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Sunday, 8 April 2018

Norway split over new direction for $1tn sovereign wealth fund

Norway split over new direction for $1tn sovereign wealth fund:

"Deep divisions have emerged in Norway’s government over the merits of allowing the country’s $1tn oil fund to become an investor in private equity, ahead of a decision on the matter this week.

The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund recommended in January that it be allowed to invest in private equity. A final decision is expected on Tuesday but the issue has sparked an unexpectedly fierce debate among government officials, according to several people involved in the process.

The ruling from Norway’s finance ministry comes at a time of growing debate over what kind of investor the oil fund should be. It is currently akin to a giant index-tracking fund, holding sizeable stakes in 9,000 companies, as well as bonds and unlisted property."



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Saudi Arabia agrees to gender mixing for local Apple staff

Saudi Arabia agrees to gender mixing for local Apple staff:

"Apple has spearheaded a push by foreign consumer brands to ensure male and female employees will be allowed to work side-by-side in Saudi Arabia, removing a key obstacle to foreign investment in the kingdom. 

The iPhone maker has received assurances from authorities that they would not face prosecution for genders mixing in the workplace.

This could pave the way for Apple and others to open their first offices or shops in Saudi Arabia, as well as being another incremental step forward for women’s rights in the rapidly changing kingdom."



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Qatar to remain as ‘attractive market’ in 2018 - The Peninsula Qatar

Qatar to remain as ‘attractive market’ in 2018 - The Peninsula Qatar:

"The 2017 dividend season was a lucrative one for investors as total dividend distribution value increased almost 14 percent for the year over 2016.

Of the 45 companies listed on the QSE, 17 companies increased distributions by an average of 41 percent while 19 companies maintained dividend distribution levels, according to QNB Financial Services (QNBFS).

On the other hand, according to QNBFS 4Q17 commentary, 4 companies reduced dividend distribution values by an average of 14 percent while 5 companies elected not to distribute any dividends."



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Foreigners bought net $229 million Saudi stocks last week

Foreigners bought net $229 million Saudi stocks last week:

"Foreign investors bought a net $229 million of Saudi Arabian equities last week, exchange data showed on Sunday, indicating overseas demand remained strong despite a pull-back by the market index in the early part of the week. Buying by all types of foreign investor totaled $441 million and selling $213 million, with investors using swaps buying almost twice as much on a net basis as qualified foreign institutions, which invest directly. Net buying fell from $301 million in the previous week but was still the fourth highest weekly total this year. Foreigners have been net buyers every week so far in 2018."



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Saudi exchange counting on foreign funds to aid Aramco IPO, chief says

Saudi exchange counting on foreign funds to aid Aramco IPO, chief says:

"Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange expects an influx of foreign funds to smooth the listing of national oil firm Saudi Aramco, despite concern among some analysts about whether the market can absorb the huge offer, the exchange’s chief executive said on Sunday.

“Foreign investors are putting in more money — every day we have improved liquidity capacity,” Khalid al-Hussan said in an interview.

The government has said it plans to sell about 5 percent of Aramco, hoping to raise some $100 billion or more in what is likely to be the world’s biggest initial public offer. Officials have said that in addition to Riyadh, Aramco may list on one or more foreign markets such as New York, London and Hong Kong. "



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Saudi crown prince begins European tour in Paris | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Saudi crown prince begins European tour in Paris | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived in Paris on Sunday at the start of a European tour after three weeks in the United States, where he pitched for investments and support against arch-rival Iran. France's foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, who worked closely with Prince Mohammed as defence minister in the previous French government, greeted him at the airport, the Saudi foreign ministry said on Twitter. Saudi officials said separately that Prince Mohammed, who serves as defence minister and also controls economic and energy policy for the world's top oil exporter, would head to Spain later in the week."



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Saudi to focus foreign debt issues on dollar for now, official says | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Saudi to focus foreign debt issues on dollar for now, official says | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Saudi Arabia will focus on issuing bonds denominated in U.S. dollars and riyals this year but consider debt sales in other currencies over the longer term, the president of the kingdom's Debt Management Office said on Sunday. "At least for 2018, we are not going to deviate away from our dollar and local issuances," Fahad al-Saif said in an interview, predicting the dollar yield curve would become more stable this year. He also said: "Issuing in other currencies is not currently part of our plan, but it is definitely part of our strategy.""



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi up, Kuwait rebounds; new ownership caps lift some Qatar stocks | ZAWYA MENA Edition

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi up, Kuwait rebounds; new ownership caps lift some Qatar stocks | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"The Saudi Arabian stock market remained in positive territory on Sunday after rebounding late last week from several days of profit-taking, while a pullback by two blue chips dragged down Abu Dhabi. The Saudi stock index .TASI closed up 0.2 percent. Food and beverage company Almarai 2280.SE added 3.5 percent after announcing first-quarter net profit of 344 million riyals ($91.7 million) against 328 million riyals last year.  Loss-making home furnishings maker Al Sorayai Trading 1213.SE was the best performer, adding a further 10 percent after it jumped last week as its chief executive resigned."



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Regional equities fare well as they look to attract foreign investors - The National

Regional equities fare well as they look to attract foreign investors - The National:

"At a time when the headlines are dominated by talk of global protectionism, it is a welcome development that this region appears to be opening itself up to foreign capital. While US equities that rallied on the arrival of Donald Trump are now turning lower as trade tensions heat up, regional equities are largely holding up on account of reforms designed to attract foreign investors into them. The Tadawul is up 10 per cent year-to-date while the Abu Dhabi Securities exchange is up 6.5 per cent and the Kuwait index by 3.5 per cent. The major global indices, however, are recording losses with the S&P 500 down 2.5 per cent and the DAX and the Nikkei having lost around 5 per cent so far this year. Late last month, the Financial Times Stock Exchange decided to include Saudi Arabian equities in its EM indices. According to the index compiler, the country is expected to have an index weight of 2.7 per cent within the FTSE Emerging Market index. The decision will be implemented in five tranches starting in March 2019 and could lead to passive inflows of as much as $5 billion. MSCI, another index provider, is expected to take a call in June 2018 on including Saudi equities in its EM index. If the MSCI follows in the FTSE’s footsteps, that could lead into an additional passive inflows of as much as $10bn. "



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Middle East Emerges as Possible Energy Winner in U.S.-China Spat - Bloomberg

Middle East Emerges as Possible Energy Winner in U.S.-China Spat - Bloomberg:

"The Middle East is emerging as a potential beneficiary of the brewing trade war between the U.S. and China as the Asian nation strikes back with retaliatory tariffs on American petrochemical products. If China goes ahead with its proposal to slap a 25 percent tariff on polyethylene and liquid propane, which were among 106 American goods targeted, buyers in the Asian nation may look elsewhere for alternatives to pricier U.S. supplies. And the energy-rich Middle East with plenty of petrochemical supplies looks well-suited to meet the substitution requirements."



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Saudis begin investigating detainees who did not settle, newspaper reports

Saudis begin investigating detainees who did not settle, newspaper reports:

"Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor has begun investigations and opening arguments in the corruption cases of princes, top officials and businessmen who were detained late last year, an official told pan-Arab newspaper Al Sharq Al Awsat on Sunday. Authorities rounded up dozens of people in November on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s orders, with many confined and interrogated at Riyadh’s opulent Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Most of them, including global investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, were released after being exonerated or reaching financial settlements with the government. But 56 people who had not reached settlements remained in custody and could face trial, the government said late in January."



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Saudis See Chemical, Oil-Refining Bonanza Along U.S. Gulf Coast - Bloomberg

Saudis See Chemical, Oil-Refining Bonanza Along U.S. Gulf Coast - Bloomberg:

"Saudi Arabia signaled its intent to expand chemical production along the U.S. Gulf Coast and potentially double the size of North America’s biggest oil refinery. The kingdom’s state-owned crude producer is joining with U.K. oilfield-services firm TechnipFMC Plc to assess the potential for producing ethylene, a key component in plastics, Saudi Aramco’s Motiva Enterprises LLC unit said in a statement Saturday. A second accord with Honeywell International Inc. could lead to the construction of a new manufacturing complex in the heart of the U.S. petrochemicals industry. In a separate presentation at a lavish reception for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Houston, Motiva said it’s considering doubling the size of its refinery in Port Arthur, Texas. The announcement comes less than a year after Aramco paid $2.2 billion to Royal Dutch Shell Plc to gain sole control of the Port Arthur plant and some other Motiva assets the two companies controlled as part of a joint venture."



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Qatar Seeks Return to Debt Market With Bond Meetings This Week - Bloomberg

Qatar Seeks Return to Debt Market With Bond Meetings This Week - Bloomberg:

"Qatar will start investor meetings from Monday as the country, boycotted by some of its Arab neighbors, plans its first dollar-denominated bond sale in more than two years. Officials will meet investors in the U.S. and U.K. this week and the government is working with Credit Suisse Group AG and Deutsche Bank AG on the offering that could include five-, 10- and 30- year notes, according to people familiar with the matter. Al Khaliji France SA, Barclays Plc, Credit Agricole CIB, Mizuho Securities Co., QNB Capital and Standard Chartered Plc are also involved, they said. Qatar last sold bonds internationally in 2016 when it raised $9 billion. Officials met fixed-income investors in Asia last month to test the appetite for a potential bond, people said at the time. Qatar, whose debt carries the fourth-highest investment grade at S&P Global Ratings, expects its budget deficit to shrink this year as the economy absorbs the impact of the boycott. The state has a $1 billion bond maturing in 2019, according to data compiled by Bloomberg."



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Dubai's Jafza achieves 9% growth in customer base in 2017 | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Dubai's Jafza achieves 9% growth in customer base in 2017 | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"A total of 513 new companies chose Jebel Ali Free Zone, Jafza, the region’s premier trade facilitator and hub as their operational base in 2017, reaffirming its position as a destination of choice for businesses.

New companies represent a nine percent increase in Jafza’s portfolio compared with the 470 new companies that registered in 2016. The number of countries from which they come also rose from 56 to 64 year-on-year.

Jafza’s flagship commercial property, Jafza One, achieved 42 percent growth in its customer base with a 20 percent rise in occupancy and a 49 percent increase in leased offices, marking its best annual performance.
"



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UK injunction restricts Dana Gas dividends in $700mln sukuk dispute | ZAWYA MENA Edition

UK injunction restricts Dana Gas dividends in $700mln sukuk dispute | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"United Arab Emirates energy firm Dana Gas DANA.AD said on Sunday it had received a new injunction from the English High Court restricting its ability to pay dividends or increase its debt. The injunction is the latest salvo in a complex legal battle in the UAE and Britain which began last year when Dana halted payments on its $700 million of Islamic bonds, arguing the sukuk had become unlawful because of changes in Islamic finance. Since then, sukuk holders have been trying to force the company to redeem the sukuk. The latest order was obtained by Putnam SPV 4 LLC, a special purpose vehicle managed by Contrarian Capital Management, Dana said in a statement."



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Buzz: Dubai's DP World regains some strength after plunge on trade war fears | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Buzz: Dubai's DP World regains some strength after plunge on trade war fears | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Shares in Dubai-listed global ports operator DP World rise 0.4 percent to $23.00 in early trade Stock has rebounded 7.0 percent in past two trading days after sinking as much as 22.4 percent from its January peak, partly because of concern about threat of U.S.-China trade war "We believe the company’s direct exposure to trade between these two countries is not significant although there could be some impact. Still, we believe that the stock price reaction is disproportionate to the real fundamental damage," says Al Mal Capital, which owns shares in company"



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Saudi stays positive, Gulf mostly quiet | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Saudi stays positive, Gulf mostly quiet | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Gulf stock markets were generally quiet in early trade on Sunday although Saudi Arabia stayed positive after beginning to rebound late last week from several days of profit-taking.

The Saudi stock index was up 0.2 percent in the first hour as Bank Aljazira climbed 3.6 percent after saying its rights issue of 300 million shares had been 90 percent subscribed at the end of the subscription period.

Loss-making home furnishings maker Al Sorayai Trading, which jumped last week as its chief executive resigned, added a further 6.0 percent."



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