IFA increases its capital to KD 44.9 million

Travel News Asia Friday, 9 June 2006

International Financial Advisors (IFA) has announced a 50% increase in the companys capital from KD 29.9 million to KD 44.9 million, at its Annual General Meeting held recently.

Jassim M Al-Bahar, Chairman and Managing Director, IFA also announced the distribution of 20% cash dividend and 50% bonus shares among the companys shareholders. This follows the record net profit of KD 172 million including the Minority Interests that IFA achieved in 2005, out of which the net profit for the company stood at KD153 million. IFAs total assets also grew by 8% from KD 221 million in 2004 to KD 404 million in 2005 and shareholders equity registered a 146% increase from KD 85 million in 2004 to KD 209 million in 2005.

Highlighting IFAs positive performance in his speech, Al-Bahar said, The companys growth in profits was based on the strategic investment plans adopted and implemented by the Board to achieve the objective of making IFA a leading company at the local, regional and international level. These plans were based on two principles. The first focused on real estate investment with emphasis on hotels and resorts with geographical diversification while the second focused on financial investments with emphasis on assets management, funds, portfolios and direct investments.

The year 2005 witnessed the strengthening of the existing strategic alliance with Kingdom Hotel Investments, chaired by HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, through investing US$ 200 million in Fairmont Palm Hotel & Resort, which will comprise 400 guestrooms, six restaurants in addition to a wide variety of recreational facilities and retail spaces, Al-Bahar told the gathering.

Additionally, IFA in close collaboration with Kingdom Hotel Investments and Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, acquired 100% of the Lonrho Hotels portfolio in Kenya in a US$ 60 million deal to take over and renovate the existing assets. The portfolio consists of five properties with over 400 rooms, and includes the historic Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi and the famous destination resort of the Mount Kenya Safari Club. The remaining three hotels are located in important, popular destinations such as the Masai Mara. Fairmont Hotels & Resorts will manage the portfolio in its entirety, he said.

Al-Bahar also informed shareholders that IFA Hotels & Resorts (IFA HR), a subsidiary of International Financial Advisors, had launched the Fairmont Palm Residence, the first branded freehold residence on the Palm Jumeirah in Dubai, during the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) in Dubai in May 2005. The project consists of 558 luxury apartments, townhouses and penthouses and involves an investment of US$ 250 million.

IFA HR successfully marketed the Alabadiyah Hills project in Lebanon and sold 50% of its units during the summer of 2005. The resort is to be managed by Kempinski, Europes oldest luxury hotel group. In November 2005, IFA HR launched its innovative hotel ownership programme with sales of its first internationally branded hotel residence project in Dubai, the Mvenpick Laguna Tower Hotel & Residence, Jumeirah Lakes-Dubai, he added.

IFAs innovative property investment vehicle combines ownership with a guaranteed minimum return and strong capital growth potential and allows investors to buy a fully furnished, five-star branded hotel residence, with rental pool system to give the owner the security of a guaranteed return of 8% per annum for the first three years plus 30 days complimentary use per year, all managed by the Swiss hotel chain Mvenpick Hotels & Resorts, Al-Bahar said in his speech.

IFA HR also announced in December 2005 the acquisition of 80% of YOTEL, the worlds most revolutionary hotel concept which seeks to develop a product that offers low cost luxury accommodation, in a 14 million deal. YOTEL is set to open its first two hotels at London Heathrow and London Gatwick in mid 2006 and a third hotel is slated to open in Central London in 2007, he added.

IFA was also active on several other fronts and has diversified its local investments in keeping with a new strategy for expanding its operations in portfolio management and IPO operations. IFA successfully listed Al-Deera Holding Company on the Kuwait Stock Exchange in August 2005, deriving KD3 million from this transaction. In addition it achieved KD100 million profits from the offering of IFA HR in December 2005 and its official listing on the Kuwait Stock Exchange in January 2006.

IFA HR obtained the approval for listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange by the Reverse takeover of Moribo Leisure Limited, a JSE-listed company, in September 2005 and was officially traded in February 2006. IFA became the first Kuwaiti company to list on the Dubai Financial Market (DFM) in September 2005 upon the DFMs invitation. IFA focused on investment funds during the year, which performed exceptionally well reflecting the companys expertise in this and other investment fields. IFA Khaleeji Fund, the pioneering fund that covers financial markets in the GCC and Iraq, achieved 91% returns.

Returns for IFA Investment Fund, which trades in the top 25 listed companies relative to their market capitalization, reached 102% as opposed to the average market performance of 80%, and 100% cash dividend was distributed. IFAs Al-Assjad Islamic Fund was approved by the authorities and will trade in the top 25 listed companies, relative to their market capitalization, and in compliance with Sharia guidelines.

IFA has adopted an ambitious plan based on geographical diversification and will shortly invest in North America and East Asia. IFA will continue maintaining its strategy relative to investment diversification and geographical expansion as well as strengthening its present strategic alliances in order to achieve its mutual goals with the highest efficiency and the greatest financial returns, Al-Bahar concluded.

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