Shares in Arabtec fall on rumours of Dubai Financial Market exit

Aabar has increased its stake in Arabtec to 53 per cent, taking control of the Dubai construction giant two years after a planned US$1.74 billion (Dh6.39bn) takeover fell through.

Cranes in Abu Dhabi ( Andrew Parsons / The National )
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Arabtec Holding's share price fell 5.76 per cent yesterday on speculation that it might delist after it emerged that Aabar Investments had taken a majority interest in the Dubai construction giant.

Aabar has increased its stake in Arabtec to 53 per cent, taking control of the Dubai construction giant two years after a planned US$1.74 billion (Dh6.39bn) takeover fell through two years ago. The two companies at that time said they would instead pursue a "strategic partnership".

Analysts said there was speculation that the company might delist. The International Petroleum Investment Company (Ipic) took Aabar private after a takeover in 2010.

"Everything is possible after what we have seen," said Sebastien Henin, a portfolio manager for the Middle East and North Africa at The National Investor.

Aabar's chairman, Khadem Al Qubaisi, said the company's stake was expected to increase in the next three months.

Speaking to the Arabic newspaper Alrroya, Mr Al Qubaisi described Aabar's investment in Arabtec as a "winning opportunity", adding the company planned to offer Arabtec development projects in Abu Dhabi.

Aabar had previously bought 23 per cent of Arabtec's shares directly, while the remaining 30 per cent was acquired from other shareholders, he said.

The Dubai Financial Market (DFM) does not track the ultimate parent company of investors in specific stocks.

"We periodically disclose shareholdings of 5 per cent and above on our website, according to regulations," a DFM spokesman said.

Another official at the DFM told Reuters a trade was executed on May 6 and settled on May 8, which increased Aabar's holding to 53 per cent.

The new shareholder structure would be updated on the exchange's website soon, the official said.

There have been various signs this year that Aabar was developing an increasingly close relationship with Arabtec.

Last week it was revealed Mr Al Qubaisi had been appointed chairman of Arabtec's board.

Aabar had only recently become the largest shareholder in Arabtec, the UAE's biggest construction company by market value.

Aabar built up a 10.5 per cent stake in Arabtec in recent months through purchases by two of its units. Aabar Petroleum Investments holds a 5.32 per cent interest, while Aabar Real Estate owns 5.18 per cent of the construction company.

Aabar is a subsidiary of Ipic, which is owned by the Government of Abu Dhabi.

At the same time as Mr Al Qubaisi's appointment at the helm of the Arabtec board, it was announced other Aabar executives and directors had also moved into influential positions last week. Mohamed Al Husseiny, Aabar's chief executive, was appointed by the board to Arabtec's investment committee, while the directors Mohamed Al Mehairi and Mohamed Al Fahim were appointed to the nomination and remuneration committee and audit committee, respectively.

Arabtec is a member of the consortium selected by Abu Dhabi Airports Company as the preferred bidder for the Dh11.75bn Midfield Terminal project at Abu Dhabi International Airport.

ghunter@thenational.ae

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