x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 25 November 2017

Dana Gas dismisses fresh restructuring proposal

New deal offered three-year maturity extension and London share listing

Sharjah-based Dana Gas says it has rejected a new offer. WAM
Sharjah-based Dana Gas says it has rejected a new offer. WAM

Dana Gas dismissed a new proposal from bondholders for the restructuring of US$700 million worth of sukuk, in the latest twist of an acrimonious dispute closely watched by Islamic finance practitioners.

The proposal has the support of more than 70 per cent of sukuk holders and includes a cash paydown of $300m. It has a maturity extension of three years, and the dual-listing of the energy firm’s shares - already listed on the Abu Dhabi stock exchange - in London, to facilitate greater access to capital markets.

“We have always wished to negotiate a consensual restructuring of the sukuk, in response to the company’s request for an extension,” said Andrew Wilkinson, of the lawyers, Weil, Gotshal & Manges, representing the ad hoc committee of sukuk holders, which includes Goldman Sachs and Blackrock.

“We hope that Dana’s management sees this as a good proposal which would deliver a stable capital structure going forward enabling value creation for all stakeholders.”

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However, a source close to Dana Gas said the company has already dismissed the offer as "unacceptable and unrealistic", saying it "doesn’t believe that the proposal accurately reflects the legal position of bondholders".

The company will continue to pursue a litigation strategy in London’s courts and Sharjah to restructure its debts, the person said.

Discussions between Dana Gas and its sukuk holders soured earlier this year, when the company claimed outstanding sukuk, due to mature in October, were not Sharia-compliant, and therefore illegal under UAE law.

Such a contention, and the decision to refer the matter to the talks, has unnerved Islamic finance practitioners in the UAE and the wider Islamic finance community.

In late July, the company said it would pursue a litigation driven-outcome with creditors, taking out injunctions against calls for payment in Sharjah and London.

Last month Dana Gas announced the settlement of a long-running dispute with the Kurdistan Regional Government, sending its shares soaring.

Under the terms of the settlement, the KRG agreed to pay Dana Gas and its partners a sum of $600m, together with a $400m payment to be allocated towards the consortium’s further investment in the region’s gasfields.

A further $1.24 billion due to the consortium was reclassified as outstanding costs, recoverable from future revenues generated by operations in the region.