State oil giant Saudi Aramco plans to raise the number of drilling rigs it operates to pre-crisis levels of at least 130 by the second quarter of 2012 as it strives to maintain production capacity levels, industry sources said. Aramco had seen a sharp decline in rig count from 130 to 104 after the global economic crisis hit demand in 2009. Half of the addition will be for Manifa, an industry source who declined to be identified told Reuters, as Aramco expedited plans to bring the 900,000 barrels per day oil field on line by 2014. "The plan is to increase rigs by the second quarter; whether they make it or not is a different story," said one source, adding the plan is to have 135 rigs in operation.
Orascom Construction (OCI), Egypt's biggest listed company, will list the shares of its construction business on the Egyptian stock exchange in a demerger process it hopes to complete in the first quarter of 2012, it said yesterday. The demerger is designed to improve the performance of both businesses, which will have separate boards of directors, OCI's Chief Executive Officer Nassef Sawiris said in a statement. "Each of the businesses will have a greater strategic clarity enabling their respective management teams to make decisions and allocate capital to enhance their growth." Under the plan, OCI would retain the fertilisers business, while the demerged firm would hold its construction business.
Allianz Saudi Fransi
Shares of insurance cooperative Allianz Saudi Fransi rallied sharply yesterday on news that its founding shareholder Alliance France International is merging with Allianz France. All assets of Allianz France International are to be transferred to Alliance France, Allianz SF said yesterday in a statement posted on the website of the Saudi exchange. Allianz SF shares surged 9.3 per cent to 26.50 riyals (Dh25.94) by mid-session yesterday, making it the top riser in broadly positive overall market.
Qatar Steel, a unit of Industries Qatar, raised its stake in Saudi Arabia's South Steel Company to 29.74 per cent from 20.9 per cent, according to a statement to the Qatari bourse yesterday. The stake increase was valued at 90 million Saudi riyals (Dh88.12 million), it said, without giving further details.
Arkema SA, already cheaper than any of its rival industrial chemical producers, may now be a takeover target for Saudi Basic Industries Corporation and DuPont after deciding to spin off its unprofitable vinyls business. Since losing a third of its market capitalisation in the past seven months, Arkema's combined equity and net debt is valued at 3.5 times this year's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation, based on analysts' estimates compiled by Bloomberg. The multiple is the lowest among rival chemical producers, including Lanxess AG, Solvay SA, Clariant AG and Dow Chemical Company, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Egyptian equities were raised to "neutral" from "underweight" for the first quarter of 2012 at Cairo-based investment bank Beltone Financial because of a drop of more than 45 per cent this year in the country's stock index."We however remain cautious since the economic scene continues to face challenges," Beltone said in an emailed statement yesterday. "We continue to advise investors to build positions in defensive stocks and stocks that were over-penalised by the political noise."
National Marine Dredging
National Marine Dredging Company said it agreed to buy Emarat Europe Fast Building Technology Systems Factory. The company made the announcement in a statement to the Abu Dhabi stock exchange yesterday.
Turkey's biggest crude oil importer Tupras has renewed its annual deal to buy crude oil from Iran for 2012 at almost the same volumes as this year, industry sources familiar with the matter said. They said Tupras had no plans for now to purchase extra amounts from the Islamic Republic.