Ratings agency predicts Dubai asset sales will take time

16 February 2010

Dubai World attempts to restructure $22bn debt

The sale of assets owned by Dubai government-backed companies is “potentially a long and drawn out process,” according to ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service.

The agency says, while Dubai World may not have a choice about having to sell assets fast as part of its debt restructuring process, other organisations such as Dubai Holding may be able to take more time to dispose of non-core assets.

“We believe that further major asset sales will constitute one of the conditions of any amicable restructuring agreement with Dubai World’s creditor banks,” says Philipp Lotter, corporate analyst at Moody’s.

Dubai World has already began the sale process for Inchcape Shipping Services, which is held through its investment subsidiary Istithmar.

The latter has already sold real estate assets in London and the US. The sales are linked to Dubai World’s attempts to restructure about $22bn debt.

“At the moment, Dubai in general will be hard pressed to avoid the stigma of a distressed asset sale,” says Lotter.

He adds that Dubai Holding is under less immediate pressure to sell off assets, but may do so in an attempt to return to its core business.

Other assets, he suggests, that could be put up for sale include Dubai International Capital’s 35 per cent stake in Tunisie Telecom, purchased in 2006 for $2.25bn, and Dubai International Financial Centre’s 2.2 per cent stake in Germany’s Deutsche Bank.

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