x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

TDIC lays off 'less than 100' workers as scope expands

TDIC, the developer of projects including Louvre and Guggenheim museums, has made "less than 100" employees redundant as it changes focus.

Abu Dhabi's Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC) has laid off "less than 100" employees, it announced yesterday.

The developer behind the construction of the Louvre and Guggenheim museums on Saadiyat Island did not specify the exact number of redundancies, which it attributed to an "expanded scope of work".

"Tourism Development & Investment Company's business portfolio has evolved over the past 12 months, and the company has expanded its scope of work from being a master developer, to also being an operator and managing various assets," it said. "This, in turn, had an effect on TDIC's manpower needs; in some areas, it was necessary to expand its recruitment drive, whereas in others reductions had to be made," the company added.

The redundancies coincided with the handover of the first villas on Saadiyat Beach. TDIC said it was committed to delivering all of its announced projects to the highest quality.

The company cut its budget by almost a third last year by scaling back or putting some of its projects on hold. It recorded losses of Dh1.15 billion (US$313.07 million) in 2010, Dh551m in 2009 and Dh368.6m in 2008.

TDIC unveiled a new construction timetable in January, promising that the long-delayed cultural projects would be completed by 2017, with the Louvre Abu Dhabi first to open in 2015, followed by Zayed National Museum in 2016, and the Guggenheim in 2017.

A month after the release of the new timetable, it was reported that the master developer was weighing a sale of its assets to pay off some of its debt.

Apartments and hotels on Saadiyat Island are said to be among the assets the developer is thinking of selling.

TDIC has $2bn worth of bonds maturing in 2014.

The developer told The National last year that it would need to raise Dh2bn to Dh3bn a year to fund construction of the projects in the next few years.

But it cancelled a $3bn bond offering last July, citing poor market conditions. It has indicated it may consider returning to the capital markets this year.

gduncan@thenational.ae