x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

UAE property giant will be world's largest

With combined assets of Dh194 billion, the proposed entity would be the largest property developer in the world.

DUBAI // Emaar Properties, the UAE's largest property developer, is still finalising the details of its planned merger with Dubai Properties, Sama Dubai and Tatweer, property firms owned by the business conglomerate Dubai Holding. With combined assets of Dh194 billion (US$52.81bn), the proposed entity would be the largest property developer in the world. "It will take some time, as it is a big exercise to merge big companies who have got a lot of assets, but we are on time," said Ahmad al Matrooshi, the managing director of Emaar Properties UAE.

Mr al Matrooshi said decisions on whether the new entity, which is yet to be named, would take on developments such as Dubailand (a Tatweer project) and The Lagoons (a Sama Dubai project) were still being made. "Emaar will pick up what's attractive to it," he said. "At this moment, we don't know which projects will be taken by the joint venture. It depends on the valuation exercise [of the projects]. We will do it in a very professional way, it will be good for Emaar and the shareholders."

The proposed merger is the most solid sign yet of consolidation in Dubai's property sector, which is striving to cut costs after a dramatic slide in demand and asset values. Property prices, while showing recent signs of stabilising, have fallen almost 50 per cent since their peak in the third quarter of last year. Consolidation has been one way to help developers streamline operations, cut costs and better manage the construction of their projects.

Dubai World said in June that the property activities of its subsidiaries, Leisurecorp, Dubai Maritime City and Dubai Multi Commodities Centre, would be managed by Nakheel, also owned by Dubai World. Emaar, the builder of the Burj Dubai, is 70 per cent owned by the public and 30 per cent by Investment Corporation of Dubai, another Dubai Government entity. Mr al Matrooshi said Emaar was concentrating on completing its current projects, particularly Downtown Burj Dubai, the home of Burj Dubai. The company is also focusing on delivering projects in Pakistan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the US.