Alabbar says African venture could be worth $20bn

UAE tycoon keen to tap 'neglected' continent with Africa Middle East Resources projects
Alabbar says African venture could be worth $20bn
Mohamed Alabbar
By Andy Sambidge
Sat 12 Nov 2011 12:16 PM

UAE business tycoon Mohamed Alabbar is keen to tap opportunities in "neglected" Africa and expects his natural resources exploration company to be worth up to $20bn within a decade.

Away from his role as chairman of Emaar Properties, the UAE's largest developer, Alabbar also runs Africa Middle East Resources, which aims to unlock the value of natural resources in Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and the Subcontinent.

The Johannesburg-based company focuses on finding and securing natural resources for key mining and energy stakeholders, emphasising on base metals, precious metals, and oil and gas.

Asked how the company would look in 10 years time, Alabbar said: "Looking at the world today I would say it is going to be a major business, somewhere between $10-$20bn.

He added in an interview with Bloomberg TV that the company was seeking growth through natural expansion of projects across Africa as well as acquisitions.

"Maybe in a year's time we might be doing some acquisition but still that will be just 20-30 percent of what we do.

"Africa is neglected. The size of Africa with one billion people, 300m middle income, fabulous opportunities, welcoming government but unfortunately we all like to do business in easy environment...so who are the guys who like the challenge...I am really excited by it [Africa].

The company currently has interests in Madagascar, Guinea, Congo, Niger, Angola, Gabon and Alabbar said in most cases it is "starting from scratch".

As well as gold, bauxite and iron ore in Guinea-Conakry and oil and gas concessions in Uganda, AMER is in advanced discussions on uranium and hydrocarbon interests in Niger, gold and coal deposits in Madagascar, phosphate concessions in Mauritania, copper in the Democratic Republic of Congo and oil and gas in Gabon.

Allabar has also held recent talks with the president of the Republic of Ivory Coast, Alassane Ouattara, and its prime minister Guillaume Soro to discuss investment opportunities in natural resources.

The West African nation has more than 28bn cubic metres of natural gas, 100m barrels of oil, over 200 metric tonnes of gold and abundant iron ore and nickel deposits in the Mount Nimba region.

"Starting from there of course you are taking more risk but I think you are starting at level one which is a fabulous opportunity," he said.

Alabbar also said that everyone was too focused on China when it came to the world's natural resources.

"China, China, China. Great but there are 1.2bn people living in India. We don't hear about India wanting resources but it's happening and there will be a short supply in my view.

In April, Alabbar said he had teamed with one of Malaysia’s best known entrepreneurs to develop a $1.6bn aluminium smelting plant in the state of Sarawak, Malaysia.

Gulf International Investment Group (GIIG) Holdings, headed by Malaysian entrepreneur Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary and Alabbar entered into a joint venture agreement with Aluminium Corporation of China (CHINALCO) to develop the project.

Smelter Asia will develop, own and operate the private aluminium plant with an annual capacity of 370,000 metric tonnes during the first phase.

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