UAE billionaire and real estate tycoon Hussain Sajwani has been “surprised” by a spate of asset managers defaulting on their borrowings this year amidst high interest rates, Bloomberg reported on Thursday.
The investors, some with assets worth more than $1 trillion, have turned over their commercial properties to creditors, while real estate values have also plummeted, the founder of DAMAC Properties noted at the Milken Institute’s Middle East and Africa Summit in Abu Dhabi.
“They handed over their keys of office towers to the banks,” Sajwani said. “Didn’t care about their reputation, their name, and they said, ‘Thank you very much – take those towers.”
Hussain, who did not identify the asset managers, or in which markets they operate, noted that as investors are unable to repay their loans, the value of assets in prime locations have plummeted.
DAMAC’s portfolio includes residential and commercial towers in Dubai.
Commercial real estate values have fallen in several markets worldwide amid rising lending rates.
The UAE, however, has defied the trend. In Dubai, office sale prices posted a quarterly growth of 3% and annual growth of 19% in the third quarter of the year, according to a report from Asteco.
Morgan Stanley earlier predicted this year that commercial property prices could fall as much as 40%, rivalling the decline during the 2008 financial crisis.
“The [commercial real estate] sector is now facing a huge ‘refinancing wall’: More than half of the $2.9 trillion in commercial mortgages will be up for refinancing in the next couple of years,” said Lisa Shalett, Chief Investment Officer at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, last April.
Last February, office landlord Columbia Property Trust defaulted on its loans worth $1.7 billion. The loans were tied to several office buildings in the US.
(Writing by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria)