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Business - Real Estate

Amwal Al Ghad English - 2015-03-11 10:03:48
As local and international delegates prepare for the much-anticipated Egypt Economic Development Conference (EEDC) in Sharm El Sheikh this weekend, executives from the UAE’s biggest publicly traded builder and the Egyptian government have been locked in discussions over one of the North African country’s most ambitious projects . Their enormous housing development proposal, originally intended to be for low-income Egyptian citizens and led by the UAE’s Arabtec and the Cairo authorities, is finding it difficult to get off the drawing board – a year after the deal was signed – and it is hoped the conference, dubbed Egypt The Future, will mark a turning point. The original US$40 billion campaign to provide a million low-cost homes, entitled “For the Sake of Egypt’s Youth”, was initiated last March by the Dubai-listed firm and then field marshal Abdel Fattah El Sisi in the lead up to Egypt’s presidential elections. The deal, widely seen as a symbol of this country’s commitment to Cairo’s military-backed government, came as UAE aid flowed into Egypt following the ousting of the president Mohammed Morsi. But what was hailed early on as one of the region’s most ambitious housing projects has been hampered by issues including confusion over funding sources. The most recent road bump came after the head of the armed forces eengineering corps, general Kamel El-Wazir, seemed to blame Arabtec for the project’s current temporary suspension by not agreeing to certain “national conditions”. Last week, he was quoted by an Egyptian newspaper as saying, “[Arabtec] wanted to invest in Egypt, but its approach does not match ours … any investor who wants to enter into the Egyptian market must bring his own funding from abroad, not from Egyptian banks”. Shortly afterwards, on Wednesday, Arabtec’s chairman, Khadem Abdulla Al Qubaisi, and a delegation of board members flew to Egypt to try to clarify the situation. Arabtec has declined to comment on Gen El Wazir’s statement until after the misunderstanding has been sorted out. This latest hitch comes amid a string of complications surrounding the planning of the mega-project that have stalled progress on the development. Initially scheduled to begin in the third quarter of last year, the first phase includes the construction of 120,000 low-cost housing units along with public services such as schools and hospitals in three Egyptian locations: El Obour; New Minya; and Badr City. According to the original agreement all one million units are to be completed within five years, with the first homes delivered as early as 2017. However, a year on from the announcement of the “historical deal”, many of the original drivers of the project are no longer in the picture. Concerns over the project first arose after the Arabtec chief executive Hassan Ismaik, a close partner to Mr El Sisi in the initial concept, unexpectedly resigned in June – sending the company’s share price crashing. Meanwhile, the Egyptian armed forces, which instigated the original proposal and said it would provide 160 million square metres of free land for the project, subsequently passed the baton to the ministry of housing. Since then, the project’s start date has been missed on several occasions. In October, Arabtec said it was in the final stages of formulating a contract with the Egyptian ministry of housing, with phase one of the project to begin before the end of 2014. After that failed to materialise, a new date was set for early 2015 following the International Real Estate and Investment Show in Abu Dhabi in November. Then, after Mr El Sisi’s visit to Abu Dhabi in January, the UAE Minister of State, Sultan Al Jaber, announced the project would commence within a month’s time. The project is now expected to be presented at the EEDC, which runs from March 13 to 15 in the Red Sea resort. According to an official from the Egyptian Federation of Construction and Building Contractors, phase one will begin shortly thereafter. As well as funding, other details regarding the project, such as the provision of land, remain unclear. While it was originally announced that Arabtec would receive free land from the armed forces for low-income housing, the Egyptian minister of housing Moustafa Madbouly stated on Wednesday last week that in fact the project is now intended for the middle-income sector and thus does not warrant the allocation of free land to investors. A day later, he said talks with Arabtec were continuing and he hoped to reach a final deal on the project before the start of the EEDC. Hany Ganeena, the head of research at one of Egypt’s leading investment firms, Pharos, notes: “All of the major recent disputes over real estate projects have been over the pricing of land.” The two largest property developers in Egypt as listed on the EGX, Talaat Moustafa Group and Palm Hills, have also both faced drawn-out disputes over land sales following the January 25 Revolution in 2011. “In the Arabtec case, the minister of housing wanted to make clear that he was keen on attracting investment, but not keen on ‘squandering’ property of the Egyptian people,” points out Mr Ganeena. Source of funding has been another point of contention in the most recent negotiations between Arabtec and the company’s Egyptian partners. Shortly after the original agreement, Mr Ismaik said initial financing would come from the UAE Government alongside advance payments by homebuyers. Then, after negotiations in October last year, a letter of intent signed by Arabtec and Egypt’s ministry of housing stipulated that the project’s funding be entirely foreign, although it did not provide further details. Other important considerations, such as affordability of the units, also remain in question. Many Egyptians most in need of subsidised housing operate in the informal economy and will not be eligible for traditional forms of financing such as mortgages; neither could they afford to buy outright. “The announced budget of 280 billion Egyptian pounds [for the project] averages to about 280,000 pounds a unit, which is more than double the price of the current subsidised units in the Egyptian government’s social housing project, which are already unaffordable for the poorest 20 per cent of Egyptians,” says the housing policy analyst Yahia Shawkat . Additional doubts surround the feasibility of the project’s ambitious scope. Quick maths reveals that for one million units to be completed from start to finish in five years, about 550 houses must be built per day. Considerations such as these suggest the importance of the project may lie more in its symbolic value of UAE-Egypt relations than its impact on the Egyptian affordable housing market.  At the Abu Dhabi investment conference in November, Mr Madbouly noted the project was expected to mark a new investment approach by the current government. He said the Arabtec collaboration would serve as “a model for future public-private partnerships”, suggesting government desire to foster strong and growing connections with Arabian Gulf firms in Egypt’s upcoming property development projects. Indeed, with the Abu Dhabi Government-affiliated Aabar Investments as Arabtec’s largest shareholder, the million units deal has been widely interpreted as a form of state-to-state economic diplomacy. It also suggests a new UAE strategy to promote private sector development as an alternative to direct aid. Following a $1bn grant transferred in the immediate aftermath of Mr Morsi’s ousting in July 2013, the UAE signed an aid agreement of an additional $3.9bn in October of that year, which included a number of Emirates-led development projects such as the construction of schools, clinics and housing. Unless an announcement is forthcoming beforehand, all eyes will be on the EEDC for signs that the million-homes project is making headway. However, many other UAE private sector investments are expected to be announced at the event, in which high-level Emirati and Saudi officials have played a considerable planning role. A series of investor-friendly economic and legislative reforms are also scheduled to be revealed at the conference, opening the door to a potential period of increased UAE private investment in an Egypt in transition. But the biggest deal will still be the Arabtec project and the outcome of the latest talks is likely to set the tone for future UAE-Egypt collaboration on economic projects, with repercussions far beyond the Egyptian housing sector. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2015-03-10 10:22:48
 Property developer Sixth of October Development and Investment Co (SODIC) (OCDI) has acquired Tabrouk Building Co for LE191 million, the company said in a statement on Tuesday. The deal will include a number of land plots owned by shareholders, which will enable SODIC to acquire 100 acre in North Coast. SODIC said the planned project for the 100 acre land plot will be the beginning of a series of coastal projects. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2015-03-10 09:20:13
Egyptian property developer Talaat Mostafa posted a 2014 net profit of 681.8 million Egyptian pounds ($89.42 million), up from 585.185 million, it said in a statement on Tuesday. Revenue rose to 5.27 billion pounds from 4.858 billion. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2015-03-05 13:59:35
Egypt's housing minister said on Thursday that talks with Dubai-listed Arabtec are continuing and that he hopes to reach a final deal on a plan to build one million homes before a March 13-15 investment conference in Sharm el-Sheikh. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Mustafa Madbouly said Egypt's rights have to be preserved in any deal. A source familiar with the matter told Reuters this week that Arabtec's chairman would meet officials of Egypt's housing ministry to renegotiate terms of the $40 billion plan. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2015-03-05 08:57:15
SODIC, Egypt's third-largest listed property developer, said it made a net profit of 154.3 million Egyptian pounds ($20.2 million) in 2014 after a loss of 477.1 million pounds the previous year. SODIC, also known as Sixth of October Development and Investment Co., said in a statement on Thursday it had revenues of 1.37 billion pounds in 2014, up from 1.32 billion a year earlier. ($1 = 7.6300 Egyptian pounds). More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2015-03-05 07:37:29
Arabtec chairman Khadem Abdullah Al-Qubaisi met with Egyptian Ministry of Housing officials Wednesday to resume negotiations on the “One Million Residential Units” project, Reuters quoted a source as saying. “The New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) and Arabtec agreed on contract terms late last month, but the contract received by Arabtec contained terms less attractive to the company than what is agreed upon,” said the source. The source added that the ministry agreed it will offer Arabtec the project’s lands in return for the company giving a certain percentage of housing units to the ministry after completion instead of payment. The source revealed that the Ministry of Housing has asked for a higher percentage of the residential units than the previous percentage agreed upon, which prompted Al-Qubaisi to travel to Cairo to resume negotiations. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2015-03-04 08:22:07
Arabtec's chairman will meet officials of Egypt's housing ministry on Wednesday to renegotiate the terms of a $40 billion plan to build one million homes in that country, a source familiar with the matter said. Dubai-listed Arabtec announced last March that it had reached agreement in principle with Egypt's army to build the homes at 13 locations around the country, on land provided by the armed forces. But while that preliminary deal was with the army, Arabtec's subsequent negotiations for a final agreement have been with the Ministry of Housing, the source told Reuters on Tuesday. The two sides agreed terms late last month, but the contract which Arabtec subsequently received included less attractive terms for the company than it had approved, the source said. The ministry had agreed to grant Arabtec the land upon which the project would be built, and in return the construction firm would give a certain proportion of the completed housing units to the ministry in lieu of payment. But the ministry has now demanded that it be given a much higher proportion of units than the two parties originally agreed, prompting Arabtec chairman Khadem Abdulla al-Qubaisi to fly to Cairo to resume talks on Wednesday, the source said. "Hopefully, things can be resolved tomorrow or the day after," the source added. Repeated calls to a housing ministry spokesperson in Egypt were not returned, while Arabtec declined to comment. Construction on the project had originally been due to start in the third quarter of 2014, with the first homes to be delivered in early 2017 and the whole project to be completed before 2020, but negotiations between Egypt's government and Arabtec have been slowed in part by management changes at the company. Qubaisi is also chairman of Abu Dhabi state fund Aabar, which owns 35 percent of Arabtec, according to Reuters data. The Egyptian housing project is seen as part of economic and political support to the country by the United Arab Emirates, which has provided billions of dollars of aid to Cairo since Islamist president Mohamed Mursi was ousted in 2013. More»
Marwa Himdan - 2015-03-03 13:35:12
Egyptian real estate sector is expected to seize lion's share of investments that would be attracted during Egypt's March Economic Summit which will be held in Sharm El-Sheikh, said Tarek Shoukry- Deputy of the Egyptian Real Estate Investment Division- on Tuesday. Shoukry pointed out that real estate sector achieved considerable success within the last period despite the political and economic turmoil that Egypt had witnessed. During his interview in ' Kol El Zaway' show, Shoukry added that Egypt's Housing Ministry got ready for the summit through issuing bunch of investments and different investment ideas by depending on Public Private Partnership system (PPP) in issuing number of housing, administrative, and commercial projects. 'Kol El Zawaya' is presented by the famous media figure Dina Abdel Fattah and airing live from Sundays to Thursdays at 11:00 p.m. There are number of legislations which related to real estate sector are expected to be approved before the Economic Summit. Those legislations would contribute to solve more than 80% of current problems between real estate investors and the country, Shoukry asserted. Shoukry noted that investment bunch would attract numerous numbers of investors especially the Arabs who well to invest in Egyptian real estate market. Moreover, Shoukry stated that investors need more information and inquiries about ways of participating in executing projects not only announcing number of large investment projects. More»
Marwa Himdan - 2015-03-03 11:50:39
The index of AqarMap.com, the leading Real Estate portal in the Middle East, recorded 2318 points registering 8% growth in February 2015, said Emad Masoudi-CEO of aqarmap.com- on Tuesday.  This growth is the largest since July 2014 as the index was unstable within the last months except some months in which it recorded modest growth, Masoudi noted.  the bath of real estate market last year indicates that current year would witness impressive performance which is appeared within the first two months of 2015 by issuing new projects in the market, Masoudi asserted. Issuing such new projects reflects the great trust of individuals and investors in real estate market. AqarMap.com is a real estate search engine that provides a search for thousands of properties and projects from Real Estate companies and private owners. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2015-03-03 09:59:01
Egypt is building a 200-meter-high (656 feet) Zayed Crystal Spark in Sheikh Zayed City, which will become the tallest tower in the country, according to country’s Ministry of Housing. The tower will be launched during the Economic Summit to be held in Sharm El-Sheikh from March 13 to 15. The development is located in the southern expansions of 6th of October City and will be worth a total investment of EGP 150 billion ($19.7 billion; Dh72.2 billion). Zayed Crystal Spark will be built on an area of 190 acres through a partnership between real estate developers and the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA), the dailynewsegypt.com quoted country’s housing minister Mostafa Madbouly as saying. The tower will be a commercial, administrative and entertaining project. However, the project cost was not disclosed. Sheikh Zayed City is a new metropolitan area and one of new-generation cities built in 1995 through the Sheikh Zayed grant facilitated by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development. The city, divided into 20 districts of four neighbourhoods, is located in the province of Giza and is considered a suburb and a natural extension of Greater Cairo. It is fully serviced and supported by high-level facilities such as hospitals, schools, water and electric utilities, and green landscapes covering around 40 per cent of the total area to give the city a natural appeal. During the last fiscal year (FY) 2013-2014, the real estate sector in Egypt contributed 4.6 per cent to the GDP representing (EGP 80bn), according to media reports. The real estate sector saw investments worth EGP 35bn. UAE Minister of State Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, who also chairs the coordinating bureau of projects between the UAE and Egypt, has said his country will not abandon Egypt and will keep supporting it economically during this current phase, stating the summit will lead towards the implementation of a permanent development and reform plan in Egypt. Bilateral trade between the UAE and Egypt grew 21.5 per cent to Dh11.3 billion in the first three quarters of 2014 compared to Dh9.3 billion in the same period of 2013, according to foreign trade statistics revealed by Dubai Customs. More»