The Counsel


by Junaid Iqbal

Chief Executive Officer, BMA Financial

In his "A New Beginning" speech in Cairo, President Obama announced that the he will host a Summit on Entrepreneurship to identify how the we can deepen ties between business leaders, foundations, and social entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim-majority countries (MMC), including their minority populations, and Muslim communities around the world.

President Obama, US delegates and businessmen regarding the role of entrepreneurship in today’s day and age. The discussion revolved around the challenges faced by the Islamic world and the possible entrepreneurial solutions to these problems.

Some of the top speakers included Jerry Yang, CEO of Yahoo, Professor Younus, Nobel Laureate and Founder and MD of Grameen Bank, Arif Naqvi, CEO of Abraaj Capital (Middle East’s Largest Private Equity Group), the legendary Economist Larry Summers and of course, Secretary Hillary Clinton and President Barrack Obama
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by Taimur Malik

Legal Advisor, Middle East & North Africa Region, Vale Minerals and Metals

The financial challenges being faced by businesses all over the world have resulted in many organizations looking towards consolidation through mergers as a means of survival whereas others have embarked upon acquisitions led by growth objectives to prepare for future opportunities.
Mergers and acquisitions (“M & A”) are not uncommon in the Middle East and Oman has continued to witness moderate M & A activity in recent years. For example, M & A deals have been instrumental in Bank Muscat’s growth and these include its mergers with Al Bank Al Ahli Al Omani, Commercial Bank of Oman and the Industrial Bank of Oman. Similarly, Bank Dhofar al-Omani al-Fransi and Majan International Bank merged in 2003 to form Bank Dhofar and ONIC Holding was formed as a result of the merger of Oman National Holding Company and Al-Ahlia Portfolio Securities Company in 1998. Moreover, RSA Insurance Group plc and ONIC Holding recently announced that, subject to regulatory and other approvals, RSA Oman will acquire Al Ahlia Insurance from ONIC Holding and in return ONIC Holding will acquire a 20.3% stake in RSA Oman.
On the acquisitions front, Electricity Holding Company recently acquired the majority stake in Dhofar Power Company and ANC Holdings of UAE acquired the majority stake in Dhofar Fisheries Industries Company.
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by Aarij S Wasti

Associate, SNR Denton & Co., Doha, Qatar

There have been recent reports in the media that large mineral and hydrocarbon deposits have been located in Afghanistan. The basis for these reports is a new survey done by the United States Geological Survey (USGS). This has lead to a spike in interest by global mining and energy companies in Afghanistan as a potential place to explore. There has also been discussion in the international legal community on the legal and regulatory framework of hydrocarbon exploration in the country.

The petroleum sector in Afghanistan has been stagnating for decades. There has been none to little progress in the sector since the Soviet Union withdrew its troops from the country in 1989. Prior to Taliban rule, there had been exploration activity predominantly in the north-eastern Jowzjan province and into the Amu Darya basin. In fact, several discoveries had been made and certain of these discoveries were also exploited during the same period. While discoveries included both oil and gas, mostly gas was found. Read more here...