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Wed 2 Sep 2009 08:34 PM

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UAE's Al-Futtaim Capital eyes Libya, Qatar for projects

Group's investment arm also plans to raise extra $200m for Real Estate Investment Fund.

UAE's Al-Futtaim Capital eyes Libya, Qatar for projects
AL-FUTTAIM: Conglomerate owns Dubai Festival City among other projects. (Getty Images)

Al-Futtaim Capital, the investment arm of the UAE-based Al-Futtaim Group, is in talks for possible projects in OPEC members Libya and Qatar as it looks to tap into growth in emerging markets.The company also plans to raise $200 million in additional capital for its Real Estate Investment Fund, increasing its size to $700 million, to finance current and future projects, the company's managing director told Reuters.

Investors in the fund include sovereign wealth funds, pension funds, insurance companies, private families and investment banks, Marwan Shehadeh said.

"We intend over the next six months to raise additional capital for the fund for the second closing because we have a great pipeline (of planned projects)," said Shehadeh.

Al-Futtaim is behind projects such as Dubai Festival City and Cairo Festival City, which include residential, retail and hospitality elements.

Shehadeh said the company was still in the discussion phase to build similar projects in Doha and Libya.

"We are ... in discussions for something in Libya, which we are very bullish on," he said. "We believe Libya has great potential in the long term. It's coming from a very virgin base today therefore the opportunities are huge for first comers."

In Libya, the company will focus primarily on retail, with a festival city concept adapted to the local market, he said.

Shehadeh hopes to finish due diligence for Doha in the next couple of months and Libya after that.

The company is also eyeing the Algerian market.

"Algeria has the advantage, like Libya, of hydrocarbon wealth so that gives it an edge in terms of availability of capital and infrastructure," he said.

The company expects to complete its Cairo Festival City project by the end of 2011, Shehadeh said, and will sign a loan worth 2 billion Egyptian pounds ($361.8 million) in the next couple of weeks to finance the mall.  (Reuters)

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