Middle East & African Monitor – 14 November 2017

  • Overseas Location For Aramco IPO Still To Be Decided.
  • Lebanese Christian Patriarch Makes Historic Trip To Saudi Arabia.
  • US Policy Reversal Over Iran Could Have Major Commerical Implications.
  • Foreign Holdings Of Egyptian T-Bills Dips.
  • KSA Seeks To Boost Gas Production.
  • IMF Encourages Morocco To Implement More Flexible FX Regime.
  • IATA Says US$1.2 Bio Of Airline Revenues Blocked Across Africa.
  • Lockheed Wins US$1.6 Bio UAE Contract.
  • S&P Lowers Rating On Ezdan Holdings.
  • QFB Sells Amanat Stake.


Overseas Location For Aramco IPO Still To Be Decided.
The CEO of Saudi Aramco, Amin Nasser, was quoted by Bloomberg yesterday saying that the firm is still to make a final decision over how many shares will be offered to the public, and which overseas bourse it will list on when its undertakes its much awaited IPO next year. “Preparations are proceeding to the fullest extent for listing in 2018, we are ready for all different stock exchanges. There’s definitely going to be a listing on Tadawul although the decision on how much to list is being reviewed,” Nasser stated, adding that the company was also planning to invest up to US$300 bio in upstream oil and gas projects over the next ten years. Meanwhile the CEO of Hong Kong’s Stock Exchange was quoted by Caixin magazine yesterday suggesting that even if Saudi Aramco chose another international market for its IPO, it “will for sure” float shares in Hong Kong, due to the exchange’s access to mainland China.

Lebanese Christian Patriarch Makes Historic Trip To Saudi Arabia.
Lebanon’s Maronite patriarch, Bechara Boutros Al Rahi, is currently undertaking a historic visit to Saudi Arabia, the first official such trip to be made by a senior church leader. The cleric is reportedly due to meet with both King Salman and the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as well as the outgoing Lebanese Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, today. Al Rahi is one of the most prominent Christian figures in the Middle East, and was quoted by Gulf News soon after his arrival in the Kingdom yesterday saying that; “Relations between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia are deep-rooted and I thank King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad for their gracious treatment of the Lebanese community, I have always been longing to visit Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has stood with Lebanon at all times, despite the crises, relations between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia remain brotherly. Saudi Arabia has always been present when Lebanon faced economic and political crises, Lebanon will not disappear as long as Islamic-Christian coexistence lasts.”

US Policy Reversal Over Iran Could Have Major Commerical Implications.
With the Trump administration actively revisiting US policy towards Tehran, a move which may even perhaps overturn the nuclear accord, a number of international firms who have already signed initial commercial contracts in Iran are becoming concerned that their impending investments there could fall foul of fresh US sanctions in the near future. One case in point is the French energy giant Total’s US$5 bio plans to develop the South Pars gas field in Iran, and whose worries over a potential snapback in US sanctions were highlighted in comments made recently by the company’s CEO, Patrick Pouyanne, during a CNN interview, in which he stated; "Either we can do the deal legally if there is a legal framework, but If we cannot do that for legal reasons, because of a change of the regime of sanctions, then we have to revisit it. If there is a sanctions regime, we have to look at it carefully, we work in the US, we have assets in the US, we just acquired more assets in the US." Total was the first western energy company to conclude a major commercial agreement with Iran since sanctions were eased in early 2016.

Foreign Holdings Of Egyptian T-Bills Dips.
The total foreign holdings of Egyptian Treasury bills dipped to EGP330.90 bio last week from EGP 333.60 bio the previous week according to the country’s Finance Ministry. This marks the first time such holdings have fallen since the local currency was floated at the end of last year. “We’re still seeing purchases from foreign investors, but maturities this quarter are larger than the previous one. We’re also entering the holiday season so it is normal to see lower activity from foreign funds,” the head of the ministry’s public debt division, Samy Khallaf, was quoted as saying by Bloomberg yesterday.

KSA Seeks To Boost Gas Production.
Late last week Saudi Aramco signed a series of EPC agreements worth a total of US$4.5 bio with a range of international firms, including Italy’s SAIPEM, Technicas Reunidas of Spain and China Petroleum Pipelines. According to Reuters most of these contracts are linked to projects which would expand Saudi Arabia’s gas production capabilities.  Meanwhile an article published by the Russian media outlet RIA, claims that Saudi Aramco is considering taking part in Novatek’s LNG project in the Arctic.

IMF Encourages Morocco To Implement More Flexible FX Regime.
Meanwhile the IMF has called on the Moroccan government not to delay the introduction of a more flexible FX regime too long. “ The IMF supports the authorities' intention to gradually transition to a more flexible exchange rate regime, which should support the economy's ability to absorb external shocks, and raise competitiveness. With current conditions that continue to offer a window of opportunity to implement the transition in a gradual and orderly manner, starting the process as soon as possible would be appropriate," the head of the IMF mission to Morocco was quoted as saying recently.

IATA Says US$1.2 Bio Of Airline Revenues Blocked Across Africa.
The International Air Transport Association’s Vice President for Africa, Raphale Kuuchi, claimed yesterday that a number of airlines were still struggling to repatriate up to US$1.2 bio in revenues from nine countries in Africa, namely Angola, Algeria, Eritrea, Ethiopia , Libya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sudan and Zimbabwe. According to a Reuters report Angola has blocked the largest chunk of these outstanding funds (US$500 mio).

Lockheed Wins US$1.6 Bio UAE Contract.
Lockheed Martin has been awarded a US$1.6 bio contract to upgrade the UAE Air Force’s fleet of F-16 fighter jets.

S&P Lowers Rating On Ezdan Holdings.
Standard & Poors has lowered its long-term corporate credit rating on the Qatari based real estate developer, Ezdan Holding Group QSC, to BB from BBB- and revised its outlook from stable to negative.

QFB Sells Amanat Stake.
Qatar First Bank has reportedly sold its stake in the UAE’s Amanat Holdings for AED 150 mio.


Did you know that Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa? It rises over 19,300 feet, which is so tall that glaciers can be found at its summit even though the mountain itself lies close to the equator.

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