x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Progress in 'complicated' Amlak restructuring

The restructuring of Amlak Finance, the Dubai-based, Sharia-compliant mortgage company, was "one of the most complicated issues", but a solution was near, said the Economy Minister Sultan Al Mansouri.

Amlak is in talks with creditors over proposals to restructure some US$2 billion of bank debt. Sammy Dallal / The National
Amlak is in talks with creditors over proposals to restructure some US$2 billion of bank debt. Sammy Dallal / The National

The restructuring of Amlak Finance, the Dubai-based, Sharia-compliant mortgage company, was "one of the most complicated issues", but a solution was near, said the Economy Minister Sultan Al Mansouri.

Amlak is in talks with creditors over proposals to restructure some US$2 billion (Dh7.34bn) of bank debt. It has faced financial uncertainty since the Dubai property crash of 2008, when its shares were suspended.

The situation is being treated with renewed urgency by the authorities. Mr Al Mansouri is the head of the special committee set up by the UAE Government to resolve Amlak's problems.

This week, it emerged that Dubai had set up a special judicial committee to consider creditor and customer claims against the company.

"We are waiting for creditors to look into the solution we have provided for them. It took time because Amlak is one of the most complicated issues.

"Not to forget the circumstances that surrounded the situation, we are at the end of providing the solution to the negotiations," said Mr Al Mansouri, according to a report by Dow Jones.

"The company is back to profitability and is performing well and we believe it will get out of its debt problem. We are now at the stage of negotiations to restructure these debts," he added.

A decree last month from Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, stated that "all Dubai courts, including Dubai International Financial Centre courts, may not consider or resolve any applications or claims concerning Amlak Finance and should refrain from hearing all applications and claims submitted to them".

Claims should instead be heard by a special committee of judges and lawyers, it said.

The decree is the second recent example of a special committee being set up to bypass the normal legal process, following the case with Zabeel Investments, also in restructuring talks.

Amlak's financial well-being is regarded as essential for the recovery of the UAE's property market.

Emaar Properties owns a 45 per cent stake in Amlak and said this week that it was aware of talks between the company and its creditors but was not directly involved via the creditors' coordination committee set up by lenders.

Creditors to Amlak include Emirates NBD and Dubai Islamic Bank. The international accounting firms PricewaterhouseCoopers and KPMG are advising creditors and Amlak, respectively. All declined to comment, as did Arif Alharmi, Amlak's chief executive.

 

fkane@thenational.ae