Bahrain’s $650m Villamar project to restart

Gulf Holding Company (GHC), the developer of the long-delayed Villamar project close to the Bahrain Financial Harbourcomplex, has said that Villamar work is restarting after the restructuring of the project’s finances.

The US$650 million project comprises three twisting towers of 54, 52 and 43 storeys, which are to contain a hotel, serviced flats and regular apartments.

GHC said that it had signed a restructuring deal with support from the project’s original financier Al Rajhi Bank, new funder Gulf Financial Holdings Group (GFH) and the contractor, UAE-based Al Hamad Contracting Company.

As a result, it said cranes had been moved back on to the site to restart work and the project is now due for completion in two years.

Villamar was initially launched in 2007 when GHC awarded a $380m construction contract to Sharjah-based Al Hamad Contracting Company.

Initially, it was due for completion in the first quarter of 2010, but stopped midway through construction as the financial crisis caused projects to stall across the Arabian Gulf. Civil unrest in Bahrain also caused issues for the local property market.

However, in February, Bahrain’s government announced that it had passed a law aimed at restarting many of the kingdom’s major stalled real estate projects, and last month deputy premier Sheikh Khalid Al Khalifa, who also heads Bahrain’s ministerial committee on reconstruction and infrastructure, held a meeting aimed at advancing Villamar’s future.

“With the signing of this agreement, we are delighted to announce that remobilisation and development of Villamar has begun,” said GHC’s chairman Hicham Alrayes. “This is a strategic project, located in the heart of Bahrain, and we are proud to be working with world-class partners to now advance quickly towards completion.”

In a statement to the Dubai Financial Market, Bahrain-based GFH Group said that it would finance the project’s completion and cover funding shortfalls to the tune of $50m. It added that the funding would have “a positive impact” on its finances over the medium term.

Nashat Sahawneh, chairman of Al Hamad Construction said: “With this agreement now in place, we are able to advance construction and work toward the completion of another landmark project in Bahrain.”

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