Dubai Property Group Damac Eyes London Float

Mark Kleinman, City Editor
Dubai Property Group Damac Eyes London Float

A Dubai-based luxury real estate developer renowned during the Gulf state's boom for handing out sports cars and yachts to clients is plotting a listing on the London Stock Exchange.

I understand that Damac Properties has appointed Deutsche Bank to prepare what would be the first flotation of a major developer from the United Arab Emirates since the global financial crisis engulfed it in 2009.

The listing plans are at an early stage, but Damac has also appointed the London office of the public relations firm FTI Consulting to work on the proposals, according to people close to the company.

Established in 2002, Damac has expanded from its Dubai base into North Africa, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar and South Africa. Its name is prominently displayed throughout Dubai and, as the partner of the luxury consumer products brand Versace in major residential developments in Beirut and Saudi Arabia, symbolises the flamboyance of the Middle East's property boom.

Earlier today, Damac unveiled plans for a 28m square feet resort called Akoya By Damac, which it claims will be "the most luxurious golf community in Asia".

The company's controlling shareholder, the Sajwani family, is understood to be attracted to the liquidity of London's capital markets, although one insider cautioned today that no final decision about the listing location had been taken. A flotation is unlikely to take place before the first quarter of next year, insiders said.

London has seen a modest revival in the demand for listing activity in recent months, with prominent flotations including the insurance company esure, the estate agency chain Countrywide, and Crest Nicholson, the housebuilder, all of which have so far performed strongly.

Damac, which is expected to raise tens of millions of pounds if it proceeds with a London listing, declined to comment on its plans.

Like many of its peers, it has recovered since Dubai's near-default on its sovereign debt obligations in 2009 spooked investors in the state and contributed to a plunge in property prices.