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Saturday, 25 April 2009

Dubai Gets Its Breathing Room

Two months after receiving a $10 billion lifeline, Dubai's government says it has disbursed more than half of that money to indebted companies, allowing them to pay off bills and refinance debt.

The quick payouts have provided breathing room for a handful of government-controlled companies. Dubai also has recently stepped in to fill funding gaps for certain Dubai entities that were unable to refinance or pay off debt on their own.

This has reassured markets that Dubai, for the time being, can support its overstretched companies. The cost of insuring Dubai-related debt against default soared earlier this year but has fallen back again.

We have to let our actions speak for us

When someone is chosen by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to act as his personal head of finance and administration, they know they have arrived.

They are handed an incredible responsibility and cannot afford to slip – ever. It is as demanding as it is rewarding. One would expect to stumble, falter and crumble under the pressure. But Nasser Al Shaikh would have none of that.

Appointed to Sheikh Mohammed's Executive Office in 2001, the son of leading businessman Hassan bin Al Shaikh, had no idea he would become one of Dubai's most influential, trusted and powerful people.

Abu Dhabi's Ipic raising new loan of up to $5b

Abu Dhabi government-owned International Petroleum Investment Company (Ipic) is raising a new loan of up to $5 billion, banking sources close to the deal said on Thursday.

The loan, which will be co-ordinated by Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, HSBC and Santander, will be used to finance IPIC's recent acquisitions, a banker close to the deal said.

"The loan does not finance a specific acquisition, it finances IPIC's recent acquisition spree," he added.

Contractors get paid as developers use bond issue

Dubai construction companies are starting to get paid as Government-backed property developers tap into the first half of the US$10 billion (Dh36.7bn) bond issue.

Contractors have struggled to get their dues in the past six months as developers grapple with cash flow issues, but some are beginning to see payments trickling through.

Nasser al Shaikh, the director general of the Dubai Department of Finance, said this week that firms had drawn Dh18.3bn from the bond, with the main recipients being property companies.

Thaw between Turkey and Armenia shifts alliances in South Caucasus

A rapprochement between Turkey and Armenia this week provided further evidence of a shift in the balance of power in the South Caucasus that is propelling gas-rich Azerbaijan closer to Russia, analysts said.

The process that began when Georgia went to war with Russia last summer over its breakaway territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, could jeopardise European plans to reduce dependence on Russian gas by importing extra Caspian supplies. Azerbaijan views the announcement on Wednesday by its ally Turkey and historic foe Armenia of plans to normalise ties as a betrayal that would leave it relatively isolated in the South Caucasus, where Armenia already enjoys strong ties with Russia and Iran.

Ilham Aliev, the president of Azerbaijan, has intensified pressure on Turkey, suggesting during a visit to Moscow this month for talks about gas and the disputed region of Nagorno Karabakh, that a Turkish betrayal could hit bilateral gas trade.