Nakheel mulls more Islamic bond issuance

City A.M. Reporter
NAKHEEL is in preliminary talks to list an Islamic bond, part of its restructuring plan, on Nasdaq Dubai and a “good percentage” of banks have agreed to the developer’s repayment plan, its chairman said yesterday.

Ali Rashid Lootah said he was “very confident” the builder of islands in the shape of palms will complete the restructuring by the end of the year.

“It is on the way. We have achieved a good percentage,” Lootah said told reporters when asked about banks agreement on the plan. “We are in the final stages of negotiation and we are confident we will reach an agreement in the near future.”

Under Nakheel’s restructuring plan, trade creditors have been offered 40 per cent of what they are owed in cash and the remaining 60 per cent through a sukuk, or Islamic bond.

Conglomerate Dubai World has near-unanimous approval for its $24.9bn debt plan, it said in September. But Nakheel – its flagship property arm undergoing parallel negotiations – has yet to secure backing needed for the plan.

An industry executive said on Tuesday he expected the sukuk to be worth around 6bn dirhams ($1.63bn).

“We are just doing a preliminary talk and preliminary investigation,” Lootah said when asked if the company had applied to list the bond on the Nasdaq Dubai exchange.

Dubai contractor Arabtec’s chief financial officer Ziad Makhzoumi said late last month that Nakheel had applied for the listing on Nasdaq Dubai. Nakheel said it has already repaid trade creditors 4.6bn dirhams as part of the plan.

Lootah’s comments on the restructuring affirmed the time-frame for completion of the deal that Nakheel chief executive Chris O’Donnell gave in late September.

Nakheel said it has about 85 per cent of acceptances, by value, for its debt restructuring and was “well on target to achieve its 95 per cent acceptance of all payables and claims within the near future”.

Nakheel has recently announced the restart of several projects and expects to start building again on all-short term projects by the end of October. It is looking expand its retail business with the expansion of its Dragonmart mall and possibly Ibn Battuta mall in Dubai early next year.