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AME Info, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, business briefs column
[March 12, 2007]

AME Info, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, business briefs column

(AME Info (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates) (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Mar. 12--RAK CERAMICS, $37.5M PROFIT: RAK Ceramics has posted a distributable net profit of $37.5m for 2006, up from $35m in 2005. According to the firm's annual report, total sales increased to $457.6m in 2006, up from $351.4m in 2005. The total assets of the company rose to just over $1bn during the year.

DME APPROVES MEMBERS: The Dubai Mercantile Exchange has approved 20 members prior to the release of its Oman oil futures contract on May 1, reported Reuters. Nine are clearing members and 11 are off-floor members. Trading will not be limited to members but all traders must have an account with a clearing member; the DME is also offering 50 seats for floor members and will appoint 20 firms to be market makers.

QIA GUNNING FOR ARSENAL STAKE: The Qatar Investment Authority is rumoured to be interested in acquiring a 9.9 percent stake in English Premier League team Arsenal FC, according to UK broadcaster ITV is trying to offload the $96m stake and the QIA is thought to be one of three interested parties. The team's main sponsor is Dubai's Emirates Airline which holds the naming rights for its new stadium for the next 16 years.

EMAAR, NEW EQUITY STRUCTURE: Emaar Properties has unveiled a revamped equity structure leading to the creation of Emaar as the new parent conglomerate. The newly structured company, while still focusing on property development, will facilitate Emaar's diversification into six new business segments -- retail, education, healthcare, finance, industry and hospitality and leisure. Emaar's international business segments will now operate as stand-alone profit centres converging into this central entity.

$54.5M CII UNDERWAY IN UAE: Newly formed private equity firm Capital Industries and Investments has launched its operations in the UAE. The company's strategy is to provide equity capital and acquire controlling stakes in privately-held, mid-sized companies operating in the construction manufacturing industry. CII has an initial capital of $54.5m and it will focus on the UAE in the first instance.

5.9 PERCENT GCC GDP GROWTH IN 2007: Real GDP growth among the GCC nations is expected to decline slightly in 2007 to around 5.9 percent according to a National Bank of Dubai report and cited by Gulf News. The NBD predicts a slight fall in oil prices and production will see a drop in oil revenues of up to 15 percent; the bank is basing its GDP growth rate of 5.9 percent on average oil prices of $60 a barrel.

US-UAE FTA TALKS ON HOLD: A US trade official has revealed official free trade agreement negotiations between the US and the UAE are currently on hold although informal talks are still ongoing, reported Gulf News. US Under-Secretary for International Trade Franklin Lavin said no formal negotiating round is on the horizon and the two sides still had some tough issues to tackle. Talks have been going on for two years.

EMAAR AGM SPARKS ROW: Emaar Properties' AGM was a lively affair yesterday as shareholders were told they would only receive 20 percent of the share's par value of Dhs1 as a dividend for last year's results, down from a dividend of 40 fils a share in 2005, reported Gulf News. Shareholders initially demanded a bigger cut but eventually agreed to the pay out.

IQ, $989.8M 2006 PROFIT: Industries Qatar has recorded a net profit for 2006 of $989.8m, a 12.6 percent increase over 2005, reported The Peninsula. Sales reached $2.1bn, an 18.2 percent lift on the previous year, while accumulated revenue since incorporation has now increased to $6.2bn. The Group's assets rose by 23.1 percent to $4.1bn.

TSE TURNOVER SLUMPS 61 PERCENT: The Tehran Stock Exchange has revealed that the turnover at the bourse last year fell by 61 percent from $7.9bn to $4.9bn, while the number of trades declined by 24 percent from almost 2.3m to 1.8m. Two companies were added to the TSE last year, while 90 others were temporarily de-listed, taking the number of listed firms from 420 to 332.

HFI TO THE QFC: The Qatar Financial Centre Authority has issued Hugh Fraser International with a legal licence. The establishment of an office in Doha follows on from the opening of an office in Abu Dhabi in September, in addition to its HQ in Dubai. HFI's Qatar operation will be headed up by Gordon Inkson and supported by Hady Al Kady, who heads up the Abu Dhabi office.

TASI SLIPS BACK: The Tadawul All Share Index fell yesterday, Saturday, closing on nearly 8,683.2 points, a drop of 89.3 points, reported Arab News. Last week, the market made very solid progress, climbing 7.3 percent, or 596.1 points. Turnover in the bourse yesterday was $6.6bn, after hitting $28.3bn last week.

SAUDI LOOKS FOR UK INVESTMENT: The Governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority Amr Al Dabbagh has revealed that the UK accounted for only 3.5 percent of the investment licences issued by Sagia in 2006, a slight fall from the 3.7 percent in 2005, reported Arab News. Al Dabbagh said the kingdom was currently looking to develop its healthcare, education, life sciences and ICT sectors and the UK was strong in these knowledge based industries.

CONCERN AT IRAN SANCTIONS: China and Russia have expressed their concerns at an expansion of financial sanctions against Iran for its ongoing nuclear programme, reported Reuters. A new UN resolution is being put together which will see the assets of more individuals and firms frozen and trade restrictions imposed on companies such as the state-owned Bank Sepah. Chinese officials said such an expansion punishes the Iranian people, not just those involved in the nuclear sector.

UAE, GERMANY TRADE TO HIT $6.8BN: Trade between the UAE and Germany is expected to reach $6.8bn over the next coupe of years, up from $4.9bn, according to the UAE's Ambassador to Germany, Mohammed Ahmad Al Mahmoud, and cited by the local WAM news agency. Meanwhile, around 500,000 German tourists visited the UAE last year and this number is expected to rise.

AD WANTS TO BE ECONOMIC HUB: Abu Dhabi is looking to boost its economic development by focusing on public-private partnerships, privatisation and fostering free trade agreements with nations such as the US, according to Salah bin Omer Al Shamsi, the Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry and cited by Gulf News. Al Shamsi said the emirate wants to become a regional economic hub and a new 'Silk Road' between the East and West.

SAUDI WOMEN OWN 20,000 FIRMS: Saudi Arabian women now own more than 20,000 companies and hold 21 percent of total private investment, according to Abdul Wahab Attar, the kingdom's permanent representative to the UN, and cited by Arab News. Attar also revealed in a meeting with the UN General Assembly that 56.5 percent of university graduates are female, as are 40 percent of the country's doctors but women make up only 14 percent of the total workforce.

WALA'A IPO ON MARCH 17: The Saudi United Cooperative Insurance Company, Wala'a Insurance, has said three banks, the Banque Saudi Fransi, the lead manager, the Riyad Bank and the Al Rajhi Bank, will handle applications to its initial public offering on March 17, reported Arab News. The IPO will remain open for ten days and it is offering 8m shares.

GULF BUILDS TIES WITH CHINA: China's rapid boom is attracting even more investment of petrodollars in its economy, reported the AP. China received around $20bn in Gulf based investment last year, with trade between the Gulf and Asia as a whole doubling between 2000 and 2005. Experts believe the US, traditionally a home for oil profits, will suffer as the Middle East looks elsewhere and eventually its economy could be impacted from the withdrawal of investment.

ORASCOM BUYS BACK SHARES: Egypt's Orascom Telecom has bought back 255,000 of its own shares over the past month, according to agency reports. The telco operator had 220m shares outstanding in January and it had declared an intention to buy back 5 percent, or 11m, of these. The firm paid between $71.3 and $77.1 per share.

To see more of AME Info, go to

Copyright (c) 2007, AME Info, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News.
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