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Australia's Leighton to Merge Gulf Unit With Al Habtoor

Australia's largest construction and contract mining group, Leighton Holdings Ltd, said Monday it will merge its operations in the Arabian Gulf with Al Habtoor Engineering by acquiring a 45 percent stake in Al Habtoor for about 870 million Australian dollars.

Leighton, 54 percent owned by Germany's Hochtief AG, said Al Habtoor Engineering will provide Gulf Leighton with a significant increase in capacity to enable both parties to fully capitalise on the numerous opportunities in the Arabian Gulf market, particularly in the United Arab Emirates.

It said the merged Al Habtoor-Leighton International group will have total work in hand of some 4.4 billion dollars, including 1.5 billion dollars which the Leighton unit already had in hand.

The merged group is expected to generate revenue of around 2.75 billion dollars in the year to June 2008 and is forecast to exceed 3.2 billion dollars in fiscal 2009.

Leighton said the deal will be funded through a mix of 350 million dollars in cash and 520 million dollars in non-recourse debt facility provided by Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, EFIC, HSBC, Mashreqbank and Royal Bank of Scotland.

Al Habtoor Engineering is part of the Al Habtoor Group, a UAE conglomerate operating across the Middle East and beyond with interests in construction, hotels, real estate, education, automobile distribution & leasing, and publishing businesses.