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Middle East & African Monitor – 27 April 2017

  • Iran’s Supreme Leader Says Next President Should Focus On Domestic Issues.
  • Attack On Saudi Fuel Terminal Foiled – US Destroyer ‘Harassed’ By Iranian Vessel.
  • EIA Reports Crude Stocks Fall As Refinery Demand Rises.
  • Oman’s SWF Consider Consolidation.
  • Tunisia Hikes Rates.
  • Jordan Conducts US$500 Mio Bond Issuance.
  • Nigeria Considers US$5.85 Bio Loan From China.
  • Citibank Returns To The Kingdom.
  • UAE Unveils First Solar Powered Petrol Station.

REGIONAL COMMENTARY

Iran’s Supreme Leader Says Next President Should Focus On Domestic Issues.
As the vote to select Iran’s next President approaches, the country’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has called for the eventual winner to move away from trying to attract foreign involvement in Iran’s economy and instead focus again on self-sufficiency. “The candidates should promise to focus on national capabilities and domestic capacities to resolve the economic issues rather than looking abroad," Khamenei was quoted as saying earlier this week. His comments could be seen as a veiled rebuke of President Rouhani’s ongoing attempts to attract overseas investment into the country following the P5+1 nuclear accord in 2015, but is perhaps also aimed at supporting the campaign of one of the more hardline candidates in the race such as Ebrahim Raisi. "We should bring manufacturing enterprises back to production and for this we do not need to look to foreigners," Raisi recently stated. The Presidential election is due to be held on May 19th this year.

Attack On Saudi Fuel Terminal Foiled – US Destroyer ‘Harassed’ By Iranian Vessel.
Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry announced yesterday that the country’s coast guard had managed to intercept a remote controlled speed boat, which had been laden with explosives and travelling at 34 knots towards a petroleum distribution terminal on Tuesday. An official from the ministry accused Houthi rebels in Yemen of being behind this latest event, adding the group continued to pose a threat to waterways in the area. “The border guards are working side by side with the personnel of the military forces, God willing, to stand steadfast against Houthi militias that threaten water corridors and marine facilities through booby-trapped boats and marine mines and deal with their threats to defeat their aggression,” the spokesperson said. Meanwhile the US Navy has said that one of its guided-missile destroyers, the USS Mahan, was forced to fire a warning flare at a “fast-attack craft” belonging to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards which had sailed “aggressively” to within 1,000 meters of the American ship yesterday. Last year the US Navy reported 35 similar incidents of what is describes as “unsafe or unprofessional behavior” undertaken by Iranian vessels in the region.

EIA Reports Crude Stocks Fall As Refinery Demand Rises.
According to the latest EIA data, US crude stocks dropped by 3.6 mio barrels last week, double the amount forecast and marking a 3rd week of drawdowns, which in turn is primarily attributed to stronger refinery demand after their seasonal maintenance period ended. The EIA report showed that these refineries handled 17.3 mio bpd last week the highest level on record.

Oman’s SWF Consider Consolidation.
According to a Bloomberg article published yesterday, Oman is considering merging its State General Reserve Fund with the Oman Investment Fund. If such a consolidation were to go ahead the resulting new entity would reportedly manage almost US$25 bio in assets.

Tunisia Hikes Rates.
Tunisia’s Central Bank raised its benchmark interest rate by 50bp to 4.75% yesterday in an attempt to stem the recent sharp decline in the value of the local currency. The TND has lost more than 7% against the EUR since the CB officially withdrew from actively intervening in the interbank FX market earlier this month. A move which was in line with calls by the IMF for the country to implement a more “flexible” exchange rate regime.

Jordan Conducts US$500 Mio Bond Issuance.
Jordan raised US$500 mio via a Eurobond issuance yesterday. The bond was more than three-times oversubscribed, carried a yield of 5.88% and will mature in 2026.

Nigeria Considers US$5.85 Bio Loan From China.
Nigeria’s government has submitted a request to parliament for the approval to accept a US$5.85 bio loan from China in order to modernize the country’s decaying rail network. A letter by President Buhari urging MPs to approve the request read; “As you are aware, the funds available under the China African Fund are limited and loan applications from all over African countries are funded based on first come, first served and therefore, there is an urgent need to sign these loans as soon as they are approved or we may lose out in the event that we delay in signing the loan agreement. These loans form part of the overall money for the rail strategy. We are in the process of completing the concession of the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri line to immediately link the eastern part of the nation.” If approved the loan would be arranged by China’s Eximbank.

Citibank Returns To The Kingdom.
Citibank has been granted a license to conduct capital market related business in Saudi Arabia. According to a statement released by the bank this week, Citigroup Saudi Arabia will offer a range of investment banking services including debt and equity market operations. The announcement marks a high profile return to the Kingdom for Citi, following its previous decision to withdraw from the country back in 2004 after selling its 20% stake in Samba.

UAE Unveils First Solar Powered Petrol Station.
Emirates National Oil Company opened the UAE’s first solar powered petrol station in Dubai yesterday. The station’s panels can generate up to 120-kw of power which is 30% more than the facility requires so the excess will be re-directed back into Dubai’s electricity grid.

27-04-2017

AND FINALLY…
“Peace is costly but is worth the expense” - Kenyan proverb

Glenn Wepener, Executive Director & Geopolitical Analyst Middle East & Africa
National Bank of Abu Dhabi
MarketInsights&Strategy@nbad.com
Tel: +971 2 6110 127

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