North Africa/Middle East

Saudi Arabia plans to issue a debut euro-denominated bond, part of a borrowing binge to meet the government’s ambitious spending targets, The Wall Street Journal reported. The bond is aimed at diversifying Saudi Arabia’s investor base, following predominantly dollar debt that has catapulted the kingdom up the ranks of emerging-market bond issuers. Subject to market conditions, Saudi Arabia is seeking to issue the bond in tranches of eight and 20 years, according to a marketing document provided by one of the arrangers Monday. The exact timing of the issuance isn’t clear.

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Slowing capital inflows to Lebanon and weaker deposit growth increase the risk of a debt rescheduling or other steps that may constitute a default despite fiscal consolidation measures in the 2019 draft budget, Moody’s Investors Service said. The draft budget aims to cut the deficit to 7.6% of gross domestic product from 11.5% last year, with Lebanese leaders warning the country faces financial crisis without reform, Reuters reported. Asked about the Moody’s credit analysis, Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said on Thursday “matters are under control”.

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On 13 June 2019, the much anticipated DIFC Insolvency Law No. 1 of 2019 and associated DIFC Insolvency Regulations 2019 (collectively the “2019 DIFC Insolvency Law”), came into full force and effect, replacing the DIFC Insolvency Law No. 3 of 2009, JD Supra reported. By way of context, the 2019 DIFC Insolvency Law applies only to entities registered and operating within the DIFC. The 2019 DIFC Insolvency Law aims to balance the needs of all stakeholders in the context of insolvency related situations in DIFC, and in doing so facilitate a more efficient and effective restructuring regime.

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The price of Lebanese government debt is once again in freefall as investors eye political infighting in Beirut and rising tensions across the Gulf, the Financial Times reported. Spreads on 10-year Lebanese dollar bonds over US Treasuries have widened to the highest levels since at least 2011, according to Bloomberg data. The price of five-year Lebanese credit default swaps, bought as a form of insurance against non-payment on the bonds, hit 921 basis points this week, a fifth higher than levels at the turn of the year.

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Dubai developer Damac is in pole position to buy troubled Italian fashion group Roberto Cavalli, a source close to the matter said on Wednesday, Reuters reported. Two other binding offers for the whole group have been submitted by Italy’s Diesel-owner OTB and U.S. brand management company Bluestar Alliance, the source said. Last Friday Cavalli said it had received five offers for the brand. The company and its private equity owner Clessidra both declined to comment.

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Palestinian finances are on the brink of ruin after the suspension of hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. aid, the head of the Palestine Monetary Authority (PMA) said on Tuesday, Reuters reported. The mounting financial pressures on the Palestinians’ self-ruling entity have sent its debt soaring to $3 billion (£2.3 billion), and led to a severe contraction in its estimated $13 billion GDP economy for the first time in years, Azzam Shawwa told Reuters.

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Three additional former executives of The Abraaj Group were charged in New York in a fraud investigation into the firm’s collapse last year that was the world’s biggest private-equity insolvency, Bloomberg News reported. Former Chief Financial Officer Ashish Dave, former Managing Director Rafique Lakhani and former Managing Director Waqar Siddique were charged with multiple counts including fraud and conspiracy, in an indictment unsealed Thursday. James Margolin, a spokesman for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, declined to say whether any of the men are in custody.

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The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) has enacted a new insolvency law which it said meets international best practice guidelines, International Adviser reported. The new Insolvency Law and Regulations, which comes into effect on 13 June 2019, creates a new debtor in possession bankruptcy regime which it said will place the DIFC “at the forefront of complicated debt restructurings”. Essa Kazim, governor of DIFC, said: “Ensuring that businesses and investors can operate across the region with confidence is crucial to our role in connecting the economies of East and West.

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Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum issued a new insolvency law on Tuesday for companies operating in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the largest financial hub in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, Reuters reported. The new law, due to come into effect in August, has been issued following the collapse of Dubai-based private equity firm Abraaj, which had a DIFC-regulated entity Abraaj Capital.

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Lebanon’s plan to bring its budget deficit back into single digits is a step in the right direction, but it needs to regain market access to keep default concerns at bay, Fitch’s rating analyst said on Thursday, Reuters reported. Heavily indebted Lebanon’s government approved a 2019 budget on Monday including deep spending cuts to narrow its projected deficit to 7.6% from 11% of gross domestic product (GDP) and stave off a financial crisis. Fitch put a ‘negative outlook’ - effectively a downgrade warning - on its ‘junk’ B- Lebanon rating in December.

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