Heroes and Villains

Damac has announced that it sold 85% of its luxury Věra Residences’ units on 04 November, the opening day of sale. The 30-storey tower is located in Business Bay overlooking the Dubai Canal. Only last month, the developer sold out all residences for phase 1 of its Akoya Oxygen’s Just Cavalli Villas.

It also announced that it had started additional work in Akoya Oxygen, totalling US$ 95 million. Towers Technology Contracting was chosen as the main contractor for 448 villas, whilst Nael Construction and Contracting will carry out roads and infrastructure work for phase 6 of the development.

With construction stalled and the property being 90% complete, Langham Hospitality Group is still confident that the luxury hotel on Palm Jumeirah will be completed. The 323-key building was initially scheduled for completion in 2015.

Dubai tourist numbers for the first nine months of the year have risen 7.5% to 11.6 million, with India (1.45 million), Saudi Arabia (1.25 million) and the UK (905k) holding on to the top three source markets. Largely because of the introduction of the visa on arrival scheme, there were marked increases in visitors from Russia (up 95%) and China (up 49% to 573k). At this rate, an annual 9% increase in numbers will see Dubai breach its 20 million target by October 2020 – a viable figure even without the attraction of Expo. Euromonitor International ranks Dubai the sixth most visited global destination behind Hong Kong (26.6 million visitors), Bangkok, London, Singapore and Macau.

Emirates posted a 111% surge in H1 net profit to US$ 453 million, with passenger numbers rising 4% to 29.2 million and capacity by 2% to 264 aircraft. The owner of the airline, Emirates Group, reported a 77% improvement in profit to US$ 631 million, as revenue came in 6.2% higher at US$ 13.5 billion. Dnata posted a 20.0% hike in profits to US$ 180 million, handling 330k aircraft (up 11%) and a 25% increase in cargo to 1.5 million tonnes. During the period, the airline signed a code share agreement with flydubai involving 45 destinations and also extended its partnership with Qantas for a further five years.

As the Dubai Air Show opens this Sunday, there is every chance that Airbus will receive a new order for the A380 jumbo from its lead customer. Having just taken delivery of its 100th double-decker airliner, Emirates already has a further 42 on order and accounts for 44.8% of the total A380 net orders of only 317 units (with a list price of US$ 437 million). With Airbus cutting annual production to just eight aircraft, the long term prospects for the plane seem gloomy, especially if there is no order forthcoming from its lead customer this week.

The federal cabinet has approved the country’s 2018-2021 budgets, totalling US$ 54.8 billion, including US$ 14.0 billion for next year. The two main sectors, accounting for 80.0% of the total spend, will be ‎social development/benefits (US$ 7.2 billion) – comprising US$ 2.8 billion allocated to education and US$ 1.2 billion to health – and government affairs (US$ 6.0 billion). No deficit is forecast, as the government aims to balance the books.

In tandem with its development of the Port of Berbera, DP World is to establish a 12.2 sq km greenfield economic free zone in Somaliland. The Dubai-based company will develop the new facility, based on its home Jebel Ali Free Zone, in phases, with the first one covering 4 sq km. Further details, including DP World’s capital investment plan, will be announced once the agreement is signed with the new government, following next week’s elections.

The world’s fourth largest ports operator is also planning to develop a 95 sq km industrial and residential zone in Egypt’s Sokhna on the Red Sea. No figures were readily available but it will hold a 49% stake in the project with the Suez Canal Economic Authority retaining 51%.

As the Dubai Air Show opens this Sunday, there is every chance that Airbus will receive a new order for the A380 jumbo from its lead customer. Having just taken delivery of its 100th double-decker airliner, Emirates already has a further 42 on order and accounts for 44.8% of the total A380 net orders of only 317 units (with a list price of US$ 437 million). With Airbus cutting annual production to just eight aircraft, the long term prospects for the plane seem gloomy, especially if there is no order forthcoming from its lead customer this week.

The US-based Fetchr, along with drone delivery firm Skycart, are developing the region’s first autonomous drone delivery service with Dubai’s Eniverse. Using the latest geolocation technology, packages of less than 5kg can be delivered all over the emirate.

The Emirates NBD October UAE Purchasing Managers’ Index increased by 0.8 to 55.9 on the back of rising output and a surge in inventory levels, with the expectation of a marked upturn in demand. However, there are still concerns about rising costs and the prevalent use of discounting to secure business, although there was a welcome increase in new business.

A US$ 500 million APICORP sukuk brought the number of 2017 sukuks on Nasdaq Dubai to eleven, with a value of US$ 10.25 billion; this is the second issue by the multilateral development bank under a 2015 US$ 3 billion sukuk programme. Dubai has become a global leader in this financial sector and its listings currently total US$ 53 billion.

Amlak Finance reported a 111.5% hike in Q3 profits to US$ 4 million but were lower for the first nine month, down 68.5% to US$ 8 million, as revenues of properties under construction dipped 90.4% to just US$ 10 million.

Arabtec Holding posted its Q3 results that have seen revenue up 5.7% to US$ 572 million (and 3.2% to US$ 1.7 billion for the nine months to September) as the construction company returned to profit; in Q3, this came to US$ 15 million, compared to a US$ 61 million deficit last year and a US$ 14 million YTD surplus following a US$ 143 million loss in 2016.

Emaar Malls reported an 11.5% hike in Q3 profit to US$ 132 million, as revenue rose by 13.2% to US$ 239 million. In August, it bought online retailer Namshi for US$ 151 million and this has benefitted the company, with its Q3 revenue was 39.0% higher at US$ 53 million. Footfall for the first nine months of the year was 5% higher at 95 million visitors.

Amanat Holdings recorded a 15.2% improvement in Q3 profit to US$ 4 million on a 42.8% rise in total income to US$ 6 million. The Dubai-listed healthcare and education company is expected to spend US$ 272 million this year on at least two deals.

Aramex posted a 13.0% increase in Q3 profits to US$ 22 million with revenue 9.0% higher at US$ 312 million, driven by global e-commerce growth across all geographical sectors. The international logistics and transportation company would have reported a higher double digit profit growth if it were not for currency fluctuations, especially the Egyptian pound.

In 2016, SHUAA Capital posted a US$ 10 million Q3 loss but over the past year has managed to turn things around to record a 2017 quarterly profit of US$ 6 million; for the first nine months of 2017, profits were at US$ 16 million, compared to a US$ 31 million deficit in the same period last year.

Although the Commercial Bank International posted a 4.0% increase in Q3 profit to US$ 9 million, there was a 15% decline for the nine months to US$ 23 million, driven by higher impairment charges; net interest income in Q3 was 13.0% higher at US$ 40 million. There were improvements in both net loans/advances (up 2% to US$ 3.7 billion) and customer deposits by 10% to US$ 3.9 billion.

The DFM opened Sunday (05 November), at 3622 and by the end of the week had lost 172 points (4.7%) to close on Thursday, 09 November, at 3450. Volumes were higher this week, with trading of 242 million shares, valued at US$ 133 million, (cf 126 million shares for US$ 58 million, on Thursday, 02 November). Emaar Properties dropped US$ 0.13 to US$ 2.13, with Arabtec falling US$ 0.06 to US$ 0.74.

By Thursday, Brent Crude was US$ 4.34 (7.3%) higher on the week, closing at US$ 63.49, with gold US$ 17 higher to US$ 1,285 by 09 November 2017.

The latest leak of a reported 13.4 million confidential financial documents indicates how some secretly invest in offshore tax havens. Last year, it was the Panama Papers that hit the headlines, now the Paradise Papers are set to cause at least embarrassment to a range of high-net-worth individuals including HM Queen Elizabeth, Donald Trump’s Commerce Secretary, Lord Ashcroft, Bono, Lewis Hamilton, a key aide of Canada’s PM (Justin Trudeau) and Russian oligarch, Alisher Usmanov.

According to the leaked documents, Apple, in 2015, moved much of its offshore cash from Ireland to Jersey to “ensure that tax obligations and payments to the US were not reduced”. This followed the tech company making corporate changes to adapt to the tightening of Irish tax legislation.

Reports from Saudi Arabia indicate that the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, having set up a new anti-corruption body, has undertaken a major purge of the kingdom’s political and business leadership. It appears that eleven princes, including Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, four sitting ministers and dozens of ex-ministers have been detained.

On Tuesday, shares in Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s Kingdom Holding Company fell 9.78% on the Tadawul to US$ 2.16 – its lowest level since December 2011. According to Bloomberg, the Saudi prince lost 6.9% of his wealth, to be worth only US$ 17.7 billion, within 48 hours of the shock announcement.

There is no doubt that President Trump is keen to see the New York Stock Exchange as the chosen international bourse for the upcoming Aramco IPO, due to take place in Q3 next year. With only 5% of the conglomerate being floated, it is expected that the Saudi government’s coffers will be enhanced by up to US$ 100 billion.

Following BP’s impressive results last week, Royal Dutch Shell has announced that Q3 profits jumped 47% on the back of higher production and recent rises in energy prices. However, current cost of supplies rose 155% to US$ 3.7 billion, resulting from one-off costs last year.

The world’s second largest car-maker reported an impressive 13.2% hike in H1 profits to US$ 9.4 billion, as revenue rose 8.6% to US$ 124.7 billion, driven by a weaker yen and a major cost-cutting exercise. Toyota has now upped its full year (March 2018) profit forecast to US$ 17.1 billion.

Meanwhile, Japan’s second largest vehicle company, Nissan has cut its full year profit forecast by 5.9%, to US$ 5.7 billion, because of a safety inspection scandal which saw a 1.2 million car recall only last month and a three-week factory shutdown; this was as a result of revelations that uncertified workers had been carrying out final vehicle inspection checks for decades. Earlier, the company had posted a 21.6% decline in Q3 operating profits to US$ 1.1 billion, as North American sales sank to a three-year low.

SoftBank kept the markets happy with a US$ 3.5 billion Q3 profit, that was some 23% higher than analysts’ expectations, with revenue topping US$ 19.7 billion. The Japanese company reported that its US unit, Sprint, already struggling with subscriber losses, will be looking for a new direction now that its merger talks with T-Mobile US have broken down.

In a move that surprised the market, Broadcom Ltd has made a US$ 100 billion offer for Qualcomm Inc that would make the new entity the third largest global chipmaker, behind Intel Corp and Samsung Electronics Co. The deal – the largest ever in the tech industry – would see Broadcom’s revenue surge by US$ 30 billion and expand its network in chips that connect handsets to wireless networks to its existing expertise in chips that link devices to Wi-Fi networks.

When he first came to power in 2014, President Joko Widodo set a 7% annual growth target but he has fallen short over the past three years, posting figures around the 5% mark. The largest regional economy in SE Asia, Indonesia posted a 5.06% annualised growth in Q3, (on the back of communications, information and services sectors), with exports climbing 17.3%, year on year. To further boost the economy, a series of economic stimulus packages have been introduced and interest rates cut, now at 4.5%.

It has not been the best twelve months for Prime Minister Narendra Modi after his announcement of India’s biggest-ever cash ban exactly a year ago, cancelling 86% of the currency in circulation. His attempt to rid India of corruption, fake rupees and black money, in one fell swoop, has largely failed. However, his biggest problem is that the promising economic growth prospects, that were forecast to be in the 7% region, have stalled. Indeed, GDP growth has declined linearly over the past six quarters from a 9.2% high in Q3 2016 to the current 5.7%.

China’s financial system is becoming significantly more vulnerable due to high leverage, according to central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan, who has made a series of blunt warnings in recent weeks about debt levels in the world’s second-largest economy. There is no doubt that the authorities are becoming increasingly concerned about the country’s high borrowing levels and that tougher regulations will be introduced. Furthermore, there could be a relaxation of capital controls that will allow non-Chinese financial institutions to operate on the mainland.

US October employment figures posted an additional 261k jobs that helped to drive the jobless rate down to 4.1% – the lowest rate since the turn of the century. The main drivers were marked increases in the manufacturing as well as the professional and business services. However, wage growth was slower than expected and the increasing hiring expected, following the major hurricane season, did not materialise. With consumer credit surging US$ 20.8 billion in September and expanding at an annual 6.6%, there will be worries of a growing debt problem in the country.

On Thursday, the US and Chinese Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping signed deals worth US$ 250 billion, as it was reported that total bilateral trade totalled US$ 648 billion in 2016. However, Donald Trump is far from happy about the US$ 310 billion trade imbalance and has blamed his predecessors for allowing it whilst praising and crediting Jin Ping for looking after his citizen’s welfare. It is becoming more difficult these days to choose between the Heroes and Villains.

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