Egypt, Arabtec near agreement on $40 bln housing project

Arabtec executives will visit Cairo within 10 days to sign the final contract, the media advisor for the housing minister said.

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Egypt's housing ministry and Dubai's Arabtec have agreed some of the terms for a $40 billion project to build one million homes across the country, and they will sign a final contract within 10 days, a ministry spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

Earlier this month, the housing minister said he hoped to conclude a deal for the mega development - seen as part of economic and political support to the country by the United Arab Emirates - before a March 13-15 investment conference.

No announcement was made, however. The two parties differed over the percentage of completed units that Arabtec should deliver to Egypt in lieu of payment for land used in the project, a source told Reuters on March 3.

"There is no percentage that has been agreed on with Arabtec," Wafaa Bakri, media advisor for the housing minister, told Reuters on Tuesday.

Asked if the government would take the same percentage agreed with Talaat Mostafa for the Egyptian developer's Madinaty housing project, which was 7 percent, she said: "It will be more than that."

Arabtec executives will visit Cairo within 10 days to sign the final contract, she added without elaborating.

Such a short time frame may indicate the two sides are confident a deal is near, and a source familiar with the matter played down their differences. He said the main obstacles had been overcome and only a few relatively minor issues remained.

Under a preliminary plan announced last year, construction of the housing had originally been due to start in the third quarter of 2014, with the first homes to be delivered in early 2017 and the project to be completed before 2020.

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