Middle East Business News Review – 4 November

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Today’s top business and economy news from the Middle East and North Africa:

Guinea, UAE seal bauxite deal

Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee (CBG) and Mubadala Development Company have signed a long-term supply agreement to supply bauxite, the main raw material in aluminium, the UAE’s state news agency reported on Saturday.

The duration or value of the contract was not mentioned in the report. The Guinean company has an annual production of 13.5 million tonnes.

The Guinean mines minister said the new agreement would add $500 million to Guinea’s gross domestic product. Guinea’s government said in a separate press release that Mubadala had said it needs 5 billion tonnes of bauxite by 2017.

UAE banks not at risk from Western financial crisis: CEO

The CEO of a leading financial firm said on Sunday the UAE economy will be able to sustain the fallout of the deepening Western financial crisis.

Sailesh Dash, CEO of Al Masah Capital Limited in Dubai, assured that the Emirati banks would not emulate an increasing number of European and American counterparts in job cuts and lay-offs.

The Dubai-based CEO said that there are 23 local banks in the country of which most are hiring. According to the UAE central bank, UAE banks’ net profits increased 18.2% in 2011 year-on-year.

UAE’s ADCB, Banco Santander in tie-up

The UAE’s Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and Europe’s largest lender by market capitalisation, Banco Santander, have agreed to cooperate in trade and project finance as the Spanish bank broadens its reach in the Gulf.

The two banks signed a partnership agreement that will draw together their expertise in investment banking, trade finance and consumer banking in their respective markets, a statement from ADCB said on Sunday.

Half of UAE workers say not paid enough – poll

Almost half of all workers in the UAE claim that they are not being paid enough, according to the findings of a study published on Sunday.

According to Bayt.com’s latest Consumer Confidence Survey, 47 percent of employees in the Gulf state are dissatisfied with their current level of compensation.

The research also found that 74 percent of respondents believe that there is a lack of available jobs in the country, while 66 percent said that salary raises were not keeping up with the rising costs of living.

Prince Alwaleed’s fortune soars 32%

Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal saw his fortune soar 32 percent to US$22.9bn in the last year, making him the wealthiest Arab according to Bloomberg’s list of the 200 richest people in the world.

Bloomberg’s ‘The World’s 200 Richest People’ list was compiled for the 12 months leading up to October 5. The net worth of all 200 individuals featured amounted to US$2.7 trillion, about the size of the gross domestic product of France, the fifth-biggest economy on the planet, Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg said Prince Alwaleed’s wealth increased by US$5.6bn over the last 12 months. The 57-year old head of Kingdom Holding was ranked at number 20, with a personal wealth totaling US$22.9bn. His investments include Apple, News Corporation and Twitter.

Kuwait hits new 8 year low; most Gulf markets lower

Gulf bourses were mostly lower on Sunday with political tension weighing on Kuwait, while Saudi Arabia’s measure gained in thin trade.

Kuwait’s index slumped to a new eight-year closing low ahead of a major demonstration planned by the opposition later in the day. The market finished 0.1 percent lower.

The opposition said it would would press ahead with the march to protest against new voting rules, while the government warned it would not tolerate unsanctioned demonstrations. Some protests in recent weeks have seen clashes between police and demonstrators.

Foreign grants cover just 12% of fuel subsidy deficit – Jordan

Minister of Planning and International Cooperation said signed or projected foreign grants pledged to the Jordanian government this year, amounting to $365.2 million, would help offset just 12% of the three billion dollars government subsidy on oil.

In a statement posted on the Prime Ministry’s Media and Communications Directorate website, Jafar Hassan claimed that the government has efficiently managed the foreign aid to finance priority projects in the executive development programme.

The state-run Petra news agency quoted the minister as saying that government’s high efficiency over the past years helped to increase the volume of grants to prop up the treasury. He added that a total of $350 million, received by the government in shape of grants, will be transferred to the treasury before the end of the year.

Jordan to import LNG by 2014 on terminal completion

Jordan will start importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) from June 2014 after the completion of a gas terminal in the Red Sea port city of Aqaba, the Jordan Times reported, citing Finance Minister Suleiman Hafez.

The Amman-based newspaper speculated that the kingdom, which imports 96 percent of all its energy needs (the daily equivalent of 100,000 barrels of a oil a day), is likely to import gas from Qatar, which it entered into advanced negotiations over an accord earlier this year.

Sonatrach to invest $80 billion in Algeria energy projects

Algeria’s state-run energy group Sonatrach boss on Sunday announced plans to invest $80 billion in oil and natural gas projects during the next four years.

Addressing a news conference in Algiers, chief executive officer Abdelhamid Zerguine said the company will spend $14 billion on building four refineries and has budgeted $15 billion for investment in 2013, up from $10 billion in 2012, as part of the five-year plan. He did not provide further details.

The company’s vice president for commerce Yamina Hamdi also said that Algeria may not need to import any fuel oil next year as some domestic refineries have resumed operations.

Erdogan signals Turkish Air, Lufthansa ‘joint management’

Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines should deepen their existing ties, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday, but it was not immediately clear what he meant and both companies declined to make specific comment.

The airline world has seen a flurry of partnerships recently as carriers band together to counter tough market conditions.

Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa are already joint owners of the SunExpress airline and members of the Star Alliance, one of the global airline networks.

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