x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Arabtec shares up on 400-metre St Petersburg tower hope

Reports from Russia say permission has been granted for Arabtec to build what could become Europe's tallest skyscraper, despite protests from locals and Unesco over its impact.

ABU DHABI // Shares of the construction giant Arabtec rose 3.67 per cent per cent this morning to Dh2.26 on reports that its Dh10 billion contract to build what could be Europe's tallest tower, in St Petersburg, is going ahead.

Kommersant, a Moscow-based newspaper, reported today that Gazprom Neft, the state natural-gas producer, had won final approval to build the 403-metre Okhta Centre project.

Arabtec won the bid to build the tower in April 2008, but the project has since been mired in a dispute between the developer and opponents who believe it will spoil St Petersburg's skyline. The proposed building had even drawn opposition from Unesco, the United Nations cultural organisation, which warned that the building could mean St Petersburg would be disqualified as a world heritage site.

While construction had been delayed, executives from Arabtec had maintained recently that the project was still going ahead. If building soon gets under way, it could provide a major boost to the company in the wake of the Dubai property crisis. Analysts have said that the company's profits in the third quarter should drop between 37 and 66 per cent.