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ACI to build Dh2bn resort on World’s Ecuador

By Parag Deulgaonkar


ACI Real Estate, an affiliate of Germany-based Alternative Capital Investments, has bought Ecuador island on The World and plans to build a leisure resort on it valued at Dh2 billion.


“We have given certain concepts to Nakheel and based on their approval we can progress. The project will have a built up area of 500,000 square feet,” Robin Lohmann, managing director of ACI Real Estate, told Emirates Business.


Nakheel, the master developers for the project, has completed land reclamation of The World islands. Almost half the 300 islands that make up The World have so far been sold.


ACI Real Estate, which has invested EUR300 million  (Dh1.63 billion) in the real estate market, has already launched seven projects in Dubai since it began operations in 2004, three of them associated with sports legends such as Boris Becker, Michael Schumacher and Niki Lauda. The company will launch 12 new projects this year, Lohmann said. “We basically thought we should get together with certain brands that people can identify with. We wanted to give definition to our properties and it has helped ACI in this market,” Lohmann said.


The sport legends are not just involved in endorsements, but are closely associated with the projects, he added. “We got them involved as we did not want them just for endorsements. We discuss the projects with them and take their inputs regarding alterations in floor plans, design and how to improve efficiency.”


However, the company has not increased the prices of these branded properties. “If you see our prices, they are pretty much in line with the market. We have managed to absorb a good portion of the costs and have not passed them on to our investors.”


Last month, the company launched the $272m Michael Schumacher Business Avenue, which will comprise 29 storeys, including three basement levels for parking. The gross leasable area is approximately 45,000 square feet. It launched the Niki Lauda Twin Tower in November, while the official launch of Boris Becker Business Tower will be on February 24.


ACI Real Estate, Lohmann said, is not limiting itself to its own development, but is working to strike joint ventures with other developers. The company has also tied up with Al Odaid, the real estate subsidiary of Al Ghaith Holding, to market and develop five residential towers on Abu Dhabi’s Al Reem island. It has also entered a marketing arrangement with Galadari Investment Office for the latter’s G Tower by Philippe Starck in the City of Arabia.



Time to add debt


ACI Real Estate will raise 100 million euros (Dh545 million) this year to fund projects in the UAE, Lohmann said. “We are looking to leverage our position and add some debt to it this year. Right now, we are a debt-free company.”


The company raises funds primarily from the German, Swiss and Austrian markets. It has no intentions to launch any funds from this market. “We are trying to explore other opportunities. Moreover, I can service debt at a cheaper cost than launching a fund,” Lohmann said.