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The debt days are over-uh huh?

The debt days are over-uh huh?

Dubai Group says there is no reason to worry. Analysts say Dubai debt will be manageable this year. Meanwhile, UAE banks tighten strings to mitigate overspending by public establishments. What to make of it all?

February 6, 2012 4:49 by



Can you spot the trend? Today, Kipp’s going to take a step back from being the usual perpetrator of logic and sense in the world that we know we are. So, your challenge, should you chose to accept it, is to tell Kipp what you make of three linked stories in the local press today.
First things first, The National reports of the staunchly strong and positive stand from a spokesman from Dubai Group who claims restructuring is still a possibility despite a report suggesting the Dubai’s Supreme Fiscal Committee had walked away from the deal. Dubai Group owes $10 billion, but has refused to comment on the negotiations except to say: “Dubai Group is still in discussions with lenders and is fully committed to reaching a consensual agreement that is reasonable for all stakeholders” from a rather selective Dubai Group spokesman.
Of the $10 billion owed by Dubai Group, $6 billion is owed to banks.
Speaking of banks, Emirates 24/7 reported that the UAE has told its banks that they are not allowed to give loans out to federal departments (oh yeah, did we mention Dubai Group is owned by Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed?) without prior consent from the cabinet.
“All banks are asked not to allow federal departments to overdraft on their accounts or give them any loans without a prior cabinet consent,” said the circular, published in the Arabic language daily Al Khaleej.
And yet, a recent report from analysts suggests that Dubai isn’t going to keel over and gag over its mounting debt this 2012. In fact, analysts from Lebanese Bank Audi analysts said in a report that Dubai is “indeed likely to be able to manage the rollover of its 2012 debt maturities through a combination of internal cash generation, potential asset sales and market refinancing.”
The fabulous words seem to echo the very sentiments investment bank JP Morgan conveyed in a report released last month that Dubai will be Ay-OK:“The $14-billion wall of debt maturities at Dubai GREs next year is not nearly as daunting as the headline number suggests.” Thank you, JP Morgan analyst Zafar Nazim for those cherry words of sunshine.
Many of us are no strangers to positive outlook companies and analysts tend to give at the end of the year, so that’s nothing new. In fact, such optimism may just be the key to get markets jumpstarted, just as we’ve seen markets move based on pure assumptions so many times before.
But there are also some realities that creditors and investors will need to accept—that this year isn’t going to be a very realistic target to settle or restructure debts like Dubai Group’s $10 billion burden.
All things considered, we mustn’t push aside what could be the underlying motives for the move to drop debt talks with Dubai Group, and that somehow it could very well be an indication that 2012 is going to be the breaking point year for Dubai. And of course nobody’s looking to see anyone fail here, all we can hope for is that losses are lessened.


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