Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Pakistani Construction Boom Continues in 2013

Domestic cement consumption surged 10.10% in Pakistan in January 2013, according to All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association. On top of 8% increase in Fiscal Year 2011-12, it jumped another 8% for the first seven months of Fiscal Year 2012-13.

Cement production is an important barometer of national economic activity,  according to a research report compiled by a Credit Suisse analyst.  Last year, CS analyst Farhan Rizvi said in his report that "higher PSDP (Public Sector Development Program) spending has led to a resurgence in domestic cement demand in FY12 (+8%) and with increased PSDP allocation for FY13 (+19%) and General Elections due in 2013, domestic demand is likely to remain robust over the next six-nine months".

Ongoing public sector projects include new large and small dams, irrigation canals, power plants, highways, rapid transit systems, flyovers, airports, seaports, etc. Most of these were already in the pipeline when the PPP government assumed control in 2008. Recent pre-election increases in PSDP funding allowed work to resume on these projects in 2011-12.

 In addition to public sector infrastructure projects, there is a lot of privately funded real estate development activity visible in all major cities of the country.

Ocean Tower Karachi
Among the high-profile new construction projects completed this month is Ocean Tower in Karachi. At 393 feet high with 30 floors, it is now the tallest building in Pakistan. Ocean Tower has a shopping mall, food courts, corporate offices, a business club, car-parking area and 4 cinemas.

The Centaurus Islamabad
The Centaurus, at 361 feet, is another new project in Islamabad completed this month. It consists of three towers---office tower, residential tower and a 5-star hotel. The three will be linked by a shopping mall.

Big real estate developers like Bahria Town and Habib Construction are developing both commercial and housing projects in Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore. Other cities like Faisalabad, Hyderabad, Larkana, Multan, Mirpur, Peshawar and Quetta are also seeing new housing communities, golf courses, hotels, office complexes, restaurants, shopping malls, etc.

Per capita cement consumption in Pakistan was only 70 Kg in 2003. It has more than doubled in the last decade.  With back-to-back increases in domestic cement demand, per capita consumption has now risen to 154 Kg which is still below average for Asia. But the rising demand is a good sign of economic recovery since 2009 when the GDP growth hit a low of 1.7%.

Centaurus Mall Opening Day


Credit Suisse is bullish on Pakistan's cement sector in particular and Pakistani shares in general.

CS analyst Farhan Rizvi has initiated coverage with "an OVERWEIGHT stance, as we believe compelling valuations, improving domestic demand outlook, better pricing power and easing cost pressures make the sector an attractive investment proposition. Despite better growth prospects (3-year CAGR of 17% over FY12-15E) and improving margins, the sector trades at an attractive FY13E EV/EBITDA of 3.8x, 49% discount to the historical average multiple of 7.4x. Moreover, FY13E EV/tonne of US$74 is approximately 29% discount to historical average EV/tonne of US$104 and 50% discount to the region".

Another CS analyst Farrukh Khan, based in Credit Suisse’ Asia Pacific headquarters in Singapore,says in his research report that “liquidity in 2012 has been concentrated in stocks offering positive earnings surprises (e.g., United Bank, Lucky Cement, DG Khan Cement and Bank Alfalah), enabling them to be strong outperformers. With further improvements in liquidity, we expect a broad-based price discovery to take hold in attractively valued oil and fertilizer stocks as well.”

 A string of strong earnings announcements by Karachi Stock Exchange listed companies and the Central Bank's 1.5% rate cut have already helped Karachi's KSE-100 index surge nearly 50% (37% in US $ terms) in 2012 to top all Asian market indices. It was followed by Bangkok's SET index which advanced 36%. It also easily beat India's Sensex index which was the top performer among BRICs with 25.19% annual gain.

Related Links:

 Haq's Musings

Pakistan's GDP Grossly Underestimated, Shares Highly Undervalued

Investment Analysts Bullish on Pakistan

Precise Estimates of Pakistan's Informal Economy

Comparing Pakistan and Bangladesh in 2012

Pak Consumer Boom  Fuels Underground Economy

Rural Consumption Boom in Pakistan

Pakistan's Tax Evasion Fosters Aid Dependence

Poll Finds Pakistanis Happier Than Neighbors

Pakistan's Rural Economy Booming

Pakistan Car Sales Up 61%

Resilient Pakistan Defies Doomsayers

Land For Landless Women in Pakistan

Pakistan's Circular Debt and Load-shedding

35 comments:

HopeWins Junior said...

Similar article w.r.t. Indonesia:
http://alturl.com/taarq

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Daily Times on KSE-100 setting new records:

KARACHI: Karachi stock market on Wednesday registered yet another record session led by exploration and production (E&P) stocks that poured in sufficient gains for the benchmark to stand strong at historic high.

Analysts said high turnover were witnessed which was 10 months high during the session reflective of growing confidence among investors.

The Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) 100-share index gained 120.45 points as the KSE-100 share index closed at 17,408.52 points compared to 17,288.07 points of the previous session. The KSE 30-share index was up by 109.15 points to close at 14,232.38 points as compared with 14,123.23 points of the previous session.

The market turnover went up by 33.31 percent and traded 335.61 million shares after opening at 251.75 million shares. The overall market capitalisation surged by 0.41 percent and traded Rs 4.346 trillion compared to Rs 4.328 trillion of the previous session. Gainers beat losers by 202 to 130 while 24 stocks remained unchanged.

Market saw yet another record high crossing 17,400-mark with 10 months high volume of 336 million shares. Market saw aggressive institutional buying in hope caretaker government would soon take charge. Once again telecom sector remained in limelight where WorldCall, Wateen Telecome and Telecard contributing 24 percent of total volume, said Samar Iqbal Equity Dealer at Topline Sec.

The KMI 30-share index gained 319.78 points to close at 30,125.99 points from its opening at 29,806.21 points. The KSE all-share index closed with a gain of 52.35 points to close at 12,263.70 points as against 12,211.35 points.

Husnein Asghar Ali Chief Operating Officer Escorts Capital said in different from various external concerns the local equity market registered yet another record session led by E&P stocks. The telecom sector led by Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) on result sensation and positive impact of rather confusing international incoming call revenues, despite the proposal wrapped by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) after order from High Court on the intervention of CCOP, along with hefty trade in Engro and Efoods allowed the turnover to stand by the gains. Although presence of values continue to justify gains despite negativity from external factors of the orbit that has seemingly cautioned the short term traders, upcoming monetary policy that continue to stay a valid trigger for the local equities in an otherwise a gloomy external environment, cautious activity is therefore suggested, the stocks likely to advance further despite various visible concerns can be looked for placements, while strength can be looked for sector and stock swapping to maximise the gains.

Pakistan Oilfields Limited (POL) and DG Khan Cement (DGKC) was indeed high demand led premium in T+2 (ready board) while Feb Forward (T+30) was trading at discount (known as ulta badla), the future spread trading negative offered extra trading gains for the ‘held for trading’ portfolios carrying POL and DGKC.

WorldCall Telecom was the volume leader in the share market with 53.42 million shares as it closed at Rs 3.49 after opening at Rs 2.86 gaining 63 paisas. TRG Pakistan traded 33.85 million shares as it closed at Rs 8.28 from its opening at Rs 7.28 gaining Rs 1.00. Wateen Telecom traded 24.51 million shares and closed at Rs 3.34 compared to its opening at Rs 2.99 gaining 35 paisas. PTCL traded 22.91 million shares as it closed at Rs 20.31 against its opening at Rs 19.39 gaining 91 paisas.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013\02\07\story_7-2-2013_pg5_16

rafi said...

Is the same in my village, many construction of new houses and villas, with nice havallis - new motor cycles, cars, flat screen tv's, was recently in Gujar Khan meeting former comrades, was surprised at the new restaurants and plazas being constructed, also according to our analyses - about half of GDP is undocumented.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report Pakistan PM pushing development projects and welfare program as election nears:

DASU - Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Friday laid the foundation for construction of Thahkot-Dasu Road and vowed to continue development work for the masses despite opposition.
The road will be 63 kilometres long and would cost Rs 2 billion.
Addressing a gathering after the foundation stone-laying ceremony, the prime minister raised the Hard Area allowance for Kohistan to 40 percent, as was the practice in other areas.
He also directed the WAPDA chairman to immediately fulfil the promises made to the local people and warned of swift action in case of non-compliance.
The PM directed for repair of schools by the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Agency (ERRA) and promised increase in quota of the area in medical and engineering colleges.
Ashraf was earlier briefed about the Thahkot-Dasu Road project that would be completed in 30 months and provide an easy access to the 4,320MW Dasu Power Project besides serving as an alternative route to Karakoram Highway.
The prime minister strongly dismissed criticism against the development projects of the government. “We will not stop serving the masses or stop development work as it benefits them.”
The prime minister also rejected the criticism against the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) and said it was a service for the poorest of the poor and would not be allowed to end. He said the people of Pakistan would continue to support this programme through the power of the ballot.
Ashraf said BISP would continue and would be further expanded.
Addressing critics, he said the government would raise the disbursement amount to Rs 5,000 and even Rs 10,000.
The prime minister added that the government did not have time to indulge in mud slinging or to counter the propaganda of the critics, as it was busy in initiating developmental projects for the masses.
“There is no need to teach us what democracy is and how to serve the masses,” he said.
“We are not among those who run away, we will stand up and fight the critics and prove that the people of Pakistan see the PPP as a sign of hope that will not shy from any sacrifice to serve them.”
He said it was his desire to meet the people of Kohistan who were ardent supporters of Pakistan People’s Party. He said he too was an ordinary worker of the PPP and believed in the vision of the martyred leaders - Zufikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto.


http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2013/02/09/news/national/pm-vows-to-continue-development-work/

Riaz Haq said...

Karachi is now following the example of Lahore to build a mass transit system...a combiatiion of trains (Karachi Circular Railway or KCR) and buses (Bus Rapid Transit or BRT). Here's an ET report:

KARACHI: Progress on the much-awaited Bus Rapid Transport System project is expected to move a step further, when the government awards consultancy rights to a consortium of companies led by the global auditing firm KPMG, officials told The Express Tribune on Monday.

KPMG has been hired as the financial adviser for the project, with the National Engineering Services Pakistan (Nespak) and Mohsin Tayebaly and Company responsible for technical and legal affairs, respectively.

While the formal agreement is expected to be signed in a few days, it would take another 13 months before construction kicks off on the first part of the project, the 22-kilometre-long Yellow Line, which would connect Dawood Chowrangi in Landhi to Numaish in Saddar. Nespak is already undertaking the BRTS project in Lahore, which is near completion.

“Now we would decide what needs to be done with the route. For example, deciding whether there is a need for [creating] an overhead passage at any point,” said an official. “A feasibility study needs to be carried out before we can finalise costing and other financial details. Finally, we will look for an investor.” The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) had earlier put the expected cost of the Yellow Line at around Rs2 billion, and set 2014 as its launch year.

The transit system involves dedicated buses lanes, which would crisscross roads and bridges. Around 13,000 passengers are expected to use the system in Karachi every hour, which would cut current travelling time by almost half. Buses will run on reserved tracks, at an average speed of 25 kilometres per hour (kmph), well above the average vehicular speed in the city of 17 kmph....


http://tribune.com.pk/story/502645/firm-that-built-lahores-rapid-transit-to-act-as-consultant-for-karachi/

Here's a BR report on KCR:

The ECC which met here under the chairmanship of Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh was informed that Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has already agreed to provide 93.5pc ($2.4 billion) of the estimated cost through soft loan at a markup of 0.2pc payable in 40 years including 10 years grace period. The remaining 6.5pc ($169.6 million) will be borne by the Ministry of Railway (60pc equity), Government of Sindh (25pc equity) and the City District Government Karachi (15pc equity); the stakeholders of KUTC as per their share.

The track of the KCR will be 86 km long with 27 stations to be built around the city.

This important project will be a milestone in improving the quality of life of the citizens....



http://www.brecorder.com/top-news/1-front-top-news/98665-ecc-approves-revival-of-karachi-circular-railways-.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's more from ET on Lahore Metrobus:

A total of 45 buses have been imported from Turkey which will be driven by Turkish drivers on a single track in Lahore. The buses will stop at 27 stations that cover the entire Lahore. First station is at Gaju Mata and the last one is at Shaadra.

A one-of-a-kind nine kilometer long flyover has been constructed solely for the metro bus. It connects one end of Lahore with the other. Buses will commute on this flyover. The modern system of electronic ticketing has been introduced at all the stations; waterproof escalators have been installed for the elderly, and a squad for security and maintenance has been appointed.

The stations and the entire route of this larger-than-life metro system are up to international standards. Commuting in Lahore will now become as easy as commuting in London city or Bangkok. The only difference is we will have buses instead of trains and they will be manual instead of electronic.

The inauguration of this mega project is today.

After being postponed a couple of times, Shahbaz Sharif has finally given the confirmed date. For the initial four weeks, the buses will be free for all the commuters. However, the fare is extremely cheap. From what I’ve heard, the cost of a ticket from the first to the last station will be as low as Rs45!

Until now, every feature of this yet-to-function project seems to be perfect, but will it be successful?

Will the squad for maintaining cleanliness and security live up to the expectations?

Will all the 45 buses work efficiently for a long period of time?

Most importantly, how will the masses react to this state-of-the-art system?



http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/16022/lahore-metro-bus-system-a-major-step-in-pakistans-public-transport/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Daily Times on 10% increase in overseas remittances in first 7 months of FY2012-13:

KARACHI: Overseas Pakistani workers remitted an amount of $8,206.39 million in the first seven months (July to January) of the current fiscal year 2012-13 (FY13), showing a growth of 10.36 percent or $770.41 million when compared with $7,435.98 million received during the same period of last fiscal year (July to January 2011-12).

The inflow of remittances in July to January 2013 from Saudi Arabia, UAE, USA, UK, GCC countries (including Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman), and EU countries amounted to $2,292.02 million, $1,669.36 million, $1,324.00 million, $1,155.35 million, $941.83 million and $217.89 million, respectively as compared with the inflow of $2,008.47 million, $1,644.34 million, $1,328.31 million, $853.47 million, $845.41 million and $215.64 million, respectively in July to January 2012. Remittances received from Norway, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan and other countries during the first seven months of current fiscal year (July to January FY13) amounted to $605.89 million as against $540.34 million received in the first seven months of last fiscal year (July to January FY12).

The monthly average remittances for July to January 2013 period comes out to $1,172.34 million as compared to $1,062.28 million during the corresponding period of the last fiscal year.

An amount of $1,089.64 million was remitted by overseas Pakistanis in January 2013 as against $ 1,110.64 million in the same month of the last fiscal year (January 2012).

In January 2013, the inflow of remittances from Saudi Arabia, UAE, USA, UK, GCC countries (including Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman), and EU countries amounted to $331.40 million, $208.46 million, $168.46 million, $150.34 million, $130.65 million and $29.12 million, respectively as compared with the inflow of $346.58 million, $ 231.42 million, $178.07 million, $127.12 million, $124.22 million and $26.50 million, respectively in January 2012. Remittances received from Norway, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan and other countries during the seventh month of the current fiscal year (January FY13) amounted to $71.21 million as against $76.73 million received in the seventh month of last fiscal year (January 2012).

The continued growth in workers’ remittances is the result of the efforts made by Pakistan Remittance Initiative (PRI) in collaboration with other stakeholders to facilitate both overseas Pakistanis and their families back home. Since its inception, PRI has taken a number of steps to enhance the flow of remittances through formal channels which include; (a) preparation of national strategies on remittances (b) taking all necessary steps to implement the overall strategy (c) playing the advisory role for financial sector in terms of preparing a business case, relationship building with overseas correspondents, creating separate efficient remittance payment highways and (d) becoming a national focal point for overseas Pakistanis through round the clock call centre with toll free lines, separate web site etc.

It may be recalled that in order to provide an ownership structure in Pakistan for remittance facilitation, the government of Pakistan through State Bank of Pakistan, Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and the Ministry of Finance had launched a joint initiative called PRI in April 2009. This initiative has been taken to achieve the objective of facilitating and supporting faster, cheaper, convenient and efficient flow of remittances.

workers’ remittances :

Saudi Arabia $331.40m $346.58m

UAE $208.46m $ 231.42m

USA $168.46m $178.07m

UK $150.34m $127.12m

GCC countries $130.65m $124.22m

EU countries $29.12m $26.50m


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013%5C02%5C12%5Cstory_12-2-2013_pg5_2

HopeWins Junior said...

^^RH: Here's Daily Times on 10% increase in overseas remittances in first 7 months of FY2012-13:
----

January 2013 was NOT a good month.

Remittances for Jan 2013 (1,089 Mln$) were LOWER than Dec 2012 (1,134 Mln$) and also LOWER than Jan 2012 (1,110 Mln$).

Here are the data:
http://www.sbp.org.pk/ecodata/Homeremit.pdf

In addition, FY 12 total remittances were 13,186 Mln$.
http://www.sbp.org.pk/ecodata/Homeremit_arch.xls

Annualizing the 7-month figure of 8,206 gives us 14,068 total (projected) for FY 13. So the annualized increase is expected to be around 6%-- IF THE DOWNWARD TREND seen in Jan 2013 does NOT PERSIST....

Riaz Haq said...

Gold imports in Pakistan up 23% July-Nov 2012, reports Daily Times:

KARACHI: Yellow metal imports during July to November 2012 in the country increased by 23 percent or Rs 7.12 billion as against Rs 5.78 billion in July to November 2011, precious metal importers said on Thursday.

The traders imported around 1,393 kilogrammes (kgs) of gold during this period, they added.

In November 2012, gold imports stood at 298 kgs worth Rs 1.57 billion, which was up around 357 percent as compared to November 2011.

Due to lower international prices of the yellow metal, import reamined on the higher side in November 2012 as it dipped around $128 an ounce, said a metal expert in London Saleem Ahmad.

Usually yellow metal importers make deals for the precious commodity with traders in Dubai, India and South Africa.

Major deals are made with Dubai based gold traders while due to lower gold future prices in India, the domestic traders also made deals. In India the gold prices are hovering around Rs 32,000 per 10 grammes while in Pakistan 10 grammes of gold is available at around Rs 53,200.

Rising demand in domestic markets for the wedding season also pushed gold imports up besides declining international prices also attracted the domestic importers to fortify their long position in anticipation of futures rising prices. Gold remained a haven for the hedging purpose besides it is the safest investment for hedgers as compared to stocks, where shares prices are always uncertain.

Gold prices in Pakistan bullion market are hovering at around Rs 62,200 per tola. Safest haven for investment hedging became the driving force behind buying, he added.

The yellow metal import’s rise was attributed to large buying by institutional and hedge fund that kept the momentum of the gold price to go up besides physical buying from India and China.

Hedging in gold is still on the higher side as it touched a new high around 80 percent in 11 months of 2012.

Meanwhile, the gold importers demanded of the government to announce duty cut on import of the commodity.

The government should announce around Rs 100 per tola duty cut in order to lower its prices in the domestic market besides providing relief to exporters of gold ornaments in the international market.

Currently the duty on import is around Rs 550 per tola and due to higher dollar value against the rupee, the local demand for the commodity is declining.

The government should provide duty relief on 3.0 kgs imports of gold on every 10 kgs of jewellery exports, exporters demanded.

Gold is expected to touch $1,800 an ounce in the next year or so on back of the Fed measures to boost interest in gold exchange-traded funds, among the vehicles that issue securities, backed by physical metal.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\12\28\story_28-12-2012_pg5_3

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Emirates 24-7 report on a massive property investment deal between Abu Dhabi Group and Malik Riaz:

UAE’s Abu Dhabi Group and Pakistani real estate tycoon Malik Riaz on Friday signed a deal to invest $45 billion (Dh165.15 billion) in Pakistan including building the world’s tallest building in Karachi.

Pakistan’s news channel Geo reported today that $35 billion (Dh165.15 billion) will be pumped in Sindh province while the rest will be invested in Lahore and Islamabad.

Under the deal, Sports City, International City, Media City, Educational and Medical City will be built in Pakistan’s financial capital. The news channel said that world’s Seven Wonders will also be built as part of the project.

The deal is expected to generate over 2.5 million jobs in Pakistan.

The channel, however, didn’t reveal the time for the completion of the project.


http://www.emirates247.com/business/economy-finance/abu-dhabi-group-property-tycoon-to-build-world-s-tallest-building-in-pakistan-2013-02-15-1.495174

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET report on soaring profits at Nestle Pakistan:

Profits at Nestle Pakistan shot up in 2012 as the company saw its margins increase for the first time in four years, as more and more consumers from Pakistan’s rising middle class are able to afford some of its higher-margin products.

On Monday, the company announced its financial results for the year ending December 31, 2012 – and it was a remarkably positive report: net revenues were up 22% for the year to Rs79 billion, and profits up an even higher 25.6% to Rs5.9 billion compared to the same period in the previous year.

The strong revenue growth for Nestle is particularly remarkable, considering the fact that it is the largest food and consumer goods company in the country, and yet still shows little sign of a slowdown in growth. Indeed, much of that growth appears to be volumetric, showing that consumers have a higher demand for Nestle’s products rather than revenue increases simply being a function of inflation.

But perhaps most encouraging for the company was its increase in gross profit margins, which rose from 25.8% in 2011 to 27.2% in 2012, suggesting that the company is selling more of its higher-margin products. At least some of that higher margin, however, was eroded by higher logistics and distribution costs.

Part of the reason for those higher costs is the installation of more refrigerators as more of its chilled products get sold (mostly yogurt). But another part of it may be that the company is expanding its distribution network into areas where transportation infrastructure is poor and cost of getting products to customers is higher, driving up its overall average.

Nonetheless, Nestle’s size in Pakistan – though miniscule by global standards – appears to insulate it from the kinds of risks that some of its smaller competitors face. Engro Foods, for instance, has somewhat higher distribution costs as a percentage of revenues than Nestle.

Nestle Pakistan’s Swiss parent is the world’s largest food company, with a wide array of products: from those that are commodity-like, to higher-margin products like health foods and chocolates. In Pakistan, however, Nestle has, until recently, been primarily a dairy company. Indeed, until the early 2000s, Nestle’s presence in the country was incorporated as Nestle Milkpak Ltd, named after its signature product. It remains the largest player in the dairy market, collecting milk from an estimated 190,000 farmers spread over 145,000 square kilometres in Punjab and Sindh.

Over the past few years, the company has expanded its product portfolio in Pakistan to include fruit juices, breakfast cereals, instant noodles and confectionaries. But it is still a small proportion of its global portfolio.

Nestle’s ability to rapidly grow its revenues and profits despite being the biggest player in Pakistan appears to be indicative of the tremendous room for growth in the Pakistani market. Consumer spending is expanding as the country’s middle class grows on the back of rapid urbanisation, and increasing household incomes as more and more young people enter the workforce.

Even the advent of a strong local rival in the form of Engro Foods does not appear to have dented Nestle’s growth prospects. In earlier conversations with The Express Tribune, officials at both Nestle and Engro Foods are keen to downplay any talk of a rivalry between the two companies, insisting that there is plenty of room for both to grow. Considering the blowout growth at both firms, there appears to be considerable merit to their argument.

The global giant is currently on track to invest upwards of CHF320 million ($347 million) in expanding its production capacity within Pakistan as part of a three-year plan.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/509211/corporate-results-profits-soar-at-nestle-pakistan-as-margins-rise-again/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET Op Ed by LUMS' Professor Rasul Bukhsh Rais:

I have a serious problem with the cynic brigade that writes and comments on social, developmental and political issues along familiar lines. What is their familiar line? The Taliban are coming, extremism is on the rise, corruption is pervasive and life is miserable. This is a partial truth, not the whole truth. That nothing can change is a viewpoint that conflicts with history and the evolution of societies.

Cynicism in hard times like ours and in a climate of fear, insecurity and violence, sells and viewers and readers readily embrace the dark side of things rather than looking at what is bright and shining. The other issue is the habit of most of my colleagues and columnists to write from the comfort of their offices or homes. They tend to look at the big picture that gives a disturbing spectre rather than examining achievements at local levels, and by dedicated individuals and communities. If there is any meaningful and real change in Pakistan, it is taking place at these levels in every aspect of the social and economic life of this country. By missing details of development and positive change at the smaller scale, we may draw a big picture of a society and country that may not be in agreement with reality. This is what is unfortunately happening.

One of my social beliefs is that only by changing at the local level will Pakistan change for the better at the national level. The national in spatial terms is nothing but local. By often travelling through the villages, mostly in Punjab, I have seen thousands of positive contributions and developments that are neither documented nor narrated. Never has our regular cynic brigade opened its eyes and minds to what this change is and how it is becoming a catalyst for more and larger changes.

Let me share one man’s gigantic contribution at a government agricultural research farm in Bahawalpur. I had heard about Mushtaq Alvi for his collection of berries and date palm trees for some years. Last weekend, I had the opportunity to visit this fabulous farm, which may not be noticed from outside the walls. Mr Alvi, as a young man with his first job, started the plantation in 1985. He went to every place in Pakistan to collect the best local species of date palms, berries, mangoes, guavas and pomegranates. Today, he has 35 species of date palms, 20 of berries, 20 of mangoes and five of pomegranates, and almost every of guavas. Never has his search for new findings ended.

While the collection continues to expand, the farm has supported thousands of farmers and households that would like to have various species of these trees. Every season, thousands of berry plants and hundreds of date palms are distributed. Then there are private collectors of these trees that have developed their own farms and would like to sell plants to new farmers. Each new tree becomes a source for saplings leading to further proliferation.

Scientists like Mr Alvi and many of his colleagues may move on to other research stations or retire but what they have done is something remarkable. This is just one example of ordinary Pakistanis making a difference to society. Unfortunately, our media, commentators and pseudo intellectuals cannot lift their eyes from what is wrong in society and shift their attention, even for a moment, to what is right and working.

Recognition and celebration of achievements by individuals and communities encourages positive change, positive attitudes and stimulates energies for innovation and more contribution. While grieving about the many things that are troubling us, let us not ignore the pleasing side of changing Pakistan. Go out and see it.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/509088/changing-pakistan/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Khaleej Times on incentives in Pak foreign investment policy:

Pakistan has offered major financial and tax-free business incentives and infrastructure facilities to foreign investors as a big Saudi steel mills goes on stream.

These incentives were offered at the highest level by Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf. The prime minister’s came on the occasion of the inauguration of production at the just-built state-of-the-art Tuwairqi Steel Mills Limited (TSML), built by Al Tuwairqi Group of Industries of Saudi Arabia, and South Korea’s Pohang Iron and Steel Company (Posco). Al Tuwairqi Group has invested $350 million and Posco $16 million in the project. This first phase of TSML has been completed at a cost of $366 million. It will produce 1.28 millions tonnes of steel annually. It is the first steel mill in Pakistan built by the private sector.

The inauguration ceremony was highlighted by the prime minister’s unveiling of the pro-FDI incentives plan. Prime Minister Ashraf invited foreign and local investors to come up with industrial projects to be located at Pakistan’s Export Processing Zones (EPZs).

Pakistani EPZs have all modern infrastructure. “I urge foreign investors from across the globe to invest in Pakistan. I assure you full government support, facilities, a business-friendly environment and policies. At our EPZs we provide you with a huge number of incentives and exemptions,” he said.

The key features of Pakistan’s investment policy include, equal treatment to Pakistani and foreign investors, 100 per cent share holding in projects and businesses, an unlimited repatriation of the dividends, annual and accumulated profits. Highlighting these incentives, and still many more, the prime minister asked foreign investors, particularly those from Islamic countries, “to benefit from Pakistan’s EPZs.”
--------
“We at Al Tuwairqi, feel honoured in introducing the world’s most advanced DRI technology, based on the Midres process, owned by Kobe Steel of Japan, in Pakistan,” he said.

TSML is also embarking upon several new projects, subsequent to commercial operation of DRI project. It plans to work on the upstream and downstream production processes, involving billet/thin slabs production, and iron ore exploration in Pakistan, its beneficiation and pelletisation.

“As our social corporate responsibility, we are also focused on the clean power generation in Pakistan,” Dr Hussain said. “We see Pakistan as a land of immense opportunities. We are very clear in our perception that Pakistan, as a country has to grow, and we are determined to play an instrumental role towards its development. In the survival of Pakistan is the survival of the entire Muslim Ummah,” he said.

Posco chairman and CEO Joon-Yang Chung, said: “The TSML will significantly contribute towards Pakistan’s economy.”

“Today, Pakistan’s economic development and structural adjustment calls for a higher quality steel products to be manufactured in this country. At TSML, we will develop high-performance products, featuring high strength, corrosion resistance, sustainability and light- weight, and improve the technological competence related to such products. To add to its success, Posco is determined in building a successful partnership with Al Tuwairqi to benefit from its presence in Pakistan and is fully focused to make TSML a world class steel making unit through possible expansion of initially set DRI plant using forward and backward integration,” added Chung.

With all stakeholders so determined, and so upbeat, output of high-grade products, and larger investment inflows look all set to benefit Pakistan.


http://www.khaleejtimes.com/kt-article-display-1.asp?xfile=data/internationbusiness/2013/February/internationbusiness_February102.xml&section=internationbusiness

Riaz Haq said...

Here's ET on Karachi's booming stock market:

KARACHI: Even as most of the city remained shut on Monday owing to a strike call, the Karachi Stock Exchange’s (KSE) benchmark 100-share index gained 0.38% or 68.39 points to end at 17,865.61 points.

The rally was helped by positive news flows from multiple sources, prominent among which were expectations that the cement sector would record a surge in earnings due to stronger domestic sales, higher prices and lower input costs. Also featured was news that the Oil and Gas Development Company (OGDC) had signed direct agreements with fertiliser manufacturers for the supply of gas, and increased expectation that telecom companies will record higher revenues following Pakistan Telecommunication Company’s stellar profits on the back of higher international call termination rates.

Trade volumes remained flat at 292 million shares compared with Friday’s tally of 293 million shares. The value of shares traded during the day was Rs7.18 billion.

“Led by Engro and DG Khan Cement (DGKC), the Karachi bourse achieved a new high,” observed Samar Iqbal, equity dealer at Topline Securities. Both Engro and DGKC’s stocks closed at their upper price limits by the end of the day.

“The said agreement [between Engro and OGDC] will allow Engro to receive gas directly from gas fields, reviving financial prospects for its fertiliser business,” reported Sibtain Mustafa from Elixir Securities. “DGKC continued its positive momentum from last closing as news reports of a $45 billion deal between the Abu Dhabi Group and real estate tycoon Malik Riaz brought in fresh interest.”

Shares of 360 companies were traded on Monday. At the end of the day, 147 stocks closed higher, 161 declined while 52 remained unchanged. Pakistan Telecommunication Company was the volume leader with 29.23 million shares, gaining Rs0.82 to finish at Rs22.77. It was followed by Pace (Pakistan) with 26.60 million shares, gaining Rs0.39 to close at Rs4.32 and NIB Bank with 19.83 million shares, gaining Rs0.15 to close at Rs2.88.

“The majority of volumes were focused on third-tier stocks [...] as retail participation continues to rise. Furthermore, news of Ministry of Petroleum agreeing to increase POL margins by Rs0.25 per litre for motor spirit and Rs0.10 per litre for high-sulphur diesel brought interest in listed oil marketing companies near market end,” Mustafa added.

Foreign institutional investors were net buyers of Rs88.51 million worth of shares, according to data maintained by the National Clearing Company of Pakistan Limited.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/509210/market-watch-bourse-continues-climb-despite-strike/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET report on exploding tobacco profits in Pakistan:

KARACHI:

Pakistan Tobacco Company has announced its profits for the year ended December 31, 201, declaring a net profit of Rs1.73 billion rupees, compared to only Rs363.79 million in the previous year. This translates into a growth in profitability of a staggering 375% over the preceding year.

The entire growth of the company can be attributed to the growth in its top-line, with gross profits growing from Rs6.24 billion to reach Rs8.45 billion. Breaking that up, the company’s gross turnover for the year stood at Rs75.53 billion (12% higher than the previous year), out of which it paid a whopping Rs39 billion in excise duties (Rs35 billion in the previous year) and an additional Rs11 billion in sales taxes (Rs10 billion in the previous year).

Meanwhile, its selling and distribution expenses increased only 12% and administrative expenses by 4.5%; while its other operating expenses declined by 23% and other operating income increased by 67%. This effectively meant that almost all the increase in the company’s top-line went directly towards its net profits, as it also cut its net finance costs in the same period by 28%.

The company’s earnings per share clocks in at Rs6.77 per share, and it has announced a final dividend of Rs3.25 per share in addition to two interim dividends (already paid) at Rs3.05 per share.

Pakistan Tobacco Company is part of British American Tobacco, “the world’s most international tobacco group,” according to its website, with its brands sold in 180 markets around the world. Their operations began in Pakistan in 1947, making the company one of Pakistan’s first foreign investments.

The company is involved in every aspect of cigarette production, from cultivation to packaging. Its brands include Dunhill, Benson & Hedges, John Player Gold Leaf (the largest urban consumer goods brand in Pakistan), Capstan by Pall Mall, Gold Flake and Embassy.

Pakistan Tobacco is the single-largest taxpaying unit in Pakistan. The company pays more taxes than all salaried individuals in the country combined.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/510298/pakistan-tobaccos-profits-375-higher-than-last-year/

HopeWins Junior said...

^^RH: "Here's an ET report on exploding tobacco profits in Pakistan.."
----

Does ET has a report on the exploding healthcare costs associated with tobacco-consumption induced heart disease, cancer, emphysema etcetera?

While Pakistan Tobacco may be the single-largest taxpaying unit in Pakistan, does its tax contribution exceed the increase in healthcare costs triggered by rising tobacco consumption?

For a guy who loves to quote Arundhati Roy, Kapil Komireddy, Naom Chomsky et cetera, you seem to be pretty happy with the growth of the Tobacco Lobby in Pakistan....

Riaz Haq said...

HWJ: "For a guy who loves to quote Arundhati Roy, Kapil Komireddy, Naom Chomsky et cetera, you seem to be pretty happy with the growth of the Tobacco Lobby in Pakistan.... "

How did you conclude I'm happy about it?

Please read my earlier post about merchants of death eying Pakistan market.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2008/01/merchant-of-death-eyes-pakistan-market.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AFP story on Pakistan's rising middle class consumption:

In a smart corner of Karachi, a new mall offers wealthy clientele the chance to lunch on an American burger, buy French cosmetics, shop for cocktail dresses, sip an afternoon cappuccino or wolf down a cinnamon roll.

Female sales assistants dressed in jeans and T-shirts buck the idea that “service industry” jobs are unsuitable for women, even if many of them commute into work heavily veiled to avoid being harassed or insulted.

“It is time when Pakistanis are getting branded. It is a new phenomenon,” says Samiullah Mohabbat, the chief executive who brought American franchise Fatburger from Beverly Hills to Karachi, a city troubled by shootings and kidnappings.

“The world has just started coming to Pakistan and this trend will grow.”

---
...the middle class has grown over the last decade. Karachi, the country’s financial hub, Lahore and the capital Islamabad have all seen a surge in Western-style coffee shops, fast-food franchises and new malls.

Karachi’s Dolmen Mall is the newest and flashiest.

There is Spanish fashion favourite Mango, US beauty and home firm Crabtree and Evelyn and British high street staples Mothercare and Debenhams.

---

Mohabbat has invested $7 million in opening Pakistan’s first Fatburger restaurant last month on the second floor of Dolmen Mall, with plans for another in Karachi, two in Lahore and a fifth in Islamabad.

Far from seeing the country’s troubles as a bar to business, Mohabbat says a $5.50 burger is the perfect antidote.

---
At lunch time, his 130-seat restaurant is buzzing. In Beverly Hills, there may be nothing exciting about going out for a burger, but in Karachi the novelty and the relative expense make it a sought-after privilege.

The walls are plastered with large notebook papers scribbled with the experiences of the clients. “Yummilicious,” screeches out one.

There is a scrum at the counters as customers wait their turn. A dozen workers cut and cook imported American beef, slathering it with spices and vegetables, shoving it in a bun and handing it to the waiters.

“It’s certainly quite expensive for the average Pakistani, but I prefer it because I can afford it,” says businessman Masroor Afzal, 44, who works round the corner and says he frequently pops over.

“The beauty of Karachi is that it has everything for everyone. There are many people who can’t afford to eat or shop here, but they have other bazaars.”

Analysts say there is enormous potential in Pakistan as a market for global consumer goods, despite the structural problems in the economy.

According to the finance ministry, 104 million people are aged 15 to 59 and by 2030, 30 percent of the population will be younger than 30.

Khurram Schehzad, head of research at investment firm Arif Habib Securities in Karachi, says consumer spending has grown 26 percent in Pakistan since 2010, compared to seven percent for Asia as a whole.

Business mogul Abid Umer says there is “tremendous potential” for retail.

His Al-Karam Group brought its first foreign franchises – Babyshop from Bahrain and Splash from the United Arab Emirates – to Pakistan in 2005. Today his portfolio has extended to Mango.

“Pakistan is full of aspirational customers,” said Umer.

“Sure, Pakistan has its share of issues but in most cases, day to day life is not affected, plus the tremendous customer response and low cost of operations makes it worthwhile.”

---

Helen Lacey, Debenhams’ senior PR manager, told AFP the company had carried out extensive market research and had “no current security concerns”.

“International brands in Pakistan in general are performing strongly. This is a large and growing market and there is a clear appetite for British brands here and growth potential with a rapidly growing middle class,” she said....


http://dawn.com/2013/03/03/pakistans-middle-class-defies-conservative-stereotype/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's ET on management of Punjab development budget under Sharifs:

LAHORE:

The Punjab government has spent just Rs70 billion of its Rs250 billion development budget for fiscal 2012-13 in the first seven months of the year, around half of it in Lahore alone, The Express Tribune has learnt.

Under finance rules, the Punjab government should have spent around Rs145 billion on development by the end of January, but had only spent Rs70 billion. Of this, Rs34.19 billion was spent on projects in Lahore, the vast majority of it, Rs31 billion, on the Metro Bus Service.

A senior Finance Department official said it was normal for utilisation of the Annual Development Programme (ADP) to remain low in the first six months of the financial year, and for spending to pick up in the remaining six months. He said that the low utilisation was due to the poor financial position of the province.

Last year, the Punjab government utilised only Rs150 billion of the Rs220 billion ADP presented for 2011-12.

In Lahore in 2012-13, apart from the spending on the Metro Bus Service, the Punjab government has spent Rs1.65 billion on the Kalma Chowk underpasses and Rs540 million on the Model Town underpass. Another Rs1 billion came out of the provincial kitty for the purchase of 100 buses, originally meant to be plied on the MBS corridor, but later given to girls colleges.

Other notable expenses included Rs4 billion for the procurement of 100,000 laptops, which are being handed out to students who perform well in exams. The Energy Department spent Rs2.5 billion on solar lamps, being handed out to 240,000 students under the Ujala programme.

Around Rs1.447 billion has been spent on the Pirwadhai Mor underpass and flyover project.

Another Rs1.25 billion has been spent on the Abdullahpur underpasses in Faisalabad, which involved the construction of three underpasses beneath the Tariqabad bridge leading to Chak Jhumra Road.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/514954/development-budget-half-of-punjabs-spending-concentrated-in-lahore/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Gulf News on various sectors of the economy in Pakistan:

Naveed Vakil, director, research and business development, AKD Securities:

Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL): Dollar-based returns and a firm oil price outlook should keep returns high, especially as key development projects come online and the monetisation of recent finds is fast-tracked.

Pakistan Oil Fields (POL): [Its performance is closely linked] to international oil prices that are likely to remain firm in the near term as demand growth recovers, especially from China. POL also offers exposure to Pakistan’s Kohat Basin which is where there has recently been a string of discoveries have been high impact.

Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL): PTCL should post strong earnings growth this year, due to higher margins following the implementation of higher international incoming call rates. Infrastructure is being installed to curtail grey incoming international traffic, which should support legitimate volume as well.

Lucky Cement: Pakistan’s largest cement company should continue benefitting from a rise in domestic consumption led by development spending ahead of the elections. It should benefit from high margins as domestic cement prices remain firm while coal costs remain low.

Furqan Punjani, deputy head of equity research at BMA Capital Management Limited:

Oil and gas

Robust oil prices coupled with [increasing production volumes should] keep the oil and gas exploration and production sector in the limelight in next few years. Revenue streams linked to the dollar and local currency depreciation would also help augment bottom-lines in the sector. We prefer Pakistan Oilfields and Pakistan Petroleum because of their better dividend yields.

Textiles

Based on better exports prospects and higher profit margins (on low cost cotton) as well as a promotion in the gas allocation list by the government, the textile sector has made it onto our list of top investment ideas for 2013. Nishat Mills is the biggest integrated textile unit in Pakistan and will continue to benefit from its well-diversified core operations and the good potential of its portfolio holdings.

Fertilizer

We believe the fertilizer sector presents an ideal mix of defensive and high-growth plays for 2013. Our top pick in the sector is ENGRO.

Cement

Cement prices are currently at an all-time high of Rs440(Dh16.27) a bag. We like companies that can magnify top line growth into the bottom-line, thanks to the deleveraging of their balance sheet. This makes DGKC.PA our top pick in the sector.

Energy

Pakistan is an energy deficit country and the entire production of independent power producers (IPPs) is consumed on any given day. Moreover, with higher and regular subsidies from the government translating into better cash inflows, the sector has once again come into limelight. Furthermore, as revenues and profits are linked to the dollar, the depreciating Pakistani rupee will also benefit this sector. We prefer Hub Power Company, the largest private sector power producer of Pakistan, because of its higher dividend yields and stable bottom-line.

Commercial banks

The Central bank of Pakistan has reduced the base [interest] rate by 450 basis points in the last 24 months. This has reduced the net interest margins of the entire banking sector, barring a few large banks that have the ability to reduce the rates provided to their depositors and keep attracting fresh deposits at lower rates. United Bank Limited is one of them. We prefer UBL [because] of their ability to grow their deposits by double digits at lower cost, coupled with their greater exposure to high yielding long term government bonds. Furthermore their quarterly payout will continue to lure value investors to the bank. ....


http://gulfnews.com/business/investment/politics-set-to-boost-pakistan-1.1153474

Riaz Haq said...

Here's excerpt of an NBC report on Waziristan agency of FATA in Pakistan:

MIRANSHAH, Pakistan — It's been called the most dangerous place in the most dangerous region on the planet.

A rugged swathe of tribal territory nestled between Pakistan and Afghanistan, Waziristan is ground zero for some of the region's most notorious militant groups and warlords, including the Pakistani Taliban and Haqqani network.

North and South Waziristan are hit by more U.S. drone attacks than anywhere else in the world.

NBC News obtained rare access to South Waziristan and last week became the first foreign team of journalists to report from North Waziristan.
-----------
At the heart of the army's plans to rebuild the area is a 370-mile road — funded in large part by USAID money. The road, half of which is complete, will connect the isolated and insular tribal communities to each other, as well as the rest of mainstream Pakistan and to trading routes across the border in Afghanistan.

When finished, the roadway will offer a third link from Pakistan to Afghanistan, and the army hopes, will encourage business development along its path through Waziristan.

In addition to the road project, the army has taken on development projects far outside its traditional roles.

Along with the markets, two military schools, known here as Cadet Colleges, were built in South Waziristan to offer young men a rigorous education and boarding-school environment, unlike any educational opportunity available in the region before.

Col. Zahid Naseem Akbar, principal of the Cadet College, Spinkai, said he hopes the school will gives boys in the area the same opportunities as those elsewhere in the country.

"They have the same potential as any other citizen of this country has," Akbar said. "And I think we owe it to them that we provide them the opportunity to join the mainstream."

The army is overseeing the rebuilding to schools demolished by the Taliban and building schools for the first time in some areas, including for girls. The military established the Waziristan Institute for Technical Education -- a vocational school to train young men who missed their early education during Taliban rule.

And the army is restoring water supplies and electrical systems and funding what they call "livelihood projects," training and empowering local small businesses in everything from honey bee farming and fruit orchards, to auto repair and transport services.

"The strategy that the Pakistan army has adopted is a people-centric strategy," Hayat said. "So the more areas you've able to clear, the more infrastructure you're able to build, the more people you are able to bring back and sustain. Provide them economic opportunities. That is the measure of success."

Ideal habitat for Taliban
Frontline commanders all say the battle for Waziristan will not be won with hearts and minds alone. Security operations continue, gradually increasing what they call their "elbow space" in the region.

Both North and South Waziristan feature snow-capped peaks, deep valleys, hidden caverns, and daunting mountain ranges which provide natural cover. It's the ideal habitat for the Taliban and other groups seeking refuge and covert routes for travel between Afghanistan and Pakistan.


http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/03/04/17177391-a-rare-glimpse-inside-pakistans-ground-zero-for-terrorists?lite

Riaz Haq said...

Forget the BRICs; Zambia, Estonia and Pakistan are the place for alpha investors, argues former Golaman Dachs executive Dambisa Moyo in a piece on Quartz.com :

The search for superior, uncorrelated risk-adjusted returns continues, and savvy investors such as endowments and family foundations are turning their attention to the frontier markets. Such markets exclude the BRICs, many of which posted sizable equity returns of over 30% last year, including Nigeria, Estonia, Pakistan, and Kenya. The MSCI Africa sub index posted one-year returns of over 60%. By comparison, the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) grew slower and sluggish—for example, around 4% on the Shanghai index and -2% on Brazil’s Bovespa.

A set of well-known factors bind these seemingly random countries. Solid debt and deficit dynamics; attractive labor trends, favorable demographics and upward mobility; and important productivity gains all make for a compelling economic growth story. However, there are two areas where perceptions of frontier economies are really changing: risk and liquidity.

In regards to risk, investors are beginning to better understand the significant benefits of delineating between risk, measurable and possible to calculate, and uncertainty, which is not. Like anywhere else, investors who can tap into on-the-ground networks and relationships have an advantage with risk management. But thankfully meaningful, the task of risk assessment has gotten easier with increases in transparency around economic and political information, data flows and widely available regulations over jurisdictions. The transition to western-styled democracy and fully transparent and liquid capital markets will be bumpy, but the uncertainty arising from these growing pains should be viewed in the context of an upwardly sloping trend line of progress which will almost certainly occur over a relatively short time line.

Correlations between frontier and developed stock market returns are around 0.75, compared to roughly 0.90 between developed and emerging economies such as the BRICs. Country risk premiums are close to those of the broader emerging markets. With proper risk management tools, this implies that investors can garner significant diversification benefits. The lower correlation between frontier and developed markets points to risk factors that are orthogonal to the global risk-on, risk-off theme that has captivated markets over the past five years. Frontier markets provide opportunities to step away from the global macroeconomic themes and focus on the micro stories on the ground, thus providing a better environment to identify unique investment opportunities. Smart investors are looking for great opportunities that are driven by company-specific issues from which they can analyze and profit.

In terms of liquidity, both equity and debt markets – international and local – have grown considerably over the last five years. Today, with a market cap of more than $1 trillion, the universe of stock markets boasts more than 8,000 listings across broad sectors with notable risk/reward profiles in financials such as banking and insurance, consumer goods, and telecommunications companies. A number of commentators erroneously believe investing in frontier markets is simply expressing a commodity trade. To assume this would be miss out on some of the more significant opportunities in these burgeoning markets such as in the logistics and telecommunication sectors. Moreover, to put a finer point on this, today Africa has almost 20 stock exchanges, with just over a thousand listed equities; more than 85% of these stocks are non-commodity related businesses....


http://qz.com/61403/forget-the-brics-frontier-markets-like-estonia-and-pakistan-are-the-place-for-alpha-investors/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Nation story on US Amb Olson's visit to Sialkot:

Ambassador Olson toured the Sialkot International Airport, the Silver Star Group, and KM Ashraf Industries.
He also met with the executive board of the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry. In Lahore, Ambassador Olson congratulated U.S. companies for their work in Pakistan, including corporate social responsibility programs, at the annual dinner of the American Business Forum.
“The United States stands with many entrepreneurs here in Sialkot and across Pakistan as you develop your businesses,” said Ambassador Olson during his visit to Silver Star in Sialkot. Silver Star produces nearly 70% of the hand-stitched footballs sold by the U.S. firm Nike.
“The United States is among the largest investors in Pakistan, and Pakistan exports more products to the United States than to any other country in the world,” he added. Ambassador Olson underscored this point during a visit to KM Ashraf Industries, which exports more than $20 million worth of sports uniforms to the United States each year.
At the Sialkot International Airport (SIAL), Pakistan’s first privately-funded international airport, Ambassador Olson congratulated the management team for recent upgrades that allow the airport to carry the load of 10 jumbo planes, benefiting hundreds of businesses and more than a million travelers each year. “This is a clear example of how private-sector funding can be used to meet the needs of the business community. SIAL is a model for other cities in South Asia,” said the Ambassador.
At a lunch meeting with the executive board of the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ambassador Olson discussed opportunities to further strengthen ties between U.S. and Pakistani businesses. He also reminded Chamber members that businesses can take advantage of the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), which allows more than 3,500 Pakistani goods to enter the United States duty free.
Ambassador Olson will cap off his private-sector meetings in Punjab by recognizing the corporate social responsibility efforts and strong business ethics of U.S. companies working in Pakistan at the American Business Forum annual dinner in Lahore.
Throughout his visit, Ambassador Olson highlighted several examples of Pakistani entrepreneurs who have benefited from U.S. economic assistance. U.S. economic assistance helps businesses create jobs and boost incomes with projects that expand Pakistan’s agricultural output. U.S. assistance is building roads to facilitate trade and will offer a private equity fund to help small and medium-size businesses expand.


http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/national/03-Apr-2013/olson-stresses-pakistan-us-economic-ties-on-punjab-trip

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of a Reuters' report on Karachi shares market:

The market's benchmark index continues to soar to record highs -- up 10.34 percent year to date -- fueled in part by expectations May elections will mark Pakistan's first transfer of power from one democratic government to another. Previous civilian governments were all dismissed by Pakistan's ultimate power: the military.

"Pakistan has a lot to offer investors and this is our chance to show it," said Nadeem Naqvi, the KSE chairman. He plans to embark on a series of roadshows for potential foreign partners that will take him to London, Frankfurt and Hong Kong in the coming months.

Many of the companies listed on the KSE offer double-digit returns, low stock prices and resilient business models in this frontier market with a population of 180 million. The index still has an attractive price/earnings ratio of $8.50 despite the soaring returns of the past few years.

Pakistan now has a 4 percent weighting in the MSCI Frontiers Market Index and has become somewhat of a discovery for foreign investors chasing new markets and yields.

THE SEAMIER SIDE

But the KSE's spectacular rise last year can at least be partly attributed to another factor entirely - the cleansing of "black money".

The market took off last year just as a government decree was finalized allowing people to buy stocks with no questions asked about the source of the cash. Average daily volume more than doubled last year to 173 million shares from 79 million in 2011.

Authorities say the measure will bring undocumented funds into the tax net in a country where few pay taxes. But some critics decried it as a gift to corrupt officials and criminals seeking to launder dirty cash.

"Politics and dirty money go hand in hand in Pakistan," said Dr. Ikramul Haq, a Supreme Court lawyer and a professor on tax law.

"People want to be outside the regulatory framework and outside the tax net."

-----
The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) said it found 23 violations of securities laws that merited fines in fiscal year 2011-12 (April/March). The market regulator sent warning letters in another 19 cases, it said in its annual report. (www.secp.gov.pk/)

That's a drop in the bucket, says Ashraf Tiwana, dismissed as head of SECP's legal department after years of clashes with his bosses over fraud in the market. He has petitioned the Supreme Court to replace the SECP chairman and commissioners.

"There's a lot of fraud, a lot of market manipulation ... but not enough action has been taken, especially not enough criminal action has been taken," Tiwana told Reuters. "They're just passing small fines and giving out warning letters."

Regulators are too close to the market, Tiwana said. The head of the stock exchange is a former broker and the two top members of the SECP are former employees of Aqeel Karim Dhedhi, founder of one of the country's biggest brokerage houses.

BIG DHEDHI

Nicknamed "Big Dhedhi" for his ability to move markets, Aqeel Karim Dhedhi heads one of Pakistan's largest domestic conglomerates, the AKD Group.

Lately, the well-known philanthropist and leading member of Pakistan's business establishment has been trying to fend off arrest over allegations of insider trading.

An SECP investigator accused traders, including Dhedhi's brokerage, of buying shares in a state-run Sui Southern Gas Co before an official announcement allowing the company to raise its prices. In the weeks before Sui Southern's announcement, the stock price jumped from 13.5 rupees to 20 rupees, its biggest hike in five years.


http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/04/09/us-pakistan-stockmarket-insight-idUSBRE93813Z20130409

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Daily Times on Al-Tuwariqi steel reaching full production:

* Plant runs at 100 percent of its rated capacity within 4 months of its launch

KARACHI: Tuwairqi Steel Mills Limited (TSML), Pakistan’s first private sector integrated environment-friendly steel manufacturing complex and a joint venture of Al-Tuwairqi Holding (ATH)/ISPC of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the world’s third largest steel maker POSCO has recorded the ever highest production of an iron making plant in Pakistan during the Plant Demonstration Test (PDT) conducted in the expert supervision of MIDREX, USA.
During the PDT, the plant ran at 100 percent of its rated capacity i.e producing 160 tonnes of high quality Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) per hour for 72 hours achieving all of its operational targets. This development comes at a crucial juncture when Pakistan’s current per capita steel consumption is only 40 kilogram, which is exuberantly low, when compared with the global average of 215 kilogram. This establishes a dire need and increased emphasis on achieving international benchmarks to become a modern and an efficient economy.
Dr Asif Brohi President National Bank of Pakistan congratulated the entire team of Tuwairqi Steel Mills on achieving this milestone and appreciated their enthusiasm and technical expertise.
It is heartening to observe TSML has already increased the production capacity of Pakistan by 1.28 million tonnes per annum, which would help meet the ever growing demands of steel in Pakistan and with its massive expansion and modernization plans, Al-Tuwairqi is poised to transform the country into an industrial hub, he added.
Zaigham Adil Rizvi Director (Projects) TSML said, “We are committed to our vision to participate in the development of national economy in order to have a long sustaining growth of Pakistan.”
During the PDT, Chang Hee Lee Council General of South Korea, Rahat Kamal DMD SSGC, Major General Javed (r) Chairman Pakistan Steel Mills; Zubair Motiwalla Chairman Sindh Board of Investment, Waqar Ahmed Hashmi DMD KW&SB and Ghulam Rasool Shiekh from EPZA were also present.
Al-Tuwairqi kicked off the commercial production of TSML’s 1st phase in January this year-a Direct Reduction of Iron (DRI) making plant with the capacity to produce up to 1.28 million tonnes per annum of high quality DRI, which is evidently steel’s most versatile metallic and a preferred raw material for quality steel making worldwide.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013%5C05%5C24%5Cstory_24-5-2013_pg5_5

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Nation report on opening of Ocean Tower in Karachi:

The Ocean Mall has opened the doors to luxurious shopping experience, the first of its kind shopping center in Karachi, specially designed to offer a unique and glamorous experience that is not available elsewhere in Pakistan.
The Ocean Mall is spread over four floors with the local and international renowned brands outlets. The Ocean Mall is one of the Karachi’s leading shopping leisure and entertainment destinations and it presents local and internationals stores from fashion to food, high street brands to luxurious collections.
The best part about the Ocean Mall is its parking which has four floors of parking. Large numbers of people from every walk of life and dignitaries also visited Ocean Mall and expressed the hope that it will restore image of Karachi.


http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/business/04-Jun-2013/mutawalli-e-ka-bah-visits-karachi-s-tallest-building

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune report on extraordinary customer interest in Bahria Town projects in Karachi:

People from all over Pakistan gave an overwhelming response to Bahria Town Karachi Project, according to the registration process which concluded on Friday.
According to a press release, people swarmed the Bahria Town offices, branches and customer support centres as soon as it announced the registration process. However, the registration process reached its peak as the deadline approached.
The BT has announced three projects – Bahria Town Icon, Bahria Town Tower and Bahria Town Karachi – in the megacity with the aim to contribute to the economic activity in the country and lay foundation of a prosperous Pakistan.
“The Bahria Town commits to complete and hand over the projects on the stipulated time,” says the press release. All projects will have 100% power backup, a foolproof security system, spacious parking and complete maintenance.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/613784/bahria-town-karachi-projects-received-overwhelming-response/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's World Cement report about cement consumption in Pakistan:

The All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association reported a 10.10% increase in domestic cement consumption in January. The country, which has almost 45 million t of cement capacity, has seen exports fall in recent years as expansion programmes increase capacity in Pakistan’s traditional export markets and new exporters have joined the competition. However, domestic demand is on the rise, hitting an all-time high of almost 24 million t in FY11/12.

January saw domestic sales reach 2.135 million t, comprised of 1.706 million t from the north and 429 000 t from the south of the country. Demand has been pushed by private construction as well as government infrastructure projects, a trend set to continue as the per capita cement demand in the country is well below average at 152 kg.

Energy shortage threatens production

However, a new threat is energy shortages, which the APCMA says hampered production in northern areas last month. The Islamabad High Court recently removed the Rs.50/mmbty Gas Development Infrastructure Cess (GIDC), declaring it illegal. Though this will bring down input costs for cement producers in the south, it is reported that it will have no benefit for the more numerous northern producers, who ‘have now been given least priority for gas supply’ (The Nation, 3 February). Some plants are looking into alternative energy supplies – DG Khan Cement, for example, is set to be one of the first applications for Kalina cycle technology in the cement industry.

Lucky Cement prospers

Meanwhile, Lucky Cement Limited has recorded a 42.15% y/y increase in half yearly profit for 2012/13. As of the end of December, the company reported profits of Rs.4.29 billion and improved net sales of Rs.17.511 billion, up 13.9% y/y. The company reportedly plans to upgrade its existing mills and packing machines to reduce operational costs. More information about the company can be found in the February issue of World Cement in the article ‘Pakistan: Cementing its Position’ from Lucky Cement. Subscribers can download the issue by signing in.

Lafarge appoints new country CEO

Finally, Lafarge Pakistan Cement has appointed Amr Reda as the new country CEO of Lafarge Pakistan. Reda had previously been the regional business controller of Lafarge Middle East and Pakistan and has been on the board of directors of Lafarge Pakistan since January 2007.


http://www.worldcement.com/news/cement/articles/Pakistan_domestic_cement_consumption_rises_854.aspx

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AFP story on gated communities construction boom in Pakistan:

Rawalpindi: On the edge of Rawalpindi, Islamabad’s scruffy, congested twin city, a grand arched gateway opens to a rather different Pakistan, one of tidy lawns, golf courses and constant, reliable electricity.
Welcome to Bahria Town, where Pakistan’s new middle class takes refuge from the Taliban attacks and endless power cuts that plague the rest of the country.
Cars glide softly over the smooth tarmac carpeting the gentle hills of Pakistan’s largest gated community, past immaculate green verges dotted with statues of cattle — which, unlike their real counterparts elsewhere in the country, pose no threat to traffic.
There’s a horse riding centre, a golf course, a posh cinema, an immaculately air-conditioned café and a mini zoo with “the only black panther in Pakistan”, whose growling excites young couples taking a walk.

Elsewhere 20 metre models of the Eiffel Tower and Nelson’s Column — complete with lions — watch over this vision of suburbia which seems a world away from the rest of Pakistan’s seething, traffic-choked and crumbling cities.
For Riaz, an employee of a multinational firm, it is heaven compared to the sprawling, violent metropolis of Karachi that he left a few months ago.
An unprecedented wave of murders and kidnappings gripping the port city, Pakistan’s economic capital, forced him to quit for the quiet comfort of Bahria Town.
“Here we have peace, though it’s a bit lacking in life and cafés,” Riaz told AFP as he walked through the zoo with his young son.

From jungle to gardens

Popularised in the United States in the 1990s, gated communities have spread across the world.
They have grown in popularity in Pakistan in the last decade as Islamist violence and crime have spiralled and a crippling energy crisis has left people without electricity for hours at a time in the blistering summer.
Pakistan now has at least two dozen gated communities, according to Shaista Zulfiqar of real estate brokerage, zameen.com.
Bahria Town has expanded to three cities — Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi — housing some 100,000 people in total.
When work started on Bahria Town Islamabad in the early 2000s, the area was nothing but “jungle”, said 28-year-old Arif Ali, one of the first residents.
For the residents of Bahria Town and the dozens of other closed communities like it around the unstable country of 180 million people, life passes calmly.
Cameras watch over the enclave 24 hours a day, on top of the guards patrolling to kick out interlopers.
The power cuts that plague life in the rest of Pakistan are a distant memory thanks to enormous generators guzzling to run the residents’ air-conditioners and HD TVs.

Boom town

Bahria Town is also a town without a mayor. The development company, owned by billionaire Malik Riaz, sells the land, builds the houses, hospitals, schools, and runs the security, electricity, water, sewage, all in return for a local “tax”.
Bahria Town and its rivals like Gulberg Greens and Khudadad City offer a corner of walled-in paradise for those who can afford it...


http://gulfnews.com/news/world/pakistan/happiness-for-some-in-pakistan-s-gated-communities-1.1267435

Riaz Haq said...

Here's News story on gated communities in Karachi:

KARACHI: Nestled between Safari Park and apartment complexes that define Gulistan-e-Jauhar; lies the KDA Overseas Housing Society. Getting inside the securely guarded compound means offers a glimpse into a lifestyle very different from the crime infested areas that surround the society.

Children are seen riding merrily on their bikes with no adult supervision, while families and individuals can enjoy a peaceful evening along tree covered lanes.

It’s a scene that is at odds with what goes on outside. In general, Jauhar – as it’s called – remains crime ridden and violence prone. Most residents wouldn’t dream of a walk on their own, let alone with families. Increasingly, those who can afford it are moving to safer locales – the overseas society amongst them.

It’s a trend that’s increasing across the city. Gated communities in Karachi have increased by at least 20 percent due to the volatile law and order situation.

The rising threats of kidnapping for ransom and extortion are also major reasons that citizens prefer to live in barred streets.

However, as supply remains limited, gated communities tend to be expensive. Aqeel Karim Dhedi, Chairman of AKD Group, said peole prefer Clifton and Defence due to stability in rental and sale prices.

Dhedi said gated communities have better security arrangements. No outsiders are allowed to enter without reference from residents. This enables residents to enjoy a peaceful environment with their families. Children can move around without any fear. He added that new gated communities are offering a variety of facilities including sports complex, parks, health club, and play grounds, super markets, mosques, schools, shopping arcades, health centers and much more.

Besides the luxuries, another reason to move into a gated community is that it reduces the maintenance cost for security, sanitation, and other general utilities as a fixed monthly charge. The same is much higher in case of a normal residence. For example the maintenance cost in Creek Vista apartment is Rs.10,500 with additional charges for generator and water.

But it’s the new upcoming projects - apartments and houses that redefine the elite urban living experience- that are gated communities in the real sense. Apartment complexes include high speed and personal elevators, servant quarters and backup power. All things required for everyday existence will be available within their barriers.

Mohammad Shafi Jakvani CEO CITI Associates deals with properties in Defence, Clifton, and Shara-e Faysal. He said that the demand for gated community has made their prices appear to be on fire.

This demand that has led to the development of schemes such as LuckyOne at Rahid Minhas Road, BT Icon in Clifton, Com3 Clifton and AKD’s ARKADIAN in Defence Phase VIII. A joint venture between DHA and AKD group, it’s expected to be launched just after Eid. The prices are expected to be in the range of Rs.40million to Rs.50 million, Mohammad Shafi Jakvani said.

Com3’s prices are in the range of Rs.20million to 40 million depending upon the size and location of the property. Three to four bed rooms apartments and duplex houses (two floor apartments) are being offered on 40 months installments, a Com3 Official told the News.

LuckyOne is the first project to offer high end residences for the upper middle income group in the down town area. There will eight towers 1232 apartments of three and four bedrooms, with all facilities available in any of the upcoming gated communities. The most important thing is that the project will generate power itself to avoid load shedding, said Nasir Aziz, technical director at Luckyone .


http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-3-192729-Gated-communities-offer-security-to-beleaguered-Karachiites

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Express Tribune on Bahria Town projects in Karachi and Rawalpindi:

RAWALPINDI: Pakistan’s largest real estate company, Bahria Town (BT) on Sunday started the booking process for its residential plots in Karachi and Rawalpindi.
Under the project, the real estate giant will allot plots to more than 0.5 million people. On the first day of booking, more than 50 thousand people received the form against a fee of Rs1,000.
The demand was such that some people reportedly resold their forms at a profit.
People from all walks of life showed great interest in the BT project and long queues of citizens were seen at the booking offices till late at night.
Talking to Express News, people said even the VIPs were found standing in queues, and the credit for this went to the founder and chairman of Bahria Town, Malik Riaz Hussain.
The BT representative said Sunday was reserved for the distribution of forms for residential plots. “The booking forms for commercial plots will to be offered on Monday (today),” he added.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/663864/bahria-town-project-over-50000-receive-booking-form/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's UAE's National newspaper story on real estate sector in Pakistan:

The government spends more than US$5 billion on construction from its annual development budget. The housing sector, however, gets less than half of the amount allocated for construction each year. The burgeoning population and rapid urbanisation calls for more housing schemes in the country. Private real estate developers have a crucial role to meet housing.

In view of the security concerns, private developers have resorted to building gated communities in major cities. Pakistan’s Bahria Town is Asia’s largest real estate developer and private housing society, which has practically implemented the idea of foolproof safety. Bahria’s ongoing projects, such as the JV D&B Valley, Golf City, Garden City, Bahria Icon, cover more than 1 billion square feet that will accommodate more than 1 million residents. Bahria’s 25,000 employees are delivering US$5 billion of iconic developments.

Administered by the Pakistan army, Defence Housing Authority (DHA) is a real estate organisationthat mainly develops housing for current and retired military officers. DHA has establishments in all the major cities including Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. DHA City, one of the largest state-of-the-art residential-cum-commercial projects, is under construction in Karachi. DHA has also built gated communities. And the prices of residential and commercial property in DHA housing schemes have been on the rise.

Launched in 2008, DHA Valley is a joint venture of DHA, Bahria Town and Habib Rafiq Private. The project aims at developing a secure community with essential amenities. DHA Valley offers 1,125 sq ft and 1,800 sq ft residential plots for 650,000 Pakistan rupees (Dh22,749) and 880,000 rupees respectively, with a quarterly instalment plan for Pakistani residents. It also offers1,800 sq ft residential plots for US$12,900 for overseas Pakistani residents.

The winner of five awards from the Asia Pacific International Property Awards, Bahria Town is actually fuelling the growth of real estate sector in the country.

Bahria’s projects in Rawalpindi and Islamabad and the development of a gated community worth $6 billion in the twin cities is the great property success story. The amenities offered by Bahria Town attracted residents and allured real estate investors. It ensures a 24-hour supply of electricity, fool-proof security and other amenities. The value of real estate in the Bahria towns in Lahore, Islamabad and Rawalpindi has increased manifold in the past five years. The price of a 1,800 sq ft residential plot at Bahria towns in Lahore and Rawalpindi has increased up to 5 million rupees from 1.5m rupees in just three to four years.

Karachi, the country commercial capital, has endured stagnancy or a fall in property prices because of deteriorating law and order over the past five years. Bahria Town has come forward as the answer to many of the problems confronting the real estate investors. Bahria town Karachi is currently the focus of speculative trade in real estate. Frenzied investors are ready to offer triple the price for plot files. What is really a commendable the properties are financially accessible to the middle class. For example in the newly launched Bahria Town scheme in Karachi, the price for a 1,125 sq ft residential plot is 2.6 million rupees, while the price of a 2,160 sq ft plot is more than 5m rupees. Similarly, the price a two bed apartment is 2.6m rupees, while the price of four-bed apartment is 8.2m rupees. These properties can be purchased through instalments under a five-year plan.


http://www.thenational.ae/business/industry-insights/property/property-sector-aims-to-put-down-firm-roots-in-pakistan

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune story on real estate sector in Pakistan:

After passing through a correction phase of nearly five months, the real estate market in Lahore is once again on the path of growth. However, there are a number of reasons why the extent of the growth may not meet investors’ expectations.
For the past few years, developers, after failing to find a suitable place in Lahore, have tended to focus on neglected but other populous cities of Punjab including Multan, Faisalabad, Gujranwala and Sialkot.
Hashu Group is one of them, Bahria town, city housing schemes (once a part of Bahria town) are the others. The latest name is the Defence Housing Authority (DHA). Since DHA is the most trusted name for any investor – in Pakistan and overseas – people find a reasonable alternate to invest.
Gujranwala, Multan and Bahawalpur are three cities where DHA has planned to establish housing societies, among which the sale and purchase for DHA Gujranwala has already kicked off. Such developments are observed as a positive for the long-term growth of the real estate sector.
“This spread out is good for the market in general,” said Mian Talat, chief executive officer at Talat Enterprisers, a real estate firm. “People now have more choices to invest and live according to their convenience.
The correction in the Karachi Stock Exchange is also a factor behind the recovery of the real estate market recovery.
Common investors of both markets believe that the KSE may crash any time. Given the situation, investors tend to switch to the real estate market. When stock index starts declining, many investors switch over to the real estate market and this is what is happening exactly now”, Talat added.
Few years back, Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad/Rawalpindi were the only places where investors found some room to put their money in for some profits. However, these cities are now pushing their limits — Lahore’s boundaries are now merging with some of its districts due to various factors.
Property prices in Lahore, despite almost a 20% correction in these five months, are quite abnormal. It is hard to find a piece of one kanal of land in a decent housing scheme below Rs10 million. If the same amount of land is located in a prime location inside a housing schemes then the price exceeds Rs20 million.
“Since Lahore is one of the major beneficiaries of the real estate boom, it is unlikely that real estate activities are stalled in the future. This is due to developments of housing schemes in other cities”, said Waseem Tariq, Chief Executive Officer of F-1 Properties. “The price fluctuation mechanism for real estate, as per our expectations, will be solid now.”


http://tribune.com.pk/story/675018/real-estate-market-hits-growth-trail-again/

Riaz Haq said...

Dubai close second to London for foreign buyers. Here's a report on Dubai real estate in 2014:

Dubai, 18 February 2014 - Renewed demand from domestic and overseas buyers seeking Dubai property assets is a sign of increasing interest in Dubai's improving real estate market, according to leading international real estate consultancy Cluttons.
Strong interest in Emaar's newly launched Lila and Yasmin properties at Arabian Ranches, Bahrain-based Ravi Pillai Group's plans to invest USD$1.5 billion into two real estate projects in Business Bay and Downtown, and the USD$1.9 million investment by Chow Tai Food Endowment Industry Investment Development (Group) Ltd in serviced apartments, high-end residences and two five-star hotels at Dubai Pearl, illustrate the growing appetite for real estate investment from intuitional investors who have been largely absent since the market rebounded.

Faisal Durrani, Associate - residential and international research at Cluttons comments on the depth of buyer demand in Dubai: "The launch of Yasmin demonstrates the domestic interest in established communities like Arabian Ranches, which feature completed infrastructure that are expanding in areas south of Dubai. Villa communities tend to be limited to a few hundred villas in order to create a sense of exclusivity and deliver on the promise of 'gated communities'. We expect to see more such 'bolt-on' schemes launched, as developers expand prominent communities and focus on areas that are well established."

The recent report on buyer activity released by the Dubai Land Department highlights the appetite for real estate assets in Dubai that extends well beyond the UAE, with 162 nationalities committing to Dubai's bricks and mortar during 2013.
Durrani continued: "Unsurprisingly, Indian nationals topped the list of the city's most active buyers, with Dubai often viewed in the same league as London by this group. The relative geographic proximity to India and the large non-resident Indian population in the region are two further critical drivers for those looking to park their Rupees in Dubai's real estate market. And now we're seeing the demand base broadening from individuals to institutional players. Britons and Pakistani nationals rounded off the top three nationalities that purchased property in Dubai last year."

This is further evidenced in Cluttons International Private Capital Survey 2013/14 which was released late last year. The survey found that within the region, Dubai ranks ahead of other global real estate investment destinations.
Cluttons surveyed nine global locations across the Middle East and Asia-Pacific region and although London ranked as the go-to investment destination by the world's wealthy, Dubai came in a close second, up from seventh place a year earlier....


http://www.zawya.com/story/Overseas_and_domestic_buyers_target_Dubai_property_assets-ZAWYA20140218080350/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Wall Street Journal story on multi-screen theaters construction boom in Pakistan:

KARACHI, Pakistan—At the brand-new Nue Multiplex here, chauffeured cars drop families at the door. Excited squeals of children reverberate from the games arcade. Hollywood and Bollywood movies play on five screens.

"We wanted to have something of international standard," said Tariq Baig, executive director of the $100 million multiplex that opened in August, replete with a Canadian sound system, Danish carpeting, and chairs and screens imported from the U.K. "We didn't go for anything local."

Nue is part of a wave of Western-style cinemas that are opening across Pakistan, aiming to serve the entertainment-starved middle classes in a country where movie houses were traditionally dilapidated, seedy, and shunned by families.

The blossoming of Western cinema in Pakistan is something of a phenomenon, taking place even as Islamist militants—who view all cinema as sinful— increasingly target the country's moviegoers.

There are just 104 movie screens in all of Pakistan, a country of 180 million people. Still, that is a jump from 20 screens in 2005, according to various distributors and cinema owners. There are another 100 screens under construction, they say.

Pakistan's cinema renaissance began in 2006, when the then military dictator, Pervez Musharraf, loosened a law dating back to the 1965 war between India and Pakistan that banned the import of Bollywood films. Though imports of Indian movies are still restricted, Mr. Musharraf's ruling allowed them to be granted a "No Objection Certificate" by the government in special cases. The ordinance also created a loophole in the law that allowed Indian films to be imported via another country.

"Everyone wants to go to the cinema," says Nadia Jamil, a popular TV and film actress based in Lahore. "It's the Indian films that have created the market that everyone wants to rush to."
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Cinema construction has been on a tear over the past few years in a number of developing countries where growing middle classes are flocking to theaters. China last year added 5,077 new film screens, boosting its total to 18,200, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
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Peshawar's cinemas are a far cry from the multiplexes of Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi. The only defense against the intense summer heat are ancient fans. In the winter patrons come with their own blankets. The audiences are exclusively male, and many of the theaters show porn, crudely dubbed into Pashto, the local language. Audiences are small and profits are slim. Tickets cost around 50 rupees (50 cents), depending on how popular the film is.

Habib ur Rehman, the manager of the Picture House cinema, the first theater to be attacked by the Taliban, said in conservative Peshawar being in the cinema business isn't something you boast about. He said the modern multiplexes springing up in other parts of the country would never come to the city. "They will not succeed here. The people don't like Hindi and English films. They want Musarrat Shaheen, " he said, referring to a famous Pashto actress.

Despite the Taliban threats, Rehan Shah, who works at the Shama Cinema, the second Peshawar theater attacked, said people are eager for these cinemas to reopen.

"People are already asking, 'Why are you not open? We want entertainment,' " he said.



http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303546204579439371307729670