Deloitte's Birkett Faces Struggle With Dubai Sheiks

Aidan Birkett, the man charged with sorting out Dubai World's $26 billion debt pile, could face an uphill struggle to restructure the company that's at the heart of the emirate's financial crisis, Dow Jones reported. Birkett, 56, managing director of Deloitte's corporate finance department, was parachuted in last month as chief restructuring officer of Dubai World. He has little time to work his magic, with creditors already baying for blood as the maturity of a $3.52 billion sukuk, or Islamic bond, issued by Dubai World's real-estate unit Nakheel approaches on Dec. 14. Having led Deloitte's 1,200-strong corporate finance team in the U.K. for five years, Birkett is an experienced hand in the world of company restructuring but less knowledgeable about the complexities of doing business in the Persian Gulf emirates and the idiosyncrasies of Dubai's secretive sheiks. In the past he has restructured over $100 billion of debt and successes include the overhauling of U.K companies MyTravel, London underground contractor Metronet and communications group Energis, which collapsed in 2002. Bankers say his biggest challenge will be getting Dubai's government to listen. It's unclear whether he'll be given a free hand to remodel Dubai World without the interference of the emirate's political elite. Read more. (Subscription required.)