Al Habtoor Sees Leighton JV’s 2013 Order Backlog at $11 Billion

Billionaire Khalaf Al Habtoor said Al Habtoor Leighton Group, the construction joint venture in which he’s minority shareholder, expects its order backlog to be at least 40 billion dirhams ($11 billion) next year.

The Dubai-based builder controlled by Leighton Holdings Ltd. (LEI), Australia’s biggest construction company, is seeing increased demand for building across the Middle East, Al Habtoor, who owns 27.5 percent of the company, said in an interview. He didn’t provide comparative figures for past years.

“They have started seeing an increase in the number of contracts,” Al Habtoor said. “They have some in Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.”

Builders in the United Arab Emirates, which includes Abu Dhabi and Dubai, are searching for work in other markets after the 2008 global financial crisis halted about $757 billion of projects, Citigroup said in an Oct. 16 report. Dubai real Estate values fell more than 65 percent in the following year. Leighton Group, which is building the Paris Sorbonne University campus in Abu Dhabi, is also building a $1.3 billion hotel complex owned by the billionaire with more than 1,600 rooms, tennis courts and a theater.

“We are not prepared to make a forecast at this time,” Justin Grogan, a Leighton Group spokesman, said by phone from Sydney when asked about the joint venture’s prospects for 2013. The company may include a 2013 forecast in its full-year results to be released in February, he said. Al Habtoor and Leighton Group started their joint venture in 2007.

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