10 March 2009

* Future Pipe Industries sets $900m sales target for this year

Future Pipe Industries (FPI) has set a $900 million (Dh3.3bn) sales target by the year-end, eight per cent higher than what it recorded last year, despite the current economic conditions, a top official from the company said.

The company has recorded $829.8m sales in 2008 out of its 10 factories in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Egypt, Lebanon, The Netherlands and the US.

The Dubai-based fibreglass pipe maker has achieved about 18 per cent of the target in the first two months of 2009 and is further hoping new contracts from its non-core markets would boost the company's performance.

Rami Makhzoumi, President and CEO of Future Pipe Industries Group, said the company has won $120m worth of new contracts in Iraq and Libya and is looking at expanding its capacity in the US, Latin America, South East Asia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi. Future Pipe Industries Group, however, will not be building any new manufacturing facility in the next 18 months, Makhzoumi told Emirates Business.

"We don't expect any growth contraction but we also don't expect our business to grow the way we did grow last year," he said. "We are still going ahead with expansion plans prudently. There will be no new manufacturing facilities but we will increase our machines."

With no major expansion plans on hand, Makhzoumi said the company wouldn't need any additional financing. He said the $165m syndicated loan it secured last year with banks HSBC and Mashreqbank as mandated lead arrangers would be enough to fuel its existing operations.

The facility was inturn used for general corporate purposes and the refinancing of "existing bilaterals", from short-term to medium-term facilities.

"Last year we closed $165m syndicated loan for three years and in our business perspective that would be enough for the moment. We are not at the moment actively looking for financing given the current economic condition," he said.

Future Pipe Industries Group resorted to restructuring its loan facility and ended up borrowing from the banks after suspending an IPO in May at the last minute due to unfavourable market conditions. It had postponed its initial plan to raise $554m through the IPO due to "poor market conditions". It hoped to sell up to 35 per cent of the company and list the stock on Nasdaq Dubai.

Future Pipe Industries Group has sales offices in each of the countries it operates, as well as in the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Turkey, Pakistan, Thailand, Singapore, Mexico, China and Greece.
Future Pipe Industries Group, founded by the Makhzoumi family, has found a niché in the large diameter fiberglass pipe industry. The company's share of the global large diameter fiberglass pipe market for 2007 is estimated at 11.6 per cent. It has provided pipe systems for some of the world's largest development projects including Ras Laffan Industrial City in Qatar and the Dubai World Central Airport. In 2007, Future Pipe Industries Group's sales and Ebitda were approximately $556.4m and $87.6m, respectively.

Sales derived from factories in the GCC in 2007 accounted for approximately $422.5m.
( zawya)

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Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.