\nIn June 2009, at the height of the global financial crisis, real estate valuations in Dubai were in freefall. Worldwide and in the emirate, access to financing dried up, default levels soared, projects ground to a halt, and investors desperately sought to offload assets.
\nIn the midst of collapse, few initially took notice of a major transaction in the heart of Downtown Dubai. An unidentified investor, bucking all the trends, quietly acquired two buildings in Emaar Square — including Building 5, which houses the Dubai headquarters of HSBC, and Building 3 — for a total purchase value of approximately AED750m ($204.15m). This enormous, and at the time unlikely, investment made a huge difference for Emaar Properties’ bottom line that year — and signalled the start of a new beginning for the property market in Dubai.
\nThe value of that AED750m investment has increased by over 40 percent in the past three years.
\nSo who was behind that extremely astute investment? Meet Raghuvinder Kataria, the savviest investor you may have never heard of, and a man who has a track record of unlocking the hidden potential of assets in the UAE, India and across the globe.
\nRaised in Uganda, Kataria moved to the UK as a young man. Early in his professional career, he led the formation of JT Telecom — a joint venture between Telia of Sweden and Thailand-based Jasmine Telecom — that pioneered mobile telephony in India. That JV company later merged with Sunil Mittal’s Bharti Enterprises to provide coverage across the world’s second-most populous nation.\nToday, Bharti Airtel is the number one provider in India and the third-largest in-country mobile operator in the world. As the driving force behind the launch and subsequent privatisation of mobile services in the country, Kataria remains a founding shareholder in that company — which now serves nearly 250 million subscribers across the globe.
\nIn addition to property investments in Dubai, Kataria also owns a wide range of real estate assets in both India and Europe. He is also a major investor in the financial services sector, with strategic stakes in firms such as Dhanalaxmi Bank and Destimoney, a brokerage firm headquartered in India, where he also owns a stake in a wind energy company that is set to compete in the emerging alternative energy space.