MIDDLE EAST & TURKEY
Dubai Islamic Bank DISB.DU (DIB), the largest Islamic bank in the United Arab Emirates, has sold its stake in Jordan Dubai Islamic Bank, as it continues to look for growth in budding Islamic banking markets. The value of the sale was not disclosed, but DIB apparently plans to invest the proceeds in markets where Islamic banking is in early stages of development, including Pakistan, Indonesia and East African countries.
The developer of Bahrain’s first receiving and regasification terminal for liquefied natural gas (LNG) has sealed a US$741mn syndicated loan for the platform’s construction. The loan, which has a tenor of 20 years, is a limited recourse financing instrument and is syndicated by nine local and international banks.
Nigeria's sovereign wealth fund is setting up a company in partnership with London-based local currency guarantee firm GuarantCo to enable pension funds to invest in Nigerian infrastructure bonds. The new business will be launched in a few weeks' time and aims to overcome some of the challenges facing the financing of infrastructure projects in Africa's most populous nation.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe says it has paid US$72,9mn in incentives to exporters, mostly gold producers, tobacco farmers and as remittances. The bank added that the use of plastic money now accounted for 50% to 70% of sales for most big retailers in Zimbabwe as efficient circulation of bond notes had reduced the demand for cash.
Hundreds of Mexicans continued to block highways, burn tires and seize gas stations across the country in the aftermath of government’s sudden 20% price hike on petrol and diesel. In a TV address, President Enrique Pena Nieto defended the unpopular measure, which is part of the government’s efforts to deregulate fuel markets, said he would try to help groups hit hard by the increases.
Argentina is looking to sell up to US$10bn of debt, taking advantage of calmer conditions across bond markets before Donald Trump is inaugurated as the new US president. Luis Caputo, finance minister, said last week that Argentina’s financing needs total US$22bn this year, with interest and amortisation payments adding another US$21bn. Earlier this week the Argentine government has eliminated a 120-day holding period on foreign capital, hoping the move will help lure investment.
Singaporean utility company Sembcorp confirmed it has secured US$409mn in project finance for a power plant in Bangladesh. The lenders - the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Clifford Capital and CDC Group – will each contribute US$103mn to the project debt.
After cutting the benchmark interest rate six times in 2016, by a total of 150bp, Indonesia's Central Bank suggested it still sees room for easing monetary policy, but will keep an eye on inflation risks. The Bank’s Deputy Governor Perry Warjiyo said loan growth in 2016 was likely around 9%, while the Financial Services Authority targets lending to increase 13.5% this year.
The Taiwan dollar this week rose to as high as TW$31.856 per USD, its strongest standing since mid-December.
RUSSIA, CIS & EUROPE
Crystallex, Canada’s gold mining company, is suing Venezuela and Russia’s state oil giants, PdVSA and Rosneft, for alleged “fraudulent deal” to use the Venezualan company’s US subsidiary Citgo as collateral in bid to secure a loan. The deal between PDVSA and Rosneft is also under investigation by US authorities amid concerns that that Venezuela had mortgaged Citgo’s strategically important US-based refineries to Russia's state-controlled company.