Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor, is extending his real estate brokerage, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ reach into the Middle East with an office in Dubai and is aiming to triple its advisor count.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices also plans to also set up operations in Abu Dhabi “within a year.”
Chairman Ihsan Al Marzouqi and Chief Executive Officer Phil Sheridan will lead Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Gulf Properties alongside a team of 30 advisers and support staff, the company said in a statement on 28 April.
“Dubai has been a top priority for our network’s global expansion as it represents innovation among world leaders and is a top global centre for trade, logistics, tourism, and finance,” said Gino Blefari, Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. “Gulf Properties will connect our growing brokerage network between East and West.”
The company’s expansion into Dubai comes despite a downturn. House prices in the highly diversified economy of Dubai in 2009-2010 plunged more than 50 percent from their peak hurting earnings of the emirate’s top developers and forcing construction and engineering firms to cut jobs and halt expansion plans.
This forced Dubai to seek a $20 billion bailout from oil-rich Abu Dhabi to escape a debt crisis, which had threatened to force some state-linked companies to default on billions of dollars of debt.
Mr. Sheridan stressed the importance of favourable property ownership advantages such as tax-free income and resident visas issued on property purchases that Dubai’s real estate market offers.
Gulf Properties considers the hosting of Expo 2020 and an expanding population that now exceeds 3 million attracting factors.
Berkshire Hathaway first acquired a stake in HomeServices of America as part of the purchase of its parent company, an energy business, in 2000. It began operations as Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in 2013 and has about 50,000 advisors and 1,450 offices named to the brand since its launch in 2013.
Gulf Properties is the fourth global franchisee of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices following Rubina Real Estate in Berlin, Kay & Co in London and Maggi Properties in Milan.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices is also said to be in talks with partners in Paris and Madrid, and considering options in Hong Kong, Mexico City, and Tokyo.
Last December, an insurance unit of Mr. Buffett opened in the Dubai International Financial Centre, offering specialty and commercial insurance and reinsurance products with a focus on construction, energy, property, marine, casualty and executive and professional segments.
The company remains compelling on the promises of economic growth in regions from the Middle East and North Africa to India, Turkey, and CIS, a company official revealed at the time.