Al-Futtaim of Dubai Sees Rebound in Sales This Year; May Tap Debt Markets

Al-Futtaim Group, a United Arab Emirates-based family-owned corporation operating through 65 companies, is seeing a rebound in sales this year and may tap debt markets, the group’s director of finance said.

"Our core trading activity is up double-digit year-to- date," John Wartig, said in an interview yesterday in Dubai. "Part of the reason is that it’s coming back from a very low base." He expects growth to slow but remain above the country’s economic growth.

The Al-Futtaim’s interests include automotive, retail and real estate. The company has spent more than $2 billion to build Dubai’s Festival City, which includes hotels, offices, homes, retail outlets and a golf course. The rebound is led by the automotive and retail businesses, Wartig said.

The International Monetary Fund raised its forecast for economic growth for the U.A.E. this year to 2.4 percent from 1.3 percent. In 2011, growth is projected to accelerate to 3.2 percent, the IMF said in an Oct. 24 report. Economic growth slowed as real-estate prices in Dubai tumbled from their peak in August 2008 and Dubai World sought creditor approval to restructure $24.9 billion in debt.

Al-Futtaim may seek a credit rating and may tap the debt markets, Wartig said.

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