x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

National Holding to expand beyond Abu Dhabi

The company announced ambitious expansion plans, including developing businesses in other Middle Eastern countries.

National Holding, an investment and property development company, announced ambitious regional expansion plans Tuesday. The plans include developing businesses in other Middle Eastern countries such as Iraq and Libya and setting up new ventures, possibly in the fields of health care, media and renewable energies. "We will launch eight to nine new factories over the next 12 months," said Constantin Salameh, the chief operating officer of National Holding. The company's industrial arm, Exeed Industries, which already has operations in petrochemicals, metals, infrastructure and building materials, is expected to announce details of its expansion early next month. "We're planning multibillion-dollar investments in 2009 and expect to do even more next year," Mr Salameh said. We're looking to partner or to acquire companies in Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Iraq. We'd like to be a key player in those areas." The holding company, which includes five subsidiaries - Emirates International Investment Co (EIIC), Rise General Trading & Services, Petromal Oil & Gas, Bloom Properties and Exeed Industries - has restructured its operations to tap the markets better, Mr Salameh said. The group started as an investment entity in 1999 called EIIC. It moved into property in 2001 and industry in 2002 with the launch of National Fodder Production and Marketing. After rebranding its property department as Bloom Properties, the group is now restructured under the umbrella of National Holding, which is owned by members of Abu Dhabi's royal family. "We want to identify other sectors of interest and incubate new and exciting companies and ideas. We have partnered with companies in the past, but our preferred model is to acquire majority stakes," Mr Salameh said. Under the restructuring, the five units will operate autonomously and may be offered in a public listing in the coming years, Mr Salameh said. "All these brands were launched over the last 12 months," he said. "More than 60 per cent of our staff was hired during this period. A potential exit route could be an initial public offering for the units, but each subsidiary needs time to become fully independent, so we'd be looking at doing this in the next three to five years." National Holding's strongest presence outside Abu Dhabi is in Algeria and Egypt. The group has three property projects and one dairy farm project in the pipeline in Algeria. Petromal has operations in Egypt through the group's stake in Citadel Capital. The group opened an office in Libya, and is present in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Pakistan. The economic downturn forced the property branch to hold projects in Romania and focus on Algeria. "We will focus on cash-rich economies that have been insulated from the global crisis, mainly Algeria," Hani Shammah, the chief executive of Bloom Properties, said yesterday, referring to a mixed-use property development in Algiers worth about Dh5 billion (US$1.36bn). Bloom's main development in Abu Dhabi is Bloom Gardens, a cluster of 400 villas near Salaam Street. Two residential and resort projects in Al Ain are also in the pipeline, but the management is not rushing for approval. The entire entity will move in 2011 to an office building within the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre area, Abu Dhabi's new Capital Centre. The 14-storey tower will be developed by Bloom. * with Dow Jones ngillet@thenational.ae