Thursday, May 26, 2016

Qatar stuns market with $9bn bond sale; China, US clash over cheap steel imports; FB, Microsoft plan private internet highway under water

1 Qatar stuns market with $9bn bond sale (Siddhesh Suresh Mayenkar in Gulf News) In what could be termed as the biggest bond issue in the Middle East, Qatar sold $9 billion in Eurobonds, its first in a gap of four years, to bridge the widening deficit.

The size of the offer was almost double than the original to benefit from lower pricing ahead of a rate rise by the US Federal Reserve and exploit the available liquidity without having to pay a materially higher premium.

The country borrowed across three maturities, selling $3.5 billion in five-year notes at 120 basis points over US Treasuries, the same amount in 10-year bonds at 150 basis points over Treasuries and $2 billion of 30-year paper at a 210 basis-point spread, reports said.

Qatar is the latest among countries in the Gulf Co-operation Council after Abu Dhabi raised $5 billion in a similar issue last month, to tap the international bond market to plug deficit caused by falling prices of crude oil, from which these countries earn most of its revenues. ADCB expects Qatar’s deficit to be at 4.4 per cent of the GDP in 2016.

Qatar issue would be closely watched by Saudi Arabia, which also plans to tap the international bond market, in terms of pricing and the amount of interest it generates. Moody’s Investors Service cut its rating on Saudi Arabia to A1 from Aa3, five notches above junk, while Qatar rating was kept unchanged, although outlook was revised to negative.

2 China, US clash over cheap steel imports (BBC) Beijing has accused the US of damaging trade after Washington levied new duties of up to 450% on a specific steel imports from China. It was the latest move by the US against cheap steel imports. The new tax to protect domestic production affects corrosion-resistant steel. Lower duties will be put on steel from a number of other countries.

It comes one week after the US raised taxes on cold-rolled flat steel, which is widely used in car production. Beijing said it was unhappy with the US "deliberately suppressing" imports, describing it as an "irrational" move harmful to co-operation between the two countries. The US also issued duties of between 3% and 92% on corrosion-resistant steel from Italy, India, South Korea and Taiwan.

The 450% duty on Chinese products replaces a duty of 256% that had been introduced last year. US and European steel producers claim that Chinese producers are selling at below-cost prices and thereby distorting the global market. India's Tata Steel has put its loss-making steel plants in the UK up for sale.

In May, the EU launched an investigation of Chinese steel exports following large protests by steelworkers. At the G7 meeting in Japan, the EU's Jean Claude Juncker said the bloc was ready to step up its measures to defend the steel industry. China though dismisses such criticism, insisting that the country's steel mills are not selling their products at dumping or below-cost prices.

3 FB, Microsoft for private internet highway under water (Danny Yadron in The Guardian) Facebook and Microsoft are going underwater. The two technology companies have announced they are to install an undersea cable from the east coast of the US to Spain to help speed up their global internet services.

Fast connectivity is particularly important to Facebook, which wants to encourage users across the world to broadcast live video and meet in virtual reality. Both activities can consume vast amounts of bandwidth.

The project marks yet another example where technology companies are assuming roles traditionally left to public utilities or the government, and until now undersea cables have traditionally been laid by telecommunications incumbents.

Meanwhile, Google continues to expand Fiber, its high-speed internet program, effectively is building its own postal service, Uber is attempting to replace regulated cab companies and Facebook is bringing wireless internet to Africa.

The cable will travel from northern Virginia in the US, a major junction point in the global internet, to Bilbao in Spain, and then onward to the rest of Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The companies said it will be highest-capacity undersea cable yet across the Atlantic. The cost wasn’t disclosed.

An infrastructure-focused subsidiary of Telefónica, the Spanish telecom provider, will manage the cable. Construction is scheduled to begin in August 2016 and be completed by October 2017. Even though Telefónica will sell access to the cable to other companies, Facebook and Microsoft are ensuring they will get premier access to quick data transfers across the sea. In effect, the companies will have their own private highway between two major markets.

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