BEIRUT

Regional

UAE, Egypt markets tumble as Saudi, Qatari shares see gains

Investors looks at stock exchange information at the Dubai Financial Market December 1, 2009. (REUTERS/Mosab Omar)

DUBAI/CAIRO: Abu Dhabi’s Aldar Properties slumped to a record low Tuesday, on talk that a major government stakeholder could delist the developer, and Egyptian stocks fell as continued clashes between police and protesters unnerved investors.

Shares in Aldar fell 2.3 percent to 0.84 dirham, their lowest price since the stock began trading in 2005. Its year-to-date losses extended to 63 percent, underperforming the Abu Dhabi market, which is down 12.7 percent this year.

Aldar’s share price was diluted Thursday after it converted a portion of bonds held by the government’s Mubadala Development Co. into shares. It takes Mubadala’s stake in the developer to nearly 60 percent.

Abu Dhabi’s government bailed out Aldar in early 2011, with a $5.2 billion rescue package in exchange for $762 million in convertible bonds to Mubadala and sale of assets including Ferrari World theme park.

“There are rumors that Mubadala has the intention of increasing its ownership in Aldar even more and then trying to delist it like what happened to Aabar,” said Joseph Kawkabani from Franklin Templeton Investments Middle East.

Abu Dhabi-listed Aabar Investment was taken private by parent International Petroleum Investment Co. in 2010.

“There’s already less excitement toward Aldar because people have a hard time understanding its commercial proposition,” Kawkabani added.

Abu Dhabi’s index fell 0.8 percent to its lowest finish since March 2009. Sorouh Real Estate also declined, down 1.2 percent.

Dubai’s benchmark fell 1 percent to its lowest close since Nov. 27. Lender Emirates NBD dropped 4.1 percent in heavy trading. Contractor Arabtec slipped from Monday’s 13-month high, down 5.2 percent.

Elsewhere, Egypt extended its decline to a one-month low as clashes between police and protesters entered a fifth day.

Cairo’s index fell 2.5 percent to its lowest close since Nov. 22.

All but two of the 30 shares on the index fell, with Commercial International Bank dropping 5.4 percent, and heavyweight Orascom Construction losing 3 percent.

“This is a normal reflection of what we are going through on the political scene,” said Margo Moussa from Arab Finance Brokerage.

In Saudi Arabia, the benchmark edged higher by 0.2 percent, helped by buying in cement stocks. Saudi Cement rose 2.7 percent and Eastern Province Cement gained 5.7 percent.

“Most of the flow of funds is going to safer sectors, such as cement because they usually have better earnings and consequently higher dividend payouts,” said Tarek al-Mady, a Saudi-based financial analyst.

In Qatar, the index gained 0.4 percent, making its largest one-day gain in two weeks in a technical rebound.

It has support at 8,740 points and is expected to challenge its next resistance level, which is an April high of 8,843 points, traders said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 21, 2011, on page 4.

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