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Al-Habtoor Group eyes European hotel buys

Dubai, January 25, 2010

Al-Habtoor Group, a stakeholder in Barclays, has hired Rothschild to identify five-star hotel targets in Europe, its chairman said on Monday.   

The conglomerate, one of the UAE's largest family businesses, is also aiming to win up to $8.2 billion worth of building contracts in 2010 with Australia's Leighton Holdings.

Habtoor, which owns hotels in the UAE, was one of several Middle East investors that bought into Barclays in 2008 as the lender looked to boost its capital to weather the financial crisis.

"We talked with Rothschild bank ... about investment in Europe and especially in London and Paris for hotels if there is anything they can find so they are looking for us," billionaire Khalaf Al-Habtoor told Reuters in an interview.

Al-Habtoor added the group was also looking at companies who want to sell their assets due to a lack of financial liquidity.

Al-Habtoor said in August the group had about $1.3 billion to invest in Europe.   

The group, which rivals Dubai's largest contractor Arabtec, has a joint venture with Leighton and has said it may float its engineering unit or the entire group in the third quarter of 2010 with possible listings in Dubai and London.   

Al-Habtoor declined to comment on the potential IPO on Monday.   

The construction firm is working on about 27 billion dirhams ($7.35 billion) of projects in the United Arab Emirates at present and expects to bid on about 40 billion dirhams worth of projects in Abu Dhabi alone this year, Al-Habtoor said.   

"We are expecting this year that we have to grab a minimum of 25-30 billion dirhams in projects," Al-Habtoor said.

The company also expects to boost its presence in Qatar as it looks to diversify revenues away from its home market. -Reuters




Tags: Construction | Habtoor | hotels |

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