Dubai’s IMG plans an­other record in­door theme park

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

Dubai’s IMG Worlds plans to build the world’s largest in­door theme park, based on chil­dren’s TV and gaming char­ac­ters, only months af­ter an­other of its new re­sorts claimed the record for size. Lo­cated in Dubai, IMG Worlds of Leg­ends will fea­ture eight prop­erty part­ner­ships with global names such as Nick­elodeon, Mat­tel and Poke­mon, mak­ing the multi-bil­lion dol­lar project one of the big­gest global li­cens­ing deals of its kind.

Af­ter years of few en­ter­tain­ment op­tions in the Gulf, the vac­uum is be­ing filled as IMG Worlds and other theme parks and at­trac­tions pop up in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Even Saudi Ara­bia, the re­gion’s most con­ser­va­tive coun­try, is set for three new parks. Sources told Reuters that Dubaibased par­ent com­pany Ilyas & Mustafa Gal­adari Group (IMG) was work­ing with JP Mor­gan Chase & Co, EFG Her­mes and Gold­man Sachs on a pos­si­ble ini­tial pub­lic of­fer­ing (IPO) for 2017 as the park op­er­a­tor ex­pands.

One of the sources said the plans could in­volve sell­ing around 30 per­cent of the com­pany and that it was ex­plor­ing whether to list on the Dubai Fi­nan­cial Mar­ket or Lon­don. Len­nard Otto, chief ex­ec­u­tive of IMG Worlds, would not be drawn on any pos­si­ble IPO, say­ing it was “merely a ru­mour.”“Are we open to a lot of dif­fer­ent fi­nanc­ing op­tions? Yes, we are and we have kept a lot of chan­nels open and once there is some­thing con­cerete we will go out and an­nounce that,” he said.

Spread across more than 2 mil­lion square feet and fea­tur­ing a re­tractable roof, IMG Worlds of Leg­ends will be ad­ja­cent to IMG’s Worlds of Ad­ven­ture, which opened in Au­gust and stretches over some 1.5 mil­lion square feet. The new park was likely to at­tract around 4 mil­lion vis­i­tors an­nu­ally, roughly the same num­ber as the ex­ist­ing park ex­pects to draw. Around half of those vis­i­tors would be res­i­dents of the United Arab Emi­rates, with the oth­ers ex­pected to be tourists, in­clud­ing those from Gulf states, the In­dian sub­con­ti­nent, China, Bri­tain and Ger­many, Otto said. There was no con­firmed timetable for the build­ing of the park.

Part of the fund­ing for its build­ing would come from prof­its from IMG Worlds of Ad­ven­ture, with the re­main­der funded from a syn­di­cated loan, Otto said.

Abu Dhabi Is­lamic Bank in 2014 ar­ranged a 1.2 bil­lion dirham ($327 mil­lion) syn­di­cated Is­lamic loan for the build­ing of that other park, which also in­cluded par­tic­i­pa­tion from UAE’s Al Hi­lal Bank, Com­mer­cial Bank In­ter­na­tional, Noor Bank and Sharjah Is­lamic Bank. Some of those banks were likely to par­tic­i­pate in the fi­nanc­ing for the new park, he said. — Reuters

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