DUBAI Feb 24 Arabtec Holding, Dubai's
largest listed construction firm, is in the advanced stages of
talks to fully acquire a construction company in Kuwait's
Kharafi Group, two sources aware of the discussions said.
The Dubai firm is in talks with Kharafi National, a
Kuwait-based contractor and facilities management firm which has
operations in several Middle Eastern countries, to buy all its
assets and operations.
The deal, if completed, would be worth about 2 billion
dirhams ($545 million), one source said. However, a report in
the Abu Dhabi-based Al-Ittihad newspaper on Monday valued the
possible deal at about 5.5 billion dirhams; it quoted unnamed
A formal agreement is expected in two to three months,
sources told Reuters. Arabtec declined to comment; Badr Kharafi,
who assumed control of the family conglomerate following the
death of his father Nasser in 2011, declined to comment when
contacted by Reuters.
The acquisition is part of Arabtec's aggressive regional
strategy to enter partnerships and acquire competitors, and
eventually create a pan-Gulf construction firm.
The builder, in which Abu Dhabi state fund Aabar has a 22
percent stake, making it the largest single shareholder,
replaced Arabtec's founder and chief executive Riad Kamal with
Abu Dhabi-based private investor Hasan Abdullah Ismaik last
year, and embarked on an ambitious growth strategy.
Arabtec entered into partnerships with South Korea's Samsung
Engineering and GS Engineering & Construction
, and has acquired other, smaller regional companies.
Its relationship with Aabar has helped the builder clinch
several projects, including a $6.1 billion deal, its biggest
ever, to build 37 towers in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
The company last year denied media reports that it was in
talks to merge its operations with Kuwait's Combined Group
Contracting Co (CGCC) and Saudi Arabia's Saudi Oger.
Kharafi Group, which owns Kharafi National, is one of the
biggest family conglomerates in Kuwait with interests in real
estate, retail and financial services. It is thought to control,
through various entities, around a quarter of telecommunications
Headquartered in Kuwait, Kharafi National has operations in
the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon
and Bahrain, and has a workforce of around 30,000 people.
(Additional reporting by Matt Smith; Editing by Andrew Torchia)