North Africa/Middle East

In the most profound financial change in recent Middle East history, Gulf Arabs are planning – along with China, Russia, Japan and France – to end dollar dealings for oil, moving instead to a basket of currencies including the Japanese yen and Chinese yuan, the euro, gold and a new, unified currency planned for nations in the Gulf Co-operation Council, including Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and Qatar, BusinessWeek reported.
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The Kuwait Islamic investment firm that owns half of British luxury car maker Aston Martin says it has appointed a chief officer to restructure its debts, BusinessWeek reported. The Investment Dar said in an announcement Sunday, the new manager, Mike Grant, brings to the company over 20 years of experience. The company is one of several Kuwaiti banks and investment houses to run into trouble as the global economic meltdown hammered this small oil-rich state in the Gulf.
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According to Lebanese media sources, Lebanese businessman and Hizbullah publishing executive Hajj Salah Ezzedine has declared bankruptcy, Al Bawaba reported. Ezzedine, from the town of Maaroub near the southern port city of Tyre, is the director of the Hizbullah-owned Dar Al-Hadi Publishing House, which has played a critical role in Hizbullah’s media campaign.
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Porsche on Thursday fired Wendelin Wiedeking, the high-profile chief executive who rejuvenated the nearly bankrupt sports car maker in the early 1990s but stumbled as a massive debt load torpedoed plans to take over the much larger Volkswagen concern, which will now absorb Porsche itself, The New York Times reported.
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Three more bidders are interested in taking a stake in German sports car maker Porsche, rivaling investment plans by Qatar, German magazine Focus reported on Saturday. In an advance release of remarks due to be published on Monday, Focus said without citing sources that a Chinese and a Russian sovereign wealth fund as well as a hedge fund were interested. Porsche, which owns 51 percent in Volkswagen, is seeking an outside investor after amassing €9 billion ($12.6 billion) in debt during a bungled attempt to dominate VW.
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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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