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Saturday, 19 September 2009

Arabtec writes off Dubai full recovery

Arabtec Construction does not see Dubai's construction market returning to the heyday of the emirate's property boom, giving impetus to its expansion abroad, its chief executive said on Friday.

The Dubai-based contractor, the United Arab Emirates' largest by market value, has won contracts in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi so far this year as it ventured further afield to weather a property downturn in its home market.

"They talk about (the Dubai market) turning around, maybe by the middle of next year, but I don't think it will ever achieve the scale and the heights that it was at before," Arabtec Construction CEO Thomas Barry told news agency Reuters on the sidelines of the Global Irish Economic Forum.

"We will always bid for projects in Dubai, whatever happens and however limited that may be, but our focus has shifted obviously to Abu Dhabi which has more oil money to use for development," Barry said.END

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Songbird Lifts Stake in Canary Wharf, Backed by Qatar (Update1)

Songbird Estates Plc, which controls more than half the buildings in London’s Canary Wharf financial district, will increase its stake in the area with the backing of shareholders.

Songbird will enlarge its share of Canary Wharf Group Plc to 69 percent by buying an 8.5 percent holding from Commerzbank AG for 112.5 million pounds ($183 million), the London-based company said in a statement today.

The company said it will finance the purchase by boosting the amount of cash it’s raising to repay an 880 million-pound loan from Citigroup Inc. by 70 million pounds. Songbird will now sell 620 million pounds of new equity and 275 million pounds of preference stock. It previously planned to issue 550 million pounds of equity.

Qatar Holding LLC, which intends to become Songbird’s largest shareholder; China Investment Corp.; and New York investor Simon Glick have all agreed to buy more Songbird stock in the new offering, the statement said. They will also provide loans to fund the balance of the purchase of Commerzbank’s stake, along with Morgan Stanley.

Tim Roberts, a member of Songbird’s board of directors who was nominated to the post by Songbird investor British Land Co., resigned from the board today, Songbird said in a separate statement. British Land isn’t taking up its full entitlement in the rights offering.

The shares were unchanged at 32.5 pence in London trading.END

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Saad in $700m settlement deal with Saudi lenders

Saad Group, the troubled Saudi conglomerate, has struck a deal with local banks to settle more than US$700 million (Dh2.57bn) in debts, according to media reports.

Saad Group and its owner, the billionaire Maan al Sanea, have been mired in a series of court battles amid demands for repayment of debts since the company began defaulting on financial obligations in April and May.

The latest news of a deal with Saudi banks is the first real sign of progress in the company’s efforts to restructure debt as it fights off creditors and defends itself against accusations by Ahmad Hamad al Gosaibi and Brothers (AHAB), another struggling, family-run Saudi conglomerate, that Mr al Sanea defrauded it to the tune of $10bn.

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