x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Dubai companies tackling debts

Dubai's largest companies are starting to deal with an estimated US$85 billion in debt and obligations.

DUBAI // Dubai's largest companies are starting to deal with an estimated US$85 billion (Dh312.2bn) in debt and obligations that will require repayments every few months in the years ahead. Dubai Holding said today it had fully paid off the last instalment of a three-year $300 million loan facility for its property developer, Sama Dubai. "As we have previously stated, Dubai Holding and its entities will meet their financial obligations in full and on the maturity date," said a spokesman for the company. "The Sama Dubai loan matured on October 5. The final instalment of $50m was settled on the same day." Sama Dubai is a property arm of Dubai Holding, a conglomerate owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Sama was merged with Dubai Properties and Tatweer earlier this year to form Dubai Properties Group. A merger of the group and Emaar Properties, the region's largest property developer, is under discussion, officials said. Chet Riley, an analyst at Nomura Securities, said the payment marked a new period where Dubai would have to refinance or pay large debts for the next two years. "2010 and 2011 are the 'hump' years for Dubai," he said. "We are just entering that period now." While the payment did not necessarily give an indication of how Dubai would deal with other significant payments coming due - such as Nakheel's $3.5bn Islamic bond that matures in December - it showed Dubai Holding was absorbing the issues of its subsidiary companies. A report from Deutsche Bank earlier this month said the UAE had refinanced about two thirds of $27.7bn of Eurobond and syndicated loan redemptions. Dubai, the report said, accounted for $19.3bn of the total obligations, while Abu Dhabi accounted for about $8.1bn. Still, Dubai had heavy obligations going forward, with an average annual redemption requirement of $12.5bn from 2010 to 2014, the report said. Caroline Grady, an economist at Deutsche Bank, wrote that the Nakheel Islamic bond due on December 14 was "seen as the litmus test of sovereign creditworthiness". There was some renewed market confidence in Dubai repaying its debts after Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the chairman of Dubai's Emirates Group and a member of the emirate's financial crisis committee, assured reporters on the first day of Cityscape Dubai that the debt would be repaid. The price on Nakheel's Islamic bond jumped 3.4 per cent on the news. bhope@thenational.ae