Dubai Stocks Slump on Dubai World Concerns

DUBAI — Dubai shares fell to their lowest level in months on investor concerns that the government might be unwilling to sell its own assets to help repay the debts of the cash-strapped Dubai World conglomerate.

By Staff Report

Published: Tue 8 Dec 2009, 11:32 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 3:47 AM

Emaar, the UAE’s biggest property developer, slumped by 10 per cent, the maximum daily decline allowed under Dubai Financial Market rules. Union Properties closed at an eight-month low, while Emirates NBD, the country’s biggest bank by assets, retreated to its lowest share price since mid-September.

The Dubai Financial Market General Index skidded by 5.8 per cent to 1,744.83, its lowest close since July 22. The trading losses followed a 1.2 per cent rise in the DFM index on Sunday.

Representatives of Dubai World were to meet with bankers this week to discuss the group’s plans to restructure $26 billion of debt, including a $3.52 billion Islamic bond issued by real estate unit Nakheel that comes due on December 14.

The Dubai Department of Finance announced on Nov. 25 that Dubai World would seek a delay of at least six months in its debt payments. Dubai’s benchmark index has declined by 17 per cent since then.

“(The) articles of association of Dubai World stipulate that the emirate’s government shall not guarantee its debts,” the official Wam news agency quoted Department of Finance Director General Abdul Rahman Al Saleh as telling Al Jazeera television. He emphasized the distinction between the Dubai government and Dubai World.

Al Saleh left open the possibility that the group might sell some assets in the emirate or overseas. “Selling of some assets is a natural act in order to bolster the financial situation of the group in such circumstances,” the Wam report on Monday quoted him as saying.

Dubai World said on November 30 that its restructuring excluded firms that were on a “stable financial footing,” such as DP World, Istithmar World, and Jebel Ali Freezone. Many creditors and investors interpreted that statement to mean that Dubai World would not sell any assets belonging to its healthier companies.

“The question is now which assets and at what price,” said John Sfakianakis, chief economist at Banque Saudi Fransi-Credit Agricole Group in Riyadh. Al Saleh’s comments appeared to spook investors, many of whom had assumed that Dubai’s government had effectively guaranteed the debts of government-owned Dubai World.

“Dubai stocks have resumed their slide following yesterday’s technical bounce, and nervousness persists about debt restructuring issues,” said Mark Friedenthal, a fund manager at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank .

Emaar shares fell to Dh3.15 each, while Union Properties stock dropped by 9.3 per cent Dh0.68. Emirates NBD shed 4.8 per cent to Dh3.77.

Abu Dhabi’s index dropped by 1.7 per cent, following a jump of 3.9 per cent on Sunday. Dubai World includes hard-hit property companies Nakheel and Limitless World. While the group operates in many industries, Al Saleh of the Department of Finance said that only the real estate sector has been affected by the international financial crisis, according to the Wam report.

He added that “it is better and wise (for Dubai World) to delay projects that have not been executed yet,” Wam said.

· with inputs from agencies

· —

More news from Business