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Abu Dhabi Ports Hires HSBC, Banks to Work on Khalifa Zone Debt

May 31 (Bloomberg) -- Abu Dhabi Ports Co., the state-run harbor operator, has hired banks including HSBC Holdings Plc and National Bank of Abu Dhabi PJSC to work on plans for refinancing debt taken out to build the Khalifa Industrial Zone.

The company intends to change short-term loans into longer-term financial instruments once construction is completed, Executive Vice President Khaled Salmeen Al Kawari said today in an interview in Seoul, where he is attending a forum. First Gulf Bank is also among the international lenders working on funding facilities, he said.

Construction of the 26.4 billion dirhams ($7.2 billion) first phase of the Khalifa Industrial Zone is 75 percent complete and on target to open in the fourth quarter of 2012, Al Kawari said. The 417 square-kilometer (161 square mile) development, designed to become a hub for manufacturing, logistics and trade, will account for 15 percent of the emirate’s non-oil economy within 20 years, he said.

The port company has set aside 8 billion dirhams for construction costs this year, Al Kawari said. Overall construction and raw-materials costs have fallen by almost 25 percent because of the global financial crisis that began in 2008, he said.

Abu Dhabi Ports is seeking customers to operate facilities in the industrial park, which extends toward Dubai, home to the Jedel Ali trade zone and port. Al Kawari has met with a number of large companies in South Korea to discuss the project during his trip to Seoul, he said.

Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co., South Korea’s largest listed builder, has also won an order to build an area of the industrial zone.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sangim Han in Seoul at sihan@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Amit Prakash at aprakash1@bloomberg.net; Neil Denslow at ndenslow@bloomberg.net

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