Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday Dubai Update

A number of articles have discussed various aspects of the troubles facing Dubai when the markets reopen on Monday after the Thanksgiving and Eid holidays. The overarching theme is that Dubai has borrowed far in excess of its means to repay and it is becoming increasingly clear that the expected support from Abu Dhabi will not be entirely forthcoming. There appears to be a consensus view that Abu Dhabi will pick and choose between which Dubai entities to support, and it is unlikely that this will include Nakheel, the property company owned by Dubai World which has a $3.5 billion sukuk maturing on December 14th. The articles below provide a fairly good summation of the reporting on Dubai in the last day or two.

Financial Times, "Dubai plans appeal to bondholders", 11/29/09
"Dubai's government is preparing a campaign to persuade the holders of a bond due for repayment next month to agree to a delay even if that sparks claims that the emirate has defaulted on the debts of a government-backed company.

"Pushing aside concerns about potential legal action, the department of finance is preparing to communicate with the public and with the bondholders of an upcoming $4bn sukuk, or Islamic bond, issued by Nakheel, a major real estate developer, via the new chief restructuring officer of Dubai World, Nakheel's parent.

"It needs to gain the agreement of the holders of three-quarters of the bond's value. It will also start a press campaign headed by senior members of the supreme fiscal committee and department of finance.

Reuters, "Dubai house prices seen extending falls on debt crisis" 11/29/09
"Dubai's property market is likely to face further price falls and increased concerns over the availability of finance after the emirate said it would delay debt payment issued by two of its flagship firms, analysts said."

Associated Press, "Report: Indebted Dubai World rejected asset sale", 11/29/09
"Dubai World "totally rejected the idea of selling some of its good investment and real estate assets at low prices," a company official was quoted as saying by Al-Itihad newspaper on Sunday.

"The official said that any asset sale needed to be in a "commercially fair manner in order to achieve (Dubai World's) long-term strategic objectives, away from ... economic pressures."

AFP, "Dubai faces first test as finance hub", 11/28/09
"'What happens next and, more pertinently, how critical decisions are disclosed will cement its continuing credibility and its place as a financial centre,' said Cubillas Ding, senior analyst at Celent research and consultancy group.

'Dubai's untested financial legal system is now facing its first real test in relation to how it deals with the international community. No one wants to play in a playground where the rules are unclear,' he said.

The Sunday Telegraph, Abu Dhabi will not race to Dubai's rescue", 11/29/09
"In particular, advisers have suggested ring-fencing the problem debts, particularly from Nakheel, the Dubai World subsidiary, and putting them into a separate run-off.

"The model could resemble the “good-bank/bad-bank” structure imposed on Northern Rock – whereby the toxic assets were separated off, leaving the rest of the bank to recover normally.

The Sunday Telegraph, "Emirates Group boss says Dubai business world 'in shock'", 11/29/09
"The British boss of Dubai's flagship airline told The Sunday Telegraph: "We are all a bit shocked by what's happened and the global fall-out of the past 48 hours. But Dubai will navigate itself out of this, as will we. I am confident that the airline will not be affected by this."

The Sunday Telegraph, "Dubai: an emirate in crisis", 11/29/09. This is a long, detailed overview of the entire situation facing Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
"Dubai is in trouble. We already knew that, long before the announcement last week that it wanted to delay payments on billions of dollars of debts owed by its Dubai World (DW) state holding company. But the trouble caused by a collapse in the property market put the city on a par with other states around the globe. This announcement was of a different order. It damaged the credibility of the city's government and, by extension, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as a whole.

Bloomberg, "Dubai World May Pay Nakheel Sukuk by Deadline, National Says", 11/28/09
"Nakheel PJSC, the Dubai-owned developer whose parent is seeking to delay debt payments, may still meet the Dec. 14 deadline to pay a 14.7 billion United Arab Emirates dirham ($4 billion) Islamic bond, The National said, without citing anyone.

Reuters, "Abu Dhabi to aid Dubai 'case by case' - official", 11/28/09
"Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates and one of the world's top oil exporters, will 'pick and choose' how to assist its debt-laden neighbour Dubai, a senior Abu Dhabi official said on Saturday.

"'We will look at Dubai's commitments and approach them on a case-by-case basis. It does not mean that Abu Dhabi will underwrite all of their debts,"'the official in the government of the emirate of Abu Dhabi told Reuters by phone.

Khaleej Times, "Restructuring 'A Sensible Business Decision'", 11/28/09
"The Dubai government sought to reassure financial markets about its plans to seek a six-month delay in debt payments for its flagship Dubai World conglomerate, saying the restructuring plan was 'a sensible business decision' that aims to ensure the group’s long-term success.

"In a statement issued late on Thursday night, Shaikh Ahmad bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Supreme Fiscal Committee, said that the government understood the concerns of creditors and had anticipated the market reaction to its unexpected request.

The Telegraph, "Rothschild appointed to help sell Dubai World assets", 11/28/09
"Paul Reynolds, head of Rothschild's advisory operations in the Middle East, was this week asked to work for the Dubai government's chief restructuring officer alongside Aidan Birkett of Deloitte, who was appointed on Wednesday.

"The team is tasked with assessing the group's assets, which is likely to result in a large scale sell-off of assets as varied as the QE2 cruise liner; Turnberry, the golf course that hosted this year's Open Championship; and a raft of properties.

"A spokesman for the Dubai department of finance confirmed that all options and asset sales would be considered, except for the DP World subsidiary that bought P&O, the British ports company.

The Canadian Press, "Official: Dubai World's debt delay request made with 'full knowledge' of market reaction", 11/27/09
"A top Dubai finance official said the emirate fully expected fallout from its debt problems and assured foreign creditors that Dubai World's request to postpone payment on some of its $60 billion in debt was 'carefully planned.'

"The comments by Sheik Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, the chairman of Dubai's Supreme Fiscal Committee, came as world markets reacted in shock to what some analysts indicated amounted to a default Dubai World, the city-state's key engine of growth with interests ranging from ports to real estate.

"Ahmed said the emirate's leadership thought long and hard, weighing creditors' interests, before announcing they were seeking a 'standstill' on Dubai World's debt until at least May.

The Independent, "Dubai expansion fuelled by years of cheap money", 11/27/09
"Worries over Dubai's ability to pay its debts come after years of expansion fuelled by cheap money - bringing a huge potential headache for UK banks.

FT Alphaville, "UAE vs NewsCorp", 11/29/09
"The leaders of the United Arab Emirates don’t take too kindly to criticism, according to a report by Zawya Dow Jones: 'The Sunday London Times newspaper was removed by authorities from shelves in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday amid intensive reporting of Dubai’s debt problems, an executive at the paper said.'

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