Oil falls below $57 on virus impact and OPEC+ delay

An OPEC+ meeting in March is expected to consider further supply cuts in a bid to support prices that have been hit hard by weakening global demand caused by China’s coronavirus epidemic. (Reuters)
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Updated 19 February 2020

Oil falls below $57 on virus impact and OPEC+ delay

  • Contagion ‘is spooking market players,’ analysts say after Asian shares fall and Apple issues warning

LONDON: Oil fell below $57 a barrel on Tuesday, pressured by concerns over the impact on crude demand from the coronavirus outbreak in China and a lack of further action by OPEC and its allies to support the market.

Forecasters including the International Energy Agency (IEA) have cut 2020 oil demand estimates because of the virus. Though new cases in mainland China have dipped, global experts say it is too early to judge if the outbreak is being contained.

Brent crude was down 82 cents at $56.85 a barrel in mid-afternoon trade after rallying in the previous five sessions. US West Texas Intermediate crude fell 70 cents to $51.35.

“Risk aversion has returned to the markets,” said Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch.

“OPEC+ has shown no sign yet of reacting to the virus-related slump in demand by making additional production cuts.”

The virus is having a wider impact on companies and financial markets. Asian shares fell and Wall Street was poised to retreat on Tuesday after Apple said it would miss quarterly revenue guidance owing to weakened demand in China.

“This has spooked market players and triggered a sharp pullback in risk assets,” said Tamas Varga of oil broker PVM.

The IEA last week said that first-quarter oil demand is likely to fall by 435,000 barrels per day (bpd) from the same period last year in the first quarterly decline since the financial crisis in 2009.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, including Russia, have been considering further production cuts to tighten supply and support prices.

The group, known as OPEC+, has a pact to cut oil output by 1.7 million bpd until the end of March.

The next OPEC+ meeting next month is set to consider an advisory panel’s recommendation to cut supply by a further 600,000 bpd. Talks on holding an earlier meeting in February appear to have made no progress, OPEC sources said.

As well as OPEC+ voluntary curbs, support for prices has come from involuntary losses in Libya, where output has collapsed since Jan. 18 because of a blockade of ports and oilfields.


Bayut and Dubizzle fire M&A starting pistol

Updated 02 June 2020

Bayut and Dubizzle fire M&A starting pistol

  • The two owner companies will also run a $150 million investment round
  • EMGP will continue operating both Bayut and Dubizzle in the UAE

LONDON: The owners of Dubai-based listings sites Dubizzle and Bayut announced the merger of their MENA and South Asia operations as the regional property sector comes under pressure.

Dubai-based Emerging Markets Property Group (EMPG) and OLX Group made the disclosure in a statement carried by the UAE-based WAM news agency website.

The agreement includes a 550 million dirhams ($150 million) investment round, led by existing EMPG shareholders and OLX group. OLX has become EMPG’s largest single shareholder with 39 percent of shares, the statement said.

Both sites are known for their extensive listings in the real estate sector which has come under renewed pressure in recent months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“This merger of EMPG and OLX will allow us to better serve our customers, given that both operate brands with a strong following and will allow us to leverage existing tech and data to paint a more accurate picture of the state of affairs in the real estate industry across the region,” said Haider Ali Khan, the head of EMPG — MENA . “At the same time, we will be making significant technology investments to provide more value to all users of property, automotive and other segments of the Dubizzle and OLX platforms.”

Merger and acquisition (M&A) activity is expected to accelerate this year as companies facing disruption from the coronavirus pandemic seek to cut costs and adapt to a rapidly changing marketplace.

Ali Maabereh, head of mergers and acquisition (M&A) at KMPG in Saudi Arabia predicted M&A activity will increase in GCC countries large corporates seek capital injections to satisfy working capital needs.

“The current pandemic is creating a lot of uncertainties and contradictions in what to expect after the dust settles. The expected key impacts on companies are shortages of liquidity and working capital requirements. Though companies might be running a healthy P&L, there will be significant pressure on working capital requirements,” he said.