Lego to build up presence in Mideast with Dubai office

Lego sees growth potential in the Middle East. (AP)
Updated 07 March 2018
0

Lego to build up presence in Mideast with Dubai office

LONDON: The Danish toy company Lego is planning to ramp up growth in the Middle East with the opening of an office in Dubai toward the end of this year, according to the company’s CEO Niels Christiansen. 
“The market there is already big, it is already growing … We believe we can accelerate that by now putting people on the ground in Dubai who can develop the region further,” he said at a press conference on March 6.
His comments come as the toy brick-maker announced that its 2017 profits were down compared to the previous year, with full-year net profit dropping to 7.8 billion Danish kroner ($1.3 billion) compared to 9.4 billion kroner in 2016. 
Revenues decreased by 8 percent to 35 billion kroner in 2017 compared to 37.9 billion kroner last year.
The reduced revenues were partly blamed on too much inventory already sitting in shops and warehouses that needed to be sold off. Global consumer sales were flat in 2017, moving upward in the final months of the year benefiting from the Christmas season. 
“2017 was a challenging year and overall we are not satisfied with the financial results,” Christiansen said. 
“However, we ended the year in a better position. In December, consumer sales grew in seven of our 12 largest markets and we entered 2018 with healthier inventories. In 2018, we will stabilize the business and invest to build sustainable growth in the longer term,” he said. 
He said there was “no quick-fix” to the company’s fortunes. “It will take some time to achieve longer-term growth,” he said. 
While revenues declined in the company’s established markets of North America and Europe, Lego saw “significant” revenue growth in China. 
The company is planning to further expand in the country, and last year signed a partnership deal with one of the country’s largest Internet companies, Tencent, to work together to develop online games for Chinese children.


Brent oil trades near 4-year high, but US crude retreats

Updated 26 September 2018
0

Brent oil trades near 4-year high, but US crude retreats

  • The US will apply sanctions to halt oil exports from Iran, the third-largest OPEC producer, starting on November 4
  • Brent is on course for its fifth consecutive quarterly increase, the longest such stretch for the global benchmark since early 2007

TOKYO: Brent crude was trading around its highest in nearly four years on Wednesday, while US crude futures fell as Washington tried to assure consumers that the market would be well supplied before sanctions are re-imposed on producer Iran.
Brent crude futures were up 10 cents, or 0.1 percent, at $81.87 a barrel by 0645 GMT, after gaining nearly 1 percent the previous session. Brent rose on Tuesday to its highest since November 2014 at $82.55 per barrel.
US crude futures were down 4 cents at $72.24 a barrel. They climbed 0.3 percent on Tuesday to close at their highest level since July 11.
The US will apply sanctions to halt oil exports from Iran, the third-largest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), starting on November 4. The pending loss of Iranian supply has been a major factor in the recent surge in crude prices.
US officials, including President Donald Trump, are trying to assure consumers and investors that enough supply will remain in the oil market while requesting producers raise their output.
“We will ensure prior to the re-imposition of our sanctions that we have a well-supplied oil market,” Washington’s special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, told a news conference at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday evening.
In an earlier speech at the UN, Trump reiterated calls on OPEC to pump more oil and stop raising prices. He also accused Iran of sowing chaos and promised further sanctions on the country.
The so-called ‘OPEC+’ group, which includes the world’s biggest producer Russia, met over the weekend but did not see the need to add new output as the market is well-supplied currently.
“The lack of new production growth guidance by OPEC does not reflect a desire to let prices appreciate meaningfully further, but rather the historical pattern of OPEC responding to rather than front-running production losses,” Goldman Sachs said in a report.
“We continue to expect that the decline in Iran exports will reach 1.4 million barrels per day, and while it is occurring faster than we had previously expected, we continue to expect it to remain offset by a faster ramp-up in production from other producers.”
The investment bank reiterated its view that “Brent prices will stabilize back in their $70-80/bbl range into year-end.”
Brent is on course for its fifth consecutive quarterly increase, the longest such stretch for the global benchmark since early 2007, when a six-quarter run led to a record-high of $147.50 a barrel.
Meanwhile, in the US, the world’s biggest oil user, an industry report on Tuesday showed crude stockpiles unexpectedly climbed last week.
Crude inventories rose by 2.9 million barrels in the week to Sept. 21 to 400 million, compared with analyst expectations for a decrease of 1.3 million barrels, the American Petroleum Institute said.
Official figures on stockpiles and refinery runs from the US Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration are due at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430 GMT) on Wednesday.