Arabtec CEO predicts job losses as orders fall off

EXCLUSIVE: Construction major reveals a 25% reduction in value of orders.
Arabtec CEO predicts job losses as orders fall off
By Tom Arnold
Mon 09 Feb 2009 01:23 PM

Job losses are on the table at Arabtec Holding as a result of a 25 percent fall in the value of the company‘s orders during the past three months, its chief executive has revealed.

Dubai-based Arabtec’s order book in the Middle East had fallen from AED40bn ($10.9bn) to AED30bn since November last year, CEO Riad Kamal told Arabian Business on the sidelines of the Arabian World Construction Summit in Abu Dhabi on Monday.

The figures come at the same time as Arabrec suffered more than a 60 percent slump in share price in a year, which Kamal called "totally unjustified".

While the company remained busy in 2009 uncertainty existed about whether projects on its work load would go ahead as planned. There would be job losses in 2009, he said.

“In 2009 we are going to still be as busy as we were in 2008, but I can not predict how 2009 will develop.

Whether we still have a good back log, I am not 100 percent sure, whether that back log will move ahead as full, or whether there will be some ups and downs,” he said.

Recent reports that put the number of delayed construction projects in the UAE at 53 percent were an exaggeration, Kamal added.

While speculative demand, and real demand for high end properties, in the Dubai market had reached saturation point, there was still “strong” demand for middle and lower income real estate, he said.

Kamal was confident the firm's 2008 earnings would satisfy investors. Its shares were up 3.45 percent at 11.47, UAE time on Monday.

"The company is certainly not losing money. 2008 has been our best year. The question is whether we can maintain that in 2009 and 2010," he said.

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