|January 24, 2009
Zabeel Investments focused on strategic growth and development in 2009
'Global crisis is a reality but long-term planning will overcome short-term challenges', says Al Hashimi
Dubai, 24 January 2009: Zabeel Investments Executive Chairman, HE Mohammed Ali Al Hashimi, has confirmed that the group will remain focused on strategic growth and development of its portfolio during 2009. Zabeel Investments currently has AED 22 billion in assets under management, covering property, hospitality, construction and education.
"We will meet the challenges of 2009 head on," stated Mr. Al Hashimi. "While the global crisis is a reality and we can't ignore how this will impact on the UAE's dealing with international markets, our long-term planning will ensure we overcome the short-term challenges. From a UAE perspective, we are moving ahead as planned; however outside our borders we are taking our time to consider the opportunities available, and ensuring that we don't take on overvalued prospects."
"Our business strategy is flexible enough that we can turn our attention to the issues that matter. Our philosophy sees a team working together, yet each with their own remit, covering a multitude of disciplines, which makes for a dynamic and distinct blend of opportunities. By challenging our teams to be creative and industrious, I believe, we have the best balance going forward," he confirmed.
The emirate has long been cited as a bubble that is ready to burst, however Al Hashimi's view is that the market correction will allow mature investors and those with long-term plans to benefit. "Speculators had long influenced market prices to an extent that as a developer you had to keep reviewing cost in line with perceived demand. Ouir target market has and always will be end users who believe in the Dubai model and hwho share our long-term commitment to the city. The Government of Dubai's commitment to the continued investment strategy as outlined in the Budget for 2009 is in line with the vision of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai for Dubai to be one of the leading cities of the world”
Zabeel Properties, the property arm of Zabeel Investments, will deliver two key developments in 2009; the Tiara Residence and Ottoman Palace by Rixos, both on the Palm Jumeirah and the focus for both developments is to deliver on time, and with a quality and finish that reflects on the value our customers expect and deliver on the promises.
Mr. Al Hashimi continued: "From the outset, we were determined to keep our AED 18 billion property portfolio focused on Dubai and on the high end luxury segment, which has proved a prudent one. While there has been some impact to the Dubai market by the global crisis, it is much less apparent than in other parts of the world, allowing us to keep to the status quo."
In terms of its strategic equity stakes, Zabeel Capital, the group's wholly-owned investment arm will continue to look at distinct local and international investment opportunities, in line with the same strategy laid down in 2008 and building on the existing AED 3.6 billion portfolio.
"We looked at a number of opportunities during 2008, however with the anticipated shift in the markets, we could see that we would get better value for our money if we were to wait. There are a host of really solid investments out there to choose from; brands with a strong heritage and loyal customers; however we will continue to wait for the optimum conditions before considering any new additions to our portfolio. Our strategy with our investments has always been one that has focused on companies with good track records and solid future growth plans. ”
The group already holds a number of key international investments, including strategic stakes in European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), and Sony Corporation as well as its acquisition of a fifty percent stake in leading US-based hospitality development and management company, The Light Group, a move which marked the company’s first foray in to the US market.
From a regional perspective private equity leader Abraaj Capital, Emaar Properties subsidiary Emaar Industries & Investments, Asteco Property Management, Depa United Group, Arzaq Holdings, Capital Club Limited and Madaares have all received investment capital from Zabeel. The company has also partnered with Emirates Investment Group and DIFC Investments to form Empire Aviation, established a joint venture, ZSML Construction, with leading Turkish construction firm Sembol Construction and created wholly owned subsidiaries Essque Hotels and Zed Communications.
"2009 will be the year that separates the men from the boys, the speculators from serious investors, it is a time for creativity, innovation and action…not talk!. The reality is that Dubai will continue to be a viable option for those committed to its long-term prosperity. Our focus will be on real strategic growth and development. We will continue to follow the guidelines of the UAE's 2015 strategy and honour the vision of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. You will see Dubai go from strength to strength; we are on the world stage and we're here to stay,” Mr Al Hashimi concluded.