Saudi investors pump $144m into London’s office market

Saudi investors pump $144m into London’s office market
Arab investors have invested £1.2 billion ($1.68 billion) in London’s office real estate market since 2018, with Saudi Arabia accounting for £103 million, according to industry data. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 20 February 2021

Saudi investors pump $144m into London’s office market

Saudi investors pump $144m into London’s office market
  • Despite Brexit and the pandemic, the UK capital remained attractive in 2020
  • Investors from the UAE have been the most active since 2018, followed by investors from Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Arab investors have invested £1.2 billion ($1.68 billion) in London’s office real estate market since 2018, with Saudi Arabia accounting for £103 million, according to industry data.
Figures from global real estate consultancy firm Knight Frank found that over the last decade (2010-2020), the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, excluding Oman, together invested £8 billion into London’s office market, £1.2 billion of that since 2018.
Investors from the UAE have been the most active since 2018, injecting £531 million into the UK capital, followed by investors from Qatar (£435 million), Kuwait (£120 million), Saudi Arabia (£103 million) and Bahrain (£8.8 million).
“Brexit has been less of an issue, given that most investors looking at the London office market invest because of London’s attractiveness as an investment destination — relatively more favorable returns compared to other asset classes and indeed many mainland-European cities, a proven track record of delivering strong returns, the transparency of law and governance, and its strong historic and cultural links,” Faisal Durrani, head of London commercial research at Knight Frank, told Arab News.
“That said, with weak oil prices prevailing, investors from the Middle East have been a little more domestically focused than in recent years,” he said.
“Despite the complications of Brexit and the pandemic, London was the world’s No. 1 recipient for cross-border investment in 2020,” he added.
“COVID-19 … has been a game changer, particularly the impact of global travel restrictions, which reduced investment turnover substantially during the UK’s first lockdown last spring. The opening of an air-travel corridor recently between the UK and UAE led to the creation of the world’s busiest passenger exchange route between Heathrow and Dubai, but flights have now been suspended. Still, while direct links help to foster greater investment flows, some investors, through the course of the pandemic, have begun to use on-the-ground advisers in London to facilitate deals.”
Durrani said investment by Arab investors will normalize, and the slowdown during the pandemic will see an increase in available supply.
“Our annual Global Capital Tracker Survey has identified £46 billion around the world, taking aim at London’s office investment market, with the Middle East accounting for £3.9 billion of the total,” he added.
“The deployment of this full amount will be hinged on the identification of suitable stock. However, with investment stock 58 percent higher than this time last year, we expect 2021 to be busier.”
One of the key projects in the UK that has seen interest from the region has been The London Resort, a $2.6-billion, high-profile theme park development backed by Kuwaiti money.
“Generally speaking, those whom we’ve spoken to have been of Middle Eastern origin,” James Hayward, investment director at London-based investment brokerage Farrbury Capital Partners, told Arab News in December.
“We market globally ... We still have healthy investment in the UK, although I’d also say those who invest from the UK have been predominantly of Middle Eastern descent. It’s very, very popular in this neck of the woods. So that’s predominantly where we’re seeing investment coming from.”
The London Resort was launched in October 2012 by the London Resort Co. Holdings, and is backed by the Kuwaiti European Holding Group.
The theme park will be the first major project of its kind in Europe since Disneyland Paris opened in 1992.
Located on a 535-acre site on Kent’s Swanscombe peninsula, 17 minutes on the train from central London, it has struck content agreements with international media partners including the BBC, ITV Studios and Hollywood studio Paramount Pictures.
The deals will see the partners’ media brands transformed into theme park rides and attractions. The first phase of the project is due to open in 2024.


Turkish industry copes with abrupt cut of gas flow from Iran

Gas flares from an oil production platform at the Soroush oil fields in the Persian Gulf, south of the capital Tehran. (REUTERS file photo)
Gas flares from an oil production platform at the Soroush oil fields in the Persian Gulf, south of the capital Tehran. (REUTERS file photo)
Updated 25 January 2022

Turkish industry copes with abrupt cut of gas flow from Iran

Gas flares from an oil production platform at the Soroush oil fields in the Persian Gulf, south of the capital Tehran. (REUTERS file photo)
  • Authorities should have taken necessary steps beforehand, energy expert tells Arab News
  • Record high losses for manufacturing facilities and disruption in export commitments feared

ANKARA: Following a decision by Iran to cut gas flows to Turkey last week, Ankara began ordering gas-fuelled power plants to decrease their gas use by 40 percent as of Monday.

The sudden move emphasized the need to diversify energy suppliers for the country. Households, schools and hospitals are, for now, exempt from the measures.

Iran’s natural gas consumption recently hit a record high at about 692 million cubic meters per day in households, commercial and smaller industries mainly because of harsh winter conditions, but the country cited a gas leak in a Turkish station for the disruption of exports to Turkey for up to 10 days.

Turkey is no exception to the record highs of daily gas consumption, which reached around 288 million cubic meters on Jan. 19.

Turkey is almost fully dependent on imported gas from Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia, while Iran alone provided about 16 percent of the country’s natural gas needs last year.

The decision worried several industrial representatives, as it did not discriminate between sectors with cold storage rooms or furnaces.

FASTFACT

Turkey is almost fully dependent on imported gas from Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia.

“Such a gas cut means greater financial loss for some key sectors such as glass, medicine and ceramic factories as well as those producing meat and dairy products,” Mehmet Ogutcu, a former diplomat and currently the president of London Energy Club, told Arab News.

The sectors that use the most electricity, namely the iron and steel sector, and the clothing industry, are expected to record high losses and will face disruption in export commitments.    

“The production could be at risk if the interruption continues to grow in the coming days,” Ogutcu said.

“It will damage the economy and industrial production especially at a time when exports and production were accelerating.”

Companies in industrial zones were notified of the three-day restriction on Friday and will be allowed to use gas only on allotted days.

The prospect of electricity cuts to industrial sites is also on the horizon, and might affect households as well, although gas prices have become discouraging for citizens, as they increased by 25 percent for residential use and 50 percent for industrial use in January.

Turkey’s domestic gas consumption rate increased from 48 billion cubic meters to 60 billion in a year, while there are some 18 million natural gas subscribers across the country.

“I have repeatedly warned about a potential outage for the last six months. It also happened in the European countries,” Ogutcu said.

“Turkey should have taken necessary measures beforehand when the first signs appeared.”

According to Ogutcu, Turkey either had to decrease gas demands and simultaneously develop plans to increase energy efficiency, or develop alternative energy resources like liquefied natural gas.

Turkey imports LNG from the US, Morocco, Qatar and Nigeria, but it still remains much more expensive than natural gas imports for Ankara.

About a third of Turkey’s natural gas needs are currently met through LNG deliveries.

“There are ongoing projects in the Black Sea for gas discoveries with some drilling testing. But it will take at least seven or eight years to reap the benefits of that project,” Ogutcu said.

Turkey’s 405 billion cubic meter gas discoveries in the Black Sea were accepted as the largest offshore gas discovery in the world in 2020.

Similar gas supply cuts have happened in the past, but did not result in power outages in the industrial sector on such a great scale.

Experts emphasized the need to learn lessons from this latest crisis and to design alternative energy sources.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently announced that Turkey is still interested in transporting Israeli gas to Europe — a potential step to diversify much-needed gas sources.

Last week, a blast in the southeastern province of Maras resulted in another disruption in the flow of crude oil through the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline.

“In the past decade, Turkey has succeeded in further diversifying its energy sources with more energy suppliers, the growing use of LNG and renewables,” Gallia Lindenstrauss, a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Israel, told Arab News.

“The first unit in the Rosatom-built nuclear power plant in Akkuyu is expected to be operational in 2023 and Turkey has discovered gas reserves in the Black sea that will be another future source of energy.”

According to Lindenstrauss, the problem today is less related to the issue of diversification and more to the sharp devaluation of the Turkish lira alongside rising energy prices, which translates into difficulties for the purchase of LNG.

“Obviously, Turkey would also benefit if it were able to sign contracts to import gas, or be a transit route for gas, from the Eastern Mediterranean, but this has not been possible until today mainly because of political reasons,” she said.

Even in the unlikely scenario that neighboring states overcome the hurdles between them, Lindenstrauss thinks that it is still only part of the solution to Turkey’s growing energy needs, and short-term energy shortage problems from time to time will be a recurring problem.

This year, Turkey’s natural gas storage capacity has reached 3.8 billion cubic meters.


Kuwait estimates 74.2% decrease in deficit according to a budget draft report

Kuwait estimates 74.2% decrease in deficit according to a budget draft report
Updated 24 January 2022

Kuwait estimates 74.2% decrease in deficit according to a budget draft report

Kuwait estimates 74.2% decrease in deficit according to a budget draft report
  • The Kuwaiti Ministry of Finance expects a budget deficit decrease by 74.2 percent from previous year

Riyadh: The Kuwaiti Ministry of Finance submitted on Monday a budget draft report for 2022-2023 fiscal year, with an expected deficit of 3.1 billion dinars ($10.26 billion), decreasing 74.2 percent from previous year, according to a Reuters report citing a ministry statement. 

The report also stated that the OPEC member country expects oil income of 16.7 billion dinars during the fiscal year ending in March 2023, an increase of 83.4 percent from 2021-2022.

Total revenues are estimated at 18.8 billion dinars and expenditures at 21.9 billion dinars in the 2022-2023 fiscal year.


Tesla countersues JPMorgan over contract affected by Musk tweet

Tesla countersues JPMorgan over contract affected by Musk tweet
Updated 24 January 2022

Tesla countersues JPMorgan over contract affected by Musk tweet

Tesla countersues JPMorgan over contract affected by Musk tweet
  • Tesla Inc. fought back on Monday against JPMorgan Chase & Co over a disputed bond contract

NEW YORK: Tesla Inc. fought back on Monday against JPMorgan Chase & Co over a disputed bond contract, countersuing the bank for seeking a “windfall” following Chief Executive Elon Musk’s notorious 2018 tweet that he might take his electric car company private.

In a court filing, Tesla accused JPMorgan of “bad faith and avarice” for claiming it was owed $162.2 million after unilaterally changing the terms of warrants it received when Tesla sold convertible bonds in 2014.

By changing the terms, “JPMorgan dealt itself a pure windfall,” Tesla said in its countersuit filed in Manhattan federal court.

“JPMorgan pressed its exorbitant demand as an act of retaliation against Tesla both for it having passed over JPMorgan in major business deals and out of senior JPMorgan executives' animus toward Mr. Musk,” it added.

A bank spokesman, Brian Marchiony, said in an email: “There is no merit to their claim. This comes down to fulfilling contractual obligations.”

The countersuit escalates the battle between the largest U.S. bank and world’s most valuable car company, which have done little business with each other since the disputed contract.

Warrants give holders the right to buy company stock at a set “strike” price and date.

In its Nov. 15 lawsuit JPMorgan said Musk’s Aug. 7, 2018 tweet that he might take Tesla private and had “funding secured,” and his abandoning that plan 17 days later, created share price volatility to justify lowering the strike price on its warrants.

JPMorgan accused Tesla of defaulting because it failed to hand over shares or cash when the warrants expired in June and July 2021, by which time Tesla’s share price had risen about 10-fold.

In its countersuit, Tesla accused JPMorgan of having “put its thumb on the scale” to demand even more money, after already receiving a “multibillion-dollar payout” because of the soaring stock price.

Musk’s tweets resulted in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission civil lawsuit that ended in $20 million fines against both him and Tesla and forced him to give up Tesla's chairmanship.

Tesla’s lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.


IKTVA contributed $100bn to Saudi Arabia economy: Aramco Chairman

IKTVA contributed $100bn to Saudi Arabia economy: Aramco Chairman
Updated 24 January 2022

IKTVA contributed $100bn to Saudi Arabia economy: Aramco Chairman

IKTVA contributed $100bn to Saudi Arabia economy: Aramco Chairman

RIYADH: IKTVA has contributed around SR375 billion ($100 billion) into Saudi Arabia’s economy since its inception in 2015, Chairman of Aramco, Yasir Al-Rumayyan spoke at IKTVA 2022 Forum and Exhibition on Monday.

Capital expenditure attracted by the program’s investments were estimated at $7 billion which created a competitive industrial base enabling the Kingdom to export to more than 40 countries, according to his statement.

Larger volumes and more varied products labeled ‘Made in Saudi Arabia’ are being created now in the Kingdom, as the localization of goods by IKTVA is creating a supportive ecosystem to the Kingdom’s industrialization efforts, he added.

One of the program’s achievements is establishing a hub to pioneer new technologies and services in the non-metallic industry, which is expected to contribute $10 billion to the Kingdom’s GDP by 2030, Al-Rumayyan said. Whereas Aramco suppliers have quadrupled their R&D spend in the Kingdom, from $21 million to $91 million, providing a catalyst for innovation within the Kingdom.

Fifty percent more Saudis were employed by IKTVA, making one out of every four people working in Aramco’s supply chain a Saudi. The number of female employees working in the supply chain more than doubled, he added.

The program aims at reaching Vision 2030 goals of economic diversification and industrialization by focusing on both conventional sectors including energy, chemicals and mining, as well as emerging business sectors including Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies, logistics and services. 


Dubai stocks sees biggest fall in over a month after Houthi attack intercepted

Dubai stocks sees biggest fall in over a month after Houthi attack intercepted
Updated 24 January 2022

Dubai stocks sees biggest fall in over a month after Houthi attack intercepted

Dubai stocks sees biggest fall in over a month after Houthi attack intercepted
  • Most stock markets in the Gulf ended lower on Monday

Dubai: Most stock markets in the Gulf ended lower on Monday, in line with global shares, while the Dubai index saw its biggest fall in over a month as the United Arab Emirates intercepted another attack by the Houthis.

Dubai’s main share index declined 2 percent, dragged down by a 3.5 percent drop in blue-chip developer Emaar Properties and a 1.9 percent fall in top lender Emirates NBD.

The United Arab Emirates on Monday said it had foiled another Houthi missile attack following last week’s deadly assault on the Gulf state as the Iran-aligned group takes aim at the safe haven status of the region’s tourism and commercial hub.

The Abu Dhabi index eased 0.1 percent, with conglomerate International Holding losing 0.6 percent.

 “Global markets are set to remain sensitive to fresh policy clues out of the Federal Reserve this week. Since the start of the new year, risk assets have been realigning with the more aggressive Fed rate hikes expected for 2022,” said Han Tan, chief market analyst at Exinity Group.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index fell 0.6 percent, hit by a 1.3 percent fall in Al Rajhi Bank and a 2.5 percent decline in Saudi National Bank.

The Saudi market continued its correction, after hitting its highest in over 15 years earlier this month, as investors try to secure their gains, said Wael Makarem, senior market strategist at Exness.

Crude prices, a key catalyst for the Gulf’s financial markets, rose on elevated geopolitical risks in Europe and Middle East.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt’s blue-chip index decreased 0.3 percent, with Commercial International Bank losing 0.4 percent.

SAUDI ARABIA     down 0.6% to 12,068
ABU DHABI                down 0.1% to 8,701
DUBAI                  down 2% to 3,147
QATAR                up 0.3% to 12,523
EGYPT                  down 0.3% to 11,616
BAHRAIN              down 0.3%  to 1,810
OMAN                   down 0.5% to 4,202
KUWAIT               down 0.2% to 8,000