Dubai court verdict on the stalled Marina 101 tower project is now expected within weeks, hopefully putting an end to the protracted dispute between the lender banks and the developer while safeguarding the rights of investors who have been left in the lurch for so long, industry sources revealed.
Three lender banks - Bank of Baroda, Indian Overseas Bank and Bank of India - whom the project was mortgaged, are reportedly trying to get a new developer to complete the abandoned project once the court verdict gives clarity on the project that could not be completed by its developer Sheffield Holdings Limited due to lack of funds.
Collectively, the three lenders had given the developer a term loan of Dh349 million under club deal arrangement, and the amount has now reached Dh427 million, according to a debt note, dated April 24, 2019, on the website of one of the lenders. The lenders had declared this project as a non-performing asset.
Abu Ali Shroff, the founder of Sheffield Holdings Limited, who is in India, in statement to Khaleej Times, claimed his firm is trying to get the funds to complete the project with the assistance of an investment fund from overseas.
Refuting earlier media reports that quoted the lenders, Shroff, who is India, said "the story of Marina 101 is not a simple story of default by the borrower as it has more than 101 complexities to the story and nothing is like what it looks like on the face value of what is said by the lenders."
Rejecting reports over a take-over of the project by the lenders, Shroff said "on the contrary, we were and yet are the developers of the project." Ananda Kumar, chief executive, Bank of Baroda GCC Operations, said he hoped investors in the project, which was launched in 2007 and scheduled initially for completion in 2014, but is now only 97 per cent completed, would get their rights protected.
According to a catalogue of Marina 101, 32 floors of the building will host a luxury hotel, while another 42 floors will feature exclusive hotel apartments and residences will be from floor 80 to the top Marina 101, 32 floors of the building will host a luxury hotel, while another 42 floors will feature exclusive hotel apartments and residences will be from floor 80 to the top. Marwan bin Ghalita, chief executive officer, Real Estate Regulatory Authority, had already assured investors that their rights would be safeguarded. In a media statement issued last year, he has said: "We're currently in the process of completing the project at the earliest and in conjunction with Bank of Baroda as the account trustee, contractor and consultant. "Any unit registered under Oqood (an online property registration process) will certainly be honoured and will be handed over to respective investors upon project completion and after all payments have been made."
Shroff said in his statement that he had just managed to raise the funds for the completion of the project "but was shocked to hear some shocking news" when he approached the bank to find a solution on how to proceed further as the new investor wanted some clarification from the bank about the pending dues and on how to settle them.
"It has been bought to our notice through the bank sources that they have sold the loan to some investment company in the DIFC, and that now the loan is not in their books they are not confirming to us the outstanding amount even after requesting them to give us the details of the new lender," Shroff said.
Denying the allegation that the bank had sold the loan to a third party investor, Kumar said the impending court verdict would address concerns of all affected parties and help find a resolution to complete this project to protect investors rights while ensuring that lenders recover their money.
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