Emaar launches property unit IPO

Emaar Chairman Mohamed Alabbar said the IPO of its development business would deliver attractive dividends to investors. (Reuters)
Updated 22 October 2017
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Emaar launches property unit IPO

DUBAI: Emaar Properties, Dubai’s master developer, is to sell 20 percent of the shares of its UAE real estate unit in an initial public offering (IPO) that could value it at around $6 billion.
The IPO is the first significant listing on a UAE market since 2014. The proceeds of the offering will be distributed to shareholders of Emaar Development in the form of dividends worth at least $1.7 billion over the next three years.
The developer said the offer was “consistent with its stated strategy of bringing subsidiary companies to market once they have reached sufficient maturity.”
Emaar is the master developer behind projects such as Burj Khalifa, Dubai Marina, Downtown Dubai and Arabian Ranches.
Emaar is also the developer of the King Abdullah Economic City near Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, but this project will be unaffected by the forthcoming IPO.
Emaar Development is the second Emaar business to be spun off into a separate listed entity in the UAE, following the float of its malls business three years ago.
The newly listed company will be run by chief executive Chris O’Donnell, an experienced real estate operator in the UAE who was head of developer Nakheel during the financial crisis that engulfed its owner, Dubai World, in 2009.
He has been helping advise Emaar on the IPO preparations for some months.
O’Donnell said: “Emaar Development has a clear strategy to continue delivering high-quality integrated lifestyle communities, which offer an exceptional customer experience. Our strong sales backlog and access to significant premium land banks in prime locations — together with a growing real estate market in an enhanced regulatory and stabilized pricing environment — positions the business well for the benefit of future shareholders.”
Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Properties, said: “The IPO of our UAE development business will allow potential investors an opportunity to participate in a pure play UAE developer offering strong and stable cashflows and an attractive dividend yield.
“Additionally, it offers the opportunity for Emaar Properties’ shareholders — including the UAE Government — to unlock the true value of our UAE development business.”
The government of Dubai owns 29 per cent of Emaar group via its sovereign wealth fund, Investment Corporation of Dubai, and can expect to receive around $566 million in dividends over the next three years.
A new board will be appointed to Emaar Development under chairman Alabbar, consisting of two Emiratis and one Saudi — Jamal Bin Theniya, Arif Al-Dehail and Ahmed Jawa — who are already on the board of the parent group.
In addition, a team of three Emirati executives — Aisha Bin Bishr, Adnan Kazim and Abdulla Al Awar — will become independent non-executive directors on the new board.
JLL, the real estate consultancy, said that Emaar Development had a gross asset value of 35.6 billion dirhams and net assets of 24.1billion dirhams last month.
Emaar Development reported sales of 6,539 units in the nine months to the end of September 2017 with a sales value of 15.4 billion dirhams, an increase of 32 per cent from the corresponding period for the previous year.
Average gross profit margin of 42 percent. on revenue was achieved in the same period, at the end of which it had 10.2 billion dirhams cash in the bank.
The IPO statement said that Emaar had “spearheaded the development of freehold master-planned lifestyle communities in Dubai; developed over 34,500 residential units since 2002, with over 24,000 residential units under development, across eight master-planned communities in prime locations.”
As of Sept. 30, 2017, Emaar Development has sold 80 per cent of its units under development with an average gross profit margin of 41 per cent for units sold, and a sales backlog of 18 billion dirhams over the next four years.
Mohammad Kamal, an analyst at Arqaam Capital in Dubai, said Emaar appeared to have sufficient resources to meet the planned dividend payments.
“We note that Emaar also has access to 5.5 billion dirhams of debt withdrawn at the subsidiary level that will be fully ‘upstreamed’ to the parent entity, which can theoretically (but not necessarily) be used to support the special dividend payment.
“Historically, previous special dividend payments have exceeded 100 percent. of ‘carve out’ (IPO) proceeds, as was the case with the Emaar Malls IPO,” he said.


Foreign investors hope India dials back policy shocks after Modi win

Updated 24 May 2019
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Foreign investors hope India dials back policy shocks after Modi win

  • Modi’s pro-business image and India’s youthful population have lured foreign investors
  • After Modi’s win, about a dozen officials of foreign companies in India and their advisers said they hoped he would ease his stance and dilute some of the policies

NEW DELHI: Foreign companies in India have welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election victory for the political stability it brings, but now they need to see him soften a protectionist stance adopted in the past year.
Modi’s pro-business image and India’s youthful population have lured foreign investors, with US firms such as Amazon.com , Walmart and Mastercard committing billions of dollars in investments and ramping up hiring.
India is also the biggest market by users for firms such as Facebook Inc, and its subsidiary, WhatsApp.
But from around 2017, critics say, the Hindu nationalist leader took a harder, protectionist line on sectors such as e-commerce and technology, crafting some policies that appeared to aim at whipping up patriotic fervor ahead of elections.

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“I hope he’s now back to wooing businesses,” said Prasanto Roy, a technology policy analyst based in New Delhi, who advises global tech firms.
“Global firms remain deeply concerned about the lack of policy stability or predictability, this has sent a worrying message to global investors.”
India stuck to its policies despite protests and aggressive lobbying by the United States government, US-India trade bodies and companies themselves.
Small hurdles
Modi was set to hold talks on Friday to form a new cabinet after election panel data showed his Bharatiya Janata Party had won 302 of the 542 seats at stake and was leading in one more, up from the 282 it won in 2014.
After Modi’s win, about a dozen officials of foreign companies in India and their advisers told Reuters they hoped he would ease his stance and dilute some of the policies.
Other investors hope the government will avoid sudden policy changes on investment and regulation that catch them off guard and prove very costly, urging instead industry-wide consultation that permits time to prepare.
Protectionism concerns “are small hurdles you have to go through,” however, said Prem Watsa, the chairman of Canadian diversified investment firm Fairfax Financial, which has investments of $5 billion in India.
“There will be more business-friendly policies and more private enterprise coming into India,” he told Reuters in an interview.
Tech, healthcare and beyond
Among the firms looking for more friendly steps are global payments companies that had benefited since 2016 from Modi’s push for electronic payments instead of cash.
Last year, however, firms such as Mastercard and Visa were asked to store more of their data in India, to allow “unfettered supervisory access,” a change that prompted WhatsApp to delay plans for a payments service.
Modi’s government has also drafted a law to clamp similar stringent data norms on the entire sector.
But abrupt changes to rules on foreign investment in e-commerce stoked alarm at firms such as Amazon, which saw India operations disrupted briefly in February, and Walmart, just months after it invested $16 billion in India’s Flipkart.
Policy changes also hurt foreign players in the $5-billion medical device industry, such as Abbott Laboratories, Boston Scientific and Johnson & Johnson, following 2017 price caps on products such as heart stents and knee implants.
Modi’s government said the move aimed to help poor patients and curb profiteering, but the US government and lobby groups said it harmed innovation, profits and investment plans.
“If foreign companies see their future in this country on a long-term basis...they will have to look at the interests of the people,” Ashwani MaHajjan, an official of a nationalist group that pushed for some of the measures, told Reuters.
That view was echoed this week by two policymakers who said government policies will focus on strengthening India’s own companies, while providing foreign players with adequate opportunities for growth.
Such comments worry foreign executives who fear Modi is not about to change his protectionist stance in a hurry, with one offical of a US tech firm saying, “I’d rather be more worried than be optimistic.”