Malta Developer Mulls IPO to Finance Libya ProjectsZainab Fattah
Mediterranean Investments Holding Plc, a Malta-based developer, is considering a 100 million-euro ($132 million) share sale in London to fund homebuilding in Libya while holding talks with private investors.
The company, owned by the Corinthia Group and Kuwait’s National Real Estate Co., has purchased land in the northwestern town of Janzur and plans to build 257 homes, a marina, six cinemas and a retail and entertainment complex early next year, managing director Reuben Xuereb said in a phone interview.
Libya, which has Africa’s largest oil reserves, has been beset by feuds between religious and tribal forces after a revolt ended the 42-year rule of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011. Now, the interim government in the country of 6.5 million is trying to attract foreign investors to help rebuild its depleted infrastructure.
Libya “has tremendous opportunities and huge potential for growth in various sectors of the economy, be it energy, infrastructure or real estate development,” said Xuereb, whose company opened its first residential compound to tenants in 2009. “Needless to say, some people are still worried about whether this is the right time to go.”
Last year, Libya’s Economic and Social Development Fund said it would withdraw investments from French banks including BNP Paribas SA and Societe Generale SA as to spend more in its home market, Chairman Mahmoud Badi said in December. The state-held fund, which has $12 billion in assets, had about $10 billion invested abroad, he said.
MIH is pressing ahead with projects now to stay ahead of competitors, Xuereb said. He expects foreign companies to start entering the Libyan market in the next two or three years.
“We have one completed project and two that are about to start,” Xuereb said. “Maybe an IPO in three years’ time, when the projects are near completion, would make more sense” in terms of value. “However, we want to start today before anybody else, and the equity that we will bring in will see us ahead of competition.”
MIH owns an upscale development with 413 homes in Janzur near the capital Tripoli. Palm City, a serviced compound leased to employees of international companies, is fully occupied, the managing director said.
The new project, known as Palm Waterfront, will be sold to Libyans once it’s completed. The development would be operated and serviced by MIH and would include amenities such as pools, gyms, restaurants and shops.
MIH may sell a 20 percent to 25 percent stake of the company in an IPO on the London Stock Exchange before the end of this year to fund construction, he said. MIH has searched for a single investor for the entire development for the last several months, according to Xuereb. The company hired Dubai-based H.K. Advisory Services Ltd. to advise on the fundraising.
MIH was set up in 2006 and converted to a public company focused on real estate projects in North Africa, according to its website. The company in 2010 raised 40 million euros in a bond sale in Malta, most of it to fund the construction of a project in the center of Tripoli. The 42-story building, 25 percent owned by MIH, is under construction. It’s designed to include 253 apartments, 22,400 square meters (241,000 square feet) of office space, 14,800 square meters of retail space conference facilities and a spa, Xuereb said.
“We understand what the market needs and that helps us,” he said. “There is a huge demand for offices and for residences and our ability to be on the ground is something that gives us an edge.”