Emaar to sell real estate business in IPO

07 June 2017

Share sale is billed to be the biggest since listing of Emaar Malls in 2014

Emaar Properties, the UAE’s top developer by market capitalisation, plans to sell shares in its UAE Real Estate development business in what it said will be the biggest initial public offering (IPO) since listing of its shopping malls subsidiary about three years ago.

Emaar will offer up to 30 per cent of Emaar’s its real estate development arm through a share sale on the Dubai Financial Market (DFM), Emaar said in a statement without specifying when it plans to offer shares to public, and whether financial and legal advisors on the transaction have already been appointed. The funds raised through the sale of equity will primarily be distributed as dividends to Emaar’s shareholders, the company said, adding that the deal is subject to market conditions.

In the UAE and the wider GCC markets have slowed down in the last two years with the fall in oil prices since the mid-2014 peak of $115 a-barrel, which drove the regional equity markets down and dented investors’ confidence. A total of $1.12bn was raised through six equity deals including the rights offerings in the GCC last year.

Several government-related entities in markets such as Saudi Arabia and Oman have expressed interest in public floats but the private and public firms in the UAE have largely shelved their plans to list due to subdued market conditions. The last significant IPO on DFM was that of Emaar Malls which raised $1.6bn.

However, Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Emaar, in March had said that the company’s priority is streamlining and creating synergies within the businesses and there were no plans plans to list any of its subsidiaries.

The decision to list Emaar’s real estate business was a result of an internal review of Emaar’s asset and the listing will enhance the developer’s overall valuation as the value of real estate development business is properly recognised in the market.

The real estate development business in the past five years has seen significant growth. Sales increased from AED4.2bn ($ 1.14) in 2012 to AED14.4bn in 2016. Until end of May 2017, the business recorded sales of AED9.7bn, recording a 24 per cent jump above the same period in 2016. Total backlog, represents the value of properties sold but where related revenues have yet to be recognised, stood at AED40bn at the end of May 2017, according to the  Emaar statement.

“The proposed listing and the additional dividend to our shareholders including Government of Dubai underlines our commitment to provide superior value to all our shareholders,” Alabbar was quoted as saying in the statement. “We are drawing on our success to create a new Emaar defined by an expanded development pipeline in Dubai, anchored by iconic structures such as The Tower at Dubai Creek Harbour.”

Emaar, the developer of the Burj Khalifa has handed over around 34,000 units in Dubai since 2001 and currently has a significant land bank of 24 million square meters in the UAE. The total development area on these lands is approximately 30 million square meters. The developer has several mega-developments ongoing in Dubai including the Dubai Hills Estate, a joint venture with government owned Meraas Holding; The Tower in Dubai Creek Harbour; which is billed to be the tallest man-made structure in the world and Emaar South, a development set near the venue of Expo 2020.

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