Dubai may be forced to provide further financial support to its state-owned companies in 2012 as their try to overcome $12bn of refinancing needs, according to ratings agency Moody’s.
Dubai Holding Commercial Operations Group (DHCOG), Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafz) and DIFC Investments have been singled out by Moody’s as particularly at risk of not being able to refinance their debts without state help.
The three firms have $3.8bn of debt maturing in 20012, but David Staples, managing director of corporate finance at Moody’s, says “there is $13bn of direct debt at Dubai strategic entities that might need support”.
It is unclear if Dubai has the resources to provide additional bailouts to state-owned firms. In July, 2009 the Dubai Financial Support Fund (DFSF) was established to administer funds raised by the government to troubled state-owned firms. About $18bn was raised for the DFSF and much of this is understood to have been already allocated.
“We think Dubai has ways of manoeuvring support for these entities, but there is still some question on the execution and timeliness of it being able to do so,” says Staples.
The comments are some of the clearest indications yet that Dubai has not yet managed to overcome the effects of the bursting of its real-estate bubble that was funded mainly by short-term debt raised at government-owned companies. In late 2009, the emirate shocked global financial markets by launching a restructuring of about $25bn of debt at Dubai world and its real-estate arm, Nakheel.
Moody’s estimates the total debt on Dubai and its state-owned firms to be $101.5bn. The most serious refinancing risk for Dubai in 2012 is likely to be a AED7.5bn ($2bn) sukuk for Jafz that matures in November. Bankers close to the company say it is already exploring refinancing options for the deal.
DHCOG has a $500m bond due for repayment in February next year, and Staples warns that any failure to repay that bond on time could lead to ratings downgrades for other Dubai firms, such as Jafz and DIFC Investments.