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Mon 4 Oct 2010 02:42 PM

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Colony Capital plans further GCC expansion

Private equity firm is the biggest shareholder in Carrefour and Accor and has large investments in Fairmont Hotels

Colony Capital plans further GCC expansion
The firm has eight new Accor hotels being built in Saudi Arabia

Private equity real estate firm Colony Capital will continue to expand its hospitality and consumer businesses in the Gulf Arab region, but does not see lending for real estate projects improving, an executive said.

"Our strategy in the GCC... is to take these operating platforms and expand them to take advantage of MENA-based consumption and growth in the GCC," Thomas J Barrack, chairman and chief executive told reporters at property conference Cityscape Global on Monday.

Colony Capital is the largest shareholder in French retail giant Carrefour and has large investments in Fairmont Hotels and is the largest shareholder in Accor, the world's fourth-largest hotel group that operates six brands in the Middle East, Barrack said.

"We have eight new Accor hotels that are being built in Saudi Arabia... we've got Carrefours being built in almost every GCC country," he said. "We have tens of millions of euros of investments going into these growing platforms mostly in hospitality and consumer goods."

"We are totally opportunistic (in terms of investments)," he said declining to say how much the firm would look to invest in the region over the next five years.

Barrack said that the level of distressed opportunities in Dubai had been moderate.

"These isolated nodes of opportunistic buying are better in a larger more predictable economy. In these controlled economies it's a dangerous thing to try and be aggressive until you get a clear signal from the political regime saying this is where we are going." (Reuters)

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