Stock Dubai Skyline
Arabtec's liquidation woes open up possibilities for other regional construction giants. Orascom could well be one of them. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Not everything is gloom and doom in the region’s construction sector after the Arabtec liquidation move. Orascom Construction, which operates in key regional markets, recorded revenues of $2.4 billion in the first nine months, while EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) came to $150.5 million.

But while its operations in the Middle East and Africa generated an earnings loss in the period, the gains came from its US operations. There were also project wins in Egypt, its core market.

Reduce dividends

The company, which distributed a smaller dividend in August than was originally planned, has obtained approval  to distribute an interim dividend in January 2021. The exact amount and payment date will be announced in December. (A dividend of $0.21 a share was distributed in August.)

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Impressive portfolio

Just as important, its consolidated backlog (including from its 50 per cent stake in Besix) remains “stable” at $5.3 billion. New project awards were at $2 billion as of end September.

“Our focus on project execution and controls, cash preservation and collections, and cost optimization are reflected in our financial results for the [third] quarter,” said Osama Bishai, CEO.

“Revenue during third quarter increased 4.4 per cent year-on-year, indicating the operation of our sites on a full-fledged basis. EBITDA rebounded and increased 44.9 per cent quarter-on-quarter to $51 million, indicating successful efforts in project controls and cost optimization.”

There are many in the UAE construction sector who reckon that Orascom could emerge one of the main beneficiaries if Arabtec dilutes in project activity in the coming months, especially on mega developments.

$2billion

Orascom's new project wins in first nine months of 2020