(ASHRAF AL AMRA)
Shareholders of Emaar Properties voted on Wednesday to accept a cash dividend of 20 per cent of the nominal value of the share for 2007.
At an annual general meeting (AGM) that contrasted sharply with the virtual screaming match last year, Chairman Mohamed Ali Alabbar rejected a demand for a higher cash or share payout, saying the company needed the money to finance expansion.
A similar 20 per cent cash dividend for 2006 had disappointed shareholders, sending Emaar’s stock price into a five per cent plunge the next day.
With the markets closed today, Emaar shares closed 0.87 per cent lower at Dh11.35 yesterday, ahead of the AGM. The shareholders meeting did not discuss the company’s new policy, that proposes a minimum cash dividend payout of 20 per cent every year.
Alabbar told the gathering that the company’s land bank increased to 519 million square metres in 2007, including a total of 162 million square feet in Dubai. This is more than 12 times the land bank at the end of 2006.
“We will henceforth concentrate on developing the land, that we own rather than on selling land as we have done in the past,” Alabbar said. One of the reasons that Emaar’s 2007 net profit saw an increase of only three per cent was this shift of focus away from higher-margin land sales, he said.
The fair value of Emaar’s land increased by 74 per cent to Dh118 billion in 2007 from Dh68bn in the preceding year.
“The net asset value of the group increased 46 per cent from Dh11.6 per share in 2006 to Dh16.9 per share as at end of 2007,” Alabbar said.
The group’s Dubai Mall and Dubai Marina Mall with a gross leasable area of 3.9 million square feet will open before the end of this year and the Armani hotel will become operational next year, Alabbar added.
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