North Africa/Middle East

Porsche has rejected Volkswagen AG's bid to take a 49 percent stake in the sports car maker, a company spokesman said Monday. Porsche Automobil Holding SE spokesman Albrecht Bamler said the offer by VW "is not a viable option," the Los Angeles Times reported on an AP story. Debt-laden Porsche, based in Stuttgart, has been holding talks with a Qatar state investment fund on a possible investment. Porsche confirmed earlier this month that it is in exclusive talks with the Qatar Investment Authority — the primary investment vehicle of the small, energy-rich state.
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Porsche Automobil Holding SE said Wednesday that the company's owner family backs its talks with Qatar over taking a stake in the Stuttgart-based company, dismissing a German media report published earlier Wednesday, Dow Jones reported. "The family unanimously supports the talks with an investor," Porsche said in a statement, adding that there was no family meeting at which Ferdinand Piech allegedly hindered a decision for Qatar to take a stake. Financial Times Deutschland reported earlier Wednesday that the planned deal with Qatar was at risk after Piech intervened at a family meeting.
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Troubled Saudi conglomerates Saad Group and Ahmad Hamad al-Gosaibi & Bros Co will meet creditors this month to restructure $10 billion of debt, a Saudi newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing unnamed bankers. Al-Hayat newspaper said the two firms would talk to their creditors over the next two weeks in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Great Britain. The paper said that there were more than 100 creditors that would agree to major debt restructuring. This is the first time a figure has been given for the size of the debts. Al-Hayat did not say how much each company had in debt.
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The Gulf state of Qatar is considering buying a big stake in either Volkswagen or its majority owner Porsche, the BBC reported. VW said in a statement that it would welcome the investment because it would speed up its merger with Porsche. The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) is in advanced talks about buying up to 25% of Porsche, according to a report in the Financial Times. Porsche owns more than 50% of VW, but suspended attempts to buy a controlling stake of 75% when it ran out of money.
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A Tel Aviv court has appointed a receiver for the Israeli rough diamond trader Stelman, the Israel Diamond Exchange reported. Stelman’s bank debts are reportedly over $20 million. Stelman is a family-owned company with headquarters in Antwerp. According to reports, it is currently striving to reach debt settlements. Stelman was a major Diamond Trading Company (DTC) sightholder and a leading rough diamond trader. According to reports, aside from a debt of $5 million to Erez Daliyot, no Israeli diamond companies are owed money by Stelman.
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Europe risks being the last region to pull itself out of recession unless it can present a united front on the economic crisis and bulk up stimulus plans, according to the head of Italy’s business lobby group. Emma Marcegaglia, president of Confindustria, told the Financial Times in a video interview that the Group of 20 summit in London next month was doomed to failure if Europe did not take a co-ordinated approach to ending the crisis and forget about side issues such as hedge fund regulation, the Financial Times reported.
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Several Dubai-based contractors say they are owed millions of dirhams by state-linked developers and some may face bankruptcy as credit dries up and major projects are cancelled or scaled back in the former Gulf Arab boom town, Reuters reported. "There has been a marked increase in the number of contractors asking for help to obtain payment, including payments certified months ago on some of Dubai's largest projects," Michael Grose, a partner at legal firm Clyde & Co LLP, in the Middle East Projects and Construction Group, told Reuters.
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The board of Vita-Galilee Fruit Ltd. (Vita-Pri Galil) filed with the Haifa District Court an objection to receivership and foreclosure of the liens filed by Bank Leumi and Israel Discount Bank, Globes Online reported. The company and its subsidiaries will also convene shareholders and creditors' meetings to submit to them a recovery plan. Vita entered into receivership when Bank Leumi and Discount Bank refused to again postpone repayment of the company's debts. On Friday, receivers were appointed to the company after Bank Leumi and Discount Bank filed an ex parte request with the court.
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Global Investment House (GIH), the largest investment bank in Kuwait, has been downgraded to a notch above default by Fitch Ratings after the bank warned it may default on a loan, The National reported. The rerating to a ‘C’ came after GIH told Fitch that it is unable to repay a loan which matured yesterday. The company has a grace period of 72 hours to meet the obligation before defaulting. The downgrade followed the announcement from GIH earlier this month that it was seeking US$1 billion (Dh3.67 billion) from local banks.
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Ecuador’s government is considering various ways of repudiating its debt and will ask for loans from friendly governments like Iran should it lose access to credit markets, the country’s finance minister Maria Elsa Viteri said. Ecuador has threatened to default on $3.9 billion in bonds because it says a government-commissioned audit found evidence of criminal violations in connection with its issuance, Bloomberg reported. The government skipped a $30.6 million bond payment on Nov. 15, invoking a 30-day grace period.
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