North Africa/Middle East

A representative for the owners and insurers of a giant cargo ship that blocked the Suez Canal in March on Wednesday said that an agreement in principle had been reached in a compensation dispute with the canal authority, Reuters reported. Work was under way to finalise a signed settlement agreement as soon as possible and arrangements for the release of the Ever Given vessel would be made after formalities had been dealt with, Faz Peermohamed of Stann Marine said in a statement.
Read more
Construction giant Arabtec Holding on Monday said that a Dubai court has accepted its petition to open bankruptcy proceedings and had also appointed a trustee for each of its entities, the Khaleej Times reported. The court ordered each appointed trustee to publish the bankruptcy decision of each entity, review its debts, deposit a record of its creditors, and conduct all the procedures stipulated under the bankruptcy law within 35 days. The court also instructed each trustee to prepare an initial separate report on the assets of each entity and its rights with third parties.
Read more
An Egyptian court on Sunday adjourned until July 4 the case of a hulking cargo vessel that blocked the Suez Canal for nearly a week earlier this year, the Associated Press reported. The decision came after both legal teams of the Suez Canal and the vessel’s owners asked for more time for negotiations that aim at resolving their financial dispute. The dispute centers on the compensation amount the Suez Canal Authority is claiming for the salvage of the vessel Ever Given, which ran aground in March, blocking the crucial waterway for six days.
Read more
Lebanon's banks, which once powered the economy by sucking in billions of dollars of deposits from abroad, are shedding staff, watching loan books shrink and chasing liquidity to stay afloat, Reuters reported. About 3,000 bankers, or more than 10% of the banking industry workforce, have resigned or lost their jobs so far since a financial crisis flared up in late 2019 - and the numbers keep rising, four senior bankers told Reuters. De facto capital controls are in place, depositors are locked out of most of their savings and lending to the private sector has plummeted.
Read more
Egypt left interest rates unchanged for a fifth straight meeting, seeking to guard against a possible surge in inflation caused by the spike in global commodity prices, Bloomberg News reported. The central bank held the benchmark deposit rate at 8.25% and the lending rate at 9.25%, the Monetary Policy Committee said Thursday in a statement. The decision extends Egypt’s pause in monetary easing that began in December, after authorities cut a combined 400 basis points throughout 2020 to tackle the pandemic’s impact.
Read more
Emirates got an additional $1.1 billion in state support from Dubai after a collapse in long-haul travel due to the coronavirus pandemic triggered the airline's first annual loss in more than three decades, Reuters reported. Governments have pumped billions of dollars into airlines to keep them afloat during the pandemic and state-owned Emirates has now received $3.1 billion in equity injections from Dubai, including $2 billion disclosed last year.
Read more
Lebanon’s currency hit a new low on Sunday, as the country’s economic and political crisis worsened with no apparent solutions in the near future, the Associated Press reported. The currency has lost more than 90% of its value since October 2019, when anti-government protests erupted. Inflation and prices of basic goods have skyrocketed in the country, which imports more than 80% of its basic goods. The U.S. dollar hit 15,300 Lebanese pounds on the black market, a level not seen since March. The official rate still stands at 1,515 pounds to the dollar.
Read more
Egyptian urban prices accelerated at their fastest pace since December, raising the chances of the central bank retaining one of the world’s highest real interest rates next week, Bloomberg News reported. Consumer prices in urban parts of the North African nation grew an annual 4.8% in May, compared with 4.1% in April, the state-run statistics agency CAPMAS said Thursday. Prices increased 0.7% month-on-month.
Read more
Dubai-based Emirates REIT withdrew the restructuring proposal for its $400 million Islamic bond after a group of investors successfully opposed the deal, Bloomberg News reported. Emirates REIT said Monday that 57% of sukuk-holders who voted were in favor of its exchange offer. It said that 79% of its bondholders cast votes, without providing further details. The outcome fell short of the 75% the fund required to push through the proposal. As a result, it rescinded the plan but vowed to continue exploring options to improve the REIT’S sukuk and equity trading.
Read more
Oman has started talks with banks for a potential Islamic bond sale this year, Bloomberg News reported. The Gulf nation’s discussions are still preliminary. Oman last tapped the international debt market in January, when it raised $3.25 billion. The country’s debt is rated junk by all three major credit assessors. Oman’s public finances, long among the weakest in the Gulf Arab region, remain vulnerable to oil-price swings and disruptions from the global pandemic.
Read more