Dubai still faces refinancing risks: Moody's
Dubai, December 6, 2011
Dubai, which has restructured $41 billion of debt related to its flagship conglomerate and has about $10 billion due next year, faces refinancing risks related to some upcoming maturities, ratings agency Moody's said on Tuesday.
The emirate has clawed its way back from the depths of its 2009 debt crisis and seen an economic revival in trade and tourism.
But looming obligations mean it is not yet out of the woods and moves by Abu Dhabi firms to refinance their own upcoming debt may crowd weaker Dubai entities out of the market, Moody's said.
It said the main risk relates to three firms - Dubai Holding Commercial Operations Group (DHCOG), part of the ruler's private holding company, DIFC Investments (DIFCI) and Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA) - which has $3.8 billion due next year.
The rating agency anticipated less government support now than Dubai World received two years ago.
The Dubai government, backed by wealthy Abu Dhabi, supported Dubai World and its property arm Nakheel through the debt crisis but has since made clear it will only deploy its limited resources to back strategic entities.
'We believe it is DIFCI that is most likely to rely on direct government support in conjunction with refinancing its maturing debt obligations in 2012,' Moody's said, noting the Dubai government is directly exposed to DIFCI, which runs the city's financial freezone, having given it two loans.
The Financial Times said on Tuesday that Dubai had raised the prospect of restructuring some bonds and is pursuing other options to help state-related entities meet their obligations.
Those include raising $2 billion in funds from liquid local banks, the newspaper said.
'We are working hard to meet all our liabilities but times are different. We are more confident we can negotiate a commercial deal with bondholders,' a senior government official is quoted as saying in the article.
In addition to the Dubai World restructuring, Dubai entities have been refinancing loans over the past two years but there has been no default on a public bond.
In December 2009, Abu Dhabi stepped in with a last-minute lifeline to help Dubai avert an embarrassing default on a Nakheel Islamic bond. It subsequently paid off Nakheel's 2010 and 2011 bonds in full upon maturity. – Reuters