February 26, 2018 / 7:53 AM / 7 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-GFH supports Dubai, banks weigh on Saudi again

DUBAI, Feb 26 (Reuters) - News of board changes at GFH Financial boosted Dubai’s stock market early on Monday while bank stocks dragged on Saudi Arabia’s index for a second straight day.

The Dubai index was flat but GGFH climbed 4.4 percent after saying Jassim Alseddiqi, chief executive of Abu Dhabi Financial Group (ADFG), had been elected chairman of its board. Under a management restructuring plan, chief financial officer Chandan Gupta is resigning.

The company did not explain the changes but they could point to closer cooperation between GFH and ADFG, which owns nearly half of Shuaa Capital, whose shares gained 1.8 percent. GFH and Shuaa held merger discussions last year but the talks were called off in June.

Saudi Arabia’s index edged down 0.1 percent. Advancing stocks outnumbered decliners by 78 to 69, but seven of 12 bank stocks fell, with Al Rajhi - into which foreign funds have been pouring in recent weeks in anticipation of Saudi Arabia joining emerging market indexes - pulling back 0.7 percent.

Reuters reported on Thursday about rising Islamic tax liabilities at Saudi banks.

In the last couple of weeks, several major banks have disclosed that the government is seeking additional zakat - or alms-giving - payments from them going back as far as 2002. Analysts expect more banks to disclose additional zakat demands in coming weeks.

Qatar’s index was little changed with Qatar National Cement plunging 7.5 percent and Qatar Insurance losing 2.4 percent as both went ex-dividend. (Reporting by Andrew Torchia; editing by John Stonestreet)

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