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Boosted by a new Dh850 million financing deal, Ras Al Khaimah-based Al Hamra Real Estate Development could look at new project launches. Feasibility studies are on for two options which includes a possible 11 million square feet development alongside Mohammad Bin Zayed Road, according to a senior official.
The other is at Marjan Island for a leisure destination. ''Both are in the feasibility phase; we are pretty much done with our existing Al Hamra Village which means new locations have to be considered and followed through elsewhere in Ras Al Khaimah,'' said Barry Ebrahimy, head of commercial at the developer. ''Only two small parcels are left to be worked on at Al Hamra, and one of which — the Falcon Islands project — has already been launched.
''As regards new projects, we are open to both beach side and in-land locations. Either way, these play to our strengths.''
Al Hamra Village was among the first wave of freehold locations to be announced in the UAE during the first part of the last decade. Since then it has gone through multiple project phases — over 77 million square feet and including nearly 3,000 homes and five hotels — and consolidated its standing as a vibrant residential cluster. Details such as an 18-hole golf course, the presence of Waldorf Astoria as one of the hotels, and 1.5 kilometres of beachfront.
On whether the developer would consider a presence in some of the other emirates, Ebrahimy said: ''Ras Al Khaimah has had considerable success in branding itself as a leisure destination and that's where we want to create new spaces. But we have got the track record of launching and taking signature projects beyond the finish line. We will look at all options.''
On the funding side, the privately-owned developer is sitting pretty. It entered a seven-year Dh850 million syndicated loan facility that was led by Goldman Sachs and which also included, among others, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Arab Bank, Commercial Bank of Dubai, National Bank of Abu Dhabi and Union National Bank. The deal was significantly oversubscribed.
There is a refinancing component involved in the transaction. ''It gave us an opportunity to lower our costs (through a lower interest rate) on our older loans,'' said Ebrahimy. ''The other component represents new financing.
''I don't think bank financing is as easy to come by compared with the past. But developers with solid track records and the strength to deliver new projects are in a better position to deal with banks and get the funding support.
''In our case, getting an international institution such as Goldman Sachs was a huge plus.''
On whether it made sense to consider raising fresh equity at this stage, the official said: ''We have never been short of equity funding from our shareholders — that remains a constant.''
Source: Manoj Nair, Associate Editor, gulfnews.com