Issue No 282 - 08 Sep 2008
NREC eyes Syrian property market mulls sukuk

Kuwait's National Real Estate Company (NREC), a major investor in logistics firm Agility, wants to expand into markets from Syria to South Africa and is considering selling Islamic bonds later this year, its CEO said.

The firm, which is building a $1.3 billion project in Abu Dhabi, plans to develop a free trade zone in northern Iraq, and is also investing about $1.12 billion in Egypt's real estate sector.

'I do not think there are big investment opportunities inside Kuwait. In the coming three to four years, we will enter Syria, Djibouti, Algeria and South Africa,' Khaleel al-Abdullah told Reuters. 'We are in talks with private companies there to buy land.'

The Kuwait-based real estate developer, which manages KD750 million ($2.8 billion) worth of properties and assets, is currently investing in real-estate projects in the UAE, Egypt, Libya, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Pakistan.

'The biggest two countries we are investing in are the UAE and Egypt. In the UAE we have a $1.3 billion project in Abu Dhabi on Al-Reem Island,' he said. 'We will set up a firm for the Abu Dhabi project with a capital of KD150 million within three months.'

Construction for the Abu Dhabi project, which will include a shopping center, four-star hotel, offices and four residential towers, is to start within three months and is expected to be completed by the end of 2011, said Abdullah.

NREC is also building two real estate projects in Egypt and is bidding to develop and manage a free-trade-zone project with the government there.

'We are in talks with an Egyptian governmental authority for a new free zone in Suez; we are now in the bidding process,' he said, adding the contracts would be awarded by December.

On top of a KD150 million commercial project in Arbil in north Iraq, which is expected to finish within two years, NREC would also sign a deal with the government in Kurdistan to develop a free-trade zone, he said.

He declined to say how much the project was worth in total, but said NREC would set up a $150 million firm to manage it.

NREC will own 75 percent in the free-trade zone, while the government will own the rest, he said. The firm was looking into selling Islamic bonds, or sukuk, as a way to finance its expansion.

'Sukuk may be in the next stage. If not in the last quarter of this year, definitely it's going to be in the first quarter of the next year,' he added.

NREC, which has a capital of 81.4 million dinars, expects final approval from government for its 25 percent capital hike within three to fourth months, said Abdullah.

NREC's biggest shareholders are Sultan Center Food Product, which holds a 30.52 per cent, according to a company statement.

Source: Trade Arabia News

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