Get Off My Cloud!

It was announced that 180 luxury apartments in the second phase of sales of units in Al Habtoor City have already been sold, with prices for 1-bedroom units starting at US$ 518k. Handover for units – that range from 1 to 7-bedrooms – is expected in Q4. There are three high rise towers, with a total of 1.46k units and located by Dubai Canal, that comprise The Residence Collection.

The transport network received another boost this week with HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s approval of another road (costing US$ 136 million), running parallel to the US$ 133 million ‘Airport Road Improvement Project’ that is currently under construction. The project – which will ease the congestion around Dubai International Airport – will create a new 11.8 km corridor, of which 5.3 km will be a new road whilst a 6.5 km stretch of Tripoli Road will be widened.

An agreement between Careem and the RTA will see customers of the ride-hailing app able to book any one of 10k taxis operated by the emirate’s six taxi franchises. The booking service will allow users to track and check details of their bookings on Careem’s platform. Meanwhile Uber will levy a US$ 0.82 surcharge on all its future bookings, with collections being credited to the RTA.

Local fuel prices head northwards for the third straight month in March, with Special 95 higher, 1.6% month on month to US$ 0.523 per litre, having started the year on US$ 0.490; last year’s increase was 6.5%.

DEWA is planning to invest  a further US$ 907 million to increase its spend to US$ 2.72 billion for building  97  132/11 kilovolt (kV) substations over the next three years. The utility has a US$ 17.7 billion budget to meet increased demand over the next five years. Its current capacity is 10k megawatts, serving 800k customers, with a 2016 peak load of 8k MW – 4% higher than a year earlier.

Dubai Wholesale City has launched a 1.5 million sq ft complex of light industrial units and refrigerated warehouses specifically for the emirate’s food and halal sector. The TECOM global integrated wholesale trading hub aims to become one of the industry’s major global players.

Du held an auction for 50 mobile numbers which raised US$ 2.02 million. It can only be Dubai when one such number sold for US$ 1.23 million with Indian businessman, Balwinder Sahni, paying this amount for number 058 888 8888.

It is reported that Abraaj Capital has acquired Middlesex University’s overseas campus in Dubai from a group of local investors. Although the actual value of the deal was not known, it is thought that it was equivalent to 11 times EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) which would put the price of the 13-year old facility at about US$ 75 million.

Dubai Holding Commercial Operations Group, a division of Dubai Holding, the 13-year old investment arm for HH Sheikh Mohammed, posted an 8.0% rise in profits to US$ 1.72 billion on the back of a 16.0% surge in revenue to US$ 4.59 billion. Dubai Holding has a US$ 35 billion asset base and is involved in a myriad of business sectors in 20 countries. This week, its only chairman, HE Mohammed Abdullah Al Gergawi, resigned to concentrate on his federal government role as Minister of Cabinet Affairs.

Emirates REIT posted a 37.6% rise in 2016 cash profit to US$ 11 million, on the back of an 8.0% hike in revenue to US$ 3.23 billion, driven by increases from both rental income and property income – up by 22.8% to US$ 45 million and 22.2% to US$ 51 million respectively. Interestingly, this week Emirates NBD has transferred a seven-property US$ 314 million portfolio to set up their own real estate investment trust (reit). As with Emirates REIT, this will be listed on Nasdaq Dubai.

The DFM opened Sunday at 3634 and closed 1.4% down on Thursday (02 March 2017) at 3584. Volumes still remain at low levels, closing the day at 360 million shares, valued at US$ 175 million, (cf 349 million shares for US$ 120 million, the previous Thursday). Emaar Properties traded US$ 0.01 up, to US$ 2.08, with Arabtec, shedding US$ 0.01 to US$ 0.25; its share value has fallen 35.8% over the past three weeks. In February, the bourse shed only 13 points to close the month on 3630, with Emaar nudging US$ 0.01 higher to US$ 2.03 and Arabtec plummeting US$ 0.12 to US$ 0.25.

By Thursday, Brent Crude was US$ 0.09 higher to close on US$ 55.90, with gold marginally down (US$ 7) to US$ 1,233 by 02 March 2017. Brent traded 0.5% lower in February to US$ 56.56, whilst the yellow metal gained 3.5% to close the month on US$ 1,254.

The Joint OPEC / Non-OPEC Ministerial Monitoring Committee has announced an 86% conformity level in relation to the 1.8 million bpd output reduction agreed by all participants last December.

The year-old proposed US$ 30.4 billion merger between London Stock Exchange and Deutsche Boerse is having problems with EC approval; it could collapse unless the LSE sells its 60% stake in MTS, a fixed-income trading platform. It looked as if this were a done deal especially after the London bourse divested part of its clearing business, LCH,  to satisfy the EC’s competition concerns.

As expected, the Royal Bank of Scotland posted its ninth straight annual loss with a 2016 deficit of US$ 8.6 billion bringing the cumulative total for the period to US$ 71.3 billion. To cap it all off, chief executive, Ross McEwan, acknowledged there was more to come! The bank is planning cost cuts of US$ 2.5 billion over the next four years which will see inevitable retrenchments.

Ford is considering cutting its UK workforce in Bridgend by as much as 65% to just 600 within the next five years. This comes after the US car giant decided to cut investment in the new generation Dragon petrol engine project, just six months after its announcement.

Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox is seeking EC regulatory approval to acquire European pay-TV entity Sky for US$ 14.4 billion. Its bid to take full control of the rest of the UK company is unlikely at this stage because of potential political problems, as was the case in 2011.

Having lost US$ 350 million, because of two security breaches (the biggest in internet history) that impacted 1 million users, Yahoo has punished Marissa Mayer. The CEO will not receive her annual bonus nor a potentially lucrative share award.

Despite worries that the economy may hit the ropes early in 2017, Q4 data indicates that Australia will continue to grow and break the Netherlands’ record (1982 – 2008) of over 25 years of uninterrupted economic growth. Because of increases in both consumer spending and exports, Q4 growth came in at 2.4%. December business investment also moved higher after three years of decline. With commodity prices on the up and the country relying less on its resources investment boom, 2017 growth may well top 3%. Another sign of the good times saw Q4 company operating profits climb by 20.1% and an impressive 26.2% on the year.

Following President Trump’s Congressional Address, the Dow Jones closed on Wednesday at a record 21115 with the bourse gaining 1000 points over the past three weeks. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite also headed north closing at highs of 2397 and 5904 respectively. With tax cuts and a boost in infrastructure investment in the pipeline, allied with a sentiment that economic expansion has arrived, a Fed rate hike is becoming increasingly likely and may be as early as this month. There is no doubt that worldwide, investors are feeling more positive about the global economic environment with many indicators continuing to head upwards.

The danger of over-reliance on using the cloud was brought home by Amazon’s cloud computing service’s outage in the east of the US. This week, its simple storage system, Amazon S3, reported “high error rates” that impacted on several of the company’s cloud service.Also this week, the UAE received welcome rain, abetted by the National Center of Meteorology & Seismology. The agency has been involved in enhanced cloud seeding that has assisted in increasing the amount of rainfall.  Get Off My Cloud!

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