I Get Knocked Down But I Get Up Again!

On Sunday, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum launched the operation of 50 Tesla electric cars to be used by Dubai Taxi Corporation’s limousine fleet. This is the first batch of a 200-vehicle order which are fitted with several components for self-driving, in line with RTA’s target of making 25% of all taxi rides driverless by 2030.

The latest hotel in Emaar Hospitality Group’s portfolio will be the 202-key Address Harbour Point. The property is part of the developer’s 1.4 million sq ft twin tower project (of 65 and 53 storeys) in Dubai Creek Harbour that will also include Address Residences Harbour Point, along with a raft of retail and food outlets.

Bin Ghatti Developers already has 30 projects in Dubai which will add 6k residential units to the emirate’s portfolio. Currently, the company is planning a further US$ 817 million investment on 17 new projects in various locations, including Business Bay, Dubai Silicon Oasis and Dubailand.

Invest Group Overseas has forecast that its total investments will reach US$ 1.2 billion by 2020, including a US$ 245 million Dubai residential project due for launch later in the year.

Following the recent initiative by UK-based developer to accept Bitcoins for some units of their Aston Plaza and Residences in Dubai Science Park, fäm Properties has announced that it will accept the crypto currency for property rentals for a limited number of City Walk apartments.

Bloom Education expects that its contemporary institution, focusing on the Arabic language, arts and culture, will open in time for the 2018/2019 academic year. The centre, located in Barsha South, will see prominent Bahraini jeweler and artist, Rayyah Fathalla, as its first director. The 89k sq mt campus will also have two K-12 schools – one teaching the British curriculum and the other International Baccalaureate – and will have 4k students.

The 700 MW fourth phase of the world’s largest single-site concentrated solar power project has been won by a consortium of China’s Shanghai Electric and Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power. The US$ 3.9 billion award equates to US$ 0.073 per kilowatt hour and the project will be commissioned in stages starting from Q4 2020. It is forecast that the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park will generate 1k MW by 2020 expanding to 5k MW over the following decade.

A report by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry estimates that spending within the local tourism and travel sector, which accounts for 12.1% of the country’s GDP, will grow from 2016’s total of US$ 43.3 billion to US$ 56.0 billion by 2022. The main drivers behind this impressive growth are Expo 2020 and the numerous mega projects launched over the past year. One of the targets of Expo is to see the number of overseas visitors total 20 million which would be a 34.2% jump from last year’s figure of 14.9 million.

Abraaj Group and France’s Engie have agreed to develop a wind power platform in India, which could generate one gigawatt. This will go a little way to help the country reach its target of 175GW from renewables by 2022, 60GW of which would be from wind power (India already has wind power capacity of 32GW). The Dubai-based private equity firm, which manages over US$ 11 billion in assets, has two other Indian wind energy agreements – a 2015 deal with Aditya Birla Group and this year it became a majority shareholder in Jhimpir Power.

Dubai’s July annual inflation rate of just 1.0% is at its lowest level in over two years. During the month, there were declines in transport prices by 1.7%, whilst food and beverage remained flat but housing increased by 0.9%.

UAE’s new Excise Tax, which will commence on 01 October, will only be collected in e-dirham – the federal government’s e-payment platform, introduced in 2011; the prepaid cards are a means of payment for more than 5k government services. The government has introduced the “sin” tax – which will see a 100% levy on tobacco and energy drinks and  50% on sugary fizzy drinks – to discourage consumption of products that could be harmful to public health and the environment. In addition, it is expected to add an annual US$ 1.9 billion to government coffers.

Following a May directive from the Central Bank, advising financial institutions and advisors to resolve all mis-selling complaints within 90 days, it seems that the authorities are taking action. To date, over 100 complainants have had funds returned to them following the clampdown, with the Central Bank now having its own consumer protection division to deal directly with complaints.

The Central Bank has announced that medium and long term deposits, that make up 26.9% of the total deposits, have jumped 7.0% YTD to US$ 57.2 billion, compared to the same 7-month period in 2016. The main driver seems to be the Central Bank’s move to raise the deposit interest rate earlier in the year.

According to, HE Mubarak Rashid Al Mansouri, the country’s growth this year will be 3.1%, rising four notches to 3.5% in 2018. According to the Central Bank Governor, this has come about – despite low oil prices – from the economic diversification in the UAE.

It is expected that the expected 4.4% hike in the country’s trade next year, with both imports and exports on the increase, will prove a fillip for the logistics, warehousing and handling sectors. One location that looks to see further expansion is Jebel Ali Free Zone, already home to 328 logistics companies from 29 countries.

It is reported that Emaar Properties has obtained a US$ 1.5 billion corporate finance loan from First Abu Dhabi Bank. The company is also planning an IPO covering 30% of its UAE real estate development business in Q4.

As a 49% shareholder, DP World has announced that it would not be renewing its operating contract with PT Terminal Petikemas Surabaya which expires in 2019. The main reason for this withdrawal was that the Indonesian authorities had failed to meet the Dubai operator’s threshold for continued investment. The financial impact will be minimal as the port represents only 2.5 million TEUs (20’ containers) of DP World’s global figure of 85 million.

This week DP World also spent US$ 405 million when acquiring two local related shipping entities – Drydocks World (for US$ 225 million) and Maritime World, the owner of Dubai Maritime City. The former deal is subject to the successful completion of its debt restructuring process and both deals should be finalised by early next year.

Du is to pay a US$ 161 million interim dividend, with shareholders receiving US$ 0.035 per share.

DXB Entertainments has had a tough trading time exemplified by its Q2 results indicating that its losses had increased sevenfold from US$ 11 million to US$ 78 million on the back of a dip in quarterly revenue to US$ 33 million. This week, its major shareholder, Meraas, has given a US$ 67 million subordinated loan to repay certain debts and to fund ongoing operational expenses.

The DFM opened Sunday (17 September), at 3656 and fell 23 points (0.6%) to close the shortened week (because of the Islamic New Year) on Wednesday, 20 September at 3633. Volumes continued on the thin side, with trading of only 86 million shares, valued at US$ 44 million, (cf 108 million shares for US$ 56 million, on Thursday, 14 September). Emaar Properties was flat at US$ 2.40, with Arabtec down a further US$ 0.03 to US$ 0.80.

By Thursday, Brent Crude was US$ 1.94 (3.6%) higher on the week, closing at US$ 56.43, with gold continuing its recent downward trend, dropping a further US$ 38 to US$ 1,295 by 21 September 2017.

A memorandum of understanding was signed last week by Tata Steel and Thyssenkrupp to combine their European operations in a joint venture. The tie-up will see the formation of Europe’s second largest steelmaker with a combined turnover of US$ 18 billion but could result in over 4k retrenchments.

Following a 2005 US$ 7.5 billion leveraged buyout in which the company found itself  so much in debt going private, Toys ‘R’ Us has filed for bankruptcy – another indicator of the demise of  “brick and mortar” stores. The iconic toy retailer, founded in 1948 by Charles Lazarus, has secured a US$ 3 billion finance package as it tries to restructure by closing some stores and focusing more on expanding online business. Already this year, at least twelve major US retailers, including Gymboree, Payless and Perfumania, have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Norway’s sovereign wealth fund hit a major milestone this week when it topped US$ 1 trillion on the back of soaring global stock markets and a weaker dollar. It is still some way off Japan’s Government Pension investment Fund’s total of US$ 1.3 trillion. Interestingly, the Chief Executive, Yngve Slyngstad, has indicated that the fund will be cutting the portfolio’s 23 different currencies down to three – US$, GBP and the Euro – and it would not be considering entering any new different asset class such as infrastructure.

In a bid to attract global companies to its state, Wisconsin has approved the country’s largest ever incentive package – a US$ 3 billion subsidy for Foxconn. In return, the Taiwanese manufacturing conglomerate has pledged a US$ 10 billion new LCD panel factory and to employ up to 13k high quality workers. Whether it works remains to be seen but a recent study indicated that even under optimistic projections break even could take 25 years.

Foxconn (in a group with Western Digital, Toshiba’s US-based chip factory partner) is also involved in a bidding war for Toshiba’s memory chip business. Apple and Dell have combined to also try and acquire this lucrative division of the cash-stripped Japanese industrial conglomerate. However, it seems a third consortium, headed by Bain Capital, has been selected by Toshiba as the leading candidate for a deal worth more than US$ 18 billion.

Following hot on the heels of Bell Pottinger and McKinsey, KPMG becomes the third firm to feel the heat from the fall-out of the Gupta family in South Africa. It seems that chairman, Ahmed Jeffery, chief executive, Trevor Hoole, and five senior partners have left the firm because work for the Guptas “fell short of our standards”. KPMG will also donate the US$ 3 million it earned in fees from the family-controlled businesses to charity and refund almost US$ 2 million fee income earned in compiling a controversial report for the country’s tax authority.

There was a major landmark for Portugal’s economy as, after five years, S&P raised its rating from junk status to BBB-, the lowest investment grade mark, with a stable outlook. The agency cited that the country had made “solid progress” since receiving a US$ 93 billion bailout package in 2011. After years of recession, the country is well and truly on the recovery route, with growth of 2.5% expected this year.

The US Q2 current account deficit came in at US$ 123.1 billion – its highest level since 2008 – with the main culprit being a US$ 5.2 billion decline in income receipts from foreigners, mainly government penalties, along with dipping exports and falling income from overseas investments. Despite all the hullabaloo, critics must remember that the current 2.6% deficit amount to GDP is much lower than the 6% levels recorded in 2005. Latest data also show August import prices and export prices both up 0.6%.

Because of a fall in July exports (by 1.1%) and a 0.7% hike in imports, the euro area trade surplus fell US$ 3.7 billion to US$ 22.3 billion. On an annual basis, exports showed a 6.1% rise but imports grew at the faster rate of 8.2%.

Despite all the negative vibes emanating from the doom and gloom merchants, all is not lost for the UK economy. For example, August retail sales were 1.0% higher, month on month, and 2.4% up from a year ago; for the past 52 months, sales have risen. Although inflation reached 2.9% last month whilst wage levels for the three months to July were 0.4% lower in real terms, than the same period in 2016, there has been no brake on consumer spending. Indeed although food sales have remained flat, retail prices in non-food stores (up 3.2% year on year) and non-store retailing (3.3%) are at their highest levels in over 25 years.

Europe’s “3M” leaders – May, Merkel and Macron – all face a rocky weekend ahead. On Friday, Theresa May is set to give her third major speech in Florence on Brexit with the EU27 demanding money, promises on key article 50 points and clarity on the UK’s future trading relationship. The next day sees the Germans go to the polls and although there is little doubt that Angela Merkel will still be Chancellor, for the fourth time, her party seems set to lose ground to the far right. On Sunday, some 75k elected officials will vote in the French Senate elections and it will be interesting to see how many of the 348 seats go to President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party.

Whatever happens over the next three days, there will be a knock-on effect felt by the continent. For example, this will be felt in the currency market – if all goes well, the euro will move up, any shocks will see it go the other way; sterling has only one way to go. The bourses will show some movement and move in line with the euro. One thing is certain, come Monday, there will only be two of the leaders who can say I Get Knocked Down But I Get Up Again!

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