North Africa/Middle East

The International Monetary Fund is willing to work with Lebanon to solve its financial problems and restructure its debt, but needs a partner in the Lebanese government, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Wednesday, Reuters reported. Speaking with CNN during the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank, Georgieva said ongoing fragmentation was holding Lebanon back and preventing progress on an economic plan to lift the country out of financial crisis. “It takes two to tango,” Georgieva said.

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Time and money are running out for Lebanon. Foreign reserves have dropped far below what the state already deemed “dangerous levels” when it defaulted on its huge debt in March, meaning it cannot afford to keep subsidies for long, Reuters reported. Leaders in power for decades have yet to enact a financial rescue plan, a year after huge protests against them swept the country, and they have failed to secure aid from foreign donors.

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Just over six years ago, Dubai-listed Arabtec Holding had investors eating out of its hands. At a lavish shareholder meeting at Abu Dhabi’s St. Regis Hotel, the contractor that helped build the world’s tallest skyscraper, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, outlined plans for listings in London, Hong Kong and New York, Reuters reported. Those plans never materialised.

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Al Masah Capital Ltd., once among the Persian Gulf’s most active private equity companies, is being liquidated after being fined for allegedly misleading investors about fees, according to court filings in the Cayman Islands, Bloomberg News reported. The company’s collapse comes after Dubai’s financial watchdog in May penalized Al Masah, its founder Shailesh Dash, and two other executives on accusations that they also provided unauthorized services. The individuals were banned from working in the emirate’s financial center.

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Shareholders of United Arab Emirates-based Arabtec Holding PJSC, which helped build the world’s tallest skyscraper, voted to dissolve the debt-laden firm in a move likely to threaten thousands of jobs and scores of suppliers and sub-contractors in the Persian Gulf, Bloomberg News reported. Construction companies that sprang up more than a decade ago as a building bonanza swept Dubai and much of the Gulf are facing a reckoning as governments pull back on spending.

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Arabtec Holding shareholders authorised the board of the Dubai-listed construction company on Wednesday to file for liquidation due to its untenable financial position following the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, an internal company email said, Reuters reported. Shareholders also authorised Arabtec to appoint AlixPartners and Matthew Wilde, or any other person or persons the board considered fit, as liquidator, two sources told Reuters.

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Kuwait’s parliament passed a long-awaited insolvency law on Tuesday to help attract investment and commerce, Bloomberg Law reported. The absence of insolvency protection has been cited as a significant deterrent to foreign investment. The new law restructures the legal framework for bankruptcy to focus on rehabilitating troubled companies rather than liquidation.

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In early September, six of Lebanon’s top bankers touched down in Paris. It was not a business visit — Lebanese lenders have been shunned by overseas counterparts since the state defaulted in March, the Financial Times reported in a commentary. Representing Lebanon’s powerful banking lobby, the financiers had gone to plead their case to some new sheriffs: French officials. French President Emmanuel Macron is corralling the international community’s efforts to help crisis-stricken Lebanon, while pressuring its unpopular leaders.

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NMC Placed Into Administration In UAE

NMC has been placed into administration in the United Arab Emirates, allowing the troubled hospital group to meet September salaries by securing an additional $325m in funding, the Financial Times reported. During online hearings at the courts of Abu Dhabi’s international financial centre on Sunday, NMC Healthcare and related companies successfully applied for protection against enforcement of debt claims, in an emergency bid to sustain operations amid a second spike in coronavirus cases in the Gulf state.

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Loss-making Dubai-listed contractor Arabtec Holding has hired advisory firm AlixPartners to help it restructure the company's debt, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters, Reuters reported. AlixPartners is assessing the company’s debt profile, before any potential discussions with Arabtec’s creditors, said the sources, declining to be named as the matter is not public. Arabtec did not respond to a query for comment when contacted by Reuters on Thursday. AlixPartners declined to comment.

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