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Thursday 31st of August 2017

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Macro Thoughts

Home Thoughts

The harder the life, the finer the person. Wilfred Thesiger

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Somewhere in Mwingi, Kenya; the beautifully starred night skyline paints a surreal silhouette of a giant baobab tree. @Rey_matata

“I dream that I have found us both again,
With spring so many strangers' lives away,
And we, so free,
Out walking by the sea,
With someone else's paper words to say....

They took us at the gates of green return,
Too lost by then to stop, and ask them why-
Do children meet again?
Does any trace remain,
Along the superhighways of July?”
― Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow

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The Saudi Trillions Malise Ruthven LRB
Law & Politics

It made perfect sense that the first port of call on President Trump’s
first foreign trip, in May, was Riyadh. Saudi Arabia – the world’s
second largest oil producer (after Russia), the world’s biggest
military spender as a proportion of GDP, the main sponsor of Islamist
fighting groups across Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria and Iraq, the
leader of a coalition in a devastating war against Yemeni rebels now
in its third year – is a country one can do business with, even as the
most ardent Kremlinologists in the West struggle to understand it. It
is a place often defined by its contradictions, in which tribal codes
of desert and oasis – puritanical, patriarchal, frugal and austere –
co-exist and frequently clash with lavish displays of wealth and such
emblems of modernity as air-conditioned shopping malls, designer
boutiques and six-lane highways flashing with supercharged vehicles
exclusively driven by men. Trump returned from his visit with a
promise – he claimed – of $350 billion in Saudi spending on American
armaments over the next ten years, with $110 billion right away, of
benefit particularly to Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. The
State Department celebrated the deal as supporting ‘the long-term
security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region in the face of malign
Iranian influence and Iranian-related threats’.

But the last few months have seen a series of changes in the kingdom
that make its future more unpredictable than ever. At the beginning of
June, Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties with its neighbour Qatar,
demanding that its al-Jazeera network be shut down for broadcasting
propaganda and launching a regional stand-off that is far from being
resolved. Then, two weeks later, there was what appeared to be a
palace coup. Since the death in 1953 of the modern kingdom’s founder,
Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (generally known as Ibn Saud), succession has
passed down the line of his sons. The present king, Salman, reportedly
Ibn Saud’s 25th son, inherited the throne in 2015 on the death of his
half-brother Abdullah and is close to being the last of his
generation. At 81 Salman is in fragile health: he has had two strokes
and suffers from Alzheimer’s. On 21 June the doting king promoted his
favourite son, the 31-year-old Prince Mohammed bin Salman (widely
known by the initials MBS), to the position of crown prince, putting
him in line to be the first of the third generation – Ibn Saud’s
grandsons – to occupy the throne. According to the New York Times,
MBS’s elevation at the expense of his older cousin, Crown Prince
Muhammad bin Nayef (known as MBN), was the result of a well-executed
plot. MBN had been highly regarded by the US and its allies: as head
of the interior ministry and chief of Saudi intelligence he presided
over operations against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP); he
had attended training sessions with the FBI and was a powerful
advocate of continued close relations with the Americans. In February
the CIA honoured him with the George Tenet medal, in recognition of
his ‘excellent intelligence performance in the domain of
counterterrorism and his unbounded contribution to realise world
security and peace’.

On the night of 20 June, the eve of the Eid al-Fitr festival that ends
the holy month of Ramadan, MBN was summoned along with other senior
princes for an audience with the king. Shortly before midnight
courtiers answering to MBS – who was already chief of the royal court
as well as the world’s youngest minister of defence – removed his
phones and pressured him to relinquish his posts. MBN at first refused
but eventually gave in and is now said to be under palace arrest.
Afterwards clips of MBN paying allegiance to his younger cousin were
shown on Saudi media, to demonstrate a smooth transition, and it was
put about – this time by US as well as Saudi officials – that MBN had
been suffering from the effects of the ‘arsehole bomb’ attack in 2009,
when an al-Qaida operative masquerading as a petitioner approached him
and blew himself up with an IED hidden in his rectum. MBN survived the
attack but was said to have become addicted to medication he had been
taking to mitigate the effects of the trauma. Members of the
Allegiance Council, a body of 34 senior princes established by King
Abdullah in 2006 to resolve disputes by approving changes in the line
of succession, were told that MBN had a drug problem and was unfit to
be king. Despite private reservations, the council deferred to King
Salman and rubber-stamped its approval, in a vote of 31 to three.

While not dismissing the claims about his health, at least one foreign
diplomat and a well-placed Saudi source suggested that MBN had opposed
the Saudi-led embargo on Qatar, and that this was the real reason for
his fall. As in early modern Europe, palace politics in Arabia and the
Gulf are not driven just by private ambitions but reflect wider
geopolitical struggles. MBS is said to be close to his mentor Muhammad
bin Zayed, crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy commander of the armed
forces of the United Arab Emirates, the region’s most effective – and
most interventionist – military power. Recent Emirati successes
include taking the ports of Mukalla and Shihr in southern Yemen from
AQAP, as well as two strategic islands in the Bab al-Mandab strait
between Arabia and Africa, through which tankers carrying four million
barrels of oil pass each day. Bin Zayed is thought to be the driving
force behind the UAE-Saudi rivalry with Qatar which MBN was resisting.
As one commentator tweeted after the coup, ‘bin Zayed has become the
real ruler of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the two largest Arab countries.
Congratulations to the people of these two countries …’

In this scenario MBS – now abetted by Trump – appears as the useful
idiot. As defence minister, he was in charge of launching the
Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, which has been responsible for the
killing of thousands of civilians in airstrikes and the displacement
of more than three million people. According to the UN, 80 per cent of
Yemen’s population is now in need of humanitarian aid that can’t reach
the country thanks to the Saudi blockade; the lack of food and clean
water has led to widespread malnutrition and at least 500,000 cases of
cholera. Meanwhile, the Saudis’ military targets, the Houthi rebels
who oppose the president they have protected in office, Abdrabbuh
Mansour Hadi, show no signs of giving up. Saudi Arabia has
consistently accused the Houthis of being Iranian proxies, a charge
that was once untrue but which effectively had the force of a
prediction, since as the war has ground on Iran has stepped up its
military aid to the rebels, partly to prevent total devastation.

The diplomatic and economic campaign against Qatar, too, can be seen
as an expansionist move, part of a Saudi-UAE effort to counter what
they present as Iranian influence. As Richard Sokolsky and Aaron David
Miller put it in an article for Politico,

The crown prince engineered this dispute not to punish Qatar for its
financing of terrorism (a hypocritical comment coming from the Saudis,
whose own citizens have provided funding to radical extremists over
the years), but rather to end Qatar’s independent foreign policy and
especially its support for the Muslim Brotherhood and its ties with
Iran. Simply put, the Saudis want to turn Qatar into a vassal state –
as they have done with Bahrain – as part of their plan to establish
Saudi hegemony over the entire Persian Gulf.

But Qatar has its reasons to co-operate with Iran – not least the fact
that the countries share ownership of the world’s largest natural gas
field – and, partly through the offices of al-Jazeera, the only
measurably independent news organisation in the region, it has shown
itself more tolerant than any of its neighbours of the dissenting
political movements whose fortunes improved with the Arab Spring. For
the Saudi princes, the Muslim Brotherhood et al are an internal threat
not to be countenanced. In this sense, the Saudi offensives against
Yemen and Qatar seem less part of a plan for regional domination than
a defensive operation designed to stoke up anti-Iranian and anti-Shia
feeling at home – even when the Iranian influence is largely invented.
‘We are a primary target for the Iranian regime,’ MBS said in May,
shortly before Trump’s visit, accusing the Iranians of seeking to take
over Islamic holy sites in Saudi Arabia. ‘We won’t wait for the battle
to be in Saudi Arabia. Instead, we’ll work so that the battle is for
them in Iran.’ Chauvinism can be a useful asset for a ruler.

All this investment will require significant resources, and a central
part of the plan is to sell off 5 per cent of Saudi Aramco, the
world’s largest corporation, worth possibly $2 trillion, dwarfing
Apple, Google, Amazon or ExxonMobil, and listing it on a foreign stock
exchange in the world’s biggest ever IPO: Hong Kong, Singapore and
London are among the contenders for the listing. Oil revenue – until
recently Aramco’s profits were taxed at 85 per cent by the Saudi
government – will be replaced by a vast sovereign wealth fund, to be
invested in property and businesses abroad as well as at home, much as
Qatar already does; the as yet relatively small Saudi fund began its
overseas adventures last year with a $3.5 billion investment in Uber.
But getting hold of the hundreds of billions that would be generated
by an IPO means acceding to transparency rules that a company still 95
per cent owned by the Saudi state would find it hard to comply with.
The London Stock Exchange, in its desperation for the prize, has shown
that it is perfectly prepared to bend the rules in Aramco’s favour.
Even so, a public listing – at the level Saudi Arabia expects –
depends on the price of oil rising or at least not falling further; it
also depends on the Saudis’ oil reserves being quite as large as they
claim. In the face of all this uncertainty, Nick Butler, an ex-BP
executive, recently suggested in the Financial Times that Saudi
Arabia’s best option may be a private sale to China.

The kingdom has more trivial money worries too. The Al Saud are a
royal family like no other: there are thousands of them, descending
from the 22 wives Ibn Saud had while technically observing the Sharia
requirement of four wives – max – at any one time. He was ‘father to
the nation’ in more than a metaphorical sense. In the context of a
tribal society, these prudential intermarriages had the benefit of
binding together a number of different groups at a time when Ibn Saud
was merely the head of a coalition of tribes who founded the modern
kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932 after he invaded the Hejaz, with its
holy cities, Mecca and Medina. The trouble, presently, is that his
descendants all expect their emoluments. The scale of this burden can
be gauged from a classified cable sent by Wyche Fowler, then US
ambassador to Saudi Arabia, to his government in November 1996,
exposed by WikiLeaks, in which he reports that members of the Al Saud
family receive stipends ranging from $270,000 a month for more senior
princes to $8000 ‘for the lowliest member of the most remote branch of
the family’. The system is calibrated by generation, with surviving
sons and daughters of Ibn Saud receiving between $200,000 and
$270,000, grandchildren around $27,000, great-grandchildren around
$13,000 and great-great-grandchildren the minimum $8000 per month.
According to the US embassy’s calculations, in 1996 the budget for
around sixty surviving sons and daughters, 420 grandchildren, 2900
great-grandchildren and ‘probably only about 2000
great-great-grandchildren at this point’ amounted to more than $2
billion, with the stipends providing ‘a substantial incentive for
royals to procreate’ since – in addition to bonuses received on
marriage for palace construction – a royal stipend begins at birth.
One minor prince, according to a Saudi source, had persuaded a
community college in the state of Oregon to enrol him even though he
had no intention of attending classes: his principal goal in life was
to have more children so he could increase his monthly allowance.

In addition to the stipends, senior princes enriched themselves via
‘off budget’ programmes that ‘are widely viewed as sources of royal
rake-offs’. The largest of these, according to the cable, was thought
to relate to the holy shrines of Mecca and Medina – around $5 billion
annually –

The faith tradition that holds the Saudi system together – for now –
is Wahhabi Islam, the iconoclastic creed of the 18th-century Islamic
reformer Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, whose pact with the Al Saud
family led to the creation of the modern kingdom in 1932. Al-Wahhab’s
stormtroopers, the Ikhwan, enabled Ibn Saud’s rise to power. They
killed unarmed villagers regarded as apostates, thought nothing of
slaughtering women and children, and routinely slit the throats of
male captives. Contemporary accounts describe the horrors afflicted on
the city of Taif in 1924, when the Ikhwan murdered hundreds of
civilians, in a massacre similar to the violence committed by Islamic
State or al-Qaida today. As an Arab witness wrote, Ibn Saud’s forces
‘normally give no quarter, sparing neither boys nor old men, veritable
messengers of death from whose grasp no one escapes’. Some 400,000
people are reported to have been massacred by the Ikhwan during the
early days of the Saudi state.

Al-Wahhab’s views on the veneration of Muslim holy men – exemplified
by his destruction of the tomb of Zayd ibn al-Khattab, brother of
Umar, the most revered of the early caliphs and a companion of the
Prophet – are now used to legitimise the orgy of cultural vandalism
inflicted on Mecca and Medina, over which the king claims religious
guardianship as custodian of the Two Holy Shrines, a status that is
quasi-caliphal (the Al Saud lack the lineage formally to declare
themselves caliphs). The centre of Mecca, the sacred hub of Islam, now
resembles Las Vegas, with hotels such as the Raffles Makkah Palace and
the Makkah Hilton towering over the Kaaba, the cube-shaped temple to
which Muslims everywhere bow in the direction of prayer. Beyond the
sacred mosque is the Mekkah Clock Royal Tower, a kitsch rendition of
Big Ben around five times as high – one of the world’s tallest
buildings. Wealthy Gulf pilgrims are expected to pay premium prices
for rooms and apartments in these buildings, as part of the effort to
make up for the decline in oil prices. Even the Prophet Muhammad
himself is not immune from the corrosive effects of Wahhabi
iconoclasm, on the grounds that the veneration of the Prophet (as
distinct from the worship of God) constitutes forbidden idolatry. The
Prophet’s mawlid or birthday festival – widely observed with
processions and family gatherings in other Muslim countries – is
banned in the Saudi kingdom, while the name ‘Muhammad’ is often used
disparagingly, as a catch-all for despised Muslim immigrants working
as menials. The site of Muhammad’s first wife’s house, where it is
believed he received his first revelations and where five of his
children were born, is now occupied by a row of public toilets.

Simon Valentine, a British academic who spent four years in the
kingdom teaching English, says that ‘meeting and talking with Saudis
one soon perceives the fear that lurks behind the smiles, the sense
that people are constantly aware of being watched, censored and
condemned.’ Pascal Menoret, an anthropologist who formed close
relationships with the young male tearaways he describes in his
brilliant ethnographic essay Joyriding in Riyadh (2014), reports that

surveillance, repression and eventually torture are realities that
shape everyday life and deeply modify people’s interactions with each
other – and with the anthropologist or field worker … This is a
country where 12,000 to 30,000 political prisoners and prisoners of
opinion rot in overcrowded, violent jails; a country where repression
is organised by security forces that report to a handful of senior
princes, out of the reach of an abrupt, arbitrary judicial system; a
country where physical punishment, torture and the threat thereof, in
the absence of transparent and fair procedures, are the alpha and
omega of the judiciary and the ultima ratio of political acquiescence.

The Saudi strategy towards the Shia minority – around three million
people in the oil-bearing Eastern Province and 250,000 in the
southwest region of Najran – has been carefully calculated over the
years, as Toby Matthiesen explains in The Other Saudis: Shiism,
Dissent and Sectarianism (2014). When Ibn Saud took over the Eastern
Province in 1913 its Shia inhabitants, mostly sedentary people engaged
in agriculture, trade, fishing and pearl diving, who had enjoyed
relative autonomy for centuries under Ottoman rule, became ‘subjects
of a political entity that does not treat Shia Muslims as equal

Rather than reinforcing the anti-Shia dynamic with
multi-billion-dollar arms packages, the West should be using its power
to counter the force of reactionary Sunni sectarianism that is the
curse of modern Islam and the real source of extremism in the region.


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"The Saudis don't care about Syria anymore," said a senior western diplomat. "It's all Qatar for them. Syria is lost."
Law & Politics

In recent months, as supplies of aid, money and weapons to Syria’s
opposition have dwindled, it had clung to the hope that ongoing
international political support would prevent an outright victory for
Bashar al-Assad and his backers. Not any more.

An announcement earlier this week by Jordan – one of the opposition’s
most robust supporters – that “bilateral ties with Damascus are going
in the right direction” has, for many, marked a death knell for the
opposition cause.

Within the ranks of the political opposition, and regional allies, the
statement was the opening act of something that all had dreaded:
normalisation with a bitter foe. And without anything much to show for

Emphasising his words, Jordanian government spokesman Mohammad
al-Momani said: “This is a very important message that everyone should
hear.” And indeed, the about-face in Amman was quickly noted in
Ankara, Doha, and Riyadh, where – after seven and a-half years of war
– states that were committed to toppling the Syrian leader are now
resigned to him staying.

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Has Netanyahu Defeated the Palestinians?
Law & Politics

With the likelihood of his being indicted and speculation as to his
longevity in office reaching unprecedented levels, Netanyahu struck
back. In a support rally convened by his Likud Party, Netanyahu
accused “the thought police in the media,” together with the left, and
supported by the Palestinians, of conducting an “unprecedented,
obsessive witch-hunt campaign” against him and his family. Their goal,
he claimed, was to stage “a government overthrow” to topple “the
national camp.” Both the style and substance of Netanyahu’s fiery
rhetoric should have sounded very familiar to anyone in America not
asleep for the past seven months.

That part of his speech was an appeal to his base. But Netanyahu’s
lengthy term in office, multiple electoral successes, and ability to
hold together a governing coalition in Israel’s rambunctious political
system is also predicated on him having a message that resonates with
a broader public. It is a sales pitch that Netanyahu repeated at that
rally, that he had “brought the state of Israel to the best situation
in its history, a rising global force . . . the state of Israel is
diplomatically flourishing.” Netanyahu had beaten back what he had
called the “fake-news claim” that without a deal with the Palestinians
“Israel will be isolated, weakened and abandoned” facing a “diplomatic

Difficult though it is for his political detractors to acknowledge,
Netanyahu’s claim resonates with the public because it reflects
something that is real, and that has shifted the center of gravity of
Israeli politics further and further to the right. It is a claim that
if correct and replicable over time will leave a legacy that lasts
well beyond Netanyahu’s premiership and any indictment he might face.

Netanyahu’s assertion is that he is not merely buying time in Israel’s
conflict with the Palestinians to improve the terms of an eventual and
inevitable compromise. Netanyahu is laying claim to something
different—the possibility of ultimate victory, the permanent and
definitive defeat of the Palestinians, their national and collective

In over a decade as prime minister, Netanyahu has consistently and
unequivocally rejected any plans or practical steps that even begin to
address Palestinian aspirations. Netanyahu is all about perpetuating
and exacerbating the conflict, not about managing it, let alone
resolving it. He seeks out long-neglected scars to poke anew and hones
in on what appears most existentially angst-ridden.

We have, or so it seems, now entered the phase in which Netanyahu
wants to own the new paradigm and to claim victory.


Yes he has.

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@realDonaldTrump's debt to @DeutscheBank @FT
Law & Politics

When Donald Trump sued Deutsche Bank in late 2008, it was “classic
Trump”, according to the German bank, which sued him back.

The New York property developer was trying to wriggle out of $40m of
personal guarantees he had supplied on a $640m loan to build Trump
International Hotel & Tower in downtown Chicago. The Lehman Brothers
crisis was an unimaginable event that should get him off the hook, he
argued. The future US president sought damages of $3bn — because the
Deutsche-led consortium of lenders had just played a part in wrecking
the world economy.

The two sides sparred for a while before settling out of court. And
within a couple of years Deutsche was back as Mr Trump’s go-to lender,
continuing a relationship that has endured for decades, even as other
big banks have deserted the litigation-prone developer.

In June, Mr Trump disclosed outstanding loans from Deutsche of at
least $130m, secured against properties in Miami and Washington in
addition to the condominium-hotel in Chicago. The total is likely to
be about $300m, according to people familiar with his borrowings.

“Deutsche seem to come through for him on a pretty regular basis,”
says a person involved in the refinancing of the General Motors
Building in Manhattan, one of the bank’s breakthrough US deals with Mr
Trump, in the late 1990s.

“They stepped into a void,” says another restructuring expert.

A client like Mr Trump would be offered a choice of terms, according
to a person familiar with the deals: an interest rate of, say, Libor
plus 500 basis points with a guarantee, or Libor plus 800 without.

Deutsche’s key recruit was Jon Vaccaro from Citibank, who arrived as
global head of commercial real estate in 1997. Other important figures
for Mr Trump, over the years, were Mike Offit and Steve Stuart, a duo
who joined from Goldman Sachs, and Eric Schwartz, a recruit from
Moody’s who became the developer’s primary point of contact.

“He put out good product,” remembers one ex-Deutsche banker. “His
buildings were high-quality, he got good rents from retail and he sold
condos for high prices.”

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07-AUG-2017 :: Deutsche Bank loans were surely "mirror" transactions
Law & Politics

Any financial expert will tell you that President Trump’s financial
affairs are a ‘’smoking gun.’’ Deutsche Bank loans were surely
‘’mirror’’ transactions, where Deutsche Bank was a commission agent
interposed between Trump and the real lender. All those sales where
Trump proclaimed himself a ‘’genius’’ because they
were so off-market, we would all be incredulous, were essentially just
that ‘’incredible’’.  ere is a prima facie case here and its in plain

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
Law & Politics

Euro 1.1887
Dollar Index 92.91
Japan Yen 110.48
Swiss Franc 0.9635
Pound 1.2900
Aussie 0.7896
India Rupee 64.005
South Korea Won 1127.43
Brazil Real 3.1603
Egypt Pound 17.6420
South Africa Rand 13.0164

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Venezuela Cut Deeper Into Junk by Fitch on 'Probable' Default
Emerging Markets

Fitch Ratings lowered Venezuela’s grade deeper into junk, saying
additional U.S. sanctions increase the probability of non-payment.

Fitch reduced the nation’s long-term foreign and local currency
ratings to CC, just two notches from default, from CCC on Wednesday.
S&P Global Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service also rank the country
at speculative levels.

"The expected reduction in the international reserve position in the
context of sanctions will severely test the government’s capacity and
willingness to continue with timely debt service," Fitch analyst
Richard Francis wrote in a statement.

Speculation on a Venezuelan default is mounting as international
reserves tumble to a 15-year low and U.S. sanctions further restrict
the nation’s financing options. The implied probability of the country
missing a payment over the next 12 months rose to 64 percent from 63
percent the month prior, according to credit-default swaps data
compiled by Bloomberg. The odds of a credit event over the next five
years increased to 97 percent.

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08-MAY-2017 :: Reserves have been depleted from Abuja to Riyadh, from Luanda to Caracas and in all the oil producing capitals in the world.
Emerging Markets

Reserves have been depleted from Abuja to Riyadh, from Luanda to
Caracas and in all the oil producing capitals in the world. So many
capitals are fiddling while sitting on a tinderbox and playing with

Frontier Markets

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Angola Oil Minister Says Nation Needs Crude to Rebound to $60 [not going to happen]

Angola’s Petroleum Minister Jose Maria Botelho de Vasconcelos said
it’s essential for the southern African nation’s economy that oil
prices rebound to $60 a barrel this year.

“That would be extremely important,” Botelho de Vasconcelos said
Monday in an interview in the country’s capital Luanda. “We’ve been
getting signs from the market that prices could reach $60 by the end
of the year.”

“Oil helped relaunch the diversification of the economy but it can’t
continue to have so much weight in the economy,” Botelho de
Vasconcelos said.

Angola was the world’s fourth-biggest coffee producer and a top
exporter of sugarcane, bananas, sisal and cotton before a 27-year
civil war after independence from Portugal in 1975 led to a mass
exodus of farmers to the cities. Today, the country has the world’s
most concentrated economy in terms of exports after Iraq, according to
the United Nations Development Programme,


They kicked the can down the road.

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Congo Bonds Surge on News Investors Will Be Paid

The Republic of Congo’s Eurobonds rose to the highest in more than
seven weeks after a contractor claiming money from the government
ended an attempt to block a coupon payment through a U.S. court.

The price on the $363 million of amortizing securities due in June
2029 rose about 7 cents to 78 cents on the dollar as of 3:03 p.m. in
London, the highest since July 11 and equating to a yield of 11.7

The rally happened after Delaware Trust Co., the trustee, announced in
a statement Tuesday that $21 million of overdue principal and interest
will be transferred to investors soon, according to two people
familiar with the matter who weren’t authorized to comment publicly.
Commissions Import Export SA, a company alleging it’s owed money from
the Republic of Congo’s government, on the same day withdrew its
attempt to block the payments through the District Court for the
Southern District of New York, according to the people.

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SpaceKnow's Nigeria Night Light Index, which measures light intensity and provides an indication of electricity usage, rose 29 percent year-on-year in that period

Nigeria’s battered economy improved between April and June, at least
according to satellite data. San Francisco-based SpaceKnow’s Nigeria
Night Light Index, which measures light intensity and provides an
indication of electricity usage, rose 29 percent year-on-year in that
period, the first time it’s showed a positive reading since the final
three months of 2015, which was also the last time output in Africa’s
largest oil producer grew. Nigeria’s statistics office is scheduled to
release gross domestic product figures for the second quarter on Sept.

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The IMF has approved a one-year extension of Ghana's $918 million credit-facility program

The extension will give the West African nation more time to achieve
targets such as narrowing the budget shortfall. The IMF approved a
payment of $94.2 million to Ghana, bringing total disbursements to
$565.2 million, according to an emailed statement from Washington on
Wednesday. The rest of the installments from the loan program will be
tied to the country’s remaining reviews, the fund said.

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Kenya Opposition Says Audit of Electoral System Shows Misuse
Kenyan Economy

The court’s seven-judge panel will make a ruling by Sept. 1 on the
opposition’s petition to annul the election result. Should Kenyatta’s
victory be overturned, the East African nation would have to hold new
elections within 60 days.


Where's the Beef?

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Airtel Kenya ended the 2016 financial year with a Sh45 billion debt load @bd_africa
Kenyan Economy

The report, which was published on the Delhi-based parent company’s
website, has for the very first time made public the inner details of
the company’s financial health – that has left the company deep in the
loss-making territory.

Airtel’s current liabilities of Sh55.3 billion in the year to December
2016 far exceeded its current assets worth Sh9.7 billion, indicating
Kenya’s second largest telecoms operator is technically insolvent.

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Liberty Kenya Holdings reports H1 2017 EPS +19.697% Earnings here
Kenyan Economy

Par Value:
Closing Price:           13.95
Total Shares Issued:          535707499.00
Market Capitalization:        7,473,119,611
EPS:             1.17
PE:                 11.923

Liberty Kenya Holdings H1 2017 results through 30th June 2017 vs. 30th June 2016
H1 Gross earned premium revenue 4.895741b vs. 4.778366b +2.456%
H1 Less : outward reinsurance [2.138128b] vs. [1.959842b] +9.097%
H1 Net insurance premium revenue 2.757613b vs. 2.818524b -2.161%
H1 Investment income 1.738716b vs. 1.497893b +16.077%
H1 Other income 26.498m vs. [29.162m] +190.865%
H1 Total income 5.042940b vs. 4.705414b +7.173%
H1 Claims and policyholder benefits payable [3.053411b] vs. [2.379677b] +28.312%
H1 Change in insurance contract liabilities [460.731m] vs. [498.359m] -7.550%
H1 Amounts recoverable from reinsurers 1.213956b vs. 767.730m +58.123%
H1 Net insurance benefits and claims [2.300186b] vs. [2.110306b] +8.998%
H1 Total expenses and commissions [2.195767b] vs. [2.104993b] +4.312%
H1 Other operating expenses [1.536146b] vs. [1.532874b] +0.213%
H1 Results of operating activities 546.987m vs. 490.115m +11.604%
H1 Profit for the period 422.508m vs. 355.431m +18.872%
Basic and diluted EPS 0.79 vs. 0.66 +19.697%
Cash and cash equivalents 4.629182b vs. 3.652264b +26.748%
Total equity 7.031845b vs. 6.451954b +8.988%
Financial investments 23.287367b vs. 22.991458b +1.287%
Total assets 36.605457b vs. 35.108136b +4.265%
Insurance contract liabilities 13.060746b vs. 11.625990b +12.341%

Company Commentary

The Group gross earned premiums increased by 2% with the Kenyan
operations exceeding prior period in the first Half of the year
compared to 2016. Tanzania business however faced a challenging
beginning to the year due to a continued difficult trading
environment, further aggravated by competitive pressures. The Outlook
for the remainder of 2017 remains positive barring any unexpected
fundamental changes in legislative and macro-economic environment.

H1 PAT +19%
H1 Investment Income +16%
H1 EPS +19%

Group's earnings after tax improved by 19% compared to last year
buoyed by improved investment returns and modest increase in earned
premiums. Business fundamentals are sound with claims increases within
range and operating expenses flat on prior year despite inflationary


Investment Income up strong.
+28.32% increase in Claims and policyholder benefits payable.
Well and conservatively managed balance sheet with a further uplift in
investment income and Mark to Market gains expected

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Trans-Century reports H1 2017 EPS [2.88] Earnings here
Kenyan Economy

Par Value:
Closing Price:           7.70
Total Shares Issued:          280284476.00
Market Capitalization:        2,158,190,465
EPS:             -1.56
PE:                 -4.936

TransCentury Limited H1 2017 results through 30th June 2017 vs. 30th June 2016

H1 Turnover 2.993560b vs. 4.139670b -27.686%
H1 Loss from operations [594.958m] vs. [241.727m] -146.128%
H1 Net other income 18.019m vs. 2.000094b -99.099%
H1 Depreciation and amortisation [330.215m] vs. [365.209m] -9.582%
H1 Net finance costs [368.331m] vs. [202.106m] +82.246%
H1 [Loss]/ profit before income tax [1.275485b] vs. 1.191052b -207.089%
H1 [Loss]/ profit for the period [1.040332b] vs. 1.313850b -179.182%
Basic and diluted EPS [2.88] vs. 4.97 -157.948%
Cash and cash equivalents at 30th June [277.406m]
Total assets 18.176492b
Total equity 2.410220b
No interim dividend

Company Commentary

a decline in revenue by 28% and a Loss after Tax of 1.04b
The Group's performance in H1 of the year was affected by the
lingering effects of constrained access to credit lines in 2016 which
slowed our project acquisition for most of 2016.
Group remains strongly anchored on its competitive advantage that
includes; unrivalled capacity in the Power division and a strong
pipeline of projects in the engineering division.
Demand from our markets remains strong and we are keenly focused on
growing our order book s we'll as ongoing work on restructuring to
further adjust our cost structure.
An area of priority for the group remains restructuring of the balance
sheet to improve the capital structure.


They have found an anchor Shareholder now the challenge is to execute.

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ExPress Kenya reports H1 2017 EPS [0.76] Earnings here
Kenyan Economy

Par Value:                  5/-
Closing Price:           3.90
Total Shares Issued:          35403790.00
Market Capitalization:        138,074,781
EPS:             -2.74
PE:                 -1.423

Express Kenya Limited is a Kenya based company engaged in the
provision of clearing and forwarding services for air and sea, as well
as warehousing and logistics services.

H1 Revenue 35.079m vs. 34.661m +1.207%
H1 Direct costs [29.123m] vs. [21.975m] +35.528%
H1 Gross profit 5.956m vs. 12.686m -53.051%
H1 Other operating income 4.324m vs. 3.528m +22.562%
H1 Administrative expenses [22.276m] vs. [17.999m] +23.762%
H1 Other operating expenses [18.361m] vs. [20.363m] -9.832%
H1 Operating [Loss] [30.357m] vs. [22.148m] -37.064%
H1 [Loss] before tax [37.449m] vs. [31.106m] -20.392%
H1 [Loss] for the period/ year [26.824m] vs. [31.106m] -13.766%
Basic and diluted [loss] per share [0.76] vs. [0.88] -13.636%
Shareholders’ funds [3.466961m]
Cash and cash equivalents at end of period/ year [48.814m] vs. [48.435m] +0.782%


I cannot recall when they last made a profit.

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Nairobi ^NSE20 Bloomberg +26.76% 2017
Kenyan Economy

4,038.86 -3.22 -0.08%

Every Listed Share can be interrogated here


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by Aly Khan Satchu (www.rich.co.ke)
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August 2017

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