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Mon 21 Nov 2011 06:59 PM

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Al Futtaim eyes $1.3bn deal for Qatar, Egypt growth

UAE-based conglomerate says close to raising loans to meet its expansion plans

Al Futtaim eyes $1.3bn deal for Qatar, Egypt growth
Al Futtaim plans to build a mall in Doha with the capital

Al Futtaim Group, a diversified UAE-based conglomerate, is close to raising about $1.3bn in loans to meet its expansion plans in Qatar and Egypt, an executive at the company said on Monday.

The unlisted company was in the "final stages" of a $1bn syndicated loan facility in Qatar and a separate 2bn Egyptian pounds ($334.3m) loan, John Wartig, group director of finance at Al Futtaim, told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Dubai.

"We are in the final documentation stages for the syndicated loan in Qatar with four to five banks ... it's around $1bn in size," said Wartig. "The financing will meet our Qatar expansion plans. We are building a retail mall there and an IKEA store."

The group's Qatar loan facility involves around four to five banks, while the Egyptian pound facility will be signed with five banks, Wartig said without specifying any specific names.

It plans to build a shopping mall and set up an IKEA store in Doha with the financing, Wartig said.

Al-Futtaim, which was established in the 1930s as a trading business, has its headquarters in Dubai and holds regional franchises of companies including IKEA, Toys R Us, Marks and Spencer and Toyota Motor Corp. .

It runs around 65 companies under the group and employs around 20,000 people.

The group is also looking at certain "innovative" financing options to meet its capital requirements like project financing options, Wartig said. However, the company has no immediate plans to tap the bond market.

"We are always looking at these options but there are no immediate plans. For the group, we may first look at getting a rating before we plan a bond issue."

Banks in the Gulf are pitching new ways of raising funds to meet big infrastructure and refinancing needs of companies whose traditional funding source, bank financing, has dried up.

The company also plans to close one acquisition before the end of the year, Wartig said, declining to provide further details.

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