Global takes another loss

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Following on a dismal fourth quarter during which it lost over $1bn, Global Investment House, one of the largest investment firms and asset managers in Kuwait, said last week that it booked almost $240mn in losses in the first quarter of this year.

The company attributed the losses to "impairment from principal investments" and "losses from share of results of associates". The "results of associates" line appears to refer to  the fact that businesses in which Global has invested lost money, primarily in the financial service and property sectors. Global's fortunes "continued to be impacted by global and regional market turbulence and material decline in overall investment and investment banking activities in the region," the firm said in a statement. Yet "the reduced pace of decline" was "reassuring".

Global said when it announced full-year results for 2008 that it would shift focus to fee-generating business that in the past has proven profitable - and move away from proprietary investing, which seems to have generated most of the losses. It also said it was embarking on cost-cutting measures, reducing personnel and trimming overhead.

Ever since it defaulted on a $200m loan last December, triggering cross-defaults across its loan portfolio and prompting severe ratings downgrades, the troubled firm has been in negotiations with creditors over restructuring its debt. Those negotiations continue, Global said in its statement today, though it remains unclear if or when a final restructuring agreement will be worked out. Here's Global's statement on restructuring:

Progress on restructuring process
Global continues to work constructively with the lending banks with the aim to reach an agreement for restructuring its loans. Global presented a comprehensive restructuring plan to its lending bank group in February 2009 and is currently executing the terms of the plan. The company also assisted in the completion of a valuation of the Company's principal investment and real-estate portfolio, prepared by an independent accounting firm appointed by the lending bank group and has continued to meet all its debt service requirements as they fall due.

Full financial details are said to be forthcoming on

. Full earnings release after the jump.

2009 First Quarter Results

GLOBAL REPORTS A LOSS IN FIRST QUARTER BUT CONTINUES TO MAKE PROFIT IN ITS FEE-BASED ASSET MANAGEMENT AND BROKERAGE BUSINESSES; GLOBAL CONTINUES TO PROGRESS ITS DEBT RESTRUCTURING

Kuwait- [14 May 2009] - Global Investment House ("Global" or the "Company") announced today its results for the first quarter ended 31 March 2009. Results comprise net operating income from fee-based businesses (asset management, investment banking and brokerage) impacted by losses on investments and losses from share of results of associates resulting in an overall loss.

Fee-based business generated operating income amounting to KD6.0 million during first quarter of 2009 (Q1 2009), marginally lower than Q4 2008 fee income of  KD6.8 million

Realised and unrealised losses and impairment from principal investments of KD21.0 million, significantly lower than Q4 2008 principal investments losses of KD336.6 million

Losses from share of results of associates of KD27.9 million, as against a KD5.6 million income in Q4 2008

Overall net loss for the quarter stood at KD69.5 million (KD0.057 loss per share), down from a profit of KD34.7 million in Q1 2008 (KD0.037 earnings per share)

The first quarter results continued to be impacted by global and regional market turbulence and material decline in overall investment and investment banking activities in the region.  However, the reduced pace of decline followed by some restoration of confidence was reassuring. Strengthening fee generating lines of business, namely asset management, investment banking and brokerage is integral to the company's future profitability.

The performance of Global's principal investment book continued to be adversely affected by the decline in the equity markets of the Gulf Co-operation Council ("GCC") and the wider Middle East & North Africa ("MENA") regions and repercussions for private investments.   Decline in general market equity indices in Kuwait and rest of GCC and MENA region, during Q1 2009, varied between 4% and 12%. (Source: Bloomberg and Kuwait Stock Exchange data).   Nevertheless, the pace of decline was not as severe as Q4 2008.   In the recent weeks, taking cues from the global capital markets and more specifically the commodity prices, GCC and MENA markets have been on a path of recovery.

Losses from share of results of associates of KD27.9 million mainly arose from Q4 2008 losses of associates in financial services and real estate industries, primarily stemming from write downs in valuations of assets.   The results of associates are typically recognised in Global's consolidated financial statements with a quarterly lag.

Despite the reported net loss in Q1 2009, Global continues to have net assets/positive equity of KD241.9 million.

Cost cutting measures

Global continues to work towards reducing its operating cost base by at least 20%. Q1 2009 personnel expenses of KD2.5 million were 42% lower than Q1 2008.   Other operating costs including depreciation of KD5.1 million were 19% lower than Q4 2008.   Other operating costs of Q1 2009 also include one-off costs associated with restructuring process.

Progress on restructuring process

Global continues to work constructively with the lending banks with the aim to reach an agreement for restructuring its loans. Global presented a comprehensive restructuring plan to its lending bank group in February 2009 and is currently executing the terms of the plan. The company also assisted in the completion of a valuation of the Company's principal investment and real-estate portfolio, prepared by an independent accounting firm  appointed by the lending bank group and has continued to meet all its debt service requirements as they fall due.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:

The full set of financials will be available on the Global's website (www.globalinv.net) shortly.