x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Mulk set to spend $1bn on global expansion

Mulk Holdings, a manufacturing conglomerate based in Sharjah, is investing up to US$1 billion in an ambitious expansion project in the UAE, Europe and Asia over the next two years.

Mulk plans to set up a facility in Abu Dhabi's Khalifa Industrial Zone. Courtesy Abu Dhabi Ports Company
Mulk plans to set up a facility in Abu Dhabi's Khalifa Industrial Zone. Courtesy Abu Dhabi Ports Company

Mulk Holdings, a manufacturing conglomerate based in Sharjah, is investing up to US$1 billion (Dh3.67bn) in an ambitious expansion project in the UAE, Europe and Asia over the next two years.

The company plans to set up a facility in Abu Dhabi's Khalifa Industrial Zone (Kizad) with two other joint venture partners to make aluminium components, said Shaji Mulk, the company's chairman.

It is also planning to increase the capacity of an existing plant in Serbia as well as new projects in Turkey and India.

"We're looking at up to $1bn of investments globally," said Mr Mulk.

"2012 and 2013 are perhaps the biggest years for us. The last two years of the global recession have given us confidence that the team is doing what we should be doing."

Mulk Holdings is one of the biggest exporters in the UAE, with the construction materials and solar-panel goods it makes shipped across the Middle East, Asia and Europe. The company employs about 1,000 people in the UAE and 700 internationally.

Under its Kizad venture, which is still in the negotiation stage, Mulk plans to take raw liquid aluminium from Emirates Aluminium (Emal) to make aluminium coils, which are used to make roofs and ceilings.

The project also involves Litong, a Chinese aluminium coil producer.

"The aluminium industry is now being seen as of national importance because of Abu Dhabi's [Economic] Vision 2030," said Mr Mulk. "This is part of the downstream of the industry. At the moment, the Middle East only has one such manufacturing plant."

The $200 million investment would be completed in two phases, each producing 50,000 tonnes of aluminium goods. It would take 18 months for the project to be up and running once it is signed off.

The operation would represent a new business stream for Mulk, which currently only coats aluminium coils in the Emirates, at two sites in Ajman.

Overseas, Mulk plans to expand its operations in Serbia, where it first invested $20m in 2010 to build a facility making coated aluminium coils and composite building panels to supply the European market.

"It's an investment that has paid off tremendously well," said Mr Mulk. "So much so that we have just finished the acquisition of the 50,000 square metre site facility and doubled operational capacity," he added.

In Turkey, Mulk is building a similar composite panel manufacturing plant.

"The building is finished and the production line is expected to be delivered some time in September this year. This operation will be up and running before the end of this year, " said Mr Mulk.

Within the renewable energy field, the company is investing $400m over the next two years in building a plant in India to produce materials for use in the solar industry. The firm already produces a range of solar products at its unit in Hamriyah Free Zone in Sharjah, including street and garden lighting. In another new business venture, Mulk is also involved in a project to build the first Sheraton Hotel in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Mr Mulk started the business in the UAE in 1985, manufacturing ceiling tiles. His company grew rapidly in the late 1980s after he bought the rights in the Middle East to produce Alubond, a US-designed aluminium composite panel popular for use in buildings because of its resistance to fire.

Mulk Holdings has since diversified to include several other business units.

tarnold@thenational.ae

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