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Tue 9 Dec 2014 02:33 PM

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Dubai's Al Habtoor casts doubt on listing plans

Family-owned conglomerate's chairman says 'decision is not taken and we are leaving it for the time being'

Dubai's Al Habtoor casts doubt on listing plans

Dubai family-owned conglomerate Al Habtoor Group has cast doubt over plans for an imminent initial share sale but expects revenues to more than double over the next five years helped by strong local economic growth, its chairman said on Tuesday.

Speculation around a flotation of the group, which has interests in hospitality, retail and construction, has revived in recent months as the market for offerings in Dubai reopened after a long hiatus.

Banking sources have said a number of local banks have been appointed to help arrange an initial public offering as early as the first quarter of 2015, although Khalaf al-Habtoor indicated a deal might not be forthcoming any time soon.

"The decision is not taken and we are leaving it for the time being," Habtoor told reporters when asked about its plans, adding it had looked at a listing on a number of occasions over the last 20 years, including in 2012.

Dubai's stock market might have suffered in recent days due to the falling oil price, slipping 13.3 percent since OPEC kept output stable on Nov. 27, but the economy is expected to maintain its strong recent growth, with a senior official saying this week the emirate was still on course to have GDP growth of between 4.5 and 5 percent in coming years.

The booming economy would help drive Al Habtoor's earnings, with revenues forecast to rise 161 percent in the next five years, the chairman said. The company did not provide a current revenue figure.

This increase would be driven by its automotive -- it owns the UAE franchise rights for Mitsubishi Motors, McLaren and Bentley -- and hospitality businesses and new projects coming on line.

Among these are the Metropolitan Sheikh Zayed Road, a four-star resort being built adjacent to Dubai's main thoroughfare and due to open in 2016. The hotel and a development of 74 villas will cost 1.02 billion dirhams ($277.7 million).

Acquisitions could also play a part in Al Habtoor's growth, the chairman said, confirming it had signed a deal to buy the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel in Springfield, Illinois, without providing details.

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