Livin’ On Borrowed Time

howes-dubai-blogThis weekend, Emaar will launch its latest project, located in the Opera District of Dubai. The twin towers – of 50 and 70 storeys – will comprise 1-4 bedroom apartments and will overlook the upcoming 2k-seat opera house.

Al Barari has released phase 2 of its Ashjar project – 84 luxury apartments, ranging in size from 1.4k sq ft to 4.1k sq ft, with prices starting at US$ 600k. The 18.4 million sq ft development already boasts 189 luxury residences and 28 bespoke villas, with a further 157 Seventh Heaven homes under construction, along with the Ashjar development, which will have 300 units when completed.

Dubai Properties has announced the sale of 200 apartments in one of its planned four-tower mixed use project in its mega development in the centre of Dubai Creek.

Arabian Gulf Properties and Time Properties have reported details of its 23-storey AG Tower in Business Bay. Prices for the 437 apartments will range from US$ 191k to US$ 616k.

Nakheel expects to see the number of hotel rooms on Palm Jumeirah more than quadruple before 2020, as the portfolio is forecast to rise from the current level of 3.5k to over 15k. The number of properties is expected to increase from 8 to 32 over the same period; six are already under construction.

It seems likely that the emirate will house the 5th Lego-themed hotel in the world with plans to build one in the upcoming Legoland Dubai theme park. The venue, covering 27 hectares, is a part of the US$ 2.7 billion Dubai Parks and Resorts project due to open in Q4 2016.

Hilton Worldwide becomes the latest operator to announce a new property to be located near to Dubai World Central. The proposed 535-key hotel is set to open in 2019 and hopes to tap into the expanding traffic using Al Maktoum International Airport.

An Abu Dhabi operator will open its first hotel in Dubai next year – a 3-star property which will cater for the expected increased demand in affordable accommodation. Jannah Hotels has a 318-room Burj Al Sarab in Abu Dhabi to meet the specific requirements of the halal tourism sector.

Already with 18 properties in the country, the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has just opened its 132-room Dubai Marina.

Following news earlier in the year that British hotel group Yotel was planning a development in Business Bay, it is now considering a property on Palm Jumeirah. No further details were made available.

On 01 September, Emirates will fly daily to their 10th US destination – Orlando, with a flying time ten minutes shy of 16 hours. In a decade of operations to the country, the airline has maintained over an 80% load factor and last year flew over 2.3 million passengers.

As an indicator of the buoyancy in the local vehicle sector, Nissan reported that 2014 regional sales were up 18.1% to 185.1k units and increased its market share by 0.8% to 10.3%. 34.0% of all sales were from the UAE where it maintained its second position to Toyota with a 15.3% market share.

The latest Nielsen Global Survey confirms that the UAE consumer confidence still rates the highest in the ME with an index score of 115. The second best is Saudi Arabia with 107 whilst the global average is a lot lower, at 97. Globally, there are some odd results such as the UK’s 97 and France, with 60, whilst the likes of India, Indonesia and Philippines came in with 130, 123, and 115 respectively.

Although the UAE is the top performing country in the region in the latest IMD world competitiveness report, it has slipped four places to 12th in the global ranking. Although it scored highly in categories such as government efficiency and economic performance, it slipped in areas such as health and education.

Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch conglomerate, is planning to invest US$ 82 million in a new factory to be built in Dubai, adding a further 600 jobs to its payroll. When completed within 2 years, the facility will make shampoos, shower gels and other personal care products.

Conares, the region’s second largest  steel manufacturer, is to invest US$ 54 million to expand capacity at its Jebel Ali factory to 1 million tonnes. The company, established in 1990, estimates that it has cornered 20% of the UAE rebar market and 25% of the regional steel pipes sector.

The UK fragrance house, CPL Aromas, has opened a US$ 8 million factory in Jebel Ali, producing 200 metric tonnes of concentrates monthly.

The Dubai-listed company Aramex has paid US$ 2.5 million for a 25% stake in the US-based consolidator, WS One Investment. This follows recent acquisitions for the South African PostNet (US$ 17 million) and the Australian courier company, Mail Call, for US$ 33 million.

In March, Emirates National Oil Co offered US$ 7.92 a share to buy the remaining 46% of Dragon Oil shares it did not own. Now ENOC has raised this offer by 44.2% to US$ 11.43.

The Ministry of Finance reported that in Q1, the 23 local and 34 foreign banks operating in the UAE increased their asset base by 9.0% to US$ 392.3 billion, whilst lending showed an 8.2% jump to US$ 392.4 billion. As at 31 March 2015, the Central Bank held foreign currency assets, totalling US$ 83.4 billion – 3.1% higher than the same period in 2014.

The UAE Space Agency has introduced ambitious plans to place the country in the forefront of space exploration and research. Its first target is to send the country’s “Hope” probe mission to Mars by 2021 – the year of the UAE’s golden anniversary. The government is determined to make the country one of the global leaders in space technology, with the knock-on effect of adding great value and increased employment opportunities to the national economy.

With an eye on supporting regional SMEs, Abraaj Capital, with a US$ 30 million commitment, will become the leading investor in Auvest MENASA Opportunities Fund. The fund, to be managed by the 8-year old Auvest Group, aims to raise up to US$ 300 million to boost this expanding sector.

Following three weeks of losses, the DFMI continued its downward trend to close the week 2.9% lower at 4000. Thursday saw increased business with  474 million shares, totalling US$ 297 million, changing hands – compared to 245 million and US$ 114 million the previous Thursday. Both Emaar Properties and Arabtec shares fell – by US$ 0.10 to US$ 2.13 and US$ 0.03 to US$ 0.63 respectively

IAG, the owners of British Airways, has reached an agreement with the Irish government to purchase 25% of their 29% shareholding in Aer Lingus. This will now allow IAG to go ahead with their US$ 1.5 billion offer to buy the Irish national carrier.

The proposed US$ 55 billion acquisition of Time Warner by Charter Communications will result in the new entity becoming the second largest cable company in the US. It was only last year that a US$ 37 billion Charter offer was rejected and a subsequent US$ 45 billion deal with Comcast fell through.

Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK will be the main beneficiaries of Amazon’s decision to declare sales (and consequently pay tax) made in those countries. Prior to 01 May, the company had used Luxembourg to be the recipient of all sales and hence paid tax there which has a lower tax regime. Whether the likes of other so-called tax-dodging companies – Amazon, Apple, Fiat and Starbucks – follow suit remains to be seen.

Following encouraging recent economic data, the Bank of Japan has decided not to proceed further with more fiscal stimulus but has maintained its US$ 422 billion QE programme in place. Q1 data indicated that the country was out of recession but whether this can continue remains a moot point. Furthermore, its current 0.2% inflation rate is well below Shinzo Abe’s target of 2.0% and if the situation is not corrected, it is inevitable that the rate of asset purchases will have to be expanded.

If this has occurred in Australia there is a good chance it is happening elsewhere. It appears that credit cardholders have paid an extra US$ 2 billion over the past four years for the simple reason that greedy banks have not passed on interest rate cuts. Although the RBA started cutting rates in November 2011, the customer is still paying on average 17.0% – instead of 14.25% if the bank had dropped rates in synch.

Latest figures from Australia indicate that the economy is still slowing. Q3 business investment (to March) fell 4.4%, whilst the current annual forecast spend of US$ 115 billion would be 30.7% higher than the US$ 80 billion estimated for the 2015/16 year.

The OECD has reported that the rich are getting richer as the poor go in the other direction. For example, over the past five years, US household disposable income for the country’s top 10% rose by 10.6%, whilst the bottom 10% dropped 3.2%. Furthermore, the OECD overall average of the difference between the incomes of the top 10% and lowest 10% was 9.6 times – in the US 19 times. Inevitably this will ultimately result in both an economic and social backlash with a detrimental impact on growth; a 20-year study (between 1985 – 2005) estimated that income inequality reduced growth by 4.7%.  

Another group that has become rich at the expense of the masses is FIFA. The secretive body, overseen by the 79 year-old Sep Blatter, has allegedly been the centre of numerous financial scandals. The so-called mafia-like supremo, Don Blatterone, has been associated with the football organisation for 40 years, 17 of which has been as President. Despite seven top officials being indicted on fraud, money laundering and racketeering charges, the man in charge refuses to take any responsibility for their actions. Although the deluded gentleman thinks he is the only person fit enough to run FIFA and he  will get elected this Friday for another term, his days are surely numbered. This meglomaniac despot is Livin’ On Borrowed Time!

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One Response to Livin’ On Borrowed Time

  1. Peter Cooper says:

    Project sizes in Dubai just ain’t what they used to be. There was a time I didn’t go to a press conference for less than a $500m launch!

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