Al-Futtaim signs loan for Dubai Festival City

24 February 2006

The local Al-Futtaim Group has signed a $131 million loan facility with National Bank of Abu Dhabi to fund the construction of a 500-apartment residential tower in the Marsa al-Khor neighbourhood of Dubai Festival City (DFC). A further three bilateral agreements are close to being finalised and the company expects to have put financing in place for all the major elements of the project by the summer, says Marwan Shehadeh, managing director of Al-Futtaim Capital.

'There was never any intention to finance the whole project with equity, although we have the resources to adequately capitalise the project where some investors would want to leverage more highly,' says Shehadeh. 'The debt/equity split depends on the component being financed. On the residential elements, we are looking at about 60:40, whereas on utilities you can go higher because of the secure and consistent cashflows.' For financing purposes, the DFC project company is divided into 15 special purpose vehicles (SPVs), each with their own income statements and balance sheets. 'The tenor of the financings will vary because each element has a different return profile, but we are looking mostly at 10-12 years,' says Shehadeh. Three loan agreements are already in place with: Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank; Emirates Bank with Standard Chartered Bank; and Arab Bank with Barclays Capital and National Bank of Dubai. The estimated AED 6,000 million ($1,633 million) Marsa al-Khor complex will be divided into three districts and will comprise residential and commercial towers, a park and a 300-room boutique hotel. An international operator to manage the boutique hotel is due to be announced in early March (MEED 16:9:05).

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