North Africa/Middle East

In normal times, Ziad Hassan, a grocery store manager in Beirut, would get a daily email from his chain’s management telling him which prices needed to be adjusted and by how much. But as Lebanon’s currency has collapsed, sending the economy into a tailspin, the emails have come as often as three times a day, ordering price increases across the store, the New York Times reported. “We have to change everything,” an exasperated Mr. Hassan said, adding that his employees often weren’t even able to finish marking one price increase before the next one arrived.
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UAE-based troubled contractor Arabtec Holding has submitted a bankruptcy petition to Dubai Court, following the company's former group CEO Wail Farsakh's resignation in February 2021, Construction Week reported. In a missive issued to Dubai Financial Market (DFM), Arabtec Holding stated that a bankruptcy petition was submitted to the Dubai Court in addition to certain subsidiaries, which include Arabtec Construction, Austrian Arabian Readymix Concrete Co., Arabtec Precast, Emirates Falcon Electromechanical Co.
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A debt restructuring proposal designed to prevent the collapse of construction giant Saudi Binladin Group may face more scrutiny from creditors, Bloomberg News reported. The lenders that want a bigger say in the process have held discussions with Rothschild & Co. and may decide to appoint the investment bank in the coming weeks. Talks are ongoing, and no final decisions have been made. Creditors may also choose to hire another adviser or none at all. While it’s not unusual for creditors to seek an independent counsel, they are acting almost a year after Binladin hired Houlihan Lokey Inc.
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Egypt’s headline inflation accelerated at its fastest pace since December but remained below the target range, making rising global bond yields a more important factor in next week’s rate decision, Bloomberg News reported. The annual inflation rate climbed to 4.5% in February from 4.3% in January after two consecutive months of deceleration. On a monthly basis, consumer prices inched up 0.2%, the state-run statistics agency CAPMAS said Wednesday in a report. Egypt’s central bank is due to make its next interest-rate decision on March 18.
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Tunisia’s state-owned firms are in dire straits, facing a perfect storm of debt, mismanagement, the coronavirus pandemic and a decade of political instability that could push some to bankruptcy, Agence France Presser's reported. Ten years since a revolution that overthrew the nepotistic regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the sweeping reforms economists say are needed to clean up state finances have yet to materialise. The situation has pushed many of the cash-strapped North African country’s 110 state-owned firms towards the edge.
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Lebanon's caretaker prime minister warned Saturday that the country was quickly headed toward chaos and appealed to politicians to put aside differences in order form a new government that can attract desperately needed foreign assistance, the Associated Press reported. Hassan Diab, who resigned almost seven months ago as prime minister, threatened to suspend his caretaker duties if that would increase pressure for a new Cabinet to be formed.

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Saudi Aramco has asked banks to extend by a year a $10 billion loan it raised last May, two sources familiar with the matter said, suggesting that rebounding crude prices are not pushing the oil giant to reduce debt for the time being, Reuters reported. The sources confirmed a report by Loan Pricing Corporation, a fixed-income news provider owned by Refinitiv. It is at the banks’ discretion whether to extend the loan, but lenders will likely agree in order to maintain a good relationship with Aramco in the hope of receiving future business, LPC said citing a banker.
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Ezdan Holding Group faces the risk of debt restructuring or default as the Qatari real estate developer is yet to obtain credit-lines to meet upcoming maturities, according to S&P Global Ratings, Bloomberg News reported. “Despite discussing payment option plans, the company is still in the negotiation stage of securing a committed credit line to address its significant upcoming debt maturities and amortization schedule,” according to the ratings agency. S&P cut Ezdan’s rating to CCC from B- with negative outlook. Ezdan’s $500 million senior unsecured sukuk matures on May 18.
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Kuwait’s government submitted a draft law to parliament seeking permission to withdraw as much as 5 billion dinars ($16.5 billion) a year from the country’s sovereign wealth fund to help finance a spiraling deficit, Bloomberg News reported. If approved by lawmakers, it would be the first time since the aftermath of the Gulf War in 1990 that Kuwait had extracted funds from the $600 billion Future Generations Fund. Previous withdrawals were treated as loans and had to be repaid.
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