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Arabtec shares rise on speculation over Aabar upping stake

Arabtec jumped more than 8 per cent yesterday as investors bought up shares amid speculation that the Dubai contracting firm’s biggest shareholder Aabar Investments may increase its ownership.

Arabtec jumped 8.1 per cent during intraday trading, the highest one-day price jump since July 15, before shaving some its gains towards the end of the session. At the close, the stock listed on the Dubai Financial Market was up 4.8 per cent at Dh4.79 each.

Speculation that Arabtec’s former chief executive Hasan Ismaik was close to selling his 27.9 per cent stake in the company drove the stock higher yesterday.

“Some newspapers put this rumour on Arabtec in the newspaper,” said Tariq Qaqish, the head of asset management at Dubai’s Al Mal Capital. “You think retail will not buy it?”

However, Hasan Ismaik rejected an offer from Aabar Investments to buy part of his stake for Dh5 dirhams a share, Bloomberg News reported yesterday. Mr Ismaik and Aabar are still in talks about the sale, the former chief executive told the newswire. The offer may involve as much as half of his holding.

The interior fit-out company Depa was suspended for a second day after regulators halted trading on the stock in a row over the composition of its board of directors – half of whom came from Arabtec, which owns a 24 per cent stake in Depa.

Arabtec has had a tumultuous few months, as the company’s share price plunged from a high of Dh7.4 on May 14 to a low of Dh2.61 on June 30, following the resignation of Mr Ismaik on June 17.

He resigned shortly after it became public knowledge that he had increased his stake in the company to 28.85 per cent, making him Arabtec’s largest shareholder. His departure was followed by a series of executive-level firings.

Trading in Arabtec’s shares was suspended on July 17 after Bloomberg News reported that Aabar Investments, the Abu Dhabi-backed investment company with a major stake in Arabtec, was in talks with Mr Ismaik over buying his stake in the builder.

He has since been gradually offloading his shareholding in the market.

halsayegh@thenational.ae

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