Gulf in the News – November 1, 2013

OPEC oil output hits two-year low

Source: Arab News (Read full story)

OPEC’s oil output has fallen below 30 million barrels per day for the first time in two years in October, a Reuters survey found, as near-record Saudi Arabian output fails to offset disruption in Libya and lower supply from Iran and Nigeria. Supply from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries has averaged 29.90 million barrels per day (bpd), down from a revised 30.01 million bpd in September, according to the survey based on shipping data and information from sources at oil companies, OPEC and consultants. The survey further illustrates the drag on OPEC output from problems in African producers and sanctions on Iran. But rising shale oil supply from the US has limited the outages’ impact on prices, which at $109 a barrel are down over $8 from their 2013 peak.

Du’s third-quarter profit surges 45%

Source: Khaleej Times (Read full story)

Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company, the UAE’s second-biggest telecommunications operator popularly known as du, on Thursday reported a third-quarter net profit of Dh474 million, an increase of 45 per cent year on year, on the back of a slight growth in revenue and lower taxes. The net profit, up from Dh326.9 million in the year-earlier period, was in line with analysts’ estimates of Dh475 million. In December 2012, the UAE announced changes to royalties, or tax, it levies on the telecoms sector, introducing a more complicated structure that would reduce the burden on du and etisalat, which are both majority-owned by state-linked institutions. Du paid a royalty of Dh293.2 million, having made a pre-tax profit of Dh767.6 million, giving an effective tax rate of 38 per cent. In the year-earlier period, it provisioned to pay 50 per cent of its profit in royalties.

Qatar Holding takes stakes in BofA, Samsung

Source: The Peninsula (Read full story)

Qatar Holding has built small stakes in Bank of America and Samsung Electronics, two sources familiar with the matter said, as the wealth fund continues on its strategy of picking minority stakes in large global companies. The fund, one of the world’s most prolific investors, has a stake worth about $1bn in Bank of America, while its Samsung stake is worth between $200m-$300m, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity as the investments have not been publicly disclosed. BofA declined to comment and QIA could not be reached for comment outside working hours. A Samsung spokeswoman in Seoul said the company is aware of Qatar Holding’s recent purchase of its shares which is said reflects the fund’s support for its management. It did not comment on the value of the purchases.

Shaikh Khalifa holds talks with Qatar, Egypt leaders

Source: Khaleej Times (Read full story)

The President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on Thursday received separately the Amir of Qatar, His Highness Shaikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and Egyptian President Adly Mansour at Al Rawda Palace in Al Ain. The meeting with Shaikh Tamim was held in the presence of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces; and Shaikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President’s Representative. Shaikh Tamim was visiting the country as part of a tour of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Shaikh Khalifa welcomed Shaikh Tamim and the accompanying delegation and wished him success in leading the country towards further progress and prosperity.

Kerry to Visit Saudi Arabia to Smooth Relations

Source: New York Times (Read full story)

Secretary of State John Kerry will begin a nine-day trip to the Middle East, Europe and North Africa on Sunday by stopping in Saudi Arabia for talks with King Abdullah, a major ally who is angered over what he sees as Obama administration failures on Syria, Egypt, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and relations with Iran. Mr. Kerry’s trip, announced by the State Department on Thursday, will begin Sunday and include scheduled stops in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Warsaw; Jerusalem; Bethlehem, West Bank; Amman, Jordan; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; Algiers; and Rabat, Morocco. “In Riyadh, Secretary Kerry will meet with King Abdullah to discuss a wide range of bilateral and regional issues,” Jen Psaki, a State Department spokeswoman, said in astatement posted on the department’s website.