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.”For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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