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Abu Dhabi’s Waha eyes Acquisitions in 2009 – CEO | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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ABU DHABI, (Reuters) – Abu Dhabi’s Waha Capital may announce acquisitions worth $500 million to $1 billion each this year and might have to borrow to finance its purchases, its chief executive said on Sunday.

Samer Alhaj told Reuters on the sidelines of a property conference in Abu Dhabi that Waha was on the lookout for potential investments in the shipping, financial services and leasing sectors and was also launching a 16 billion dirham ($4.36 billion) mixed-use property development called ALMARKAZ.

The announcements come as the global financial crisis batters the real estate sector and hits growth in the neighbouring Gulf Arab trade hub of Dubai, where hundreds of billions of dollars worth of developments have been put on hold and thousands of jobs have been slashed.

But investors from the world’s top oil-exporting region have repeatedly said they would begin to seek bargains as world markets settle. Some Abu Dhabi government-linked firms have already bought stakes in Western firms in recent months.

“Within this year we might make some announcements in mergers and acquisitions activity. We are looking at between $500 million and $1 billion in enterprise value,” he said.

“We will need to borrow but it depends on the deal,” he said, adding that Waha had a $500 million rolling credit facility but had used that up “to a certain degree”.

Alhaj said that Waha would stick to a plan to make 20 billion dirham in investments by 2011 despite the global financial crisis and that these investments included the 16 billion dirham ALMARKAZ project launched on Sunday.

Waha Land, the real estate arm of Waha Capital, said the new development in the capital of the UAE would include residential units, warehouses and a light industry complex.

Alhaj said the first phase of the ALMARKAZ project, worth 4 billion dirham, would be completed in 18 months.

Waha said it also expected to be involved in arranging and managing more financing transactions akin to a recent plan it arranged for the UAE armed forces to buy military aircraft worth 11 billion dirhams.

Waha said in February it had been mandated to arrange and manage financing that the armed forces would pursue to buy C-130J Super Hercules from Lockheed Martin and four C17 military transport jets from Boeing Co.

“It will be similar in nature but not in size,” Alhaj said.

The global financial crisis has shaken Gulf Arab financial markets and economies and forced governments to step in to shore up the banking and real estate sectors.

Falling oil prices have also hit the revenues of Gulf Arab governments but most have pledged to continue spending and many economies in the world’s top oil-exporting region are still expecting some economic growth this year.