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Warren Buffett bets on Dubai property as market slump drags on

Dubai

WARREN Buffett's real estate brokerage is expanding into the Middle East with an office in Dubai.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Gulf Properties will be led by chairman Ihsan Husein Al Marzouqi and chief executive officer Phil Sheridan. It will have a team of 30 advisers and support staff, according to a statement.

"Gulf Properties aspires to grow quickly by tripling its adviser count and opening a second office in Abu Dhabi within a year," it said.

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Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in November teamed up with London-based Kay & Co, its second franchisee in Europe, after Rubina Real Estate in Berlin.

The company said then it hoped to add Milan, Vienna and Dubai to its network. Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Co started operations in Dubai last year.

Mr Buffett is expanding in Dubai as the emirate's property market defies all predictions of a rebound and extends a slump since a peak in October 2014.

S&P Global Ratings said last month it expects prices to fall as much as 10 per cent this year.

"Dubai has been a top priority for our network's global expansion," Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices chairman Gino Blefari said in Sunday's statement. "Gulf Properties will connect our growing brokerage network between East and West."

Berkshire Hathaway Inc first acquired a stake in HomeServices of America as part of the purchase of an energy business in 2000.

The billionaire investor originally paid little attention to HomeServices, but that operation has since become one of the largest residential-brokerage owners in the US. BLOOMBERG