* Kuwait Food 2.6 pct, Savola up 0.7 pct
* Saudi loses steam as oil price slumps to 13-month low
* Abu Dhabi's TAQA rallies after it swings to Q2 profit
* But regional markets mostly lacklustre
* Egypt up but investors unimpressed by blue chips' earnings
By Matt Smith
DUBAI, Aug 13 Shares in Kuwait Food Co
(Americana) hit a record high on Wednesday after Saudi
Arabia's Savola Group said it was in preliminary talks
to acquire the firm. But Middle East markets were mostly
lacklustre as a summer lull deepened.
Shares in Americana, majority owned by the al-Kharafi
family, rose 2.6 percent while National Investment Co
- another Kharafi company - climbed 5.3 percent.
Savola, a producer of cooking oil, sugar and other
foodstuffs, said in a statement to Riyadh's bourse that it had
started preliminary talks on a potential acquisition of the
Kuwaiti manufacturer, which has a market capitalisation of about
$4.4 billion. Savola's shares added 0.7 percent.
"There has been universal chatter that the Kharafis want
cash and Americana is one of their crown jewels," said a
Dubai-based director of equity sales who declined to be
"For Savola, it should be an attractive asset and
complementary to what it's already doing in Saudi and Iraq in
terms of food production and distribution."
In addition to Savola, the potential sale of Americana is
believed to have drawn interest from major U.S. private equity
firms, though it is not known whether any have put together
Saudi Arabia's bourse gave back most of its
early-session gains to end just 0.04 percent higher. The market
rose for 11 straight sessions to Monday's six-year peak after
authorities said it would open to direct foreign ownership early
But a drop in oil prices now seems to be sapping investor
enthusiasm - Brent crude slumped to a 13-month low on
Wednesday as ample supplies countered any disruption caused by
conflict in Iraq and Libya.
Saudi hospital firm Al Hammadi fell 2.6 percent.
The stock, a play on the Saudi health care industry which
foreign investors are expected to favour, had been up as much as
8 percent intra-day, but then succumbed to late selling pressure
as investors booked profits. Al Hammadi has more than tripled in
value since listing in mid-July.
Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi National Energy Co (TAQA)
rose 2.8 percent, trimming its 2014 decline to 25.8 percent
after the state-run firm swung to a second-quarter net profit
and announced it was pulling out of some overseas acquisition
plans to improve cash flow.
TAQA made a net profit of 239 million dirhams ($65.1
million) for the quarter ended June 30 compared with a loss of
172 million dirhams a year earlier.
Abu Dhabi's stock index climbed 0.3 percent. This
took its 2014 gains to 16.6 percent, but the benchmark is stuck
in a sideways trend along with neighbouring Dubai,
which slipped 0.1 percent.
"UAE markets are in a summer trough - volumes in the last
couple of weeks have been disastrously low," said the director.
"There's a lack of investors wanting to take active
positions. We're not seeing large directional flows that could
move prices - people are just tweaking their portfolios and the
markets should remain listless for a few more weeks."
The lack of buying interest has meant that second-quarter
earnings have had negligible impact, said the director. He cited
Air Arabia, whose shares are up just 0.7 percent since
the budget carrier posted a 128 percent jump in quarterly profit
on Aug. 9, beating analysts' estimates by a large margin.
Egypt's market rose 0.2 percent to reach a new
six-year peak, although investors were unimpressed by some blue
Telecom Egypt's shares fell 1.1 percent despite
the fixed-line monopoly posting a 14 percent rise in
The operator proposed an annual cash dividend of $0.05. The
previous year's dividend was 1 Egyptian pound ($0.14), according
to Reuters data, which may explain the share price drop.
Talaat Moustafa, Egypt's largest listed property
developer, fell 1.5 percent. It reported a 12 percent rise in
interim profit; a note from NBK Capital described the earnings
as "an excellent set of results".
* The index rose 0.2 percent to 7,246 points.
* The index edged up 0.04 percent to 10,593 points.
* The index rose 0.3 percent to 5,003 points.
* The index fell 0.1 percent to 4,805 points.
* The index climbed 0.2 percent to 9,288 points.
* The index climbed 1.8 percent to 13,523 points.
* The index fell 0.5 percent to 1,470 points.
* The index rose 0.1 percent to 7,298 points.
(Editing by Andrew Torchia)