North Africa/Middle East

A French official has said it might be difficult for Lebanon’s banks to prevent savers losing some of their deposits, according to the minutes of a meeting in which France outlined steps to help the crippled banking industry, Reuters reported. The comments were made during Sept. 10 talks in Paris between senior French officials and a delegation from the Association of Banks in Lebanon (ABL). Reuters reviewed a copy of the minutes, marked confidential.

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An Indian court has issued a second arrest warrant for a marine refuelling tanker owned by troubled UAE oil trader GP Global after it failed to make payments to its ship manager, court documents showed, Reuters reported. On Sept. 10, the High Court of the western Indian state of Gujrat granted the vessel manager’s, Singapore-based Celestial Ship Management Pte Ltd, a request to arrest the GP B3 bunker tanker for unpaid dues, according to the court documents seen by Reuters.

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An Indian court has ordered the seizure of a tanker belonging to Dubai-based oil trading firm GP Global after a petition from UAE lender National Bank of Fujairah over a loan default, a court document showed, Reuters reported. The Gujarat High Court directed the authorities of Pipavav Port on Sept. 9 to seize the company’s bunkering tanker, GP B3, and detain it until a further court order or until the outstanding loan amount of just over $2 million is paid, a court document seen by Reuters shows. The next hearing is on Sept. 17.

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Saudi Binladin Group plans to hire more advisers to accelerate one of the Middle East’s biggest corporate-debt revamps and tackle its estimated $15 billion debt pile, Bloomberg News reported. The kingdom’s top builder reached out to restructuring specialists across the Persian Gulf to assist with reorganizing the business, a spokesman for Jeddah-based SBG said in a text message. The consultants will assist Houlihan Lokey Inc., which was appointed in April to manage the group’s turnaround.

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Lebanon has started a forensic audit of the central bank, the Finance Ministry said on Wednesday, one of the steps donors want to see to help the nation claw its way out of a crippling financial crisis, Reuters reported. The government agreed in July to hire turnaround specialist Alvarez & Marsal to conduct the forensic audit, which typically involves close examination of an institution’s financial records and can potentially identify any misuse of funds.

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Lebanon may write off two-thirds of its Eurobonds, and a fifth of the local debt, once it overcomes political differences hindering an economic overhaul, Citigroup Inc. says, Bloomberg News reported. The prediction comes as wrangling between government factions, banks and businesses, as well as the fallout from a deadly blast in Beirut, sidetrack the nation’s efforts to fix an economy already in disarray. So dire is the situation that Citigroup analyst Michel Nies says his projections are based on a favorable outcome and can hardly be called a base-case scenario.

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Israeli-Russian businessman David Sapir has offered to buy joint control of financially strapped El Al Israel Airlines, promising to use his business ties to return Israel’s flag carrier to profitability, Reuters reported. Sapir, whose businesses include infrastructure, telecoms and tourism, has offered to pay $51 million for 190 million new shares in El Al, which is the same amount of shares held by controlling shareholder Knafaim Holdings (KNFM.TA), and a 20% premium to El Al’s closing share price on Tuesday in Tel Aviv.

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The economic fallout from the Covid-19 crisis is likely to tip several of the world’s poorest countries into debt distress, forcing official creditors and private-sector lenders to accept a reduction or restructuring of loan repayments, the Paris Club group of creditor countries said on Tuesday, the Financial Times reported.

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Dubai has hired banks to advise it on its comeback to the international debt markets as the Middle East trade and tourism hub seeks to bolster finances hit by the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reported. It is planning to issue U.S. dollar-denominated 10-year Islamic bonds, or sukuk, and 30-year conventional bonds, a document issued by one of the banks leading the deal showed. Dubai Islamic Bank, Emirates NBD Capital, First Abu Dhabi Bank, HSBC, and Standard Chartered will arrange investor calls, which will begin on Monday, ahead of the potential debt offering.

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Lebanon’s lead negotiator for Eurobond restructuring and a key member of the government’s negotiating team with the International Monetary Fund has resigned, Bloomberg News reported. Talal F. Salman, a Harvard graduate who has been serving as an economic adviser to the Finance Ministry for the past six years, submitted his resignation -- effective Monday -- from his position at the United Nations Development Program and the ministry, according to a person familiar with the matter. He’s the third ministry official to quit over Lebanon’s response to its financial crises.

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