Dubai firm to retain Europe units for 2011

City A.M. Reporter
Dubai International Capital (DIC) will not sell any European assets before the end of 2011, its chief investment officer said yesterday, as it waits for their value to rise.

The private equity arm of Dubai Holding, the investment vehicle owned by the ruler of Dubai, is undergoing a debt restructuring.

“It’s fair to say that our expectation is that our companies will continue, appreciate in value, over the next several years, so why sell now?” CIO David Smoot said on the sidelines of an Abu Dhabi conference on private equity.

He added that even 2011 would be too early to sell any European assets: “Now is not the right time,” he said.

DIC’s assets include UK hotel chain Travelodge and European aluminium maker Almatis Holdings.

“We see 2011 as a time when we will return to growth,” Smoot said.

Last month Almatis said it had emerged from US bankruptcy proceedings earlier than initially planned. The company filed for bankruptcy earlier this year with more than $1bn (£629m) in debt, which stemmed from a 2007 leveraged buyout by DIC.

Months of wrangling ensued between DIC and Oaktree Capital Management, which invests in ailing companies, over how to reorganise Almatis.

The current plan will pay off Oaktree and other senior lenders in full. Dubai Holding faces challenges to meet some $14.8bn in obligations.