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Mon 7 Apr 2008 09:12 PM

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Aldar eyes UK property giants

Abu Dhabi developer looking to gain exposure to more mature markets such as the UK and France.

Abu Dhabi-based Aldar Properties is eyeing several major UK real estate developers in an effort to gain exposure to more mature markets, it was reported on Monday.

Aldar is understood to be considering a bid for one of three FTSE 100 companies - Hammerson, Land Securities and British Land - as it looks to capitalise on weakening share prices weighed down by concern over the outlook for the UK property market, the UK's Times newspaper reported.

The paper said Hammerson was the most likely target, citing City analysts and property sources.

The company has a market value of around 4.6 billion pounds ($9.1 billion).

Hammerson has 7.3 billion pounds of property, around 1.9 billion pounds of which is in France with the rest in the UK.

The company also has plans to build a 1 billion-pound residential and commercial development in the City of London called Northacre.

Aldar Chief Executive Ron Barrott also has a personal connection with Hammerson, having worked with its chief executive, John Richards, at UK property firm Chelsfield.

If Aldar does move for Hammerson, it would be the developer's first foray into the European real estate market.

It already owns property assets valued at about 220 billion dirhams ($60 billion) in the UAE, North Africa, the Middle East and Singapore.

Barrott said the developer was watching the markets very closely to see what to acquire.

"We are looking at companies which are listed in markets where we believe there is good potential and make good commercial sense. It rules the UK in,” Barrott said, quoted the Times.

“The UK is a very mature market - the most mature market in the world. The return may not be high but the risk profile is better."