|27 January, 2020

Dubai's Empower can raise over $2bln worth of loans - CEO

Ahmad Bin Shafar said the company is in discussions to take over the district cooling businesses of two or three companies, without naming them.

Emirates Central Cooling Systems Corporation Empower. Image for illustrative purpose.

Emirates Central Cooling Systems Corporation Empower. Image for illustrative purpose.

Empower

DUBAI- Dubai district cooling company Empower has received commitments from local and international banks for loans totalling up to between 6 billion dirhams and 8 billion ($1.6 billion - $2.2 billion) to finance potential acquisitions, its chief executive told Reuters.

Ahmad Bin Shafar said the company is in discussions to take over the district cooling businesses of two or three companies, without naming them.

"Recently we received proposals from banks of up to 6 to 8 billion dirhams of available cash for us," he said. "We will take them (based on) our needs."

Bin Shafar spoke to Reuters on the sidelines of Empower's annual financial results news conference, where Empower announced revenue of 2.19 billion dirhams for 2019, 7.9% higher year-on-year, and 871 million dirhams in net profit, up 8.3%.

Asked if Empower would take out a loan in the first quarter of 2020, Bin Shafar said the company could tap banks for the funds if it goes ahead with its acquisition plans.

"We are already prepared ... the banks are geared up and ready, just they're waiting for the signal of 'go'."

Empower does not plan to issue any bonds, he said.

Bin Shafar said an eventual initial public offering (IPO), which it has been considering for years, was still on the table but its shareholders would make the ultimate decision.

The company is owned by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority and Dubai Holding subsidiary TECOM Group.

"I met with Mr. Essa Kazim, the CEO of DFM (Dubai Financial Market), and he told me ... let's have a session to prepare you guys for (an) IPO," he said.

"I see it as a good idea, but again, the decision is in the shareholders' hands to decide when they want us to go. But we are ready for it."

The company paid out 400 million dirhams in dividends to its shareholders on Sunday, Bin Shafar told the news conference.

($1 = 3.6728 UAE dirham)

(Reporting by Yousef Saba Editing by Davide Barbuscia and David Holmes) ((Yousef.Saba@thomsonreuters.com; +971562166204))

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