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Arabtec shares soar after former chief Hasan Ismaik raises stake in Dubai builder

Arabtec’s former chief executive Hasan Ismaik has increased his shareholding in the builder, sending its shares soaring to their highest level since November.

Mr Ismaik’s shareholding in the company increased to 11.91 per cent from 11.81 per cent, according to the Dubai Financial Market website. The stock rose by more than 14 per cent.

About 414 million Arabtec shares changed hands yesterday, the highest-ever one-day volume recorded by the stock.

“Everyone’s been trying to get in on the rally,” said Khaldoun Jaradat, a trading manager at Brokerage House Securities, in Dubai. “There were rumours that [Mr Ismaik] was the one doing the buying, so we’ve seen block trades of five to 10 million shares from other investors as a response, which has a spillover effect on to other names like Amlak.”

Mr Ismaik was appointed as Arabtec’s chief executive in February 2013. Under his watch, the company signed an ambitious US$40 billion contract in March 2014 to build one million affordable homes in Egypt, setting itself the target of becoming one of the world’s top 10 contractors by the end of 2018.

He steadily accumulated shares in the company during his time as chief executive – his personal shareholding rising to about 29 per cent by June 2014.

His abrupt departure from the company the following month sent the company’s shares into meltdown, losing 60 per cent by the end of 2014 from their peak in May of that year.

By that time, Mr Ismaik had reduced his stake to 11.81 per cent.

The company’s shares subsequently more than halved in value, amid doubts surrounding the scale of the Egyptian housing project, a slowdown in construction across the UAE and a general sell-off of equities last year attributable to falling oil prices.

Mr Ismaik and Arabtec could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The Dubai Financial Market General Index ended the day up 1.9 per cent at 3,239.70, its first close above the 3,200 mark since November.

The index recorded a gain of 8 per cent for last month, its best-performing month since April.

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