U.A.E.'s Arabtec Plans to Cut Costs, Focus on Construction

  • Chairman sees 2017 profit after at best breaking even in 2016
  • Plans to enter India market, strengthen Saudi Arabian presence

Arabtec Holding Co., the biggest-listed construction company in the United Arab Emirates, plans to cut cost and focus on its core business after reporting its first annual loss in February amid a building slowdown in the Gulf Arab state.

“There is fat to be taken out, there is room for cost cuts,” Mohamed Thani Al Rumaithi, the company’s chairman told reporters Wednesday after its annual general assembly in Abu Dhabi. Asked whether there will be job cuts, he said, “What is extra will be taken out.”

He said the project pipeline makes him “confident” that the company will return to profit in 2017. “Maybe we break even" in 2016,” he said. Shares of the company, which is building a branch of the Louvre museum in Abu Dhabi, have rebounded since their 2015 low in December but remain about 75 percent below their May 2014 high.

Arabtec was at the center of a stock sell-off that wiped a fifth from Dubai’s benchmark index in June 2014 amid a reshuffle of senior management and investor concern that the company was losing Abu Dhabi-government support. Arabtec rose 0.6 percent at 11:37 a.m. in Dubai, as 68 million shares traded, more than doubled the 20-day intraday average.

Al Romaithi, who represents the company’s biggest shareholder, Aabar Investments PJSC, said Arabtec will focus on its core construction business as it eyes entering the Indian market and strengthening its presence in Saudi Arabia. “We are a construction company, we will concentrate on construction,” he said.

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