Dubai World commits to repay debt

Following a leadership change of struggling state-run conglomerate, the new chairman gives creditors assurances.

    Dubai World, whose interests include seaports and hotels, pledges to repay its creditors [Bilal Randeree/AJE] 

    Dubai World's new chairman has stressed the indebted state conglomerate's commitment to repaying its creditors as it reorganises its business.

    Sheik Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum made the comments on Monday during the first meeting of the company's new board, according to a statement from Dubai's media office.

    He was picked to lead the sprawling state conglomerate following a shakeup of the company's leadership last week.

    "Sheik Ahmed emphasised adopting a strategy that aims at optimising Dubai World's performance along with that of its related companies, and fortifying its financial position, which in turn will enable the company to meet its financial and contractual commitments," the statement said.

    The new chairman, a top aide and uncle of Dubai's ruler, also runs the city-state's airline Emirates.

    Dubai World, whose holdings include seaports, Las Vegas real estate and high-end retailer Barneys New York, earlier this year got creditors to agree to new terms on repaying $24.9bn of debt.

    Its Nakheel property subsidiary is still working on securing a similar deal for at least $10.5bn in debt it owes.

    Asset shedding

    The International Monetary Fund estimates Dubai and its many state-linked companies owe as much as $109bn.

    A number of the firms have begun shedding assets to raise cash.

    Borse Dubai, a state-owned company that runs Dubai's stock exchanges, last week halved its stake in exchange operator Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. to help cover a $2.45bn loan coming due in February.

    An unsourced report this week in London's Sunday Times said the emirate's oil-rich neighbour Abu Dhabi was seeking to buy up some of Dubai's financial assets, including Borse Dubai's 20 per cent stake in the London Stock Exchange, for $1.5bn.

    Representatives for Borse Dubai and the London Stock Exchange declined to comment on a possible sale.

    But the governor of the Dubai International Financial Centre banking hub, one of the assets mentioned in the article, strongly denied that any deal was in the works, according to comments published Monday in the UAE daily al-Bayan.

    Ahmed al-Tayer told the newspaper "there are no offers from Abu Dhabi," the richest of the seven sheikdoms that make up the United Arab Emirates, which came to Dubai's rescue with a $10bn bailout a year ago.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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