The United Arab Emirates lifted a ban on its citizens visiting Lebanon on Monday as the Beirut government sought UAE help in steering the heavily indebted economy out of deep crisis, Reuters reported. Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, leading a delegation to Abu Dhabi seeking support, had told Reuters he was hoping the UAE would inject cash into its central bank. Before the lifting of the travel ban was announced, Hariri said he was “optimistic” after visiting the UAE and meeting with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.
North Africa/Middle East
Lebanon may need support from loyal local banks or even friendly Gulf states to buy a new Eurobond as foreign investors look set to shun the sale, citing the country’s long list of troubles, Reuters reported. A Eurobond of around $2 billion is being prepared for sale this month, with cash raised earmarked for refinancing maturing debts and shoring up Lebanon’s shaky public finances. But international appetite appears muted, with fund managers wary of putting money into one of the world’s most indebted countries as it grapples with a multitude of national and geopolitical concerns.
Dubai continues to service its debt and is ready to take on more if needed, an economic official said on Wednesday, adding that current debt was $124 billion, Reuters reported. “We continue to service the debt on time, as scheduled. We are ready to take on more debt, if need be,” Raed Safadi, the chief economic advisor at Dubai’s Department of Economic Development, said at an event. His comments came after Reuters had reported on Sept. 10, citing sources, that the government of Dubai has held talks with banks about a potential issue of U.S.
Rothschild & Co. and Moelis & Co. have been shortlisted to advise on restructuring about $15 billion of debt at Saudi Arabia’s biggest construction firm, according to people with knowledge of the matter, Bloomberg News reported. The boutique banks made pitches to Saudi Binladin Group last month for what would be one of the Middle East’s biggest debt revamps, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private.
Fitch Ratings has downgraded Saudi Arabia, citing vulnerabilities in the kingdom’s economic infrastructure after attacks on oil facilities this month knocked out half of its crude production, the Financial Times reported. The New York-based rating agency on Monday dropped Saudi Arabia’s long-term foreign currency issuer default rating to A from A+, with a stable outlook. Fitch said the downgrade followed the escalation in geopolitical and military tension in the Gulf as well as deteriorating fiscal and external balance sheets.
A weakening property market in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where prices have fallen by more than 20% since their peak in 2014, is likely to put more pressure on the asset quality of the banking sector, Fitch Ratings agency said, Reuters reported. The UAE, home to the world’s tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa, has faced a sharp real estate slowdown due to oversupply and weaker investment appetite amid lower oil prices.
A rally in Lebanon’s Eurobonds will prove short-lived if the country’s government can’t get serious about reforms that are needed to claim Saudi Arabian aid, Bloomberg News reported. The highly-indebted nation’s dollar yields sunk 104 basis points on Wednesday, the most since 2002, after Saudi Arabia said it was mulling financial support for its Middle Eastern neighbor. Investors also took heart from Prime Minister Saad Hariri traveling to Paris to meet French President Emmanuel Macron in a bid to unlock $11 billion of aid promised by international donors last year.
Algeria, which hasn’t sold debt abroad in over two decades, signaled it may reverse its aversion to outside borrowing and lift some restrictions on foreign investment, Bloomberg News reported. The protest-torn OPEC member, still led by veterans of the war for independence from France waged over half a century ago, was forced to restructure billions of dollars worth of loans from foreign banks in the 1990s. While struggling to revive the economy, the government has been wary of turning to outside financing for fear it could again leave the nation beholden to others.
Arabtec Holding PJSC shares soared in Dubai after the company started talks to merge with Abu Dhabi-based Trojan Holding LLC, Bloomberg News reported. The stock advanced as much as 13%, the steepest intraday gain since July 2017, as Arabtec said the entities began a study to potentially combine their construction businesses and may merge after technical, financial and legal reviews. It didn’t provide further details. The talks come as a property-market slowdown weighs on companies in the United Arab Emirates.
Qatar’s banks eased repayment terms on real-estate loans, according to the chief executive officer of Doha Bank QSC, after the Saudi Arabia-led standoff hurt property prices, Bloomberg News reported. “Cash flows have been redefined, debt has been restructured to see that debt-servicing capacity is not in danger in the coming days for real estate owners,” Raghavan Seetharaman said in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Monday.