UAE’s Arabtec plans property arms, Egypt ‘affordable’ housing projects

The UAE-based builder’s shares rose 52 percent in 2013

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United Arab Emirates builder Arabtec signalled on Sunday that it aimed to participate more directly in Dubai's property market boom, announcing plans to establish real estate development arms.

The firm, whose shares are up 52 percent this year because of expectations for increased business as the UAE spends heavily on infrastructure and residential projects, said it would set up real estate development units in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Arabtec will partner with other firms to undertake projects in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the Gulf states, it said in a statement detailing the resolutions of a December 19 board of directors meeting. It also said it would search for new investments, partnerships and acquisitions in the Gulf, though it did not name potential targets.

“The board of directors decided to start searching for new investments and entering into new partnerships and acquisitions that would enhance and boost the group’s activities and companies.”

Last week, the company denied market speculation that it was looking to buy local engineering firm Drake & Scull.

The Dubai-listed firm, which built the emirate’s famous palm islands, has been on a push for growth after it replaced its chief executive earlier this year in a shake-up led by Abu Dhabi fund Aabar, its largest shareholder, which has been tightening its control of the group.

Arabtec also said it would start discussions with authorities in Egypt to work on “affordable” or low-income housing projects there - an important part of the Egyptian government’s efforts to stimulate the economy and reduce social discontent.

The company already has several projects in Egypt including a contract to build a 23-storey hotel and residential complex in Cairo called The Nile Towers.

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