Fast Car

ferrariCivil Engineering and Contracting has already started work on The Rosemont Hotel & Residences, located in Tecom. The 47-storey twin tower project will not only have 450 hotel rooms and 280-serviced apartments but will also boast an artificial beach and a rain forest environment on the top of its 5-storey podium.

The building of the Emerald Palace Kempinski Hotel on Palm Jumeirah will definitely take place now that Sunrise Properties has obtained finance for the deal. A US$ 140 million Islamic loan has been secured but no other details have been made available.

Dubai Industrial City is expanding at a fast rate, with latest YTD figures indicating a 28% rise in revenue and an even bigger 59% jump in gross profit. The 55 sq km development – located adjacent to Al Maktoum International Airport and JAFZ – has welcomed an additional 700 new companies so far this year.

Dubai Duty Free has announced that it will sponsor golf’s Irish Open for a further three years, following the success of its initial involvement, earlier in June. Consequently, 2016 prize money will jump 60% to US$ 4.5 million, making it one of the more lucrative purses on the European tour.  Rory McIlroy will again host the tournament on behalf of his charity, the Rory Foundation.

Buroj Property Development is planning to invest US$ 1 billion in the first phase of a US$ 4.9 billion Bosnian tourist resort project. Located near Sarajevo, the Dubai-based developer will start work on the 1.3 million sq mt ‘Buroj Ozone’ in H2 2016 and estimates that the entire project will be completed within 8 years.

The RTA is set to increase the number of operating taxis by 34.4% to 12.8k vehicles over the next five years, so as to meet the expected increased demand.

DEWA will be spending over US$ 16 billion over the next five years to meet increasing consumption; it is expected that water and power demands will see annual growth levels of 6.8% and 6.4% respectively.

The first phase of DEWA’s US$ 1.8 billion Hassyan contract – a 1.2k mw clean coal power plant – has been awarded to a syndicate, led by China’s Harbin Electric and ACWA Power from Saudi Arabia. The bulk of the financing – US$ 1.6 billion – will be shouldered by consortium members, with DEWA investing the remainder; however, the utility provider will maintain a 51% shareholding. Phase 1 should be finalised by 2021, with phases 2 and 3 – bringing on line a further 2.4k mw – will be introduced at a later stage.

Hadeed Emirates Contracting Company has won a DEWA contract to construct the Solar Innovation Centre at the MBR Solar Park. To be opened within 18 months, the facility will be an exhibition centre for solar and renewable energy – attracting academics, tourists and other interested stakeholders.

UK-based Brand Finance has ranked “Brand UAE” as the third in the world after Singapore and Switzerland, with a value in excess of US$ 400 billion. The 2015 list sees the country move up 18 places and measures countries’ global brand and strength, taking into account factors such as quality of life, security and the ease of doing business. Emirates continues to be both the region’s – and the airline industry’s – most valuable brand. This year, it has jumped 38 places to 196, with its value increasing by 20.4% to US$ 6.6 billion.

Restructuring discussions have restarted in London between creditors (owed US$ 2.3 billion) and Dry Docks World; 35% of this debt falls due in 2018, with the balance nine years later. The six-man steering committee, comprising three persons chosen by the banks and three hedge fund investors, represents about 70% of the outstanding balance, with the hedge funds owning a large portion of the debt. This is the second restructuring plan, subsequent to the first in 2012, when the company was having financial problems, following large-scale expansion, mainly in SE Asian shipyards.

The DMCC (Dubai Multi Commodities Centre) – housing 11k companies and 85k people in offices and apartments – has been named as 2015’s “Global Free Zone of the Year” by the FT’s fDi Magazine. The award serves as a confirmation of its prime position as a global hub.

According to the latest Emirates NBD UAE PMI, there has been a slowdown in business growth, with the September index falling from 57.1 to 56.0; as any reading over 50 equates to expansion, there should not be much need for concern. However, indicators to watch over the coming months will include the relatively high inflation rate (which has seen output charges increase), foreign orders, growth of new work and the rate of hiring.

The Dubai International Financial (DIFC) Court has seen a massive 482% hike, to US$ 1.44 billion, in the value of cases heard in the first nine months of the year. The average value of claims rose by 137% to US$ 26 million.

On Sunday, trading in the Saudi telecom, Mobily, 27.5% owned by Etisalat, was again suspended by that country’s market regulator. The Capital Market Authority was awaiting details about shareholders’ compensation claims, arising from losses because of last year’s accounting irregularities, before deciding to allow trading to continue on Tuesday. Following revelations last year that the company’s earnings had been misstated, Mobily has seen more than US$ 5 billion wiped off its market value.

Following an 11.6% month on month slide in August, the DFM market capitalisation dropped a further 0.7% in September to US$ 89.0 billion. The DFM opened Sunday at 3706 and slid 8 points to 3698 by the end of the shortened week (14 October) because of the Islamic New Year. Of the bellwether stocks, Emaar Properties was down US$ 0.02 to US$ 1.87, whilst Arabtec fell US$ 0.01 to US$ 0.51. Yet again, trading volumes on Wednesday were desperately low, at only 200 million shares, valued at US$ 57 million changing hands, (cf 134 million shares for US$ 64 million, the previous Thursday).

Oil and gold had mixed weeks and by Thursday (15 October), Brent crude had closed noticeably lower, down on the week 6.3% at US$ 49.73, whilst gold continued its recent upward trend, jumping US$ 43 to US$ 1,187.

IATA has noted that the average global airfare has fallen by 13% in the first 7 months of the year. Although low oil prices are the main downward driver, the strong greenback and increased capacity are other factors at work.

Further disappointing September trade figures emanating from China showed annual exports and imports down 1.1% and a worrying 17.7% respectively. The country is in the throes of a fundamental economic shift to a consumer-led economy from being an export driven one. China recently downgraded its annual growth forecast to 7.3% but this could turn out to be lower come the end of the year.

Largely because of an annual 14.9% decline in the cost of fuel – and a smaller fall in food prices of 2.5% – the UK returned to negative inflation (-0.1%) in September. In the short-term, at least, this is good news for the average person, as the consumer can buy more for the same amount of money. It also reduces the possibility of an interest hike this year. The country’s September jobless rate at 5.4% is the lowest in seven years.

The OECD recently reported that laws allowing companies to move from high to low tax regimes resulted in the loss of global tax revenues of up to US$ 240 billion. Now it seems that Facebook, with advertising revenue of US$ 3.6 billion and global profits in excess of US$ 2.9 billion, only paid US$ 6.6k UK corporation tax; this was after having made a US$ 44 million loss and paying staff bonuses of US$ 54 million. No wonder that the likes of Google, Amazon and Starbucks (which between 1998-2012 paid US$ 13 million tax on revenue of US$ 4.6 billion!) are subject to on-going EC investigations.

Following the collapse of the Anglo Irish Bank in 2009, which cost the Irish taxpayer US$ 34 billion in bailout funds, its boss David Drumm fled to the US, where he filed for bankruptcy. With the failure of his bid in the Boston courts, he could be liable for debts of US$ 12 million and has been arrested on an extradition warrant from Ireland.

Last week, Deutsche Bank’s Q3 results showed a US$ 1.3 billion provision for legal fees. This week, JP Morgan Chase did exactly the same as it reported a 23.6% hike in net profits, to US$ 6.8 billion, despite a 6.0% decline in revenue to US$ 23.5 billion but helped by a US$ 2.2 billion tax credit.

It is reported that the Malaysian Central Bank has recommended criminal action against the state investment fund 1MDB which has invested over US$ 1.8 billion overseas, without formal documentation. Strangely enough, it seems that the fund, set up in 2009 by Prime Minister, Najib Razak, has recently been mired in controversy when it was discovered that some US$ 700 million had been transferred to his personal account from entities linked to 1MDB. Furthermore, the fund has alleged debts of US$ 11.5 billion.

It seems that the major Petrobas fraud in Brazil could top US$ 5.4 billion. The scandal is estimated to have cost the state-owned oil company at least US$ 1.7 billion, over a ten-year period, as it paid out a combination of bribes, fake invoices and inflated contracts to politicians, executives and suppliers.  Over time, the corrupt practice extended into other sectors resulting in the implication of many senior people. Dilma Rousseff was the chair of Petrobas at the time, prior to becoming the country’s President.

A strain of malware, known as Dridex, has allowed East European cyber criminals to steal at least US$ 33 million from UK bank accounts. Their modus operandi is to initially infect computers and then harvest on-line bank details to steal money from unsuspecting victims.

The world’s biggest luxury goods giant, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, reported an 18.0% surge in revenue to US$ 28.7 billion for the first nine months of the year, boosted by a weaker euro. The French company recorded growth in both Europe and the US but its standout market was Japan.

VW is cutting next year’s investment programme by US$ 1.1 billion, as it starts to come to terms with the consequences of the diesel emissions scandal, involving at least 11 million vehicles. The disgraced German car-maker has already made provisions of US$ 7.2 billion but with the prospect of huge penalties, from various governments, numerous lawsuits and possible criminal cases, the ultimate figure could be higher than US$ 40 billion. To make matters worse for ‘Das Auto’, it appears that Leonardo DiCaprio is considering a Hollywood film about the German debacle.

Troubled Glencore is set to shed 1.5k jobs as its cuts both its lead and zinc production – in Australia, Kazakhstan and South America – by 33%. Ironically, the price of zinc climbed 12%, to US$ 1,875 per tonne, on the news that the Swiss conglomerate was to reduce output by 500k tonnes, equivalent to 4% of global supply. In order to reduce its US$ 30 billion debt burden further, the company is also selling two of its copper mines – in Australia (Cobar) and Chile (Bayas).

There were two massive corporate deals and two minor ones this week. In the largest ever technology acquisition, Dell has paid US$ 67 billion for EMC Corp. Consequently there would be synergy between the buyer’s second position in servers with EMC’s supremacy in storage data devices.

Meanwhile it appears more likely that Anheuser-Busch InBev, with 20.8% of the global beer market, will take over the world’s second brewer SABMiller (9.7%) in a US$ 70 billion tie-up. The enlarged company will have a dominant market share (30.5%) compared to the 21.2% of its three remaining rivals combined – Heineken – 9.1%, Carlsberg – 6.1% and China Resources Enterprise – 6.0%.

This week, Melbourne boutique brewer, Mountain Goat Beer also sold out – to the Japanese-based Asahi for an undisclosed amount. However Australia’s Treasury Wine Estates – which includes Penfolds, Rosemont Estate and Wolf Blass in its portfolio – has acquired a majority shareholding in the UK’s Diageo’s wine business. TWE is the biggest global publicly listed winemaker. Last week Diageo sold two of its brewing companies to Heineken for US$ 780 million.

Fiat has announced that it is planning a New York IPO for the sale of about 9% of Ferrari.  It is expected that 17.2 million shares will be on offer, at a price of between US$ 48 – US$ 52, valuing the issue in the region of US$ 825 million – US$ 894 million. At this level, Ferrari would be valued at just under US$ 10 billion for a company which only sold 7.2k vehicles last year and whose latest figures indicate an annual profit of US$ 787 million. This IPO represents a lot of money for a Fast Car!

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