UAE conglomerate Al Habtoor reports 19% revenue growth in H1 2022 – Arab News
RIYADH: UAE-based Al Habtoor Group recorded a robust performance for the first half of 2022, with a year-on-year growth of 19 percent in revenues, its founding Chairman Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor announced in a statement.
The firm also witnessed a 36 percent increase in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization in the first half of the year compared to the same period of 2021, he said.
Al Habtoor said: “We had a good year in 2021 where we saw a very promising recovery post-Covid, and I predicted last November an even better 2022. 
“I am delighted to announce that this year did not disappoint. The revenues in our business’s various divisions surpassed the previous year’s recovery and pre-COVID times. 
“Numbers don’t lie.”
He went on to say: “Habtoor Hospitality’s year-to-date forecast for first half of 2022 registered an 82 percent increase in revenues over the same period in 2021, and 190 percent in EBITDA, triggered by an overall increase in bookings in town and an ADR-focused policy,” he added.
Dubai welcomed 7.12 million visitors in the first six months of 2022, up 183 percent year on year, according to the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.
Revenue per available room rose to 540 dirhams ($147.02) in the first half of the year, 21 percent higher than in the first half of 2019, despite a 22 percent increase in the number of hotel rooms in the Emirate since then, as reported by DTCM.
“Al Habtoor Motors, our automotive division, maintains its world’s number one distributor position for Bentley, Bugatti and Mitsubishi, with double-digit revenue growth of 34 percent for the first half of 2022, and a 190 percent growth in the EBITDA compared to last year,” Al Habtoor said.
The Group’s car leasing division Diamondlease, with a fleet of more than 12,700 vehicles, declared an increase in revenues of more than 52 percent in the first half of this year compared to last year, with more than 91 percent utilization, according to the statement.
“We have doubled our fleet size over the past two years in Diamondlease, and have reshaped our revenue structure, focusing more on the used-car sales and enhancing the client’s experience,” Al Habtoor commented.
He continued: “I trust this success will continue for the second half and propagate to 2023. We are on the right track; I am optimistic about our future. We are never entirely satisfied. 
“Our dreams and goals exceed what the world expects from us. I hope they will learn from our successful example.”
Dubai-based hotelier and leisure group AHG operates in the UAE and international markets including London, Vienna, Budapest, Beirut and the US.
Hong Kong: Markets sank Thursday and the dollar rallied after the Federal Reserve unveiled a third straight jumbo interest rate hike, said more were in the pipeline, and warned the battle against inflation was straining the US economy, according to AFP.
While the three-quarter-point rise was widely expected, there was some surprise at the central bank’s forecast that borrowing costs would likely be held above four percent throughout next year.
Fed boss Jerome Powell reiterated his determination to focus on bringing down inflation — which is at a four-decade high — and accepted that the campaign would hit Americans hard.
“We have got to get inflation behind us,” Powell said after a two-day meeting of the Fed policy committee. “I wish there were a painless way to do that. There isn’t.”
He added that “the historical record cautions strongly against prematurely loosening policy” and the Fed would “keep at it until the job is done.”
The bank has for months tried to walk a fine line between fighting soaring prices and trying to keep the economy from contracting, but officials accept the chances of success are narrow.
“With the new rate projections, the Fed is engineering a hard landing — a soft landing is almost out of the question,” said Seema Shah, of Principal Global Investors.
“Jerome Powell almost channelled his inner Paul Volcker… talking about the forceful and rapid steps the Fed has taken, and is likely to continue taking, as it attempts to stamp out painful inflation pressures and ward off an even worse scenario later down the line.”
Volcker used aggressive measures to quell runaway prices in the 1980s, when inflation was last as high as it is now.
Commentators are now betting on a fourth straight 75-basis-point rate hike at the next Fed meeting in November.
All three main indexes on Wall Street tumbled Wednesday as traders contemplated an era of higher-for-longer rates, which could hit companies’ bottom lines.
Asia followed suit, with Hong Kong down almost two percent — at one point hitting an 11-year low — while Tokyo, Shanghai, Seoul, Singapore, Mumbai, Taipei and Manila also down.
London, Paris and Frankfurt extended the losses as they opened sharply lower.
“This meeting once again demonstrates that the Fed is willing to do what is necessary to bring inflation under control. It will slow demand by keeping rates higher for longer — even if this means growth and jobs are lost,” said Christian Scherrmann, of asset management firm DWS.
“The current view of the central bankers is still that this will cause a slowdown, but not a recession. We fully agree that bitter medicine to win back price stability is necessary. But we fear its side-effects will be harsher than the Fed is currently projecting.”
And Fidelity International’s Anna Stupnytska said a long-hoped-for change of direction from the Fed “now seems further away,” though added that a significant tightening of monetary financial conditions could see an earlier pause in the rate hikes.
Investors are now preparing for similar actions from central banks elsewhere around the world, including in Britain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Still, the Bank of Japan decided not to shift from its ultra-loose measures owing to its determination to kickstart the country’s torpid economy, a policy that has sent the yen plunging 20 percent this year, hitting a 24-year low Thursday.
The currency broke the 145-yen-per-dollar mark not seen since 1998 — and heading for 146 — raising the prospect officials will step in to provide support.
Other currencies were also under pressure, with the euro wallowing at a 20-year low and sterling touching a fresh 37-year nadir of $1.1221.
The greenback was also at multi-year highs on the South Korean won, Chinese yuan, Australian dollar and Canadian dollar, among others.
Oil prices edged up after a rollercoaster Wednesday.
Both contracts spiked in reaction to President Vladimir Putin’s announcement of a partial mobilization of the Russian army and a veiled threat to use nuclear weapons against the West.
But they soon retreated as investors once again turned to the likely impact on demand from an expected recession across world economies.
RIYADH: Oil rebounded on Thursday after sliding 1 percent in the previous session as concerns over tight supplies heading into winter eclipsed fears of a global recession.
Brent crude futures rose 50 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $90.33 per barrel by 0319 GMT, recouping their losses in early Asia trade. US West Texas Intermediate crude rose 45 cents to $83.39.
China’s crude oil demand rebounds 
At least three Chinese state oil refineries and a privately run mega refiner are considering increasing runs by up to 10 percent in October from September, eyeing stronger demand and a possible surge in fourth-quarter fuel exports, Reuters reported citing people familiar with the matter.
Chinese refiners are expecting Beijing to release up to 15 million tons worth of oil products export quotas for the rest of the year to support the no. 2 economy’s sagging exports. Such a move would signal a reversal in China’s oil products export policy, add to global supplies and depress fuel prices.
An official with a state refinery said his plant is eyeing a 10 percent hike in runs from September to about 240,000 barrels per day. “We’re raising runs next month in preparation for a possible opening in exports, though nobody has a clear idea how big the opening would be,” the official said.
A second official with another state refinery said his plant is also planning about an 8 percent hike in throughput next month, but added that the plan had been driven by firmer domestic margins. A third state refinery expects to restart a 60,000-bpd crude unit next month after maintenance, one of the sources said.
China’s single largest refinery Zhejiang Petrochemical Corp, which is capable of processing 800,000 bpd of crude, is aiming to ramp up runs in the coming months from the current levels of 700,000-750,000 bpd, according to two sources familiar with its operations.
A ZPC representative confirmed the firm is considering a run increase due to signs of economic recovery, but declined to elaborate further.
Repsol to begin turnaround at Tarragona oil refinery
Spanish energy giant Repsol is investing €100 million to reduce emissions at its 186,000 bpd Tarragona refinery in Spain, which begins two months of maintenance at the end of the week.
The distillation and hydrotreating fuel units will stop simultaneously on Sept. 23, while the remaining areas of the Tarragona complex, such as the chemical plants, will continue to operate normally, Repsol said.
Repsol has dubbed the project “the most important turnaround ever carried out at the refinery.”
The work is designed to improve the energy efficiency of the complex’s facilities and prevent the emissions of 32,500 tons of carbon dioxide each year.
Repsol aims to be a net zero emissions company by 2050.
Norway’s August gas output exceeds forecast, oil lags
Norway’s crude oil output in August missed the official forecast, while gas output exceeded expectations, preliminary data from the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate showed on Wednesday.
Crude oil output rose to 1.77 million bpd in August from 1.64 million bpd in July, compared to a forecast of 1.83 million bpd, the NPD said.
Natural gas production in August averaged 332.8 million cubic meters per day, down from 350.6 mcm per day in July but 4.5 percent above forecast, NPD said.
The full-month gas output fell to 10.8 billion cubic meters from 10.9 bcm in July, the agency said. 
(With input from Reuters)
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s central bank raised its key interest rates on Wednesday following a hike by the Federal Reserve as the US agency continued its battle to contain inflation.
Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) matched the Fed’s increase of three-quarters of a percent.
“SAMA has decided to raise the rate of Repurchase Agreement (Repo) by 75 basis points to 3.75 percent, and the rate of Reverse Repurchase Agreement (Reverse Repo) by 75 basis points to 3.25 percent,” the bank said in a statement on Wednesday evening, citing an objective of maintaining monetary and financial stability.
The Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates said it was hiking its base rate by three quarters of a percentage point as well to 3.15% effective from Thursday, moving in parallel with the Fed’s third straight hike of that size.
The bank said it would maintain the rate on borrowing short-term liquidity from the CBUAE through all standing credit facilities at 50 basis points above the base rate.
(With input from Reuters)
WASHINGTON: The Federal Reserve raised the key US interest rate again Wednesday and said more hikes are coming as it battles soaring prices — an aggressive stance that has raised fears of a recession.
And Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell warned that the process of conquering inflation will involve some pain.
It was the third consecutive increase of 0.75 percentage point by the Fed’s policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), continuing the forceful action to tamp down inflation that has surged to the highest in 40 years.
The increase — the fifth one this year — takes the policy rate to 3.0-3.25 percent, and the FOMC said it “anticipates that ongoing increases… will be appropriate.”
Soaring prices are putting the squeeze on American families and businesses, and have become a political liability for President Joe Biden as he faces midterm congressional elections in early November.
But a contraction of the world’s largest economy would be a more damaging blow to Biden, and the world at large.
Powell has made it clear that officials will continue to act aggressively to cool the economy and avoid a repeat of the 1970s and early 1980s, the last time US inflation got out of control.
It took tough action — and a recession — to finally bring prices down in the 1980s, and the Fed is unwilling to give up its hard-won, inflation-fighting credibility.
Powell said the US central bank is committed to raising interest rates and keeping them high until inflation comes down, and he warned against reversing course too soon.
“The historical record cautions strongly against prematurely loosening policy,” Powell told reporters.
He said there is no room for complacency and the Fed will “keep at it until the job is done,” although at some point it will be appropriate to slow the pace of rate increases, depending on the data.
He acknowledged that bringing inflation down will require a period of slower growth and higher unemployment, noting that the job market is out of sync, with far more openings than workers.
“We have got to get inflation behind us. I wish there were a painless way to do that. There isn’t.”
But he said continued high inflation would be even more painful, especially on those least able to withstand it.
The Fed’s quarterly forecasts released with the rate decision Wednesday show FOMC members expect US GDP growth to virtually flatline this year, rising just 0.2 percent. But they see a return to expansion in 2023, with annual growth of 1.2 percent.
They project further rate hikes this year — totaling 1.25 percentage points — and more in 2023, with no cuts until 2024.
While the FOMC noted continued “robust” job gains in recent months and low unemployment, the forecasts project the jobless rate will rise to 4.4 percent next year and hold around that level through 2025.
Inflation is a global phenomenon amid the Russian war in Ukraine on top of global supply chain snarls and Covid lockdowns in China, and other major central banks are taking action as well.
Despite a welcome drop in gasoline prices at the pump in recent weeks, the disappointing consumer price report for August showed widespread increases.
The FOMC statement said noted the “broader price pressures” beyond food and energy, and stressed that officials are “strongly committed to returning inflation to its 2 percent objective.”
The aim is to raise the cost of borrowing and cool demand, and it is having an impact: The housing market has slowed as mortgage rates have surged.
Many economists say at least a short period of negative US GDP in the first half of 2023 will be needed before inflation starts coming down.
Nancy Vanden Houten of Oxford Economics said the updated Fed forecasts acknowledge “the toll that higher rates will take on the economy,” but she said “their projections are more optimistic than our own.”
Stocks on Wall Street turned negative following the announcement, while the US dollar soared to a 20-year high.
RIYADH: The Large Companies Investments Committee has appointed Abdulaziz Al-Arifi as the CEO of a government-backed initiative aimed at developing partnerships between the public and private sector.
Saudi Arabia’s Shareek Program was launched by the Saudi crown prince last year and seeks to raise the private sectors’ contribution to the Kingdom’s gross domestic product to 65 percent. 
Al-Arifi holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Babson College Massachusetts, and a master’s degree in business administration from Stanford University, according to the Saudi Press Agency. 
He has leadership and practical experiences in the public and private sectors, as he currently works as a consultant in the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers.


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