x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Dana shares plunge as sukuk deadline passes

It goes down to the wire, as Dana Gas reaches a $920m sukuk maturity deadline - but all parties are still in talks.

Dana Gas shares fell sharply as a deadline for the repayment of its US$920 million (Dh3.37 billion) sukuk passed and the company said it was still in discussion with creditors.

The announcement to the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) set the company's shares falling by 8.8 per cent to 41 fils each.

"Dana Gas confirms - as previously reported - that it has been engaged in discussions with the adhoc committee of sukuk certificate holders to reach a consensual solution to the restructuring of the sukuk, which it believes to be in the best interests of all stakeholders," said the company.

"The company will update the market as soon as it is appropriate and in accordance with ADX regulations."

Sources close to the Sharjah-based company said on Tuesday that it had secured a six-month standstill agreement with creditors.

A standstill agreement postpones the possibility of default, as creditors would agree not to press claims against Dana Gas, though interest payments would continue to accrue.

The fact that Dana was still in negotiation with creditors as it crossed the repayment deadline was a first for the country, said Gus Cheyaheb, the director of research at Exotix, a specialist investor in illiquid debt.

"This is the first bond that's been up for debate since Nakheel," he said. "All other bonds have been paid off over the last three years on time and in full."

Nakheel, the developer of the Dubai's man-made islands, requested a standstill on its debts in November 2009, sparking a crisis at parent Dubai World.

Both companies' obligations at the time far exceeded Dana's $920m bond repayments.

Dana Gas bonds yesterday extended a sharp sell-off from Tuesday, having fallen 8.65 cents on their dollar value during the past two days.

The sukuk are trading at a 30.15 per cent discount to par value at 69.85 cents on the dollar.

Dana Gas is able toinvoke a three-day grace period before a default would be declared. HSBC, the agent for the bondwhich would declarethe default should it happen, declined to comment.

Dana Gas was the most actively traded stock on the ADX yesterday and declined the most as 19 million shares changed hands. The market measure was flat at 2,672.43 points, steadied by a sharp rise in National Bank of Umm Al Qaiwain's shares.

Crescent Petroleum, Dana's biggest shareholder, said late last month that it would not bail out Dana.

ghunter@thenational.ae