Saudi far outperforms Gulf, rate hopes boost Egypt

Saudi traders look at monitors showing the movement of the stock market at a bank in the Saudi capital Riyadh. (File Photo: AFP)
Updated 15 February 2018
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Saudi far outperforms Gulf, rate hopes boost Egypt

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s stock market rose on Thursday, encouraged by strong global bourses and a slight rebound in oil prices, while hopes for an interest rate cut boosted Egypt. But much of the Gulf was sluggish because of mediocre corporate earnings.
The Saudi index gained 1.2 percent in a broad rally; gainers outnumbered losers by 140 to 39. Al Rajhi Bank added 2.9 percent in its second heaviest trading volume this year.
Saudi Investment Bank rose 2.9 percent after saying it would pay an annual dividend of 0.6 riyal per share, up from 0.5 riyal for 2016.
But telecommunications firm Mobily, which had plunged 7.1 percent on Wednesday after reporting its fourth-quarter net loss more than doubled, dropped a further 2.3 percent.
In Dubai, the index edged down 0.2 percent as DAMAC Properties, which on Wednesday revealed a 47 percent drop in fourth-quarter net profit, lost 1.2 percent.
The biggest real estate firm, Emaar Properties, slipped 0.3 percent after it reported a 16 percent fall in fourth-quarter net profit to 1.36 billion dirhams ($370.3 million), below SICO Bahrain’s forecast of 1.61 billion dirhams.
Union Properties edged down 0.1 percent after reporting an annual loss of 2.38 billion dirhams ($649 million) against a year-ago profit of 211.4 ‍​million dirhams; the figures implied a fourth-quarter loss of roughly 90 million dirhams.
In Abu Dhabi, the index slipped 0.3 percent as telecommunications firm Etisalat fell 0.6 percent. It posted a 12 percent fall in quarterly profit to 1.97 billion dirhams, while SICO Bahrain had forecast 2.21 billion dirhams.
Aldar Properties dropped 3.1 percent after reporting a 28 percent decline in full-year profit attributable to owners, partly because of a one-time charge of 495 million dirhams. The company raised its annual dividend to 12 fils per share from 11 fils in 2016.
Qatar’s index fell 0.4 percent as Mesaieed Petrochemical lost 1.4 percent, despite reporting a slight rise in annual profit and a hike in its dividend to 0.7 riyal per share from 0.6 riyal.
In Egypt, the index rose 1.1 percent as real estate developer SODIC surged 7.0 percent. Economists predicted the central bank would start a gradual easing of moentary policy at its meeting after the close on Thursday, thanks to falling inflation rates.


Kuwait Projects Co. hires Goldman Sachs for sale of OSN — sources

Updated 26 min 13 sec ago
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Kuwait Projects Co. hires Goldman Sachs for sale of OSN — sources

DUBAI: Kuwait Projects Co. (KIPCO), the Gulf state’s largest investment company, has hired Goldman Sachs to advise it on the sale of its majority stake in pay-television operator OSN, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
OSN, which this year signed the first partnership deal in the region with Netflix, posted a 71 percent drop in income in the three months to Sept. 30, according to KIPCO’s latest financial results.
KIPCO and Goldman Sachs declined to comment.
KIPCO said in the results, released last week, that the company’s board had approved initiating a plan to divest its 60.5 percent equity interest in Panther Media Group, also known as OSN, and had engaged an international investment banker for the purpose. It did not disclose the name of the banker.
With the rights to broadcast into countries across the Middle East and North Africa, OSN has more than 180 channels, according to its website. Its other shareholder is Mawarid Group.
OSN faces subdued demand in its core markets due to piracy, geopolitical factors and fiscal reforms by governments which have led to sizeable expatriate populations leaving some of its core markets, said Anuj Rohtagi, director of group financial control at KIPCO in KIPCO’s third-quarter earnings conference call on Nov. 15. He added OSN was taking action to cut costs and attract new customers.
It is not the first time KIPCO has explored offloading at least some of its stake in OSN. In 2014, it said it planned to start the process for an initial public offering of OSN shares.