DUBAI – Dubai-listed National Central Cooling Co (Tabreed) is interested in acquiring the district cooling unit that serves Dubai International Airport, Tabreed Chief Executive Bader Al Lamki said on Monday.
Tabreed has been on a shopping spree during the COVID-19 pandemic, snapping up assets in locations such as Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island, home to a Louvre museum. It also acquired an 80% stake in Dubai developer Emaar’s downtown district cooling business for 2.48 billion dirhams ($675 million).
“Dubai (international) airport has been in the market. We are looking at it. We will see how it goes,” Al Lamki told Reuters in an interview.
District cooling firms deliver chilled water via insulated pipes to offices, as well as industrial and residential buildings. With 86 district cooling plants, Tabreed services developments such as the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscraper, the Dubai Opera and the Dubai Mall.
Dubai International’s 2020 passenger numbers fell 70% to 25.9 million as the pandemic crippled travel demand. In 2019, before the pandemic, it saw 86.4 million passengers, making it one of the world’s busiest airports.
Two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters in November that Dubai was considering selling a controlling stake in the cooling system operations of the state-owned airport, with one of the people saying Standard Chartered has been hired to advise on the sale.
The Dubai government media office did not respond to a request for comment at the time, while Standard Chartered declined to comment.
The transaction is expected to draw a lot of interest from potential investors, both international and local, according to analysts. The business is valued at around $750 million, Bloomberg reported in November, citing unidentified sources.
Tabreed raised $500 million in October through the issuance of a 7-year bond, with 95% of the participants being international investors, Al Lamki said.
The company, part owned by Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala and France’s Engie, has enough residual funds from the issuance to work on “one or two” more transactions, the CEO said. However, Tabreed could look at additional financing instruments in the future, he added.
Earlier on Monday, Tabreed reported a 16.5% increase in 2020 net income to 550 million dirhams.
(Reporting by Hadeel Al Sayegh; Editing by Pravin Char) ((Hadeel.AlSayegh@thomsonreuters.com; +971566883310;))