North Africa/Middle East

It was heralded as Dubai's crowning achievement but the cash-strapped emirate was forced to swallow its pride today and rename the world's tallest building after its financial rescuer - the ruler of its oil-rich neighbour, The Australian reported. The humiliating announcement was made by Dubai’s own leader at the dazzling launch of the $1.5 billion Burj Dubai, which will now be known as Burj Khalifa in honour of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates.
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Dubai must raise funds to feed its mushrooming debt but the Gulf emirate dreads imposing taxes to avoid breaking a business model that helped turn it from a lazy fishing town to a regional trade and tourism hub, Reuters reported. Selling some prized assets appears to be an easier option. Dubai, one of seven members of the United Arab Emirates federation, and state-linked firms owe an estimated $80 billion of debt borrowed to fuel a boom, when Dubai branded itself as a tax-free destination for foreign workers and businesses.
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Bankers expect Dubai World to make a formal request for a standstill on its $26 billion debt at Monday's creditor meeting, but it could be more than a month before banks agree, bankers said on Friday. Banks are expected to support Dubai World's request, but what happens next will depend on the information they receive about the health of its finances, as the scale and complexity of the restructuring and its political overtones put creditors in uncharted territory.
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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) government is set to announce a new bankruptcy law "within months" aimed at providing legal protection for companies in financial strife, local newspaper Gulf News reported Wednesday. "The government is working on issuing a comprehensive bankruptcy/insolvency law that will protect businesses under financial stress and help them move forward," the report quoted Hamad Bu Amim, director general of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as saying. "There are certain provisions for insolvencies in our Companies Laws.
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Abu Dhabi's decision to offer Dubai financial succour has bought time for the debt-laden emirate to restructure its troubled Dubai World conglomerate, but the former boom town still faces a severe test, the Financial Times reported in an analysis. Dubai World holds most of the emirate's credit pile, and despite the $10 billion (€6.8 billion, £6.1 billion) support extended yesterday by Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates capital, the conglomerate must still restructure its debts.
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The International Banking Corp., a Bahrain-based provider of commercial loans, filed a Chapter 15 bankruptcy petition, seeking protection from U.S. creditors, The China Post reported. TIBC had assets of US$4 billion and liabilities of US$2.6 billion as of July 31, according to documents filed in Manhattan court Monday. TIBC is under administration proceedings in Bahrain, with Trowers & Hamlins Services Ltd. acting as administrator, and Zolfo Cooper hired for restructuring work.
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Dubai, the recipient yesterday of a $10 billion bailout from Abu Dhabi, has yet to convince investors it will meet all of its obligations, Bloomberg reported. Debt from Dubai state-controlled entities DP World Ltd., Dubai Commercial Operations Group LLC and Nakheel PJSC remains as much as 28 percent lower than before the emirate said on Nov. 25 it was seeking a “standstill” from creditors. Standard & Poor’s said it won’t automatically reverse downgrades made to ratings on state entities since the announcement.
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Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said that European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Oil-rich Abu Dhabi on Monday provided $10 billion to help pay off some of the debts of an ailing property company owned by the government of neighboring Dubai, at least temporarily averting a crisis over the finances of the high-flying desert sheikhdom, The Washington Post reported.
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The price drop in bonds related to Dubai World's real-estate subsidiary has posed a question for investors: Does the discounted debt represent an attractive buying opportunity or an ill-advised journey into the uncharted world of debt restructurings of this size in the Persian Gulf? Bonds of real-estate subsidiary Nakheel dropped in value after the Gulf city-state said last week that it was delaying payment of state-run Dubai World's debt, The Wall Street Journal reported.
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Dubai's debt problems clouded national day celebrations in the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday -- at least for a shaken financial community trying to work out whether any of their loans enjoy government protection, Reuters reported. Flags, fairy lights and fanfare marked the UAE's 38th anniversary at a moment when Dubai's request for a payment delay on $26 billion of debt owed by government-owned Dubai World has exposed the frailties of "quasi-sovereign" lending.
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