Egypt mulls withdrawing land from Palm Hills: paper

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CAIRO: The Egyptian Housing Ministry plans to withdraw an unused 210 feddan (217.9 acre) plot of landfrom Egypt’s second-biggest listed developer Palm Hills, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Palm Hills, whose shares have slumped 61 percent this year, more than those of any other firm on the benchmark index, has been hamstrung by the country’s political upheaval since president Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power.

The firm is facing court cases contesting the legality of two of its plots and has said it would return at least two other plots of land to help manage cash flows.

The land was awarded to Palm Hills after a closed-envelope bid in May 2007 at LE 812 ($136.3) per meter to build a mixed-use compound, Al-Mal newspaper said, citing an unnamed official.

The newspaper said the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA), the housing ministry body assigned with awarding land in the outskirts of Cairo to developers, was reviewing the status of construction on major plots of land.

The official said it was unlikely Palm Hills would be given another extension to start building on the land, because it has been unused so far.

Palm Hills said in a statement it had received no notice from the housing ministry on the plot of land and that it did not have any unused land in the area specified by the report.

"The company does not have any unused land in Sixth of October besides another 190 feddan plot that the firm has already said it was seeking to return," Palm Hills said.

HSBC raised its Palm Hills price target to 2.5 pounds per share from LE 1.7 on Wednesday.

The stock was down 1.2 percent at 0901 GMT.

Palm Hills shares jumped 7.3 percent on Tuesday after a court ruled that its chairman, one of several businessmen who were facing accusations of graft, was innocent of charges of corruption in a state land sale.


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