Bahrain's GFH says Tunis mega project set to start

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An artist's impression of the Tunis Financial Harbour.

An artist's impression of the Tunis Financial Harbour.

Bahrain investment bank Gulf Finance House said on Monday it remained committed to its $3bn project to build Tunisia's first offshore financial centre.

The company said tenders for the Tunis Financial Harbour project have been issued with construction set to start in January.

The parent firm of GFH Capital, which has recently bought English football club Leeds United, said in a statement that it needed to clarify comments made by its acting CEO Hisham Alrayes in a Bloomberg interview last week.

In the interview, Alrayes was quoted as saying that GFH would be seeking to exit assets in India and Tunisia to enter high-yield investments.

The report said that the company and its clients will gradually sell stakes in the Tunis Financial Harbour project from next year.

But GFH's statement said that while it intends to partially exit clients funds under management from infrastructure projects, it remained committed to the Tunis project.

"GFH remains committed to the development of the Tunis Financial Harbour project; the tenders have been issued and the construction work will commence from January 2013," the statement said.

In October, a meeting was held to discuss progress on the project which is set to comprise four business clusters including investment banking and advisory centre, a corporate centre, a Takaful/insurance hub and the region's first international financial exchange.

There will also be a variety of residential and leisure facilities including a marina, a residential complex and an 18-hole championship golf course.

GFH also said it was working on "high-yield income-generating properties in the GCC, Dubai in particular. The due diligence for various opportunities is currently underway and the transactions are expected to take place in 2013".

The investment bank emerged from financial difficulties this year after it restructured more than $200m in debt, cleaning a balance sheet that was laden with $2.3bn in liabilities in 2008.

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