Art For Art’s Sake

picassoThe latest annual US$ 1.5 billion profit from Emirates has given two major stakeholders a welcome boost. The owners, ICD, saw its dividend increase to US$ 1 billion, whilst the 84.2k staff members were rewarded with a US$ 272 million bonus – equivalent to nine weeks’ salary. Emirates Airline contributed 83.3% of the Group’s profit, as its revenue jumped 7.0% to US$ 24.2 billion with dnata’s profit share being US$ 247 million, with revenue soaring 36.0% to US$ 2.8 billion.

Dubai welcomed 8.2% more tourists last year as the figure reached 13.2 million, well up on the global increase of 4.7%. Major growth markets saw double digit increases from countries such as Brazil, China and Nigeria, with 55% of the total coming from ten source markets.

Spain’s RIU Hotels & Resorts, in conjunction with Nakheel, is to build Dubai’s first all-inclusive beach resort on the developer’s 15.3 sq km Deira Islands. This 750-room 4-star project is just one of ten hotels that Nakheel’s burgeoning hospitality sector plans to build in Dubai before 2020.

Next year, Four Seasons will open its second Dubai property in DIFC, following the success of its 2014 launch of its Jumeirah Beach Resort, whilst Rixos will also open a new hotel in JBR.

Starwood Hotels is planning three further Dubai properties totalling 550 rooms – under its Aloft and Element brands. Two will be located near to the Dubai Airport, with the other being the 150-key Aloft Dubai World Central.

With 18 hotels already in its Dubai portfolio, InterContinental Hotels Group has plans for a further ten, scheduled to open over the next five years.

Juma Al Majid currently has one hotel but is expected to add three more, totalling 1k rooms, over the next three years.

The latest announcement from Damac is the proposed 1 million sq ft entertainment and cultural Vista Lux which will include 1.5km of walkways and a canal, as well as 2k hotel apartments and residences. The entertainment and retail district will be the focal point of Damac’s Akoya Oxygen development.

With almost 50% of its infrastructure already in place, the US$ 2.9 billion theme park, being developed by Dubai Parks & Resorts, is on track to be ready by October 2016. The 2.3 million sq mt development, comprising three separate branded parks and a Marriott-run hotel, is expected to attract 6.7 million visitors, with revenue of US$ 654 million in its first year of operation.

The luxury residential property crash expected by many analysts has so far failed to materialise. Latest figures from Knights Frank show an annual fall of just 1.1% and a half-yearly drop of 1.9%.

Diamond Developers expect to complete phase 1 (comprising five residential clusters totalling 500 villas) of its US$ 300 million Sustainable City project in Q3. The second phase – including an eco-resort, country club, museum and a school – will be ready by December 2016. When finished, the 46-hectare development, located in Dubailand, will be home to 2.7k residents.

Two related companies – Arabtec and Drake & Scull – are going through a rough patch. The former reported a US$ 76 million Q1 loss (compared to a US$ 35 million profit over the same period in 2014) whilst the latter saw its Q1 profit tumble 37.7% to US$ 7 million, as revenue fell 11.2% to US$ 302 million. (However, the mechanical, electrical and plumbing contractor did receive some good news with the award of a US$ 79 million contract for a local mixed use development, bringing this year’s order book to US$ 272 million).

Amlak Finance came in with disappointing Q1 results, with a 76.9% fall in Q1 profit to US$ 1 million, due to amortisation charges. The company is still on track to recommence trading on the Dubai bourse, after being delisted in November 2008.

Enoc is investing up to US$ 136 million, as it adds a further 30 new Zoom stores this year to bring its total number of outlets to 200. The Dubai-based fuel retailer has also acquired franchise rights to an Italian coffee range and the US Paavo’s Pizza, as it moves aggressively into the F&B segment. Not forgetting its core business, Enoc plans to open a further 50 gas stations before 2020 which will see its portfolio increase by 83% to 110.

Dubai-based Pure Gold is planning a US$ 136 million investment that will see the jeweller double its outlets to 250 by 2020. This expansion will see its staff numbers grow by 75% to 5.5k. The company also owns factories in India and China.

Mediclinic ME is to spend US$ 191 million to build a 150-bed general hospital, ready for opening in 2018. The company currently has 12 medical facilities in Dubai, including two hospitals in Healthcare City and Al Garhoud, with Mediclinic City hospital due to open next year.

It has not taken long for Al Maktoum International to become one of the 20 busiest cargo airports in the world. Q1 freight volumes were up an impressive 177% to 213k tonnes, whilst passenger traffic was up 40.4% to 143k.

Q1 was a busy time for the RTA with 44.4 million passengers using the Metro and a surprisingly high number – 944k – riding the recently launched tram. The three busiest stations on the Metro were Deira City Centre (1.83 million passengers), Union (1.80 million) and Al Fahidi (1.79 million).

DP World is hoping to raise a further US$ 500 million funding by dint of a 5-year bond but no definite plans have been released.

The recently listed Marka Hospitality has bought Reem Al Bawardi for a reported US$ 86 million. Its founder, Ayman Abdel Jaber, who turned the company into one of the largest home grown hospitality brands, will join Marka in an advisory capacity. Seven new outlets are planned for this year, with two in Dubai and five in the MENA region.

Following five consecutive weeks of gains, the DFMI has reversed the trend in the first two weeks of May to close Thursday (14 May) 3.7% down on 4073. This represents a fairly mild correction after the Index had jumped 20.3% in April. Bellwether stocks, Emaar Properties and Arabtec, fell by US$ 0.10 and US$ 0.15 to close on US$ 2.14 and US$ 0.66 respectively.

Brent crude, ending the week on US$ 66.59, still heads north but these relatively high prices will encourage more supply to enter the market. Rising production – allied with high inventory levels – will probably see prices peaking at the US$ 70 level.

Gold ended the week on US$ 1,226 having broken out to three-month highs, with the possibility of adding a further US$ 60 in the near future. The main drivers for this surge are a raft of negative US economic data, which reduces the chance of an early interest hike, and the on-going Greek crisis.

The Greek tragedy continues and its final day of reckoning is fast approaching. The country has still not come to grips with the troika’s demand for labour market deregulation, the rehiring of 4k civil servants and pension reform, before it can receive a further payment of US$ 8.1 billion. With a debt to GDP ratio of 177%, a 26% unemployment rate and a 25% fall in its GDP since 2010, the outlook is bleak.

The art world witnessed two records this week with the most expensive auction sales of a painting and a sculpture. Picasso’s “Women of Algeria” sold for US$ 160 million (exc the 12% commission) beating the previous record of US$ 142.4 million for Francis Bacon’s “Three Studies of Lucian Freud”. Alberto Giacometti’s “Pointing Man” went under the hammer for US$ 141 million. Paul Gaugin’s “When Will You Marry” holds the current record price for a painting when it sold earlier this year for US$ 474 million.

As with gold, art is an illiquid asset and one that does not pay interest or dividends, with no guarantee of capital appreciation. (However, a Peter Doig painting “The Architect’s Home in the Ravine”, sold at auction in 2002 for US$ 497k and then again in 2013 for US$ 12.2 million). In 2014, the global art market sales topped US$ 70 billion – a sure sign that investors are not just buying Art For Art’s Sake.

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1 Response to Art For Art’s Sake

  1. Gold is highly liquid… art is not!

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