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| 20 November, 2017

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf may stay sluggish on geopolitics; management change at Aramex

Gulf stock markets may stay sluggish on Monday because of geopolitical turbulence after Saudi Arabia and other Arab states adopted a firm tone against Iran

DUBAI - Gulf stock markets may stay sluggish on Monday because of geopolitical turbulence after Saudi Arabia and other Arab states adopted a firm tone against Iran and its Lebanese Shi'ite ally Hezbollah in an emergency meeting in Cairo on Sunday.

Concern about an escalation of tensions has weighed significantly on regional asset prices in the last several weeks, in addition to fallout from Saudi Arabia's crackdown on corruption.

Asian shares have eased slightly on Monday, with investor sentiment hurt by the retreat on Wall Street and sliding Chinese stocks, while oil prices are barely moving.

Abu Dhabi may get a boost, however, from news that the initial public offer of the distribution unit of Abu Dhabi National Oil Co is proceeding.

The company proposed to sell between 1.25 billion and 2.5 billion ordinary shares; ADNOC said it would announce the indicative price range on Nov. 26 and the offer would close on Dec. 6.

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The listing could attract new money to Abu Dhabi, possibly expanding its weighting in international indexes, and investors think authorities will be keen to see that the market is healthy to ensure a successful IPO.

In Dubai, the reasons for an abrupt management change at Aramex are not yet clear. The company announced in a brief statement that chief executive Hussein Hachem was being replaced with immediate effect, but did not explain the decision.

Hachem has been replaced by chief financial officer Bashar Obeid, Aramex said without elaborating. Last month, the company had announced that Obeid was exercising his early retirement option by stepping down, effective on Feb. 28, 2018.

(Reporting By Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Andrew Torchia) ((aziz.elyaakoubi@thomsonreuters.com; +971552994086))