DUBAI, March 13 Stock markets in the Gulf were
mostly soft in early trade on Monday as crude oil prices
languished near three-month lows, but strength in Dubai's Shuaa
Capital and GFH Financial supported that bourse.
Saudi Arabia's index was down 0.2 percent after 40
minutes of trade as most petrochemical shares fell; heavyweight
Saudi Basic Industries dropped 0.5 percent.
Bank Aljazira, which had surged its 10 percent
daily limit on Sunday after announcing plans to increase its
share capital through bonus shares, fell 1.0 percent.
Medical supplier Al Hammadi Co added 0.3 percent
despite saying it plans not to distribute a cash dividend for
2016, intending instead to use the retained earnings to expand
Dubai's index edged up 0.2 percent as Shuaa Capital
extended Sunday's 15 percent gain to add 7.0 percent
in heavy trade.
The stock is reacting to news of Shuaa's planned acquisition
of a brokerage and another financial firm that are controlled by
Abu Dhabi Financial Group (ADFG), which last November bought
48.36 percent of Shuaa.
Also, local news provider MEED quoted ADFG chief executive
Jassim Alseddiqi as saying Shuaa was in talks with a larger
regional financial institution for a potential merger in a deal
that could be worth billions of dirhams. He gave no details, and
Shuaa and ADFG did not respond to requests for comment.
GFH Financial, the most heavily traded stock in
Dubai, jumped 7.0 percent. Shuaa bought 14 percent of Bahrain's
Khaleeji Commercial Bank, a subsidiary of GFH, last
December for 9.6 million dinars ($25 million).
GFH has said it plans to list Khaleeji in Dubai and Shuaa's
new brokerage arm could expedite that listing. GFH and Khaleeji
could also benefit from their ties with Shuaa in the event of a
major merger involving Shuaa.
Qatar Gas Transport fell 3.2 percent as the stock
went ex-dividend. The Qatari index was down 0.3 percent
as a little over half of traded shares declined.
(Reporting by Celine Aswad; Editing by Andrew Torchia and Toby