North Africa/Middle East

Glencore Plc has restructured a $500 million oil-for-cash loan to Kurdistan in northern Iraq, reducing payments for 2020 as the semi-autonomous region struggles due to low petroleum prices, Bloomberg News reported. The pre-payment deals have been popular among some African and Middle Eastern producers with few others ways of raising funds. But they have also proved controversial, in some cases creating an opaque form of debt that puts governments’ finances under strain when oil prices drop.

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The Jordanian Cement Factories Company said on Sunday that it was filing for insolvency, citing adverse financial conditions, worsening as a result of the novel coronavirus, as the reasons for the move, the Jordan Times reported. Insolvency is a state of financial distress in which someone or a company is unable to pay its bills.

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Lebanese lawmakers urged the government to avoid a default on its local-currency debt and asked it to reevaluate central bank liabilities to help secure a critical bailout from the International Monetary Fund, Bloomberg News reported. Member of parliament Ibrahim Kanaan said Wednesday that the IMF held a meeting with lawmakers earlier this month and told them Lebanon faces a choice of “no reform, no program” -- referring to the $10 billion loan the government is trying to negotiate with the Washington-based lender.

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KBBO Group, whose chairman is a significant shareholder in troubled hospital group NMC Health, said on Wednesday it had hired advisers to restructure outstanding liabilities, Reuters reported. The group has appointed Trussbridge Advisory and PwC Middle East as financial experts, while Hadef & Partners LLC and Cleary Gottlieb Steen and Hamilton LLP have been appointed as legal advisers, it said in a statement. It did not disclose its outstanding debt.

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Dubai World has made a final $8.2bn payment to creditors, ending the most complicated and highest-profile restructuring to stem from the debt crisis that almost overwhelmed the Gulf emirate a decade ago, the Financial Times reported. Dubai was forced to raise $20bn in emergency loans in 2009 to cope with the credit crunch and to prevent a default by Dubai World’s main real estate arm that was heavily exposed to the then collapsing property market.

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Fitch Ratings treats some amend and extend (A&E) exercises initiated by stressed corporate borrowers as distressed debt exchanges (DDEs), eventually leading to restricted defaults (RDs), Fitch Ratings reported. Since the coronavirus pandemic began affecting Europe in March 2020, Fitch has classified 11 transactions in its EMEA bond and loan portfolio as DDEs, which will contribute to default rates rising towards 4%-5% by end-2020 from 1% in 2019.

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Saudi Arabia’s economy will shrink by 6.8% this year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Wednesday, a sharper decline than the 2.3% contraction estimated in April, as low oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic hit the kingdom hard, Reuters reported. In an update of its April World Economic Outlook forecast, the IMF said it now expects a deeper global recession in 2020 and a slower recovery in 2021, as the coronavirus crisis intensifies in many emerging and developing countries.

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Saudi Binladin Group failed to pay thousands of employees as the construction giant reels under the impact of coronavirus and restructures about $15 billion of debt, Bloomberg News reported. The conglomerate missed some salary payments in April and May, according to people with knowledge of the matter. It’s not clear yet whether the company, which employs about 100,000 staff, will be able to pay those employees in June, the people said, asking not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.

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