Dubai: Dubai International Capital (DIC), the private equity unit of the emirate’s flagship conglomerate Dubai Holding Llc, sought a three-month debt repayment delay on Thursday, in another blow to the emirate’s financial image.
“Dubai International Capital and a coordinating committee of banks today presented to lenders a request for a three-month extension to 30 September of certain maturities,” the company said in a statement.
DIC investment unit has a $1.25 billion (Rs5,950 crore) loan maturing in June, according to Reuters data and DIC has $2.6 billion in debt overall, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The new delay from one of the myriad of firms known as Dubai Inc. comes in the wake of the emirate’s shock request made last November to delay repayments on $26 billion of debt linked to Dubai World and its property units, which put global markets in a tailspin and heightened investors’ fears about sovereign and sovereign-linked issuers.
It also showed that the cash-strapped emirate still has some way to go before returning to financial health after the November debacle dented Dubai’s image as a glitzy seaside haven for the rich and famous.
“The point is that from the investor side this is not over,” said Saud Masud, a senior real estate analyst at UBS.
“Dubai Holding is not the last one; I wouldn’t leave out Abu Dhabi just yet... It’s not just Dubai’s but the whole of the UAE’s exposure to the real estate sector.”
“DIC is a little opaque. There’s a lot of need for more capital in the system and Dubai World was not the end of the game,” said Robert McKinnon, ASAS Capital chief investment officer.
“We will probably see more restructuring of Dubai entities, but on a smaller scale than Dubai World and I don’t think this announcement will be a catalyst for a new market crash.”
Speculation that Dubai Holding had also been badly hit by the financial crisis that badly damaged Dubai’s property market intensified in April, when one of it’s units, Dubai Holding Commercial Operations Group (DHCOG), delayed its 2009 results.
Trading in its Islamic bond, listed on Nasdaq Dubai, was then halted on 2 May. The delay was extended on 16 May, with DHCOG citing complexities in consolidating results of its units.
DIC’s parent Dubai Holding, which spans financial investments, hospitality and real estate and is owned by the emirate’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is thought to have around $15 billion in debt, according to analysts.
“DIC is more of a holding company and it holds a lot of illiquid assets and my guess would be that it is having difficulty offloading some of these assets,” said McKinnon.
Earlier in May, Dubai World reached a deal to restructure $23.5 billion of debt with its core lenders, addressing the most immediate of a string of problems facing investors in Dubai.
“Dubai World’s restructuring was effectively buying more time for it to work through its issues and it seems the same thing is happening with DIC,” McKinnon said.
DIC said the extension period to 30 September would allow for the implementation of a “consensual longer-term plan”, enabling DIC to maximise the value of its business for its stakeholders.