Una's Feed
Dec 14, 2012

Jet Airways a better bet than Kingfisher for Etihad

By Andy Mukherjee and Una Galani

SINGAPORE (Reuters Breakingviews) – Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways is spoilt for choice in India: it could decide to be a white knight to billionaire Vijay Mallya’s beleaguered Kingfisher Airlines (KING.NS: Quote, Profile, Research). Or the Gulf carrier could snap up a smaller stake in Jet Airways (JET.NS: Quote, Profile, Research), which controls a quarter of the domestic Indian market. The latter looks the better bet.

On the face of it Kingfisher, whose market value is about one-fourth of Jet’s $960 million, is the cheaper option. It also offers the tempting prospect that Etihad could gain effective operational control through a 46 percent shareholding. But Kingfisher carries additional risks. Its licence was suspended by the aviation regulator in October and its employees haven’t been paid for months. Kingfisher’s stripped-down fleet of 12 aircraft is one-eighth of Jet’s capacity.

Dec 13, 2012
via Breakingviews

Qatar gives SocGen an honourable exit from Egypt

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By Una Galani

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Qatar has given Societe Generale an honorable exit from Egypt. State-backed Qatar National Bank will buy the French bank’s 77 percent stake in its Egyptian unit, National Societe Generale Bank (NSGB), through a mandatory tender offer valuing the whole at $2.6 billion. The valuation of 2 times book value is lower than pre-revolution multiples, and SocGen will have to carry some currency risk. But with few-sizeable buyers willing to live with Arab spring volatility, it makes sense for SocGen to shrink while it can.

Dec 6, 2012
via Breakingviews

Barclays bet lives up to rich billing for Qatar

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By Una Galani

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own

A massive bet on Barclays is living up to its rich billing for Qatar. The complex 3.4 billion pound investment in the UK bank has earned a 19 percent internal rate of return for the sovereign fund, according to a Breakingviews calculation. That’s pretty good, factoring in the huge risk of propping up a universal bank at the height of the financial crisis. But it will grate for Barclays shareholders who resented the deal in the first place.

Nov 12, 2012

Egypt may struggle to meet Islamic finance target

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The
opinions expressed are her own)

By Una Galani

CAIRO, Nov 8 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Egypt may struggle to
meet its Islamic finance targets. The new Muslim Brotherhood
government aims to boost the sharia-compliant share of total
banking assets from 5 to 35 percent within five years. The
potential is undoubtedly big. Egypt is predominantly Muslim and
only 10 percent of the 80 million people have bank accounts. But
the rise of Islamic finance in Egypt might be slow.

Oct 2, 2012

Qatar’s sovereign funds: A guide for the perplexed

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions
expressed are her own)

By Una Galani

DUBAI, Oct 2 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Cash-rich and outward
looking Qatar is a gold mine for advisors. Yet for those hoping
to land work on any of the multi-billion dollar transactions led
by the Gulf state, it’s no longer enough just to put in a call
to its highest-profile sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar
Investment Authority. Today, Qatar’s financial activities are
spread across different but related entities, with blurred
dividing lines.

Aug 2, 2012

Barclays’ Qatari baggage gets even heavier

(The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions
expressed are their own)

By Una Galani and George Hay

DUBAI/LONDON, Aug 2 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Barclays’
(BARC.L: Quote, Profile, Research) Qatari baggage is getting heavier. A costly capital
injection by Gulf funds spared the UK bank from a state bailout
in 2008. But if a probe by the UK’s Financial Services Authority
into the disclosure of fees discredits one of the few remaining
members of Barclays’ top executive team, the bank’s decision to
seek salvation in the Middle East will look even more like a
Faustian pact.

Jul 19, 2012
via Breakingviews

Sovereign funds still hungry for Western banks

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By Una Galani

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Sovereign wealth funds are still hungry for Western banks. Even though an early-crisis wave of financial investments mostly ended badly, Credit Suisse’s latest 3.8 billion Swiss franc cash call shows rich states still have faith in global lenders.

Jul 9, 2012
via Breakingviews

Saudi Arabia pushes accelerator on reform

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The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own

By Una Galani

Saudi Arabia is moving at its fastest pace in years to overhaul the economy, and this time there isn’t even the crunch of lower oil prices. Last year’s effort to tackle unemployment, and a recent and long-expected mortgage law designed to help solve the housing problem, should help shore up stability in the absolute monarchy. These are tentative steps so far. But they go in the right direction.

Jun 25, 2012
via Breakingviews

No quick wins for Egypt’s new Islamist president

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By Una Galani

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Egypt’s Islamists will find victory bittersweet. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Mursi is the Arab nation’s first freely elected president. But the role comes with limited power and may be short-lived. The long-repressed movement will struggle to deliver on its promise to jumpstart the ailing economy.

Jun 21, 2012

UBS royal pickle reveals Gulf M&A minefield

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions
expressed are her own)

By Una Galani

DUBAI, June 21 (Reuters Breakingviews) – UBS (UBSN.VX: Quote, Profile, Research) has
got itself into a royal pickle in Kuwait. The Swiss bank is
fighting a claim that it failed to pay a local sheikh for
helping it secure the $10.7 billion sale of the African
subsidiary of part state-owned telecom operator Zain (ZAIN.KW: Quote, Profile, Research).
UBS denies that it entered into any contract with the sheikh.
Yet if nothing else, the case has exposed the lengths to which
big banks will go to schmooze Gulf royals.

    • About Una

      "Una Galani is Asia Corporate Finance Columnist of Reuters Breakingviews, based in Hong Kong. She spent three years in Dubai covering the region’s economies in the immediate aftermath of the Arab Spring. Previously, Una wrote on capital markets, mergers and acquisitions, and telecoms across Europe from London. She was commended in the category of Young Financial Journalist at the Harold Wincott Awards for 2009 after joining Breakingviews in 2006. Una read English Literature at Oxford. Follow Una on Twitter @ugalani"
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