Dubai’s Majid Al Futtaim to use bonds, sukuk for expansion

Retail conglomerate rules out IPO as it looks to expand in Saudi Arabia and Egypt

PHOTO: Executives spoke at an event in which MAF marked 20 years of business since it opened City Centre Deira, its first shopping mall in Dubai. Credit:

The Dubai-based retail conglomerate Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) says it will use bonds to fund its expansion in markets like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, but has ruled out an initial public offering.

Alain Bejjani, chief executive of Majid Al Futtaim Holding, said the group has a five-year plan for expansion in the MENA region, where it operates malls and leisure facilities.

“We have bonds and sukuk [Islamic bonds] in the markets that fund our operational expansion. We will continue according to our plan,” he said.

“We don’t have any plan to spin off any of our business… or IPO. We continue to fund our expansion according to our needs and [will] announce any new issuance [of bonds] as and when it happens.”

MAF executives pointed to a recent $3 billion deal in Egypt and expected launch later this year of the Magic Planet in Saudi Arabia, in partnership with Carrefour.

They spoke at an event in which MAF marked 20 years of business since it opened City Centre Deira, its first shopping mall in Dubai. This year also marks the anniversaries of a number of MAF brands including Magic Planet and VOX Cinemas. 

The group, which employs more than 27,000 people, currently has AED45 billion ($12.25 billion) in asset value, comprising malls, hotels, and residential communities.

“Over the last 20 years Majid Al Futtaim developed a portfolio of shopping and entertainment destinations that are true to our ideals and values. We set out to transform the face of shopping by creating innovative new experiences that expand our world and inspire those around us,” said Bejjani.

Some of Majid Al Futtaim’s current projects around the region include a 15,000 sqm indoor water park in City Centre Bahrain as well as Lebanon’s first LEED Gold-certified mall, City Centre Beirut.

Despite the burgeoning number of malls in Dubai, the company does not expect oversaturation in the city’s retail sector anytime soon, Bejjani said.

“The Dubai population is expected to grow at 8 to 9%. The tourism growth is sustained year-on-year. We think that there is room for quality gross leasable area into the country,” he noted.

“Today in Dubai there is 3 million sqm of gross leasable area. Majid Al Futtaim has around 25% of that market share. We continue to grow and we have a positive outlook on the future. But we think that as long as Dubai is performing well in terms of tourist attractions and affluence and growth there is room for more, but in a more competitive environment.”

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