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Epicure Qatar Equity (QIF)

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Monday 10 May, 2010

Epicure Qatar Equity

Quarterly Update to Quarter E

RNS Number : 6074L
Epicure Qatar Equity Opportunities
10 May 2010

Epicure Qatar Equity Opportunities plc

Quarterly Update to Quarter End March 2010



Report to Shareholders




Epicure Qatar Equity Opportunities plc

Investment Advisers Report - Quarterly Update to Quarter End March 2010

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 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.

Market Update


After a muted 2009, when the Qatar Exchange (QE) returned only 1.1 per cent, the first quarter of 2010 saw a return of 7.2 per cent, reflecting a small recovery backed by improving economic fundamentals. Along with the Qatar Exchange, other Gulf stock markets started the quarter on a more positive note supported by encouraging news regarding the Dubai World debt restructuring and higher oil prices.


The Saudi Arabian equity market was the best performer for the quarter, closing with gains of 11.1 per cent, driven by an improved outlook. Kuwait and Qatar returned 7.5 per cent and 7.1 per cent respectively to finish the quarter as the second and third best performing markets in the GCC.


The Dubai market, which at one point during the quarter fell by almost 14 per cent, recovered well on the back of the Dubai World debt restructuring announcement and closed the first quarter of 2010 with a 2.2 per cent return.  Abu Dhabi and Bahrain returned 6.0 per cent and 6.1 per cent respectively, with Oman returning 5.2 per cent.


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 quarter, the banking & financial sector in Qatar was the most active with the banking index gaining 11.6 per cent and outperforming the broader market. This resulted from the realization that, even in the midst of widespread financial turmoil, the Qatari banking sector was recording ongoing strong asset growth, with no major balance sheet issues.


While the Investment Adviser believes that Qatar will continue to demonstrate strong economic growth over the coming quarters, stock market performance will depend on a further improvement in both investor sentiment and liquidity. The first quarter has seen improving liquidity but this still remains lower than during previous bull market phases. It is anticipated that the forthcoming first quarter 2010 results of Qatari companies will have a positive impact on the outlook for the bourse.


Macro Update

Qatar sets budget at US$32.4bn, expects surplus

A key indicator of sentiment is the annual government budget, which generates substantial interest in the local market due to its importance to the local economy. This year's budget, the largest in the history of the government, reflects positively on the government's intention to continue with its expansionary policies.


Qatar's planned budget expenditure of QR118bn (US$32.4bn) for 2010/11 is up 25 per cent over last year's budgeted spending. Forecast revenues of QR128bn (US$35bn) represent 35 per cent of GDP. The budget has been prepared using an oil price assumption of US$55 a barrel but, given the oil price is currently much higher, the Investment Adviser expects a fiscal surplus.


Over recent years the government's revenue base has increased and larger absolute allocations have been made towards capital expenditure. The commitment of the government to develop a world class infrastructure platform continues unabated, with more than US$220bn of projects underway. The capital expenditure programme, which now stands at QR47bn, represents more than six times that of 2004 and contributes considerably to the internal economy of the country. The Investment Adviser believes that, through this budget, the Qatari government has demonstrated its intent of achieving sustainable development in the country. Allocations have been consistently made towards education, health and infrastructure projects.


Embedded image removed - please refer to the Company's website www.epicure-qatarequity.comfor a table depicting Qatar's budget.


Source Deutsche Bank, Central Bank of Qatar * Based on initial estimates by Qatar's Ministry of Finance


According to the Qatar News Agency, the financial allocations for the most important sectors underscore Qatar's thrust to upgrade its infrastructure, education and health sectors.  These are, in broad terms:


§ Approximately 30 per cent of the budget will be allocated to infrastructure spending. The state is focusing 

      its attention on this sector due to its importance as the basis for all service and development projects

§ Approximately 15 per cent of spending (QR17.3bn) will be allocated to education

§ Approximately 7 per cent of spending will be allocated to the health sector

§ The budget has also provided an extra QR2.5bn in support of the 'housing loans fund'


February 2010 - early signs of deflation coming to an end?


New data indicates that consumer prices in Qatar fell 4.5 per cent year-on-year in February 2010 but saw their first month-on-month gain since May 2009. The 0.1 per cent increase was modest but ends an eight month run of month-on-month price declines.


Embedded image removed - please refer to the Company's website www.epicure-qatarequity.comfor a chart depicting Qatar consumer prices

Source:  Qatar Statistics Authority, QIC


The Investment Adviser is reluctant to read too much into a single month's data, particularly as the gains in local prices came in good part from an increase in imported food costs. Prices, however, have been stable since the end of Q3 2009 and are only now showing their first upturn, suggesting that the fall in domestic demand may have run its course. Details in the February data, indicating gains in housing costs for the first time since May 2009, are also consistent with the local economy coming back to life. The recent budget forecast, which suggests that public spending could rise by as much as 25 per cent in fiscal 2010/11, could prove to be well judged as a recovery in domestic demand is likely to rebuild momentum quickly.


The Investment Adviser's interpretation of the inflation data as an early indicator of a recovery in domestic demand is supported by banking data released earlier in the month showing that commercial bank credit rose by nearly 6 per cent month-on-month in February. This rise was dominated by a QR13bn month-on-month increase in lending to government institutions.


Embedded image removed - please refer to the Company's website www.epicure-qatarequity.comfor a graph depicting Qatar public borrowing in Q1 2010

Source:  QCB Morgan Stanley Research


The data also showed a 1.7 per cent increase in lending to the private sector in February. Encouragingly, the reading does not appear to be isolated, but rather marks a fourth consecutive month in which lending to the private sector has accelerated. The banking data also indicates a continued run-up in private sector deposits, which increased by more than 6 per cent in February following a gain of more than 4 per cent in January. The deposit data not only suggests that private sector liquidity is improving, but also appears to leave the banks well placed to continue to extend new credit in the months ahead.

Much awaited Dubai World restructuring proposal announced


The government of Dubai, along with Dubai World and Nakheel, announced proposals for the restructuring of the two companies' liabilities. These represent the clearest proposals since the plan to restructure the debts was announced in November last year. On the surface the proposals look positive for the creditors of the two companies. They anticipate full repayment of principal and interest on all liabilities, albeit with some maturity extension.


In the view of the Investment Adviser, the announced proposal and the general principle it outlines provides positive signals as to the direction the restructuring process is taking and to a degree has helped reduce uncertainty.


Subsequent to the announcement, both the equity and fixed income markets rebounded in Dubai following an official statement published by the Dubai Supreme Fiscal Committee. Since November 2009, the market has traded on sentiment and rumour rather than tangible facts and proposals and, consequently, has deterred many foreign investors from the GCC markets.

Qatar: economic outlook brighter


The Investment Adviser is looking towards 2010 with optimism, believing the downturn that began in late 2008 and continued into 2009 has run its course. We expect to see growth resume across the region with the pace of expansion building momentum as the year goes on. After a modest slowdown in 2009, we expect 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 investment in the country's infrastructure.


Embedded image removed - please refer to the Company's website www.epicure-qatarequity.comfor a graph depicting Real GDP growth.

Source: IMF, IIF, National Accounts, Samba


Qatar's real GDP is expected to continue to grow at a healthy pace and to stand out against that of its peers. The government is both able and willing to increase spending and the banks have the resources to increase activity as risk appetite improves.

Attractive Valuations


According to the IMF, Qatar is expected to be fastest growing economy in the world in 2010.  Considering Qatar's growth prospects and compared with the valuations of other regions, we consider the Qatari stock market to be undervalued.


Embedded image removed - please refer to the Company's website www.epicure-qatarequity.comfor table depicting MSCI Trailing Multiples

Source: FactSet, Morgan Stanley Research,


company update

During the first of 2010 quarter the Company's NAV improved by 11.25% to US$0.89 as of 1 April 2010 compared to US$0.80 as of 31 December 2009.


The Company is invested in 23 companies in the GCC, with 18 of them being in Qatar, four in the UAE, and one in Kuwait (31 December 2009: 19 in Qatar, four in UAE, one in Kuwait). The total market value of investments was US$208m at the end of the first quarter of 2010. At the end of the first quarter of 2010 the Company was fully invested with cash of 0.12 per cent of NAV.


corporate profitability

The 44 listed companies on the QE reported a net profit of QR33.9bn in 2009 compared to QR28.2bn recorded a year earlier, up by 20.2 percent.

We do not expect to see any major negative surprises in corporate results in the first quarter of 2010 and expect that most companies will track their last year results, with an improved outlook for the rest of the year.



Qatari-listed companies paid generous dividends to investors during 2009. Some of the Company's underlying holdings yielded close to 10 per cent at one point during 2009 due to the market's muted performance.


Embedded image removed - please refer to the Company's website www.epicure-qatarequity.comfor a table depicting dividend payments of the portfolio's underlying holdings

Source: Qatar Insurance Company SAQ,   Market Values as at 31 March 2010



industry allocation


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 53.5 per cent at the end of first quarter 2010 compared to 49.7 per cent at 31 December 2009.

The services sector, which is broadly defined and includes companies in telecommunications and utilities, accounted for 21.0 per cent of all investments. The Company's exposure to the real estate sector stood at 5.6 per cent at the end of the first quarter of 2010. The industries and insurance sectors accounted for a further 15.2 per cent and 4.6 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 mkt value)


Embedded image removed - please refer to the Company's website www.epicure-qatarequity.comfor a table depicting the top five holdings of the portfolio

Source: Qatar Insurance Company SAQ,   Market Values as at 31 March 2010


At 31 March 2010, the top five investments of the Company constituted 60.3 per cent of NAV (58.2 per cent 31 December 2009).


As noted in the last 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 (14.9 per cent of NAV) and the biggest bank in the country, has reported its results for the first quarter of 2010 with net profits at QR1.27bn (US$347m) beating consensus estimates of QR1.09bn by 16 per cent. This was largely on the back of higher net interest income of QR1.19bn. Result suggests that the balance sheet is overall in excellent shape with consistent asset quality (NPL/net loans at 0.7 per cent) and a decent Tier 1 ratio of circa 13.5 per cent. 

On the back of the better earnings results from QNB, the outlook for the sector is looking positive, although the QNB results provided no clues on retail NPLs - Doha Bank's results will give an indication on how these are performing. Nevertheless, the Investment Adviser believes the investment case for Qatari banks remains robust and, given the budget announcement, that the banking sector that should be an early beneficiary of economic revival.

Industries Qatar, another top holding for the Company (14.2 per cent), expects to benefit from both an upturn in global petrochemical prices and its planned expansion through 2011, which bodes well for the Company's future financial performance.

Regional allocation


As at 31 March 2010, the Company was invested in 18 companies in Qatar, four companies in UAE, and one company in Kuwait. Investments outside Qatar constituted 0.4 per cent of the Company's investments.


Embedded image removed - please refer to the Company's website www.epicure-qatarequity.comfor a pie chart depicting the regional  allocation of the portfolio (% of mkt value)

Market values as of 31 March 2010        

Source: Qatar Insurance Company S.A.Q.


important news flow


Qatar to provide India with additional supply of 4m tons of gas

In a major development, Qatar has agreed to supply India with up to 4 million tons of additional LNG to meet its growing energy needs. Qatar, as the world's largest liquid natural gas exporter, will begin with 1 million tons of supplies in 2011 and ramp this up to 4 million tons by 2014. "These will be 15 to 20 year contracts," Qatar's Energy Minister Abdullah al-Attiyah told reporters after meeting with Petroleum Minister Murli Deora. India currently imports 7.5 million tons of LNG every year from Qatar's RasGas under a long-term deal. The additional fuel would be imported at Petronet LNG's under-construction Kochi LNG terminal and the almost ready Dabhol receiving facility on the western coast. Qatar has surplus LNG after its principal importers, the US and Europe, cut imports.


Qatar can add 5-6 m tons of LNG capacity with revamp: Al-Attiyah

Qatar can raise its liquefied natural gas (LNG) capacity by 5-6 million tonnes a year by revamping existing facilities, Energy Minister Abdullah al-Attiyah said. He added that this will happen once reservoir studies have been finalized.


Qatar Central Bank allows banks to buy shares of listed companies  

Qatar Central Bank has allowed banks to trade in the shares of companies listed on Qatar Exchange. This is the first time since the Central Bank took over the local equity portfolio of banks in 2009 that it has allowed banks to participate in the secondary market.


Barwa and Alaqaria agree initial terms of their proposed merger

Barwa Real Estate Company ("Barwa") and Qatar Real Estate Investment Company ("Alaqaria") have announced the terms of their proposed merger. The enlarged Barwa group will be the ninth largest company on the Qatar Exchange with a market capitalisation of QR11.1bn. The proposed merger has the support of the government of Qatar and Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company, which currently holds 45 per cent and 27 per cent of the share capital of Barwa and Alaqaria respectively.




Vodafone wins the second fixed licence in Qatar

The Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology has awarded Vodafone the second public fixed networks and services licence for the State of Qatar.


Fitch & Moodys review credit rating of Qatar Real Estate Investment following announcement of merger with Barwa

Qatar Real Estate Investment Co. has announced that the rating agencies have reviewed the current rating of the company following the preliminary announcement of the merger with Barwa. Fitch Rating: under review with positive outlook at BBB+.  Moodys' Rating: at Baa1 with potential downgrade.


Barwa Bank announces acquisition of The First Investor ('TFI')

Barwa Bank announces the acquisition of The First Investor, a Qatari based investment shareholding company. TFI provides investment banking, asset management and real estate investment services and solutions to clients while ensuring compliance with Sharia laws.


First Finance approves Barwa Bank's offer

First Finance Company has announced that the Board of Directors has approved Barwa Bank's offer to acquire between 75 and 100 per cent of the shares of First Finance Company in exchange for shares in Barwa Bank, through the issuance of 1.54 shares in Barwa Bank for every one share in First Finance Company.



Qatar Navigation and Qatar Shipping announce merger terms

Under the terms of the transaction, Qatar Navigation will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Qatar Shipping in exchange for new shares in Qatar Navigation.  The exchange ratio for the transaction will be 1 new share of Qatar Navigation for every 2.2 shares of Qatar Shipping.  The transaction is subject to the approval of the shareholders of both companies, clearance by the QFMA, ratification by the Ministry of Business and Trade and other customary closing conditions. The enlarged entity would also be able to consolidate all the offshore business of Halul, Qatar Navigation and Qatar Shipping, resulting in the creation of a major offshore company in Qatar. The merged entity will have a market capitalization of QR 5.3bn.


Nakilat and Damen Shipyards Group signed JV to operate shipbuilding facility in Qatar

Qatar Gas Transport Company Ltd. (Nakilat) has signed a joint venture agreement with Damen Shipyards Qatar Holding B.V., a wholly owned subsidiary of Damen Shipyards Group, to jointly operate a world-class shipbuilding facility in the Port of Ras Laffan, Qatar.


QNB mandated lead arranger for financing ships valued at US$275m

QNB (Qatar National Bank) served as the mandated lead arranger and coordinating bank in a term loan facility of multi-currency US$ 275 million involving United Arab Shipping Company's acquisition of three new A13 container vessels by Samsung Heavy Industries shipyard in Korea.


Masraf Al Rayan launches US$1bn Sharia-compliant fund

Masraf Al Rayan has launched the US$1.1bn (Dh4bn) Al Rayan GCC Fund which will be managed by Al Rayan Investment.



Qatar Steel signs a project management contract with Inteco of Austria

Qatar Steel Company, a subsidiary of Industries Qatar, has signed a project management contract with INTECO of Austria for the upgrading of the existing steel melt shop.


Gulf Helicopters and Yemen LNG company sign service agreement

Gulf Helicopters, a subsidiary company of Gulf International Services Company, has announced the signing of a helicopter service agreement with Yemen LNG Company to use one Bell 412 in support of its onshore and offshore operations for a period of three years.



Moody's places Qtel's Existing A1 Rating under review

Moody's Investor Service has placed Qtel's existing A1 rating for Qatar International Finance Limited and A1-rated bonds issued under Qtel's GMTN programme under review.


Embedded image removed - please refer to the Company's website www.epicure-qatarequity.comfor a graph depicting the DSM20 Index since Jan 2006

Source: Reuters


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 Update

NAV at launch                                                       US$ 0.96

NAV as at 31 March 2010                                  US$ 0.88

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$0.70

Market Price -Warrants                                       US$0.08



Key Features

Domicile                                                                Isle of Man

Shares in Issue                                                   233,571,162                                                                                        

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

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




Ordinary Shares


ISIN                                                                        IM00B1Z40704

SEDOL                                                                  B1Z4070

Bloomberg ticker                                                 EQEO

Valoren                                                                  3268997




ISIN                                                                        IM00B1Z40G96

SEDOL                                                                  B1Z40G9

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

E: [email protected]



Anglo Irish Bank Corporation (International) PLC

Jubilee Buildings

Victoria Street


Isle of Man, IM1 2SH



PR/ Media Contact


Tim Draper


F +44 (0)20 7920 2304


[email protected]


1 Ropemaker Street

34th 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 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

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

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