To Take The Money And Run! 20 January 2023
The 2,704 real estate and properties transactions totalled US$ 3.54 billion, during the week, ending 20 January 2023. The sum of transactions was 235 plots, sold for US$ 308 million, and 1,944 apartments and villas, selling for US$ 1.20 billion. The top three transactions were all for land, the highest in Al Thanyah Fifth, sold for US$ 21 million, and the others for plots in Al Hebiah Fifth, for US$ 7 million, and Warsan Fourth for US$ 7 million. Al Hebiah Fifth recorded the most transactions, with 134 sales worth US$ 123 million, followed by Al Jadaf, with twenty-six sales transactions, worth US$ 37 million, and Jabal Ali First, with fourteen sales transactions, worth US$ 13 million. The top three transfers for apartments and villas were all for apartments – the first in Wadi Al Safa 5, at US$ 37 million, the next in Island 2 for US$ 10 million and In Al Wasl for US$ 10 million. The mortgaged properties for the week reached US$ 1.91 billion, whilst 104 properties were granted between first-degree relatives worth US$ 272 million.
According to Betterhomes, Dubai property prices are expected to grow in 2023 – but at the much lower pace of 5%, rather than the 11% and 21% witnessed in the prior two years; last year, over 60% more units, at 92k, were sold than in 2021, with sales of apartments, 73% higher and villas just 3%. The consultancy noted that rising rates and the strong dollar had been a factor in consumers’ ability to pay more for properties but that the rate hikes had been less felt because it is estimated that 70% of Dubai sale are for cash, whereas in other developed countries the rate can be as low as 20%. Betterhomes indicated that last year, their top non-resident buyers were Russians, accounting for 15% of transactions, followed by Britons, 12%, Indians, 11%, Italians 7% and French, 4%. Completing their top ten were buyers from Pakistan, Lebanon, China, the US/Canada and Kyrgyzstan. Among Dubai residents the top buying nations were from India, UK, Russia, Italy and Canada. Last year it appears that 34k units were added to Dubai’s property portfolio, with the same number expected in 2023. (The Real Estate Registration Department in Sharjah has revealed that real estate transactions in that emirate during 2022 touched a US$ 6.54 billion).
Last year, Dubai’s property sector had a record year with real estate transactions nearing US$ 144 billion, (AED 528 billion – the first time it had crossed the half a trillion dirham landmark), and 76.5% higher on the year. When it comes to volume, the 122.7k transactions posted last year was up 44.7% compared to 2021, with 80.2k investors registering 115.2k new real estate investments, valued at US$ 72.0 billion, equating to a 59.5% increase on the year. The number of investors in 2022 grew 53% compared to 2021. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed noted the sector’s “exceptional performance” will help achieve Dubai’s vision to be “one of the world’s top three cities”. Dubai’s Crown Prince reiterated that “the results also support the goal of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33 … to double the size of Dubai’s economy by 2033. The sector is a pillar of Dubai’s strategy for sustainable development and a vital driver of its 2024 Urban Master Plan”.
2022 was a record year for Dubai’s ultra-luxury property market sector, with 219 sales of homes, valued at US$ 10 million and over, with residences in the likes of Emirates Hills, Jumeirah Bay Island and The Palm Jumeirah witnessing average price hikes of 44%; one of the main drivers behind the staggering price rises has been the dearth of supply. Knight Frank noted that last year’s total sales equated to the total sales seen between 2010 and 2020; in 2010, there were only eleven such sales. The consultancy also confirmed that the country remains the second-most likely target — after the UK — for a home purchase this year by the region’s wealthy, and that Dubai also remains one of the world’s most affordable luxury home markets.
Meanwhile, Luxhabitat Sotheby’s International Realty reported that the emirate’s prime residential market registered US$ 8.35 billion of transactions in Q4 – 40% higher on the quarter; over that period over 9.8k units were sold with an average price of US$ 1.88 million. It noted that “this steep rise in prices is being driven primarily by interest in high-end branded residences, with some of the preferred prime areas such as Jumeirah Bay seeing investors willing to pay any price”. Knight Frank reported that villas on The Palm are the most expensive in Dubai, with average transaction prices at about US$ 886 per sq ft, with average 49.4% rate rises; it also reported 2022 villa price increases of 22% and 20% in Mohammed bin Rashid City and Dubai Hills Estate – and for apartments in Dubai Hills Estate and The Palm by 22% and 20%.
The Dubai Media Office confirmed that fifty-five property projects were completed in the emirate last year, and a combined value of US$ 3.24 billion, with the number 57% higher and the value up 8%, compared to 2021. It also noted that there are “350 real estate projects currently being developed, reinforcing Dubai’s status as one of the world’s leading real estate investment destinations.” Last year, 80.2k investors registered 115.1k new property investments valued at US$ 72.0 billion – with increases in both volume, at 59.5% and in value of 78.4% – as the number of investors increased by 53%, compared to 2021.The value of property transactions rose by 76.5% in line with the 44.7% jump in transactions to 122.7k. By year end, there were 140 developers and 13.0k property brokers registered with the DLD.
In 1960, Dubai had a population of just 20k which had grown 13.8 times to 276k by 1980; twenty years later, the population had more than trebled to 862k in 2000, with an almost quadrupling to 3.411 million by 2020. Last year, Dubai Media Office reported that by 2040 the population could top 5.8 million, equating to a mere 70% hike in numbers. To this observer, this figure seems to be very conservative, and the population could easily double by then. (Over the past sixty years, the urban and built area of the emirate has increased 170-fold from 3.2 sq km).
The following illustrates how numbers have changed over the years and that the occupancy rate per unit has nudged lower. The ratio of apartments to villas hovered just under 82:18, whilst the occupancy per unit has dipped to 4.60. The 2040 calculation uses the 82:18 ratio and Occupancy at 4.46. If the population were to rise to 5.8 million by 2040, over the nineteen-year period, that would indicate an extra 543.6k residential units needed, at an average annual rate of 28.6k units.
|Dubai Property||21 Jan 23|
This week, Saman Developers released its US$ 680 million plans for 2023 which includes twelve new projects including five-star hotels and around 2.4k housing units. The Dubai-based realtor expects a quadrupling of activity and has already lined up six projects with new concepts for H1 2023. Last year, it delivered the US$ 30 million Samana Hills project, and launched Samana Waves, Samana Miami and Samana Santorini projects – all of which were 100% sold out. The company was the first developer in Dubai to create and set the trend of private swimming pools in residential projects – in non-hotel projects with title deeds. In November 2022, it launched Samana Holidays, which almost doubled the investment returns of Samana homeowners from 8% to 15% and has targeted five hundred units to convert them into holiday homes (serviced apartments) for short-term rentals. The converted units are expected to generate over US$ 10 million in revenue in five months.
Dubai has retained its crown as the most popular destination in the world in a survey by TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards.; points are awarded based on the quality and quantity of reviews and ratings submitted by millions of worldwide travellers. This is just another award that supports the goal of the recently launched D33 Economic Agenda to consolidate Dubai’s status as one of the world’s top three destinations for tourism and business.
Just ahead of the new Lunar Year, Emirates announced that it would ramp up its operations to China, in response to strong travel demand and the easing of that country’s Covid restrictions. From today, the airline will resume passenger services to Shanghai, starting with two weekly flights operated by an Airbus A380, adding two more weekly flights on 02 February. In addition, it will increase services to Guangzhou, with daily non-stop flights from 01 February, and will start non-stop daily flights to Beijing from 15 March; by then, Emirates will be flying twenty-one times a week in and out of China.
The Ministry of Energy has indicated its target is to see the UAE in the top ten hydrogen-producing countries globally. Sharif Al Olama, speaking at the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, noted that the UAE had taken “great strides” in developing clean hydrogen technologies to reduce the cost of hydrogen, as a sustainable source of energy. He also noted that “we in the UAE aim to capture 25% of the low carbon hydrogen key markets and aspire to be one of the top ten hydrogen producing countries in the world within this decade.” French investment bank Natixis estimates that investment in hydrogen will exceed US$ 300 billion by 2030. It is reported that Siemens Energy is developing a US$ 14 million hydrogen pilot project with DEWA, aiming to demonstrate how hydrogen can be produced from solar power and how to store and re-electrify the clean fuel. The country’s target is to invest over US$ 163 billion, (to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050), in clean and renewable energy projects over the next three decades.
Although no other financial details were released, e& has increased its stake in UK’s Vodafone Group to 12% and now owns an “aggregate 3,272.3 million shares, representing 12% of Vodafone’s issued share capital, (excluding treasury shares)”. The country’s biggest telecom’s operator, formerly known as Etisalat, is seeking to diversify its international operations. Last May, it had acquired a 9.8% stake in the UK telco for US$ 4.4 billion and had increased its stake to 11% last month. E& has operations in sixteen countries across the Middle East, Asia and Africa, serving more than 156 million customers.
The DFM opened on Monday, 16 January 2023, 22 points (0.7%) higher on the previous week, gained 29 points (0.9%) to close on 3,353 by Friday 20 January. Emaar Properties, US$ 0.02 higher the previous week gained US$ 0.01 to close the week on US$ 1.60. DEWA, Emirates NBD, DIB and DFM started the previous week on US$ 0.63, US$ 3.50, US$ 1.53, and US$ 0.40 and closed on US$ 0.65, US$ 3.50, US$ 1.52 and US$ 0.40. On 20 January, trading was at 107 million shares, with a value of US$ 48 million, compared to 74 million shares, with a value of US$ 49 million, on 13 January 2023.
By Friday, 20 January 2023, Brent, US$ 6.68 (8.6%) higher the previous week, gained US$ 2.35 (2.8%) to close on US$ 87.63. Gold, US$ 120 (6.7%) higher the previous four weeks, rose a further US$ 5 (0.2%) to close, at 1,928, on Friday 20 January.
JP Morgan Chase confirmed a provision of US$ 1.4 billion in their accounts, set aside for the possibility of a mild recession, despite a strong Q4 performance of its trading unit and surpassing market forecasts. Its chief executive, Jamie Dimon, confirmed that there was more competition for deposits as higher rates that has resulted in customers migrating to investments and other cash alternatives, meaning the bank was “going to have to change saving rates”. The US biggest lender’s supremo noted that “we still do not know the ultimate effect of the headwinds coming from geopolitical tensions, including the war in Ukraine, the vulnerable state of energy and food supplies, persistent inflation … and the unprecedented quantitative tightening.”
Genesis, which earlier in the month posted that it was retrenching 30% of its staff, has filed for bankruptcy, having been hit by the collapse of another crypto firm, Three Arrows Capital, which went bankrupt last June, owing the cryptocurrency lender US$ 1.2 billion. The firm, part of the Digital Currency Group (DCG), a conglomerate of more than two hundred crypto-focused businesses, has also been charged by the SEC with illegally selling crypto assets to investors. The fall of Genesis is linked to that of FTX which went under last November amid allegations of fraud and is but the latest shock to rattle the crypto sector. It is also in dispute with Gemini over the fate of US$ 900 million in assets that Gemini customers deposited with the lender, but since November, some 340k of their clients have been unable to withdraw funds, when Genesis halted withdrawals because of the volatility in the crypto markets.
This week, Microsoft confirmed that, ahead of a possible recession, it would eliminate 10k positions, (less than 5% of its workforce), and take a US$ 1.2 billion hit from changes to its line-up of hardware products and from consolidating leases. The tech giant is the latest to slash its payroll, just two years after the onset of Covid saw such companies go on massive recruitment drives to satisfy the increased demand at that time. Chief Executive Satya Nadella indicated that customers wanted to “optimise their digital spend to do more with less” and “exercise caution as some parts of the world are in a recession and other parts are anticipating one.”
Continuing the redundancy trend endemic with tech giants, Google parent Alphabet is laying off 12k, (6.3%), of its nearly 190k employees, after a review across its product areas and functions. Its chief executive, Sundar Pichai, commented that “I take full responsibility for the decisions that led us here,” and that “we have undertaken a rigorous review across product areas and functions to ensure that our people and roles are aligned with our highest priorities as a company”. In line with its peers, the firm, after boosting hiring at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, has seen demand slowing, as interest rates rise and recession fears grow. At the start of 2023, Verily, a biotechnology unit of Alphabet, said it was cutting about 15% of its staff. Its market had fallen by over 30%, in the past twelve months, but jumped over 2.0% on the latest news, closing today on US$ 94.97. In Q3, Alphabet’s year on year profit declined 27.0% to US$ 13.9 billion, with a spend of US$ 10.3 billion on R&D, equating to 14.3% of the quarter’s total revenue – 34% higher compared to the same period on 2021.
Earlier in the month, Amazon reported that it would be laying of more than 6%, (18k), of its workforce, with the world’s biggest e-commerce company, warning of the repercussions from the continuing economic slowdown. Last November, Meta confirmed that the company would lay off 11k staff, equating to over 13% of the total payroll, amid declining revenue. A month earlier, Apple noted that it would be paused hiring for most jobs, excluding R&D. Hewlett Packard has already indicated that it would lay off as many as 6k staff over the next three years. Then, there are the shenanigans at Twitter which saw its staff numbers halved in November, following the arrival of its new owner, Elon Musk.
Although adding 8.9 million new subscribers in Q4, with total sales 2.0% higher at US$ 7.85 billion, Netflix posted a 90.6%, year on year, slump in quarterly profits to US$ 55 million. At the same time, Reed Hastings, the firm’s founder and executive chairman, confirmed he was stepping down saying that “going forward, I will be serving as executive chairman, a role that founders often take after they pass the CEO baton to others”. COO Greg Peters has been appointed Ted Sarandos’s co-chief executive and a member of the Netflix board. The news brought some light relief for its market value, with shares rising 6.4% on the day, to US$ 335.87, having had slumped 37% YTD. The Q4 forecast sees increases in both revenue and net income to US$8.17 billion and US$ 1.27 billion.
It is expected that struggling British Steel could be the beneficiary of a US$ 372 million government hand-out, following requests from Business Secretary Grant Shapps and Levelling-up Secretary Michael Gove. Any loan would be dependent on the company committing to securing jobs at the company and making additional substantial investments, with any money received to be spent on decarbonisation. Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy commented that it “recognises the vital role that steel plays within the UK economy, supporting local jobs and economic growth”, and was “committed to securing a sustainable and competitive future for the UK steel sector”. Three years ago, British Steel was bought out of insolvency by Jingye, which became its third owner in four years.
Marks & Spencer posted that because of a US$ 595 million revamp of many of its outlets, it expects to add a further 3.4k jobs to its headcount. This year, it also plans to open eight “full-line” stores in major cities, including Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham, with seven of them relocations, of which five will be former Debenham outlets. It will also open twelve new Simply Food outlets in 2023, and once completed, the changes will see a reduction overall in the number of M&S’s traditional shops, from 247 to 180 over the next five years, as the firm looks to expand its grocery trade. Its chief executive, Stuart Machin said the programme was about “making sure we have the right stores, in the right place, with the right space”. This latest announcement comes after the retailer posted a healthy festive season, with a 6.3% rise in like-for-like sales across its food halls in the thirteen weeks to 31 December as well as clothing and home store sales rising 8.6%.
M&S was one of several UK retailers which had a Happy Christmas, with latest sales data for the festive season also seeing apparently impressive returns from Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Next, DFS, Greggs and B&M. M&S reported like for like sales, in the three months to 31 December, 7.2% higher, driven by strong demand for clothing and home goods in both volume and value, and food sales up 6.3%. Tesco posted a 5.3% hike in like for like sales, in the nineteen weeks to 07 January – marginally below expectations but still robust in such trying economic times. However, the rise was down to goods being more expensive – due to the pace of price rises or inflation – as opposed to people buying more items. Sainsbury’s, which also owns Argos, reported same store sales 5.3% higher in the four months to 07 January, with walk-in sales at Argos rising strongly. Cold weather in December helped Next post a sales increase of 4.8% in the nine weeks to 30 December and was the main driver for the retailer to lift its full year profit forecast by 5.6% to US$ 1.06 billion. The furniture company, DFS indicated a 10.6% rise in H2 profits but warned that order numbers were softening ahead of the expected recession. B&M posted a 6.4% sales increase in what it refers to its “golden quarter” ending 24 December. Last on the list of “Christmas winners” comes Greggs, with the ubiquitous bakery chain seeing Q4 sales to 31 December jump 18.2%.
On the flip side, Asos said sales dipped 3% in the four months to 31 December, not helped by being “affected by disruption in the delivery market” during December when Royal Mail staged a number of strikes. Consequently, the on-line fashion retailer had to initiate earlier cut-off dates for Christmas and New Year deliveries. Halfords posted a profit warning, cutting its earlier full year profits forecast of US$ 80 million – US$ 93 million forecast to US$ 62 million – US$ 74 million. Two impacting factors were weaker customer demand and a dearth of skilled technicians.
Outbidding the likes of Disney Star, Sony and Zee among other broadcasters, Viacom 18’s US$ 117 million bid was enough to acquire the media rights of the women’s Indian Premier League T20 tournament for the next five years. The BCCI is keen to see the number of participating teams increase from its current number of three. In August last year, Disney Star won the rights to broadcast men’s and women’s International Cricket Council events through for the next five years, in a deal reported to be worth US$ 3 billion. Two months earlier Disney-owned DIS.N Star India retained the television broadcast rights to the men’s IPL for the same amount.
Siemens has signed a US$ 3.25 billion deal to deliver 1.2k electric freight locomotives, and to provide servicing for thirty-five years. The trains will be assembled in the Indian Railways Factory in Gujarat state over the next eleven years, with deliveries starting in Q1 2025. The German engineering company also noted that “these new locomotives…can replace between 500k to 800k trucks over their lifecycle.” It also confirmed that it was also looking at other train contracts in India, the world’s largest rail market, with twenty-four million passengers travelling daily on more than 22k trains.
After the Glazers, the current owners of the club, confirmed that they would be interested in a potential sale, chemical giant, INEOS, has formally entered the bidding process to buy Manchester United. Its founder, billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, a lifelong fan of the club had already expressed interest in buying the club last August and now it is official. INEOS has long been involved in sport, with the company acting as principal partners to eight-times Formula One champions Mercedes, owning the INEOS Grenadiers cycling team and serving as performance partner to the New Zealand rugby team. The energy giant also acquired French Ligue 1 club Nice in 2019 but failed last year in an attempt to buy Chelsea FC, which was subsequently acquired by US-based Clearlake Capital.
To say that the Glazer family are unpopular with the fans is more of an understatement. Troubles started almost straightaway with the family using loans, the majority of which were secured against the club’s assets and incurring annual interest payments of over US$ 74 million. The balance was financed via PIK loans and these payment in kind loans were later sold to hedge funds. The interest on the PIKs rolled up at 14.25% pa. Despite this, the Glazers did not pay down any of the PIK loans in the first five years they owned the club until after January 2010, the club carried out a successful US$ 618 million (GBP 500 million) bond issue, and by March 2010, the PIKs stood at around US$ 256 million. The PIKs were eventually paid off in November 2010 by unspecified means. It is reported that the family has received more than US$ 1.24 billion in dividends, during their ownership of the club, and that the last financials posted saw the club’s net debt 22.7% higher on the year to US$ 638 million
With many businesses passing on any inflation-driven costs onto customers, Japan’s inflation rate has jumped to a fresh forty-one-year high; the 4% level is double that of the BoJ’s 2.0% target. Whether the bankers decide to hike rates, in a bid to cut inflation, remains to be seen, but indicators show that rates are to move north this quarter. This week, the BOJ surprised investors by announcing that it would keep rates near zero, (despite the increasing cost of everything from food to fuel). Analysts seem to agree that “the BOJ will [eventually] end its negative interest rate policy”.
The Office for National Statistics noted that UK house prices and rents continued to rise, as late as November, whilst every man and his dog are predicting a slowdown. Private rental prices rose by 4.2% in the year to December – this is the highest increase recorded since records began seven years ago. UK property prices jumped 10.3% over the past twelve months, down on October’s 12.4% return. On a regional basis, there was a 10.9% annual increase in England, a 10.7% rise in Wales, a 5.5% jump in Scotland and 10.7% growth in Northern Ireland. The typical UK house price in November was US$ 365k, US$ 35k higher than a year earlier but down on October’s figure of US$ 367k.
India has confirmed that the Modi government is committed to boost investment in Sri Lanka, to help pull it from its worst economic crisis, (driven by shortage of foreign currency, surging inflation and a steep recession), since its 04 February 1948 independence. The troubled island nation can only secure a US$ 2.9 billion bailout from the IMF once it has its two biggest bilateral lenders’ backing, (China and India), who are owed US$ 7.4 billion and US$ 1 billion, to reach a final agreement. India has already confirmed to the IMF that it strongly supports Sri Lanka’s debt restructuring plan.
There are reports that the UAE is in early discussions with India to trade non-oil commodities in Indian rupees. The country is one of the Gulf state’s biggest trade partners with many of the related contracts currently in US$. India will not be the only nation looking to trade in their home currency, as the likes of China will be discussing similar terms.
The European Parliament is looking to lift the immunity of two more MEPs, Belgium’s Marc Tarabella and Italian, Andrea Cozzolino supposedly involved in the corruption scandal, known as Qatargate, which is besetting the legislative body. The former failed to declare a trip to Qatar in 2020, which the country paid for – a breach of European Parliament’s rules. The latter was the chair of the parliament’s delegation working with the Maghreb region, which includes Morocco – one of the countries allegedly offering politicians cash to influence decision-making in the EU – and he was also on the committee investigating the use of Pegasus spyware by third countries.
With US November consumer price inflation declining to 7.1% in November, whilst the eurozone equivalent figure remains in double digits at 10%, it seems that the ECB supremo, Christine Lagarde may have to eat a little humble pie; for a long time, she used to claim that the US Fed had a bigger inflation problem than the European Central Bank and now she has to admit that the eurozone may be in more trouble. Having declared a 0.5% rate hike last week, the fact is that US inflation is finally heading south, attributable to hefty rises in H2 2022 that saw borrowing costs jump to 4.5%. In contrast, the apparently dormant ECB only started raising their rates later, at an less aggressive level, with the bank’s chief indicating that there were “reasons to believe” price pressures in Europe would surge in early 2023. To the neutral observer, it is apparent that more rate hikes, (probably at least two rate hikes, totalling at least 1.0% in Q1) are on the horizon in the ECB’s belated attempt to tame European inflation and return to their long-standing 2% target.
Although he anticipates inflation will decline rapidly this year, (at a much faster rate than expected), BoE Governor Andrew Bailey indicated that he expected inflation likely to fall rapidly this year as energy prices decline, but that rates are expected to maintain their 4.5% level. However, the BoE supremo warned that a long, shallow recession was still on the cards and was worried that the many vacancies for jobs would mean employees are in a stronger bargaining position for wage rises, which could help push prices higher. Over the past three months to December, inflation has continued to head south having touched 11.1% in October, followed by 10.7%, and then 10.5% in December. Early next month, a 0.50% rate hike is inevitable, with the main interest rage rising to 4.0%, with it reaching its 4.5% peak rate by the end of Q3.
Often thought to be the most profitable banks in the world, the Australian Big Four – ANZ, CBA, NBA and Westpac – pulled in almost a staggering US$ 21 billion, (AUD 30 billion) profit last year. This comes at the same time that many of the banks’ customers are struggling with surging cost of living expenses and the fact that mortgage rates will continue to rise because of interest rates moving higher and as banks seek to recover their increased costs. However, with home values having seen their biggest decline in recent times, and the weakening of consumer spending, banks will have to be more careful when raising mortgage rates at a higher pace than the cash rate, or keep savings rates on hold, in order to finance their rising funding costs. It seems that at least nine non-bank lenders have already increased variable rates by more than the RBA’s 3% – cash rate rise since May 2022, due to their reliance on wholesale funding; these institutions do not have retail savings accounts and are wholly reliant on wholesale markets for their funding, putting them under pressure as rates have risen. Traditional banks have managed to build up savings balances and were also helped by the government’s TFF – a term funding facility, amounting to US$ 131 billion, (of which US$ 92 billion involve the Big Four), of three-year emergency loans from the RBA, at fixed rates as low as 0.1%, which is due to be repaid before 2024. It seems that Australian bankers continue To Take The Money And Run!