Mideast buyers look to new build homes in Manchester

The Salford Quays area of Manchester (Shutterstock)
Updated 23 January 2018
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Mideast buyers look to new build homes in Manchester

LONDON: Bored of London? Manchester could be the next big thing for Middle East investors looking for decent returns on their high-end UK property investments.
Property prices are on the up, with the northern city’s residential market outperforming most other parts of the UK including London, according to a new report by Cluttons.
Values rose by 6.4 percent in the 12 months to November 2017, compared to just 2 or 3 percent for prime central London in the same time period.
The city is becoming a much more appealing place to live and invest in, the report said, aided in part by the decision to grant Manchester devolved powers allowing it to govern itself in a similar way to London.
The city’s mayor, Andy Burnham, has spearheaded efforts to create a media and tech hub that aims to rival London. Jobs are being created and new residential “London-style” residential developments are popping up in the city center, the report said.
All these factors combined are drawing the attention of the Middle East buyer, said Faisal Durrani, partner, head of research at Cluttons.
“The status of Manchester has certainly grown in the minds of Middle East investors over the last three years, with commercial property investment originating from the Middle East rising by almost 61 percent to £45 million at the end of 2016,” he said.
“The UK government continues to endeavor to raise the profile of Manchester and Birmingham as a ‘Northern Powerhouses’, and possible investment opportunities, however the family offices from the Gulf, however, need more convincing if these locations are to become more than peripheral targets,” he added.
The appeal of residential property is also growing, due partly to it being far cheaper than London. Average residential values stand around £150,000 ($209,00) or six times annual incomes. In contrast, the figure for prime central London is just under £3 million, or 70 times annual incomes. Residential rental yields in Manchester are close to six percent, while average monthly rents stand at £1,044.
“For Middle East high net worth individuals however, Manchester offers a viable alternative to London, or indeed an opportunity to broaden their UK property investment portfolios,” Durrani said.
He added that the city also had “world class” universities, good transport links to London and 56 direct flights a week between Manchester and the Gulf.
The report noted Middle East buyers were particularly interested in the city’s new-build schemes, saying these developments offered amenities such as concierge services, parking and gyms, that they may be used to in their home markets.
New-build property in Manchester has seen a 40 percent rise in transacted values over the last 18 months, which are now close to £240,000. This increase compares to the smaller rise of 13 percent for secondary market property transacted values.
Chinese investors have also shown increased interest in the city in recent years, spurred by the 2015 visit of China’s President Xi Jinping.
The Chinese government has also partnered with the UK to deliver the £800 million Manchester Airport city project, which intends to create 11,500 jobs once completed in the next 10 to 15 years.
For now, Manchester still lags behind London in terms of overall overseas investment, recording £1.4 billion worth of commercial property investment in 2017, compared to £25.2 billion in London.


In airline-business rarity, Air France picks a woman CEO

In this file photo taken on March 26, 2018, Air France's Executive Vice President Customer Division Anne Rigail speaks during a press conference to announce the re-opening of direct flight between Paris and Nairobi, in Nairobi on March 26, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 13 December 2018
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In airline-business rarity, Air France picks a woman CEO

  • As of June, there were just 18 women holding down jobs of CEO, president or managing director at airlines around the world, according to the Center for Aviation, an Australia-based airline industry research group

PARIS: When the leaders of global airlines posed for a photo in June, there were 25 men in dark suits and a lone woman in the last seat on the far right.
That could be changing, but very slowly.
Air France announced Wednesday that Anne Rigail will take over as CEO next week. Rigail, a 27-year company veteran and currently an executive vice president, will be the first woman to lead the French carrier, which was formed in 1933. Parent company Air France-KLM Group will continue to be led by a man, however.
Few women have run large airlines. Carolyn McCall was CEO of British low-cost carrier EasyJet for seven years until leaving this year to run British broadcaster ITV. Christine Ourmieres-Widener, the woman in the June photo of CEOs, leads Flybe, a European regional airline that has fewer than 100 planes.
In the United States, Air Wisconsin, a regional airline that operates United Express flights, is led by CEO Christine Deister, and another regional, Cape Air, has a female president, Linda Markham.
But no major US carrier has ever had a female CEO, and only a few women hold other top jobs. In May, JetBlue Airways named Joanna Geraghty president and chief operating officer — the No. 2 job. Tammy Romo has been chief financial officer at Southwest Airlines since 2012, succeeding another woman. Elize Eberwein is an executive vice president at American Airlines.
As of June, there were just 18 women holding down jobs of CEO, president or managing director at airlines around the world, according to the Center for Aviation, an Australia-based airline industry research group. That is unchanged from a 2010 survey.
Women in the industry have said airlines need to do more to recruit and promote women, provide better mentoring, and encourage those who take maternity leave to return to their careers.
The International Air Transport Association — that’s the group whose leaders were pictured in June — has declared gender equality a priority. The group reported in March that only 3 percent of aviation CEOs are women, compared with 12 percent in other industries.
It didn’t help, however, that the association’s new president, Akbar Al Baker, the CEO of Qatar Airways, suggested that women aren’t up to the job of running an airline.
“Of course it has to be led by a man, because it is a very challenging position,” he said at a news conference. He later apologized.
As the new CEO at Air France, Rigail will certainly have her challenges. The airline faces contentious wage negotiations with pilots and flight attendants and has been hit by a series of damaging strikes. The last CEO quit after union employees rejected his offer of small pay raises for the next four years.
In a statement issued by Air France, Rigail said she is extremely honored by the promotion. Benjamin Smith, the CEO of parent Air France-KLM Group, said Rigail has always paid special attention to employees, and he expressed confidence that the airline can meet its challenges.