Funds, banks show keen interest in $2.5bn Oman project: Omagine

Muscat - 

With enormous liquidity available in Oman and other GCC countries, investors, funds and banks in the region have shown a high level of interest in Oman's upcoming US$2.5bn mixed-use tourism and real-estate project knows as the Omagine Project.

Over the past six months, Omagine LLC has conducted many presentations with sovereign funds, investment funds and high net-worth individuals in Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE, who have indicated a high level of interest in becoming equity investors in the Omagine Project, Omagine Inc said in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Friday.

Omagine Inc owns a 60 per cent stake in Omagine LLC, which is developing the project.

“We have witnessed a large appetite for both investing in Omagine's equity and for providing project financing debt facilities for project development,” said Agron Telaku, Omagine's vice president for finance.

He said banks with which Omagine and its contracting partner CCC have met have indicated that Omagine's usufruct rights over the project land can and will be utilised as collateral to support project financing debt facilities. “We have also met with several very high net-worth investors who have indicated a high level of interest in becoming equity investors. These investor discussions are ongoing.”

Frank Drohan, managing director and president of Omagine, said, “There is enormous banking liquidity in Oman and the GCC. Over the past six months we have conducted, and will continue to conduct, numerous meetings with major local and international banks. We have witnessed a large appetite at such banks for providing project financing debt facilities for the Omagine Project's development.”

Omagine LLC signed the usufruct agreement with Oman on July 1, whereby the sultanate’s government granted Omagine certain rights over the 1mn sqm beachfront land, which includes the right to sell the land on freehold basis.

Omagine had contracted three real-estate valuation firms - Savills, DTZ International and JLL - to provide Omagine with the value of the usufruct rights. The average of all three valuations was recorded at RO276.66mn, according to the filing with SEC.

“The registration of the usufruct agreement with the government is a welcome milestone event. Now that we have unfettered access to the land we are rapidly progressing on the development of the Omagine Project and the finalisation of the CCC construction contract,” Drohan said.

He said that the company has conducted exhaustive interviews and has reviewed multiple iterations of proposals from key consultants. “We now expect to be making several crucial consultant appointments in the coming several months, including: A financial advisor, hospitality advisor, real-estate advisor, master planner, engineering consultant, construction management consultant and programme manager.”

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