* Saudi’s Al Tayyar sinks further amid corruption probe
* UAE’s Dana to continue fighting sukuk case in courts
* Dubai’s Aramex confirms break below technical support
* Omantel slips after downgrade by Moody’s
* Qatari developer Ezdan’s loss this year hits 56 pct
By Andrew Torchia
DUBAI, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Middle Eastern stock markets generally fell on Sunday, weighed down by geopolitics and concern about Saudi Arabia’s anti-corruption crackdown, while Dana Gas shares sank in Abu Dhabi because of a British High Court ruling on its Islamic bonds.
In the last few weeks, geopolitics have become a significant factor for regional markets amid concern about instability in Lebanon and the possibility of strong Saudi action against Iran.
At the weekend, Saudi Arabia summoned its ambassador in Germany home for consultations over comments by German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel about Lebanon.
Gabriel told reporters that Europe “could not tolerate the adventurism that has spread there”, although it was not clear from a Reuters television recording that the remark was aimed at Riyadh.
“Most foreign investors are just as concerned about geopolitical risk as economic opportunity,” Tarek Fadlallah, chief executive of Nomura Asset Management Middle East, said in a report on regional markets.
“Investors loathe uncertainty and the fluid geopolitical situation gives cause to pause, especially when the world is filled with alternative opportunities.”
The Saudi stock index fell 0.6 percent. Among the biggest losers was Al Tayyar Travel, whose founder has been detained in the corruption probe; it sank a further 5.2 percent, bringing its losses since the crackdown was announced two weeks ago to 31 percent.
Kingdom Holding, whose chairman Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has also been detained, dropped 3.1 percent.
But construction company Al Khodari rose 1.3 percent after saying it had made a gross profit of 13.9 million riyals ($3.7 million) by auctioning off plant and machinery, and would reflect that profit in its fourth-quarter earnings.
In Abu Dhabi, the index fell 1.1 percent as Abu Dhabi National Energy Co slid 4.6 percent in very thin trade and Dana, which is seeking to avoid redeeming its sukuk by declaring them invalid, dropped 4.2 percent in heavy trade.
A London High Court judge ruled that Dana’s challenges to the purchase undertaking behind the bonds were “unfounded” and that the agreement was “valid and enforceable”.
That was a victory for holders of the sukuk, but by no means the last legal move in the dispute. Dana said it would appeal the High Court ruling, and was also looking ahead to a hearing by a United Arab Emirates court on whether the structure of the sukuk was valid. That hearing is scheduled for Dec. 25.
Dubai’s index fell 1.1 percent as Emaar Properties lost 1.2 percent. On Thursday, it priced the initial public offer of shares in its unit Emaar Development at 6.03 dirhams per share, in the lower half of an indicative range of 5.7-6.9 dirhams set earlier this month.
Courier firm Aramex dropped 3.6 percent to 4.55 dirhams, confirming a break below technical support at its September low of 4.75 dirhams. A double top formed by the March and July highs points down to around 4.20 dirhams.
In Muscat, Omantel dropped 1.2 percent after credit rating agency Moody’s downgraded it to Baa3, one notch above junk status, from Baa2.
Moody’s cited Omantel’s purchase of a further 12.1 percent stake in Kuwaiti telecommunications company Zain this month for $1.35 billion; Moody’s conceded Omantel was likely to achieve synergies through its tie-up with Zain but calculated that the addition to its debt outweighed the projected increase in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation.
In Qatar, real estate developer Ezdan Holding, downgraded to junk by credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s last week, sank a further 1.9 percent, bringing its losses this year to 56 percent.
* The index fell 0.6 percent to 6,872 points.
* The index fell 1.1 percent to 3,423 points.
* The index dropped 1.1 percent to 4,279 points.
* The index edged up 0.02 percent to 7,828 points.
* The index dropped 0.8 percent to 13,742 points.
* The index fell 0.7 percent to 6,262 points.
* The index rose 0.2 percent to 1,272 points.
* The index lost 0.2 percent to 5,097 points.