9 to 5

The RTA is set to spend US$ 102 million on road and tunnel infrastructure in and around the upcoming Jewel of the Creek project in Dubai. Set to be completed within two years, the 124k sq mt development will house hotels, apartments, offices and a conference centre.

Damac will open their ultra-luxury The Damac Maison Royale The Distinction next month. The 52-storey property, with 305 keys, is located in Downtown.

Yet another announcement from Azizi sees the developer planning to build luxury hotel apartments and residences in Dubai Studio City. The twin 8-storey towers will feature 177 1-3 bedroom apartments, along with 6k sq ft of retail space.

Nakheel and Spain’s RIU Hotels & Resorts have released a US$ 183 million construction tender for their 800-key Deira Islands property, to also include a beachfront resort and water park. Due for completion by Q4 2019, the resort will be a focal point of the new 15.3 sq km coastal city.

Local developer, RSG International, is set to have three new hotels in Dubai before Expo 2020, with the first being the US$ 163 million 4-star Sabah Rotana at Jebel Ali Central on SZR. The 40-storey property will have 180 keys and 300 hotel apartments.

Following a positive response to the 2016 launches of its Arabella 1 and Arabella 2, Dubai Properties has unveiled the third edition located in the Mudon community at Dubailand. The project, which will comprise 3-5 – bedroom units, will be close to the 41-acre Mudon Central Park, with its raft of leisure and entertainment amenities.

The Limitless 200-hectare mixed-use project in Downtown Jebel Ali is progressing, with 50% of the deep utilities (sewerage, storm water and water) now completed, as work on the road system has started. It is expected that the US$ 78 million infrastructure project will be finished by next year, with all plots connected to services.

It is reported that the long-awaited US$ 44 million Dubai Frame is set to open this October, with the delay attributed to Dubai Municipality’s decision to replace the landmark’s exterior cladding. Located in Zabeel Park, the 150 mt high, 93 mt wide construction has been built in such a way that Old Dubai – such as Deira and Karama – can be viewed from one side, whilst buildings, like Burj Khalifa and Emirates Towers, representing New Dubai, can be seen from the other side.

Emirates Group reported a not unexpected 70% slump in annual profit to US$ 681 million – with Emirates, down 82.0%, but still contributing US$ 354 million and dnata US$ 327 million, its highest ever. Despite the difficult operating conditions, Group revenue nudged 2.0% higher to US$ 25.8 billion, of which US$ 3.3 billion emanated from dnata operations. During the year, the airline invested US$ 3.7 billion and received 35 new aircraft (19 A380s and 16 777s) to bring its total fleet size to 259. The airline served 56.1 million passengers, with a Passenger Seat Factor of 75.1%, slightly down on the previous year’s 76.5%, as the supply chain increased seat capacity by 10%. Payroll grew by 11% to 105k.

The specialised freighter operator, Cargolux has signed an operational agreement with Emirates SkyCargo to work closely that will see both entities, at times, using each other’s facilities. This will be most noticeable in areas where one or the other does not currently operate.

As it continues to expand its international cargo network, Dnata has acquired Lynx Holdings’ AirLogistix USA 30k sq ft cargo handling operations at Houston Airport – the Dubai company’s first foray in the US market. It has also agreed to open a similar facility at Dallas Fort Worth airport later in the year. Having opened 18 new facilities over the past five years, Dnata now handles 2.8 million tonnes of cargo at 42 global airports.

The Federal Customs Authority reported a 0.5% increase in the country’s non-oil trade to US$ 426.1 billion. Of that figure, there were increases in all three sectors – imports up 1.7% to US$ 264.0 billion, exports by 5.2% to US$ 53.1 billion and reexports at US$ 109.0 billion.

Despite all the doom and gloom permeating through the market, Q1 money outflows continued their upward trend, with a 1.1% increase to US$ 10.11 billion. Indian, Pakistani and Filipino expats – at US$ 3.53 billion, US$ 950 million and US$ 738 million – accounted for 51.6% of all remittances. US and UK nationals sent home US$ 546 million and US$ 445 million.

An initiative between Dubai Municipality and the Dutch conglomerate, Philips Lighting, has resulted in the future use of Dubai Lamp in many of the emirate’s projects, including two million energy-efficient LED units this year alone. Already major developers, such as Emaar Properties and Dubai Properties Group, have bought into the scheme and it is hoped that by 2021, most of Dubai will be using this form of lighting.

UPS has signed an agreement to provide logistic support at Dubai Expo 2020, starting in October of that year. The company expects to hire up to 1k people and will work from warehouse facilities, covering 27k sq mt. It is keen to expand its international network, as over 75% of its US$ 90 billion revenue last year emanated from its home country of USA.

The entertainment division of Emaar Properties could be divesting itself of a 40% (valued in the region of US$ 800 million) stake in a probable deal with Blackstone Group LP (from the US) and Luxembourg-based CVC Capital Partners. It operates some of Dubai’s most impressive destinations, including Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, Dubai Ice Rink and Reel Cinemas.

Emaar Properties has announced that it will not be providing any further funding to Emaar India – a JV with MGF Developments Ltd – in which it had already invested US$ 1.1 billion but ended the arrangement in April 2016. The Indian developer requires a further US$ 311 million cash injection to complete all pending projects, having already raised US$ 390 million debt finance since Emaar Properties pulled out.

It is reported that loss-making Drake & Scull International is owed US$ 613 million by Saudi Aramco and hopes to soon settle at least US$ 280 million of the balance; the claim refers to work carried out on the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Centre in Riyadh which opened last year. In a bid to return to profitability, the Dubai-based contractor is taking steps such as chasing up other debts, totalling over US$ 600k, cutting its payroll by 25% to 21k, selling non-core assets (including its Indian operations) and rescheduling its debt repayments. Despite further diluting shareholders’ equity, they have agreed to increase its write off by US$ 197 million, in addition to a previously arranged US$ 270 million reduction.

Arabtec has announced that its US$ 409 million rights issue will open from 15 – 28 May, whilst trading in the rights issue will only be for the week commencing 15 May. Existing shareholders will be able to trade their rights, with a one fils starting price on the first day during which it will free float but for the following four trading days, it will trade between the 10% down to 15% up  range.

Tabreed (National Central Cooling) posted a 19.0% jump in Q1 profits to US$ 21 million, with revenue increasing by 5.8% to US$ 74 million.

Having made a Q1 loss of US$ 80 million (compared to a US$ 10 million deficit in the same period last year and US$ 64 million the previous quarter), DXB Entertainments is planning to slash costs by 20%; revenue for Q1 came in at US$ 44 million from 586k visits and was well down on forecasts.

Amlak Finance posted a 95.4% slump in Q1 profits to US$ 2 million, as revenue fell 75% to US$ 26 million driven by a softening in the realty sector. The company’s assets stood at US$ 1.77 billion.

Dubai Investments posted a slightly weaker Q1 return, compared to the same period in 2016, with revenue slipping 2.5% to US$ 190 million and profit down 3.0% at US$ 79 million. However, the 2016 figure did include a one-off profit of US$ 51 million, arising from the sale of its stake in Marmum Dairy Farm.

Dubai Financial Market posted a 19.0% hike in Q1 profit to US$ 28 million, as revenue expanded 17.6% to US$ 41 million, comprising US$ 34 million attributable to operating income and the balance of US$ 7 million to investment returns. Over the period, the DFM saw trade grow 18.8% to US$ 13.1 billion.

Emirates REIT returned a 21.2% improvement in Q1 rental income to US$ 13 million driven by stronger leasing at Index Tower and income from its two educational facilities – Jebel Ali School and the new British Columbia Canadian School.

The DFM opened Sunday at 3420 and once again traded flat this week – closing on Thursday (11 May) at 3420. Volumes were wafer thin, closing on Thursday at 250 million shares, valued at US$ 93 million, (cf 308 million shares for US$ 121 million, the previous Thursday). Emaar Properties gained US$ 0.06 to US$ 2.04, whilst struggling Arabtec closed US$ 0.02 lower at US$ 0.21.

By Thursday, Brent Crude, having lost over 14% the previous three weeks, made somewhat of a recovery gaining 4.9% (US$ 2.39) to close on US$ 50.77, with gold again lower (US$ 5) at US$ 1,224 by 11 May 2017.

Although selling more cars (10.25 million), Toyota reported its first fall in profits for five years, driven by exchange fluctuations and higher costs, as it warned that the situation may not improve in the short term; its profit figure slid 21.0% to US$ 16.1 billion.

It was no surprise to see Qatar Airways taking over from Emirates as an official FIFA partner in a deal that will see it have marketing and branding rights at the next two World Cups – in Russia next year and in their home base four years later.

Having left the club in 2012 for US$ 2 million to play for Juventus, Paul Pogba returned to Manchester United in 2016 in a world record US$ 114 million transfer. A new German book – The Football Leaks: The Dirty Business of Football – claims that the player’s agent, Mino Raiola, earned a mouth-watering US$ 52 million in the deal. Now FIFA has contacted the EPL team “”to seek clarification on the deal” to ascertain who was involved and how much each party to the deal received.The theme parks operator DXB Entertainments said it planned to cut operational costs by 20 per cent this year, compared with initial projections, after it missed analysts’ forecasts and posted a wider-than-expected first-quarter loss on higher expenses.

Even though there still “several hundred cases” of corruption pending, the FIFA hierarchy has decided to remove its ethics team, including investigator Cornel Borbely and the ethics judge, Hans-Joachim Eckert, who both helped bring down disgraced former chief Sepp Blatter and some of his cronies.

Ray Gammell has been appointed temporary CEO of Etihad with immediate effect, replacing James Hogan who will leave on 01 July. The group’s CFO, James Rigney, will also leave at the same time, with Ricky Thirion taking over his mantle.

Buoyed by bigger attendances at its resorts, Walt Disney returned an 11.0% rise in Q1 profits to US$ 2.4 billion, even though revenues were only 3% higher at US$ 13.3 billion. 40% of the company’s revenue originates from its TV networks – ABC, Disney and ESPN; the latter is suffering,  having lost millions of subscribers and subsequent advertising revenue, as viewers turn to cheaper sporting alternatives.

For the third time, US-based PPG Industries has failed in its attempt to acquire Akzo Nobel, the owner of Dulux paint, despite a higher bid of US$ 29.2 billion; the Dutch conglomerate indicated that the offer was not only high enough but showed a “lack of cultural understanding of the brand”. Further negotiations may not be so friendly and a hostile bid directly to the shareholders may now be on the cards.

Crown Resorts has sold the remaining 11.2% stake in its Macau casino investment to its JV partner, Melco Resorts and Entertainment, for US$1.0 billion. The Australian company, controlled by James Packer,  has had many problems in the Chinese enclave, including last year’s detention of 15 of his employees by Chinese authorities.

Australian building materials supplier, Boral, has acquired its US competitor, Headwaters Incorporated, in a deal worth US$ 2.6 billion. The new entity, known as Boral North America, will have an expected annual revenue of US$ 1.8 billion.

The Australian property bubble is still waiting to burst – latest Q1 figures indicate price rises of 4.6% in Sydney and 5.1% in Melbourne, with a national average of 3.7%.

Treasurer Scott Morrison surprised the big 5 Australian banks (ANZ, CBA, Macquarie, NAB and Westpac) by a levy increase that will see an extra US$ 4.6 billion being paid over the next four years. He also wants to save US$ 2.9 billion from the education budget which will result in students paying a greater share of the cost of obtaining degrees.

The IMF has raised its 2017 Asia Pacific growth forecast to 5.5% and expects a marginal fall to 5.4% the following year, whilst noting that the near-term outlook was clouded with significant uncertainty.

Growth in China and Japan was revised upward for 2017 compared to the October 2016 World Economic Outlook, owing mainly to continued policy support and strong recent data. Two of the area’s main economies are now expected to grow faster this year with India set to return a 7.2% figure as China comes in at 6.6%; in 2018, growth estimates are 7.7% and 6.2% respectively. Japan’s prospects were disappointing with growth of only 1.2% and 0.6% over the next two years.

However, a 13.1% hike in March exports to US$ 631 billion and a higher 15.4% jump in imports to US$ 555 billion saw Japan post a trade surplus of US$ 762 billion; its current account surplus fell 2.2% to US$ 256 billion. Meanwhile the Bank of Japan recorded 3.0% April rise in overall bank lending to US$ 4.53 trillion. The recent economic upturn has been felt on the Tokyo bourse, with the Nikkei 225 8.5% higher than its 14 April low, aided by a 4 point drop in the yen to 113 to US$ 1.

Despite the eurozone being in the best of economic health for a decade, there is a dichotomy between official employment figures and the real world. A study by the ECB indicates that unemployment in the bloc is higher than what has been recorded and that wage growth has been exceptionally weak. The ECB has indicated that inflation levels have to rise before it can cut back on its stimulus measures – and that means a marked improvement in wage growth is essential along with a significant tightening in the labour market.

The UK economy suffers from the same problem – the strongly performing labour market is not matched by robust wage growth. With only a 4.7% unemployment rate and a record high 74.6% employment level, wage growth should be higher, indicating that there is still slack in the market.

The US and other economies are also suffering from a considerable degree of labour market slack, driven by underemployment and hidden underemployment. The former refers to those who are working part-time but want a full-time position, whilst the latter are not working but would rejoin the work force if the remuneration made it worthwhile. Wage growth would improve if more full time better, paid jobs are made available, with an increasing number working 9 to 5.

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One Response to 9 to 5

  1. Peter Cooper says:

    Navigating an uncertain world! Stock market bubbles in the ‘advanced’ economies are the next problem but that would support oil prices with more liquidity… the worst of the UAE downturn is behind us…

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