By Claire Ferris-Lay
Former F1 driver says he hasn’t seen ACI chief since launch of now-stalled Niki Lauda Twin Towers in Dubai in 2007
Ex Formula One racing driver Niki Lauda has denied knowing Robin Lohmann, the man who he co-launched the Niki Lauda Twin Towers real estate project with in Dubai three years ago.
Speaking to Arabian Business, Lauda claimed he had only met the CEO of Alternative Capital Invest, the developer behind a string of now-stalled Dubai property projects, on one occasion.
“All I did was give my name to a builder in Dubai but unfortunately they are in a mess,” he said on the sidelines of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
“I don’t know exactly what the details are because I have nothing to do with bringing the tower up, this was the builder who did it.”
Asked if he was still in contact with Lohmann, the three-time F1 world champion said he hadn’t heard from the developer since the launch of the project in December 2007.
“Who is he? No, I only met him once, when I was there in the beginning and I haven’t heard from him since then,” he told Arabian Business.
German developer ACI launched a string of celebrity-branded towers in Dubai in 2007, including Michael Schumacher Business Avenue, Boris Becker Business Tower and Niki Lauda Twin Towers.
The project, to be built in Dubai’s Business Bay district, spanned two 29 and 26 storey skyscrapers and was designed to include retail and office space,
ACI’s website describes the development as “truly fit to be named after a legend”.
The Austrian-born F1 driver attended a high profile launch of the towers at Dubai’s Al Qasr Hotel in December 2007, where he told reporters he had been won over by the project.
“Robin approached me with this idea and I was very impressed. The property market here is booming so it is nice to be part of it in some way,” he said.
“It is something different, something new and something that I think will make our investors a lot of money,” said Lohmann at the time.
Construction on all three branded projects stalled last year, following the collapse of Dubai’s real estate market.
ACI’s website still lists 11 projects that it claims are under development, with another six being undertaken by “alternate third party developers”.
In September, ACI Real Estate filed for bankruptcy on four of its seven property funds. Payments were due in March last year but did not materialise.
Shortly after, Lohmann told Arabian Business that giving money back to investors in ACI’s real estate projects was “not an option.”
“The money has been invested in the land, which is fully paid for, and the money has been spent in the development, which is normal - the contractor and suppliers are not working for free,” he said.
Last year Lohmann hit back at claims that the projects were being cancelled and that investors would lose their cash. “For me there is no chance I will do a hit and run,” he said. “You know why? Because I haven’t even collected the money I have invested and spent here. I’m not going ahead and losing AED500m ($136.1m). It’s not the way.”
The whole story is embarrassing for an entrepreneur like Mr. Lauda! Next time better double-check the company before let them use your good name!
I assume Lauda, Schumacher and Becker all knew what they are doing and were payed good money for giving their names. Only Boris Becker lost own money with an ACI deal in Ras Al Khaimah.
In Germany the criminal and the civil case against ACI have already started. It seemed to be only a question of time that there will be a decision from the german court.
To save the money from the Dubai and German investors they must organised an alliance. The German syndicate has already 1 800 members. Everybody who is interested should mail to info@ACI-Anleger.de. We want to organise also a meeting in Dubai to connect our interests. That is the only way to realise the projects and to get back the money
The question is : Where is Robin Lohmann now?? why we do not see him in the news? is he in Dubai or Germany? Why can't the investors get their money back? the deposits were supposed to be in an escrow account, right?
The real question is not where the perpetrator is now, but how so many intelligent people fell for his charade. Whoever did the PR for this schemer should be sitting in jail as we speak, because from Day One it simply didn't add up.
ACI did not pay them, I know that Boris Becker got nothing
The property market collapse, banks freezing finance, investors stopping payments towards developments, RERA finally implementing the well established property law(s), etc. etc. is not Robin Lohmann's fault.
You, me & we all invested in a property market that was emerging & highly speculative. With this risk there was some great gains but unfortunetly when the market collapsed there were great losses.
You win some and you lose some. I too lost money. Not my life savings as I did not feel comfortable investing such large amounts into a speculative market.
Its harsh but its the game, unfortunetly.
To now cry and ask "where is Robin Lohman, where is Chris O'Donnell, where are the other UAE property developers that has stopped construction) is a waste of your time, as until the banks start refinancing, drop their interest rates and basically avail more credit into the market, we aint seeing no change.
Why do you think Nakheel are so desperate to release their upcoming sukuk?...
The Money is still in an "escrook" account. this ACI company still exist in Dubai. I dont understand why their assets are not sold to reimburse investors now that it is clear these guys will not build the sold buildings? These things are a no brainer, what is RERA and judges waiting for?
â€œWho is he? No, I only met him once, when I was there in the beginning and I havenâ€™t heard from him since then,â€ Are you jocking Mr. Lauda and all those other guys who sold their name and fame for money. You give your name to be used from someone without getting information before??!!!! Please, I hope these comments don't reach the european public.
Well said Paolo!!