North Africa/Middle East

Dubai-based property lender Amlak Finance is in talks with creditors to restructure debts of around AED7bn (US$1.9bn), in the latest attempt to resurrect a victim of Dubai's property crash, ArabianBusiness.com reported. The sharia-compliant mortgage lender is negotiating with a creditor committee of six members, which includes two government-owned funds as well as Dubai's largest lender and its biggest Islamic bank, two sources with knowledge of the matter said. They spoke on condition of anonymity as the information is not public.
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Bahrain-based Gulf Air will launch a major cost-cutting plan and focus increasingly on regional services, Air Transport World reported. In a statement issued Tuesday, the carrier said it intends to strengthen its Middle East and North African (MENA) services, target 24% in cost savings by year end and simplify its fleet structure. The restructuring was foreshadowed by October’s announcement of a BD185 million ($494 million) government cash injection in the loss-making national carrier. Lawmakers also talked of halving the current 3,800 workforce and reducing its fleet from 39 to 20 aircraft.
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Property buyers using mortgages will have to stump up more than twice as much out of their own pocket to make a down payment as a result of the Central Bank’s new mortgage rules, new research found yesterday, The National reported. Buyers’ self-funding requirements will rise by 100 per cent for nationals and 150 per cent for expatriates, said Chiradeep Ghosh, an analyst at Securities and Investment Company (Sico), a Bahrain-based investment bank. Bankers are to meet tomorrow to formulate a response to the government circular.
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The key to preventing a messy devaluation of Egypt's pound may lie with the country's households, whose dollar holdings are being eyed by foreign investors as a critical gauge of trust in the authorities, Reuters reported in an analysis. Countless emerging market crises have shown over the decades that it is not the withdrawal of foreign investors from a market but the flight of local households and businesses from a currency that is instrumental in its collapse. Egypt, despite months of upheaval, is not there yet.
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Diving Currency Adds to Egypt's Woes

Egypt's currency plumbed new depths yesterday as policy makers tried to reassure the public and investors that they can prevent a full-scale currency devaluation while still repairing Egypt's budget deficit, the Wall Street Journal reported today. The country's worsening economic crisis comes after President Mohammed Morsi isolated his political opponents to push through Egypt's Islamist-leaning constitution, sparking weeks of riots, protests and political uncertainty.
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The United Arab Emirates plans to restrict mortgages for foreigners to 50 percent of the property’s value, threatening to derail a nascent recovery in Dubai home prices after more than three years of declines, Bloomberg News reported today. U.A.E. citizens can get as much 70 percent of the value of a first house and 60 percent for a second, according to guidelines issued by the central bank and obtained by Bloomberg News. Foreigners can get mortgages of as much as 40 percent of the value of a second property, according to the document.
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Dana Gas PJSC, whose bondholders include BlackRock Inc and Ashmore Group Plc, completed the restructuring of $920 million of Islamic bonds after agreeing to pay twice the average yield on emerging markets corporate sukuk, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. Dana Gas, which missed sukuk payments in October, will pay bondholders $70 million in cash and split the remaining Shariah- compliant debt into $425 million of convertible bonds and an ordinary sukuk of equal value, the United Arab Emirates fuel producer said in a statement.
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Global Investment House KSCC signed formal agreements with all its creditors to restructure $1.7 billion of debt after the Kuwaiti investment bank won a U.K. court’s approval and its shareholders agreed to delist stock, Bloomberg reported. The company’s core business will comprise about $3.5 billion of assets under management, investment banking and brokerage businesses, Global said in a statement distributed via the Regulatory News Service today. The majority of non-core investment and real-estate assets will be transferred to a special purpose entity, it said.
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Iranian group Tadbir Energy will submit a bid for the Petit-Couronne oil refinery from insolvent owner Petroplus at a court hearing on Tuesday, French daily Le Figaro said, without citing its sources. Tadbir Energy, a unit of the Imam Khomeini foundation, will offer to buy France's oldest refinery with a guarantee to keep the 550 staff it employs, the paper added. Iranian oil imports are forbidden since July in the European Union, the paper said.
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UK Courts Used For Kuwaiti Debt Workout

Kuwaiti firm Global Investment House’s decision to use the UK courts could set a new precedent for debt restructuring in the Gulf as the company bypasses Kuwaiti law to push through its second debt deal in three years, the Financial Times reported. The Gulf company is the first to try to use a London court “scheme” to force a minority of creditors to accept the terms of its new $1.7bn restructuring plan, which aims to grant creditors a 70 per cent stake in the investment company.
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