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DIFX turmps OMX bid to $5.3 billion

dubai international financial exchange, KSE,OMX, Borse Dubai
Borse Dubai has secured funding of as much as $5.3 billion to finance its takeover bid for Nordic stock exchange company OMX, a person familiar with the matter said.

The funding is enough to finance an offer of as much as 300 crowns per share for Stockholm-based OMX, about 30 per cent more than the 230 Swedish crowns per share the Gulf stock exchange operator has offered so far, said the person.

HSBC Holdings Plc has been advising the state-owned bourse on its bid.

A Swedish economic crimes unit said on Wednesday it was considering an investigation into Borse Dubai's $4 billion takeover offer for OMX, and would decide within days whether to proceed.

However, any potential criminal investigation into Borse Dubai's trading in OMX shares wouldn't automatically disqualify it as an eventual owner of the Nordic stock exchange operator, Swedish officials said yesterday.

Robert Engstedt, public prosecutor at the Swedish National Economic Crimes Bureau, said he was "looking at the trading" in regards to OMX shares, including "any physical person" involved in the trading.

"We look at whether there's reason to believe that someone with insider information has been trading," Engstedt said.

Borse Dubai expects any Swedish investigation surrounding OMX to focus on trading in stock of the Nordic bourse operator rather than its $4 billion bid, an official said yesterday. "If there is any investigation, it won't be into Borse Dubai; it will be into trading surrounding the bid," said the official.


The findings could have an impact on the investigation that Sweden's Financial Supervisory Authority, or Finansinspektionen, will undertake as soon as Borse Dubai files an ownership application with the regulator and it will assess whether it would be a suitable owner of OMX.

Gent Jansson, deputy director general of Finansinspektionen, said, "We will assess whether we think there's risk that the owner of a qualified stake risks undermining a sound development of the business. [But] that doesn't mean that any breach of law is disqualifying."

The Financial Markets Adviser's Committee - analysing how a change in ownership would affect OMX's users - will present its findings by September 28. via GulfNews


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UAE allows families to retain bigger Share of Public Listings

The UAE President has approved a law allowing families to own as much as 70 percent of their companies where they sell shares in initial public offerings.

Before, families selling shares in IPOs had to sell at least 55 percent of their stock.

State-controlled Emirates News Agency reported the change to the UAE Commercial Companies Law.

The UAE government wants to encourage family owned businesses to list their shares on the country's exchanges, which are dominated by banking and real estate firms.

Some of the UAE's largest unlisted businesses, such as Dubai's Al-Futtaim Group, are family owned. - Reuters


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Nasdaq To Lose OMX Deal To Dubai?

The folks over in United Arab Emirates are once again putting their money where their mouth is, with a surprise bid to merge with Nordic exchange operator OMX, a move that challenges New York-based Nasdaq’s May offer to merge with OMX. Read ON

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Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) to get 62 New IPOs

Shares worth $7.46 billion were offered in 62 initial public offerings (IPOs) made in Saudi Arabia last year. Saudi Arabia's Capital Market Authority (CMA) approved 40 IPOs drawing $3.2 billion from the middle of 2004 till the end of 2005.

CMA chairman Dr Abdul Rahman Al Tuwaijeri was quoted as saying by Khaleej Times that the number of IPOs recorded last year was the largest since its inception in 2004.

During the period, the authority allowed expatriates to invest in the kingdom's stock market and reduced the nominal value of joint stock company shares to $2.66 per share and fixed maximum commission at $3.20 for transaction orders up to $2,666.66.

During the last two years, the CMA settled 70 per cent of 2,295 complaints it had received from investors.

The report discussed the new rules and regulations issued by the authority including the market etiquette, principles to be followed by licensed agents and the company control law as well as the major decisions adopted by the authority to strengthen the market.

The CMA formulated new regulations in order to allocate the largest number of offered shares to individual subscribers and reduce the period for returning excess money to investors after final allocation of shares.

"These measures contributed to increasing the number of investors in the Saudi stock market," Al Tuwaijeri said. via tradearabia.com


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DIFX eyes Karachi Stock Exchange

State-run Borse Dubai said yesterday it would be interested in acquiring a stake in the Karachi Stock Exchange if and when members of Pakistan's biggest bourse agree to turn it into a company.
Interest in the South Asian exchange "would be part of the general interest for Borse Dubai", Borse Dubai Chairman Essa Kazem told Reuters by telephone.

Borse Dubai, which owns two exchanges in the Gulf Arab emirate, is bidding to take over Nordic exchange operator OMX
for $4 billion - trumping an offer from Nasdaq - as part of a strategy to expand in Europe, the Middle East and South Asia.
"We are open to expansion and are looking at any other opportunities," Kazem said, declining to be more specific.

He would not comment on a report in The Daily Telegraph yesterday that the company may buy Nasdaq shares in the London Stock Exchange and then bid jointly with the US company for OMX. Pakistan's chief securities regulator, Razi-ur-Rahman Khan, told Reuters last month that OMX and a Dubai exchange were among parties expressing an interest in the Karachi bourse.

He did not identify the Dubai exchange. Borse Dubai owns Dubai Financial Market Co and the Dubai International Financial Exchange, which operates according to international regulatory standards.

The KSE said in June it planned to list shares by year-end under a plan requiring members to sell more than half their holding. The exchange may sell more than 10 percent of its stock, Khan said.

"They still have to go through the demutualisation and valuation process, so the structure is not there yet," Kazem said.

Demutualisation separates trading rights from ownership. Deutsche Bank is valuing the exchange. via Bahrain Tribune


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OMX- Dubai Reps Meet

Representatives from Sweden's OMX AB and the Dubai stock exchange were expected to meet Monday about a major stock purchase last week by Dubai that could set up a bidding showdown with the Nasdaq Stock Market for the Nordic stock exchange operator.

OMX spokeswoman Heidi Wendt said representatives for OMX, including its Chief Executive Magnus Bocker and Chairman Urban Backstrom, and Borse Dubai were meeting in Stockholm on Monday, but declined to give details on when or what would be discussed.

"This is a meeting on their request. I can't give more details," she said.

The Swedish government, which is the second-largest shareholder in OMX with a 6.6 percent stake as of June 29, said it met with Borse Dubai representatives Monday, but there was no bid.

"If such is presented, the government will review it," Karin Forseke, the government's adviser, said in a statement.

Investor AB, OMX's largest shareholder with 10.7 percent, declined comment.

"We will meet them in the near future, but I won't answer on exactly when or where that will happen," Investor spokesman Fredrik Lindgren said.

Borse Dubai, owner of the Dubai stock exchange, said Thursday it had bought a 4.9 percent stake in OMX, worth 230 kronor ($34) per share, and that it had entered option agreements to raise its stake in OMX to 27.4 percent at the same price.

The announcement surprised Stockholm-based OMX, which said it had not received any further information about Borse Dubai's intentions and had received no offer besides that of Nasdaq, which made a bid for OMX in May.

OMX shares jumped 6.7 percent Thursday on news of the investment. On Monday, they closed up 2 percent to 234 kronor ($34.40).

Nasdaq last week urged OMX shareholders "to take no action with respect to the conditional offer by Dubai for a minority stake in OMX."

Nasdaq, which earlier this year lost its bid for the London Stock Exchange, offered 208.1 kronor ($30.90) per share, to be paid in cash and shares. The offer, which is dependent on Nasdaq's share price and the Swedish exchange rate, has since dropped to around 203.5 kronor ($30) per share.

Nasdaq declined to comment on the talks between Dubai and OMX, saying it stands by its previous statements, which also included remaining "fully committed to its recommended offer for 100 percent of OMX."

Bo Albertsson at Hill & Knowlton, a spokesman for Borse Dubai, said representatives including Per Larsson -- the chief executive of the Dubai International Financial Exchange and the former chief of the Stockholm-based bourse -- would be present in Stockholm.

Larsson left OMX in 2003 after helping the Swedish stock exchange begin its takeover of exchanges in Finland, Estonia and Latvia. The company also launched an unsuccessful bid for the London exchange in 2000. source-boston.com


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Swedish Politics Seen Key In OMX Takeover Deal

Swedish politics could be more significant than money in the sale of OMX AB, amid moves by Nasdaq Stock Market Inc to shore up its finances ahead of a possible increased bid for the Nordic exchange operator.

Nasdaq said Monday it is reviewing options for its 31% stake in the London Stock Exchange Group PLC, worth around $1.58 billion, a move market-watchers see as a precursor to a higher bid for OMX.

Nasdaq's initial $3.7 billion offer for the exchange operator on May 25, was trumped Friday by a $4 billion offer from government-owned Borse Dubai.

"What's more important right now is politics, not money," said Cheuvreux analyst Fredrik Gutenbrant. He highlighted Borse Dubai's large state ownership, and pointed out that the center-right Swedish government is selling its 6.6% OMX stake as part of its drive to reduce state ownership.

Mia Widell, spokeswoman for Swedish Financial Markets Minister Mats Odell, said Monday that Borse Dubai's state ownership is relevant. "This is one of the things we're looking at," Widell added.

Other Swedish lawmakers also expressed concern about the ownership of the Dubai bourse.

Bertil Kjellberg, a member of the ruling coalition's Moderate party, said he is "hesitant" about OMX being sold to Borse Dubai because "it would replace a state owner with another state owner."

Karin Pilsater, chairman of the Swedish parliamentary committee on industry and trade, said the Swedish government had made a commitment to reduce state ownership of OMX and added that Dubai's "type of government is, to put it mildly, different" to Sweden's.

"The government can't sell OMX to another state-run company," said Chevreux's Gutenbrandt. "Especially when that state is undemocratic."

However, with a less than 10% stake in OMX, the Swedish government alone wouldn't be able to block any OMX sale. Investor AB and Nordea Bank AB, two of OMX's largest shareholders, said Monday they continue to support U.S. exchange's offer for OMX but are evaluating Borse Dubai's bid.

Analysts say the government could raise its OMX stake to somewhere above 10% to secure a blocking minority. They say also that Investor -- which is the investment vehicle of Sweden's Wallenberg family -- isn't likely to make a move that was politically sensitive.

"We're analyzing the new offer," said Fredrik Lindgren of Investor, which has a 10.7% stake. He added, "It's not self-evident" that the Borse Dubai bid is better than the Nasdaq bid.

"Nordea still supports the Nasdaq bid. That hasn't changed," said Boo Ehlin, spokesman for Nordea, OMX's third largest shareholder after the Swedish government.

OMX shareholders who backed the Nasdaq bid agreed not consider rival bids below SEK220 a share.

"But since we are allowed to consider other offers more than SEK220 a share we are now free to analyze the Borse Dubai bid," said Ehlin Monday.

Chevreux's Gutenbrandt said a raised Nasdaq bid "will help the Swedish government justify selling to Nasdaq." He added that a refusal to sell to Borse Dubai "would show that they are really committed to not having state ownership" and that it would be "easy political points' for the government.

Fredrik Reinfeldt's center-right government, which swept to power in September after 12 years of social democratic rule, has consistently trailed in the polls this year.

OMX shares traded up SEK6, or 2.4%, at SEK238 Monday at 1440 GMT, outperforming a 1.2% rise in the broader Stockholm market.

---By Joel Sherwood, Dow Jones Newswires, courtesy Zawya.com

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DIFX TraX Platform gets new Merrill Lynch Certificates

Merrill Lynch today announced that it will list two new certificates (Tracker-10YIT-Dubai and ReverseT-1YRC-Dubai) on the DIFX TraX, the recently launched structured products platform of the Dubai International Financial Exchange (DIFX).

Both certificates will be linked to the Dubai Investable Index, the first index designed to track stocks listed on the Dubai Financial Market (DFM), which Merrill Lynch launched in November 2006.

Tracker-10YIT-Dubai will track the value of the Dubai Investable Index allowing investors to take an immediate broad and liquid exposure to the Dubai equity market.

ReverseT-1YRC-Dubai will be the first listed reverse convertible linked to the Dubai Investable Index. It will guarantee a fixed coupon of 9.5% and the initial investment on inception date will be safe as long as the Reference Index does not drop by 20% or more at anytime during the one year maturity of the Reverse Convertible.

Hedi Ben Mlouka, head of CEEMEA Equity Derivative Sales at Merrill Lynch said: 'The launch of the Dubai Investible Index signified a milestone in the development of the derivatives market in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region. Now Merrill Lynch's launch of two new certificates reaffirms our commitment to driving growth in this important market and leading innovation through the development of derivative instruments for clients and the wider GCC market.'


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Nasdaq and Borse Dubai may Join Hands in OMX bid

US exchange company Nasdaq may sell its stake in the London Stock Exchange to Borse Dubai and make a joint bid with the Gulf exchange for Nordic exchange owner OMX, The Daily Telegraph said on Monday.

Nasdaq Stock Market, eager to expand its presence in overseas markets, is now locked in a $4 billion bidding war with Borse Dubai for OMX, which owns exchanges in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and the Baltic states.

On August 20, Nasdaq said it may sell its 31 percent LSE stake, worth around 800 million pounds ($1.6 billion), to bolster its chances of buying OMX and that it was already in touch with interested parties. It said then it would not sell the stake to a single buyer.

"I think Dubai have a very strong hand to take some terms or at least be included in the council," the paper quoted a source as saying.

Nasdaq's agreed $3.7 billion deal with OMX has been trumped by a $4 billion cash proposal by Borse Dubai. Nasdaq chief executive Bob Greifeld, wary of losing the battle for OMX or paying too much, is expected to come back with another bid close to $4 billion, the paper said.

Nasdaq wants to use the proceeds from the sale of its LSE stake to pay down debt and buy back shares, which would effectively raise the value of its cash-and-share bid for OMX.

Nasdaq and Borse Dubai could not be immediately reached for comment. - Reuters

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Pak-Qatar Ventures to begin Operations Next Month

The Pak-Qatar General Takaful Company and the Pak-Qatar Family Takaful Company are due to start operations in Pakistan this September, Izzat M Al Rashid, General Manager of Qatar Islamic Insurance Company (QIIC) said here yesterday. Both companies are being promoted by the Qatar Islamic Insurance Company (QIIC), Qatar International Islamic Bank (QIIB) and a prominent Qatari businessman.

The sponsors along with other Qatari participants hold 51 per cent of shares in each of the two companies, while the remaining 49 per cent are being offered to Pakistani nationals and strategic investors.

The general insurance business aims to bring specialised products covering accident, fire, marine, engineering, money and banking, property insurance and liability, while the life insurance will roll out investment and protection products, saving product, retirement and education policies. Announcing the company's semi-annual financials yesterday at the QIIC's headquarters, Al Rashid said that the insurer's assets exceeded the QR500m mark for the first time in its history.

QIIC posted 33 per cent rise in its first-half net profits to QR24.6m, while the company's earnings-per-share (EPS) in H1 was QR1.64 compared to QR1.23 in the corresponding period last year. The shareholders' equity reached QR245m or a 6 per cent increase over the figures of the corresponding period in 2006. The gross underwriting premium as of June 30, 2007, was over QR97.4m representing an increase of 20 per cent over the figures of the corresponding period in 2006.

However, the net policyholders' insurance surplus reached a modest QR10m, lower than the QR17.4m achieved in the corresponding period last year. Al Rashid attributed this to the fact that the company then posted remarkable profits resulting from sales of properties and also due to modest increase in investment income in the first half of this year.

Al Rashid said that he was confident that the company will witness further achievements in all aspects of its business in the second half of this year, having formulated a comprehensive plan with a view to diversifying investment opportunities.

However, he deplored the huge pressure on the local insurance market brought about by motor accident and claims leading to increasing loss ratio, calling on the authorities to review the current third party policy premium that has remained unchanged for the last 15 years. This, he said, would complement the recently issued traffic laws aimed at regulating vehicular traffic and reduce the number of accidents and loss of lives on the country's roads. (menafn.com)

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Forsyth Partners Withdrawal from Dubai

Following discussions with its regulator, the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), regarding its capital adequacy position, Forsyth Partners Global Distributors Ltd announces the cessation of its financial services activities in Dubai after the agreed withdrawal of its financial services licence.

Forsyth Partners (Middle East) Ltd also announces the DFSA's agreement to the withdrawal of its financial services licence. Forsyth Partners would like to thank the DFSA for its assistance during this restructuring process.

Forsyth Partners has been re-examining its business model since the start of the year, which has seen it open a European distribution operation, based in London for which it has gained FSA authorisation.

In addition, its Dublin domiciled UCITS 3 funds have recently been registered for sale in Italy and Finland. As part of this strategic review, further announcements about the Group's global distribution operations will be made shortly.

Forsyth Partners Ltd confirms that its UK based investment management, research and client service operations are unaffected by the revised arrangements in Dubai. menafn.com


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Dubai Business Licenses Boost in Number

The Business Registration Division at the Department of Economic Development (DED) issued 7,103 licences for various types of businesses in Dubai in the first half of 2007. The number is 692 more than the licences issued during the same period last year. The licenses were issued in three categories - Commercial, Professional and Industrial.

The majority of licences were issued in the Commercial sector (5,761), followed by the Professional sector (1,243) and the Industrial sector (99), according to a report by the Economic Affairs Division at the DED.

‘General trade’ led the list of the top 10 licensed activities in the Commercial category with 905 licences issued, followed by ‘watches and accessories’ with 655, ‘ready made garments’ with 592, ‘gifts’ with 531 and ‘handbags and leather products’ with 473.

‘Metal works for buildings’ led the list of activities in the industrial category with 13 licences issued, followed by ‘smithery and welding workshop’ with 12 and ‘turnery workshop’ with 6.

The Intlaq scheme, an initiative by the Department of Economic Development to encourage more UAE nationals to set up businesses from home, received strong response with 327 licences issued in the first half of 2007, a 57 per cent increase from first half of 2006 (208). The largest growth was recorded in the trade category, with 263 licenses issued.

DED issued 102 new licences to branches of foreign firms in the first half of 2007. Ten licences were issued for branches of companies from Britain. The rest were for 20 different companies from South Korea, Japan, India, Germany and elsewhere.

“The significant number of licences issued to branches of foreign firms reflects the global growth opportunities offered by Dubai. The Government seeks to encourage local and foreign investment in commercial and industrial projects and create the right environment for investors,” said Noura Juma, director of Business Registration at DED.

“DED launches new services and initiatives with the objective of attracting international companies to set up their regional base in Dubai and thus contribute to achieving higher economic growth,” she added.

Limited liability companies (LLCs) topped the list of issued licences according to legal status, with 3,953 licences issued in the first half of 2007 followed by Individual corporations with 2,772. –(Trade Arabia News Service)

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Bahrain to get new Free Zone

Plans for a free zone near the new Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Port in Bahrain are expected to be finalized in six weeks, an official said. Abdul Hakeem Al Shemmari, head of the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s representation on the joint committee consisting of the BCCI and the Customs Affairs Directorate, was quoted by BNA as saying talks are now focusing on the nature of operations in the free zone and what industries should be located there.

Al Shemmari hoped the free zone will begin its operations in the third quarter of 2008. The zone, covering an area of 1 sq km, will provide hundreds of jobs for Bahrainis, he said.

Al Shemmari said the zone will be used to increase Bahrain's exports as it will be a new window for economic and technical cooperation with other countries.

It will also help make the new port one of the main ports in the region by attracting industries and services that correspond to the requirements of development plans, he said.

The free zone will also expand the investment options available to the private sector, he added.

(Trade Arabia News Service)

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Merrill Lynch’s reports Emerging Market Equities as 'still attractive'

While fund managers have turned more risk averse in light of global market instability they still believe equities offer value, says a report. According to Merrill Lynch’s Survey of Fund Managers for August emerging markets are more appealing to investors than the rest.

In the broadest snapshot of global institutional investor sentiment since the sharp rises in credit spreads and equity market volatility, a net 11 per cent still regard equities as undervalued. In contrast a net 41 per cent think bonds are overvalued.

Investors, polled at the height of recent volatility, have increased their cash levels one percentage point to 4.4 per cent of their portfolio. They have trimmed their expectations of corporate profits and expect global growth to slow. But what is striking this month is how few investors (7 per cent) think a recession is likely in the next 12 months. The survey suggests that investors have not rushed to reassess the prospects for equities.

“Investors seem to be viewing this turmoil as a potential buying opportunity for equities,” said David Bowers, independent consultant to Merrill Lynch.

"They appear unwilling to turn fundamentally bearish on equities so long as they believe the rest of the world can decouple from a vulnerable US economy”.

Respondents still appear to view wider credit spreads as a problem centred in the US housing market, and believe that emerging markets are relatively appealing.

August’s survey indicates a major shift in favour of global emerging market equities at the expense of US stocks. A net 29 per cent of respondents say that emerging markets offered the best corporate profit outlook of all regional sectors – overtaking the eurozone which has been the favoured region throughout 2007.

Secondly, investors believe quality of earnings in emerging markets, while a concern, is improving at a time that quality of earnings in the US are deteriorating. Thirdly valuations are seen as more attractive. Fewer respondents believe emerging market equities to be the most overvalued. Only a net 8 per cent hold that view while a net 19 per cent see the US as the most overvalued region.

At the global sector level investors still prefer stocks positioned to gain from cyclical trends, despite a more cautious outlook for growth. Globally, the number of surveyed funds overweight technology, for example, has risen by seven percentage points to 33 per cent, from 26 per cent in July. Other cyclical sectors gaining favour include materials, energy and industrials. Meanwhile credit turmoil has hit financials hard. A net 29 per cent of respondents are underweight banks compared with 18 per cent in July.

Europeans share the global sector view despite having reduced their positions in pro-cyclical stocks. “Investors in Europe maintain a pro-cyclical stance, though they have toned down their bet on the cycle,” said Karen Olney, chief European equity strategist at Merrill Lynch. “In the past month they have started to shuffle back into defensives, such as healthcare and food & beverages. This move was overdue, given how extreme the overweights in many of the industrials had become over the past few months.”

Rising counterparty and business-cycle risk

For the second month Merrill Lynch asked asset allocators to rate seven potential risks to financial market stability, scoring each risk in terms of the threat they thought it posed to financial market conditions.

Credit (default) risk was top of the list for the second month running. A net 78 per cent of the panel thought credit presented an “above normal” threat to economic stability up from 72 per cent last month.

However allocators now regard counterparty risk and business cycle risk as growing threats. More than half of respondents (51 per cent) say that counterparty risk is an “above normal” threat to financial stability – double the score in July of 24 per cent. A net 32 per cent of asset allocators see business-cycle risk as elevated, compared with 8 per cent in July. -(Trade Arabia News Service)

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Iraq sells 3 mobile licences for $3.75bn

Iraq sold three mobile phone licences for $3.75 billion to Kuwait's Mobile Telecommunications Corporation (MTC), Asiacell and Korek. Iraq relies on cellphones after war and sanctions hit landlines.

The three firms, which already run networks in the country, made the highest bids in an auction in the Jordanian capital that began on Thursday.

'To get the best return from the auction in such circumstances is a great vote of confidence in the Iraqi economy,' Iraqi Finance Minister Bayan Jabor said in Amman. The winners will also share 18 per cent of the revenues with the government.

TurkCell and Egypt's Orascom Telecom had also bid for licences but dropped out of the race for one of the few sectors to thrive amid Iraq's instability and crumbling infrastructure.

The fixed-line network was hit by sanctions after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and by bombing during the invasion in 2003. Less than 4 per cent of Iraqis have landlines.

Orascom's withdrawal appeared to be a major upset as the operator was the first to provide a full mobile phone service in Baghdad after the 2003 invasion, through its Iraqna subsidiary.

The company had invested almost $300 million in Iraq since it first won the rights to operate there in October 2003. Iraqna's Web site says it has around 3 million subscribers, representing just over a third of the market.

'Since they were first to establish in Iraq, we were surprised by Iraqna's pullout from the auction after bidding reached $1.25 billion,' Jabor said.

The 15-year licences replace three short-term contracts awarded soon after the invasion.

MTC began in the south of Iraq through its Atheer network. Asiacell is 40-per cent owned by Qatar Telecommunications Co through Kuwait-based National Mobile Telecommunications, which it took over in March.

Asiacell began operating in the Kurdish north in 1999. Korek Telecom is based in the city of Irbil in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Iraqi mobile use rose to 8 million out of a population of 26 million at the end of 2006, from virtually nothing three years earlier, according to officials.

Officials said the auction, which had been delayed due to Iraq's security problems, is part of a drive to increase revenues and improve services in a market that is viewed as underpenetrated.

They also said the auction system was designed to counter widespread criticism of a lack of accountability that has plagued Iraqi administrations since the invasion.

The tendering process took a year and half and left five mainly Middle Eastern bidders in the running out of the 11 firms originally short-listed.

Jabor said earlier that the winning firms have to offer 45 per cent of their equity to the Iraqi public within four years as part of a drive by the authorities to widen public ownership of assets.

The finance ministry will levy 15 per cent tax on the profits of the mobile companies on top of the revenue-sharing, he added.

There is a widespread belief that the original licences were offered too cheaply to existing operators. Reuters

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Dubai show Focus on Direct Selling

Aiming at the direct selling industry, which is now worth $110 billion, Dubai is planning to host its first “International Direct Selling Festival”.

Under the guidance of one of the greatest marketing gurus of the time Professor Charles W King, from the University of Illinois in Chicago, a unique specialised exhibition and conference will be held for the first time in the region.

The event, scheduled to be held on May 15 and 16, 2008, is sponsored by Direct Selling Educational Institute in Dubai.

With low initial investment and a sure income that’s proportional to the work done, Direct Selling opens a world of immense opportunities with high profit returns.

Dubai’s 1st International Direct Selling Festival aims at guiding the people in Dubai as well as the entire region to tap the potential of the Direct Selling industry.

“The need of the hour is to organise and introduce the industry in UAE in a proper manner. This requires channelising the potential of the industry and legitimising it by the UAE government. The supreme aim of the Direct Selling Festival is to help more and more people to build a successful career as a Direct Selling professional,” said Professor King.

A powerful engine for growth, direct selling is a great option for those who love to be their own boss, or aim to translate their free time to earning time.

Market leaders in direct selling like Forever Living Products, Avon, Virgin Vie, DXN and Tiens in UAE are joining hands to support this movement.

The exhibition helps the direct selling industry to prosper and accelerate the growth by increasing the stature and credibility of direct selling companies and associations here in the region.

Dubai’s First International Direct Selling Festival will explore how the industry is going to change the lives of millions in the coming years.

Direct selling is gaining momentum throughout the region as a legitimate and profitable way of doing business and has already been successful in stabilising the grass roots economies of many countries. – TradeArabia News Service

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China - Iran Automobile Manufacturing Handshake

Chery Automobile Co, a mid-sized but fast-growing Chinese car maker, has agreed to set up a $370 million assembly plant in Iran with two foreign partners, targeting Iran and neighbouring markets.

Chery will hold 30 per cent in the venture, with Iran Khodro Corp, Iran's biggest car maker, holding 49 per cent and Solitac, a Canada-based investment company, holding the remainder, Chery said in a statement over the weekend.

The plant, with a designed annual capacity of 200,000 units, will assemble Chery QQ6 compact cars from knock-down kits, it added.
end post Reuters

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Expatriate workforce Major Worry: UAE Minister

The Gulf countries are facing major challenge in its dependence over expatriate workforce, while expecting another five million local job hunters in the next ten years, said Dr Ali Abdullah Al Kaabi, UAE Minister for Labour.

He was taking part in a documentary programme titled Tsunami Alkhaleej aired by AlJazeera Channel yesterday which highlighted the workers situation in the Gulf countries and the kind of problems they are facing and creating.

The Gulf countries are not ready to give these migrant workers any civil rights, according to Dr Abdul Khalig Abdullah, a Political Science Professor at the UAE University who was also participating at the programme.

"These people did not come here to stay forever, they came for work, earn a living and go back to their country" he said.

"The migrant workers are already controlling the cultural and business activities in certain areas and if an election is conducted at any GCC country, I am sure that they will take over the legislative authority as well", said Dr Majeed Al Alawi, Labour Minister of Bahrain.

"The Singaporean experience proves its success, why don't we repeat it in our regions?" he asked.

International organisations and some powerful countries are not doing enough to force GCC nations giving the migrants their rights.

"As long as they need the oil and they are taking advantages from the GCC government I don't think they take any action in this regard" said Dr Ibrahim Gadir, from the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The Bahraini labour minister suggested that the GCC countries should make agreement to allow migrant workers moving freely in these countries.

"By doing this we will not lose skilled workers and at the same time we can keep our identity" he said.

Is it a solution to replace the Asian workers with the Arab?, asked Al Kaabi. "In 2020 there will be 100m unemployed persons in the Arab world, I think this will be good solution" said the UAE minister.

However, his Bahraini counterpart disagreed. "The Asian workers are better and they accept low salaries" he said.

Talking about democracy in the region Al Kaabi said the Gulf countries are doing better compared to some Arab countries." (The Peninsula)

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Loyalty Scheme to be Lauched by Etisalat UAE

Etisalat is preparing for the roll-out of its reward scheme – More - and customers will earn reward points by using Etisalat mobile services and products. Agreements with a wide range of partners are being finalised for customers to earn as well as redeem reward points, said a statement.

These include brands and companies in the airline, hospitality, retail, lifestyle enhancers, and many other sectors.

“Devising a programme to reward our large customer base is no mean feat, and we are committed to ensuring that we deliver a smooth experience right from the start. ‘More’ from Etisalat will ensure that customers experience immense value-addition in their relationship with Etisalat,” said Etisalat vice-president marketing Khalifa Al Shamsi.

“The programme is set up to classify customers into membership categories based on usage of our services. The programme is taking into consideration customers’ previous usage. We are excited about the opportunities that will now be opened, both for us to delight our customers, and for our customers to experience new ways of reaching further”, he added.

‘More’ from Etisalat has been designed in association with Emirates Airline’s ‘Skywards’, and draws on the experience of this award-winning programme, as well as industry standards, customising the final solution into an attractive package for Etisalat mobile customers, he said. – TradeArabia News Service

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Arab Science and Tech Fund - Funding Tech Start-ups

The Sharjah-based non-governmental and non-profit regional and international organisation, Arab Science and Technology Foundation (ASTF), is willing to provide an initial funding of up to Dh367,268 ($100,000) to an Arab business plan that could create innovative information technology and other IT-related products.

Those who want to avail of such privilege, however, must first win in the contest that ASTF launched yesterday in cooperation with Intel Corporation, the world leader in silicon innovation. Called the Second Arab Technology Business Plan Competition, the event aims to promote regional Arab technology start-ups with international market appeal.

"We're living in an open world, and the best thing to do is develop innovative products in the Arab world and sell them to the international market," said Abdalla Alnajjar, president of ASTF. "Creating the know-how here is important, then let's put in some added-value and think of how to grow internationally."

Bassem Nasir, higher education manager, Intel Middle East, Turkey and Africa, said the Arabs must start focusing on innovation and education if they want to compete in the global arena. He added that the company is committed to educating the youth and enhancing their entrepreneurial skills through the Intel World Ahead Programme.

"The idea is to help develop a more competitive IT workforce capable of driving innovation and economic growth in the region," he said.

Farhan Kalaldeh, ASTF programme manager, said the profit from ASTF investments in start-ups would be plowed back to the foundation and used to finance other deserving business plans. He said, for instance, that if at least two in 20 new companies would make it in the international market, the returns on ASTF equity investment would be a great help for the other start-ups.

"Entrepreneurs from all Arab countries, whose new ventures are in the seed, start-up or early growth stages are eligible to join the contest," he said.

He added that IT-related business plans include those focusing on communications, media, education, biotechnology and energy, among others. He said that 40 per cent of business plans submitted for last year's competition were on IT.

The main criteria for selection include market potential, capable technology and management teams, and financial viability. "Successful business projects must have passed the research and development (R&D) stage, must be financially feasible and must offer attractive returns on investments," Kalaldeh said.

Winners of the contest will receive $7,500 (first place), $5,000 (second place) and $2,500 (third place). Winning does not guarantee the start-up funding of up to $100,000, however, ASTF officials said.

Alnajjar said that this year the university category "Arab Universities Technology Business Plan" has been merged with the mature entrepreneurs division. The final round of the competition will be held in Jordan on December 10-11.

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Industrial Auction in Dubai

Industrial auctioneers Ritchie Bros is to sell heavy equipment in an auction in Dubai on September 3, to be followed by a subsequent event on the same day in Singapore. The combined two centre auction will represent day one of a two day sale in Dubai. The Dubai auction already has 800 items available for purchase with a month still to go before the event.
ameinfo.com (end post)

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Dubai appoints Property Market Regulatory Authority

Dubai has created a real estate regulator to oversee the industry, including the operations of property developers and management companies. The body will be called the Real Estate Regulatory Authority.

The authority will be affiliated to the Dubai Land Department, the state-owned Emirates News Agency (Wam) reported, citing a decree by Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President, Prime Minister and ruler of Dubai.

The authority will consider real estate policies, strategies and other related aspects, Wam said, without being more specific.

Last month, Dubai also issued a new law which makes Escrow accounts compulsory for all Dubai off-plan developments.

As per this law, money will be released only on the order of the Dubai Land Department.

Dubai is also expected to issue a new strata law which will see developers hand over control and ownership of the common areas of the building to a owners' society.

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Public-Private Tie-Ups needed to Develop Solid Waste Management Infrastructure - UAE

An official of the global consulting firm on urban and transport planning, Hyder Consulting, has urged for a strong public-private partnership in the UAE to put up solid waste management infrastructure that could cost each emirate billions of dirhams but whose returns would be seen after two decades.

"Privatisation through public-private partnership brings in financing and have both parties learn from each other," said Deirdre Dudley-Owen, senior waste consultant, Hyder Consulting Middle East. "Both sides can also bring in international experts and learn from each other."

Dudley-Owen yesterday said private contactors would be needed to put up the facility to pre-treat and recycle solid waste materials before these are incinerated or dumped into landfills. The landfills should be lined in order to prevent liquid waste seepage while the residual wastes brought about by incineration should first be treated before they are released into the air.

She said this whole process is called integrated waste strategy, a mix of garbage treatment being used across Europe which is also the most suitable for the UAE, whose seven emirates all have no wide-ranging infrastructure built to manage the growing garbage problem.

"Waste generation continues to grow and will be a heavy burden to municipalities," she said, adding that there has been "indiscriminate dumping of untreated wastes" in some parts of the country."

Some environmentalists have seen, for instance, "kilometres and kilometres of various waste materials" including asbestos, oil and industrial wastes dumped into some open areas on the border of Umm Al Quwain, a tiny emirate of 750 sq km between Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah and located on the country's Arabian Gulf coast.

Dudley-Owen said the situation is not getting any better considering that the country's increasing population and fast economic growth has brought about increased individual and industrial wastes. She added that 725 kilogramme of garbage is generated by each person every day in Dubai and 730 kilogramme in Abu Dhabi.

She said the setting up of an integrated waste strategy facility ? which may include mechanical-biological treatment ? can be done in two years if financing is available. But the baseline work of data gathering and analysing them and formulating recommendations could take three to five years.

The country's fourth largest city, Al Ain, located in the capital Abu Dhabi, has the most advanced waste treatment facilities in the UAE. Dr Salem Al Kaabi, who recently joined the city government, said Al Ain has a sorting station for garbage, an incinerator for medical wastes, and a lined landfill site of 1km by 1km for hazardous and residual wastes.

Dudley-Owen described Ras Al Khaimah as the most "forward looking" emirate when it comes to having adequate facilities for garbage management, Ajman as "very keen", and Abu Dhabi as wanting to "emulate" Al Ain. "Dubai is my weak spot," she said. "We need to really clearly assess what is being done in Dubai with regard to garbage problem and what their needs are."

She said most UAE municipalities have signed contracts with waste collecting companies, which have not illustrated clearly how and where they are disposing the garbage. (khaleej times)

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