CAIRO: Swiss-based developer Orascom Development Holding, which has lifted profits despite a world downturn, said on Monday it planned to expand home sales in major resort towns and build up its budget housing business.
The firm has sold 20 million Swiss francs ($18.5 million) worth of units in its Switzerland resort town Andermatt and aims to sell 100 million francs worth by the end of the year, chief executive Samih Sawiris said in an interview on Monday.
"Switzerland is now a much more attractive market than it was a few years ago," Sawiris said, adding sales in Andermatt for non-Swiss homebuyers would start at the end of the summer.
Orascom, whose main presence is in Egypt where builders have enjoyed a buoyant market despite a world downturn, also aims to launch sales in its 15 million square meter Morocco project by the end of the year.
Sawiris said he expected to receive a construction license there by the end of June.
Sawiris, a billionaire investor who is also Orascom’s chairman, said he plans to join the board of real estate firm Egyptian Resorts after Orascom spurred that company’s shares higher by buying a 4.5 percent stake last month.
Orascom on April 29 said it would jointly develop 2.5 million square meters of Egyptian Resorts property in the Sahl Hasheesh project on Egypt’s Red Sea coast.
The company will continue to keep low debt as it funds such plans, but would consider relaunching the capital increase it cancelled last week because of irregular trading on its Swiss shares, Sawiris said.
"Personally, I have put aside 85 million Swiss francs for my participation, and it’s up to the company to determine when and how they want to do the capital increase," he added.
Orascom Development owns land across Europe and the Middle East, and has said it expects projects in Morocco, Britain, Romania, Switzerland and Montenegro to drive future growth.
In March the firm posted fourth-quarter net profit up 50 percent after it sold land in Oman and a nascent tourism recovery helped its hotels business.
Orascom has recently pushed to expand its budget housing offerings after a successful project in a western suburb of Cairo, and has said it is negotiating with governments in Iraq and African countries.
"Our duty now is to be very careful, because of our limited resources, to go to the governments and the countries that are most serious about this project being a success, and not just throwing a piece of land and running away," Sawiris said.
The firm is waiting for the deed to land in Turkey where it is planning a budget housing project in partnership with the Turkish government, and aims to secure ownership by the end of the year, he said.