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Tue 31 May 2011 09:14 AM

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Abu Dhabi Ports hires banks to work on Khalifa Zone debt

Harbour operator to refinance short-term loans taken out to build industrial free zone in UAE capital

Abu Dhabi Ports hires banks to work on Khalifa Zone debt
PORT COMPANY: Abu Dhabi Ports Co has set aside AED8bn for construction costs this year (Image for illustrative purposes only)

Abu Dhabi Ports Co, the state-run harbour operator, has hired banks including HSBC Holdings and National Bank of Abu Dhabi to work on plans for refinancing debt taken out to build the Khalifa Industrial Zone.

The company intends to change short-term loans into longer-term financial instruments once construction is completed, executive vice president Khaled Salmeen Al Kawari said on Tuesday in an interview in Seoul, where he is attending a forum.

First Gulf Bank is also among the international lenders working on funding facilities, he said.

Construction of the AED26.4bn ($7.2bn) first phase of the Khalifa Industrial Zone is 75 percent complete and on target to open in the fourth quarter of 2012, Al Kawari said. The 417 square-kilometer (161 square mile) development, designed to become a hub for manufacturing, logistics and trade, will account for 15 percent of the emirate’s non-oil economy within 20 years, he said.

The port company has set aside AED8bn for construction costs this year, Al Kawari said. Overall construction and raw-materials costs have fallen by almost 25 percent because of the global financial crisis that began in 2008, he said.

Abu Dhabi Ports is seeking customers to operate facilities in the industrial park, which extends toward Dubai, home to the Jedel Ali trade zone and port. Al Kawari has met with a number of large companies in South Korea to discuss the project during his trip to Seoul, he said.

Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co, South Korea’s largest listed builder, has also won an order to build an area of the industrial zone.

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