Middle East Business News Review – 30 August

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Photo – Vahid Salemi/AP

QTel repays $3bn loan facility

Qatar Telecom (Qtel) said in a bourse statement on Thursday it has repaid a $3 billion loan facility using existing funds.

According to Thomson Reuters data, bookrunners Barclays, BNP Paribas, DBS and RBS facilitated the five-year syndicated term loan in August 2007. It was priced at 65 basis points over the London interbank offered rate (Libor).

The company announced in January through a capital markets presentation that its issue of $2.75 billion in bonds in 2010 preemptively addressed the refinancing of the $3 billion 2012 loan.

Qatar National Bank captures 40% stake in Dubai Commercial Bank

Qatar National Bank announced on Thursday it has increased its stake in Dubai based-Commercial Bank International PSC (CBI) from 16.5% to 39.9% in a deal thought to be worth about $75 million.

“The purchase reflects the confidence in the prospects of the financial sector in the United Arab Emirates,” Gulf country’s biggest bank by assets said in an e-mailed statement. According to Bloomberg calculations, the 22.5% stake is equivalent to 329 million shares, and would be worth $75 million based on today’s 84 fils share price.

The UAE, a union of seven emirates including Abu Dhabi and Dubai, has the biggest banking market in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, which also includes Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Commercial Bank of Qatar QSC, the country’s second-biggest lender, also bought a 40% stake in UAE’s United Arab Bank PSC during 2007 and 2008 to expand in the country.

Middle East airlines register strong July growth – IATA

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Thursday international air passenger traffic rose 3.5% in July year-on-year with Middle East airlines experiencing strong growth rate of 11.2% compared to the same month last year.

The Middle Eastern airlines, home to major international carriers including Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways, outstripped rivals in Europe, the Americas, Asia-Pacific and Africa in terms of passenger numbers, in part due to the impact of the Ramadan holy month and a 12.4% rise in capacity, the global air travel association’s latest monthly data showed.

On a month-by-month basis, however, passenger traffic growth was just 0.1% in the region.

Iraqi Deputy PM says relations improving with Kurdistan

Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Rosh Nuri Shawish announced on Thursday the leadership of the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is ready to restart negotiations with Baghdad to end a political crisis.

The positive tone from Shawish, an Iraqi Kurd, signalled a thaw in relations between the Shia-dominated central government and self-governed Kurdistan which have been locked into a dispute over oil, territory and power-sharing.

Syria scrambling big wheat purchase amid chaos

Syria is seeking to purchase large amount of wheat, a commodity not subject to Western sanctions, amid a bloody civil war that is severely affecting 20 million plus population.

The United Nations said Syria faces food shortages as tens of thousands of families leave their homes due to heavy fighting and with the harvest neglected during the conflict.

Syria’s state grains agency issued a new international tender to purchase and import 100,000 tons of soft milling wheat, European traders said Wednesday.

Abu Dhabi’s Aldar says key projects on track

Aldar Properties has said that all 43 rides at its Yas Waterworld project have now been installed ahead of the attraction’s opening in the fourth quarter of this year.

The attraction, which is next to Ferrari world on Yas Island, spreads across 15 hectares of land and will be operated by Farah Leisure.

The company, which is in the midst of a US$15bn merger process with competitor Sorouh Real Estate, said that many of the rides being built at the park will be the first of their kind in the region.

Cyber attack takes Qatar’s RasGas offline

RasGas, the second largest producer of Qatari LNG after Qatar Petroleum, has been hit with an “unknown virus” which has taken the company offline.

A RasGas spokesperson confirmed that “an unknown virus has affected its office systems” since Monday 27 August.

New Doha airport to open in 2013

The much-anticipated opening of the New Doha International Airport (NDIA), originally scheduled for December this year, has been delayed. The airport that will open for passenger traffic in the second half of 2013, the Moodie Report has quoted Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker as saying.

The original scheduled opening date was December 12 this year but this has been delayed due to the airport operator deciding to part company with a key contractor, Al Baker said in recent interview with the magazine, part of which was published in its latest issue.

Egypt money supply rises 8% in year to July

Egypt’s M2 money supply rose 8 percent in the year to the end of July, the central bank said on Thursday.

Money supply was 1,101.9 billion Egyptian pounds ($180.8 billion) at the end of July, up from 1,094.4 billion pounds at the end of June and 1,018.9 billion pounds at the end of July 2011.

South Sudan could take 6 months to resume oil output

South Sudan’s Upper Nile oilfields may take up to half a year to resume production after the government signs a final deal on export fees with Sudan, South Sudan’s oil minister said on Thursday.

Getting crude flowing again from the Unity oilfields may take up to a year, he said, adding that facilities needed repairs and renovation after they were damaged during border fighting with Sudan earlier this year.

South Sudan had initially hoped to resume production in December. Block 3 and 7 contributed 250,000 bpd until the shutdown, according to analysts.

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