Epicure Qatar Equity Opportunities plc
Quarterly Update to Quarter End December 2009
Report to Shareholders
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Epicure Qatar Equity Opportunities plc
Investment Advisers Report - Quarterly Update to Quarter End December 2009
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 Qatar Exchange (formerly the Doha Securities Market ("DSM") in addition to companies soon to be listed, with a possible allocation of up to 15 per cent in other regional GCC listed companies. The Investment Adviser invests using a top-down screening process along with fundamental industry and company analysis.
The Qatar Exchange (QE), formerly named the Doha Securities Market, underwent another volatile quarter in Q4 2009 and the Qatari market ended the year in rather muted form as domestic investors looked for, but lacked, direction. On the back of the Dubai debt crisis all the regional markets turned negative. In the fourth quarter, the QE returned a negative 6.1 per cent and closed with a year to date return of just over 1 per cent.
Most Gulf stock markets ended 2009 higher following massive losses in 2008 due to the global economic downturn, but their recovery was interrupted by the Dubai
debt crisis. After slumping to a year low in the first three months of 2009, five of the seven markets made a strong comeback in the third quarter that continued into the start of the fourth quarter, with the Saudi, Dubai and Abu Dhabi bourses each adding more than 30 per cent. With the exception of Kuwait and Bahrain, all the regional bourses ended the year in positive territory, led by Saudi Arabia which gained 27.5 per cent.
Capitalising on a high oil price and signs of global recovery, most of the bourses in the energy-rich region reached their highest point of the year in October, after which they started to decline on news of Dubai debt woes and profit-taking. Investment managers, however, remain generally positive about the prospects for the region, and especially Qatar, in 2010. With large inflows of capital from the government's increasing hydrocarbon (particularly gas) revenues, and a highly innovative programme for infrastructure spending, the Qatar stock market is expected to show an improved trend in 2010.
Embedded image removed - please refer to the Company's website www.epicure-qatarequity.comfor a table depicting GCC Equity Market Performance
Source: Reuters, Qatar Insurance Company S.A.Q.
During the fourth quarter in Qatar, the banking & financial sector was the most active followed by the insurance sector. The banking index lost 7.7 per cent on back of concerns over Dubai's debt exposure whereas the insurance sector index lost 5.3 per cent. The services and industrial sectors lost 4.6 per cent and 2.7 per cent respectively during the period.
In the fourth quarter of 2009, the QE's market capitalisation decreased by 4.7 per cent to QR320 billion (US$88 billion) compared to QR336 billion (US$92 billion) at the end of the third quarter.
While the Investment Adviser believes that Qatar will continue to demonstrate strong economic growth over the coming quarters, a further recovery in the stock market will be dependent on greater liquidity and improved investor sentiment, which for the time being continues to be negative. The forthcoming full year 2009 results of Qatari companies will have a positive impact on the outlook for the bourse over the coming months, in the opinion of the Investment Adviser.
Qatar's nominal gross domestic product (GDP) grew 11 per cent in the third quarter of 2009, compared to the previous quarter. The total output of the country in the third quarter hit QR76 billion (US$20.8 billion), compared with QR68 billion in the second, and QR70 billion in the first quarter.
Embedded image removed - please refer to the Company's website www.epicure-qatarequity.comfor a table depicting third quarter GDP Update..
Source: Source: Reuters, Qatar Statistics Authority ,QIC
The third quarter marked a period of slower economic activity due to the summer months and, in 2009, also due to the fact that Ramadan came shortly after the end of summer holidays. Some key aspects were:
• The contribution from the oil sector grew due to the average price of crude oil rising from US$60 to US$68 per barrel
• The gas sector recovered from the decline seen in the first half of 2009 due to price rises for all major commodities. LNG prices were around half of the peak level achieved in the fourth quarter of 2008
• Manufacturing showed strong recovery, increasing by 26.5 per cent
• Construction activity slowed with a 1.0 per cent decrease
• The financial, insurance, business and real estate services sector declined by 7.5 per cent
Inflation is coming down
Consumer prices declined on a monthly basis for the sixth consecutive month in November. The decline in the consumer price index (CPI) was driven by lower housing and food prices, which outweighed increases in the other components of the CPI. Qatar's monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI) fell by 0.4 per cent in November compared to October to stand at 121.8 (2006=100), down 5.2 per cent from the beginning of 2009.
Only a limited comparison of annual inflation rates can be made, as the new monthly CPI only started in January. Consumer prices have fallen 5.2 per cent since the start of the year and are down 10.4 per cent compared to the levels prevailing during the fourth quarter of 2008. In addition, money supply has contracted sharply, with narrow (M1) and broad (M2) money supply down 25.7 per cent and 8.8 per cent respectively year-on-year in September.
Banks have limited Dubai exposure
The Dubai debt standstill announcement rippled across to the QE which managed, nonetheless, to recoup most of its lost ground over the course of the fourth quarter. In due course, all the main listed banks revealed no exposure to Dubai World and its related entities. The Investment Adviser believed at the time that the fall out of the Dubai debt crisis would have only a limited impact on the Qatari banking sector.
As a result of the crisis, some concerns were also raised over the ability of GCC companies to raise international finance. However, any such concerns were, in the opinion of the Investment Adviser, likely be overcome in Qatar given the strength of the domestic economy and public finances. This view appears to have been shared by financial markets which rebounded after an initial slump when the Dubai debt story first broke. The Doha stock market initially fell by 8 per cent, but then recovered almost all of the ground lost in the fourth quarter to end the year slightly higher. In addition, CDS rates on Qatar initially jumped a modest 23 bps, before shedding 15 bps to hold at 104 bps, the lowest in the region after Saudi Arabia.
Qatar economy looking solid
After a modest slowdown in 2009, the Investment Adviser expects economic growth in Qatar to rebound strongly in 2010, thanks to the continuing expansion of the country's natural gas sector and the government's continuing investment in the country's infrastructure. The increase in overall economic activity will continue to be driven by the natural gas sector, as additional LNG output capacity is slated to come online next year.
The state-owned Qatar Petroleum's joint ventures, Qatargas and RasGas, are expected to bring on stream at least two LNG trains in 2010, both with a capacity of 7.8 million tons per annum (mta), which would boost overall production capacity to nearly 70 mta. Along with Qatar's LNG surge, crude-oil output is expected to grow in 2010 and should no longer be a drag on growth, as it was in 2009. The government continues to maintain its investments in the hydrocarbon sector, with recently announced petrochemical projects in excess of $3 billion. The Investment Adviser expects these projects to benefit from cheap feedstock, capitalising on Qatar's natural advantage in this sector.
With large future revenue flows and immediate access to around US$10 billion in funds raised through sovereign bond issues during 2009, the government is well placed to advance its development agenda and diversification efforts during 2010-11. Spending on infrastructure, construction and public wages is likely to rise rapidly, stimulating robust growth in the non-hydrocarbon sector.
Embedded image removed - please refer to the Company's website www.epicure-qatarequity.comfor a pie chart depicting Qatar Project Pipeline
Source: Meed Projects
Construction activity in particular is expected to surge, with projects worth over US$66 billion currently planned or underway out of a total project pipeline of US$212.5 billion. The financial sector is expected to post sustained growth, with a modest pick-up in credit aided by resumed population growth and rising per capita incomes. Credit growth, however, is unlikely to return to the rapid pre-crisis rates and the real estate sector may continue to drag on the economy as oversupply dampens prospects and prices in 2010.
With the government unveiling emergency anti-crisis measures and, despite lower energy prices, also maintaining strong public spending and investment, the growth of Qatar's non-hydrocarbon sector is expected to continue. The Qatari government continues to be one of the best capitalised governments in the region and this was further demonstrated by its purchase of 5 per cent of new equity in each of the listed banks (with the exception of Qatar National Bank) during the month of December.
In spite of the crisis, rating agencies have continued to uphold their ratings on Qatari debt and Qatari companies continue to post healthy results relative to their regional peers. On the back of a rise in oil revenue and aggressive government spending plans, we believe that a nascent recovery is likely to gain momentum as the year progresses.
During the fourth quarter the Company's NAV dropped to US$0.80 as of 31 December 2009 compared to US$0.87 as at 1 October 2009.
The Company is invested in 24 companies in the GCC, with 19 of them being in Qatar, four in the UAE, and one in Kuwait (30 September 2009: 17 in Qatar, four in UAE, one in Kuwait). The total market value of investments was US$185.3million at the end of the fourth quarter (as per the Interim Financial Statements). At the end of the fourth quarter of 2009 the Company was fully invested with cash of 1.25 per cent of NAV (as per the Interim Financial Statements).
The global recession has affected the profitability of companies listed on the QE. After a long period of growth, the first nine months saw the total profitability of companies listed on the exchange fall year-on-year for the first time in the last four years. The total combined net profit for all companies listed on the QE for the nine months ended 30 September 2009 amounted to QR19.9 billion compared to QR23.8 billion for the comparable period in 2008, a 16.5 per cent decrease. The Investment Adviser does not expect to see any major negative surprises in the fourth quarter results and expects that most companies will track their last year results with an improved outlook for 2010.
Within the portfolio's major holdings, Industries Qatar, the petrochemical giant, revealed the greatest decline in income due to the price collapse for petrochemical and fertilizer products. The Investment Adviser believes that prices for petrochemicals and other related products have already bottomed and continues to see improving performance from the product portfolio of Industries Qatar. At current levels of oil prices, the Investment Adviser anticipates that the Company will see the full benefit of planned capacity additions between Q1 2010 and 2011. The Investment Adviser expects the group's gearing to both an economic recovery and commodity price increases to enhance future earnings.
The Company's industry allocation for the quarter was largely unchanged compared to the previous quarter. The Company's largest sector exposure continues to be to the financial services industry. Exposure to the banking sector stood at 49.7 per cent on 31 December 2009 compared to 50.7 per cent at the end of the third quarter.
The services sector, which is broadly defined and includes companies in telecommunications and utilities, accounted for 23.4 per cent of all investments. The Company's exposure to the real estate sector stood at 5.3 per cent at the end of the fourth quarter of 2009. The industries and insurance sectors accounted for a further 16.2 per cent and 4.5 per cent respectively.
Embedded image removed - please refer to the Company's website www.epicure-qatarequity.comfor a pie chart depicting the industry allocation of the portfolio (% of market value)
Source: Qatar Insurance Company SAQ, Market Values as at 31 Dec 2009
Embedded image removed - please refer to the Company's website www.epicure-qatarequity.comfor a graph depicting the portfolio breakdown of top five holdings
Source: Qatar Insurance Company SAQ, as at 31 Dec 2009
During the quarter Industries Qatar's investment exposure as a % of NAV slightly crossed the maximum individual stock exposure of 15 per cent as set out in the Company's investing policy due to its relative performance in the last week of the quarter. However, the subsequent week the Investment Adviser took relevant steps to bring down the exposure below the permitted level. At 31 December 2009, the top five investments of the Company constituted 58.2 per cent of NAV (60.3 per cent 30 September 2009).
As noted in the previous quarterly report, the Investment Adviser believes that Qatari banks are extremely well placed to benefit from a recovery in the local economy. At the time of writing, Qatar National Bank (QNB), one of the Company's largest holdings (14.6 per cent of NAV), had reported its results for the 2009 financial year. These were outstanding, with net profits exceeding QR4.2 billion, an increase of 15 per cent over 2008 achieved in spite of the economic and financial crisis that has faced many countries around the world.
The Investment Adviser believes that Qatari banks are extremely well placed to benefit from a recovery in the local economy.
Industries Qatar (15.1 per cent), another top holding for the Company, expects to benefit from the revival of global petrochemical prices and its planned expansion through 2011 argues well for the Company's future financial performance.
Embedded image removed - please refer to the Company's website www.epicure-qatarequity.comfor a graph depicting the regional allocation of the portfolio (% of mkt)
As at 31 December 2009, the Company was invested in 19 companies in Qatar, four companies in UAE, and one company in Kuwait. Investments outside Qatar constituted 0.5 per cent of the Company's investments.
important news flow
Inauguration of the Qatofin plant
Qatar inaugurated the Qatofin plant in Mesaieed Industrial City (MIC). Qatofin is a joint venture between Qatar Petrochemical Company (QAPCO), a subsidiary of Industries Qatar (63 per cent), Total Petrochemicals of France (36 per cent) and Qatar Petroleum (1 per cent). The project involves the construction of a linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) unit to produce 450,000 metric tons per year at facilities adjacent to Qapco's plant at MIC. The feedstock ethylene required for the LLDPE unit will be supplied from the world's largest single Ethylene Cracker of 1.3 mta (expandable to 1.6 mta) in Ras Laffan Industrial City, which is one of Qatar's mega projects.
QAPCO launches the LDPE-3 new plant
Qatar Petrochemical Company (QAPCO) also announced that H.H. Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, the Heir Apparent, has laid the foundation stone for QAPCO's new LDPE-3 plant. QAPCO's two existing LDPE production lines together put out about 400 kmta. The third LDPE line is anticipated to add about 300 kmta to its total LDPE capacity to reach up to 700 kmta. The new LDPE-3 plant is to be established at QAPCO's existing operational facilities in Mesaieed Industrial City (MIC), and is forecast to be completed by the end of 2011.
Bahrain-Qatar Causeway - construction to start in first quarter 2010
Qatar announced that the construction of the world's longest marine causeway, that will link the Persian Gulf states of Qatar and Bahrain, will begin in the first quarter of 2010, with completion due by 2015. The project is expected to cost between US$3-4 billion.
Qatar banks assets up by QR48 billion in first 9 Months of 2009
Qatar Central Bank data showed the combined assets of banks operating in Qatar grew by QR48 billion (US$13.2 billion) in the first nine months of 2009 to QR420.5 billion compared to QR372.5 billion at the beginning of January 2009.
Qatar's oil budgeted at US$55 per barrel
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and Energy Abdullah Al-Attiyah announced that Qatar's new oil budgets would be set at an oil price of US$55 per barrel.
Qatar's Population Exceeds 1,600,000
Qatar's total population at 31 December 2009 exceeded 1,600,000 people, according to data released by the Qatar Statistics Authority. The report explained that Qatar's population at the end of 2009 totaled 1,631,728 people, an increase of 51,678 on November.
Kahramaa to spend US$9bn on water distribution
Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation (Kahramaa) is to spend US$9bn to augment its water distribution network across the country. According to a leading official, tenders have been put out for several key projects to enhance the country's water distribution system and meet burgeoning demands for supplies.
Petronet LNG eyes 3.5m tons additional Qatar LNG
India's largest liquefied natural gas importer is in talks to secure up to 3.5 million metric tons of additional LNG from Qatar for its upcoming project in Southern India and existing terminal in Western India, according to its finance director.
Barwa repays US$700 million syndicated loan
During the quarter Barwa Real Estate announced that it has repaid in full a US$700 million syndicated loan originally arranged through four international banks; BNP Paribas, JP Morgan, Standard Chartered and GIB.
Barwa appoints Bouygues as main contractor for Barwa Financial District
Barwa Real Estate Company announced the appointment of Bouygues Construction as the main contractor for the Barwa Financial District to be built in the new commercial city district of West Bay, Doha. The announcement heralds the start of construction for the Financial District which will eventually comprise over half a million square meters of built up area. When completed, it will include a state of the art conference center, a luxury hotel, international brand retail mall, public plazas with terraced restaurants and cafes, with the central flagship tower rising over fifty floors.
QIB buys US$50 million Qinvest stake from Bahrain's GFH
QIB has announced its US$50 million purchase of QInvest shares from Gulf Finance House (GFH), equaling a sale of 10 per cent of GFH's 15 per cent stake in QInvest. GFH will retain a 5 per cent share holding in QInvest. QInvest is licensed by the Qatar Financial Centre.
Qtel signs major cable agreement with Tata Communications
Qtel has signed a major cable agreement with Tata Communications to install a cable system connecting Qtel to hubs throughout the world via Tata's global network. This state-of-the-art cable system will connect the gulf region directly to the world's major business hubs and city centres through the global network, improving connectivity and providing the foundations for next generation communication technology. Completion of this new system will make an important contribution to Qtel's strategy to connect Qatar with the world.
Vodafone Qatar gets second fixed line licence
Vodafone Qatar announced that Vodafone Group and Qatar Foundation were announced by ictQATAR to be the winning applicants for the second fixed telecommunications licence. Management anticipates that the first fixed services will be launched in late 2010.
QAFCO awarded EPC contract for QAFCO-6
Industries Qatar announced that the Engineering, Procurement and Construction contract for the QAFCO-6 Expansion project was won by a consortium of the Italian company Saipem and Hyundai Engineering & Construction Company of Korea.
Barwa announces the merger of three companies and the launch of Waseef
Barwa Real Estate Company has announced the launch of a new company called Waseef, which aims at reinforcing its services to customers and facilitating contracting with service providers. The new company was launched after the merger of three companies: Barwa Real Estate Management, Barwa Maintenance Service Management and Barwa Hotels and Resorts.
Qatar Insurance formed new re-insurance company
Qatar Insurance Company announced that its Board of Directors' has agreed to jointly participate with QIC International in forming a Re-Insurance Company called "Q-Re LLC"- a company to be registered in Qatar Financial Center (QFC), with a paid up capital of QR 185 million.
Embedded image removed - please refer to the Company's website www.epicure-qatarequity.comfor a graph depicting the DSM20 Index since Jan 2006
Embedded image removed - please refer to the Company's website www.epicure-qatarequity.comfor 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 at launch US$ 0.96
NAV as at31 Dec 2009 US$ 0.80
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 31 Dec 2009
Market Price -Shares US$0.74
Market Price -Warrants US$0.07
Domicile Isle of Man
Shares in Issue 234,174,952
Warrants Issued 34,271,000
Maturity Continuation vote at 2012 Annual General Meeting
Year End 30 June
Management Fee 1.25% of NAV
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
Administrator Galileo Fund Services Limited
Custodian Anglo Irish Bank Corporation, International PLC
Nominated Adviser and Broker Panmure Gordon (UK) Limited
Auditor & Tax Adviser KPMG I.O.M.
Legal Adviser Stephenson Harwood
Bloomberg ticker EQEO
Bloomberg ticker EQEW
Exchange Rate US$1.00=QR3.64
Epicure Qatar Equity Opportunities plc
T: +41 (22) 908 1190
Nominated Adviser & Broker
Panmure Gordon (UK) Limited
London, EC2M 6XB
T: +44(0) 207 459 3600
Administrator & Registrar
Galileo Fund Services Limited
St George's Street
Isle of Man, IM1 1JE
T: +44(0)1624 692600
F: +44 (0)1624 692 601
Anglo Irish Bank Corporation (International) PLC
Isle of Man, IM1 2SH
PR/ Media Contact
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1 Ropemaker Street
The contents of this document have been prepared by Qatar Insurance Company S.A.Q as Investment Adviser to the Epicure Qatar Equity Opportunities Fund 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
St George's Street
Isle of Man, IM1 1JE