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Zain, property stocks drive regional rally

Kuwaiti telecoms group Zain rose on takeover speculation yesterday in a regional rally that saw most Gulf Arab bourses rise on strength in global equities and oil.

  Source Kuwait Times

Zain closed at its highest level since Sept. 23 last year, climbing 5.4 percent as the stock led gains on the index. "Speculation surrounding Zain is continuing. There are all sorts of rumours and that is continuing to fuel the rally," said Shahid Hameed, head of asset management, GCC, at Global Investment House in Kuwait.

The firm's shareholders are in talks to sell a stake in the group, its chief executive said on Sunday after the close of business on the Kuwaiti stock exchange.

Property shares in the United Arab Emirates were also key gainers.
In Abu Dhabi, Aldar Properties surged 6 percent to its highest close since December, while in neighbouring Dubai Emaar Properties rallied 6.6 percent, its biggest one-day gain in a month, and highest close since June.

UAE real estate stocks have been severely beaten down over the last year or so, so when global markets are doing well, these stocks perform," Hameed said.
Global shares and oil prices rose on Friday after a report showed US job losses in August were the smallest in a year and the IMF raised its forecast for world economic growth this year and next.

Gulf markets are closely correlated with what is happening globally because of the lack of news and volatility here," said Samer al-Jaouni, general manager of Middle East Finanical Brokerage Co in Dubai, adding Dubai's bourse had broken a key resistance level at 1,950 points.

Dubai, the region's biggest gainer, rose 2 percent and Abu Dhabi's benchmark climbed 1.6 percent. National Bank of Abu Dhabi rose 1.1 percent after it said it plans to sell more bonds after raising $850 million last week.

Saudi Arabia bucked the trend and was the only bourse to end lower, having broken a seven-session losing streak on Saturday. Oman continued its bull run, hitting a fresh closing high since November last year while banks led Qatar to rise after two trading days of falls.

Construction Materials Industries was Muscat's biggest gainer surging 7.1 percent, while gains in blue chip stocks were more modest. Bahrain Telecommunications (Batelco) is looking for acquisition opportunities in North Africa and the Middle East of up to $2 billion, the company's chief executive said yesterday.

The targeted opportunities range up to $2 billion dollars but should Batelco be successful in acquiring such a company, a combination of debt and equity will be funding the acquisition," Chief Executive Peter Kaliaropoulos said in a statement.

He said the company was looking in North Africa and the Middle East but had no particular targets yet. "It is far too early to announce any specific targets and the funding arrangements will be detailed at the time of the acquisition," he said.

Batelco is looking to grow abroad to offset increasing competition in its home market and had submitted a bid for a stake in Morocco's Meditel telecoms firm, which Portugal Telecom and Spain's Telefonica sold to Moroccan investors last week.

Meditel, the country's second-largest operator, said after the sale it was still open to selling a stake to a foreign operator. Kaliaropoulos told Reuters in March that the company could spend up to $2 billion for an acquisition in Africa this year, after it bought a 49 percent stake in Indian mobile phone operator S Tel Ltd for $225 million in January
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