Press Releases & Media Relations

Shahid Kazi in Gulf Property

GULF PROPERTIES, 10 December 2014

Being present in the region for over 35 years now, ValuStrat serves over 750 corporate clients across three countries, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The team of more than 50 people works across a diverse and  extensive industry sectors including real estate, hospitality, manufacturing, financial institutions, education, healthcare, transportation and retail.

Also Read: ValuStrat CEO Shahid Kazi Interview

In an exclusive interview with Gulf Property, Shahid Kazi, CEO of the company claims that the team adopts the best practices to deliver customized solutions to the clients and offer best possible strategic advice at every step of the business cycle.

Gulf Property: Your firm has been providing strategic advisory and other solutions to your clients for years. Could you please elaborate on the same?

Shahid Kazi: ValuStrat is a multi-sector consulting group headquartered in Dubai with offices in UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. We have been present in the region for over 35 years providing various financial and strategic advisory services such as strategy & business planning, market research, feasibility studies, real estate valuations, industrial asset valuations, due diligence and transaction advisory. We have also started providing industrial asset divestment services through our joint-venture with Hilco Industrial, one of the largest firms in the world for this business.

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Real estate is one of the most important sectors for our firm’s business where our market research, valuations, feasibilities, due diligence and strategic advisory services are extensively utilized by financial institutions, real estate developers, investors and consultants. We endeavour to provide the ideal combination of quality work and reasonable fees and are thus doing our utmost to fill this large gap between the large multinational consulting firms and small local advisory boutiques.

Many of our consultants have significant past experience in top multinationals and this international expertise combined with our local presence for over three decades makes it a great combination. As part of our corporate social responsibility initiative, we also have an initiative “ValuStrat Pro-Bono” through which we provide consulting services to NGOs and social causes free of cost.

ValuStrat is our brand name and the legal entity may vary depending upon the geography and nature of service. We take pride in the fact that ValuStrat is a consulting group which has emanated out of the UAE and going international.

Are your clients just MNCs, HNIs, family owned businesses and major companies, or do you also provide solutions to individual investors?

In addition to our large corporate client base, we are active service providers to banks and financial institutions where we are on their approved panel for various consulting services. One such type of service that banks utilise us for and which benefits individuals is valuation of assets such as real estate, cars, heavy equipment etc. These valuations are for financing purposes such as mortgages, auto loans etc. for retail customers and that is how an individual might be indirectly our client. Although we are not actively marketing to retail clients, in certain cases we may provide advisory services directly to select individuals who may be interested in starting up a new business or are contemplating some specific investment strategies.

Who are your major clients, specifically real estate developers?  What specialized real estate services and strategic solutions do you offer to your clients?

On the real estate side, we stick to providing independent advice to our customers; for example best-use analysis for a vacant land, feasibility and viability analysis of a residential, commercial, hotel or mixed-use real estate project, valuation of all types of real estate, preparing business plans and strategic recommendations to achieve success for any real estate development project etc.

To avoid any potential conflict of interest, we prefer not to have any direct interest in any property and therefore do not provide real estate brokerage services, property management or leasing. We are very actively dealing with a large number of real estate developers in the region like Emaar Middle East, Union Properties, Dar AlArkan, to name a few.

Over the decades, the economy of Dubai has evolved from being an oil and gas driven to a diversified economy, with focus on real estate. Post-recession, the real estate sector has bounced back. How is your firm reaping the benefits of tapping into the property market?

Prior to the 2008 recession, our real estate division was performing extremely well. When the market declined, the advisory part, especially relating to market research and feasibility for new real estate and hospitality projects, was affected negatively. However, the real estate valuations business carried on well as many clients especially banks and auditing firms still required valuations; in fact in some case more work was required to assess the ongoing impact of the declining prices.

Our non-real estate relating consulting in UAE and overall work outside of UAE was also not impacted adversely, so on the whole we continued to perform well even in the downturn. If we compare that period to now, we may still not have that kind of volume of real estate related work but it is nevertheless significant. In addition, it has been more than compensated by our geographical expansion in KSA & Qatar as well as by some of our additional service lines and increased work in sectors

The mobile application that ValuStrat has launched is one of a kind. Please elaborate on the salient features of the app?

ValuStrat’s mobile app through our own software ‘ValuWare’ is iPad based which is used for surveying and report preparation for real estate valuations, auto and heavy equipment valuations and field verifications on behalf of banks for conducting due diligence on companies and individuals. It is currently for our internal use and brings about a lot of efficiency in timing, process and data analytics.

From a property perspective, this application is used by our surveyors in conducting real estate appraisals and valuations. The surveyors can do all the key tasks through the application on their iPads – taking pictures of the property, noting property specifications and details in the required data fields, accessing comparable pricing data and then emailing drafts of the automatically generated reports to relevant reviewers and approvers. The supervisors of the various surveying teams have real time access to each surveyor’s location through GSM connectivity.

All these factors enable the surveys to be conducted and reports to be ready within a matter of a few hours. The app also has some security features which reduce errors and creates checks and balances. For example, surveyors cannot change the system-generated date and time of the survey or the geo-tag of the survey location, which gives our clients additional comfort about the authenticity of the survey.

How different is your iPad based app from others in this age of mobile apps? Will it allow others users to gain the benefits?

We are not aware of any company using such an application in the region for the purposes of report building and others as mentioned earlier. Currently this iPad application is being used by our internal staff and in due course of time, our plan is to continue to enhance its features as well as roll it out for our clients who will be able to access our reports through the application.

What are the company’s expansion plans?

We opened up two new offices last year, one in Jeddah and the other in Doha in the Qatar Financial Center. This was in addition to our existing headquarters in Dubai and other offices in Riyadh and Sharjah. Our successful entry into the Qatar market gave us confidence to consider further geographical expansion. In addition to expanding our teams in all our offices, we are contemplating opening an office in Abu Dhabi and exploring entry into other locations like London, Egypt, Lebanon, India, Singapore etc. This entry may be through new offices or acquisitions.

 Do you have any plans to offer brokerage services like other advisory firms?

We do not have plans to venture into brokerage or leasing or property management and are only focusing on independent advisory. We feel that the brokerage market is quite saturated and we would rather work towards geographical growth and additional advisory services, as opposed to entering into an already crowded business line