Signed Sealed and Delivered 10 February 2023
The 2,785 real estate and properties transactions totalled US$ 2.81 billion, during the week, ending 10 February 2023. The sum of transactions was 311 plots, sold for US$ 545 million, and 1,999 apartments and villas, selling for US$ 1.25 billion. The top three transactions were for land, the highest in Wadi Al Safa 2, selling for US$ 21 million, followed by a plot in Umm Suqaim Second, worth US$ 15 million and the other in Palm Jumeirah, for US$ 14 million. Al Hebiah Fifth recorded the most transactions, with 130 sales worth US$ 109 million, followed by Al Yufrah 1, with fifty-one sales transactions, worth US$ 82 million, and Jabal Ali First, with twenty-three sales transactions, worth US$ 34 million. The top three transfers for apartments and villas were a US$ 50 million villa in Palm Jumeirah, followed by two apartments, one in Business Bay for US$ 43 million and the other in Al Wasl for US$ 32 million. The mortgaged properties for the week reached US$ 948 million, whilst eighty-eight properties were granted between first-degree relatives worth US$ 80 million.
Imtiaz Developments has completed the ground-breaking works of Westwood Grande by Imtiaz, located in Jumeirah Village Circle; the project comprises fourteen residential floors and retail space, with prices for fully furnished studio and one-bedroom apartments starting at US$ 133k, along with an attractive payment plan. This follows its success of Westwood by Imtiaz in Al Furjan. The developer has a further four projects planned in JVC, along with six more in other Dubai locations.
All hospitality indicators continued to post returns confirming the sector’s robust recovery post-Covid and the cost-of-living crisis. 2022 average occupancy for the hotel sector came in 6% higher on the year at 73%, one of the highest returns in the world; it is only 4% short of the pre-pandemic period of 2019, even though there has been a 16.2% increase in room supply, to 146.5k rooms, since 2019, with the number of hotel establishments up 8.5% to 804. There were marked increases in other key metrics including Occupied Room Nights, up 31.37% to 37.43 million, and 16.6% higher seen in pre-pandemic 2019. Meanwhile Average Daily Rates topped US$ 146, 18.8% higher on the year, and 29.1% up on 2019; RevPar posted a significant US$ 106+ – up 29.9% on the year and 25.3% compared to 2019.
The Jumeirah Group, launched in 1997 and part of the Dubai Holding since 2004, currently operates a 6.5k-key portfolio of twenty-six luxury properties across the ME, Europe and Asia, with its flagship property being the Burj Al Arab; last year, in line with its strategy to expand into the luxury serviced residences segment, it unveiled its fourth branded residence in Dubai – also part of its new Peninsula waterfront development. This week, it announced that it had acquired Geneva’s 1875 Le Richemond hotel, with eighty-seven rooms and twenty-two suites. This purchase becomes the Group’s fifth European property which includes the Carlton Tower Jumeirah, and Jumeirah Lowndes Hotel in London, the Capri Palace Jumeirah in Italy and Jumeirah Port Soller Hotel & Spa in Mallorca, Spain.
Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism reported that there was a 97.3 % surge in in international overnight visitors last year to 14.36 million. In pre-Covid 2019, that figure stood at 16.73 million – down 14.2 % – but well ahead of the UN’s World Tourism Organisation estimate that 2022 global tourist travel in 2022 was 37% lower. (The ME regions saw the strongest relative increase, with arrivals climbing to 83% of pre-pandemic numbers). It is estimated that Dubai was the world’s most visited and re-visited destination, and that the emirate has emerged as a clear leader in the global tourism industry. The main markets continued to be Western Europe and GCC regions – each accounting for 21% of arrivals – followed by South Asia, MEMA, the Americas, North Asia, SE Asia, Africa and Australasia, with shares of 17%, 12%, 7%, 5%, 5%, 5% and 2%.
Dubai’s seasonally adjusted S&P Global PMI in January remained in positive territory but softened 0.7 on the month to 55.2 – still way ahead of the 50.0 threshold that distinguishes expansion from contraction; improvements were noted in consumer demand and with employment, but the pace of growth was the lowest in twelve months The strong improvement has been witnessed in most sectors, with “robust expansions in both output and new orders”. The rate of new order growth remained “marked overall”, boosted by the strongest increase in new work at construction companies, which rose to a three-and-half-year high, whilst strong demand resulted in higher customer orders and increased advanced bookings, as new projects commenced. Delivery times improved at the strongest rate since the end of 2019, while overall input costs were largely unchanged following a slight drop in December. There was no surprise to see employment numbers heading north again, as companies took on more staff to meet with the increased demand, especially noticeable in the tourism and hospitality sector. These figures are even more remarkable when compared to other nations struggling because of headwinds facing the global economy at large.
At Monday’s Cabinet meeting, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid announced that the country’s 2022 foreign trade rose 17.0%, on the year, and topped the US$ 600 trillion (AED 2.2 trillion) mark for the first time. The meeting also approved several other initiatives, including the establishment of a National Space Fund which will be established to support the implementation of ambitious projects in the field of space; it will be managed by the UAE Space Agency. The Cabinet approved the National Policy for IoT security, the National Programme for Cybersecurity Accreditation and the National Policy for Cloud Security, as well as the National Framework for Sustainable Development, which aims to preserve ecosystems and ensure the sustainability of the country’s natural resources. It also adopted a decision on updating the “Made in the UAE” unified national mark ecosystem, to support national products. The meeting approved the establishment of embassies in four countries – Denmark, Czech Republic, Finland and Mongolia – and also several international agreements with a number of friendly countries, including Lithuania, the Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Poland, Russia and Israel.
In a study by Redcap, Dubai was placed first in the region and second globally as a cryptocurrency hub, beaten by London which was placed as the leading crypto hub in the world, thanks to its strong financial infrastructure and thriving start-up ecosystem. Kuwait was the only other ME country to make the top twenty list which included the likes of New York, Singapore, Los Angeles, Zug, Hong Kong, Paris, Vancouver and Bangkok, making up the other eight positions. The study looks at several key points including quality-of-life score, crypto-specific events, people working in crypto-related jobs, crypto companies, R&D spending as a percentage of GDP, number of crypto ATMs, capital gains tax rate, and ownership of crypto.
It is reported that GMG has acquired aswaaq LLC, including its companies operating in retail, trading, and properties, from the Investment Corporation of Dubai. GMG, a global well-being company retailing, distributing, and manufacturing a portfolio of leading international and home-grown brands across sport, food and health sectors, announced that this deal adds a total of eleven community malls and twenty-two supermarkets to GMG’s rapidly expanding retail network. Last April, it purchased Géant operations in the UAE from Urban Foods by Dubai Holding, which then added eighteen hypermarket and supermarkets to its portfolio. Currently, GMG employs 8.7k people and this move will see an additional 10% added to its payroll.
Last year, DP World Limited handled 79 million 20’ equivalent units, with gross container volumes increasing by 1.4% on the year on a reported basis and up 2.8% on a like-for-like basis; its flagship base, Jebel Ali managed 14.0 million TEUs in 2022 – up 1.7% year-on-year – as its high-margin origin and destination cargo grew by 8.6%. In Q4, this figure was at 19.5 million TEUs – a 2.4% hike on a like-for-like basis. Growth was driven by Asia Pacific, the Americas and Australia regions.
DP World has announced another foray into the sporting world by becoming an Official Partner of the McLaren Formula 1 Team from 2023, with the aim of making the F1 team’s supply chain faster, smarter, and more sustainable. The Dubai conglomerate, one of the leading providers of worldwide smart end-to-end supply chain logistics, will also become the lead partner of McLaren APEX, McLaren’s off-track business-to-business event programme. DP World’s smart logistics solutions will bridge McLaren’s global and complex supplier network, to support the ongoing development process and on-track performance gains. The partnership will also form an essential part of its business growth plans in the automotive, technology and energy sectors. From the 2023 F1 season, DP World branding will feature on the 2023 McLaren F1 cars and the overalls of McLaren F1 Drivers, Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri.
Dubai Electricity and Water Authority is set to become the first utility provider in the world – and the first UAE government entity – to use ChatGPT, supported by Microsoft; the services will be supported by Moro Hub, a subsidiary of Digital DEWA, with the aim of providing services supported by this technology and employing it in serving customers and employees.
Dewa posted a 25.0% annual jump in Q4 net profit to US$ 409 million, as revenue grew 14.0% to US$ 1.83 billion on the back of Dubai’s increased demand for electricity and water. For the whole year, revenue and net profit both moved higher – by 15.0% to US$ 7.47 billion and 22.0% to US$ 2.18 billion. Last year proved to be a record year for the utility measured by both financial performance and growth. Its MD, Saeed Al Tayer, has kept his shareholders happy confirming “for the year 2022, Dewa had promised to pay AED 6.2 billion (US$ 1.69 billion) in dividends. Instead, Dewa intends to pay AED 9.9 billion (US$ 2.87 billion) in dividends to its shareholders”. Last year, demand for power reached 53.2 terawatt hours (TWh), an annual jump of about 5.6% – and for water 136.9 billion imperial gallons, 6.5% higher on the year. It also added 51.1k new customers last year, up nearly 4.6%.
Today, TECOM announced double-digit growth in its 2022 revenue and profit figures – up 12.0% to US$ 537 million and by a record 28.0% to US$ 198 million, driven by strong consumer demand, a buoyant local economy and increased business and consumer confidence. Its EBITDA margin came in 2% higher to 68%, attributable to improved revenue quality from all its different business segments and enhanced operating expenses management. Following an initial interim dividend of US$ 54 million, (AED 200 million), last November, and in line with the company’s declared policy, the Group has decided to award a further US$ 44 million dividend, “following our exceptional FY 2022 performance”. Its chairman, Malek Al Malek also confirmed that “we remain committed to distributing a total dividend of US$ 218 million, (AED 800 million) per annum in our first three years of being a listed company.” As at year-end, Tecom reported an 8.0% rise in occupancy to 86%, with the number of companies 22% higher at 9.5k, and the value of its investment property portfolio 9.7% to the good, at US$ 5.80 billion.
Salik announced a 12.0% hike in 2022 revenue, to US$ 514 million, driven by higher growth in traffic, whilst net profit dipped 4.0% to US$ 360 million; total assets grew about 17 times to US$ 1.44 billion on the year. The emirate’s toll road operator posted a 12.6% increase in revenue-generating trips to 413 million though Salik toll gates. Prior to its September US$ 1.02 billion IPO, (which was forty-nine times oversubscribed), the RTA made Salik a separate legal entity with a forty-nine-year concession agreement. The government still has a 75.1% stake in Salik, with the UAE Strategic Investment Fund, Dubai Holding, Shamal Holding and the Abu Dhabi Pension Fund cornerstone investors in the IPO, with a total commitment of US$ 165 million.
Dubai Aerospace Enterprise posted a 2022 loss of US$ 279 million, mainly attributable to its US$ 538 million exposure to the Russian aviation sector – a year earlier, it had posted a US$ 150 million profit. However, the profit, before this write-off, stood at US$ 259 million – up 37.0% on the year – with revenue dipping 8.1% to $1.14 billion, driven by a decline in leasing income. Cash flow from operating activities increased by 12.0% to US$ 1.28 billion. The company, one of the global leaders in plane leasing, “lost” nineteen aircraft after Russia invaded Ukraine and commented that it “has no way” to determine whether the aircraft it had leased would be returned in the future. It did note that it had insurance cover for the aircraft and had filed “insurance claims and a litigation claim to recover amounts due under the policies”.
Commercial Bank of Dubai posted a 25.8% increase in posting a record net profit of US$ 497 million last year, with operating income 19.8% higher at US$ 1.04 billion, driven by higher net interest income and improved fee and commission income; operating profit climbed 21.5% to US$ 767 million. The bank’s operating expenses amounted to US$ 272 million, attributable to investments in digitisation, business growth, risk management and governance, whilst the net impairment charge totalled US$ 270 million. There was a 1.6% increase in total assets to US$ 31.6 billion, whilst decreases were noted in net loans and advances, down 2.4% to US$ 20.3 billion, and customers’ deposits 2.0% lower were at US$ 22.1 billion.
The DFM opened on Monday, 06 February 2023, 54 points (1.6%) higher on the previous week, gained 74 points (2.2%) to close on 3,457 by Friday 10 February. Emaar Properties, US$ 0.09 lower the previous fortnight, gained US$ 0.06 to close the week on US$ 1.57. DEWA, Emirates NBD, DIB and DFM started the previous week on US$ 0.64, US$ 3.68, US$ 1.52, and US$ 0.39 and closed on US$ 0.66, US$ 3.75, US$ 1.55 and US$ 0.39. On 10 February, trading was at 123 million shares, with a value of US$ 85 million, compared to 80 million shares, with a value of US$ 61 million, on 03 February 2023.
By Friday, 10 February 2023, Brent, US$ 6.72 (7.8%) lower the previous week, dipped US$ 0.27 to (0.3%) to close on US$ 86.39. Gold, US$ 68 (3.5%) lower the previous week, nudged US$ 2 (0.1%) lower to close, at 1,876, on Friday 10 February.
Taking effect this week, the G7 nations, the EU and Australia have set price caps for Russian diesel and other refined petroleum products to keep markets supplied while limiting Moscow’s revenues. The agreement sees price caps at US$ 100 per barrel on products that trade at a premium to crude, principally diesel, and US$ 45 per barrel for products that trade at a discount, such as fuel oil and naphtha. This comes after a crude price cap of US$ 60 per barrel was set by the bloc on 05 December.
After last week’s announcement that Shell had posted a record 2022 profit of US$ 40.0 billion, beating its previous record of US$ 28.4 billion in 2008, this week it was BP’s turn. Driven by continuing high energy prices, it returned a record US$ 28.0 billion 2022 profit, with its underlying replacement cost profit, the company’s definition of net income, surging to US$ 27.65 billion, 115.7% higher on the year. The petro-giant raised its dividend by 10% to US$ 0.066 and announced another share buyback of US$ 2.75 billion. It also plans to add a further US$ 1.0 billion a year, up to 2030, to investment in “high quality” oil and gas projects. It expects to retain some oil and gas assets “longer than previously envisaged” due to improving commercial conditions over the past four years. Global Justice Now estimates that “the Big 5 oil companies handed well over US$ 100 billion to wealthy shareholders last year. They are cash machines for the rich.” The UK has increased the Energy Profits Levy on oil and gas companies by 10% to 35%, taking the total tax on the sector to 75%.
So that it can pour more money and resources into engineering and manufacturing, Boeing plans to scrap 2k jobs in finance and human resources this year and will outsource about 33% of these positions to India’s Tata Consulting Services. It did confirm that it would be strengthening its payroll numbers this year, by a further 10k, (compared to the 15k new starters in 2022), “with a focus on engineering and manufacturing”. It has been a turbulent few years for the plane maker, with the two fatal 737Max fatal crashes and design problems with the 777X.
Alphabet has had a week to forget when it lost US$ 100 billion, equating to 9%, in market cap as it introduced its new chatbot Bard, which shared inaccurate information in a promotional video – not the best way to launch a new product. Furthermore, Google’s live-streamed presentation on Wednesday failed to include any details about how and when Bard would be integrated into the company’s core search function, whereas rival Microsoft held an event showcasing its newly released Bing search with ChatGPT functions integrated.
Joining the long lines of tech giants that have recently slashed payroll numbers, Dell Technologies Inc announced the elimination of 6.6k jobs, equating to 5% of its global workforce. Like its peers, the company is being impacted by falling demand for its personal computers as it notes that market conditions “continue to erode with an uncertain future.” Not only has there been a fall in demand, and a declining revenue stream, it has seen costs driven higher by rising interest rates and marked increases in its cost structure.
Yahoo also announced big 20% cuts to their work force which will see nearly 1.8k employees made redundant. A reorganisation of its advertising unit will be the worst hit unit, with half of its workers let go by year-end, and 1k out of a job within seven days. Like its peers, it is struggling with a marked downturn in demand, rising interest rates, (which are still going higher), and soaring inflation, (which is showing signs of heading south). The tech company noted that, “these decisions are never easy, but we believe these changes will simplify and strengthen our advertising business for the long run, while enabling Yahoo to deliver better value to our customers and partners”.
This week, Zoom joined this long list of tech giant which have been slashing payroll costs. The video conferencing company is laying off 1.3k employees, equating to 15% of staff numbers. This comes at a time as the entire technology industry tries to bring some sort of equilibrium to staff numbers after an over-exuberant hiring spree seen during the early months of Covid; over a twenty-four-month period, Zoom has managed to triple its size. In the past twelve months, its share value has fallen 41%, but is up 27% YTD including jumping 10.0% on Tuesday, following the news.
Disney also joined the queue in flipping its staff, cutting 7k jobs – equating to 3.6% of its total workforce – as part of an effort to save US$ 5.5 billion in costs and to make its streaming business profitable. The cost cuts will comprise US$ 2.5 billion in sales/general administrative expenses and other operating costs, along with US3.0 billion in savings from reductions in non-sports content, including the layoffs. The main drivers behind these measures are slowing subscriber growth and increased competition for streaming viewers. Under the plan to cut costs, and return power to creative executives, the company will restructure into three segments – an entertainment unit that encompasses film, television and streaming, a sports-focused ESPN unit, and Disney parks, experiences and products. The media company reported its first quarterly decrease in subscriptions for its Disney+ streaming media unit, which lost more than US$ 1 billion. Q4 revenue and net income reached US$23.51 billion and US$ 1.28 billion.
Adidas has issued its fourth – and most probably its most damming – profit warning, since July, on the losses it could incur, following its decision to cut ties with the rapper and fashion designer Kanye West, now known as Ye, in November. The figure could run as high as US$ 700 million if the German fashion brand actually scrap its remaining stock of Yeezy sneakers; of that total, US$ 535 million of profits could be ditched if it were to dispose of its remaining Yeezy stock, and with a business shake-up, following this termination, to cost a further US$ 215 million, potentially pushing the company to an operating loss of US$ 750 million this year. In 2022, Adidas posted a 67% slump in profit to US$ 715 million, not helped by the war in Ukraine and the close down of most of its Chinese market; on the news, there was a 9.0% decline in its US-traded shares.
Somebody who doesn’t like Mondays must be billionaire Indian businessman Gautam Adani whose Adani Group saw its market cap fall by a further US$ 6.00 billion on the day. The Group has managed to lose nearly US$ 140 billion in its share value, over an eight-day trading period, following a damaging report by Hindenburg Research on 24 January.
This week, AstraZeneca, with its HQ in Cambridge and plants in England, has decided to build its new US$ 380 million factory in Dublin, much to the disappointment of many including Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt. It appears that the drugs giant, the country’s biggest public listed company, would have preferred a site in NW England but was put off by the UK’s “discouraging” tax rate, with the UK minister agreeing with the firm’s “fundamental case” on business taxes, but insisting that the Sunak government would not consider tax cuts funded by borrowing. A sad loss of for the UK and another reason for companies to choose Ireland despite the fact that this will provide more than one hundred skilled jobs to one of the UK’s poorer regions.
There is no doubt that the Egyptian economy is struggling and its people suffering as January inflation rose 4.5% to 25.8% on the month – its highest figure in over five years. Nearly 30% of the 104 million population live in poverty, with many more hovering just above the poverty line. Over the past twelve months, because of numerous devaluations, the value of the pound has almost halved. Rising inflation is mainly driven by higher food prices, which account for 32.7% of the index’s basket, with huge monthly rises seen including meat/poultry by 18.9%, oil/fats by 11.1%, dairy products and eggs were up 10.3%, fish/seafood – 9.0% – and bread/cereals (7.1%). To add to their woes, Egypt has a shortage of foreign currency causing continuing delays in getting imports into the country and subsequent shortages of some much-needed goods and manufacturing material.
New figures indicate that the UK narrowly avoided falling into recession in 2022, as the economy saw zero growth in Q4 despite a 0.5% fall in economic output during December, mainly down to strike action. The previous quarter’s figures were amended to show that Q3 contraction was 0.2%, not 0.3%. The BoE still expects the UK to enter recession this year but that the recession will now be shorter and shallower than previously expected, however, inflation is still in double-digit territory. Although the UK is still the only G7 country where the economy is smaller than pre-pandemic levels, the UK economy was 4.0% bigger last year than it was in 2021 – the biggest increase of all G7 nations for last year.
Australia’s Recharge Industries, owned by New York fund Scale Facilitation Partners, has been named as the preferred bidder for Britishvolt, the UK battery start-up which collapsed last month. The company, that had been placed into administration having run out of funds, had plans to build a US$ 4.6 billion mega factory to make electric car batteries, ran out of funds and entered into administration. It has entered into an agreement with Recharge, which is building a similar facility in Australia, to take over its business and assets. Although it is reported that Recharge paid a premium to win the bid, initial details are sketchy, but EY, the administrators, indicate that the deal may be completed within seven days.
This week, the Reserve Bank of Australia has confirmed that the nation can expect to see at least two more rate rises, but they most probably will be 25bp hikes, rather than the past four 0.50% rises, which occurred between July and September. Its cash rate target was 3.10% prior to Tuesday’s meeting and now stands at 3.35%, so with at least two more hikes of 0.25% in the coming months, this will move the rate to 3.85%. Some think that it could well be at over 4.0% by the 30 June year-end, particularly as wage forecasts have also been upgraded, with pay rises expected to pass 4.0% by the middle of this year. The bank infers that the rises are necessary to ensure that high inflation quickly starts to head lower, but it does expect inflation to remain higher than in its previous forecasts.
The RBA has estimated that between 50% to 75% of the inflation is derived from supply disruptions, many of which are now easing as Covid cases decline and supply chains adjust to disruptions arising from the Russia-Ukraine war. The problem is timing for the RBA, since Australia was about six months behind the curve when inflation started soaring – whether it is six months behind when inflation heads lower is highly unlikely but a possibility that has to be considered. Another factor is the timing that companies pass on the reduction of some of these supply chain costs which will have a bearing on how quickly the rate will fall. The RBA forecasts core inflation will peak at 6.25% by 30 June, and fall to 4.25% by December, with wages set to rise 4% by June and peak at 4.25%. GDP is expected to fall 0.2% next year to 1.4% and with a population growth of 1.5%, this points to a growth in net immigration; if that is the case, there will be a slight decline in GDP per capita. The “lucky” country is in for a rocky eighteen months.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) confirmed that global food prices dropped for the tenth consecutive month in January, with the latest index, tracking monthly changes in the global prices of commonly traded food commodities, posting 131.2 points, 0.8 lower than in December. The world body also noted small price decreases on its latest meat and sugar indices. In the month, vegetable oil prices fell 2.9%, with cereal prices remaining flat on the month. For the third month in a row, wheat prices dipped – in January by 2.5% – whilst maize prices nudged slightly higher, with cheese coming up slightly, even though dairy prices averaged 1.4% lower than in December, attributable to lighter demand from leading importers and increased supplies from New Zealand. There was a 6.2% monthly hike in global rice prices caused by strong local demand in some Asian exporting countries and exchange rate movements.
Bilateral trade between China and the US has hit record highs, (with the total of imports – US$ 536.8 billion – and exports, at US$ 153.8 billion), nearing US$ 691 billion, despite diplomatic relations reaching historic lows. Last week’s Chinese balloon incident did not help with any improvement in the dispute that started five years ago when the then President Trump started imposing tariffs of more than US$ 300 billion, with China retaliating by placing import levies on about US$ 100 billion of American goods. Most of those measures remain in place more than two years since Joe Biden became the country’s 46th US president. In his State of the Union address, he confirmed “I am committed to work with China where it can advance American interests and benefit the world”. However, the country’s top diplomat, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, had been due to visit China, in what was seen as a thawing of relations, but the meeting was called off at the last minute, after the suspected surveillance balloon was spotted over American skies.
There are reports that a free trade agreement between China and the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council could be closer than many would believe, as China’s new Foreign Minister Qin Gang this week called for it to be finalised “as soon as possible”. In a virtual meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, he also commented that “It is important that the two sides further expand co-operation in such areas as economy and trade, energy, infrastructure, investment, finance and high-tech … strengthen the China-GCC strategic partnership and build a China-GCC free trade zone as soon as possible”. The China-GCC FTA negotiations have been ongoing since 2004, and with the latest developments it seems that there is every chance the agreement could, by the end of the year, be Signed Sealed and Delivered.