SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Dubai World, the investment holding firm of the Dubai government, said on Thursday it has no plans to list its ports operator, dismissing earlier news reports that it was seeking a public float.
“I don’t believe listing is an option now. Not at the current time, no,” Dubai World Chairman Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem told Reuters on the sidelines of a press briefing.
In November 2005, Dubai Ports World, the investment firm’s port operator and the world’s third largest container port operator, said it was planning an initial public offering (IPO) within two years. Its holding company issued a $3.5 billion Islamic bond, or sukuk, convertible into shares in any IPO.
“We evaluate what is the most efficient way of financing and if we prove that listing part of it will be cheaper, then we’ll do it. So far, we’ve proven that issuing bonds is better for us,” Sulayem said.
Dubai World holds a multi-billion dollar portfolio that includes British ports operator P&O and New York luxury retailer Barneys and has been taking on considerable debt to fund its acquisitions for its various businesses.
Sulayem said that Dubai World’s real estate firm, Nakheel, which recently said it will launch an international arm to pursue projects outside of Dubai, is looking for investment opportunities in Singapore, China, India and Vietnam.
In December last year, Nakheel, developer of three palm-frond shaped islands off Dubai’s coast, sold the world’s largest Islamic bond, raising $3.52 billion.
When asked what the time frame was like for Nakheel’s first acquisition, Sulayem said he hopes “that it can come within the next few months,” and that these would be in Asia and the United States.
Sulayem was in Singapore to finalise the acquisition of Singapore shipyard firm Pan-United Marine by Dubai Drydocks World, the global maritime arm of Dubai World.
Dubai Drydocks said in a statement that it has received acceptances of approximately 84.8 percent of shares in Pan-United Marine.