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GIH sells stake in Palestinian realty firm

By Reuters

Kuwait's Global Investment House (GIH) said yesterday it sold its stake in a Palestinian firm for about $17.2 million (Dh63m), the latest asset sale as the financial crisis bites.

Kuwait's biggest investment firm also said a Jordanian court has ordered to release its banks deposits seized last week and lift the suspension of its Jordanian unit over a loan dispute.

Global said last month it had defaulted on most of its debts as investment firms in oil producer Kuwait suffer from the credit crunch.

Global sold 15.19 million shares in Palestine Real Estate Investment Company, also known as Aqaria, for 800 Jordanian fils each, it said in a statement on the Bahrain bourse website. That transaction is worth $17.15m. It gave no further details, and a spokesman declined to say whether it would book a profit or loss for the transaction.

"We are reducing our investment portfolio by 30 percent in 2009," the spokesman said. Global, which is heavily invested through mutual funds in many international markets, had sold its stake in Bank of Bahrain & Kuwait in December at a loss.

On Thursday, Global said it reached an agreement with Jordan's Housing Bank for Trade and Finance to release bank deposits seized by a court over a $13m loan dispute. The court had also ordered to halt the operations of its Global Jordan unit temporarily.

The Global spokesman said he expects Jordan's regulator to lift the suspension of Global Jordan on Monday after the court ruling.

At the end of 2008, Global had total liabilities of $3.1 billion after defaulting on a $200m loan in mid-December, senior company official said last week.