We have three companies under evaluation or due diligence for private placements and by summer we can decide on exits,” Kalban said an interview in Dubai on March 7. “The economy is improving and the whole dust surrounding the financial situation is settling. It’s a good opportunity to look again at divesting some of the assets.”
Dubai Investments, which operates in businesses including real estate, financial services and investments, slowed its divestment plan after the financial crisis hit Dubai late 2008. The company sold 40 per cent of its private equity unit Masharie LLC for Dh400 million ($109m), it said in 2008. One of the companies it will divest this year is part of Masharie, Kalban said.
Growth is returning to Dubai as property developers announce new projects and the number of tourists traveling to the Middle East’s trade hub increases. Dubai’s economy may expand as much as 5 per cent this year after growing more than 3 per cent in 2011, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the head of Dubai’s Supreme Fiscal Policy Committee, said last month. Passenger traffic at the emirates’ airport jumped 14 per cent in January from a year earlier to 4.85 million.
Dubai Investments shares have surged 44 per cent this year after losing 22 per cent last year. That compares with a 19 per cent gains for the benchmark Dubai Financial Market General Index this year.
Dubai Investments may opt to issue a sukuk, or Islamic bonds, to finance the expansion of the second production line at its Emirates Float Glass Factory in Abu Dhabi, Kalban said. The second phase of the facility, to be the largest in the UAE upon completion, will add another 600 tonnes a day of capacity, bringing the total to 1,200 tonnes per day, he said.
The company was in talks with SACE, an Italian credit agency, for a Dh600m loan to finance the expansion before Europe’s debt crisis delayed it, Kalban said. Regional investors have shown interest in financing the project, he said.
“If this does not work, we could issue a sukuk - that is an option and could be an attractive one,” said Kalban. “It would be in the region of $200m. We are looking at the terms and we will decide in a few months.”