Skai mulls another Dh1b Jumeirah Village project

Dubai-based developer Skai has confirmed plans for a second Dh1 billion-plus hospitality project at Jumeirah Village, likely to be finalised by February or March next. This one too could involve taking on board the China State Construction Engineering Corp (Middle East) as a key investor and contractor, a top official said.

''The negotiations are on with them — we see Jumeirah Village as being right in the centre of Dubai by 2025 and with a very high-end profile as well,'' said Kabir Mulchandani, Group CEO at Skai. ''The connectivity that Jumeirah Village to Dubai South [the new name for Dubai World Central] will have is tremendous.

''In that context, going upscale at Jumeirah Village is the right thing to do, as I see it. We already own the land for the second project and [it] will again be built around a high-end hospitality offering.''

Skai, meanwhile, has touched the 75 per cent construction milestone at its flagship Viceroy Dubai Palm Jumeirah project (with a market value of Dh4.05 billion, representing sales booked and retained assets), and work on the first Jumeirah Village development, also bearing the 'Viceroy' branding, is 15 per cent complete.

The company on Tuesday confirmed a successful syndication of a Dh1.1 billion facility ($300 million), which was backed by seven financial institutions, including Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank. It included both an Islamic and conventional component.

The participating banks include three entities from China — the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world's largest lender by assets and market capitalisation; the Agricultural Bank of China; and the Bank of China. The other participants are China Minsheng Banking Corp, China's largest privately-owned bank; Invest Bank and Arab African International Bank.

The syndication was over-subscribed to the extent of Dh2.2 billion ($585 million).

''It was an opportunity for us to bring all of our debt and lenders on one package,'' said Mulchandani. ''The expectation was that one, two or three banks would participate in the syndication — that seven did and to get such an oversubscription was a major boost. We will maintain the debt-equity at under 35 per cent.''

It was late last year that Skai Holdings secured Dh737.6 million ($201 million) financing for the Viceroy Dubai Palm Jumeirah, which will have 477 rooms and 221 serviced apartments.

The bulk of the top-up funding will go towards the completion and fit-outs of the Palm Jumeirah project.

''We are actually six months ahead of schedule on the Palm — in this business it's all about on-site management,'' said Mulchandani. ''There are 4,200 labourers on site — when complete [in the second half of 2016], this is going to be a very high-end property.''

The 247-room Viceroy Dubai Jumeirah Village — with a market value of Dh1.37 billion — is due for a 2017 completion.

Skai and China State Construction Engineering Corp have equal representation on the board of the operating company for the Palm project. The latter's exact stake has not been divulged.

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Source: Manoj Nair, Associate Editor,


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