Abu Dhabi’s Aldar creates $5.4bn real estate giant

Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, one of Aldar's flagship developments. (Supplied)
Updated 12 September 2018
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Abu Dhabi’s Aldar creates $5.4bn real estate giant

  • New unit could eventually list shares in IPO
  • Property company owns some of Abu Dhabi's top landmarks

DUBAI: Aldar Properties, the Abu Dhabi-government controlled real estate group, is to spin off its property assets into a new company that could eventually list separately on a stock exchange in an initial public (IPO) offering worth billions of dollars.
The developer — which has been responsible for some of the biggest projects in the emirates, including the F1 track on Yas Island — announced the creation of Aldar Investments, as a fully owned subsidiary that will hold property assets valued at 20 billion dirhams ($5.4 billion).
The move “is designed to drive greater operational and capital efficiencies that will unlock value for shareholders and create the foundation for a new phase of accelerated growth,” Aldar said at a launch event at Abu Dhabi Global Market (AGDM), the UAE’s capital’s financial free zone, where the new company will be based.
“The creation of Aldar Investments allows Aldar to spin off its recurring-revenue assets into a 100 percent-owned separate entity, with greater independence, focused governance and a more efficient cost structure,” the statement added.
Although the statement did not mention the possibility of an IPO, Aldar Properties chief executive Talal Al-Dhiyebi told journalists that it could consider a market listing at some stage in the future. “We are ready to monetize this business at the right time if it’s going to deliver more shareholder growth,” he said on CNBC television.
An IPO is not the only possible structure, however. One financier close to the company — who did not want to be named — said: “This is piece of financial engineering, but an honest one that creates value. It has all the features of a real estate investment trust, and that could imply long-term asset management rather than a market listing. It gives them a lot of options and is a smart way to go.”
Shares in Aldar Properties, currently listed on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX), fell just over 2 percent on the announcement.
The new vehicle, which owns some of Abu Dhabi’s most recognized assets such as Yas Mall, The Gate Towers and over 2,400 hotel rooms near the F1 track, as well as the distinctive “coin” headquarters building, has been assigned a Baa1 rating by Moody’s ratings agency — the highest rating for a non-government corporate in the region and one notch above its parent company.
“Aldar Investments can access capital on more favorable terms, independently of Aldar, and intends to issue a new sukuk in the near term. Aldar Investments has set formal debt and dividend policies consistent with the current asset management business providing further clarity for investors,” the parent company said.
Mohamed Khalifa Al-Mubarak, chairman of Aldar Properties, called the move “another significant milestone in Aldar’s history.”
He added: “As the owner of 20 billion dirhams of prime real estate assets, Aldar Investments provides an opportunity for investors to benefit from Abu Dhabi’s AA rated economy.”
The move is also a boost for ADGM, bringing billions of dollars of assets within its jurisdiction on Al Maryah Island. Ahmed Al-Sayegh, the chairman of ADGM, said: “We are delighted that ADGM is continuing to be utilized not only as a platform for international business, but also to support our domestic businesses in their ongoing development and expansion.”
This move follows the recent Abu Dhabi Executive Council Decree, extending full onshore real estate ownership rights to Aldar Properties and its subsidiaries in Abu Dhabi.
Aldar recently announced significant joint ventures with its Dubai counterpart, Emaar, which has launched separate IPOs of its property, hotels and leisure businesses in recent years.


Samsung announces folding phone with 5G — at nearly $2,000

Updated 21 February 2019
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Samsung announces folding phone with 5G — at nearly $2,000

  • The device looks similar to a conventional smartphone, but then opens like a book to reveal a display the size of a small tablet
  • Samsung is also making improvements to its flagship Galaxy S devices and plans to offer a 4G version of its folding phone
SAN FRANCISCO/LONDON: Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. on Wednesday unveiled a nearly $2,000 folding smartphone in a bid to top the technology of Apple Inc. and Chinese rivals and reignite consumer interest amid slumping sales.
The Galaxy Fold will go on sale on April 26 and take advantage of new and faster 5G mobile networks. The device looks similar to a conventional smartphone, but then opens like a book to reveal a display the size of a small tablet at 7.3 inches (18.5 cm).
The device “answers skeptics who said that everything that could be done has been done,” DJ Koh, chief executive of Samsung Electronics, said at an event in San Francisco. “We are here to prove them wrong.”
Samsung remains the world’s largest smartphone maker with nearly a fifth of global unit sales but underperformed a slumping market last year. Chinese rival Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. — whose Mate series of phones also command premium prices — gained market share. Other Chinese makers like Xiaomi Corp. have also been increasing prices, leaving Samsung to defend its turf against upstart rivals in addition to its longtime foe Apple.
With the foldable phone, Samsung is going on the offense on two fronts in the smartphone race: It is offering an eye-catching new feature with the big, bending screen and the first 5G connection in a premium phone, a feature analysts do not expect Apple to match until 2020.
Samsung is also making improvements to its flagship Galaxy S devices and plans to offer a 4G version of its folding phone.
It also challenges the notion of what a phone can cost, debuting at nearly twice the price of current top-of-the-line models from Apple and Samsung itself.
Patrick Moorhead, founder of Moor Insights & Strategy, said the new folding device could help Samsung stay at the top and lure consumers to upgrade devices that have looked largely the same over the past five years.
“Samsung and Apple go back and forth” to lead the premium smartphone market, Moorhead said. “I think this is Samsung’s chance to take back the innovation crown.”
And even though the $1,980 starting price is steep, some dedicated Samsung fans said they would pay it. Navneet Kumar Singh, a Samsung enthusiast from India who traveled to San Francisco to watch the launch, is ready to place his order.
“The prices of the flagship models have been a little aggressive in India,” he said, “But in the end, if you invest the money you’re getting a different experience.”
Samsung also introduced several accessories to compete against Apple, including a pair of wireless headphones called Galaxy Buds. The headphones include wireless charging, a feature that Apple has promised to put into is competing AirPods but has not yet released.
Samsung also said that its new Galaxy phones will be able to wirelessly charge its headphones and new smartwatches by setting the accessories on the back of the phone.

10 times faster
Along with the folding phone, Samsung also added new cameras and a 5G version to its Galaxy series of phones.
Verizon Communications Inc. will be the first carrier to offer service for Samsung’s 5G phones. The networks are expected to be 10 times faster than current ones, improving viewing of live news and sports events.
With the 5G versions of its flagships, the Korean electronics maker looks to have beaten Chinese rivals in the 5G race, although the device will operate only on the small number of networks launching later this year. Apple is not expected to release a 5G smartphone until late 2020.
The new networks are not available in many places yet but will roll out this year and next. Consumers who want to hold on to their phones for several years before upgrading may be tempted to buy a 5G phone now so that it will be able to take advantage of those networks later, said Bob O’Donnell of TECHnalysis Research. That could sway some Apple buyers over to Samsung and other Android makers with 5G devices.
“People are going to be thinking about, am going to be able to use this a year from now? Two years from now? Three years?” he said.
Rival smartphone makers are expected to announce 5G models at next week’s Mobile World Congress, the industry’s top annual event, in Spain. Samsung said its 5G handset would be available in the early summer.
The Galaxy 10 series needs to appeal to consumers who are reluctant to upgrade for only incremental technological improvements in performance.
All of the Galaxy series of rigid phones except the 5G will be available from March 8, with the S10+ priced from $1,000, the S10 priced from $900 and the smaller S10e from $750.
The mainline S10 compares with $999 for Apple’s iPhone XS and $858 for Huawei’s premium Mate 20 Pro.