What was business like for Otis in the last year?
We have had a couple of good achievements. We’ve got a lot of very good projects in Saudi Arabia, we have completed the Mecca Metro, last year we started on the Landmark Towers in Jeddah, and we have the $80m Samba Towers in Riyadh. Also, in the King Abdullah Financial district, we have got some big orders booked for $60m.
We speak overall, about more than $100m to be booked in Saudi Arabia. Overall, Otis in the GCC will present more than $200m, with very good growth in Saudi Arabia.
In Abu Dhabi, a recent award has been the Cleveland Clinic; we are also doing the Central Market in Abu Dhabi. We have developed a centre of excellence for major projects in the Gulf, leveraging on our knowhow on the Burj Khalifa. We are in active negotiations, as you can imagine, and there is worldwide support for all these projects.
What is Otis’s expansion strategy when it comes to the GCC?
Otis and United Technologies Company believes in the GCC a lot. We have been opening companies year after year, and we have got a lot of growth projects.
In Otis, we do business in the long term; we look at all the opportunities for growth. If there are acquisitions to do, we will do acquisitions. If there are good opportunities, we will study all.
The GCC is an important market for Otis. We have got several companies, one in the UAE, one in Kuwait, one in Saudi Arabia. We just opened a company in Bahrain. We believe that Qatar is going to grow strongly in coming years with the World Cup looming. We also see consistent growth in Abu Dhabi; we are very experienced in Abu Dhabi.
What challenges do you anticipate facing in the next few quarters?
The issues we have currently are mainly based on the debts of the western countries. This is my personal opinion.
Based on discussions I have had with CFOs and COs in the area, we believe that we might have an indirect impact, but not as strong an impact in 2008 because this is a different issue. Maybe we will see a little bit of a slowdown, but it’s not going to be like 2008.
You have got a lot of infrastructure projects going on and we will ride the demand. There is local demand also; Saudi demand is very strong; Abu Dhabi has a lot of projects; and in Qatar you have got the World Cup [coming up].
Do you plan to bid for the Kingdom Tower contract?
For sure, we are interested. We have got the experience of the Buj Khalifa, it is the same architect, and for sure we will leverage on this experience for the Kingdom Tower. It is important to have this experience to be in a position to get these kind of iconic projects.
At the Burj Khalifa, we have done unique elevators, we have broken some records, and we have designed a special elevator specifically [for the project]. You have got technical challenges [with super-tall buildings[ and we have overcome all these challenges; we are very proud of that. So for sure, we will leverage on this experience.
Before the Burj Khalifa, we had done the Shanghai Financial Centre and the Petronas Tower in Malaysia. Recently we have got the tallest tower in Seoul at about 555m.
What new technologies have you introduced into the elevator industry?
Otis has invented a new technology generation of elevators that we call Gen2. This is an elevator that does not have any ropes, it has a flat belt. This is a fully green elevator. We managed to save up to 75% to 80% of the energy because we are using technology like regeneration.
We use a re-gen driver, which supplies energy back into the building. Our dream is to be able to have one floor fully supplied through the elevators. Compared to standard technology, we save around 80% of the energy used, and 90% of our elevators are recyclable.
Another technology we are developing is known as Compass, which is a pre-destination elevator service.
We have also recently developed an ‘Elite Service’. This is a service which allows us to monitor all the elevators and, on top of that, we can fix some breakdowns at a distance. We started this design in the UK; we released it in Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and also in Korea. We are now releasing this service in the GCC.