Dilmunia’s water canal ... a major ongoing project for Cebarco.

Dilmunia’s water canal ... a major ongoing project for Cebarco.

Cebarco is bullish

January 2020

With an order book currently worth BD280 million ($730 million), the KAR Group and its flagship company Cebarco Bahrain are bullish about prospects for the company in 2020.

“I believe the market is still healthy, although a lot of people say that the economy is not doing so well,” KAR Group chairman and CEO Dr Khalid A Rahim, tells Gulf Construction. “In fact, we have unfortunately had to turn down invitations to tender for projects due to our internal work load.”

He adds that the company has received more invitations to bid than during the boom times.

Dr Rahim ... busier than ever.

Dr Rahim ... busier than ever.

Dr Rahim does admit that “money is tight and cash flow is an issue in the market”.

He says the real problem is payments. “Here, I’m not talking about the government, it is the individual investors and developers who are unable to make payments. Money is very tight in the market and everyone knows that,” he adds. “Some clients are wary of spending and try to cut corners to reduce prices. This is affecting the business.”

Among Cebarco’s latest successes is the BD83.6-million ($220.4 million) contract for new Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre in Sakhir, which has just broken ground.

“Ever since we won the convention centre contract, our phones have been busy with everyone eager to work on the project,” says Cebarco CEO Peter Sellers.

Since its establishment 28 years ago, the leading Bahrain-based building and civil engineering company has evolved from a simple earthworks operation to a contractor of choice in the kingdom and beyond, with a portfolio of world-class, high-profile and complex construction projects worth billions of dollars under its belt. These include large, intricate projects such as the Formula One circuits in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi, as well as other vital infrastructure, real estate and leisure projects in the kingdom and the region.

For Cebarco, 2019 has been better than 2018. “We are relatively busy at the moment, it’s even better than some of the previous good years,” reveals Dr Rahim. “From our point of view, we’ve got two years’ worth of work.”

KAR Group is a conglomerate of complementary leading businesses with a primary focus on construction, engineering, property investment and development and general trading. The group has expanded horizontally and vertically across the construction supply chain and has also diversified into performance and collection cars, travel and leisure and equestrian sectors.

Strategic investments by the KAR Group in the building materials and equipment supply chain have enabled Cebarco to retain control over material costs, quality and delivery schedules for any given project.

Cebarco has a sizeable portfolio of projects that it is currently working on. These include the 550,000-sq-m Marassi Galleria shopping and entertainment development, plus the luxury Vida Hotel and serviced residences, which are nearing structural completion, with topping out expected by April this year. The company is working on the project in joint venture with Shapoorji Pallonji Mideast under a contract from Eagle Hills Diyar. 

Its infrastructure division is also currently finishing work on the infrastructure and deep gravity sewer (DGS) at Diyar Al Muharraq, one of the most challenging projects the company has handled in 2019, involving the installation of a 1.2-m-diameter pipe 22 m below the surface.

The company has recently finished phases One, Two and Three of the infrastructure work on Dilmunia, and is currently working on the Grand Canal, which is an elevated water canal that flows right round the health and wellness island.

Other projects currently in hand include Phase Four of the Tubli sewage treatment Plant (STP) with WTE Water Technology and the 400-kV transmission network in Bahrain and various other HV substations for EWA and private clients.

Last year, it completed the primary infrastructure at Diyar Al Muharraq and the public-private partnership housing project at Prince Salman Town – the first of its kind in Bahrain, according to Dr Rahim.

Among other plans, the company is looking at niche projects in Saudi Arabia that would benefit from its areas of expertise and is looking at setting up a presence in the kingdom in the near term.

It is currently setting up a joint venture with leading Saudi contractor Nesma and Partners to carry out some of the high-profile projects that are on the anvil in Saudi Arabia.

Cebarco is also keen to participate in a number of upcoming projects in the region, including the football stadium and Sports City in Bahrain and major developments in Saudi Arabia. In addition to this, Cebarco supports its sister company KAR Properties in developing the likes of the Riffa Mall, Cebarco Tower, Segaya and Busaiteen Views.  All these projects remain within the group and are managed by the group.

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