Banks "squeezing us for everything" - Limitless boss

Chairman says developer will have paid up everything it owes by 2016; silent on possibility of merger
Chairman Ali Rashid Lootah said Limitless, which was battered by the emirate’s 2009 property crash, expected to have fully paid up everything it owes by 2016.
By Daniel Shane
Mon 15 Oct 2012 08:36 AM

The head of Dubai developer Limitless said that the indebted firm’s creditors were “squeezing us for everything” following the restructuring of a US$1.2bn loan announced last week.

Chairman Ali Rashid Lootah said Limitless, which was battered by the emirate’s 2009 property crash, expected to have fully paid up everything it owes by 2016.

“We’re generating [revenue], we’re paying all of our interest on time – you can check with the lenders – they’re squeezing us for everything,” said Lootah, who is also boss of Nakheel, another indebted property developer in Dubai.

Limitless, which is in the process of transferring its ownership from conglomerate Dubai World to the emirate’s government, last week said it had cleared obligations to 92 percent of its trade creditors.

Lootah refused to answer a question from Arabian Business on the possibility of Nakheel and Limitless merging once the two were firmly under government control.

The firm said it was now focused on overseas projects, such as its Al Wasl development in the Saudi capital Riyadh, as well as developments in Moscow and Vietnam.

“For Moscow and Vietnam we’re already raising finance for the initial stage and for the next stages, if we need more finance, we will arrange it,” Lootah said. “The most important thing is that we kick-start the projects.”

Construction on the US$450m Halong Star in Vietnam is due to begin late this year, while the US$3.5bn Zagorodny Kvartal development in the Russian capital broke ground last year. Neither projects have forecast completion dates.

He added that there was “huge interest” from lenders to finance the US$8.6bn Al Wasl project, although it had not yet been secured. “For Saudi Arabia, different financial groups have shown interest in partnership with us and we’re exploring a lot of possibilities,” Lootah said.

Limitless said though that it had no plans to revive Arabian Canal, a US$11bn 72km long development announced in 2005, which has been on hold since Dubai’s property market collapse in 2008. “It’s a long term project, it will depend on the market situation,” Lootah said. Infrastructure work on its mixed use development Downtown Jebel Ali is ongoing.

Limitless was not part of Dubai World’s US$24.9bn restructuring announced in March 2011. The company, along with fellow Dubai developers including Nakheel, was hit hard by the emirate’s property slump in 2008 that caused real estate prices to plummet by as much as 60 percent, causing many projects to be delayed or cancelled.

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