Middle East investors eye London property on back of weak pound

Middle East investors eye London property on back of weak pound
London has always, historically, been a safe haven for wealthy individuals from Gulf states who are looking to diversify their assets, being one of the most resilient and transparent property markets in the world. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 10 August 2022

Middle East investors eye London property on back of weak pound

Middle East investors eye London property on back of weak pound
  • Thanks to the favorable exchange rate, a £1 million home in London that would have cost $1.7 million in 2014 currently costs only about $1.2 million
  • Exchange rate forecasts predict sterling will strengthen against the dollar between now and 2026, suggesting that now is the perfect time for overseas buyers to take the plunge

LONDON: The declining strength of Sterling has created a window of opportunity in London for investors from the Middle East, according to property consultancy JLL.

Sterling buyers are paying 35 percent more now for London properties than they were eight years ago but those purchasing in US dollars are paying 3.8 percent less.

In June 2014, a US buyer would have had to pay $1.7 million for a £1 million property in London. The weaker pound means at the end of June this year, a £1 million property in the city would have cost only $1.2 million.

Exchange rate forecasts from Oxford Economics predict the pound will strengthen against the dollar between now and 2026, suggesting that this is the perfect time for overseas buyers to take advantage of the currency-exchange benefits that are available.

Analysis of passenger arrivals at London’s Heathrow Airport show that the number of visitors from the Middle East has recovered to pre-pandemic levels. In fact, the number of passengers arriving from the region in May was 1 percent higher than the pre-pandemic average, and 2 percent higher in June.

“The weaker sterling, alongside the safe-haven status usually associated with UK real estate, is driving and will continue to drive investment here,” said JLL’s Alex Carr.

“This return of overseas demand at present is particularly apparent among purchasers from the Gulf states, who are traveling back here for the first time in two years.

“London has always, historically, been a safe haven for wealthy individuals from Gulf states who are looking to diversify their assets, being one of the most resilient and transparent property markets in the world.”

London’s upscale Kensington district reportedly has experienced a significant increase in inquiries and applications from buyers in the Middle East.

“It was evident in May that demand was building, with increased communications from prospective (Middle Eastern) buyers who were preparing for their return to the UK following two years of travel restrictions,” said JLL’s Thomas Middleditch.

“A lot of these individuals have kept in touch over the course of the pandemic to stay informed on the market, yet as most are tangible buyers they have waited until they are in a position to physically return to the UK before inquiring about specific properties.

“Kensington has always been popular among Middle Eastern buyers and considered a low-risk investment given its location and established address.”


Biden says he is surveying options after OPEC+ decision to cut output

Biden says he is surveying options after OPEC+ decision to cut output
Updated 4 min 15 sec ago

Biden says he is surveying options after OPEC+ decision to cut output

Biden says he is surveying options after OPEC+ decision to cut output

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK: US President Joe Biden expressed disappointment on Thursday over announced plans by OPEC+ nations to cut oil output and said the US was looking at its alternatives.

OPEC+ agreed to steep oil production cuts on Wednesday, curbing supply in an already tight market and raising the possibility of higher gasoline prices right before the US midterm elections in November, when Biden’s Democrats are defending their control of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

“We’re looking at what alternatives we may have,” Biden told reporters at the White House when asked about the OPEC decision. “There’s a lot of alternatives. We haven’t made up our minds yet,” he said.

“But it is a disappointment,” he added of the OPEC+ decision, and indicates problems.

Prices

Oil prices held at three-week highs on Thursday after OPEC+ decision. Brent crude futures gained 88 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $94.25 per barrel by 11:19 a.m. EDT (1519 GMT) after settling 1.7 percent up in the previous session. US West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 79 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $88.55 after closing 1.4 percent up on Wednesday.

Separately on Wednesday, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said Russia could cut oil output in an attempt to offset the effects of price caps imposed by the West over Moscow’s actions in Ukraine. 

A draw in US oil stockpiles last week also supported prices. Crude inventories dropped by 1.4 million barrels to 429.2 million barrels in the week ended Sept. 30, the Energy Information Administration said.


Saudi Arabia’s point-of-sale value rises to $3.4bn as food spending increases: SAMA

Saudi Arabia’s point-of-sale value rises to $3.4bn as food spending increases: SAMA
Updated 06 October 2022

Saudi Arabia’s point-of-sale value rises to $3.4bn as food spending increases: SAMA

Saudi Arabia’s point-of-sale value rises to $3.4bn as food spending increases: SAMA

CAIRO: Food and drink sales helped drive a 23 percent rise in point-of-sale transactions in Saudi Arabia in the week ending Oct. 1, the latest weekly data from the Saudi Central Bank revealed.

Sales grew by SR2.4 billion ($640 billion) last week to reach SR12.8 billion in what was the highest percentage rise since the week ending July 30.

POS is an economic term used to describe what is spent by consumers using their ATMs and credit cards in retail stores, shopping malls, and pharmacies, among others. 

This five-week peak fell just below SR13.5 billion worth of POS transactions recorded in the week ending on Sept. 3, showed the SAMA data. 

This spike was mainly driven by increased spending on food and beverage services, with the sector’s total POS transaction rising by SR681.3 million to reach SR2.1 billion in the week ending on Oct. 1, recording 47.9 percent growth over the previous week.

Of the 17 sectors, 16 saw a rise in the value of POS transactions:

  • Other — Up SR382.3 million; up SR1.2 million previous week
  • Miscellaneous goods and services — Up SR342.9 million; down SR4.9 million last week
  • Health — Up SR219.6 million; down SR7.6 million previous week 
  • Transportation — Up SR164.3 million; down SR30.7 million previous week 
  • Gas stations — Up SR102.3 million; down SR26.1 million last week 

The education sector witnessed the biggest percentage change in the week ending on Oct. 1 in both transaction value and number of transactions. 

The sector’s POS transaction value went up by 115.6 percent to reach SR184 million, while the number of POS transactions went up by 51.9 percent to hit 170,000. 

The only sector that recorded less POS transactions – both in number and value – in that week was the hotels. 

This sector’s POS value dropped by SR23.2 million to reach SR215.9 million, while the number of transactions dropped by 42,000 to reach 562,000 transactions. 

With regards to the number of POS transactions, food and beverages also led the way with an increase of 4.4 million transactions in that week to reach 37.2 million transactions. 

  • Restaurants and cafes — Up 3.7 million; down 0.5 million previous week
  • Miscellaneous goods and services — Up 2.9 million; down 0.9 million previous week
  • Other— Up 2.6 million; down 0.4 million previous week
  • Health — Up 1.6 million; down 0.5 million previous week
  • Gas stations — Up 1 million; down 0.4 million previous week

The city of Riyadh, which records the largest share of POS transactions, saw a 11.4 percent increase in the number of transactions in the week ending Oct. 1, compared to a 3.1 percent fall the week prior. 

The city witnessed a 20.2 percent rise in POS transaction value in the week ending Oct. 1, compared to only 0.3 percent the previous week. 

The Kingdom’s capital recorded a total POS value of SR4 billion, up by SR1 billion from the week before. 

As for the number of POS transactions in Riyadh, it rose by 7.7 million from the previous week, reaching 57.6 million in the week ending on Oct. 1. 

Jeddah followed with SR1.9 billion worth of POS transitions which increased by SR253.8 million in the week ending on Oct. 1.

The number of transactions in the city reached 21.9 million, up 1 million from the week before. 


Saudi GAC approves Al Hilal’s acquisition of Etihadat Abyan assets 

Saudi GAC approves Al Hilal’s acquisition of Etihadat Abyan assets 
Updated 06 October 2022

Saudi GAC approves Al Hilal’s acquisition of Etihadat Abyan assets 

Saudi GAC approves Al Hilal’s acquisition of Etihadat Abyan assets 

RIYADH: Saudi pharmaceutical firm Al Hilal Trading Co. has received the General Authority for Competition’s approval to acquire the assets of Etihadat Abyan Co..

Under the formal approval by the regulator, the acquired assets by Al Hilal Trading Co. include S Team and Mawj Al Hilal brands and the related four stores.

The deal will not significantly affect the sportswear market in the Kingdom, GAC said in a statement according to Argaam on Oct. 6. 

The intended acquisition will be done by transferring the assets to Al Hilal Trading Co., a subsidiary of Al Hilal Club Investment Co.. 

Last August, the Tadawul-listed online food delivery platform Jahez International Co for Information Systems Technology, partnered with Al Hilal Investment to set up an online marketing and sales firm.


MENA total startup funding drops 54% month-on-month: Wamda 

MENA total startup funding drops 54% month-on-month: Wamda 
Updated 06 October 2022

MENA total startup funding drops 54% month-on-month: Wamda 

MENA total startup funding drops 54% month-on-month: Wamda 

RIYADH: Startups in the Middle East and North Africa region raised $173 million across 51 deals in September, marking a 54 percent decrease compared to the month before. 

Saudi Arabia’s logistics startup TruKKer was responsible for the bulk of that funding as it secured a $100 million pre-initial public offering round, according to Wamda.

The Kingdom raised a total of $114 million in startup funding in just six deals, while the UAE had 12 deals with a total of $27 million. 

Aside from Trukker’s fundraise, fintech companies managed to get the highest amount of funding with $28 million followed by food tech startups with $22 million. 

Foreign investment was high in September as US investors participated in 11 deals while UK investors were the second active with seven deals. 


TASI ends the week lower on watch of unstable oil prices: Closing bell

TASI ends the week lower on watch of unstable oil prices: Closing bell
Updated 06 October 2022

TASI ends the week lower on watch of unstable oil prices: Closing bell

TASI ends the week lower on watch of unstable oil prices: Closing bell

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s main index ended the last trading session of the week lower as investors kept a keen eye on the unstable oil prices this week.

The Tadawul All Share Index slipped 0.11 percent to end Thursday at 11,757, while the parallel market Nomu finished almost flat at 20,223.

In the energy sector, Brent crude reached $93.22 per barrel, while WTI crude traded at $87.61 per barrel as of 3:14 p.m. Saudi time.

Saudi oil giant Aramco ended the session with a 0.14 percent increase, while Rabigh Refining and Petrochemical Co. edged up 1.21 percent.

The Saudi National Bank, the Kingdom’s largest lender, dropped 0.77 percent, while Saudi British Bank declined by 2.31 percent.

The Kingdom’s most valued bank Al Rajhi fell 0.71 percent, while Alinma Bank shed 0.26 percent.

Despite leading Wednesday’s fallers, Tihama Advertising and Public Relations Co. surged 9.81 percent, topping the market, after receiving the Capital Market Authority’s clearance to hike its capital by 700 percent.

Dar Al Arkan Real Estate Development Co. declined 2.87 percent to lead the fallers, closely followed by Riyad REIT Fund with a decline of 2.76 percent.