the settlements involve real estate or other illiquid assets."



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Saudi Aramco indecision shrouds world’s biggest IPO in uncertainty

Saudi Aramco indecision shrouds world’s biggest IPO in uncertainty:

"Indecision at the highest levels of government about Saudi Aramco’s planned IPO is causing frustration among company executives and financial advisers, shrouding what has been billed as the biggest stock market sale in uncertainty. Saudi Arabia has said it wants to sell 5 per cent of Saudi Aramco — the world’s largest oil producer — as part of major economic reforms driven by crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, who believes the company is worth as much as $2tn. The kingdom is targeting a listing in late 2018, with shares to be sold on the domestic Tadawul exchange. But Saudi Arabia’s preparedness for this flotation and willingness for a simultaneous or sequential flotation abroad has come into question."



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Doha Bank unveils aggressive Asian expansion plans - The Peninsula Qatar

Doha Bank unveils aggressive Asian expansion plans - The Peninsula Qatar:

"Doha Bank, one of Qatar’s largest private commercial banks, has unveiled its aggressive expansion plans in fast-growing Asian economies.

After opening its branches in India, the bank is planning to expand its footprint to Nepal, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.

Doha Bank already has two fully functional branches in Indian cities- Mumbai and Kochi."



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No. 2 OPEC Producer Loosens Oil Shackles for Premium Prices - Bloomberg

No. 2 OPEC Producer Loosens Oil Shackles for Premium Prices - Bloomberg:

"OPEC’s second-biggest producer is relinquishing some control over its prized oil in exchange for better prices.

In a rare move, Iraq is allowing buyers to load its crude without saying where the cargo will finally end up. They will only have to let the Middle East producer know about the destination two weeks after the shipment’s bill of lading, under the terms by which 4 million barrels of its March supply was sold via auctions this month.

That enables buyers to take a decision at the time of loading on the best location for a cargo, based on several factors such as comparative pricing and whether a particular region is short of supply. The strategy presents some advantages for Iraq as well: The two shipments loading in March sold at auction on the Dubai Mercantile Exchange fetched a premium to the oil’s official selling price. Basrah Light crude for March was sold at more than 40 cents per barrel over its official price, compared with a February lot that traded under more rigid terms at a discount."



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Qatar's Commercial Bank reports Q4 profit jump, beating two forecasts

Qatar's Commercial Bank reports Q4 profit jump, beating two forecasts:

"Commercial Bank, Qatar’s third-largest lender by assets, reported a large increase in fourth-quarter net profit on Monday, according to Reuters’ calculations, beating two analysts’ forecasts.

The bank earned a net profit of 345 million riyals ($94.8 million) in the three months to Dec. 31, Reuters calculated based on annual financial statements in the absence of a quarterly breakdown. That compares with a profit of 1.4 million riyals in the same period a year earlier.

SICO Bahrain had forecast the bank would make a quarterly profit of 101.3 million riyals, while QNB Financial Services had estimated a quarterly profit of 160.2 million riyals."



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Saudi Sipchem Mulls U.S. Shale Venture in First Foreign Foray - Bloomberg

Saudi Sipchem Mulls U.S. Shale Venture in First Foreign Foray - Bloomberg:

"Saudi International Petrochemical Co. is considering investing in the U.S. shale industry in what would be the company’s first foreign venture as it faces higher costs and a shortage of feedstock at home in Saudi Arabia.

Sipchem, as the business is known, may seek a U.S. partner in its effort to tap into the booming shale industry, though Chief Executive Officer Ahmad Al Ohali said in a Bloomberg television interview that he foresees risks in such an expansion.

“It’s not going to be easy because we don’t know the business landscape in the U.S., but definitely we are targeting hopefully to do something this year,” Al Ohali said. Sipchem would initially use cash to pay for the project instead of borrowing money, he said."



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Saudi closes hotel detention center as corruption purge winds down

Saudi closes hotel detention center as corruption purge winds down:

"Saudi Arabian authorities have released all remaining detainees from Riyadh’s opulent Ritz-Carlton Hotel, which had been used as an interrogation center in a crackdown on corruption, a Saudi official said on Tuesday.

The news signaled that the three-month-old purge, in which dozens of top officials and businessmen were detained by investigators who said they aimed to seize some $100 billion of illicit assets, was drawing to a close.

“There are no longer any detainees left at the Ritz-Carlton,” the official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity under briefing rules."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Dubai Islamic Bank pulls down Dubai, rest of Gulf moves little

MIDEAST STOCKS-Dubai Islamic Bank pulls down Dubai, rest of Gulf moves little:

"Dubai Islamic Bank pulled down the emirate’s stock index in early trade on Tuesday after it announced a new share issue, while other Gulf bourses moved little. The Dubai index slipped 1.0 percent as Dubai Islamic fell 4.1 percent. Its board called an annual general meeting for Feb. 21 to approve a proposed capital increase via issuance of up to 1.65 billion new shares; the bank currently has 4.9 billion outstanding shares. Bahrain’s Ithmaar Holding, which listed in Dubai on Monday, shot up its 15 percent daily limit to 0.87 dirham in heavy trade. Its Bahrain-listed shares surged 7.7 percent to 21.0 U.S. cents, equivalent to 0.77 dirham."



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Monday, 29 January 2018

Saudi Arabia investment authority streamlines business licensing process | Arab News

Saudi Arabia investment authority streamlines business licensing process | Arab News:

"The time it takes to process a business license in Saudi Arabia has been slashed by more than 92 percent in the hope that it will encourage further investment in the Kingdom. Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) has reduced the processing time from about 53 hours to four hours according to a statement released by the authority. The shortening of the processing time has been achieved following three initiatives undertaken by the agency, which oversees investment affairs in the Kingdom."



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Foreign funds lift Qatar shares; capitalisation hits QR516bn

Foreign funds lift Qatar shares; capitalisation hits QR516bn:

"Foreign funds’ bullish outlook on Monday steered the Qatar Stock Exchange back onto the positive trajectory as capitalisation touched QR516bn. Mainly led by transport, realty and banking equities, the 20-stock Qatar Index gained 0.41% to 9,450.07 points. Gulf as well as domestic institutions’ weakened net selling also helped the market, which is up 10.87% year-to-date."



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Sberbank Is Said to Hold Talks to Sell Denizbank to UAE Lender - Bloomberg

Sberbank Is Said to Hold Talks to Sell Denizbank to UAE Lender - Bloomberg:

"Sberbank PJSC has held talks with possible investors for its wholly owned Turkish unit as Russia’s biggest lender considers a sale, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Moscow-based Sberbank held discussions with possible investors, including Dubai’s Emirates NBD PJSC, and other Gulf-based lenders, some of the people said, asking not to be identified as the talks are private. Discussions are at any early stage and may not result in a deal, they said. Sberbank, which has been under U.S. and European Union sanctions since 2014, bought Dexia SA’s Turkish unit Denizbank for about $3.5 billion in 2012. Denizbank was Turkey’s ninth-largest lender by assets at the end of September, according to country’s banking association."



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Saudi's Ibrahim to keep control of regional broadcaster MBC | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Saudi's Ibrahim to keep control of regional broadcaster MBC | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Saudi Arabia's Waleed al-Ibrahim will keep management control of regional television broadcaster MBC following his release from detention in a corruption probe, a senior MBC executive told Reuters on Monday.

The executive, speaking on condition of anonymity under briefing rules, said Ibrahim's 40 percent stake in MBC would not change and that he was found innocent of any wrongdoing in the probe.

Ibrahim, who at the weekend was released along with at least half a dozen other prominent Saudi businessmen detained in the probe, reiterated his allegiance to Saudi Arabia and the ruling family, the executive said. "



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First Abu Dhabi Bank's 2017 profit crimped by merger costs | ZAWYA MENA Edition

First Abu Dhabi Bank's 2017 profit crimped by merger costs | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), the largest bank in the United Arab Emirates, on Monday reported a 3.5 percent profit fall in 2017, citing costs linked to its recent merger.

FAB, the combination of National Bank of Abu Dhabi and First Gulf Bank, said its full-year net profit was 10.92 billion dirhams ($3 billion) compared to 11.32 billion dirhams in 2016.

Excluding integration costs and other merger-related expenses of around 601 million dirhams, adjusted net profit for the year was 11.52 billion dirhams while fourth-quarter profit was up 6 percent from the same period of last year, FAB said. "



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Region mixed, Saudi's Kingdom continues rebound after Alwaleed release

MIDEAST STOCKS-Region mixed, Saudi's Kingdom continues rebound after Alwaleed release:

"Middle Eastern stock markets were mixed on Monday with Saudi Arabia’s index rising as global investment firm Kingdom Holding continued rebounding after its owner Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was released from custody.

The Saudi index gained 0.4 percent as Kingdom added 2.4 percent to 10.28 riyals - the level where it was trading before Prince Alwaleed was detained in a corruption probe that saw scores of businessmen detained last November.

Daily volume in the stock was the heaviest since February 2016. On Sunday, the first day after Prince Alwaleed’s release, it rocketed 10 percent."



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Qatar could issue $10bn worth bonds in 2018 - The Peninsula Qatar

Qatar could issue $10bn worth bonds in 2018 - The Peninsula Qatar:

"An estimated $72bn of the net sovereign issuance is expected to come from the Middle East and Africa this year, of which $44bn should be primarily from four GCC countries- Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait. Qatar is expected to issue bonds/sukuks worth $10bn, Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofAML) said yesterday. BofML expects external debt supply of sovereign and corporate debt to increase slightly in aggregate in 2018. It forecasts overall sovereign gross debt issuance to decrease to $178bn, as sovereigns are turning more to local markets for funding."



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Oil dips as North American output soars; overall market remains strong

Oil dips as North American output soars; overall market remains strong:

"Oil prices dipped on Monday as soaring North American production was seen undermining efforts led by OPEC and Russia to tighten supplies.

Despite this, traders said overall market conditions remained strong due to the production cuts and healthy demand-growth.

Brent crude futures held above $70 per barrel, but were down by 19 cents from their last close at $70.34 a barrel at 0749 GMT."



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What's Next for Saudi's Elite After Leaving Ritz? - Bloomberg

What's Next for Saudi's Elite After Leaving Ritz? - Bloomberg:

"Even before Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and other billionaires were released after almost three months in detention, Saudi officials had already pronounced their controversial anti-corruption crackdown a resounding success. Authorities were on track to recover more than $100 billion in settlement deals in exchange for dropping all charges against dozens of the country’s rich and famous, a senior official said last week. Yet as detainees leave their luxury prison at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh, questions linger. Was this a crackdown, a power grab, or a shakedown to help an economy strained by low oil prices? Is it the end of anti-corruption efforts in the largest Arab economy?

1. How many people have been released?

Attorney General Sheikh Saud Al Mojeb said in a rare Jan. 21 interview that about 90 people were released after agreeing to pay back ill-gotten money. A senior government official predicted the purge would wind down before the end of the month, with a few more agreements expected. Over the weekend, Prince Alwaleed and other top businessmen including retail billionaire Fawaz Al Hokair were let go. Also freed were Khalid al-Tuwaijri, head of the royal court under the late King Abdullah, and Prince Turki bin Nasser, who was involved in a massive arms sale that led to corruption probes in the U.K. and the U.S., one of the government officials said. "



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Qatar Agrees to Transparency to Resolve U.S. Airline Dispute - Bloomberg

Qatar Agrees to Transparency to Resolve U.S. Airline Dispute - Bloomberg:

"Qatar Airways will commit to greater financial transparency and to not run any indirect flights to the U.S. through other countries as part of an agreement with the Trump administration addressing U.S. carriers’ accusations that their Gulf competitors get unfair government help. Airlines are hailing the agreement as a victory, if not a complete one, in one of the biggest trade disputes in U.S. history. They’ve estimated that Qatar gave $17 billion or more to Qatar Airways over a 10-year period. “This would be a landmark milestone for the American airline industry that will protect our workers and ensure that our foreign competitors play by the rules and do not undermine our international agreements,” said Peter Carter, chief legal officer of Delta Air Lines. “We all support the administration as it holds their feet to the fire to ensure they live up to their commitments.”"



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi edges up as Kingdom continues rebound, rest of Gulf sluggish

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi edges up as Kingdom continues rebound, rest of Gulf sluggish:

"Saudi Arabia’s stock market rose in early trade on Monday as investment firm Kingdom Holding continued rebounding after its owner Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was released from custody, while other Gulf markets were sluggish.

The Saudi index gained 0.5 percent in the first hour as Kingdom added 4.8 percent to 10.52 riyals in heavy volumes, rising above the 10.28 riyal level where it traded before Prince Alwaleed was detained in a corruption probe last November.

During Prince Alwaleed’s detention, the Saudi stock index rose over 8 percent. Nevertheless, Kingdom’s rebound was seen as a vote of confidence in the company. Saudi officials said the prince would keep control of Kingdom after his release."



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Sunday, 28 January 2018

Saudi crackdown draws to a close leaving battered image

Saudi crackdown draws to a close leaving battered image:

"Shares in Kingdom Holding Company soared on Sunday after Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, its billionaire owner, returned to his palace in Riyadh almost three months since his arrest and detention over corruption allegations. Investor optimism swiftly lifted shares in Prince Alwaleed’s investment vehicle, by 10 per cent, the daily upper limit. But insiders warned that the future for KHC, alongside the businesses of other magnates released over the weekend from the Ritz-Carlton hotel in the Saudi capital, remains far from clear. No detail has been provided on any settlements that may have been reached."



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Qatar, Oman sign MoU for economic cooperation - The Peninsula Qatar

Qatar, Oman sign MoU for economic cooperation - The Peninsula Qatar:

"Qatar and Oman have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on food production, marketing, joint investment and export of Omani products to Qatar. This took place during the official talks held between the two countries in Muscat. A press release by the Ministry of Municipality and Environment said Sunday that the talks was chaired from the Qatari side by the Minister of Municipality and Environment H E Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Rumaihi and from the Omani side by the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Dr Fuad bin Jaafar Al Sagwani. The session focused on agriculture, livestock and fisheries sectors and ways to develop them.  The Minister of Municipality and Environment stressed that the strategic relations between the two countries are at the highest level and built on clear basis, pointing out that the signing of the memorandum of understanding was within the framework of strengthening the existing cooperation between the two countries in areas of common interest."



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Commercial Bank of Qatar in talks about potential loan -sources

Commercial Bank of Qatar in talks about potential loan -sources:

"Commercial Bank of Qatar (CBQ), the Gulf state’s third-largest lender by assets, is in talks with banks about a syndicated loan of up to $500 million, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. Raising money through a loan was one option open to the bank, which was also considering bonds as part of its normal funding pattern, one of the sources said. Qatari banks have been looking to diversify their funding sources since June last year when Qatar became locked in a dispute with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain. The rift involved the latter four cutting diplomatic and transport ties with Doha and led to banks from those countries pulling funds out of Qatar."



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Iranian Lawmakers Reject Framework of Rouhani's Next Budget - Bloomberg

Iranian Lawmakers Reject Framework of Rouhani's Next Budget - Bloomberg:

"Iranian lawmakers rejected the outline of a budget proposed by President Hassan Rouhani, which was to include another round of unpopular subsidy cuts for the next fiscal year.

The budget framework was defeated Sunday by a vote of 120 to 83, with nine abstentions, state-run Mehr news agency reported. It did not report the objections, though it said some legislators cited a lack of attention to teachers’ living conditions.

Rouhani, who submitted the draft budget to parliament in November, had planned to reduce energy subsidies and strip cash handouts from millions who had received them after an earlier round of subsidy cuts. With protests against economic conditions erupting in several cities and towns in late December, such changes are now particularly sensitive."



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Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank Q4 net profit up 7 pct

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank Q4 net profit up 7 pct:

"Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank posted a 7 percent rise in fourth-quarter net profit on Sunday, bolstered by a rise in net interest and Islamic financing income. The emirate’s second-largest bank by assets made a net profit attributable to shareholders of 1.07 billion dirhams ($291.3 million) in the three months to Dec.31, compared to 1.0 billion dirhams in the fourth quarter of the previous year, according to its financial statement. SICO Bahrain and EFG Hermes forecast a fourth quarter profit of 942.5 million dirhams and 1.17 billion dirhams, respectively."



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Saudi corruption purge winds down but scars will linger

Saudi corruption purge winds down but scars will linger:

"Saudi Arabia’s stock market celebrated the release of some of the kingdom’s top businessmen from detention on Sunday but the after-effects of a purge of the business elite may last for years, deterring private investment.

Billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, head of global investment firm Kingdom Holding 4280.SE, was among at least half a dozen tycoons freed at the weekend after over two months of confinement in Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

Their release signaled a massive anti-corruption drive, in which authorities detained over 200 people and said they aimed to seize $100 billion of illicit assets, was drawing to a close. The Ritz-Carlton is to reopen to the public in mid-February."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi's Kingdom soars on Alwaleed release, earnings hit SABIC

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi's Kingdom soars on Alwaleed release, earnings hit SABIC:

"Shares in Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Holding soared on Sunday after owner Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was released from detention, but top petrochemical producer Saudi Basic Industries fell on weak fourth-quarter earnings.

Because of heavily weighted SABIC, the Saudi stock index rose only 0.2 percent, but rising stocks outnumbered losers by 109 to 67.

The release of Prince Alwaleed and at least several other senior Saudi businessmen at the weekend, after they were detained for over two months in a corruption probe, was seen as positive for their companies - and also for the market as a whole, by suggesting the probe, which sent shockwaves through political and business circles, was winding down."



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GCC banks improve profits on lower costs and provisions | GulfNews.com

GCC banks improve profits on lower costs and provisions | GulfNews.com:

"The full-year earnings of GCC banks point to improved profits, lower costs and substantial reduction in cost of risks positively impacting their profitability. Positive endowment effect [the effect of higher interest rates on net interest margins (NIMs) as interest-generating assets are larger than interest-bearing liabilities] has also improved the bottomlines of many banks and is expected to continue into 2018 as most GCC countries are expected adjust interest rates in tandem with the Fed rates. In 2017, endowment effects were modest across the region with negative impact in Saudi Arabia. Analysts expect the impact from higher interest rates on margins to improve next year."



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Future of Saudi economy about policy, not prices says S&P chief | Arab News

Future of Saudi economy about policy, not prices says S&P chief | Arab News:

"Saudi Arabia’s prospects depend more on government reforms becoming “irreversible” than the price of oil, said Moritz Kraemer, global chief rating officer for S&P in an interview with Arab News. He said: “If oil went to $100 per barrel again there would be a risk of undermining the reform momentum — and helping those campaigning to maintain the previous status quo. “We don’t think the oil price will determine the fate of the country. The policies that are chosen will determine future economic stability,” said Kraemer."



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Qatar’s trade surplus jumps by 39.1% - The Peninsula Qatar

Qatar’s trade surplus jumps by 39.1% - The Peninsula Qatar:

"Despite the ongoing unjust siege against Qatar, the country’s international trade and trade surplus have registered a remarkable double-digit growth in December 2017, both on yearly basis as well as well as month-on-month. The sharp increase in trade surplus was attributed to higher exports value of petroleum gases and other hydrocarbons products.

In December 2017, the foreign merchandise trade balance, which represents the difference between total exports and imports, showing a surplus of QR14.9bn, an increase of about QR4.2bn, or 39.1 percent, compared to the corresponding month previous year (2016). When compared on monthly basis, the trade surplus has increased by nearly QR 2.1bn, or 16.1 percent, compared to November 2017.

The total value of exports of goods, including exports of goods of domestic origin and re-exports, in December 2017 reached at QR25.9bn, showing a sharp increase of 34.5 percent, compared to the same month in 2016."



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Saudi Remains Investment Hub After Crackdown, Investcorp Says - Bloomberg

Saudi Remains Investment Hub After Crackdown, Investcorp Says - Bloomberg:

"Saudi Arabia remains an attractive destination for investors despite a sudden crackdown on corruption that led to concerns about transparency, according to a top executive at asset-management firm Investcorp Bank BSC.

“Saudi Arabia is still a big market in terms of fundraising and investing,” Hazem Ben-Gacem, head of the Bahrain-based firm’s European private equity business, said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos. “Our businesses in the Gulf continue to thrive.”

The firm, which aims to double its assets under management to $50 billion in five years, is betting on investors’ fears being put to rest as the kingdom winds down the anti-corruption drive that led to dozens of princes and billionaires being detained in Riyadh starting in November. Saudi Arabia freed Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and several of the nation’s most prominent businessmen from detention this weekend, clearing the Ritz-Carlton hotel that served as their jail."



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Are We There Yet, OPEC? Oil Policy Needs a Destination: Gadfly - Bloomberg

Are We There Yet, OPEC? Oil Policy Needs a Destination: Gadfly - Bloomberg:

"Are we there yet?

We've learned two things on the oil policy of OPEC and friends from meetings in Muscat, Oman and Davos. They don't know the destination, but they know they haven't got there.

Since the group started their output cuts in January last year, it gradually emerged that they had a goal of returning inventories to a five-year average level. But this benchmark has never been precisely defined. What inventories? Where? Measured in what units? Against which five-year baseline? None of these questions has yet been addressed."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi's Kingdom soars on Alwaleed release, earnings hit SABIC

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi's Kingdom soars on Alwaleed release, earnings hit SABIC:

"Shares in Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Holding soared in early trade on Sunday after owner Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was released from detention, but top petrochemical producer Saudi Basic Industries fell on weak fourth-quarter earnings.

The Saudi stock index was flat after an hour but rising stocks outnumbered losers in a ratio of about two to one.

The release of Prince Alwaleed and at least several other senior Saudi businessmen at the weekend, after they were detained for over two months in a corruption probe, was seen as positive for their companies - and also for the market as a whole, by suggesting the probe, which sent shockwaves through political and business circles, was winding down."



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Saturday, 27 January 2018

Qatar Stock Exchange (QSE) index Weekly Market Report

Weekly Market Report:

"The Qatar Stock Exchange (QSE) index gained 259.51 points, or 2.8%, during the trading week to close at 9,459.61. Market capitalisation increased by 1.9% to QR514.4bn versus QR504.7bn at the end of the previous trading week. Of the 45 listed companies, 26 ended the week higher, while 16 declined and three remained unchanged. Gulf International Services Co (GISS) was the best performing stock for the week with a gain of 10.4% on 1.1mn shares traded. On the other hand, Islamic Holding Group (IHGS) was the worst performing stock for the week with a decline of 16.0% on 428.2k shares traded. Barwa Real Estate Co (BRES), Industries Qatar (IQCD) and Qatar Electricity & Water Co (QEWS) were the primary contributors to the weekly index gains. BRES was the biggest contributor to the index’s weekly increase, adding 50.7 points to the index. IQCD was the second biggest contributor to the mentioned gains, adding 43.3 points to the index. Moreover, QEWS added 27.8 points to the index. However, Qatari Investors Group (QIGD) shed 15.3 points off the index. Trading value during the week decreased by 2.6% to reach QR1.51bn versus QR1.55bn in the prior week. The banks and financial services sector led the trading value during the week, accounting for 45.2% of the total trading value. The consumer goods and services sector was the second biggest contributor to the overall trading value, accounting for 16.3% of the total trading value. QNB Group (QNBK) was the top value traded stock during the week with total traded value of QR151.2mn."



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UAE leads charge in Middle East M&A rally during Q4 | ZAWYA MENA Edition

UAE leads charge in Middle East M&A rally during Q4 | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"With the UAE dominating both inbound and outbound mergers and acquisition deals by volume, the Middle East region recorded a rally in M&A activities in the last quarter of 2017 reflecting the sustained investor appetite, the latest report by global law firm Baker McKenzie reveals. While the overall global deal volumes rose slightly by three per cent and posted flat growth in terms of value in 2017, the Middle East activity rallied in the fourth quarter, with deal volumes rising by eight per cent and aggregate value up by 21 per cent at $6.6 billion compared to the previous quarter, the report said. Eighty per cent of all Middle East M&A activity was cross-border in nature in the fourth quarter and the UAE once again drove both inbound and outbound M&A in the region. "Despite overall M&A deal activity in the Middle East decreasing in both value and volume in 2017, the rally witnessed in the last quarter of the year was very positive," said Omar Momany, head of corporate/M&A at UAE-based Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla."



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UPDATE 1-Jordan's Arab Bank group says 2017 net profit unchanged at $533 mln

UPDATE 1-Jordan's Arab Bank group says 2017 net profit unchanged at $533 mln:

"Jordan’s largest lender, Arab Bank Group, said on Saturday its 2017 net profit came to $533 million, barely changed from $532.7 million with revenues coming mainly from core banking activities.

The bank, one of the Middle East’s major financial institutions, said in a statement that operational profits rose 12 percent, without factoring exchange-rate fluctuations.

Total loans rose 6 percent to $25.1 billion while deposits rose slightly to $33.8 billion at the end of last year compared with $33.6 billion in the same period the previous year."



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Saudi Frees Billionaires Including Alwaleed as Ritz Jail Empties - Bloomberg

Saudi Frees Billionaires Including Alwaleed as Ritz Jail Empties - Bloomberg:

"Saudi Arabia freed Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and several of the kingdom’s most prominent businessmen from detention this weekend, clearing out the Ritz-Carlton hotel that served as a jail for the country’s elite during a controversial crackdown on corruption.

Prince Alwaleed, the billionaire chairman of Riyadh’s Kingdom Holding Co. who owns stakes in Citigroup Inc. and Twitter Inc., returned home on Saturday after reaching a settlement with authorities, a senior government official said on condition of anonymity. He will remain at the helm of his company, the official said, declining to provide the other terms of the deal. Waleed al-Ibrahim, head of a major media firm, and retail billionaire Fawaz Al Hokair were also freed after agreeing to deals, another government official said."



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Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal released: family sources

Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal released: family sources:

"Saudi Arabian billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has been released from detention, family sources said on Saturday, more than two months after he was taken into custody in the kingdom’s sweeping crackdown on corruption.

His release came hours after he told Reuters in an exclusive interview at the opulent Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh that he expected to be cleared of any wrongdoing and be released from custody within days.

 Family sources said Prince Alwaleed was released on Saturday.

"



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Prominent businessmen reach settlements in Saudi corruption probe - source

Prominent businessmen reach settlements in Saudi corruption probe - source:

"Several prominent businessmen have reached financial settlements with Saudi Arabian authorities in the kingdom’s sweeping crackdown on corruption, an official source told Reuters on Friday.

They include Waleed al-Ibrahim, owner of regional television network MBC; Fawaz Alhokair, a major shareholder in fashion retailer Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair Co; Khalid al-Tuwaijri, a former chief of the Royal Court; and Turki bin Nasser, a former head of the country’s meteorology and environmental protection agency, the source said.

The source, speaking on condition of anonymity under briefing rules, did not reveal the terms of the settlements. The men could not immediately be reached for comment, and it was not clear what allegations they had faced."



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Exclusive: HSBC side-steps high-profile Qatar deals in Gulf gauntlet

Exclusive: HSBC side-steps high-profile Qatar deals in Gulf gauntlet:

"A boycott of Qatar by its neighbors has prompted HSBC (HSBA.L) to turn down a leading role on Doha’s new dollar bond as the bank treads a political tightrope in the Gulf, four banking sources familiar with the decision told Reuters.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt in June cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar, which they accuse of backing terrorism. The move initially hit Qatar’s growth but by the end of 2017 its economy had largely recovered.

The Qatari government, which denies the allegations, is now planning its first international bond since the crisis began and has approached banks in recent weeks to arrange the deal. "



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Exclusive - Detained Saudi billionaire Alwaleed says he expects to be released in days

Exclusive - Detained Saudi billionaire Alwaleed says he expects to be released in days:

"Saudi Arabian billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, detained in the kingdom’s sweeping crackdown on corruption, said on Saturday that he expected to be cleared of any wrongdoing and be released from custody within days.

Prince Alwaleed was speaking in an exclusive interview with Reuters at his suite in Riyadh’s opulent Ritz-Carlton hotel, where he has been held for over two months along with dozens of other suspects.

The prince, one of the nation’s most prominent tycoons, said he was continuing to maintain his innocence of any corruption in talks with authorities. He said he expected to keep full control of his global investment firm Kingdom Holding without being required to give up assets to the government. "



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Friday, 26 January 2018

A lasting oil alliance

A lasting oil alliance:

"The Group of 20 summit of September 2016 at Hangzhou in China, a quick 45-minute ride by high-speed rail from Shanghai, was marked at the time by world leaders’ hand-wringing over the future of globalisation. With the benefit of hindsight, it is clear that the most significant0 event at the summit was a meeting on the sidelines between Khalid al-Falih, energy minister of Saudi Arabia, and Alexander Novak, his Russian counterpart. After that encounter, the two men issued a joint statement saying they had agreed to to “act jointly or with other producers” to stabilise world oil markets. They did not commit to any immediate action, but the meeting planted the seed of a new alliance that bore fruit at the end of the year, in the deal to cut oil output agreed by Opec and leading non-Opec producers. The Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee, intended to supervise compliance with that agreement, met in Muscat last weekend. Mr Falih and Mr Novak took the chance to attest to the continuing warmth of their relationship by giving a joint interview to Bloomberg, in which they looked forward to a long-term alliance beyond the scheduled end of the oil production curbs in December. Mr Falih said he wanted to formalise a framework for keeping contacts between Opec and non-Opec oil producers, to find a way “to get together quickly and not wait [for] a year of negotiations and deliberations” if they are worried about falling oil prices in the future. Mr Novak agreed that the world’s two largest oil producers had to work together, and said: “We assume that co-operation between our countries is long-term.” Speaking on CNBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos later in the week, Mr Falih waxed lyrical, saying he expected the oil alliance with Russia to last for “decades and generations”. In a panel session at the same event, he said oil producers “should not be scared” about the renewed growth of the US shale industry, adding: “In the overall global supply demand picture, it’s not going to wreck the train”. Bolstered by Mr Falih’s comments at the weekend, and by the weaker dollar, oil prices rose, with Brent crude breaking above $71 a barrel for the first time in three years."



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Top Saudi broadcaster caught up in Riyadh’s corruption shakedown

Top Saudi broadcaster caught up in Riyadh’s corruption shakedown:

"Saudi Arabian authorities plan to take control of the Middle East’s largest media company as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s extraordinary anti-corruption crackdown.

Officials have ordered Waleed bin Ibrahim al-Ibrahim, the founder of the Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC), to hand over his controlling stake in the company to secure his release, according to people briefed on the matter.

His case illustrates how the crackdown, lauded by many Saudis as an overdue attack on corruption, appears in part to be a shakedown of coveted assets and is leading to the nationalisation of private sector powerhouses. It also hints at a desire by Prince Mohammed to tighten the government’s grip on the media as he pushes ahead with ambitious reform plans and an increasingly assertive foreign policy."



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Oil boosted by dollar weakness, but headwinds loom

Oil boosted by dollar weakness, but headwinds loom:

"The oil rally paused for breath on Friday after hitting fresh three-year highs in the previous session, but weakness in the dollar continued to underpin prices.

Brent crude futures stood at $70.49 per barrel at 1047 GMT, 7 cents above their last close. On Thursday, the contract climbed to as high as $71.28 per barrel, its highest since 2014.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $65.66 a barrel, up 15 cents from their previous close, recovering from a session-low of $64.91 a barrel. On Thursday, they also reached their highest since December 2014, at $66.66 per barrel."



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Thursday, 25 January 2018

Big banks head to Riyadh from Davos for Saudi Aramco ‘beauty parade’ | Arab News

Big banks head to Riyadh from Davos for Saudi Aramco ‘beauty parade’ | Arab News:

"Some of the world’s leading investment bankers will go direct from Davos to Riyadh to take part in a “beauty parade” in front of Saudi Aramco officials to pitch for lucrative roles in the oil company’s planned initial public offering (IPO) later this year. One banking chief, speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Switzerland, said that he and fellow executives were preparing to travel to the Kingdom early next week for a round of presentations in response to “request for proposal” invitations from Aramco. Some of the biggest banks in the world are believed to be making the trip. In addition to HSBC, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley, all of whom have already been working to advise the Saudis on the IPO, American banks Goldman Sachs and Citibank are believed to be pitching for the next phase of the process. The German giant Deutsche Bank is also believed to be involved in the presentations."



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Saudi bank merger outlook to be clear by end-Q1 -central bank chief

Saudi bank merger outlook to be clear by end-Q1 -central bank chief:

"The outlook for a proposed merger of Saudi British Bank (SABB) and Alawwal Bank will become clear by the end of the first quarter of 2018, Saudi central bank governor, Ahmed al-Kholifey, told Al Arabiya television on Thursday. SABB, 40 percent owned by HSBC Holdings, and Alawwal, 40 percent owned by Royal Bank of Scotland, said in April that they had agreed to start merger talks, but progress has been slow. Kholifey had told Al Arabiya in October the outlook for the merger would be clear by the end of 2017, but on Thursday, he said the banks needed more time to finalise their discussions."



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Within Days, Saudis Wobble on Timing of Aramco IPO and OPEC Cuts - Bloomberg

Within Days, Saudis Wobble on Timing of Aramco IPO and OPEC Cuts - Bloomberg:

"Saudi Arabia has insisted there’s no connection between plans to sell part of its state oil giant and an OPEC strategy that supports crude prices. But within days, it’s hesitated on the time-frame for both.

On Jan. 21, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih indicated it could be next year before OPEC and its allies can clear a supply glut. This could force the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to extend its production curbs, he told reporters in Oman’s capital Muscat, as global oil markets might not rebalance as anticipated in 2018.

Three days later, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Al-Falih said oil behemoth Aramco’s initial public offering will take place “when the time is right.” While he hoped that right time will still be this year, it’s a change from previous assurances that one of the most anticipated IPOs will proceed later in 2018.

"



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Oil buoys Gulf markets, Qatar and Saudi lead

MIDEAST STOCKS-Oil buoys Gulf markets, Qatar and Saudi lead:

"Stock markets in the Gulf gained on Thursday, supported by the rise in Brent oil to a three-year high above $70 a barrel, as Qatar continued a strong rally and the top Saudi Arabian petrochemical producer climbed after acquisition news.

Qatar’s main index rose 1.1 percent, gaining for a fourth straight day. Corporate earnings have suggested that damage to the economy from an embargo imposed by other Arab states has been less serious than feared, and the index is now within 5 percent of its pre-embargo level last June.

Mesaieed Petrochemical surged 5.5 percent and drilling rig provider Gulf International Services gained 3.2 percent in active trade. Both firms’ revenues could benefit from higher oil prices."



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Aramco IPO to make global impact, say regional money managers - The National

Aramco IPO to make global impact, say regional money managers - The National:

"Money managers in the Middle East are confident the stake sale of government-owned Saudi Arabian Oil Co, known as Aramco, this year will shake up the global stock market with a record initial public offering that gives the world’s biggest company a valuation of about $1.5 trillion. “People focus on Aramco as being the key thing,” said Salman Bajwa, chief executive officer of Dubai-based Emirates NBD Asset Management, which has $4.8 billion of assets. “In our eyes, it is just one of the several major changes taking place. We have landmark reforms going in the social, economic and markets space. The Aramco IPO will be the confirmation that one phase of structural reforms in the markets space has been successfully completed” because “there are going to be other IPOs, many of state-owned entities,” Mr Baja said. The market capitalisation of Aramco will be almost twice that of Apple, four times bigger than Exxon Mobil and at least one-fifth of the $5.8tn MSCI Emerging Markets Index, the benchmark for emerging markets, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. At the same time, Saudi Arabia plans to create the largest sovereign wealth fund and sell hundreds of state assets, including stakes in the stock exchange, football clubs and flour mills. Aramco is ready for its IPO in the second half, the chief executive officer Amin Nasser said last week."



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Saudi Arabia foreign reserves to rise for third straight month, central bank chief reveals | Arab News

Saudi Arabia foreign reserves to rise for third straight month, central bank chief reveals | Arab News:

"The Kingdom’s foreign reserves are set to rise for the third straight month when the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) issues its regular monthly update on Sunday. The impending increase in reserves for the month of December was revealed by Ahmed Al- Kholifey, governor of SAMA — the Kingdom’s central bank — on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos. “Monthly reserves will be inching up again. It is a good thing, showing there is great momentum in Saudi Arabia’s economy,” he said at an event organized by the Bahrain Economic Development Board."



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QIIB’s 2017 net profit rises 6% to QR832mn

QIIB’s 2017 net profit rises 6% to QR832mn:

"Achieving “remarkable” growth across various items provided in its budget, leading Islamic bank QIIB posted a net profit of QR832mn in 2017, up 6% on 2016.
The bank’s total assets increased to QR46.6bn by end-2017, which represents a growth of 9.6% compared to 2016. 
The results were announced after a meeting of the QIIB board of directors presided over by QIIB vice-chairman Sheikh Abdullah bin Thani bin Abdullah al-Thani here yesterday."



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Qatar Passes First Test in LNG Expansion. Now Partners Can Join - Bloomberg

Qatar Passes First Test in LNG Expansion. Now Partners Can Join - Bloomberg:

"Qatar managed to keep liquefied natural gas exports flowing last year even under a Saudi-led embargo, passing its first test in its plans to expand LNG production. Now the world’s biggest LNG exporter gets to pick who its partners will be. Qatar ended 2017 with LNG exports slightly above its 77 million ton annual capacity, mirroring levels recorded in previous years, according to ship-broker Poten & Partners Inc.’s data compiled by Bloomberg. The result bodes well for state-run Qatar Petroleum’s plan to increase output by 30 percent to 100 million tons in five to seven years."



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Aramco's 2018 IPO Schedule Is Wavering - Bloomberg

Aramco's 2018 IPO Schedule Is Wavering - Bloomberg:

"Saudi Arabia’s oil minister said the initial public offering of oil giant Aramco will take place “when the time is right,” revealing the first crack in the kingdom’s earlier plan to debut the company this year.

“We hope that 2018 will be the right time, but ultimately we have to make sure the market is ready,” Khalid Al-Falih said the World Economic Forum in Davos.

His comments indicate a possible shift from Riyadh’s long-standing assurances that the IPO was “on track and on time” for the second half of 2018. Al-Falih declined to answer questions about whether the IPO could be postponed to 2019."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi, Qatar edge up early on, UAE moves sideways | ZAWYA MENA Edition

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi, Qatar edge up early on, UAE moves sideways | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Stock markets in Saudi Arabia and Qatar edged up in early trade on Thursday, with the top Saudi petrochemical producer climbing after acquisition news, while United Arab Emirates bourses moved sideways. The Saudi index was 0.2 percent higher after an hour with Saudi Basic Industries Corp adding 1.6 percent to its highest level since early 2015. It agreed to acquire a 24.99 percent stake in Swiss specialty chemicals maker Clariant AG, becoming the Swiss company's largest shareholder. SABIC did not say how much it paid, but the 24.99 percent stake is worth $2.4 billion based on its market capitalisation.  "



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Saudi's SABIC buys 24.99% stake in Swiss chemicals maker Clariant | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Saudi's SABIC buys 24.99% stake in Swiss chemicals maker Clariant | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) has agreed to acquire a 24.99 percent stake in Swiss specialty chemicals maker Clariant AG , SABIC said on Thursday, becoming the Swiss company's largest shareholder. SABIC did not say how much it paid for the deal, but Clariant's 24.99 percent stake is worth $2.4 billion based on its market capitalisation. SABIC bought the stake from Corvex hedge fund and New York's 40 North. Clariant AG recently abandoned merger plans with Huntsman . "



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Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Saudi regulator asked to study local market impact of Aramco IPO

Saudi regulator asked to study local market impact of Aramco IPO:

"An advisory council to Saudi Arabia’s government has asked the securities regulator to study the impact of listing Saudi Aramco on the local bourse amid concern that a huge initial public offer could damage the market.

The Shura Council’s fiscal committee has also requested the Capital Market Authority (CMA) makes sure the stock market’s liquidity would not become concentrated in the giant oil company alone, state news agency SPA reported late on Tuesday.

The government has said it plans to sell about 5 percent of Aramco, hoping to raise some $100 billion or more in what would likely be the world’s biggest initial public offer (IPO). The sale is expected in the second half of 2018. "



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Saudi corruption sweep to move to trial with 95 detained

Saudi corruption sweep to move to trial with 95 detained:

"Saudi authorities are still holding 95 people in a purported anti-corruption campaign that was launched nearly three months ago by the kingdom’s influential crown prince, Saudi press quoting the attorney general reported on Wednesday. A Saudi infographic shared on social media said that detainees who have not agreed on financial settlements to close their case will soon be referred to the Public Prosecution for trial. Billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is reportedly among those still being held since early November when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the stunning arrests of top princes, businessmen and officials. The prince is chairman of the publicly traded Kingdom Holding, which has investments in twitter, Apple, Citigroup, and the Four Seasons hotel chain. He is also an investor in ride-sharing services Lyft and Careem."



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Aramco seeks to expand in U.S., says Trump is pro-oil

Aramco seeks to expand in U.S., says Trump is pro-oil:

"Saudi oil giant Aramco is looking to expand in the United States where President Donald Trump’s tax cuts and support for the oil industry are making business increasingly attractive, its chief executive told Reuters. Aramco already controls a large refinery in Texas. It is also preparing to launch what could be the world’s largest initial public offer (IPO) and is considering listing its shares in New York among several possible exchanges. “We are looking at new business opportunities in the U.S. and with the tax cuts it will make it much more profitable ... It is part of our strategy to grow our business in the U.S.,” Amin Nasser said in an interview."



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Aramco CEO Says Post-IPO Tax Burden Will Link to Oil Prices - Bloomberg

Aramco CEO Says Post-IPO Tax Burden Will Link to Oil Prices - Bloomberg:

"Saudi Aramco’s chief executive said the most important tax paid by the state-owned energy giant will fluctuate with the price of oil, a significant move ahead of the company’s initial public offering this year.

Adjusting the 20 percent royalty on oil revenue Aramco currently pays would help the kingdom to raise extra money if prices climb. While not unusual in commodities industries, the move may not prove popular with potential investors. It would protect them from downturns, but also reduce their gains at times of rising prices.

The Aramco IPO would be one of the biggest events on financial markets this year, so any change affecting the deal is of significant interest to global investors. Saudi officials said they hope to raise a record $100 billion, valuing the company at more than $2 trillion and dwarfing the $25 billion raised by Chinese Internet retailer Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in 2014."



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Saudi corruption cash settlements will help finance royal handouts- finance minister | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Saudi corruption cash settlements will help finance royal handouts- finance minister | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Cash settlements obtained from people detained in Saudi Arabia's crackdown on corruption will help to finance a 50 billion riyal ($13.3 billion) package to help citizens cope with the rising cost of living, Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan said on Wednesday. The package was announced by King Salman early this month, said Jadaan, speaking to Al Arabiya television at the World Economic forum in Davos. He said the package would also be financed by money from the state budget. "



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UAE's Etihad Airways grounds 5 cargo planes, pilots asked to take unpaid leave | ZAWYA MENA Edition

UAE's Etihad Airways grounds 5 cargo planes, pilots asked to take unpaid leave | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Etihad Airways has grounded its five Airbus freighters, and is asking its pilots to take unpaid leave as it continues to rethink its strategy, the airline and sources told Reuters on Wednesday.

The state-owned Gulf carrier has been reviewing its business since 2016 after billions of dollars spent buying stakes in other airlines failed to deliver substantial returns. This contributed to a $1.87 billion loss in 2016, its first loss since 2010.

Etihad confirmed to Reuters it has grounded its Airbus freighter fleet, five A330 Freighters, and that it had opted to operate an all-Boeing 777 Freighter fleet. It declined to comment on whether it had offered pilots unpaid leave. "



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Earnings boost Qatar in sluggish region

MIDEAST STOCKS-Earnings boost Qatar in sluggish region:

"Corporate earnings and dividend news boosted Qatar’s stock market on Wednesday by suggesting the economy is coping with the impact of an embargo imposed by other Arab states. Other Gulf markets were sluggish. Qatar’s stock index rose 1.1 percent in heavy trade, leaving it within 6 percent of its close just before the embargo was imposed last June. Late last year, the embargo pushed the index more than 20 percent lower. Foreign investors from outside the Gulf were active players in the market on Wednesday, accounting for about 27 percent of buying and about the same proportion of selling, exchange data showed."



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Oil prices ease as US crude inventories rise unexpectedly | Arab News

Oil prices ease as US crude inventories rise unexpectedly | Arab News:

"Oil prices slipped on Wednesday, under pressure from a rise in US crude and gasoline inventories although crude remained near three-year highs. Brent futures eased 24 cents to $69.72 a barrel at 0930 GMT, after climbing above $70 this month for first time since 2014. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were unchanged at $64.47 a barrel. The American Petroleum Institute said on Tuesday crude inventories rose by 4.8 million barrels in the latest week, compared with expectations for a decline of 1.6 million barrels. Gasoline inventories also rose."



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Doha Bank’s 2017 net profit rises to QR1.11bn

Doha Bank’s 2017 net profit rises to QR1.11bn:

"Doha Bank has posted a net profit of QR1.11bn in 2017, up 5.3% on QR1.05bn in the previous year. Doha Bank’s board of directors at their meeting in Doha yesterday recommended to the ordinary general assembly to distribute 30% of the paid up capital as cash dividend to shareholders for 2017. This translates into QR3 per share. Doha Bank chairman Sheikh Fahad bin Mohamed bin Jabor al-Thani said the bank has achieved noticeable growth rates in many financial indicators. "



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Tunisia to sell bonds worth $1bln in the second half of March | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Tunisia to sell bonds worth $1bln in the second half of March | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Tunisia's parliament on Tuesday approved a plan by the central bank to sell bonds worth $1 billion to help finance the 2018 budget, the state news agency said. The finance ministry directed the central bank after the approval by parliament's financial committee to issue the bonds in the second half of March, the agency said. The North African country previously said it needed $3 billion ($14.7 billion) in loans next year to finance its budget of 36 billion dinar in 2018. "



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Qatar Economy Can Survive `Forever' Under Embargo, Minister Says - Bloomberg

Qatar Economy Can Survive `Forever' Under Embargo, Minister Says - Bloomberg:

"Qatar’s economy performed better than expected last year and required “minimal” government support to blunt the effects of a trade and diplomatic embargo by Saudi Arabia and three other Arab countries, a minister said. There are no signs of a resolution to the crisis, Sheikh Ahmed Bin Jassim Bin Mohammed Al Thani, Qatar’s minister of economy and commerce, told Bloomberg TV in an interview in Davos. Government support for the economy was needed only in the first few weeks, focusing mostly on logistics to reroute imports, he said. “We opened new routes, we opened new markets, and we are trading with the whole world. The world is not only these four countries,” Sheikh Ahmed said. “From an economic point of view we can live forever without those countries.”"



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Qatar sees stampede for gas projects to help beat crisis

Qatar sees stampede for gas projects to help beat crisis:

"U.S. and European oil majors are piling in with offers to help Qatar develop new gas projects, the country’s energy minister said, despite a protracted crisis in the Gulf region and pressure on firms to chose between Qatar and its neighbors. Mohammed al-Sada told Reuters Doha had seen unprecedented interest from majors as Qatar seeks to expand its gas capacity to 100 million tonnes a year from the current 77 million to cement its position as the world’s largest exporter. “Both U.S. and EU majors have shown great interest. We did expect this, but they surprised us on the upside by the degree of keenness,” said al-Sada, when asked whether firms had expressed concerns about potential pressure from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) not to cooperate with Qatar. "



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Annual earnings boost Qatar, rest of Gulf sluggish | ZAWYA MENA Edition

MIDEAST STOCKS-Annual earnings boost Qatar, rest of Gulf sluggish | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Corporate earnings and dividend news boosted Qatar's stock market early on Wednesday by suggesting the economy is generally coping well with the impact of an embargo imposed by other Arab states, while other Gulf bourses were sluggish.

Qatar's stock index rose 0.9 percent in heavy trade as Doha Bank gained 4.1 percent, rising above its July peak to its highest level since March.

The company reported 6 percent growth in annual net profit, an acceleration from 3 percent growth in the first nine months, and kept its annual dividend unchanged, suggesting that with aid from the government, it has withstood withdrawals of deposits and loans triggered by the embargo. "



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Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Saudi-Russian oil alliance will last for ‘decades and generations’ - al Falih

Saudi-Russian oil alliance will last for ‘decades and generations’ - al Falih:

"Saudi Arabia’s oil alliance with Russia will last for “decades and generations”, the kingdom’s energy minister said, adding that while the crude market was close to rebalancing, more work was needed. Some of the world’s biggest oil producers - including Opec kingpin Saudi Arabia and allies outside of the cartel such as Russia - joined forces in 2017 to curb supplies to reduce excess stockpiles and bolster prices. Khalid al Falih stressed the need to maintain longterm cooperation with Russia, telling television network CNBC, it was essential to “preserve our longterm interests.”"



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Biggest US state fund to invest in Middle East via Abu Dhabi-based fund - The National

Biggest US state fund to invest in Middle East via Abu Dhabi-based fund - The National:

"The Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation (APFC), a wealth fund for the oil-rich state that has US$65 billion of assets under management, will be an anchor investor in a Middle East, Africa and South Asia (Measa)-focused fund that will be managed by US-based McKinley Capital. The fund will be based in Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) through a joint venture between the Abu Dhabi family office Al Maskari Holding and McKinley Capital, a quant asset manager that oversees more than $6bn, according to Peter Lejre, an adviser to Al Maskari Holding. Mr Lejre, who will be the senior executive of the joint investment platform, named McKinley Management Middle East, said the fund is expected to be launched in the next month or two. "



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Qatar shares extend rally to surpass 9,250 mark

Qatar shares extend rally to surpass 9,250 mark:

"Robust buying interests of domestic institutions on Tuesday placed the Qatar Stock Exchange above 9,250 levels. The industrials, realty and transport counters witnessed higher than average demand, which led the 20-stock Qatar Index to gain 0.47% to 9,254.61 points. The local bourse is up 8.58% year-to-date."



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Qatar sees oil market balancing in third quarter of 2018

Qatar sees oil market balancing in third quarter of 2018:

"Oil markets should reach balance after several years of supply glut some time in the third quarter of 2018, Qatari Energy Minister Mohammed al-Sada told Reuters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Al-Sada said the majority of the surplus has been taken away by the market but he still sees excellent opportunities for OPEC and non-OPEC members to continue cooperation beyond 2018.

He said that oil producers could also target the flow of investments into the sector."



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