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Friday, 27 November 2009

Dubai Debt May Be Higher Than $80 Billion, UBS Analysts Say

Dubai, the Persian Gulf emirate whose state-run companies are seeking to defer debt payments, may owe more than the $80 billion to $90 billion in liabilities assumed by investors, UBS AG analysts said in a note.

“Perhaps Dubai’s debt includes sizeable off-balance sheet liabilities that imply a total debt burden well above the $80 billion to $90 billion markets have estimated so far,” real estate analyst Saud Masud wrote in a note yesterday. “This could imply that the debt issued by Dubai in recent weeks is insufficient to meet upcoming redemptions.”

Dubai, which has said it will raise as much as $20 billion selling bonds to repay borrowings, said on Nov. 25 that state- run Dubai World, with $59 billion of liabilities, would ask creditors for a “standstill” agreement as it negotiates to extend debt maturities.

RBS Led Dubai World Lenders, HSBC May Have Most at Stake in UAE

Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc underwrote more loans than any institution to Dubai World, the state company seeking to reschedule debt, while HSBC Holdings Plc has the most at risk in the United Arab Emirates, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.

RBS, the largest U.K. government-controlled bank, arranged $2.3 billion, or 17 percent, of Dubai World loans since January 2007, JPMorgan said in a report today, citing Dealogic data. HSBC, Europe’s biggest bank, has the “largest absolute exposure” in the U.A.E. with $17 billion of loans in 2008, JPMorgan said, citing the Emirates Banks Association. Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC may be owed $1.9 billion by Dubai World, making it the largest creditor outside the emirate, said two people familiar with the companies.

“The market is very nervous about exposure to Dubai and RBS’s name has been associated with it as both a lender and a book runner,” said David Williams, a banks analyst at Fox-Pitt Kelton Ltd. in London. “People are concerned it’s going to produce a new wave of losses. Dubai is driving everything in the market at the moment.”

Dubai Crisis Means ‘Correction’ to Mobius, Risk Aversion to Das

Dubai’s attempt to reschedule debt may spur a “correction” in emerging markets, according to Mark Mobius, while the global slump in equities shows government spending alone won’t protect financial markets, Arnab Das of Roubini Global Economics said.

Mobius, who oversees about $25 billion of developing-nation assets as chairman of Templeton Asset Management Ltd., said a 20 percent drop for shares is “quite possible.” Stock volatility and risk aversion may jump as countries and companies default on loans, according to Das, the head of market research and strategy at RGE, the advisory firm founded by Nouriel Roubini.

Stocks retreated for a second day today, government bonds jumped and credit-default swaps climbed after Dubai World, the government investment company burdened by $59 billion of liabilities, sought to delay repayment of debt. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index has slumped 4.7 percent in the past two days after more than doubling from its 2009 low in March.

Iraq drilling firm to drill 180 wells in 2010

The state-run Iraq Drilling Company plans to drill 180 oil wells in 2010, and will be able to drill more than 250 new wells every year from 2011 onwards, the head of the company said.

Thirty of the new wells planned for 2010 will be in northern oilfields and 150 in the south, adding roughly 360,000 barrels of oil per day to Iraq's output capacity, Iraqi Drilling Company director Idrees al-Yassiri told Reuters in an interview.

The number of new wells next year will exceed the total number drilled in the 6-1/2 years since the U.S. invasion, he said on Thursday.


Foreign markets are getting hammered overnight and futures in the U.S. are down 3% as news of a potential default at Dubai World reignites fears of the credit crisis. We have been absolutely hammering home the fact that the “solution” to the credit crisis was in fact, not a solution at all. There remain massive debt issues home and abroad and Dubai is only the latest example of such.

Although details are still emerging, the Dubai news will prove to be more company specific than Lehman Bros. was. I don’t believe the news is a reason for investors to panic as loan losses from a potential Dubai default would represent a meager portion of total banking assets. Contagion does not appear to be a large concern either, but perhaps more important is the reminder that Dubai sends – these problems of massive global debts are far from being settled despite all the v-shaped economic recovery chatter. Dubai’s standstill is a reminder that real estate markets around the world remain unhealthy and susceptible to sudden and dramatic downturns. Whether this is a minor tremor in commercial real estate (and potentially a sign of impending aftershocks in residential) has yet to be seen, but make no doubt – we are not out of the credit crisis woods.

This does little to change my cautious investment outlook. We have been almost entirely cash since selling into the rally over a month ago at S&P1,100 and remain cautious on markets heading into the year-end. This confirms my belief that the recovery is very fragile and the road ahead is likely to be difficult primarily due to the fact that our cancer (debt) is still very much alive. The governments in the U.S. and abroad have done little to attack this problem. Unfortunately, I believe this is unlikely to be the last of these reminders in the coming years. These debts are likely to plague the economy until we find leaders that are courageous enough to stand up to the banks and the fiscally irresponsible participants of the global economy.

Sean O'Grady: Is Dubai the 'New Lehmans'?

Is Dubai the “New Lehmans”? Not quite, at least on the broad numbers. Lehmans went down with debts of $500bn; the disarray in Dubai looks like losing everyone involved about $80bn, certainly not much when set against the $2,700bn ($2.7trillion) of banking losses accumulated over this crisis.

But the blow to confidence, at a time when the world is trying to crawl out of the worst downturn in three quarters of a century, is far more grievous. It has already shaken the stock markets; the fear now gripping them has the potential to induce more panic and set back recovery by months, if not years. That is prospect too horrible to contemplate.

Fortunately, we have had sufficient experience of financial crises to know precisely what needs to be done now; swift, bold international action. As with Iceland, the Ukraine, Hungary and many other states, Dubai can and should be saved. The damage is containable. Aid must come from Dubai’s partners in the United Arab Emirates, especially oil-rich Abu Dhabi; from the Gulf Cooperation Council, dominated by Saudi Arabia; and from the IMF. Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund alone is worth about $700bn, the biggest in the world. So the funds are there to organise some sort of rescue; the political will must be found.

Dubai Royal Reassures Investors On Dubai World Debt Woe

A senior member of Dubai's royal family stepped in late Thursday to ease investor concerns that one of the sheikdom's main business conglomerates may default on its debt.
"Our intervention in Dubai World was carefully planned and reflects its specific financial position," said Sheik Ahmed bin Saeed al Maktoum, who heads a key Dubai finance committee and is chairman of its airline Emirates.

"The government is spearheading the restructuring of this commercial operation in the full knowledge of how the markets would react. We understand the concerns of the market and the creditors in particular. However we have had to intervene because of the need to take decisive action to address its particular debt burden," he said in an emailed statement.

"Like most global cities, Dubai has experienced its share of economic and social challenges in this global downturn. No market is immune from economic issues. This is a sensible business decision. We want to ensure resources are deployed in the full knowledge that they are used to enhance the businesses of the Dubai World Group, build on the restructuring that has already been taking place and ensure long term commercial success. Further information will be made available early next week," he said.

Shares in London plummeted Thursday a day after the sheikdom asked for a standstill on Dubai World's debt and dramatic restructuring of the company that has $60 billion in liabilities.END

Dubai’s Move on Debt Rattles Markets Worldwide

Global financial markets swooned Thursday, with London seeing its most precipitous drop in nearly nine months, a day after Dubai stunned investors with the news that it was asking banks to allow its main investment vehicle, Dubai World, to suspend its debt repayments for six months.

The announcement — the global high finance equivalent of a homeowner asking the bank to allow six months of skipped mortgage payments, presumably because the homeowner was out of cash — sowed fear of a contagion of instability that could roil markets that are only now recovering from the near cataclysm of the last year.

That possibility sent markets in London, Frankfurt and Paris spiraling downward, even as analysts struggled to explain which fears of contagion were legitimate and which were overwrought.

Dubai creditors have little option but to accept the hand they've been dealt

The restructuring of the $60bn (£36.4bn) of debt at the emirate's core holding company, which includes investment vehicle Istithmar and property developer Nakheel, will be the largest and toughest ever in the Gulf region. The few precedents are not encouraging for those who funded Dubai's grandiose vision.

Shocked creditors had expected timely repayment. Now, they are scrambling to form steering committees to liaise with Dubai World's new restructuring chief, Deloitte's Aidan Birkett. In practice, lenders can't really turn down the request for a six-month standstill and have little option but to wait for Dubai World to formulate a plan to address its sprawling debts.

Even if loans are secured and the underlying paperwork is comprehensive, the region's laws are unfriendly to creditors. It is almost impossible to seize collateral. The courts have consistently rejected claims by lenders to Kuwait's Global Investment and Investment Dar, financial firms which defaulted at the start of the year with combined liabilities of $5.5bn. In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, authorities even prioritised the claims of local lenders over the foreign banks which are estimated to be owed $16bn by two leading merchant families, the Saads and Algosaibis.

Abu Dhabi ascendant as debt spoils Dubai's "model"

Dubai's debt troubles have exposed the fallacy of its once much-vaunted "model" of raising shining cities in the desert with foreign residents, finance and labor.

They have also set in train a power shift toward Abu Dhabi.

On Wednesday, Dubai's government said it will ask creditors of two of its flagship firms, Dubai World and property group Nakheel, for a debt standstill as it restructures the Dubai World group.

Abu Dhabi Commercial Said Owed $1.9 Billion by Dubai

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC may be owed $1.9 billion by Dubai World, making it the largest creditor outside the emirate to the state company seeking to reschedule debt, said two people familiar with the companies.

“We are in touch with Dubai World, and we have been in discussions more than once today and yesterday,” Ala’a Eraiqat, the chief executive officer of the third-largest lender in the United Arab Emirates, said in a telephone interview yesterday. He declined to comment on specifics. “We have a lot of assurances which is a good thing.”

HSBC Holdings Plc and Standard Chartered Plc led declines in bank shares in Asia today, and European stocks fell the most in seven months yesterday after Dubai World said it would seek a “standstill” agreement to delay repayment on much of its $59 billion of debt. Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, Lloyds Banking Group Plc and Credit Suisse Group AG slumped yesterday on concern Dubai will rattle lenders recovering from the global credit freeze that has triggered $1.72 trillion in losses and writedowns.

Major lenders scramble to assess losses

Banks were scrambling to quantify potential losses in Dubai after Dubai World, the state’s holding company, shocked creditors by asking to halt debt repayments.

Lenders such as Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, Citigroup and Barclays stressed privately on Thursday that their exposure to Dubai World was limited or insignificant. But industry analysts suggested that a deterioration of economic conditions in the emirate could trigger billions in losses.

European banks might have up to $40bn (€27bn, £24bn) of exposure to debt issued by Dubai state-owned entities, according to a Credit Suisse research note published by Credit Suisse. Dubai World accounts for about $60bn of the city-state’s $80bn liabilities, of which analysts estimate half is held by European banks.

Tough love needed to rebuild the ruins

Sultan bin Sulayem, the chairman of Dubai World, was yesterday on the hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage, where he would have been with millions fasting and praying for forgiveness on Mount Arafat.

IInternational investors are in a less forgiving mood after the announcement that Dubai would be seeking a standstill agreement on the government holding company's debt pile, most immediately $4bn (€2.7bn, £2.4bn) owed on a bond held by the Nakheel property subsidiary that comes due on December 14.

The restructuring of Du-bai World's debt has been in the works for some time, but investors had grown confident that the Islamic bond, or sukuk, guaranteed by state-owned Dubai World, would be treated separately and paid off to maintain confidence in the trade and finance-oriented economy.

Investors scent property firesale

Real estate investors are preparing for a firesale of prime properties from London to New York should Dubai decide to raise cash by selling liquid assets held by its investment companies.

Istithmar, the investment arm of Dubai World, was one of the busiest investors in “trophy” properties during the global property boom.

Its investments range from the Adelphi in The Strand, London, and Grand Buildings in historic Trafalgar Square to the Mandarin Oriental hotel in New York and a stake in the Victoria & Albert Waterfront complex in Cape Town.

Ruler’s role under close scrutiny

During the spectacular boom years that saw Dubai rise from the desert into a globally recognised trading hub and tourist destination, it was common to hear the emirate’s success attributed to one man – Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum.

But for the past 12 months his hands-on style of leadership has come under scrutiny like never before as the economic crisis has shaken the foundations on which Dubai was built.

Sheikh Mohammed, who is also the United Arab Emirates prime minister, took over the reins of power in Dubai less than four years ago after the death of his brother, but was long considered the driving force behind the glitzy emirate’s development.

A breathtaking blunder in Dubai

Of all the glitzy emirates on the western shore of the Gulf, Dubai is easily the brashest. With the grenade it has just lobbed into the capital markets by calling for a six-month creditor standstill for its flagship Dubai World holding company, it is effortlessly living down to that reputation.

Dubai’s action looks like either a serious misjudgment or, more likely, a breathtaking cock-up.

Either way, it leaves a trail of unanswered questions that has done real damage to its reputation – and to its vaulting ambition to emerge as the region’s financial centre and trading hub, the Singapore and Hong Kong of the Gulf. Today, Dubai is looking more like Argentina, but less predictable – its behaviour is genuinely baffling.

A world-beater carried away by its success

September was an important month for Dubai, a time when schools reopened and the city could start counting how many of its expatriates, stung by the global financial meltdown, had departed.

To everyone’s surprise the classrooms were not empty and the exit from Dubai was not as dramatic as expected.

For many residents the city state might be burdened by an $80bn (€53.5bn, £48bn) debt – accounting for 100 per cent of gross domestic product – but, with a diversified economy and a more liberal culture than many of its neighbours, it remained the right place to be. The economic slowdown had even enhanced the lifestyle; it meant less traffic and fewer construction projects.

Dubai gambles with its financial reputation

When you start building a third island shaped like a palm tree, intending it to be as big and crowded as Manhattan, you are crying out for a sober voice to bark: “Stop!”

But when that island is just one atoll in an artificial archipelago that would reconfigure the Persian Gulf coast into a thicket of trees, a map of the world, a whirling galaxy, a scythe and a sun that looks like a spider, what you need is some corporate restructuring. That, we learnt on Wednesday, was exactly what holding company Dubai World, the parent of Dubai’s chief coastal developer Nakheel, would get.

Last year, Robert Lee, one of Nakheel’s executives, showed me a map of the future Dubai Waterfront as his company put the finishing touches on the more modest Palm Jumeirah, the skyscraper- and villa-crammed island that started the trend.

Confidence knocked in tarnished region

The revelation that Dubai World is seeking to reach a standstill agreement with its creditors will dent fragile confidence in a region tarnished by a reputation for lack of transparency.

It will also heap more speculation on the relationship between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the financial and political powerhouse of the United Arab Emirates, which was considered by some to be the guarantor of the federation’s poorer brethren.

Investors traditionally accepted implicit guarantees that Gulf governments would not allow a related entity to default on its debt.

Overnight markets: Turmoil

Stocks dropped around the world, reports Bloomberg, as Treasuries jumped and CDS climbed after Dubai’s sudden attempt to reschedule its debt. The dollar briefly fell below Y85, a 14-year low, boosting speculation Japan will intervene. US markets were closed Thursday for Thanksgiving, but futures on the S&P500 Index fell 2.2% on Friday. Asia bond risk meanwhile climbed, with the Markit iTraxx Japan index jumping as much as 23.5bp; it was up 18bp at 167bp mid-morning in Tokyo.

The Hajj and Eid al-Adha (Pictures taken from Haj 2008)

Eid Mubarak to all my subscribers and readers.

Today I woke to the sound of prayers taking place at Mosques within the area I live, in Dubai; wherever there is a Mosque this will be repeated until the sun has risen on the whole Western Hemisphere!

Now, at my early morning coffee shop, there are many individuals dressed in their smartest clothes and all with a smile on their face.

As a Christian I remain, after all these years in the Middle East, amazed at the level of Faith shown by so many people and from all stratas of society, long may it continue and not become diluted as appears to be the case with the Christian faith.

Long may it continue and hopefully the article images will help with the understanding of a religion, Islam, which at times is associated with the more unsavoury aspects of the human spirit.

Eid mubarak,