Owners of $1.2 billion in debt issued by Etihad and other airlines it partly owned have given the struggling Abu Dhabi carrier an ultimatum to agree to a restructuring or potentially face legal action, two sources close to the situation said, Reuters reported. The move is the latest turn in the unravelling of Etihad’s strategy to embark on global partnerships with airlines, the most high profile of which have since gone bankrupt.
North Africa/Middle East
Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab blamed “criminal” currency manipulation for the unraveling of the country’s decades-old peg as he touted his cabinet’s achievements despite an unprecedented financial crisis, Bloomberg News reported. Flanked by his entire cabinet during a televised speech on Thursday, Diab criticized what he said were years of neglect and mismanagement on the part of the state, saying his own government -- in place since January -- was on the path to restoring confidence in Lebanon.
Some of the world’s poorest oil-producing countries are slipping behind on payments for billions of dollars in oil-for-cash loans from commodity trading houses, putting them at risk of default, Bloomberg News reported. The so-called prepayment deals, in which a trading house advances a nation money to be repaid with future oil shipments, have been popular among some African and Middle East oil nations as the only way to raise funds. But they have also proved controversial: in some cases they create an opaque source of debt that governments find hard to pay back when oil prices plunge.
Lebanese banks are urging the government to sell state assets and defer maturities to avoid defaulting on its domestic debt and driving the country’s finances into an even deeper crisis, Bloomberg News reported. The Association of Banks in Lebanon made the recommendations in a response to the economic recovery plan the government is discussing with the International Monetary Fund after seeking $10 billion in assistance.
A recovery plan Lebanon is negotiating with the IMF expertly diagnoses the bankrupt state’s colossal losses but fails to commit to radical reform, the vital ingredient needed for a financial bailout of the country’s sinking economy, Reuters reported. The 53-page rescue plan, agreed by the government in April after months of haggling, is recognised by officials, economists and diplomats as the most searching examination of how Lebanon came to pile up debts several times the size of its economy.
Saudi Arabia’s Binladin Group has cut thousands of jobs and reduced staff salaries between 30% to 70% as the coronavirus outbreak hurts business of the kingdom’s biggest construction company, three sources familiar with the matter said, Reuters reported. The sources declined to be identified and the company did not respond to an email request for comment.
The governments of Abu Dhabi and Dubai are discussing ways to prop up Dubai’s economy by linking up assets in the two emirates, with Abu Dhabi’s state fund Mubadala likely to play a key role in any deal, three sources familiar with the matter said, Reuters reported. Some economic sectors have come to a near standstill in Dubai during the coronavirus outbreak, and it faces its most severe downturn since a 2009 debt crisis. It lacks the oil wealth of Abu Dhabi to cushion the blow.
Lebanon’s financial prosecutor ordered the detention of a director at Banque Du Liban for alleged currency manipulation, the first such move against a central bank that’s been under heavy scrutiny since the start of the country’s financial crisis, Bloomberg News reported. Prosecutor Ali Ibrahim said Mazen Hamdan, director of the cash operations department at the central bank, bought dollars from exchange bureaus and weakened the pound on the black market, the state-run National News Agency reported.
A financial scandal has swept through London and the United Arab Emirates, centered on allegations of fraud at the two core companies of the Abu Dhabi-based tycoon Bavaguthu Raghuram Shetty, Bloomberg News reported. Both NMC Health Plc and Finablr Plc have had their shares suspended in London, with NMC losing its place in the FTSE 100 index of leading U.K.-listed companies.
Emirates NBD has $23.66 million to the Dubai subsidiary of Phoenix Commodities which had recently filed for liquidation, Dubai’s biggest lender said on Tuesday, Reuters reported. Emirates NBD bank said in a statement that the exposure was to Phoenix Global DMCC, a unit of Phoenix Commodities Pvt Ltd. Phoenix, with offices in Dubai and Singapore, is being liquidated after amassing more than $400 million in potential trading losses, according a document prepared by the liquidators seen by Reuters. The document did not name the creditors but sources familiar with the company had told Reuters t