Emaar Malls falls after report on Souq.com bid

Dubai's Union Properties surges after dividend proposal

(FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)

(FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)

Emaar Malls share price dropped in Dubai Financial Market after reports that it was expected to enter the race to acquire e-commerce portal Souq.com.

Quoting sources  familiar to the offer, Arabian Business reported that Emaar Malls bid up to $800 million to take over Souq.com, which would place it in a bidding war with Amazon.com, which has agreed in principle to buy the online retailer.

The Emaar offer for $800 million is thought to have included a $500 million convertible deposit.

The report saw shares in the mall operator drop 0.8 percent.

In Dubai, the index edged up 0.2 percent, with Union Properties climbing by 3.1 percent after its board recommended an 8 percent stock dividend for 2016.

Abu Dhabi's index lost 0.7 percent, pulled down by weakness in big banks. Among them was First Gulf Bank with a 1.2 percent decline.

Middle East stock markets were mixed in mostly thin trade on Sunday, with Saudi Arabia giving up early gains triggered by progress in reforms that could help it to join MSCI's emerging market index.

The Saudi index rose as much as 0.5 percent in early trade but closed 0.1 percent down in its thinnest volume since last September.

The exchange said late on Thursday that it would extend the period for settling trades and introduce short-selling on April 23 in reforms demanded by MSCI. The reforms had been expected in the second quarter, but the date is positive because it gives MSCI time to evaluate their impact before deciding in June whether to put Riyadh on its review list.

However, the market began running out of steam on Sunday after a joint committee of ministers from OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers announced their agreement to review whether a global pact to limit supplies should be extended by six months.

The prospect of an extension suggests that producers are not confident they can succeed in rebalancing the oil market, and Saudi Arabia could end up having to bear much of the burden of output cuts, as it is now. This would limit the government's income and could force it to curb spending.

Much activity focused on smaller stocks, such as Filing and Packing Materials Manufacturing Co, which jumped 3.5 percent in its heaviest trade since August 2014. Arab Bank dropped 3.3 percent as it went ex-dividend.

Qatar's index fell by 0.3 percent as petrochemicals blue-chip company Industries Qatar sagged by 2.2 percent.

Egypt's index added 0.6 percent in a broad-based rise, with seven of the most heavily traded stocks gaining and none falling.

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