DAMAC delisting plan piles pressure on shrinking Dubai market

A view from above of Dubai's Marina district, home to some of DAMAC's early towers. (Reuters)
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Updated 15 June 2021

DAMAC delisting plan piles pressure on shrinking Dubai market

  • While the value of traded stocks in Dubai was once higher than rival Abu Dhabi, this changed in 2019 and ADX now has a more than four times higher average daily traded value

DUBAI: Dubai’s stock market is set for another delisting, raising a question mark over the future of one of the Gulf’s major exchanges, which was launched two decades ago.
A $595 million bid to take DAMAC Properties private by the firm’s founder Hussain Sajwani is the latest blow to the exchange, even as the Gulf city state’s property market showed signs of life in the first quarter.
“It is not that Dubai is becoming less attractive. Alternatives are becoming more attractive,” Khaled Abdel Majeed, founder at London-based Mena Capital LLP, told Reuters.
Majeed said Dubai needs to work harder to attract listings amid growing competition from within the Gulf region such as Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia where Tadawul, the region’s biggest exchange based on market value, wants to become a regional hub.
While the value of traded stocks in Dubai was once higher than rival Abu Dhabi, this changed in 2019 and ADX now has a more than four times higher average daily traded value.
ADX has also seen gains after its owner, ADQ, launched a market maker last year that tapped into a fund to boost liquidity on the bourse.
“It’s disappointing from a market point of view that you have companies de-listing ... at a time when we think the market needs added depth, more companies, which has not been happening since 2014-2015,” Mohammed Ali Yasin, chief strategy officer at Al Dhabi Capital in Abu Dhabi, said of the Dubai stock market.
Since the start of 2020, two prominent Dubai companies have de-listed from the Dubai Financial Market (DFM) and Nasdaq Dubai: Dubai parks operator DXB Entertainments and Dubai ports operator DP World.
And shares in Arabtec, once a high-flying Dubai construction company, were suspended in September after its shareholders voted to dissolve company.
Emaar Malls, operator and owner of the world’s largest shopping center, in March said it planned to offer to buy out minority shareholders and merge with Emaar Properties.
And Dubai real estate fund Emirates REIT, which is listed on the Nasdaq Dubai exchange, said in July it was considering de-listing.
Where Abu Dhabi is boosting liquidity through planned new listings and consolidation of assets of state holding company ADQ, Dubai appears to have become more tolerant of delistings, a Gulf M&A banker told Reuters.
Analysts say the move to de-list spares companies having to face scrutiny from investors, along with the running costs of a listing and disclosure and transparency requirements.
“If someone wants to take (their company) private; this is the time,” the M&A banker said.
Asked what steps, if any, it was taking to ensure that listed companies remained on the exchange and that it attracted new listings, the DFM declined to comment
The problem for listed Dubai real estate companies is that they are trading at a discount to the average price to earnings of the wider market, at around 8 times earnings, while the market is trading at around 20 times that.
“For DAMAC, I’m sure that the strategic investor, Hussain Sajwani, understands that the intrinsic value of the company is higher than the share price, Tariq Qaqish, chief executive of Salt Fund Placement in Dubai, said.
The two years leading to the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the vulnerabilities of Dubai’s homebuilders and property companies, said Samer Haydar, director of corporate ratings at Fitch.
And despite signs of recovery, many are “still facing the aftermath of the pandemic in terms of negative working capital, rising leverage, weak liquidity and overall un-absorbed supply in the market,” Haydar said.


Saudi Arabia to introduce insurance on domestic labor contracts in 2022

Updated 33 min 49 sec ago

Saudi Arabia to introduce insurance on domestic labor contracts in 2022

  • Move aims to increase attractiveness of Saudi labor market
  • Recruiters must carry the cost of insuring contracts for first two years

RIYADH: Saudi Ministry of Human Resource and Social Development is expected to start implementing insurance on the domestic labor contract early in 2022 in cooperation with the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA), Al Eqtisadia paper reported.

This decision guarantees the rights and benefits of the employer and the worker, including compensating the employer for the expense of bringing in a replacement domestic worker in the event of death, inability to work, or suffering from chronic or critical diseases, according to the ministry.

The move aims to increase the attractiveness of the Saudi labor market, improve the contractual relationship between workers and employers, and reduce risks in the domestic labor recruitment market, helping to cut costs.

“Recruitment companies and agencies used to provide a 3-month trial period for the worker, compensating families for any potential damage, but once the trial period ends, the two parties are not protected, causing lot of losses to Saudi families,” Saudi development and localization specialist Saleh Al-Anzi told Arab news.

“The insurance contract protects both the worker and the employer,” he said.

The insurance will be technically linked to the mediation contract for the recruitment of domestic workers through the Musaned platform, and the ministry will issue the implementation mechanism later in cooperation with the relevant authorities, including SAMA and the Ministry of Interior, sources familiar with the matter told the paper.

Recruitment companies must carry the cost of insuring the contracts of domestic workers they bring into the country for the first two years, the Saudi Council of Ministers decreed in May.


Saudi car rental facilities to issue e-contracts starting July 25

Updated 26 July 2021

Saudi car rental facilities to issue e-contracts starting July 25

  • Car rental facilities to issue all car rental contracts on the Naql portal

RIYADH: The Saudi Transport General Authority (TGA) started implementing the first phase of the unified electronic contract for car rental starting July 25, TGA announced on its Twitter account.
The unified electronic contract obliges car rental facilities to issue all car rental contracts on the Naql portal through the rental contracts service.
This service will enable the licensed establishments to issue a unified contract with complete statutory requirements and clauses, and will contribute to preserving the rights of the lessor and the lessee, enhancing the confidence in the services provided, and raising the level of quality of services, TGA said.
The unified electronic car contract will reduce disputes and the burden on the relevant authorities and will stimulate investment in the sector, according to the TGA.
TGA launched its Distinguished Transport Partner program in May to strengthen public-private partnerships in the sector.


Saudi PIF invests in Indian healthtech platform

Updated 27 min 45 sec ago

Saudi PIF invests in Indian healthtech platform

  • Healthifyme raises $75 million in Series C funding round
  • Khosla Ventures, LeapFrog Investment, HealthQuad and Unilever Ventures also invested in the round

RIYADH: The Saudi Public Investment Fund has invested in India-based healthtech Healthifyme’s $75 million Series C funding round, led by Khosla Ventures and LeapFrog Investment, Livemint reported.
HealthQuad and Unilever Ventures also participated in the round, along with existing investors Chiratae Ventures, Inventus Capital and Sistema Asia Capital, taking total investment in the startup to $100 million.
PIF assets have grown to about SR1.6 trillion ($426.6 billion) and it aims to expand this to SR4 trillion by the end of 2025, Deputy Governor Yazeed Al-Hamid said earlier this month.
The sovereign wealth fund aims to boost its local investments to account for 75-80 percent of the total, he said.
The Saudi sovereign fund has established 35 strategic companies since 2018, it announced on its Twitter account, on Sunday.
The companies are working to promote private sector growth and the diversification of the Kingdom’s economy, by launching new sectors and creating 366,000 direct and indirect jobs.
The Kingdom’s sovereign fund aims to generate approximately 1.8 million direct and indirect jobs by 2025.
The fund is focused on 13 strategic sectors including service utilities, renewable energy, aviation and defense, vehicles, transport and logistics, minerals and mining, financial services, health care, communications, media and technology, food and agriculture, and others.


Saudi Arabia increased support for housing sector in July

Updated 26 July 2021

Saudi Arabia increased support for housing sector in July

  • Sakani housing program beneficiaries received SR734 million in July
  • Figure compares with SR587 million a year earlier

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Sakani housing program beneficiaries received SR734 million ($195.7 million) from the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing and The Real Estate Development Fund (REDF) in July, up from SR587 million a year earlier, SPA reported.
This steady increase will continue for the next few years, Mohamed AlKhars, a member of the housing program advisory board and the chairman of Innovest Property Co. told Arab news.
Support for citizen’s first homes will be a policy that remains in places for many years in the Kingdom, he said.
However, the cost of support has fallen, he said. “There has been a drop in the interest on loans during the last three years, after negotiations with financiers, which are paid by the REDF,” said AlKhars.
The total amount deposited in the accounts of Sakani beneficiaries since the announcement of the transformation program in June 2017 until this July exceeded SR29.6 billion, said Mansour bin Madi, CEO of REDF.
In another Saudi step toward developing the housing sector, the Developers Services Center (ETMAM) approved nine housing schemes during the first half of this year, with a total area of more than 16.1 million square meters.
The approved plans included Riyadh, Makkah, Al-Qassim, the Eastern Province, Asir, Tabuk, and the northern border, Al Eqtisadiah reported.
ETMAM completed during the first half of this year building permit applications for 8,131 housing units, and the issuance of 119 real estate developer qualification certificates for sales projects.
“Those numbers will increase in the coming phase,” AlKhars said.
The center also contributed to the issuance of 45 sales licenses for off-plan sales projects, and 2,171 real estate developers were qualified in cooperation with the competent authorities to provide real estate development services.


Emerging market stocks hit 2021 low as Chinese shares plunge on crackdown

Updated 26 July 2021

Emerging market stocks hit 2021 low as Chinese shares plunge on crackdown

  • China blue-chips down 3.2 percent
  • Washington-Beijing talks off to confrontational start

BEIJING: A government crackdown pushed China stocks to their worst day in a year on Monday, sending an index of emerging shares to their lowest so far this year.
Chinese blue-chips lost 3.2 percent and Hong Kong’s benchmark sank 4 percent after China barred tutoring for profit in core school subjects, wiping off more than 40 percent of the market value of educational firms. This comes as China’s tech shares are still reeling from a crackdown.
“Given that the China tech crackdown has already frayed investors nerves along with credit concerns... (the latest move) in the education sector... is another ratchet higher in the regulatory risk landscape in China,” said Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst, Asia Pacific at OANDA.
That set a dour tone for equities, with MSCI’s index of EM shares down 2.1 percent after losing more than 2.5 percent last week. Western European shares eased off record highs, and futures tracking Wall Street indexes inched lower.

South African shares snapped a four-day winning streak, while Russian shares are now nearly 5 percent away from all-time highs hit earlier this month.
July is shaping up to be the worst month for EM shares since the March 2020 COVID-19 rout when they lost more than 15 percent.
Meanwhile, talks between Washington and Beijing got off to a tense start as China blamed the United States for a “stalemate” in their relationship.
Rising COVID-19 infections continued to weigh, with Turkey reporting a tripling of cases on Sunday compared with earlier this month, while the total number of infections in Russia crossed 6 million although officials say cases may have peaked at least in Moscow.
Turkey’s lira looked to post its worst session in a month against the dollar and the euro, down about 0.7 percent against both. Russia’s rouble slipped 0.5 percent against the greenback, with falling oil prices also weighing.
Russia on Friday delivered a 100 basis point interest rate hike, joining several other EM central banks as they attempt to contain inflation.
Eyes this week will be on the US Federal Reserve’s policy decision on Wednesday. Chairman Jerome Powell’s dovish stance so far has provided some support to risk assets this year.
South Africa’s rand hit a near four-month low, with the easing of some pandemic-led restrictions providing little support.
It has lost nearly 5 percent in two weeks after violent protests broke out following the arrest of former President Jacob Zuma, which the central bank said would probably slow the country’s economic recovery.
Tunisian dollar bonds dropped more than 2 cents after President Kais Saied ousted the government.