Arabtec Holding on Monday denied reports that shareholder Aabar Investments had taken a majority stake in the builder, saying the Abu Dhabi fund’s current position was only 20.8 percent.
Shares in Arabtec, the United Arab Emirates’ biggest builder by market value, slumped a day earlier on fears it may de-list after an official at the Dubai Financial Market told Reuters the state-owned fund had raised its stake to 53 percent.
That followed an Arabic daily report which quoted Aabar’s chairman -- who was appointed to the same post at Arabtec last week -- as saying the fund owns the majority stake.
“The newspaper article posted in Alrroya Aleqtissadiya ‘Aabar acquires 53 percent of Arabtec’ on 12/05/2012 includes incorrect information,” Arabtec said in a statement Monday.
“Aabar’s companies’ investments in Arabtec Holding through its investments funds totals is 20.76 percent, according to the share register settlement May 10th.”
Arabtec shares recovered some ground on Monday, rising more than 5 percent in early trading before easing lower. The stock was up 1.44 percent at 0827 GMT.
“Arabtec’s free float is now very low with Aabar buying stakes through different subsidiaries and it is easy to manipulate the move,” said Samer al-Jaouni, general manager of Middle East Financial Brokerage Co. “Today, it is pure speculation from small traders.”
Aabar Chairman Khadem al-Qubaisi on Saturday told Arabic daily Alrroya that the fund had taken control of the builder by buying a 23-percent stake directly from Arabtec and the remaining 30 percent from other shareholders.
Aabar, which owns stakes in high-profile names such as German carmaker Daimler and commodities trader Glencore, first raised its Arabtec stake to disclosure levels in March when it emerged it owned 5.3 percent. It later doubled it to 10.5 percent through another subsidiary.
The Abu Dhabi fund dropped a $1.7 billion bid for a 70-percent stake in Arabtec two years ago. Months later, Aabar delisted from the Abu Dhabi bourse after it was taken private by its then-majority shareholder, International Petroleum Investments Corp (IPIC).