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How the real estate has changed with Covid-19

Last year Jassim Alseddiqi has been appointed CEO of UAE-based Shuaa Capital, according to a statement on the Dubai Financial Market (DFM).

Shuaa Capital recently completed a merger with investment holding company Abu Dhabi Financial Group (ADFG), of which Alseddiqi is also CEO.

The combined entity will exit non-core businesses to focus on becoming the leading asset management and investment banking platform in the MENA region.

In September 2019, Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange-listed Shuaa Capital agreed to sell its securities brokerage and market-making businesses in the UAE to IHC RSC Ltd, a subsidiary of International Holdings Company (IHC).

Under the terms of the all-cash deal – for which regulatory approvals are still pending – IHC will acquire the operations of both businesses, which are currently standalone units within Shuaa.

Jassim Alseddiqi is not one to give up on real estate investments just because a pandemic has wreaked havoc on the sector’s prospects. But he has no issues in saying that all future exposures to real estate need to factor in the COVID-19 in some form or the other.

“Developers – and investors – who understand what the post-COVID wave of buyers and renters are seeking in home designs will emerge as the winners,” said the CEO of Shuaa Capital. “This is a learned lesson that we look to embody across our real estate companies.

“We assessed how this pandemic has changed the way people rent and buy real estate, especially after experiencing working remotely from home.

“I have always been – and continue to be – bullish about the prospects of real estate in the UAE despite the pressure on prices, which is a correction that all markets go through. [But] like other firms, real estate companies need to diversify their funding sources through alternative tools and debt capital market activities”.

S&P Global Ratings, which says the data show an overall decline in valuations at almost 40 per cent since their 2014 peak, fears prices are approaching the trough of 2010 and upcoming supply, while declining, is expected to pile further pressure on prices.

Developers are offering buyers incentives such as long-term payment plans to sustain demand, despite the jeopardy of shifting the burden on to their balance sheets. “We don’t foresee a recovery in the near term due to the current supply-demand imbalance,” said Sapna Jagtiani, an associate director of corporate ratings at S&P in Dubai.

Alessandra Quarta Conte

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