Una's Feed
Aug 3, 2011

Kuwait Airways sale may not be a runway success

By Una Galani

DUBAI, Aug 2 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Kuwait Airways’ privatisation might not be a runway success. After two decades without profit, the oil-rich nation is seeking to off-load a 35 percent stake in its national carrier to a strategic partner. The hope is that this could allow the company to turn itself from a bloated and inefficient business into a lean and mean flying machine serving the travel needs of the Kuwaiti population. But the implied asking price looks lofty, bidders face many political obstacles, and the business case doesn’t look compelling.

True, the government appears to have overcome one major problem in the airline’s restructuring: it has managed to convince the majority of Kuwait Airways’ 2,600 plus well-paid staff to retire, or take other government jobs, according to a person close to the airline. That should bring down the crippling wage bill, estimated at around 30 percent of revenues by Kuwaiti ratings agency Capital Standards.

May 31, 2011
via Breakingviews

Cup loss wouldn’t be end of the world for Qatar

By Una Galani

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

The World Cup is no small prize for Qatar. It’s far from clear that the Gulf state will lose the right to host the prestigious 2022 soccer tournament. But even if the worst happened, it might do no more than put a small dent in the $77 billion of domestic spending promised as part of its aggressive bid campaign.

May 26, 2011
via Breakingviews

Big banks made an early start in punishing Libya

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

DUBAI — It looks like big banks made an early start in punishing Libya. It’s not a surprise to see a roll call of top international financial institutions listed in a leaked report detailing the holdings of the country’s $53 billion sovereign wealth fund at the end of June, 2010. At the time, foreign governments had, after all, fallen over themselves embracing the regime of Muammar Gaddafi. But for the all the sudden embarrassment of association, some will be looking more red-faced than others.

May 25, 2011
via Breakingviews

G8 can help transform Middle East economies

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

DUBAI — The G8 could help transform the Middle East economies. The World Bank has pledged $6 billion of aid to Egypt and Tunisia, but the summit of industrialised nations’ leaders this week could go further and come up with a model to prevent the Arab spring turning into an Arab winter. A significant package backed by multi-lateral institutions would be crucial to win back investor confidence.

May 23, 2011
via Breakingviews

Saudi $4 bln lifeline to Egypt won’t come for free

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

DUBAI — Autocratic governments can act faster than multi-lateral financial institutions. Saudi Arabia’s $4 billion lifeline to Egypt comes just as the country is still discussing an aid package with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Cairo has hinted it wasn’t ready to accept the conditionality attached to both bodies’ financial help, usually in the form of stringent fiscal discipline. But it’s unlikely that Saudi money will come with no strings attached.

May 19, 2011
via Breakingviews

Obama offers slim pickings for Arab spring

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

DUBAI — Barack Obama has so far provided little solace for Arab countries whose economies are engaged in a fragile transition to democracy. His much-anticipated speech promised a bit of debt relief here, a loan there, and investment across the region — but little red meat.

May 9, 2011
via Breakingviews

Libya rebel funding will require legal creativity

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

DUBAI — Western powers may have to overcome serious hurdles to be able to finance Libya’s rebels, but the task is not impossible. Led by the United States, the international community appears increasingly determined to find a way to funnel cash to opposition forces. A fund has been set up to facilitate financing to the rebels who say they need $3 billion to help cover the costs of food, fuel, medical supplies and salaries. But pledges so far — by Qatar and Kuwait — amount to just under $700 million.

May 2, 2011

Demise of Osama bin Laden brings risks as well as relief

– The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own –

By Ian Campbell and Una Galani

LONODN/DUBAI (Reuters Breakingviews) – Osama bin Laden’s death is an important landmark which leaves hope for the Arab spring intact. The initial, obvious, response is to expect celebratory gains and for global equities and commodity prices to advance. But while the medium-term outlook is undoubtedly improved — for the United States and the rest of the world — bin Laden’s death may heighten investors’ sense of risk in the near term, bolstering the dollar and curbing flows into speculative assets.

Apr 25, 2011
via Breakingviews

West can find ways to pressure Syria

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

DUBAI — Western powers have strongly condemned the Assad regime’s brutal crackdown on protesters, but they have so far refrained from anything more than tough talk. That might reflect doubts about the effectiveness of economic sanctions. But it also reveals the fears other countries have of political instability in Syria.

Apr 18, 2011
via Breakingviews

Saudi handouts ratchet up “fair price” of oil

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

DUBAI — Saudi Arabia’s rulers have long thought they could tell what a “fair” oil price should be. Prior to the heightening unrest on its own borders, the Kingdom reiterated its long-held view that this was somewhere between $70 and $80 per barrel. But the recent pledge for a massive boost to spending on everything from housing to religious police is pushing Saudi into its largest budget spending. No wonder the Kingdom now thinks the market is “oversupplied”. “Fair” looks set to become more expensive.

    • 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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