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Epicure Qatar Equity (QIF)

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Friday 30 January, 2009

Epicure Qatar Equity

Quarterly update

RNS Number : 5024M
Epicure Qatar Equity Opportunities
30 January 2009

Epicure Qatar Equity Opportunities plc

Quarterly Update to Quarter End December 2008

Report to Shareholders


Epicure Qatar Equity Opportunities plc

Investment Advisers Report - Quarterly Update to Quarter End December 2008

Investment Objective

Epicure Qatar Equity Opportunities plc ('the Company' or 'EQEO') was established to capitalise on attractive investment opportunities in Qatar and the Gulf Cooperation Council ('GCC') region, resulting from the economic boom being experienced in the area. The Company seeks to invest in quoted Qatari equities listed on the Doha Securities Market ('DSM') in addition to companies soon to be listed, with a possible allocation of up to 15 per cent in regional GCC listed companies. The Investment Adviser invests using both a top-down screening process, as well as a fundamental industry and company analysis, and does not intend to benchmark itself to any regional index.

Company Activity

During the fourth quarter of 2008, GCC equity indices saw sharp declines in value led by the Dubai Stock Exchange that ultimately ended the quarter with a 60.0 per cent fall (72.4 per cent in 2008), followed by the Abu Dhabi Securities Market shedding 39.6 per cent, the Omani market which lost 35.9 per cent, the Saudi market which lost 35.6 per cent, and the Kuwaiti market, losing 39.4 per cent

Overall global market sentiment continues to put pressure on the regional markets. Although the Qatari market witnessed substantial volatility during the period, the DSM ended the fourth quarter as the best performing equity market in the GCC and the tenth best performer in the world, with the index down 28.1 per cent for the year after being up 24.2 per cent up until June. The Qatar Stock Exchange saw extreme selling pressure during the quarter, falling by 40.9 per cent, but recovered in December on bargain-hunting.

The difficulties in the markets spread to the GCC with most economists predicting a significant slowdown in economic growth, primarily due to the substantial price falls of oil and related commodities. The decline in oil prices is likely to have a negative impact on the income base of the region, where predictions are of oil revenues falling by over 60 per cent as a result of falls in both price and volume following OPEC mandated cuts. 

On top of local issues, the de-leveraging that has impacted the world came to affect the regional markets, with Dubai being the first to suffer due to its highly leveraged economy. The Dubai property market witnessed price declines of 30 to 40 per cent over the last six months of the year. The problem was made worse by the large number of 'off-plan' properties that are estimated to have seen most of the defaults. This was exacerbated by banks refusing to lend into a falling market and substantial changes in the fortunes of property lending financing companies such as Tamweel and Amlak, which suddenly saw their funding sources dry up. 

The Dubai market has continued to reel under the impact of the crisis, with the market reacting to successive items of negative news. While the Investment Adviser expects that Abu Dhabi, with its substantial cash reserves, will ultimately come to Dubai's rescue, the long term cost of this remains in question. The Company's exposure to Dubai is only 1.69 per cent in two main positions - Emmar (which is currently trading at 0.4x price to book) and Emirates NBD, the largest bank by assets in the GCC (trading at 0.6x price to book).

Having struck first in Dubai, the global meltdown soon impacted business confidence in Qatar. Although the Investment Adviser has not yet seen the impact of the global economic crisis reported in company numbers, most of the management representatives that have been spoken to have decided to hunker down and adopt a wait and see approach to local markets. The Investment Adviser understands that some of the more aggressive expansion plans of regional companies have been curtailed.

The Investment Adviser believes that Qatar is relatively better positioned than other regional economies to withstand any substantial economic downturn in the region thanks to the following:

  • Since inception, the Investment Adviser has believed that Qatar's economy will change from being susceptible to oil price fluctuation to benefiting from the relatively steady cash flow from gas earnings, a view which is now coming true. Even with oil at an average price of over US$100 per barrel in the third quarter, the country's gas sales exceeded those of crude for the first time. According to the Qatar Statistical Authority, the gas sector's share of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) stood at QR34. 8 billion in the third quarter of 2008, while the oil sector contributed QR30.6 billion.

Embedded image removed - please refer to the Company's website for a table depicting oil and gas shares of Qatar's GDP. 

Source: Qatar Insurance Company SAQ, Qatar Statistical Authority

* Provisional data

      2.     Existing financed projects in the oil and gas sector will continue to be developed as off take is pre-


      3.     The economy is broadly underleveraged and the property sector has not been developed to

              the same extent as elsewhere in the GCC region.

      4.     The government retains the ability to finance internal projects, despite substantially lower oil

              prices, thanks to increasing gas sales. 

The government of Qatar has taken extensive, proactive steps to support the economy since the start of the crisisMeasures range from confidence building to actually investing in the local economy. The government has initiated a process of capital injection into the local banking sector by increasing equity ownership and providing long term deposit bases. The Investment Adviser believes that the government budget for the fiscal year 2009/2010 will be an expansionary one as the government has substantial reserves and the cash flow to fund it. These and other measures are likely to provide support to the local economy and, most importantly, to the financial institutions whose capacity to recover from increasing losses on both their proprietary investments and defaults is likely to increase. 

The capitalisation of the DSM market decreased by 19.75 per cent to QR279.04 billion at the end of 2008 compared to QR347.7 billion at the end of 2007. 

During the last month of the quarter, the DSM registered double digit growth whereas the other regional markets continued their downward trend. The Qatari market was able to return to positive territory as more investors eyed it as a fundamentally stronger market than its regional peers. The Investment Adviser believes that investors are considering the macro-economic attractions of Qatar and beginning to increase their exposure to the market accordingly. This comes as a strong positive signal that the Qatari economy is viewed as being well positioned to withstand any further turmoil caused by declining oil prices. 

Embedded image removed - please refer to the Company's website for a table depicting the GCC Equity Market Performance

Source: Qatar Insurance Company SAQ, Reuters

Company Update

In line with the regional and world markets, the Doha Securities Market (as measured by the DSM20 index) has also been under pressure, losing 28.1 per cent in 2008 and 26.1 per cent in the fourth quarter alone. As a result of the sell-off in the market, the Company's NAV has also been under straindeclining to US$0.72 as of 25 December 2008 from a high of US$1.39 on 12 June 2008. The Company has invested in 29 companies in the GCC, with 21 of them being in Qatarsix in the UAE, and two in Kuwait. The total market value of investments was US$182 million at the end of the quarter.

The Company has increased its cash reserves to over 7 per cent of the NAV. Most of the increase in cash came from reducing exposure to Dubai and Kuwait, as the Investment Adviser continues to be cautious about the economic crisis that is being witnessed there and its anticipated long term implicationsThe Investment Adviser maintains some exposure in these economies to companies that should be able to withstand current pressures and emerge successfully from the downturn.  

The Company will also benefit from the substantial dividends that have been preannounced by Doha-listed companies. Based on existing holdings, the Company should receive a cash dividend of approximately QR 30 million (US$8.2m) by April 2009. 

Corporate Profitability 

The recent strong sell-off by foreign investors across the GCC markets has left valuations at extremely compelling levels. 

Embedded image removed - please refer to the Company's website for a table depicting estimated dividend yields of the GCC countries in 2009

Source: IMF, Bloomberg & NBK Capital

The total combined net profit for all listed companies listed on the DSM as of 30 September 2008 amounted to QR24 billion compared to QR15 billion for the same period in 200758 per cent increase. This growth was relatively broad based, with 37 (out of 43) listed companies reporting an increase in net profit. All sectors witnessed robust growth, led by the industrial and insurance sectors, with net profit growth of 103 per cent and 80 per cent respectively. The banking sector reported total net profit of QR8.25 billion, an increase of 35 per cent year-on-year

Embedded image removed - please refer to the Company's website for a table depicting net income of the Company's top 5 holdings

Source: Qatar Insurance Company SAQ, DSM

During the quarter, some Qatari companies brought forward their 2008 dividend announcements to boost investor confidence and reduce volatility in the market. Most announced substantial increases in dividends leaving some stocks trading on dividend yields above 10 per cent.  

Embedded image removed - please refer to the Company's website for a table depicting announced 2008 dividends of the Company's stocks.

Source: Qatar Insurance Company

Industry allocation

The Company has a substantial weighting in the financial services industry, with 41.7 per cent of its investments in the banking sector. Although the global financial crisis continues, Qatari banks continue to witness robust earnings growth with QNB posting 62 per cent year-on-year third quarter net profit growth and CBQ posting 55 per cent growth against the same period last year. This growth is expected to slow down due to the current financial turmoil, the falling oil price and reduced business confidence.

The services sector, which is broadly defined and includes companies in telecommunications and utilities, accounted for 22.2 per cent of all investments. The Company's exposure to the real estate sector stood at 8.3 per cent at the end of the third quarter of 2008. The industries and insurance sectors accounted for a further 15.9 per cent and 4.3 per cent respectively.

Embedded image removed - please refer to the Company's website for a chart depicting Industry allocations within the portfolio as a % of market value.

Source: Qatar Insurance Company SAQ

Portfolio breakdown - top five holdings

The top five investments of the company constitute 51.6 per cent of NAV and 40.3 per cent of equity funds raised.

Embedded image removed - please refer to the Company's website for a table depicting the top five holdings of the portfolio

Source: Qatar Insurance Company SAQ

Regional allocation

Currently, the Company is invested in 21 companies in Qatarsix companies in UAE, and two companies in Kuwait. As at 31 December 2008, investments outside Qatar constituted 7.6 per cent of equity funds raised. 

Embedded image removed - please refer to the Company's website for a chart depicting country allocation as a % of market value

Source: Qatar Insurance Company SAQ


2008 started out as a promising year for the Qatari market, with a robust outlook for growth. Precipitated by the global credit crisis, however, it proved to be a challenging year with the DSM shedding 28.1 per cent. Nonethelesswithin the GCC the DSM was the best performing stock market. This marked out-performance can be attributed to the fact that the Qatari economy is better positioned to weather the global crisis given its strong economic fundamentals. 

In December, the DSM Index reversed the bearish trend of the last five months, gaining 13.4 per centThe Qatari economy is expected to be the least affected of the GCC economies by global turmoil and to show the strongest growth of all GCC economies, mainly due to the expected increase in LNG production and high levels of government infrastructure spending. 

  Important news flow

Qatar Investment Authority to invest up to 20 per cent in the capital of local banks 

The Qatar Investment Authority announced that it will buy between 10 per cent and 20 per cent of local banks' listed capital at the closing price of DSM on October 12, 2008 to boost confidence and ensure the funding of development projects in the country. QIA will start the implementation of its programme by buying 10 per cent stakes in National Banks during 2009. Also QIA announced its intention to buy shares in Masraf Al Rayan and Al Khalij Commercial Bank (AL Khaliji) during 2009 from the Doha Securities Market (DSM).

Qatar Shipping and Qatar Navigation announce merger plans

Qatar Shipping & Qatar Navigation received directive from the government of Qatar to merge. Following this directive, the boards of directors of these two companies have decided to study the necessary requirements to proceed with the merger.

QIB board approves 10 per cent share buy back

The board of directors of Qatar Islamic Bank has approved a decision which allows the bank to purchase 10 per cent of its issued shares valued at QR1.969 billion. The acquisition will occur upon approval by the Qatar Financial Markets Authority (QFMA) and Qatar Central Bank (QCB) in accordance with their standards and regulations.

Standard & Poor's, Moody's reaffirms Doha Bank's foreign currency deposit ratings as


Rating agency Moody's Investor Services has reaffirmed Doha Bank's foreign currency deposit ratings as A2/P-1 and financial strength as D+ with stable outlook. Moody's has further observed that Doha Bank had satisfactory liquidity management while market risk appetite was assessed as moderate. Standard & Poor's Rating Services has also reaffirmed its A-/A-2 long and short-term counterparty credit ratings for Doha Bank. The rating agency also reaffirmed Doha Bank's outlook as stable.  

Industries Qatar announces reduction in steel prices

Qatar Steel decided to reduce steel prices with effect from 9 November 2008 as part of its measures to remain in line with the current drop in international prices. The new retail price for sizes 10 - 40 mm will range from QR2, 400 to QR2, 460 per ton depending on size. Despite soaring international prices, Qatar Steel froze its prices in the Qatari market as of March 2008 as an initiative to support the Government's efforts to tacklinflation and safeguard the local construction industry. In a related development, Qatar Steel announced that it has stopped exporting steel outside Qatar following a substantialapproximately 45 per centincrease in local demand.

QTEL & Reliance Globalcom sign strategic network partnership

Qatar Telecommunications (Qtel), and Reliance Globalcom, a leading global provider of enterprise, wholesale, consumer and managed services, announced the signing of a strategic agreement that will help position Qatar as a major hub for global Internet Protocol Services (IPS), including Global Ethernet and customised support for international enterprises.

QTEL: Indonesian Government has clarified the tender offer conditions for Indosat

The authorities have agreed to allow Qtel to own up to 65 per cent of Indosat, while removing a previously discussed condition that Indosat would transfer its fixed business into a separate company. Qtel commenced the tender offer Tuesday, January 20, 2009. Qtel is set to purchase up to 1,314,466,775 Series B Shares ('Series B Shares') (including Series B Shares underlying American Depositary Shares ('ADSs')) of Indosat, which is listed on both the Indonesian and New York stock exchanges. Together these shares represent about 24.19 per cent of Indosat's total issued and outstanding shares. The mandatory tender offers were triggered by Qtel's earlier indirect acquisition of a 40.81 per cent stake in Indosat on 22 June 2008.

QTEL receives public credit ratings from Moody's Investors Service, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services and Fitch Ratings

Moody's Investors Service has assigned Qtel a senior unsecured issuer rating of 'A1' Standard & Poor's Ratings Services assigned its 'A-' long term and 'A-2' short term corporate credit ratings, while Fitch Ratings has assigned an issuer default rating of 'A+', thereby underpinning Qtel's strong credit quality. The outlook on all ratings is stable. This is the first time that any agency has assigned a credit rating to Qtel.

Qatar Real Estate secures QR1 billion Ijara finance

QNB Al Islami, the Islamic branch of Qatar National Bank (QNB), Qatar International Islamic Bank (QIIB) and Qatar Real Estate Investment Company (ALAQARIA) announced the signing of a Sharia-compliant finance agreement by which the two banks will provide ALAQARIA with Ijara finance of QR1 billion The funds would play an instrumental role in the future development of ALAQARIA projects in Qatar, estimated at QR2.5 billion. The financing came into effect on January 1, 2009.  

Nakilat take delivery of six ships during quarter

Nakilat has taken delivery of six LNG ships during the quarter including the world's largest Q-Max LNG carrier 'mozah'. The Q-Flex and the even larger Q-Max are a new generation of LNG mega-ships. The Q-Max has 80 per cent more capacity than conventional LNG carriers with about 40 per cent lower energy requirements due to the economies of scale created by their size and engine efficiency. Q-Max LNG carriers are unique and purpose built for Nakilat and will be on long-term charter to Qatargas. 

Dlala Holding establishes Dlala Real Estate Company worth QR30 Million

Dlala Brokerage & Investment Holding Company announced the completion of establishment procedures for Dlala Real Estate Company, with paid-up capital of QR30 millionwholly owned by Dlala Holding.

Barwa announces a QR1.5 billion village project in Wakra

BARWA has announced the Barwa Village Project, a new QR1.5 billion (with QR1.0 billion allocated for construction works and QR520 million for infrastructure works and services) mixed-use residential and retail development with a capacity for 13,000 residents in the Al Wakra Municipality. The construction of BARWA Village will last 15 months and the first tenants are expected to take up residency in the first quarter of 2010.

Barwa and Sun Group announce the formation of a land bank company for India: Sun-Barwa Land

Barwa Real Estate Company and SUN Group, a leading principal investor and private equity fund manager in India and other emerging and transforming markets, have entered into a joint venture agreement to explore the Indian real estate market.

Barwa, Amlak Finance (Qatar) and Landmark Properties sign Memorandum of Understanding to form new entity in Qatar

Amlak Finance (Qatar), a joint venture between Amlak Finance PJSC and BARWA Real Estate Company, and Landmark Properties, one of the Middle East's leading real estate firms, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to form 'Landmark Qatar', a newly established company which will offer brokerage, property consultancy, management and investment advisory services in the State of Qatar. 

QP and Wintershall sign 25-year exploration deal  

Qatar Petroleum and Germany's Wintershall Holding have signed an exploration and production sharing agreement (EPSA) 'to explore and discover oil and gas' in the Block-4 North offshore acreage. The Block-4 North (Khuff) offshore acreage covers an area of 544 sq km and is located northwest of the North Field and Al-Shaheen oilfield.

Amlak and Tamweel initiate merger process

Amlak Finance and Tamweel have begun a merger process. The merger of the two banks under the supervision of UAE Real Estate Bank will create the largest real estate finance institution in the country, the UAE Finance Ministry announced.

FGB to buyback 10 per cent of its shares

Abu Dhabi-based First Gulf Bank announced it was initiating a buyback of 10 per cent of its shares, which have fallen more than 40 per cent year-to-date. First Gulf said it received approval for the share buyback from the Emirates Securities and Commodities Authority (ESCA).

Qatar won't curb investments because of global crisis: PM

Qatar said that it has no intention of scaling down massive investments at home and abroad as a result of the global financial crisis. 'We have no intention of halting infrastructure projects at home or reducing overseas investments,' said the Qatari Prime Minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabr Al-Thani

Qatar inflation to fall next year: IMF

Qatar's oil and non-oil GDP growth will fall from an estimated 14 per cent this year to 12.4 per cent in 2009 while consumer price inflation will dip from the projected 15 per cent this year to 13 per cent next year, according to an International Monetary Fund report (IMF) on the world's economic outlook. 

Embedded image removed - please refer to the Company's website for a graph depicting the DSM20 Index since Jan 2005

Source: Reuters

Embedded image removed - please refer to the Company's website for a table depicting the NAV performance of the Company (% net in USD).

Source: Galileo Fund Services Ltd  

NAV Performance is unaudited

Performance figures are based on the NAV calculated on the last Thursday of each month and published via the regulatory news service of the London Stock Exchange.

The performance data quoted represents past performance. Past performance does not guarantee future results. The investment return and principal value of an investment will fluctuate so that an investor's shares when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost and current performance may be lower or higher than the performance quoted. Additional information regarding policies for calculation and reporting returns is available upon request.

Epicure Qatar Equity Opportunities plc

NAV Update

NAV at launch                                       US$ 0.96

NAV as at 25 December 2008                 US$ 0.72

Inception Date                                       31 July 2007

The NAV is estimated net of fees and expenses every week and announced through the regulatory news service of the London Stock Exchange.

As at 29 December 2008

Market Price -Shares                            US$0.38

Market Price -Warrants                         US$0.05

Key Features

Domicile                                              Isle of Man

Shares Issued                                      247,527,523

Warrants Issued                                   34,271,000

Maturity                                               Continuation vote at 2012 Annual General Meeting

Year End                                             30 June

Management Fee                                  1.25% of NAV

Performance Fee

The performance fee is 20% of the of the increase in Adjusted Net Asset Value per Ordinary Share above the Target Net Asset Value per Ordinary Share, subject to the achievement of two tests (i) the year end Adjusted Net Asset Value per Ordinary Share is greater than the High Watermark and (ii) the year end Adjusted Net Asset Value per Ordinary Share exceeds the Target Net Asset Value per Ordinary Share during the relevant Performance Period. The Target Net Asset Value per Ordinary Share for the first performance period is the US$1 placing price increased by the hurdle rate of 8% per annum. For further details, please refer to the Company's admission document.

Investment Manager  
Epicure Managers Qatar Limited
Investment Adviser 
Qatar Insurance Company S.A.Q
Galileo Fund Services Limited
 Anglo Irish Bank Corporation, International Limited
Nominated Adviser and Broker  
Panmure Gordon (UK) Limited
Auditor & Tax Adviser 
Legal Adviser     
 Stephenson Harwood



Ordinary Shares

ISIN                                                                        IM00B1240704

SEDOL                                                                   B124070

Bloomberg ticker                                                      EQEO

Valoren                                                                   3268997


ISIN                                                                        IM00B1240G96

SEDOL                                                                   B1240G9

Bloomberg ticker                                                      EQEW

Valoren                                                                   3271492

Exchange Rate US$1.00=QR3.64



Epicure Qatar Equity Opportunities plc

Leonard O'Brien

T: +41 (22) 908 1190

Nominated Adviser & Broker

Panmure Gordon (UK) Limited

Moorgate Hall

London, EC2M 6XB

T: +44(0) 207 459 3600

Administrator & Registrar

Galileo Fund Services Limited

Third Floor

Britannia House

St George's Street


Isle of Man, IM1 1JE

T: +44(0)1624 692600

F: +44 (0)1624 692 601



Anglo Irish Bank Corporation (InternationalLimited

Jubilee Buildings

Victoria Street


Isle of Man, IM1 2SH

PR/ Media Contact 

Tim Draper

M Communications 

T: +44 20 7153 1267

Marylene Guernier

M Communications

T +44 20 7153 1269

1 Ropemaker Street

Ninth Floor




The contents of this document have been prepared by Qatar Insurance Company S.A.Q as Investment Adviser to the Epicure Qatar Equity Opportunities PLC ('the Company'). This document has been prepared solely for information purposes and for the use of the recipient. It does not constitute an offer or an invitation by or on behalf of the Investment Adviser or the Company to any person to buy or sell any security or investment product. Any reference to past performance is not necessarily a guide to the future. The information and analyses contained in this publication have been compiled, or arrived at from sources believed to be reliable, but the Investment Adviser does not make any representation as to their accuracy or completeness, and does not accept liability for any loss arising from their use. The investments discussed in this report may not be suitable for all investors. and are provided for information purposes only. The ordinary shares and warrants in the Company have not been, and will not be, registered under the United States Securities Act of 1933 as amended (the 'Securities Act') or qualified for sale under the laws of any state of the United States or under the applicable laws of any of Canada, Australia, Republic of South Africa or Japan and, subject to certain exceptions, may not be offered or sold in the United States or to, or for the account or benefit of, US persons (as such term is defined in Regulation S under the Securities Act) or to any national, resident or citizen of Canada, Australia, Republic of South Africa or Japan. None of the Company, the Manager or any of their respective members, directors, officers or employees nor any other person accepts any liability whatsoever for any loss, however arising, from any use of such information or opinions.

Epicure Qatar Equity Opportunities plc

Registered Office
Third Floor

Britannia House

St George's Street


Isle of Man, IM1 1JE


This information is provided by RNS
The company news service from the London Stock Exchange