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Closed for $250 million: Arab Bank and Saraya Holdings Announce Board Members for Saraya Real Estate MENA Fund

Courtesy: Al Bawaba

Amman, Arab Bank and Saraya Holdings Limited, have announced the results of the private placement for units in the $250 million Saraya Real Estate Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Fund. The Saraya MENA Fund was launched in the first quarter of 2006 as a closed-end Bahrain-based fund managed by Atlas Investment Group. The Saraya MENA Fund is considered to be one of the largest placements in Arab capital markets in 2006.

 
In addition, the Saraya Fund’s Board of Directors was announced to include the following members: Ali Kolaghassi, Vice Chairman and CEO of Saraya Holdings,  Jawdat Al-Halabi, The Global Head of Arab Bank’s Private Banking Group and General Manger of Atlas Investment Group, Oussama Kabbani, Board Member of Saraya Holdings,  Yousef Al-Essa, Chief Executive Officer of Bahrain-based Addax Investment Bank (Addax), Adel Kasaji, Chief Financial Officer at Atlas Investment Group, and Shehab Gargash founder and Managing Director of Daman Investments PSC. Consequently, the first board meeting will be held in the near future.

Saraya Holdings and Arab Bank provided a seed capital of $50 million ($25 million each), while 2,000 investment units, with a par value of $100,000 per unit, were offered for subscription. These were taken up entirely by institutional and individual investors in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, Jordan and Palestine.

Saraya Holdings and Arab Bank’s Wealth Management & Private Banking Group carried out a road show across the GCC in the second quarter of this year to introduce and promote the Fund and attract regional investors. The Fund is expected to capitalize on the unprecedented growth and development sweeping the region, as reflected in the high demand for real estate and tourism products and services.

Saraya Vice Chairman, Ali Kolaghassi, expressed his satisfaction with the results and with “the momentum created by both the size and diversity of participation in the placement by local and regional investors”.

Kolaghassi pointed out that the increase of Arab Gulf capital seeking investment is due to the surplus generated by the rise in international oil prices.  He also added that, “investors in the Fund will primarily be offered the opportunity to invest in Saraya’s upcoming tourism and real estate projects on a regionally diversified basis, which are expected to yield attractive returns.”

The Global Head of Arab Bank’s Private Banking Group and General Manger of Atlas Investment Group, Mr. Jawdat AL-Halabi, said, “Saraya Real Estate MENA Fund provides investors with a unique opportunity to benefit from the current economic growth, particularly in the real estate and tourism sectors.”  He added that this will enable investors to better diversify their investment portfolios and improve their returns.

The Saraya Real Estate MENA Fund will primarily invest in targeted tourism and real estate projects through direct equity investment, with an initial focus on countries in the GCC and the Levant.  Saraya Development Group (SDG), acting as Property Adviser to the Fund, will also provide advisory, structuring and management services to the projects being considered by the Fund.

SDG is a real estate development adviser, program manager and asset manager, with offices in Amman and Dubai.  Managed by a group of highly-qualified real estate and finance professionals, SDG’s scope of services encompasses overall project and program management and includes technical, financial, commercial, and marketing services.  SDG will also supervise the work of specialized consultants in the areas of market research, architecture, urban planning, engineering, communications, and capital raising.

 
Saraya Holdings, Limited.  Saraya Holdings seeks to support the economic growth of the countries it invests in through developing projects that achieve the highest revenues for investors and local communities alike. The majority of Saraya Holdings' shares are owned directly by Sheikh Saad Rafic Hariri, who serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors. Within an expansion plan that includes the MENA region, Saraya Holdings launched one project; Saraya Aqaba in Jordan and announced three other projects so far: Saraya Dead Sea in Jordan, Saraya Islands in UAE, and a third project in Oman, all were established through strategic cooperation with local authorities and investors and through collaboration between the public and private sectors.

Saraya selects hidden rich natural sites as a home for its development projects in order to transform these areas into tourist attractions, implementing its vision in creating “cities within cities”. Saraya’s vision focuses on establishing a group of luxury hotels; retail and entertainment facilities, alongside leisure and sport facilities, in addition to superb residential units set up on natural shores or developed lagoons.  The Saraya projects are created according to the highest international standards, and comply with the desires of city residents and of visitors.

As an integral part of its projects, Saraya seeks to preserve the natural environment and takes into consideration local cultures. To achieve the highest standards of quality, Saraya engaged Saudi Oger Ltd as the exclusive contractor of its projects in the region.

Arab Bank Group, based in Amman, Jordan, is one of the largest and most prominent banking institutions in the region. It was established in Jerusalem in 1930 by the late Mr. Abdul Hameed Shoman, whose vision was to create a financial institution to serve Arab economies and people. Today, Arab Bank has a global network of 400 branches and offices in 28 countries on 5 continents, and enjoys a prominent position in key markets and financial centers in Europe, Asia-Pacific, and the United States.  Arab Bank Group provides a wide variety of financial services to individuals, corporations, government agencies, and other international financial institutions. Its services include corporate, retail, private, and investment banking. In 2005, the Group achieved its highest performance in 75 years, with a net profit of $503.2 million (after taxes and provisions) representing a rise of almost 54% over 2004.

The Group also achieved substantial growth in the first quarter of 2006, with its net profit (before taxes) rising by 29.7% to $186.14 million, compared to $143.5 million in the same period of 2005.

 

 

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