Dubai's Property Market Has Reached Bottom, Emaar Chairman Alabbar Says

Dubai’s property market, which fell more than 50 percent from its peak, has reached bottom and is moving toward recovery, according to the chairman of the shiekhdom’s biggest developer.

“There’s not much new supply coming in. The property market has bottomed out without a doubt,” Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of developer Emaar Properties PJSC, said at the Arabian Business Forum in Dubai today. “It’s not as good as it used to be, but we’re moving in that direction.”

Alabbar’s view contrasts with analyst predictions that Dubai property will continue to fall as new homes add to oversupply and financing remains scarce. Prices may fall another 20 percent, Ahmed Badr, a Dubai-based analysis for Credit Suisse Group AG, said in September. Colliers International estimated in May that 41,000 new homes would be put on the market by the end of this year, pushing values down.

It will take Dubai 20 months to absorb the excess property supply, Alabbar said earlier this month. Emaar plans to generate 50 percent of its income outside its home market in the next few years, focusing on Syria, Lebanon, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Currently, more than 80 percent of the developer’s revenue is generated in Dubai.

“We don’t believe Mr. Alabbar is being too optimistic,” Majed Azzam, a real-estate analyst at AlembicHC in Dubai, said by e-mail. “Distressed sellers seem to be out of the market and financing is starting to pick up again, which is helping stabilize prices.”

AlembicHC’s Dubai property price index is down 2 percent this year, compared with 35 percent in 2009, Azzam said. Mortgages were used in 40 percent of transactions in October, up from 10 percent a year earlier, he said.

Done With Bonds

Emaar has no immediate plans to tap the bond market again after raising $500 million last month from the sale of a five- year convertible bond to help repay short-term debt, Alabbar said.

Dubai may sell stakes in some companies to the public to reduce debt as the sheikhdom alters loan terms and restructures two of its main investment groups, Dubai World and Dubai Holding LLC, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of the Dubai Supreme Fiscal Committee, said yesterday.

Any decision on asset sales at Emaar will be based on the company’s own strategy rather than the government’s privatization efforts, Alabbar said today.

“For a company to grow, you either have to increase your capital, take some entities and release them to the market or increase your debt,” he said. “The future is about a combination of all.”

Emaar last month reported a 7 percent drop in third-quarter profit, missing analyst estimates, as costs doubled and the company booked writedowns. Sales increased 43 percent.

Emaar shares are down 6.2 percent this year. The stock was little changed at 3.62 dirhams as of 1:54 p.m. in Dubai today. The Dubai Financial Market General Index has declined 7.3 percent since the beginning of 2010.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stefania Bianchi in Dubai at sbianchi10@bloomberg.net; Zahra Hankir in Dubai at zhankir@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Shaji Mathew at shajimathew@bloomberg.net

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