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Mon 23 Feb 2009 01:03 PM

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Kuwait's KIPCO says sees tough Q1 - paper

Kuwait Projects Co CEO still interested in expanding in the Mid East and North African regions.

Kuwait Projects Co (KIPCO) expects a tough first quarter, its chief executive said in remarks published on Monday."It will be very tough. The assets continued declining in the start of the year which will affect the results of the first quarter," Faisal Al Ayyar told Al Rai newspaper.

Banks across the oil-exporting Gulf, including Kuwait, have seen sharp declines in quarterly profits and some have made losses as a credit crisis hit the sector.

Despite the crisis KIPCO, Kuwait's biggest investment firm by assets, plans to pay cash dividend for 2008 as the firm has enough liquidity, he said without elaborating.

In March, KIPCO said it expected to make a net profit of between 105-110 million dinars ($356.4-373.4 million) in 2008 and planned to pay a dividend of 70-80 fils per share.

KIPCO, which owns stakes in 50 companies and operates in 21 countries, has booked provisions in 2008 to offset the impact of the credit crisis and has no short-term debt obligations.

"All our financial obligations are long-term and the short-term ones have been settled before the crisis ... The first obligation is due by end of 2010," Ayyar said.

Several Kuwaiti investment firms have been struggling to refinance debt because banks have been reluctant to lend.

The firm, which has been expanding outside of Kuwait to diversify revenue sources, is still interested in expanding in the Middle East and North Africa regions. (Reuters)

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