business

Damac Chief Ready to Sell 15% of His Stake at Right Price

Updated on
  • Company is developing Trump-branded golf courses in Dubai
  • Damac is eyeing expansion opportunities in Germany, London
Hussain Sajwani. Source: Daniel Lynch /eyevine/Redux/Daniel Lynch /eyevine

Hussein Sajwani, the billionaire whose Damac Properties Dubai Co. is developing Donald Trump-branded golf courses in Dubai, would be “more than happy” to sell as much as 15 percent of his majority stake in the company to boost the trading in its shares.

“The intention is there,” the Damac chairman said in an interview at his seafront residence on The Palm, a man-made island off Dubai’s coast. “As an owner who built the company with all the effort and hard work, I am not willing to sell it when I see my stock is undervalued,” he said. He declined to say what he considers a fair price.

Damac Properties Chairman Hussain Ali Habib Sajwani discusses opportunities, his views on London, and Brexit.

(Source: Bloomberg)

Sajwani owns 72 percent of Damac, the company he founded in 2002 and grew to become one of the biggest developers in the Middle East, known for projects designed by Versace and offers of luxury cars such as BMWs, Lamborghinis and Teslas to buyers during Dubai’s shopping festival. Sajwani has a net worth of $5.2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

“For me, liquidity in the stock is important,” Sajwani said. “At the same time, I love what I do and I see big potential in the company and I want to stay majority shareholder.”

No advisers have been hired to oversee a possible sale, he said. Sajwani said he doesn’t plan any changes to Damac’s dividend policy.

Selling shares “helps the market because it increases liquidity,” said Sanyalak Manibhandu, an Abu Dhabi-based equities analyst at First Abu Dhabi Bank Securities LLC. The market is happy about Sajwani’s commitment to the company’s “quite generous” dividend pay-out, he said.

Damac closed up 0.3 percent at 3.50 dirhams in Dubai trading after climbing as much as 2.3 percent earlier. The shares have risen 33 percent over the last 12 months, giving the company a market value of 21 billion dirhams ($5.7 billion).

The developer is trading at a cheaper valuation than its peers. Damac is priced at 6.3 times its estimated earnings over 12 months, lower than a ratio of 7.6 for Emaar Properties PJSC and 8.6 for Dubai’s main stock index.

Damac has two golf-course development deals with Trump’s family company. The tie-up has propelled Sajwani from a developer little known beyond the Middle East into someone often referred to as Trump’s main business partner in the region. No more deals were being explored with the U.S. president’s organization, he said.

Sales are forecast to grow about 7 percent in 2017, Sajwani said, matching analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Damac shares have climbed 32 percent over the past 12 months, beating Dubai’s real-estate stock index, helped by its inclusion in MSCI global indexes.

The company is weighing opportunities in cities such as Berlin, Istanbul and London, where he thinks the U.K.’s planned exit from the European Union is offering a possibility to expand, Sajwani said. Damac’s Aykon London One, a 50-story tower in the U.K. capital’s Nine Elms district set for completion in 2020, is more than 50 percent pre-sold, according to the chairman.

— With assistance by Shin Pei, Alaa Shahine, Claudia Maedler, Hussein Slim, and Filipe Pacheco

(Adds anaylst comment in sixth paragraph, updates share price in seventh.)
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