Kuwait Investment Co. backs Bahrain Financial Harbour

US $25 million finance deal signifies the willingness for private businesses throughout the GCC to work across borders.

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By  Eudore Chand Published  December 1, 2003

Kuwait Investment Company (KIC) has signed a US $25 million deal with Gulf Finance House (GFH) to help build the Bahrain Financial Harbour project. The agreement marks what is hoped to be a step towards closer co-operation between the two countries’ leading financial bodies. Speaking to the Kuwait Times KIC chairman Badr Al-Sbei’ie described the agreement as a strategic step that is expected to lead to further investment in Bahrain, which is reasserting itself as the leading financial hub in the region. “The Gulf region is rich in economic and financial opportunities. So, we contributed to this type of projects after feasibility studies revealed that it is lucrative,” Sbei’ie said. GFH Chairman Esam Janahi added that the Bahrain Financial Harbour (BFH) is expected to cost US $1.3 billion. Construction is currently underway on the project that is situated on the high-profile Manama Corniche, directly opposite to the Manama Souq and retail district, and only 15 minutes from Bahrain International Airport. The two towers, to be completed as part of phase one of the development, will be among the tallest in Bahrain. The developer hopes to attract leading financial institutions and companies as tenants for these landmark buildings. The Bahrain Stock Exchange is believed to be among the bourses active in the Capital Financial Market section of the project. “The presence of the exchange is expected to attract complementary financial activities and as a result, letting enquiries are being received from investment and commercial banks, offshore banking units, fund managers, accounting and auditing firms. The exchange began operations in 1989 with 29 companies listed and this has since grown to more than 40,” Janahi said. He also revealed that several leading institutions have already signed letters of intent to relocate to Bahrain Financial Harbour. This includes GFH who has demonstrated further commitment by selecting the development as its regional headquarters. In total GFH will occupy more than 11 000 m² of floor space. “The BFH project will leverage Bahrain’s 30 year pedigree as the financial gateway to the Middle East. With zero taxation and overseas-friendly ownership regulations, Bahrain is a recognised regional base for international firms. Manama is host to more than 350 banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions, drawn by an open economy underpinned by international financial best practice,” Janahi said. “BFH is the Middle Eastern focal point on the world’s financial map, combining access to global markets with the latest technologies, accommodation and leisure facilities,” he added. With the reclamation already complete, the first tenants are expected to move in by the end of 2006 three years ahead of the December 2009 completion date for the entire project. Over 250 000 m2 of the total gross floor area of 570 000 m2 will be residential, with 250 000m² allocated for commercial use and 54 000 m² available for retail. In total the development will comprise 26 individual developments, but only 20 hectares of the 38 hectare site will be built upon, leaving the remainder for public space, roads, a leisure resort and a concert hall.

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