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Friday, 3 July 2009

Belgian Market Regulator Urges Extra Vigilance in Iran Deals

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Belgian market regulator CBFA urged “increased vigilance” in financial dealings with Iran, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan. CBFA, in a statement posted on its Web site yesterday, said the warning was “in the framework of the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism.”END

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Cold water poured on Whitbread rumours

One tale — possibly spurious — doing the rounds was that Whitbread, which owns Premier Inn, could soon be back in talks with Dubai International Capital (DIC) about a tie-up with Travelodge, the budget hotel operator backed by the sovereign wealth fund. Whitbread, Travelodge and DIC tried to do the deal last year but it fell apart over price and structure.

Yesterday, leisure analysts picked up on unsubstantiated gossip that DIC has been informally sounding out potential buyers of Travelodge. One way for DIC to exit the business would be to fold it into London-listed Whitbread and retain a stake in the merged businesses, said an analyst.

Travelodge declined to comment. However, a person close to the situation played down the tale, saying a deal is unlikely because it would be referred to the competition authorities. Whitbread perked up 9½ to 826p.

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Oaktree Capital teams up with Dubai International Capital to keep hold of Almatis

US distressed debt specialist Oaktree Capital has stepped in to try and help Dubai International Capital secure control of its German aluminium producer, Almatis, through a debt restructuring, the Financial Times reports.

According to the report, Oaktree and sovereign wealth fund DIC announced yesterday that they will work together on a restructuring plan to underwrite a cash injection and reduce the company’s debt, currently around $1bn. They said the move would allow them to “take advantage of current opportunities and to maximise long-term growth prospects.”

DIC chief executive Sameer Al Ansari said in a statement that the fund was still committed to Almatis and did not want to sell it.

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