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Abu dhabis mubadala seeking $2 bln loan refinancing sources


DUBAI Feb 11 Abu Dhabi state-owned investment fund Mubadala is talking to banks to raise a loan worth up to $2 billion, which it plans to close in the first half of the year, banking sources aware of the matter told Reuters on Thursday. The company is in talks with local and international lenders regarding the financing, two of the sources said, adding that Mubadala was discussing whether to borrow the cash over three or five years or split the financing between both.

The funding will be used to roll over a three-year revolving credit facility, two sources said, which had been in place since 2007, according to one of the sources.

The fund has a $2 billion facility due to mature in May which was provided by 19 banks and pays a margin of 75 basis points over the London interbank offered rate (Libor), according to Thomson Reuters data.

Mubadala, which owns stakes in global companies such as chipmaker GlobalFoundries and U.S. private equity firm Carlyle, declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

Africa finance corp launches $150 mln loan into syndication sources


DUBAI Feb 8 Africa Finance Corp, a Lagos-based financier of development projects including infrastructure and heavy industry, has invited banks to participate in providing it with a $150 million, two-year loan, sources said on Monday. The institution, whose membership comprises nine mostly West African states including Nigeria and Ghana, is owned 42.5 percent by Nigeria's central bank, 47.6 percent by other African financial institutions and 9.8 percent by several industrial and corporate shareholders, according to its website.

It has mandated Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Citibank, Emirates NBD, JP Morgan and Standard Chartered to arrange the loan, the sources said on condition of anonymity as the information is private.

Asked to comment, AFC told Reuters that it would use the proceeds of the loan for general corporate purposes in accordance with its charter. It did not confirm details of the loan.

Africa money in goma, adversity brings opportunity, no prosperity


Dec 4 A decade after this Congolese border city was covered by lava spewed from the nearby Mount Nyiragongo volcano, Goma resident Barwani Bwashi has found use for the dark debris."It's very useful," he said as he pointed to a makeshift metre-high wall built from the volcanic rubble that marks off the small yard in front of his modest, one-window house. Bwashi, who works in a local cigarette factory, said he and his family had broken up the hardened lava with hammers. Elsewhere in his neighborhood, far bigger walls built from the lava surround compounds. In one yard, a foundation for a house has been constructed from it while outside toilets are also perched on top of the lava rock. It is a defining feature of Goma architecture. Leave it to Goma's long-suffering but resourceful residents to find opportunity in adversity. After the volcano blew up in January 2002, much of the city was brought to a standstill as the red-hot molten lava coursed through its streets and spilled into homes and businesses. The city was on edge again in November after it was captured by rebels from a group called M23 who took up arms eight months ago against the government of President Joseph Kabila. The rebels quit Goma on Saturday under a deal brokered by regional powers but not before they had seized their own opportunities. Reuters reporters observed them helping themselves to munitions and weapons in Goma's port on the north shore of Lake Kivu that were left behind by the Congolese army. Police and residents also say they looted some shops. Goma, which lies on Congo's eastern border with Rwanda, has long been a focal point of conflict and crisis.

It has been occupied by rebels before and Rwanda has twice invaded the region to pursue Hutu rebels who fled after carrying out the 1994 genocide that killed 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The region has also been plagued by conflict because of its mineral wealth, including gold, tin and coltan. The latter is crucial to the construction of mobile phones. SURVIVING NOT THRIVING In what can only be described as a hot-spot economy, the city's hotels have done a roaring trade as journalists, aid agencies and military observers descended on the city, as they have done periodically in the past.

Others also profit behind the smokescreen of conflict. According to the United Nations, corruption in the army includes Congolese troops running illicit mining operations in the country's east. Few locals see any benefit. It all highlights the precarious nature of an economy where opportunity often seems to arise from the ashes of adversity, be it a volcanic eruption or rebel occupation. Unlike the lava underpinning Goma's new houses, it is hardly a solid foundation for development or economic growth or the orderly accumulation of wealth and capital. A functioning state would surely help. But there is little evidence of that on Goma's mostly dusty and unpaved roads that are scarred with bone-jarring pot holes. Open sewers emitting a foul stench are strewn with garbage and infested with flies.

Many of the locals are stuck in a cycle of subsistence and survival, using anything that comes to hand. Volcanic rock is useful precisely because it is free in a place where few people have a lot of money to spend, let alone save or invest it. In Goma's colourful street-side markets, rural women hawk their meagre wares, mostly smoked fish and produce they have grown themselves, or items such as sandals. On Monday several who spoke to Reuters said they were glad the brief rebel occupation was over but the disruption meant few people had money to buy their goods, not least because the banks remained shut."It's a problem because people have no money," said one middle-aged woman who gave her name as Francoise as she tried to sell sandals and flip-flops. Other women sat stoically in front of their produce. One was selling locusts - a local delicacy - gathered in the countryside, while others offered a few onions or tomatoes. Their life is clearly one of raw subsistence but the volcano that dominates Goma's skyline has also provided them with the means to at least get by. Volcanic ash has, over the centuries, enriched the soil with a fertility that can be seen in the riot of lush vegetation that cloaks the region's rugged hills in stunning shades of green. If you have a garden plot here, almost anything will grow. This enables people to survive. But with conflict never ending and the prospect of Nyiragongo erupting again, few can thrive.

Australia business activity weakened in sept survey


SYDNEY Oct 9 Australian business conditions weakened in September as retailers and wholesalers suffered from slack demand, while inflationary pressures remained very subdued, adding to the case for further cuts in interest rates. A monthly survey of around 400 firms by National Australia Bank found firms complaining of a high local dollar, tighter fiscal policy and softer commodity prices. As a result the survey's main measure of business conditions fell 3 points in September to stand at -3, some way below its long-run average. In contrast, the index of business confidence rose 3 points to stand at 0, reversing much of the fall seen the previous month. The two measures have been see-sawing for months with no clear trend emerging."The pull back in business conditions was led by particularly heavy declines in wholesale, retail and transport & utilities," said NAB chief economist Alan Oster.

"We expect to see one more rate cut in November, provided core inflation remains subdued, with the possibility of another in early 2013," he added. The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) cut interest rates a quarter point to 3.25 percent last week citing a slowdown in China, lower export prices and a high currency among reasons for the move.

Financial markets are pricing in around a two-in-three chance of a cut to 3 percent in November, and further easing to 2.75 percent or lower next year. The survey's measure of sales dropped 6 points to -3, while that for profitability eased 3 points to -5. Measures of future demand were also weak, with the index of forward orders falling 5 points to -7 in the month.

Employment was a shade softer, led by a pullback in the once red-hot mining sector. Mining giant BHP Billiton on Tuesday said it plans to cut an undisclosed number of jobs in iron ore, its biggest and most profitable business, as it tries to cope with weaker prices and higher costs. Yet overall mining employment conditions stayed positive, suggesting miners were still hiring but at a slower pace. Measures of inflation were benign with final product prices rising at the slowest pace since January. Input costs also eased, as did the wage bill. Official figures for consumer prices are due later in October and are expected to show underlying inflation remained near the floor of the RBA's 2 to 3 percent target band in the third quarter.

Australia business investment skids, risks gdp contraction


Dec 1 Australian business investment fell a surprisingly sharp 4 percent last quarter as miners and manufacturers cut back on spending, a disappointing report underlining the real risk that the whole economy may have contracted. Thursday's figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics' showed business investment fell 4 percent in the third quarter, when analysts had looked for a drop of only 2.5 percent. With spending on equipment and building declining, investment likely took another heavy toll on gross domestic product (GDP) which was already looking soft after reported weakness in retail sales.

Such was the drag that the economy may have shrunk in the quarter, something that has only happened three times in the past 25 years. The last negative quarter was back in 2011 and that was caused by massive flooding in Queensland. The GDP report is due on Dec. 7.

The data was also a blow to the Reserve Bank of Australia's (RBA) hopes for a revival in investment outside of the hard-hit mining sector.

Neither was the outlook much brighter with the latest survey estimate of planned investment for 2016/17 coming in well under expectations at $106.9 billion. Analysts had looked for something around A$111 billion. Investors reacted by nudging the local dollar down slightly to $0.7380. The currency had already been under pressure after the U.S. dollar jumped on higher Treasury yields. Interbank futures <0#YIB:> still suggest the market sees scant chance of another cut in interest rates for the next few months, though any thought of a hike has also been priced out.

Australia sees nascent growth in islamic finance despite tax concerns


Australia has begun to see a steady stream of property deals using Islamic financing as the attraction of low-risk tenants and a weak Australian dollar offset concerns about the lack of a welcoming tax environment for such transactions. National Australia Bank Ltd (NAB. AX), one of the most active banks in the sector, this month helped fund a A$160 million ($114 million) Brisbane property purchase, its third Islamic financing transaction since August."We saw a lot of interest from Islamic investors who wanted to invest in Australia but they had to borrow from Islamic banks offshore. This was often expensive and complex," said Imran Lum, NAB's associate director of Islamic capital markets."It's not only in commercial property, we're also seeing an interest in Australian agriculture and infrastructure assets," he said. While the emergence of such deals represents a breakthrough for Gulf and Southeast Asian investors, questions remain over how much momentum will develop as Australia has yet to follow the lead of other jurisdictions like Britain and Hong Kong in passing tax law amendments to facilitate Islamic finance. Islamic finance follows religious principles such as bans on interest and gambling but the asset-based nature of such contracts means they can incur double or triple normal tax charges because they require multiple transfers of titles of underlying assets.

Still, interest is strong. TH Properties Sdn Bhd, a unit of Malaysia's pilgrims fund Tabung Haji, completed a A$220 million Sydney development in November helped by A$96 million in financing from Maybank Islamic Bank. It also has more Australian projects in the pipeline with a gross development value of A$800 million, including a A$500 million residential project in Sydney.

Prompted by investor demand, NAB has designed a funding tool using an agency-based contract known as wakala, the first such dedicated funding platform in the country. That and other structures have now been developed that can suit commercial investment deals as well as development financing, said Dale Rayner, partner at law firm Norton Rose Fulbright."These transactions are getting more traction as an adaptable form of funding suited to local conditions."

His firm advised Singapore-based firm AEP Investment Management, part of Saudi conglomerate Al Rajhi Holding Group, which invested in the Brisbane deal financed by NAB through a sharia-compliant fund. Last year, the law firm advised on a commodity-based murabaha financing for a property in Melbourne co-owned by Tabung Haji, the first time that structure has been used in Australia and is advising a foreign bank on a similar structure for a commercial property deal in Melbourne, he added. There are also signs that more debate about tax reform could be in the works. The Australian Tax Office said in April it was considering the release of a paper on Islamic finance that had been submitted to the government in 2011, although Canberra has never responded to the paper.

Bahrains nogaholding seeks debut $350 mln loan sources


Nov 24 Nogaholding, the holding company for oil and gas assets owned by the government of Bahrain, is seeking a $350 million sharia-compliant loan in what would be a first for the group, banking sources aware of the matter said on Tuesday. The firm joins a number of other oil and gas companies, including Saudi Aramco and Abu Dhabi National Energy Co., which have sought to raise money from banks in the past few months to help cushion their finances against the effects of lower oil prices. Nogaholding is looking to arrange the Islamic five-year loan before the end of the year, with the proceeds to be used for general business purposes, two sources aware of the matter said on condition of anonymity as the information is not public.

Nogaholding, which holds stakes in companies including Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco) and Bahrain National Gas Company (Banagas), could not immediately be reached for comment. The company was looking for an interest rate of around 250 basis points over the London interbank offered rate (Libor), but recent market moves could see this pushed up towards the 300 bps mark, according to one of the sources.

Bahrain's five-year credit default swaps, used to insure against a default, have jumped more than 20 percent since Oct. 21, a sign that investors are concerned about the country's budget situation. Also last month, Standard & Poor's cut its credit rating on Saudi Arabia, which has strongly supported Bahrain since it experienced political unrest in 2011.

Bahrain's five-year credit default swaps were at 334.9 points by 1135 GMT. But Nogaholding will have no problem raising the money, the sources said, noting there would be support from local banks for one of the most high-profile Bahraini companies. Nogaholding has not raised a loan before so its rarity value should attract banks, while its sharia-compliant structure will distinguish it from a number of other industrial borrowers currently in the loan market.

Boeing sees aircraft finance market rising to $112 bln in


LONDON Dec 10 Commercial jet buyers are set to turn to rapidly-expanding capital markets for more financing in 2014, as the value of jet sales rises by about 7.7 percent to $112 billion, Boeing Co forecast on Tuesday. Capital markets will account for about 22 percent of total jet financing, up from 14 percent this year and just 3 percent in 2009, Boeing said in an annual forecast. These markets, whose fast expansion has been helped by the Cape Town Treaty facilitating investor interest in non-US airlines, are making up for the sector's declining reliance on export credit, which will finance only 18 percent of sales in 2014, down from 23 percent this year. Commercial banks are likely to provide 25 percent of financing next year, compared to 28 percent this year, Boeing said. Chinese banks will overtake Japanese banks as the second-largest providers of bank debt at 23 percent, after the Europeans at 25 percent.

Cash purchases are expected to fall to 23 percent, down from 25 percent of the total, Boeing said. Most of the $112 billion worth of passenger jets the industry is forecast to deliver in 2014 is divided between Boeing and Airbus.

Brazils caixa econômica to start investment bank unit report


* Plans trade, farm financing in expansion drive* Caixa seeks fresh capital from Brazil Treasury* Spokeswoman at Caixa not available for commentSAO PAULO, Aug 30 Caixa Econômica Federal, Brazil's largest mortgage lender, will start an investment banking unit in a move to expand into the lucrative business of extending credit to corporations and advising them on capital markets transactions, Valor Econômico newspaper reported on Thursday.

Apart from the creation of an investment bank, Brasilia-based Caixa will expand into farming and trade financing, with the start of disbursements expected in October, Chief Executive Jorge Hereda told Valor in an interview.

According to Valor, banks that enter corporate lending segments more aggressively will enjoy a "competitive advantage" over rivals, now that interest rates in Brazil are a record low. "This is a strategic move that is responsibly daring, and not the by-product of recklessness," he told Valor. Currently Caixa and the National Treasury, which owns a majority of the bank, are negotiating terms of a potential capital injection worth "several billions of reais," Valor said.

A spokeswoman for Caixa was not immediately available to comment on the Valor story. Caixa's move signals that foreign and local banks are heavily betting on investment banking as a source of future earnings, even as Brazil's economy takes longer than expected to emerge from a downturn and competition for mergers and acquisitions and capital markets advisory deals spark a slump in fees.

Britains eu commissioner, finance chief hill, says resigning


BRUSSELS, June 25 Britain's representative on the EU executive in Brussels, Financial Services Commissioner Jonathan Hill, said on Saturday he was resigning following the referendum vote for Brexit which he had campaigned against."I don't believe it is right that I should carry on as the British commissioner as though nothing had happened," Hill said in a statement. "I have therefore told (European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker) that I shall stand down.

"At the same time, there needs to be an orderly handover, so I have said that I will work with him to make sure that happens in the weeks ahead."