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Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Barwa forecasts soft landing for Qatar real estate market - The Peninsula Qatar

Barwa forecasts soft landing for Qatar real estate market - The Peninsula Qatar:

"Qatar’s real estate market is heading to a ‘soft landing’ before taking a turnaround in post 2020, Barwa Real Estate Group CEO Salman bin Mohammed Al Mohannadi (pictured) has said. Speaking to The Peninsula here yesterday, Al Mohannadi said Barwa is forecasting a soft landing going forward. The market has been witnessing a scenario for long where the rents were far beyond reasonable. As a realistic market player, Barwa wants to play the role of a moderator in the market, he said. Al Mohannadi said the Barwa has no intention to increase rents in short term. “All of us know that that at certain point, the real estate market will face two scenarios. Either it will have to crash or will have a soft landing. In a ‘market moderator’ role we are trying to orchestrate a scenario of soft landing rather than a crash”, the Group CEO said."



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PE firm Abraaj suspends fundraising for $6 bln new fund-sources

PE firm Abraaj suspends fundraising for $6 bln new fund-sources:

"Dubai-based private equity firm Abraaj has suspended fundraising for a new $6 billion fund, sources familiar with the matter said, as the firm began a review of its business following a dispute with some of its investors in a healthcare fund.

The fund had its first close of about $3 billion last year, but has paused fresh fundraising during a recent review of the structure of the business, they said.

The shakeup also saw the firm’s founder, Arif Naqvi, step down as chief executive, handing the running of the fund, Abraaj Investment Management Ltd, to the two co-chief executives."



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Hedge funds continue to exit oil but OPEC stems rout: Kemp

Hedge funds continue to exit oil but OPEC stems rout: Kemp:

"Hedge funds continued to take profits on their bullish positions in crude and especially refined fuels in the most recently reported week but supportive comments from OPEC helped steady oil prices.

Hedge funds and other money managers cut their combined net long position in the six most important futures and options contracts linked to petroleum by the equivalent of 48 million barrels in the week to Feb. 20.

The hedge funds’ net long position has been cut in each of the four most recent weeks by a total of 263 million barrels, in what has been the largest drawdown for more than seven months."



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Shale Surge Sent U.S. Oil Production to Record High in November - Bloomberg

Shale Surge Sent U.S. Oil Production to Record High in November - Bloomberg:

"U.S. oil production reached a record high in November as the shale boom puts the nation among the world’s biggest suppliers and upends global markets.


Once the world’s largest importer of crude, the U.S. is passing Saudi Arabia and closing in on Russia to become the world’s largest producer. Oil prices above $60 a barrel have lured companies to ramp up production. Oil and gas exploration last year was a money-maker for the first time in more than a decade, according to Wood Mackenzie Ltd. As a result, drillers in the U.S. are using the most oil rigs since 2015."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Region slips, Qatar hit hardest as shares go ex-dividend

MIDEAST STOCKS-Region slips, Qatar hit hardest as shares go ex-dividend:

"Major Middle Eastern stock markets fell on Wednesday in response to weak global equity and oil prices, with Qatar particularly hard hit by several shares going ex-dividend and a brokerage’s decision not to pay an annual dividend. The Qatari index plunged 3.1 percent - its biggest drop since other Arab states imposed sanctions on Qatar last June - in its heaviest trade for a month. Barwa Real Estate sank 8.7 percent, Islamic bank Masraf Al Rayan lost 6.8 percent and Al Khaliji Bank slipped 6.7 percent as all three stocks went ex-dividend."



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HKEX exec says maintaining active dialogue with Saudi Aramco on IPO plan | ZAWYA MENA Edition

HKEX exec says maintaining active dialogue with Saudi Aramco on IPO plan | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing (HKEX) is still maintaining an "active" and "good conversation" with Saudi Aramco about its planned massive share sale, the head of HKEX said on Wednesday. At a news conference after announcing its results, Charles Li, however, said HKEX doesn't have visibility about Saudi Aramco's listing plan. The Saudi government says Aramco is worth $2 trillion and aims to list on one or more foreign stock exchanges in addition to Riyadh."



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Qatar’s trade surplus jumps by 52.2% in January - The Peninsula Qatar

Qatar’s trade surplus jumps by 52.2% in January - The Peninsula Qatar:

"Qatar’s trade surplus witnessed a sharp jump year-on-year in January 2018, reflecting upon the fact that Qatar has successfully defused the impact of the ongoing blockade.
 The foreign merchandise trade balance, which represents the difference between total exports and imports, in the first month of this year showed a surplus of QR16.4bn, registering a remarkable increase of about QR 5.6bn, or 52.2 percent, compared to the corresponding month last year (January 2017).
The significant increase in total value of exports was understandably due to rebound in the prices of petroleum and other hydrocarbons products."



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Qatar banking sector stays resilient: Sheikh Hamad

Qatar banking sector stays resilient: Sheikh Hamad:

"The resilience of Qatar’s banking sector was demonstrated by the financial results of the country’s banks including Al Khaliji, said bank chairman Sheikh Hamad bin Faisal bin Thani al-Thani. He was speaking at annual general meeting of Al Khaliji shareholders at Marriot Marquis Hotel yesterday.  Sheikh Hamad said, “2017 was an extraordinary year that witnessed the most serious regional crisis in our modern history that affected all economic sectors, in particular the banking sector. We were however able to successfully withstand this crisis and contain its impact thanks to the unity around our wise leadership, the significant support of the government and the Qatar Central Bank as well as the diligent efforts made by our board and senior management. The success of these efforts is evident in the financial results of the banks including ours, and once again demonstrate the resilience of the banking sector in Qatar”."



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Accor Sees $1.65 Billion Share Buyback After Unit Stake Sale - Bloomberg

Accor Sees $1.65 Billion Share Buyback After Unit Stake Sale - Bloomberg:

"Accor SA plans to buy back as much as 1.35 billion euros ($1.65 billion) of shares over the next two years after the hotel operator agreed to sell a majority stake in its property business. Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, Singapore’s GIC Pte sovereign-wealth fund, Credit Agricole Assurances, Amundi SA, Colony NorthStar Inc. and other investors joined forces to purchase an initial 55 percent stake in AccorInvest, according to a statement Tuesday from the French company. Accor will receive 4.4 billion euros ($5.4 billion) in cash from the deal and plans to pursue regional acquisitions and the buyback. “Investors will now focus on the asset-light growth story of the group, which we view as one of the most interesting in the lodging space,” Raymond James analyst Simon Lechipre said in a note. Lechipre, who has an outperform rating on the stock, said the proceeds from the sale of the property-unit stake are slightly higher than expected."



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Qatar c.bank's international reserves, liquidity edge up in January

Qatar c.bank's international reserves, liquidity edge up in January:

"The Qatar central bank’s international reserves and foreign currency liquidity edged up in January, data showed on Wednesday, after capital outflows caused by sanctions imposed last year by other Arab states eased.

The reserves and liquidity, a measure of the central bank’s ability to support the riyal currency, increased to $37.7 billion last month from $37.6 billion in December. "



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Saudi Arabia Fund Quadruples in Size as Cash Pours In: ETF Watch - Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia Fund Quadruples in Size as Cash Pours In: ETF Watch - Bloomberg:

"Inflows this year have quadrupled the amount of assets in an exchange-traded fund that invests in Saudi Arabian equities, data compiled by Bloomberg show. While the iShares MSCI Saudi Arabia ETF (ticker KSA) may still be relatively small with just under $58 million in assets, buyers have been pouring money into the fund that had about $14 million in assets at the start the year. Speculation about Saudi Arabia’s potential inclusion in the FTSE Russell and MSCI emerging-markets indexes, expectations of an initial public offering from Aramco and rising oil prices are all boosting flows into Saudi equities, according to Andrey Glukhov, a money manager at TCW Group who helps oversee more than $100 million in emerging-market equities."



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Bond Sales in Gulf Are Having the Best Start to a Year on Record - Bloomberg

Bond Sales in Gulf Are Having the Best Start to a Year on Record - Bloomberg:

"Borrowers in the Gulf, where most currencies are pegged to the dollar, are racing to beat an increase in U.S. interest rates. Issuance from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes the two biggest Arab economies of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, climbed to $16.8 billion in the first two months of the year, mostly due to sales by Oman and Qatar National Bank, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s the most since at least 2007, when Bloomberg began collecting data. GCC bond sales will probably range between $70 billion and $90 billion this year, potentially exceeding the record $84.9 billion of issuance in 2017, Andy Cairns, the head of corporate finance at First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC, the U.A.E.’s biggest bank, forecast in December."



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Saudi crown prince says corruption purge supports budget: Washington Post | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Saudi crown prince says corruption purge supports budget: Washington Post | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Saudi Arabia's powerful crown prince said the kingdom's anti-corruption crackdown was needed to meet budget targets, comparing the purge to chemotherapy in an interview with the Washington Post published on Wednesday.

Authorities rounded up dozens of princes, top officials and businessmen in November on Prince Mohammed bin Salman's orders, with many confined and interrogated at Riyadh's glitzy Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

Most detainees, including global investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, were released after being exonerated or reaching financial settlements with the government, which says it arranged to seize more than $100 billion through such deals."



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Saudi's SABIC in talks to join Shell in Iraq's Nebras petchem project | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Saudi's SABIC in talks to join Shell in Iraq's Nebras petchem project | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC), the world's fourth-biggest petrochemicals company, is in talks to become a partner in Iraq's Nebras petrochemical project, an advisor to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Tuesday. Kadhim Mohammed Jawad Hassan told Reuters on the sidelines of CWC's Iraq Petroleum Conference in Berlin that talks between Saudi Arabia and Iraq on the project are advanced and at the ministerial level. He said SABIC would enter as a fourth partner with Royal Dutch Shell, and the Iraqi oil and agriculture ministeries."



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Law firm forecasts bumper market for Gulf IPOs | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Law firm forecasts bumper market for Gulf IPOs | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"The total value of initial public offerings (IPOs) undertaken by Gulf companies listing their shares on regional stock markets could reach record highs this year - even if the anticipated flotation of a stake in oil giant Saudi Aramco doesn't take place, according to a new report by international law firm Hogan Lovells. The firm's 'Investment Outlook 2018: Transaction and deal trends in the GCC' report published on Tuesday argued that the market for IPOs in the Gulf picked up sharply last year following two subsequent years of decline. The 26 entities listed on Gulf exchanges was the second-highest number ever and the $3.7 billion total value of IPOs was the highest since 2007."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Banks still weak in Saudi, ex-dividends drag down Qatar

MIDEAST STOCKS-Banks still weak in Saudi, ex-dividends drag down Qatar:

"Major Gulf stock markets were mostly lower in early trade on Wednesday with Saudi banks dropping for a fourth straight day, partly because of concern about the government’s move to retroactively increase their Islamic tax liabilities.

The Saudi index fell 0.7 percent in the first hour with all 12 banking stocks declining. Al Rajhi Bank slipped 1.3 percent.

But National Industrialisation (Tasnee), which had jumped 9.9 percent on Tuesday after reporting an annual net profit up soared about seven-fold, added a further 4.5 percent and was the market’s most traded stock."



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Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Abu Dhabi looks to privatisations to boost sluggish economy

Abu Dhabi looks to privatisations to boost sluggish economy:

"Abu Dhabi plans to accelerate the privatisation of several state companies and overhaul its national energy company as the oil-rich emirate attempts to revive sluggish growth. Mubadala, one of Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth funds, will sell a stake in Emirates Global Aluminium, one of the United Arab Emirates’ largest companies, through an initial public offering this year. “We believe any time now is the right time,” Khaldoon al-Mubarak, chief executive of Mubadala, told a conference in Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s capital. “This company is an engine, the UAE’s largest exporter outside of oil and gas, and one of our largest employers.”"



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Qatari banks find investor appetite in niche markets

Qatari banks find investor appetite in niche markets:

"Qatari banks are continuing to edge back into the capital markets, with both Qatar National Bank and Commercial Bank of Qatar raising fresh funds on Tuesday.

Banks from the country have tapped niche markets in recent months, refilling coffers in an effort to diversify funding sources amid the embargo imposed on Qatar by other Arab states.

QNB (Aa3/A/A+), the Gulf’s largest bank, has sold nearly US$2.4bn of bonds through private placements this year, and has also raised A$700m (US$563m) in a Kangaroo dual-tranche deal and US$720m through a 30-year note in Taiwan’s Formosa market."



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Saudi central bank chief: can deal with any pressure on dollar peg

Saudi central bank chief: can deal with any pressure on dollar peg:

"Saudi Arabia’s central bank is setting policy in line with the U.S. Federal Reserve’s interest rate policy and has enough tools to deal with any pressure on the riyal’s peg to the dollar, Saudi central bank governor Ahmed al-Kholifey said on Tuesday. Kholifey was responding at a financial industry conference in Abu Dhabi to a question on whether U.S. interest rate hikes expected this year could put pressure on the peg. He also said the Saudi central bank wanted to be ahead of the curve in employing new financial technology, especially in the payments system."



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COLUMN-Hedge funds continue to exit oil but OPEC stems rout: Kemp

COLUMN-Hedge funds continue to exit oil but OPEC stems rout: Kemp:

"Hedge funds continued to take profits on their bullish positions in crude and especially refined fuels in the most recently reported week but supportive comments from OPEC helped steady oil prices.

Hedge funds and other money managers cut their combined net long position in the six most important futures and options contracts linked to petroleum by the equivalent of 48 million barrels in the week to Feb. 20.

The hedge funds’ net long position has been cut in each of the four most recent weeks by a total of 263 million barrels, in what has been the largest drawdown for more than seven months."



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What We Learned From Leading Middle East Central Bank Governors - Bloomberg

What We Learned From Leading Middle East Central Bank Governors - Bloomberg:

"Central bank governors from leading economies in the Middle East and North Africa are attending a conference in Abu Dhabi, commenting on Gulf currency pegs and the art of regulating markets without stifling growth. Here are some of the key comments: Saudi Arabia’s Ahmed Abdulkarim Alkholifey The governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority said the kingdom’s policy makers are under “much less” pressure than a couple of years ago when oil prices were roughly half of what they are now. Hours before Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testifies in his first public comments since taking office, Alkholifey said the Saudi regulator has the tools to deal with any future Fed decision."



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Plans for World's Biggest IPO Attract Attention of U.K. Cabinet - Bloomberg

Plans for World's Biggest IPO Attract Attention of U.K. Cabinet - Bloomberg:

"Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet talked about Saudi Arabian oil giant Aramco’s pending initial public offering, which could be the largest in history, as part of preparations for a trip to London by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. “The visit will usher in a new era of bilateral relations” focused on delivering “wide-ranging benefits,” said James Slack, a spokesman for May. The potential listing for Saudi Arabian Oil Co., the world’s biggest oil exporter, was among the topics that were discussed, he said, without giving further details. Starting March 7, the prince is scheduled to make his first trip to the U.K. since becoming heir to the monarchy. London and New York are among cities vying to host Aramco when it sells shares in Riyadh and potentially a second, yet-to-be-determined location. Saudi Arabia has signaled that it plans to sell about 5 percent of the company to raise a record $100 billion as early as this year in the IPO, a brainchild of the crown prince. The 32-year-old leader’s economic transformation plan will offer new opportunities for investments by British businesses in infrastructure, education, entertainment and health-care, the U.K. government said on Tuesday."



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Arab countries investing $92bln to ensure food security | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Arab countries investing $92bln to ensure food security | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"A massive food deficit in the Arab region could be slashed by more than 60 per cent by 2030, according to an Arab League expert. The region spends $35 billion annually on importing produce due to a lack of homegrown crops and fertile land for grazing livestock. However, Arab countries are investing $92bn to develop their own sources, said Arab Organisation for Agricultural Development director general Professor Ibrahim Ahmed El Dukheri."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf mostly weak but Vodafone Qatar soars on earnings, licence news

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf mostly weak but Vodafone Qatar soars on earnings, licence news:

"Major Gulf stock markets were mostly weak on Tuesday but Vodafone Qatar jumped by its 10 percent daily limit in response to a stream of positive news from the company.

By far the most heavily traded stock in its market, Vodafone Qatar said its nine-month net loss narrowed 32 percent and that its telecommunications licence had been extended by 40 years, which would cut annual amortisation costs sharply.

The company also said it planned to reduce its share capital by roughly half, while Vodafone will sell its stake in the firm to Qatar Foundation, whose direct and indirect stake in Vodafone Qatar will rise to 50 percent from 27.05 percent."



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Fundamentals don’t matter to new breed of oil speculator

Fundamentals don’t matter to new breed of oil speculator:

"Investors have built a billion-barrel bet on higher oil prices. But they are a different breed of bull than years past.  The “net long” position held by fund managers in crude oil futures is a powerful reflection of speculative sentiment. This year, the position has swelled to records of 1bn barrels equivalent across the main oil contracts, helping sustain prices above $60 a barrel.  Who trades oil is changing, however. Investors who bother little with details such as inventories and pipeline flows are replacing dwindling ranks of specialist commodities hedge funds. The shift could alter the way prices are formed. "



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QIC wins MENA Fund Manager Award - The Peninsula Qatar

QIC wins MENA Fund Manager Award - The Peninsula Qatar:

"The QIC GCC Equity Fund won the award for the best GCC fund performance in 2017 for a  fund with over $75m in assets at the annual MENA Fund Manager Award 2018 ceremony held recently in Dubai.  
The Fund posted a return of 7.5 percent in USD terms versus its benchmark performance of 3.3 percent and topped its category’s peer group for the year.
The prestigious annual awards are organised by the MENA Fund Manager magazine and over fifty different funds entered the various competition categories."



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QNB receives two major awards from Euromoney magazine

QNB receives two major awards from Euromoney magazine:

"QNB, which is the largest financial institution in the Middle East and Africa, has received the awards for ‘Best Commercial Banking Capabilities in Qatar’ and ‘Best Networth-specific Services in Qatar’ from Euromoney magazine based on ‘Euromoney Private Banking and Wealth Management 2018’ survey results. The awards were received during the Euromoney Private Banking and Wealth Management survey awards dinner held recently in London, recognising the leading providers of private banking services. The Euromoney Private Banking and Wealth Management survey awards are considered the banking industry’s leading barometer of the world’s best service and product providers to the world’s high-net-worth individuals. "



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Emirates Global Alumunium Profit Climbs Before Possible IPO - Bloomberg

Emirates Global Alumunium Profit Climbs Before Possible IPO - Bloomberg:

"Emirates Global Aluminium, which may sell shares to the public for the first time this year, said 2017 profit surged as it took advantage of higher prices and boosted output to a record. Net income rose to 3.3 billion dirhams ($900 million) from 2.1 billion dirhams in 2016, United Arab Emirates-based EGA said Tuesday in an emailed statement. Revenue climbed 20 percent to 20.5 billion dirhams amid “favorable conditions” in the global aluminum market, it said. Aluminum gained 34 percent in 2017 on the London Metal Exchange, the biggest increase since 2009. EGA’s possible share sale is “subject to market conditions,” Chief Executive Officer Abdulla Kalban said in a phone interview. “The way we see the market today is quite positive,” and the company is “still in the early stage until we announce the IPO,” Chief Financial Officer Danny Dweik said in the same interview. Kalban and Dweik declined to comment on possible listing locations."



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Welcome to Dubai 2.0 - Bloomberg

Welcome to Dubai 2.0 - Bloomberg:

"Building by building, Sarah Al Amiri watched Dubai rise into the sky as she grew up in the city. She’s now a government minister overseeing the next stratospheric leap: a mission to Mars.

Much of the Arab world is mired in violence, poverty and unemployment, and yet in Dubai they’re busy working on sending a probe to the red planet within three years. It’s part of the latest package of eye-catching ambitions that include printing three-dimensional buildings, running the city on blockchain data technology and introducing hoverbikes and driverless drone taxis.

The quest for the next new thing, though, masks an uncomfortable truth as Dubai comes of age: The city has no choice but to reinvent itself again or risk a severe reversal of fortunes. Wealthier neighbors are trying to replicate its effort to move beyond oil, international banks are retrenching and it’s losing some of its allure for foreign workers."



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Gulf GDP forecast to expand at the fastest rate since 2015 | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Gulf GDP forecast to expand at the fastest rate since 2015 | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"2018 marks a turning point for Middle East economies, allowing recovery for both oil exporters and oil importers, ICAEW’s latest report “Economic Insight: Middle East Q1 2018” revealed.

Overall, the Middle East’s GDP is expected to grow 2.9% this year, up from 1.1% in 2017. However, the accountancy and finance body says the political environment remains challenging and continues to pose a downside risk to headline growth.

Middle East Q1 2018, produced by Oxford Economics, ICAEW’s partner and economic forecaster, said the region’s overall economic outlook looks positive this year and in 2019, thanks to the rising oil prices (forecast at $67 per barrel this year), expansionary fiscal policy and relative improvements in the overall security conditions."



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Emirates Global Aluminium hopes to list in 2018, subject to market conditions | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Emirates Global Aluminium hopes to list in 2018, subject to market conditions | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA) hopes to list in 2018, subject to market conditions, a senior executive said on Tuesday, reiterating comments made last October by Abu Dhabi state investor Mubadala, which owns half of EGA. 

"We hope EGA will become a public company in 2018, subject to market conditions," EGA's chief executive Abdulla Kalban told Reuters.

EGA was created in 2013 when state-owned companies Dubai Aluminium and Abu Dhabi's Emirates Aluminium merged. Its enterprise value was put at $15 billion at the time of the merger."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf moves narrowly but Vodafone Qatar soars on earnings, licence news | ZAWYA MENA Edition

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf moves narrowly but Vodafone Qatar soars on earnings, licence news | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Gulf stock markets mostly moved narrowly in early trade on Tuesday although Vodafone Qatar soared in response to a stream of positive news. Vodafone Qatar, by far the most heavily traded stock in its market, jumped 9.1 percent. It announced that its nine-month net loss narrowed 32 percent, and that its telecommunications licence had been extended by 40 years, which would cut annual amortisation costs sharply. In addition, the company plans to reduce its share capital to 4.227 billion riyals from 8.454 billion riyals, while Vodafone will sell its stake in the firm to Qatar Foundation, whose direct and indirect stake in Vodafone Qatar will rise to 50 percent from 27.05 percent."



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Monday, 26 February 2018

Higher oil prices, LNG investments to see Qatar’s growth rising

Higher oil prices, LNG investments to see Qatar’s growth rising:

"Qatar’s growth is set to rise on higher oil prices, eased fiscal constraints and investments in LNG production, QNB has said in its latest ‘Qatar Economic Insight’. The country’s real GDP is expected to rise to 2.5% this year and 3.4% in 2019 before slowing slightly to 3.3% in 2020 as higher oil prices lead to relaxed fiscal constraints and as investment in the long-term expansion of LNG production lifts growth.  In the hydrocarbon sector, the extension of the Opec output cuts agreement in 2018 will keep oil production flat, but Qatar’s hydrocarbon production should pick up thereafter as the Opec curbs are lifted and as new gas production from the Barzan project comes on line in 2020."



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Europeans Dig In Against New Iran Sanctions Risking Nuclear Deal - Bloomberg

Europeans Dig In Against New Iran Sanctions Risking Nuclear Deal - Bloomberg:

"European allies, pressed by President Donald Trump’s administration to impose tough new sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile program, are digging in against moves that would effectively void the 2015 nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic. “There is no problem that you can think of with Iran that would not be to the power of 100 worse if this was a nuclear-armed country,” David O’Sullivan, the European Union’s ambassador to the U.S., said Monday in a meeting with editors and reporters at Bloomberg’s Washington bureau. “So for us, the first thing to do is to make sure this country doesn’t have nuclear weapons. That’s what the deal did and does in our view, and it is working.” Trump vowed in January to back out from what he’s called “the worst deal ever” by May unless its flaws can be resolved. “This is a last chance,” Trump said. U.S. officials have been focusing on talks with their European counterparts on how to restrain Iran’s continuing development of ballistic missiles, which isn’t explicitly barred under its 2015 deal with the U.S. and five other world powers. "



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Saudi Regulator Fines Former Mobily Chairman for Insider Trading - Bloomberg

Saudi Regulator Fines Former Mobily Chairman for Insider Trading - Bloomberg:

"Saudi Arabia’s market regulator fined the former chairman of the kingdom’s second-biggest telecom company for insider trading and ordered his investment firm to pay $75 million.

Abdulaziz bin Saleh bin Abdullah Alsaghyir, who was the chairman of Etihad Etisalat Co., was fined 100,000 riyals ($26.7 million), according to a statement on the Capital Market Authority’s website on Monday. He was also banned from managing portfolios, being an investment adviser and working for any Saudi-listed companies.

Abdulaziz Alsaghyir Business Investment Co., of which Alsaghyir is the founder and chairman, was also ordered to pay 280 million riyals for the avoided losses it avoided on its investment portfolio as a result of the violated trades."



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Saudi Arabia Extends Foreign Investment Licenses to 5 Years - Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia Extends Foreign Investment Licenses to 5 Years - Bloomberg:

"Saudi Arabia extended foreign investment licenses to a renewable period of up to five years from one year, in the latest step to broaden the oil-dependent economy.

Ibrahim Al Suwayel, deputy governor for investors’ services at the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, said the move aimed to bolster the country’s economic changes.

Officials have already seen “a positive effect on new investment, following the recent regulation to reduce the time taken to issue business licenses from two days to just four hours,” he said in a statement."



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Middle East sovereign funds spend more on alternative assets - report | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Middle East sovereign funds spend more on alternative assets - report | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East are directing a greater proportion of their assets away from traditional investments such as equity and bonds and towards alternative assets, following a global trend, according to a new report by PwC. Over a seven-year period to 2016, the amount of funds allocated to alternative assets (including real estate, infrastructure, private equity, hedge funds and commodities) globally by sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) increased by 4 percent to 23 percent  of the $7.4 trillion total assets under management (AuM), said the report which was co-authored with the World Gold Council. PwC's sovereign investment fund director, Tarek Shoukri, told Zawya in an emailed response to questions that according to its analysis, there are 14 active SWFs in the Middle East, with combined assets under management of $2.8 trillion, or 38 percent of the global total held by SWFs. Their investments in alternative assets is currently much smaller than the world’s aggregate, but it is growing."



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Vodafone sells out of Qatari operations for EUR301mln | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Vodafone sells out of Qatari operations for EUR301mln | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Vodafone VOD.L said on Monday it had agreed to sell its 51 percent stake in its Qatari operations to its existing partner, the Qatar Foundation, for a total sum of 301 million euros.

The British company said its brand would remain in Qatar as part of the deal through a partner market agreement. The transaction values Vodafone Qatar at an enterprise value of 1.45 billion euros."



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Shell warns of future LNG supply crunch

Shell warns of future LNG supply crunch:

"Tens of billions of dollars of new investment is needed in liquefied natural gas projects to avoid a supply crunch in the 2020s, Royal Dutch Shell has warned. The global market is still absorbing supplies from a wave of LNG megaprojects built in Australia over recent years, as well as the emergence of the US as a net gas exporter for the first time in more than half a century. But Shell, one of the world’s largest suppliers of LNG, said renewed investment was needed to meet surging demand from China and other developing countries."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-GFH jumps in Dubai, zakat worries weigh on Saudi banks again

MIDEAST STOCKS-GFH jumps in Dubai, zakat worries weigh on Saudi banks again:

"A leap by shares in GFH Financial enlivened an otherwise dull Dubai stock market on Monday, while bank stocks dragged on Saudi Arabia’s index for a second straight day because of concern about their Islamic tax liabilities.

The Dubai index was flat but GFH climbed 6.6 percent and accounted for over a third of market volume after saying Jassim Alseddiqi, chief executive of Abu Dhabi Financial Group (ADFG), had been elected chairman of its board.

The company did not explain the development but it could point to closer cooperation between GFH and ADFG, which owns nearly half of Shuaa Capital, whose shares gained 1.8 percent. GFH and Shuaa held merger discussions last year but the talks were called off in June."



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Winners and losers in the age of energy abundance 

Winners and losers in the age of energy abundance :

"In economic terms, the US has been the clear winner from the dramatic changes in the global energy market over the past decade. Shale gas and tight oil produced from shale rocks have driven up production and reduced the need for imports. Some 1.7m jobs have been created as a result and, along with the reduction in energy costs, that has contributed to steady economic growth since the crash of 2008. Shale developments in the country have helped to produce a fundamental shift in the world market — instead of being scarce, and ever more costly, energy is plentiful and prices have fallen. The only remaining question is whether the shift to an “age of abundance” is changing the global political landscape as well. That is the theme of a new book by Professor Meghan O’Sullivan, who works at the Belfer Center in Harvard. Ms O’Sullivan is an optimist. She sees in “abundance” the chance for significant positive changes in the balance of power around the world, all of which would support the foreign policy objectives of the US government. "



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UAE ranks highest in Middle East for economic prosperity | Arab News

UAE ranks highest in Middle East for economic prosperity | Arab News:

"The UAE has ranked first in the Middle East and 17th globally in terms of economic prosperity and government productivity, according to World Economic Forum’s latest Global Competitiveness Index. The report, which comes out yearly, assesses a country’s government productivity in a specific set of institutions, ranging from infrastructure and innovation to education and markets, based on empirical and theoretical research. “The UAE is in first place in the quality of government decisions, the government’s ability to adapt to changes, the effectiveness of government spending, and the partnership between the public and private sectors, as well as in administrative practices, the digital transformation of companies, and adopting technology,” UAE Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said after reading the report, according to UAE state news agency WAM."



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Bahrain's GFH hopes to develop Saudi business, new chairman says

Bahrain's GFH hopes to develop Saudi business, new chairman says:

"Bahrain-based investment firm GFH Financial hopes in future to develop business in Saudi Arabia, the company’s new chairman told Al Arabiya television on Monday.

Jassim Alseddiqi, who is also chief executive of Abu Dhabi Financial Group, was speaking after he was elected chairman of GFH’s board."



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Apollo's Dubai Partnership for Middle East Deals Is Said to End - Bloomberg

Apollo's Dubai Partnership for Middle East Deals Is Said to End - Bloomberg:

"Apollo Global Management LLC’s partnership with a Dubai-based firm to help make its first investments in the Middle East is winding down, according to people familiar with the matter.

New York-based Apollo is ending its venture with Frontier Management Group, which looked to source regional deals for the U.S. firm, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. As a result, Frontier, which was licensed by the Dubai International Financial Centre in 2015, is being closed down, the people said. The firm’s license is now listed as inactive on the DIFC website.


Apollo, which oversees about $250 billion in private equity, credit and real estate assets globally, had planned to use Frontier to expand in the Middle East but wasn’t successful in finding any regional investments. It bid for a controlling stake in Saudi Arabian supermarket chain Al-Raya For Foodstuff Co. in 2015 after Frontier sourced the deal, people familiar with the matter said at the time. The talks didn’t result in an agreement."



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Dubai to Doha: A Guide to the Mideast Bank Stocks Tipped to Gain - Bloomberg

Dubai to Doha: A Guide to the Mideast Bank Stocks Tipped to Gain - Bloomberg:

"Expectations of higher margins on lending, cross-border deals and potential inclusion in global equity benchmarks are some of the reasons banks are rising to the top of the list for Middle East stock investors and analysts. Even in Qatar, where banks have been battered by liquidity concerns during by the eight-month-long spat with neighbors, some lenders are seen as trading at attractive levels. Their peers in Egypt, meanwhile, stand to benefit from credit expansion as an easing cycle in monetary policy gets underway. “Banks is where we go,” Mohammed Ali Yasin, chief executive officer of FAB Securities LLC, the brokerage arm of the United Arab Emirates’ biggest bank, told Bloomberg Television when asked how he’d put money to work right now. “With the increase in interest rates, and oil prices where they are, they are going to have a lot of ammunition in terms of deposits to lend to the market.”"



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UAE's ADNOC awards Japan's INPEX 10% stake in new oil offshore concession | ZAWYA MENA Edition

UAE's ADNOC awards Japan's INPEX 10% stake in new oil offshore concession | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Abu Dhabi National Oil Co's (ADNOC) signed on Monday a new 40-year agreement with INPEX awarding the Japanese oil company a 10-percent stake in its Lower Zakum concession, a deal set to help the UAE expand its foothold in Asia. Separately, INPEX's stakes in Abu Dhabi's Satah and Umm Al Dalkh concession have been extended for 25 years, ADNOC and INPEX said in statements. The Japanese oil company will maintain its 40 percent stake in Satah concession and increase its Umm Al Dalkh share to 40 percent from 12 percent. INPEX has paid a fee of 2.2 billion dirhams ($600 million) for the Lower Zakum concession, ADNOC said. INPEX has also paid 920 million dirhams to extend its share in the Satah and Umm Al Dalkh concession."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-GFH supports Dubai, banks weigh on Saudi again | ZAWYA MENA Edition

MIDEAST STOCKS-GFH supports Dubai, banks weigh on Saudi again | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"News of board changes at GFH Financial boosted Dubai's stock market early on Monday while bank stocks dragged on Saudi Arabia's index for a second straight day.

The Dubai index was flat but GGFH climbed 4.4 percent after saying Jassim Alseddiqi, chief executive of Abu Dhabi Financial Group (ADFG), had been elected chairman of its board. Under a management restructuring plan, chief financial officer Chandan Gupta is resigning.

The company did not explain the changes but they could point to closer cooperation between GFH and ADFG, which owns nearly half of Shuaa Capital, whose shares gained 1.8 percent. GFH and Shuaa held merger discussions last year but the talks were called off in June."



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Sunday, 25 February 2018

Mena sovereign borrowing to decline by 6% to $181bn - The Peninsula Qatar

Mena sovereign borrowing to decline by 6% to $181bn - The Peninsula Qatar:

"S&P Global believes sovereign borrowing in the Middle East and North Africa could decrease by 6 percent this year after falling 30 percent in 2017. This is chiefly because fiscal consolidation measures in all Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and higher oil prices will likely reduce GCC sovereigns’ funding needs, the ratings agency noted in its latest report. S&P expects that about 40 percent of Mena sovereigns’ $181m of gross borrowing this year will go toward refinancing maturing long-term debt, resulting in an estimated net borrowing requirement of $108bn. Adding amounts owed to bi- and multilateral institutions, total debt will reach about $860bn, a year-on-year increase of $13bn, or 2 percent. However, the share of non-commercial official debt is set to decline to 11 percent of total sovereign debt as of year-end 2018, from 12 percent in 2017. It expects that outstanding short-term commercial debt (original tenor of less than one year) will fall to $131bn by the end of this year. “For 2018, we project that sovereigns’ commercial debt rated in the ‘AA’ category (Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, and Qatar) will be 19 percent of the total, up from 16 percent in our 2017 report. The share of ‘A’ category debt (Ras Al Khaimah and Saudi Arabia) will rise to about 20 percent. No Mena sovereigns are rated ‘AAA’. Due to the rise in the share of debt issuance by higher-rated Mena sovereigns, the share of commercial debt rated in the ‘BBB’ category or lower should fall to about 62 percent of the total from 67 percent at the time of our 2017 report. Egypt accounts for 19 percent of the total commercial debt we expect the region’s sovereigns will issue by the end of 2018, with Lebanon at about 11 percent, closely followed by Iraq at around 10 percent,” the ratings agency noted."



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Nakilat posts 2017 profit of QR847mn

Nakilat posts 2017 profit of QR847mn:

"Nakilat posted a net profit of QR847mn in 2017, the company said yesterday.
The company’s earnings per share stood at QR1.53.
Nakilat’s board of directors recommended distributing cash dividends to the shareholders equal to 10% of the nominal value of its capital, which is equivalent to QR1 per share. 
During the year, Nakilat successfully deployed the company’s strategic plans towards maintaining its global leadership in LNG transportation and the integral role it plays in Qatar’s LNG supply chain. "



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Saudi January inflation jumps to 3.0 percent on VAT, gasoline price hike

Saudi January inflation jumps to 3.0 percent on VAT, gasoline price hike:

"Saudi Arabia’s annual consumer price inflation jumped to 3.0 percent in January after the government introduced a 5 percent value-added tax and hiked domestic gasoline prices at the start of the year, official data showed on Sunday.

The figures suggested the new tax and more expensive fuel, part of a government drive to cut a big budget deficit caused by low oil prices, had a large impact on Saudi consumer spending power in some areas last month. Consumer prices rose 3.9 percent from the previous month in January.

Food and beverage prices jumped 6.7 percent from a year earlier, restaurants and hotels gained 5.8 percent, and transport costs soared 10.5 percent. "



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Saudi developer Dar Al Arkan meets bond investors for non-deal roadshow- sources | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Saudi developer Dar Al Arkan meets bond investors for non-deal roadshow- sources | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Saudi Arabian real estate developer Dar Al Arkan met fixed income investors last week for a so-called non-deal roadshow, discussions that were not linked to any specific plan for a bond issue, sources familiar with the matter said. Dar Al Arkan 4300.SE , which issued $500 million of Islamic bonds last April, held the meetings to update investors on the company's business, but no concrete bond issue plan was discussed, said one source, declining to be named because of commercial sensitivities. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The roadshow was held last week in Dubai and arranged by Emirates NBD."



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First Abu Dhabi Bank eyes entering Saudi market in 2018 | ZAWYA MENA Edition

First Abu Dhabi Bank eyes entering Saudi market in 2018 | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"First Abu Dhabi Bank FAB.AD , the largest bank in the United Arab Emirates, expects to enter Saudi Arabia's banking market in 2018, a senior executive said on Sunday. The bank has applied for a commercial banking licence in the kingdom, Karim Karoui, the bank's group head of subsidiaries, strategy and transformation, told reporters. FAB, created by last year's merger between National Bank of Abu Dhabi and First Gulf Bank, recently was given the go-ahead by Saudi Arabia's regulator to conduct arranging and advising activities in the securities sector."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi lower as weak banks outweigh rising petchems

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi lower as weak banks outweigh rising petchems:

"Saudi Arabian shares fell on Sunday as weakness in banks more than offset a rise in petrochemicals after Brent crude oil rebounded to around $67 a barrel at the end of last week. The Saudi stock index fell 0.4 percent. Ten of 14 petchems climbed, with the biggest, Saudi Basic Industries , adding 0.6 percent. Saudi Kayan Petrochemical gained 0.3 percent after swinging to a fourth-quarter loss of 220 million riyals ($58.7 million) due to scheduled maintenance at its plants. The loss was larger than 90 million riyals forecast by SICO Bahrain but much smaller than 417 million riyals predicted by NCB Capital."



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GCC — the oil-rich bloc that’s facing a new era | GulfNews.com

GCC — the oil-rich bloc that’s facing a new era | GulfNews.com:

"The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE — are now among the world’s 30 richest countries in terms of GDP per capita and fared well compared with emerging markets, developed markets and the world economy throughout 2008-14. However, the latest episode of falling oil prices that started in mid-2014 saw average growth rates plummet throughout 2015-16, reaching only 0.3 per cent in 2017, based on our estimates. The lower-for-longer oil prices ($67 [Dh246] by the end of 2017 compared with an average of $100 during 2008-14) and subsequent lower growth are creating three big challenges for the GCC."



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Qatar’s economic diversification plans on track - The Peninsula Qatar

Qatar’s economic diversification plans on track - The Peninsula Qatar:

"The pick up in inbound foreign direct investments, growing investments in technology and inflow of  international talents, especially from many technologically advanced countries such as the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Japan and Korea, are giving a great impetus to Qatar’s ambitious economic diversification programme.   The upcoming Investment Free Zones and other economic zones with the combined capital and assets value of over QR50bn is expected to play a key role in achieving the objective of knowledge-based society, according to Qatar Chamber. “Businesses from many countries, including Turkey have already agreed to set up manufacturing facilities and production units,  in some of Qatar’s most promising sectors, such as food, medicine, construction materials and others,” Muhammed bin Ahmed bin Towar Al Kuwari (pictured), Vice-Chairman of Qatar Chamber told The Peninsula recently."



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Qatari equity market set to improve disclosure practices - The Peninsula Qatar

Qatari equity market set to improve disclosure practices - The Peninsula Qatar:

"Qatar’s capital market regulatory authority is working on a draft proposal ahead of considering to bring in better transparency and disclosure practiceS to the market. The proposals include a series of recommendations to make the market more efficient, people with direct involvement in drafting the proposal revealed to The Peninsula. “We have recommended changes in the ‘rule book’ regarding the disclosures and information sharing to the investors, which are currently under review of QFMA. The highlight of the recommendations is to make it mandatory for investors to get relevant information required for their investment decisions”, sources at one of the key government entities told The Peninsula. The challenge in the local market has been that when potential investors talk to a company, they are looking to meet the CFOs to discuss key numbers and business models. These opportunities are often denied to investors, especially the companies of which major stakes are being controlled by the government entities. It is important for the investors to understand companies before taking their investment decisions, he said."



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Large forex reserves help QCB to hold off on rate hikes: BMI

Large forex reserves help QCB to hold off on rate hikes: BMI:

"The Qatar Central Bank (QCB) is certainly able to hold off on rate hikes for some time, given its large foreign exchange reserves, a senior analyst has said.
“However, with growth likely to accelerate this year as FIFA World Cup-related projects progress and hydrocarbon prices edge up, the case for delaying hikes in order to support the economy amid the GCC diplomatic crisis will weaken,” Andrine Skjelland, analyst, BMI Research told Gulf Times yesterday. 
He said BMI expects the US Federal Reserve to raise its benchmark funds rate by 75 bps this year and 50 bps in 2019."



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Bahrain’s Alba on track to complete debt financing for smelter expansion: official

Bahrain’s Alba on track to complete debt financing for smelter expansion: official:

"Aluminium Bahrain (Alba), owner of one of the world’s largest aluminum smelters, will raise by the end of this year’s first quarter the final debt amount needed to fund its Line 6 expansion project, a company official told Reuters. With Line 6, Alba will become the world’s largest single aluminum smelter complex, increasing production capacity by 540,000 metric tonnes to a total capacity of 1.5 million tonnes per year, the company says. The project involves capital expenditure of around $3 billion. Of this amount, $1.5 billion was funded through a syndicated loan raised in 2016, $400 million was funded internally, and $700 million was borrowed last year through loans guaranteed by export credit agencies."



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Saudi shares focus on company financial results, oil prices | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Saudi shares focus on company financial results, oil prices | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"The profits of 80 companies listed in the trading of Saudi stocks leaped up to 13.1 percent in 2017, compared to profits they made in 2016. Remaining Saudi companies are expected to announce their financial results during the upcoming weeks. The improved oil prices meanwhile played a significant role in the Saudi stock movement and the financial results of the remaining companies are expected to impact the performance of the Saudi market index in the coming year. The index closed, during last week’s trading, with a slight rise of 0.2 percent, or an equivalent of 15 points, at a level of 7,525 points compared to last week’s 7,510 points. Total trading value of the week reached around SR15.42 billion (USD4.11 billion) compared to around SAR15.5 billion (USD4.13 billion) in the previous week."



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Mideast Stocks: Gulf rises on strong oil, global markets | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Mideast Stocks: Gulf rises on strong oil, global markets | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Gulf stock markets rose in early trade on Sunday in response to gains in global bourses and oil prices at the end of last week, with Saudi Arabian petrochemicals in particular climbing because of Brent crude oil's rebound to the $67 a barrel level.

The Saudi stock index added 0.3 percent in the first half-hour with 13 of 14 petrochemical stocks rising.

Saudi Kayan Petrochemical 2350.SE gained 0.5 percent after swinging to a fourth-quarter loss of 220 million riyals ($58.7 million) because of scheduled maintenance at its plants."



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Saturday, 24 February 2018

Magic Leap in talks for $400m Saudi cash injection

Magic Leap in talks for $400m Saudi cash injection:

"Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is in talks to invest as much as $400m in Magic Leap in a deal that would take the US tech start-up’s total fundraising to $2.3bn, even though its augmented reality glasses have yet to go on sale.

The deal between Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and Florida-based Magic Leap is expected to be unveiled in the coming weeks, according to people close to the discussions. 

The new financing is an extension to Magic Leap’s $502m funding round, announced in October, which was led by Singaporean investment fund Temasek. "



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The week in energy: A new gas export hub?

The week in energy: A new gas export hub?:

"President Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Menachem Begin, Israel’s prime minister, shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978 for their contribution to the Camp David accords, intended to bring peace in the Middle East. Their agreement, formalised in the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty of 1979, ended the state of war between their countries, but relations have often been strained during the subsequent four decades. In recent years, however, there have been signs that the “cold peace” has become a closer relationship, if not necessarily a warmer one, and this week the two countries’ strategic ties were deepened by a $15bn deal to sell Israeli gas to Egypt. Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s energy minister, hailed it as the most significant deal with Egypt since that 1979 treaty. The agreement opens up a new market for gas from Israel’s offshore gasfields Tamar and Leviathan, discovered in 2009-10, and also points to possible further co-operation in the future. Most of the 64bn cubic metres of gas that Delek Group of Israel has agreed to sell to Dolphinus Holdings of Egypt is intended for the domestic market. But Egypt has also had large gas discoveries of its own and has been bringing them into production, including the giant Zohr gasfield, with the result that it is poised to become a gas exporter again. Egypt has two LNG liquefaction plants, and was a gas exporter in the 2000s, but falling production ad rising demand meant it became a net importer in 2015, and the LNG plants have been idled. The intelligence group Stratfor argued that an attractive option for exporting gas from Israel and Cyprus would be to use those facilities, making Egypt “the centre of regional natural gas development”."



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UAE markets: No bullish reversal yet | GulfNews.com

UAE markets: No bullish reversal yet | GulfNews.com:

"Last week the Dubai Financial Market General Index (DFMGI) dropped by 43.90 or 1.32 per cent to end at 3,286.54. There were 28 declining issues against nine advancing, while volume dipped to a 22-week low. The DFMGI has remained under pressure for the past five weeks. Each week has ended lower than it started except for one, last week. Nevertheless, last week was up only by 0.14 per cent. Is it time for some relief? Sorry to disappoint, but there’s no sign yet that the decline has ended. In addition, a new bear trend continuation signal was generated last week as the index fell below the prior swing low of 3,264.36 from June of last year. However, the signal was not confirmed just yet as there has not been a daily close below that low."



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Saudi Arabia’s energy minister hopes OPEC, allies will ease output cuts in 2019 | Arab News

Saudi Arabia’s energy minister hopes OPEC, allies will ease output cuts in 2019 | Arab News:

"Saudi Arabia Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said on Saturday that he hopes the production constraints under a deal between major OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers will ease in 2019. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is reducing output by about 1.2 million barrels per day as part of a deal with Russia and other non-OPEC producers. The pact will run until the end of 2018. He said the OPEC and non-OPEC members were committed to bringing stability and to balancing the market. “The next step may be easing of the production constraints. My estimation is that it will happen sometime in 2019. But we don’t know when and we don’t know how,” he said."



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Turbulence signs flashing again over US-Gulf open skies | Arab News

Turbulence signs flashing again over US-Gulf open skies | Arab News:

"Return to your seats and keep your seatbelt fastened. Relations between the American and UAE airlines are about to hit another period of bumpiness and, with Donald Trump in the White House, who knows how they will emerge from the next bout of open skies confrontation. Aviation experts will need no reminding of the troubled state of relations between the Big Three in the US — United, American and Delta — and Gulf airlines, who have been accused of unfair commercial practices on their operations into the US. The charges were that Emirates, Etihad and Qatar (more of which later) subsidized their north American operations to such an extent that the Americans were losing business, and jobs, to the Gulf. Indeed, in apparent proof of these nefarious activities, the American trio pulled out of all their routes to the Arabian Gulf, claiming they had become uncommercial."



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Friday, 23 February 2018

Saudi Arabia improves position in anti-corruption league table | Arab News

Saudi Arabia improves position in anti-corruption league table | Arab News:

"Saudi Arabia’s position in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) has continued to improve with the country jumping five places in the index. In total, 180 countries were ranked on the basis of a number of best practice indicators, including international standards linked to business ethics. Saudi Arabia jumped to 57 in 2017 from 62 in the previous year."



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GCC bonds & sukuk market raises $174.17bn - The Peninsula Qatar

GCC bonds & sukuk market raises $174.17bn - The Peninsula Qatar:

"A total of $174.17bn was raised in the GCC aggregate bonds and sukuk market during 2017, an increase of 3.96 percent over $167.54bn raised in 2016. Out of which, $69.90bn was raised by the GCC Central Banks local issuances (CBLI) whereas $104.26bn was raised by GCC sovereign and corporate issuance. GCC aggregate bonds and sukuk market includes GCC Central Banks Local Issuances in addition to GCC Sovereign and Corporate Issuances. According to Kuwait Financial Centre’s (Markaz) ‘GCC bonds and sukuk market’ research note, an estimated 73.3 percent of GCC bonds and sukuk issuances (in value terms), with an aggregate value of $76.46bn were listed on exchanges in 2017. International exchanges accounted for 99 percent of such listings while regional exchanges recorded listing of 4 bonds and sukuk with a total value of $0.89bn. Dublin continued to be the most sought after exchange as it listed 71.39 percent of all the listed issuances during the year. The S&P MENA Bonds and Sukuk Index posted a gain of 4.56 percent in 2017, (4.003 percent in 2016) with total return increasing from 114.85 on 31st December 2016 to 120.19 on 29th December 2017. The index recorded the lowest value around the beginning of the year on 3rd January 2017 when it reached 114.94, while it recorded its highest value of 120.59 on 8th September 2017. Year-on-year, the Index yield increased from 3.38 percent to 3.40 percent. The index recorded its minimum yield during the year of 3.08 percent on 2nd June 2017 while it recorded its maximum yield of 3.43 percent on 10th November 2017."



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Bourse remains bullish overall on non-Qatari institutions' outlook

Bourse remains bullish overall on non-Qatari institutions' outlook:

"An across-the-board buying — particularly in insurance, realty, industrial and transport stocks — led the Qatar Stock Exchange remain overall bullish amidst weakened trading volumes and turnover this week. The bullish outlook of non-Qatari institutions and the weakened net selling by non-Qatari individuals helped the 20-stock Qatar Index rise 0.76% this week which saw global credit rating agency Fitch view that Qatar's fiscal deficit is narrowing despite the economic boycott that began in June last year. Islamic stocks were seen gaining slower than the other indices this week which saw the Institute of International Finance say that a pickup in private consumption, public spending, and exports has helped Qatar fast dissipate shocks from the economic blockade."



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LNG: Qatar could partner with companies having Chinese buyer ties, says BMI

LNG: Qatar could partner with companies having Chinese buyer ties, says BMI:

"Qatar, which is planning to build three new liquefied natural gas (LNG) trains to target the tighter LNG market expected in the mid-2020s, could rather look to partner with companies that have strong existing relationships with Chinese buyers to bolster its position in this market, according to BMI, a Fitch company. The expansion offers substantial opportunities for oil majors to expand their gas portfolios and Qatar to grow exports to new markets, BMI said, highlighting that Qatar has unveiled plans to develop three new LNG trains in order to achieve the 100mn tonnes (Mtpa) capacity target set in its mid-2017 expansion programme. Initially, BMI had expected the 23Mtpa of capacity growth to come from a mixture of debottlenecking work at existing mega-trains, in addition to two new-build production trains."



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Abraaj's Naqvi Cedes Control of Funds Division in Reshuffle - Bloomberg

Abraaj's Naqvi Cedes Control of Funds Division in Reshuffle - Bloomberg:

"Abraaj Group’s founder Arif Naqvi will cede control of the fund management business in a sweeping restructuring of the Middle East’s largest private equity firm following reports of misused funds.

Omar Lodhi and Selcuk Yorgancioglu were promoted to co-chief executive officers of Abraaj Investment Management Ltd., which will oversee funds globally for institutional investors, according to a statement Friday. The firm has also halted making new commitments for its capital until the reorganization is complete, it said.

Abraaj, which manages about $13.6 billion, is reorganizing the business following allegations in recent weeks that money in its health-care fund had been misused. The firm this month said a review by KPMG found no wrongdoing, and that all payments and receipts had been properly accounted for and unused capital had been returned to investors. The Dubai-based firm said Friday it has hired independent consultants to review its corporate governance and controls."



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Oil's Up for Another Week as Libya Woes Add to U.S. Supply Dive - Bloomberg

Oil's Up for Another Week as Libya Woes Add to U.S. Supply Dive - Bloomberg:

"Crude rose for a second week as American supplies drain and a key Libya oil field was shut. News of a production halt at Libya’s 70,000 barrel-a-day El-Feel field helped cap a weekly drop of more than 3 percent, after a report Thursday showed storage tanks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, hub are at their lowest levels since 2014 as exports of U.S. crude surge. “Yesterday’s inventory report was very bullish for crude oil,” John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital LLC, a New York-based hedge fund, said by telephone. The decline of stockpiles “is starting to turn into a potentially critical situation that could be very supportive” for West Texas Intermediate crude prices, plus “the trouble in Libya seems to be on the upswing,” he said."



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Pickup in Qatar private consumption, public spend and exports blunt blockade: IIF

Pickup in Qatar private consumption, public spend and exports blunt blockade: IIF:

"A pickup in private consumption, public spending, and exports has helped Qatar fast dissipate shocks from the economic blockade, according to Washington-based Institute of International Finance (IIF).

Qatar's economy has remained resilient to the blockade, which, however, has had a silver lining, motivating deeper trade and diplomatic ties with several partners beyond their immediate geographical neighbourhood, which could pay long-term dividends, the IIF said in a report.

Although the blockade visibly crimped non-hydrocarbons in the middle of 2017, particularly in sectors such as trade, tourism, and real estate where foreign participants had played a leading role, the shock has largely dissipated, and manufacturing remained strong throughout."



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Djibouti seizes control of DP World's container terminal

Djibouti seizes control of DP World's container terminal:

"Djibouti has seized control of a container terminal run by Dubai-based port operator DP World, the latest move in a long-running legal dispute over the facility in the East African nation. The nationalization of the Doraleh Container Terminal in Djibouti comes as the United Arab Emirates’ interests across East Africa now also include a series of military bases allowing it to project power into the Red Sea and the crucial Bab el-Mandeb strait. A statement on behalf of President Ismail Omar Guelleh’s office issued Thursday said the government had “decided to proceed with the unilateral termination of the concession contract ... awarded to DP World.”"



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U.S. shale investors still waiting on payoff from oil boom | ZAWYA MENA Edition

U.S. shale investors still waiting on payoff from oil boom | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"U.S. oil production has topped 10 million barrels per day, approaching a record set in 1970, but many investors in the companies driving the shale oil revolution are still waiting for their payday.

Shale producers have raised and spent billions of dollars to produce more oil and gas, ending decades of declining output and redrawing the global energy trade map. But most U.S. shale producers have failed for years to turn a profit with the increased output, frustrating their financial backers.

Wall Street’s patience ran out late last year as investors called for producers to shift more cash to dividends and share buybacks."



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Thursday, 22 February 2018

Opec co-operation with Russia is ‘new norm’ — UAE energy minister

Opec co-operation with Russia is ‘new norm’ — UAE energy minister:

"The UAE’s energy minister reaffirmed that Opec countries alone would not balance supply and demand in the event of another price crash, adding that the involvement of Russia is now the “new norm”.

Suhail al-Mazrouei said some of the world’s biggest producer nations were looking to establish a “structure” for long-term co-operation, following a supply curbs deal among 24 countries inside and outside the Opec cartel.

“We are living in a new norm,” said Mr Mazrouei, speaking at the International Petroleum Week conference in London. “Opec alone cannot be responsible for the whole restoration of the market.”"



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Oil prices hit two-week high after US inventories drop

Oil prices hit two-week high after US inventories drop:

"Oil is cruising higher after data showed US crude stockpiles unexpectedly fell last week. Before the data, both Brent, the international benchmark, and West Texas Intermediate, the US standard, were relatively flat on the day. Since then, both have pushed higher, with a barrel of Brent now trading up by $1 at $66.56 — a two-week high. WTI is up more than 2 per cent to $63.02, also its highest point in two weeks. The US Energy Information Administration said that US crude inventories dropped by 1.6m barrels in the week ending February 16. Analysts had on average been looking for a 1.33m barrel increase, according to Thomson Reuters data."



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Damac to experience 'cash flow pressure' in 2018, says EFG Hermes - The National

Damac to experience 'cash flow pressure' in 2018, says EFG Hermes - The National:

"Operational and financial challenges at Damac Properties, one of the UAE’s biggest listed real estate developers, are expected to continue this year after the company reported a 25 per cent drop in full-year net profit for 2017, a report from EFG Hermes bank said.

“We think the company will face operational challenges and, potentially, see pressure on its cash flows over the coming 12 to 24 months; this might, in turn, place pressure on the company’s future dividends starting 2018, and on sustaining its historical attractive dividend yields,” the report said.

The developer’s net profit dropped to Dh2.76 billion in 2017 from Dh3.69bn in 2016, Damac said in a filing last week to the Dubai Financial Market, where its shares are traded. It attributed the drop to a higher cost of sales coupled with rising expenses and depreciation charges.

"



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A night at the opera, a new dawn for the economy | Arab News

A night at the opera, a new dawn for the economy | Arab News:

"The concert goers might see a virtuoso opera singer, but the economists see the multiplier effect. Investment in the entertainment industry produces broader macro-economic benefits that will add to living standards across Saudi Arabia, and in the process improve quality of life in the Kingdom. A $64 billion investment in the entertainment industry over the next 10 years will have excited youngsters, opera fans and fun-seekers everywhere, but it will also have the economists working out the financial implications. The global value of the entertainment industry (including media) will be about $2.2 trillion by 2021, making it one of the biggest and fastest growing areas of the world economy."



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Qatar shares settle below 9,100 despite buying interests in banks, industrials

Qatar shares settle below 9,100 despite buying interests in banks, industrials:

"The Qatar Stock Exchange was back in the negative turf to settle below 9,100 levels despite buying interests in banking, industrials and telecom counters.

Lower net buying by foreign funds and Gulf individuals was largely instrumental in dragging the 20-stock Qatar Index 0.25% higher at 9,096.36 points.

Islamic stocks were seen declining slower than the main index in the market, which is however up 6.72% year-to-date."



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Irish taxman sees disputed Apple bill remaining around $16 billion

Irish taxman sees disputed Apple bill remaining around $16 billion:

"United Arab Emirates Energy Minister Suhail al-Mazrouei said on Thursday that the current oil price level was not encouraging the flow of investments yet that the oil industry needs. Speaking at an energy conference in London, Mazrouei, who holds the OPEC presidency this year, said the exporting group was not targeting a specific oil price but rather seeking a balanced oil market. “Am I seeing the right investments coming to the market? Not yet,” he said, when asked whether he sees oil at $60-65 as the sweet spot for the oil industry."



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New tax pushes Dubai inflation up moderately in January

New tax pushes Dubai inflation up moderately in January:

"Dubai consumer inflation rose only moderately in January when the United Arab Emirates introduced a 5 percent value-added tax, as authorities look to balance a need to increase state revenues with continued economic growth.

Last month’s imposition of VAT on the UAE’s low-tax economy, designed to strengthen state finances in the face of low oil prices, was one of the biggest policy shifts in years.

Dubai’s annual inflation rate to its highest level since last April, data showed on Thursday, but the rise to 2.7 percent, from 1.5 percent in December, was relatively modest."



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Energy Costs: Big Oil and Power Face New Competition - Bloomberg

Energy Costs: Big Oil and Power Face New Competition - Bloomberg:

"You may not have noticed, but you're spending a lot less on energy these days.

Less than four cents of every dollar of U.S. consumer spending went to gasoline, electricity and natural gas last year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance's recently published "Sustainable Energy In America Factbook." "



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Oil prices to average $50-$70 out to 2023: BofAML paper | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Oil prices to average $50-$70 out to 2023: BofAML paper | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Brent crude oil prices are expected to average $50 to $70 per barrel (/bbl) in a medium-term horizon to 2023, said the Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofAML) in its latest Global Energy Paper.
 This forecast range compares to a current forward strip of $58/bbl on average over the forecast horizon to 2023, and a 15-year average price of $72/bbl, the report added, noting that global oil consumption has expanded by 1.4 million b/d in the past two years and remains on a solid footing.

“On our latest estimates, oil demand should keep growing by 1.1 million b/d per annum out to 2023, falling short of average annual non-Opec oil supply growth of 750 thousand b/d,” BofAML said."



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Jump in Islamic tax liabilities worries Saudi banks | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Jump in Islamic tax liabilities worries Saudi banks | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"A jump in retroactive Islamic tax liabilities faced by Saudi Arabian banks is creating concern about damage to their earnings and the government's motives in demanding the money.

While Saudi banks and other firms generally do not pay corporate tax, they are subject to an annual Islamic tax called zakat, a 2.5 percent levy on each bank's net worth. Analysts say the way in which this is assessed can be complex and opaque.

In the last couple of weeks, several major banks have disclosed that the government's General Authority of Zakat and Tax (GAZT) is seeking additional zakat payments from them for years going back as far as 2002. In some cases, the demands exceed half of a bank's annual net profit."



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MSCI decision on Saudi Arabia to be independent of Aramco listing- executive | ZAWYA MENA Edition

MSCI decision on Saudi Arabia to be independent of Aramco listing- executive | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Global index compiler MSCI's impending decision on whether to upgrade Saudi Arabia to emerging market status will be independent of the stock market's ability to absorb the listing of Saudi Aramco, an MSCI executive said on Thursday. "It is not a factor," Robert Ansari, head of MSCI for the Middle East, told reporters at a financial conference in Abu Dhabi, when asked if the two issues were linked. "If the Aramco IPO happens, where it lists, what and how it lists is independent of what MSCI will do to classify.""



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Emaar continues rebound but Dubai, regional markets mostly move little

MIDEAST STOCKS-Emaar continues rebound but Dubai, regional markets mostly move little:

"Dubai blue chip Emaar Properties continued to rebound in heavy trade on Thursday but regional stock markets were mostly lacklustre, partly because of weak global bourses and oil prices.

Emaar, which had been trading near 14-month lows, surged 3.2 percent on Wednesday as some funds returned to the stock, apparently attracted by undemanding valuations compared to emerging market peers.

On Thursday the stock climbed a further 1.8 percent in its heaviest volume this year. However, this failed to lift Dubai’s stock index, which was flat as declining issues outnumbered gainers by 20 to nine."



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U.S. Oil Boom Tempts Saudis to Consider Exporting American Crude - Bloomberg

U.S. Oil Boom Tempts Saudis to Consider Exporting American Crude - Bloomberg:

"Even Saudi Arabia wants in on the U.S. oil boom.

The kingdom’s state oil firm considered the possibility of sending American crude to Asia in February via a U.S. unit before determining it wasn’t economically viable, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. It also asked potential buyers in Asia if they would be interested in U.S. supply, according to officials at two regional refiners. The people asked not to be identified because the information is confidential.


The fact that the Saudis decided against moving a cargo to the world’s biggest oil consuming region this month doesn’t mean they won’t consider it again. Such a sale would be unprecedented, and a potential strategy by the Middle East nation in the face of rising U.S. production. American supplies are proving a threat to efforts by the OPEC producer and its allies to clear a global glut and prop up prices.

"



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If You Thought Frontier Investing Was High Risk, Here's Comfort - Bloomberg

If You Thought Frontier Investing Was High Risk, Here's Comfort - Bloomberg:

"Try not to gasp, but in these days of surging volatility, frontier-market stocks are outperforming their more developed peers.

You might think equities in the more remote economies would experience wilder price swings than their developed or emerging-market counterparts, rendering their returns much more modest when the volatility risk is taken into account.

The truth is rather different."



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No going back on Saudization plans: Labor Minister | ZAWYA MENA Edition

No going back on Saudization plans: Labor Minister | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Minister of Labor and Social Development Dr. Ali Al-Ghafis has reiterated that his ministry will enforce the Saudization programs as planned and without delay, Makkah newspaper reported. The ministry will not renege on any decision, he said during a meeting with the heads of chambers of commerce and industry in the country at the ministry's offices in Riyadh. A number of participants called upon the ministry to exempt the private sector from 100 percent Saudization, especially of certain jobs that are difficult to be filled by Saudis. They asked the ministry to form a committee to study any decisions thoroughly before they are announced."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Emaar continues to buoy Dubai, ex-dividend Qatar Islamic Bank tumbles

MIDEAST STOCKS-Emaar continues to buoy Dubai, ex-dividend Qatar Islamic Bank tumbles:

"A rebound of shares in blue chip Emaar Properties continued to buoy Dubai’s stock market in early trade on Thursday while the rest of the region mostly moved sideways.

Emaar, which had been trading near 14-month lows, surged 3.2 percent on Wednesday in its heaviest volume this year as some funds returned to the stock, apparently attracted by undemanding valuations compared to emerging market peers.

On Thursday morning the stock climbed a further 1.9 percent in unusually heavy trade, helping to lift Dubai’s stock index by 0.9 percent."



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Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Flydubai reports 18% profit hike for 2017 - The National

Flydubai reports 18% profit hike for 2017 - The National:

"Flydubai, Dubai’s low-cost carrier which signed last year an expanded codeshare agreement with sister airline Emirates, reported an 18 per cent rise in net profit as it flew a record number of passengers.

The airline's tie-up with Emirates and a refreshed fleet is expected to continue to drive growth in 2018.

Net profit for 2017 increased to Dh37.3 million from Dh31.6m in 2016, while total revenues increased 9.2 per cent to Dh5.5 billion compared to Dh5bn the previous year."



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Saudi Arabia’s Samba, Alawwal underline banking upturn | Arab News

Saudi Arabia’s Samba, Alawwal underline banking upturn | Arab News:

"Saudi Arabian banks showed more evidence of improving results on Wednesday with stronger fourth-quarter performances from two of the kingdom’s larger lenders.
Of the seven main Saudi banks to report so far, all have posted higher profits for the quarter, although few have done enough to beat market forecasts.
Samba Financial Group, Saudi’s third-largest bank by assets, was the latest to do so on Wednesday, recording an 11.4 percent rise in fourth-quarter net profit, in line with analysts’ expectations."



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