x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Qatari Diar and Binladin join up for worldwide projects

The equal partners in the joint venture come together to establish construction and services firm in Qatar.

Qatari Diar, the state-owned property developer, is to forge a joint venture with Saudi Binladin Group, one of the Gulf's largest construction conglomerates, as it embarks on billions of dollars worth of projects around the world. The move comes one month after Qatari Diar became the largest shareholder in Vinci Construction Grands Projets of France when it exchanged Cegelec, a technical solutions firm, for 31.5 million shares.

Qatari Diar and Vinci are carrying out studies on the planned Qatar-Bahrain Causeway. Qatar has weathered the recession slightly better than some of its Gulf neighbours thanks to strong cash reserves and revenue from liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, and is pushing ahead with infrastructure and property projects. The new company, to be called QD SBG Group, will be equally owned by Qatari Diar and the Binladin Group, and will establish a construction company and an industrial services company in Qatar, Qatari Diar said.

The QD SBG Group has signed agreements with Qatar's Barwa Real Estate Company and The First Investor, an investment bank, to set up the two firms. The deal is the Jeddah-based Binladin Group's first foray into Qatar. Qatari Diar, which is owned by the Qatar Investment Authority and has London's Chelsea Barracks among its most prized assets, has more than 35 projects worldwide worth about US$60 billion (Dh220.37bn).

Engineer Mirbaig, the business development manager for the Binladin Group, said the formalities of the venture were still being finalised. "We wanted real estate projects in Saudi Arabia as well as Qatar," he said, but declined to give the value of the deal. Construction growth in Qatar has long been stifled by the country's dependence on importing building materials, making its inflation among the highest in the region.

The agreement with the Binladin Group will give Qatari Diar - which is building Lusail, the country's largest property development, and the Doha Convention Centre - better access to building materials. "It brings a host of expertise on very big projects in the region to the country," said Stephen Humphries, a director at the construction consultancy Davis Langdon in Qatar. "Binladin Group has a huge materials production set-up. Given the amount of work Qatari Diar is planning, it would make sense to have all aspects of the construction supply chain under control.

"Qatari Diar also has an interest in a whole range of other projects; they look for strategic partners when they're trying to grow something here or around the world." @Email:agiuffrida@thenational.ae