North Africa/Middle East

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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Lebanon’s central bank has told domestic banks to recapitalize through new means, urge big depositors to move funds back to the country and provision for a 45% loss on their Eurobond holdings, according to several circulars published on Thursday, Reuters reported. Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh later told Reuters the measures aimed to strengthen the banking system, paralysed by the worst financial crisis in Lebanon’s history which has been compounded by this month’s Beirut port blast and COVID-19.

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The restructuring of NMC Health Plc through an Abu Dhabi court could cost as much as $140 million in consultancy and legal fees, almost half of what the hospital operator’s administrators are raising in new funding from creditors, Bloomberg News reported. “It’s not cheap and we have the best advisers and the best minds in the world working on the preservation of this business,” acting Chief Executive Officer Michael Davis said in a recent interview.

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Lebanon’s central bank will only subsidise fuel, wheat and medicine for three more months, an official source said on Thursday, as critically low foreign currency reserves dwindle, Reuters reported. A central bank official was not immediately available for comment, and the caretaker economy minister referred questions on the matter to the central bank. The source told Reuters the bank had informed the government it would end the subsidies then in order to prevent reserves from falling below $17.5 billion.

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NMC Healthcare LLC plans to file for administration in Abu Dhabi, the UAE-based hospitals operator said on Wednesday, as it targets a three-year recovery plan involving a debt moratorium, debt restructuring and asset sales, Reuters reported. Its London-listed holding company NMC Health Plc is already being run by administrators Alvarez & Marsal after going into administration in April following months of turmoil over its finances. NMC Healthcare LLC plans to file for administration with the Abu Dhabi financial centre ADGM, it said in a presentation posted on its website on Wednesday.

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Finablr, the payments group embroiled in an accounting scandal, said on Monday that founder BR Shetty would resign as director and co-chairman with immediate effect. The company, which grew out of a United Arab Emirates remittance house and is part of the Indian entrepreneur’s business empire, last month appointed law firm Skadden to help investigate potential wrongdoing and theft in relation to about £1bn of undisclosed debt discovered on its balance sheet earlier this year, the Financial Times reported.

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Libya’s sovereign wealth fund head plans to ask the United Nations to allow it to invest billions of dollars sitting idle in its accounts, after missing out on some $4.1 billion (3.1 billion pounds) in potential equity returns during nearly a decade of sanctions, Reuters reported. The Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) was blacklisted in March 2011 because it was then controlled by the family of toppled ruler Muammar Gaddafi. Its assets were valued at $67 billion in 2012, but LIA plans to update that in October after a review by its financial adviser Deloitte.

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