Leaving On A Jet Plane

euro-wingsThe Investment Corporation of Dubai is teaming up with Canadian asset manager, Brookfield, to build a US$ 1 billion 50-storey tower next to the DIFC. ICD Brookfield Place, comprising a hotel, offices and retail outlets, will be ready in 2018.

Al Rostamani Pegel has won a Deyaar Development contract to build its two-tower The Atria in Business Bay. The US$ 245 million project, slated for completion within two years, will consist of a hotel and 219 residential apartments, all of which were sold out on their release in March 2014.

Emaar Hospitality has teamed up with Nshama to operate the new 180-key Vida Town Square hotel and serviced apartments. The hotel will be a focal point of the recently announced 31 million sq ft Town Square project, located near Al Barsha, which will also include 3k townhouse, 18k apartments, 600 shops and other facilities. At around US$ 163 per sq ft, villa prices will start at the US$ 272k level. Meanwhile, following a 28.0% surge in 2014 profit to US$ 896k, Emaar has proposed a 15% (US$ 0.04 per share) dividend.

There was a 5.6% rise in 2014 hotel guests to 11.6 million, as revenue jumped 9.6% to US$ 6.51 billion, and guest nights by 7.4% to 41.6 million. The hotels’ biggest source markets were Saudi Arabia, India, UK, USA and Iran, with Russia a notable – but not surprising – faller. During the year, the number of properties increased by 7.5% to 657 and available rooms rose by 9.2% to 92.3k.

The RTA will consider a private partnership for the development of the emirate’s first Transit-Oriented Development model. Tenders will be called in May for the Union Oasis project which will involve construction of mixed used tower blocks, and other amenities, on a 15k sq mt plot above the Union Metro Station.

Another report has again highlighted the fact that more schools will be needed to meet the ever-growing demand in Dubai, with an expected 33.3% increase to 360k students. Colliers estimate that a further 52 establishments, to meet this demand in student numbers, will be required by 2020 – with an estimated total investment of at least US$ 3.9 billion, based on an average cost of US$ 75 million per new facility.

Dubai International reported a 7.7% increase in January passenger traffic to 6.9 million compared to the same month last year – and is already well on track to beat 2014’s total of 70.4 million. There was no surprise that the number of Russian and CIS travellers fell 22.7% over this period. With the move of much of the cargo to the new Al Maktoum International, freight traffic dropped 5.5% to 186.2k tonnes.

flydubai recorded impressive 2014 results with revenue at US$ 1.20 billion and profit up 12.3% to  US$ 68 million. During the year, the airline added 23 new routes, whilst passenger numbers increased to 7.24 million and daily flights to 200.

A study by Frontier Economics estimates that Emirates adds US$ 7.6 billion and 85k jobs to the EU economy, not including US$ 3.8 billion and 41k jobs emanating from buying 40% of all of the Airbus 380 production.

In conjunction with two European entities, Abraaj Capital is planning to invest US$ 200 million in North Africa Hospital Holdings Group. The Dubai-based private equity firm is financing 80% of the total in the company that will enhance healthcare in Tunisia and Egypt, where the operation already has four hospitals.

Zoom, a division of ENOC retail, with 170 convenience stores in its petrol outlets and Metro stations, as well as 22 market stores across the UAE, is expanding into Bahrain. The company already has a presence in Saudi Arabia and has plans for a further 250 units in the GCC, over the next five years.

The latest Forbes World Billionaires List, now totalling 1,826, shows that the five richest persons in the country are Abdulla Bin Ahmad Al Ghurair, ranked number 220, (with a net worth of US$ 6.4 billion), Majid Al Futtaim (US$6.2 billion), Micky Jagtiani (US$5.2 billion), Saif Al Ghurair (US$3.4 billion) and Abdulla Al Futtaim, ranked at 557, (US$3.2 billion).

A decision in the Dubai Cassation Court confirms the need for proper documentation where contracts are involved. A developer asked an architect to carry out design work on two proposed 51-storey buildings in Business Bay – with no written contract. The work was carried out but the developer declined to pay the fees as Dubai Municipality refused planning permission, indicating that the land was allocated for parking. The Court, in awarding the engineering firm US$ 2.0 million for its design work, confirmed that proof of an agreement, other than in writing, can be used.

Another recent court case has again reiterated that owners of free zone companies will not be held liable for company debts – either in a personal capacity or company debts, more than the paid up capital. Both the Court of First Instance and the Appellate Court ruled against the owner of a decoration company that was being sued for US$ 63k. However, the Court of Cassation reversed the decision based on the provisions of the Commercial Companies Law No. 8 of 1984.

Dubai Islamic Bank has sold its 25% share in Emirates REIT to Eiffel Management, giving it 100% ownership of the country’s first real estate investment trust, with assets of US$ 600 million.

The DFMI started the week trading on Sunday at 3865 and dropped 3.1% to close at 3747 on Thursday, and 0.6% lower than its January opening of 3774. Bellwether stocks, Emaar Properties and Arabtec, were both down by US$ 0.12 and US$ 0.07 to US$ 1.94 and US$ 0.79 respectively.

According to a 2015 Economist Intelligence Unit report, there was no change in the top five most expensive cities this year with Singapore, again taking the top spot, followed by Paris, Oslo, Zurich and Sydney.

Two major UK banks published 2014 results with Barclays and Lloyds TSB announcing profits of US$ 8.5 billion and US$ 2.7 billion in turn. Barclays’ chief executive had a total pay package last year of US$ 8.5 million whilst Lloyds’ Antonio Horta-Osorio is up for a bonus of US$ 17.82 million as the respective bonus pools were set at US$ 2.85 billion and US$ 570 million. Barclays provided for US$ 4.8 billion for potential claims, mainly in relation to its misselling of payment protection insurance, with a warning it could face “substantial monetary penalties” regarding its involvement in forex rigging. Lloyds reported that potentially there is a further 600k potential complaints over PPI in 2015 and that it may have to increase its current US$ 18.6 billion provision accordingly.

Even the sacrosanct Bank of England is being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office for possible manipulation of so-called liquidity auctions during the GFC. Although the terms of the enquiry are unknown it seems to revolve around whether the BoE was colluding with certain banks in illegal activities.

It was not long ago that the Brazilian, Russian, Indian and Chinese economies shone like beacons in a recession-hit world. There is more evidence that the Russian economy will struggle this year with reports that the Finance Ministry has updated its 2015 budget deficit to 3.8% of GDP, compared to the original forecast of 0.6%.

Whilst two other BRIC countries, China and India, have cut rates, Brazil has gone the other way by raising its interest rates to 12.75% in an attempt to reduce inflation from its current 12.4%, nine year high, to 6.5% this year. Some analysts forecast that its economy will contract by 0.5% as indicators, such as January industrial production which fell 5.2% compared to last year, head south. The country’s progress is being stymied by corruption at the state-owned Petrobras, lack of consumer confidence and reduced public and private investment.

The Indian authorities have set a consumer inflation target of 4.0% in a move to curb that country’s ubiquitous price volatility in the market. This seems to be a progressive move by the RBI Governor, Raghuram Rajan, which has received the support of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This week his government’s first budget was seen as business-friendly, with a 25% corporate tax reduction over the next four years. It is expected that Asia’s third biggest economy will see an 8.0% growth this fiscal year and will cut its fiscal deficit by 0.4% to 4.1% of GDP. (However, a higher growth rate will be needed to ensure that the country develops faster and cuts the “economic gap” with the likes of China). Following a similar move in January, the RBI has surprisingly cut its repo rate again by 25 basis points to 7.5%.

There was contrasting economic data coming out of China with the latest Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), registering 49.9, indicating that China’s factory sector has again contracted, and employment falling to 47.8. However, the service sector, which accounts for US$ 4.9 trillion (48% of the country’s economy), had a reading of 53.9. Any figure below 50 indicates contraction and above denotes expansion. On the back of these figures, the Central Bank reduced interest rates in a further bid to boost growth; the authorities had already reduced rates in November and cut the banks’ reserve requirements in February. This week the National People’s Congress set a 7.0% forecast for 2015 as the authorities aim for a slower but more sustainable growth.

Another country that will probably chop rates this month is Australia which should not only enhance demand but also support a weak Australian dollar which will make exports more competitive.

The new Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, continues with his plan to put an end to the troika-imposed austerity cuts and to try arrange some sort of haircut for the country’s outstanding debt of US$ 360 billion.

After nine months of growth, it appears that the Greek economy will sink into another recession, mainly caused by uncertainty pre and post the January election; this has had a damaging impact on business and consumer confidence. Following Q4’s 0.4% contraction, all indicators point to the country slipping further in Q1 even though only last month the EU was predicting that the country’s 2015 growth would be 2.5%.

In October, Lufthansa will launch its new long haul budget carrier, Eurowings, with one way tickets to Dubai at an unbelievable US$ 111. At those prices, there will be a lot more people Leaving On A Jet Plane.

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