x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Arabtec claims stake in Burj Khalifa interiors firm Depa

Dubai's largest listed construction company Arabtec yesterday emerged as the mystery purchaser of a 24 per cent stake in the company that fitted out the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

Arabtec agreed to buy 149.5 million shares in the Dubai-based interiors contractor Depa. Delores Johnson / The National
Arabtec agreed to buy 149.5 million shares in the Dubai-based interiors contractor Depa. Delores Johnson / The National

Dubai's largest listed construction company Arabtec yesterday emerged as the mystery purchaser of a 24 per cent stake in the company that fitted out Burj Khalifa.

Arabtec announced to the Dubai Financial Market that its board had agreed to buy 149.5 million shares in the Dubai-based interiors contractor Depa from "various investment funds which offered to sell their shares".

The purchase, which came into effect yesterday, would value Arabtec's new stake in the Nasdaq Dubai-listed Depa at US$65.8m (Dh241.6m) based on a value of 44 cents per share.

The deal is a significant step for Arabtec, the company in which the Abu Dhabi-based investment company Aabar holds a 21.5 per cent stake. The purchase could pave the way for greater cooperation between Arabtec and Depa, who have worked together on projects such as Burj Khalifa. It may help the pair offer developers a more comprehensive construction service.

In June, Arabtec was part of a consortium that was awarded the $2.9 billion contract to build Abu Dhabi Airport's Midfield Terminal, and this week the company announced it had been appointed by Emaar to build an extension to its Arabian Ranches development in Dubai.

"Arabtec is working via a consortium on the Midfield Terminal complex in Abu Dhabi," said Mohammad Kamal, a property analyst at Arqaam Capital. "It would be interesting to envisage the possibility of the business being able to deliver fit-out work on that contract by way of access to Depa's capability."

Analysts say the two companies are a natural fit.

"The deal looks like it makes sense from a corporate point of view," said Sebastien Henin, a portfolio manager at The National Investor in Abu Dhabi.

"Both companies operate at different points in the construction cycle, and there is the chance to offer a completely integrated service.

"However, we need more communication from both companies on this as there is a lot about the deal that we still do not know."

Depa shares fell 14.8 per cent yesterday after rising 46.7 per cent on Wednesday. Arabtec stock fell 2.1 per cent.

lbarnard@thenational.ae