Would I Lie To You?

arsenal-facupEmirates is on the verge of signing a 3-year US$ 46 million deal with the English FA to sponsor the FA Cup from 2016. Last year, the airline decided not to renew its World Cup sponsorship with FIFA but has deals with several European teams such as Arsenal, AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid.

Emirates is planning to expand its cabin crew by a further 25% to 25k by the end of this year as it ratchets up the number of new aircraft to service its increasing route network. This year, the airline will see 15 new A380s which will bring its total number to 72, with a further 68 on order.

With the supply of hotel inventory at 6.9% being higher than the 4.5% March demand, occupancy rates faced another monthly fall of 2.2% to 85.7%. Other indicators – including average daily rate (US$ 267) and revenue per available room (down 8.1% to US$ 228) – headed south. The main drivers for this downturn are declining numbers of Russian tourists and an uplift in tourism in regional rivals such as Egypt and Lebanon. Overall, the outlook is still promising and 2014 did witness a 5.6% hike in guest numbers to 11.6 million and a 9.8% surge in revenue to US$ 6.5 billion.

M.State by Ocean Breeze is planning to build five villas, with a starting price of US$ 9.1 million on frond M of Palm Jumeirah. Each property will encompass 1.25k sq mt,  with at least five bedrooms and their own 28 mt beachfront.

Emaar announced that its first townhouse community sale of 118 units in Mohammed Bin Rashid City was sold out last Saturday – 25 April. Starting prices were listed at US$ 613k.

SKAI has upgraded its planned hotel by signing an agreement with Viceroy to run its Dubai Jumeirah Village property. The US$ 349 million 60-storey building will house a 221-key 5-star hotel, as well as 254 apartments and will open in 2018.

Bloom, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi’s National Holding, has announced a 30-month project to build a 279-apartment residential tower in Dubai Marina. Work on the new Stella Maris will start next month. 

The Meraas Holding / Bulgari 101-key luxury hotel, being built on Jumeirah Bay Island, should be completed by 2017 – two years later than originally planned. The entire 158k sq mt project will also include 43 large villas, 165 apartments and a marina.

Emaar Malls Group recorded a 31.6% jump in Q1 profit to US$ 118 million, as revenue rose 21.5% to US$ 200 million.

Although Q1 revenue was up 3.2%, to US$ 831 million, du reported a 0.6% reduction in its profit to US$ 133 million, in the wake of higher royalty fees and a 0.9% fall in subscribers to 7.48 million. (This week the telecom operator sold mobile number – 052 222 2222 – to a Mohamed Hilal for US$ 2.2 million, with some of the proceeds going to charity).

DIFC Investments’ Q1 results were mixed with revenue up 22.0% to US$ 182 million but profits dropping 13.6% to US$ 176 million. The main reason for the fall was a 50% decrease in the fair value gain on investments to US$ 33.0 million.

Dubai Holding, a subsidiary of the Investment Corporation of Dubai, reported a US$ 654 million 2014 profit, as its net assets closed the year on US$ 4.55 billion. Another government-owned company, developer Nakheel, more than doubled its Q1 profit to US$ 368 million, as its retail and leasing businesses continued to grow as well as an increasing number of property handovers. At the end of 2014, the company had an outstanding US$ 1.2 billion trade creditor sukuk due for repayment in 2016.

Q1 saw DP World handling 15 million 20-foot equivalent units – a 4.4% quarterly increase and 7.7% year on year. This week, its shareholders approved a motion for the port operator to buy back a limited amount of its shares, although the company stated it had no immediate plans to proceed further with any such purchase. It is reported that DP World is planning a ten year bond up to a value of US$ 1 billion. As with other entities, the port operator seems to be taking advantage of the favourable rates currently at historically low levels.

In 1998, Dubai received 10k cruise visitors and the 2014 figure is over 500k, with an estimated 20% hike in numbers this year. The boom in this sector looks set to continue as the emirate enhances existing facilities.

HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has endorsed the building of the US$ 136 million, 25k sq mt  Union Museum, to be built next to Union House – the location of the 1971 signing  of the country’s federation.

Q1 data from the Land Department indicates that property transactions, totalling 11.6k, were over US$ 17.4 billion. Yet again, Indian investors are the leading property buyers in the Dubai market, accounting for 4.8% of all Q1 transactions, totalling US$ 828 million, followed by Pakistanis and British on 2.9% and 2.2% respectively. Land transactions totalled US$ 14.2 billion, with commercial land accounting for US$ 8.2 billion. Over the quarter, there were US$ 3.0 billion of building transactions of which 76.3% (US$ 2.3 billion) related to housing and US$ 600k to commercial. The two most popular buying locations were Business Bay (1.2k transactions totalling US$ 501 million) and Dubai Marina (524 deals worth US$ 493 million).

The Dubai-based investment bank, Arqaam is raising further finance to expand its operations in Saudi Arabia and Africa. The institution has recently acquired several operations, including Bahrain asset manager Instrata Capital, Libya’s Al Rashad Finance and Management Advisory and Egyptian El Rashad Securities Brokerage.

David Haye has apparently had his passport retained by the police following a reported US$ 490k cheque being “referred to drawer”. The former British heavyweight is planning a boxing gym in Dubai and this payment relates to construction costs; he has put the problem down to a minor administration error.

In a bid to ensure that Dubai’s power generation will expand by 20% over the next five years, DEWA is planning to invest US$ 16.3 billion in major projects. Much of the development will be made through private-public partnerships.

A recent BCCI report indicated that the 2014 UAE GDP was some US$ 40 million better off because the IPL playing twenty games in the country. Some 250k spectators watched the game live, with millions viewing worldwide on TV.

A recent Reuters poll has reiterated that growth in the GCC will be lower than initially estimated in 2015 as a result of the fall in oil prices. Dubai’s forecasts for the next two years have been cut from 3.8% to 3.4% and 3.9% to 3.7% respectively.

The DFM was a major casualty of low trading on the local bourse in Q1 which saw net income sink from US$ 59 million to US$ 18 million, as revenue dropped 55.2% to US$ 31 million. Average daily trading was 64.4% down from US$ 463 million to US$ 165 million, mainly because of investor worries over low oil prices.

Following four consecutive weeks of healthy gains, the DFMI rose a further 5.5% to close this week on 4229. Over the month of April, the index has rocketed 20.3% from its 01 April opening of 3514. On Thursday, 30 April, 9.33 million shares were traded with a value of US$ 349 million. Bellwether stocks, Emaar Properties and Arabtec, rose by US$ 0.08 and US$ 0.04 to close the week on US$ 2.24 and US$ 0.81 respectively.

It may be that time of the economic cycle when some zany schemes are put forward. Polish architect, Krzysztof Kotala, has drawn up plans to build an underwater tennis centre in the Gulf. This comes hard on the heels of the Kleindienst Group’s plans to build 42 “floating seahorses” as part of Dubai the World. These 3-storey residences, to be located in The Heart of Europe islands, will have one floor submerged and the other two above the sea line and will cost over US$ 1.4 million. Another developer, the US-based Reef Worlds, has shown interest in constructing “sustainable underwater tourism sites” in the emirate.

The Abu Dhabi-based developer, Eagle Hills, led by Emaar’s Chairman, Mohammed Alabbar, has signed an agreement with the Serbian government to develop central Belgrade. The agreement sees the Abu Dhabi company investing US$ 163 million in share capital, a similar amount as an advance as well as a US$ 141 million loan. In return, it will own 68% of the 1.8 million sq mt development; the project will have 5.7 residential units, 8 hotels and a 140k sq mt shopping mall.

Apple reported impressive Q1 results as revenue jumped 27.0% to US$ 58.0 billion (as it sold 61.1 million iPhones) and profit spiked over 33.0% to US$ 13.6 billion. The technology giant had cash funds of US$ 195 billion. The only downside was the fact that sales of its iPad tablets, at 12.6 million units, were down 23.0% compared to Q1 2014. On the other hand, Samsung saw both its quarterly revenue and profit drop, with its bottom line disappointing analysts, down 40.0% to US$ 4.2 billion. Apple and Chinese competition, along with the appreciation in the South Korean won, were the main drivers behind this slump.

Electronics company, Panasonic returned a 49% increase in Q1 profit to US$ 1.5 billion, despite a marginal 0.3% fall in revenue to US$ 23.6 billion. The weaker yen is helping growth in Japanese exports. One Japanese company that will have its first loss ever will be Asia’s biggest drugmaker. Takeda have agreed to pay US$ 2.4 billion to settle thousands of US lawsuits over claims that it tried to hide cancer risks associated with its diabetes drug Actos.

Chinese authorities will have to introduce measures to stimulate its economy following a surprise slump in March. Latest data indicates that export sales fell by 15.0% whilst imports, down 12.7%, indicate both continuing weakness in domestic demand and that the expected 7.0% growth forecast may not be reached this year. The contagion impact – both regionally and globally – remains to be seen.

It is not all bad news out of China – the country is, after Spain’s 2.51 million acres, the second largest wine growing area at 1.97 million acres. It is estimated that the global trade in wine is US$ 28.6 billion and China expects to take more of the market in the coming years. 

Australia’s terms of trade continue to disappoint the market, down 9.5% for the 12 months ending March. There has been no improvement in this indicator for more than two years.   

US Q1 GDP grew at a meagre 0.2% (down from 2.2% the previous quarter) with authorities still pointing to harsh weather conditions as the prime mover for this unexpected slowdown. The strong greenback and labour disputes on the West Coast added to the country’s economic woes. This has reduced the possibility of any Fed interest rate hike until at least September

Germany’s largest bank, Deutsche Bank, has settled a transatlantic rate-rigging scandal by agreeing to pay a total of US$ 2.5 billion, of which US$ 340 million will be paid to the UK’s FCA and the balance to US authorities. Amazingly, the bank qualified for a 30% reduction for settling the case early.

Barclays has provided a further US$ 1.2 billion to cover the costs relating to forex charges, which now stands at over US$ 3 billion, as well as a further US$ 225 million to cover claims in its payment protection insurance (PPI) mis-selling. Meanwhile RBS has already incurred US$ 5.7 billion to settle allegations of currency rigging as the bank reported a Q1 loss of US$ 675 million, compared to a US$ 1.8 billion profit a year earlier.

Standard & Poor’s has estimated that the four major UK banks – Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds and RBS – have incurred costs of US$ 63 billion over the past five years in relation to conduct and litigation charges. The PPI scandal costs have already reached US$ 39 billion, whilst currency market manipulation and money laundering will add to the banks’ woes. The ratings agency reckons that the banks will incur further charges of US$ 30 billion over the next two years.  The cosy relations between governments and major financial institutions has become an epidemic and take care when either a politician or bankers asks Would I Lie To You?

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