(Bloomberg) -- A joint venture between a unit of Dubai Holding and a state-owned utility has acquired the business that supplies chilled air to such local landmarks as artificial palm-shaped islands as well as industrial and residential properties in the emirate, people familiar with the matter said.
Emirates Central Cooling Systems Corp, known as Empower, bought the cooling operations from Dubai’s state developer Nakheel, according to the people, who asked not to to be identified because the information is private. They wouldn’t disclose the deal value. The assets are worth around 1 billion dirhams ($272 million), the people said.
Nakheel’s spokesperson declined to comment. Nobody at Empower was immediately available to comment
Coming off years of declines in property prices, some developers in the United Arab Emirates have looked to offload their cooling operations, especially after the coronavirus pandemic further upended the local economy.
The district cooling industry has meanwhile been consolidating, with Abu Dhabi’s Tabreed paying 963 million dirhams to buy two district cooling plants from Aldar Properties PJSC last year. In 2019, Tabreed also bought an 80% stake in a district cooling facility from Emaar Properties PJSC.
Dubai was seeking a buyer for the cooling system operations of its biggest airport, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg in November.
Nakheel, the developer of palm islands off the coast of Dubai, was at the center of the emirate’s debt crisis in 2009 that pushed it to the brink of a default. After receiving support from the government, the builder now has billions of dirhams of projects and infrastructure development underway.
Established almost two decades ago, Empower is a venture between Dubai Electricity and Water Authority and TECOM Group, a part of Dubai Holding -- the conglomerate owned by the emirate’s ruler. The company says it’s the world’s largest district cooling services provider, serving more than 140,000 corporate and individual consumers and controlling a market share of more than 76% in Dubai’s district cooling sector.
District cooling is the preferred and most sustainable method in the Gulf region to combat temperatures that often soar above 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 Celsius) during the summer. Plants generate chilled water, which is then sent through pipes to cool the air of buildings ranging from Dubai’s many skyscrapers and villas to its metro line and theme parks.
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