Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Abu Dhabi to aid Dubai on "case by case" basis: Reuters

Nov 28 2009
ABU DHABI: Abu Dhabi, wealthy capital of the United Arab Emirates, will "pick and choose" how to assist debt-laden neighbor Dubai, a senior official said on Saturday, after fears of a Dubai default sent global markets reeling. "We will look at Dubai's commitments and approach them on a case-by-case basis. It does not mean that Abu Dhabi will underwrite all of their debts," the official in the government of the emirate of Abu Dhabi told Reuters by phone. Selective assistance for companies in "Dubai Inc.," a network of quasi-sovereign industries, instead of blanket assistance, would serve a rude awakening to investors who for years assumed that the conservative Abu Dhabi provided a safety net for its racier neighbor. At stake is the $59 billion in debt held by government controlled holding company Dubai World and its property arm Nakheel, builder of palm-shaped islands for wealthy celebrities. Dubai delayed payment on Nakheel debt by six months in a shock announcement, which came on the eve of a long holiday.
Years of chasing business in Dubai's property boom means Abu Dhabi banks have built up an exposure to Dubai-based companies worth at least 30 percent of their loan books, senior bankers in Abu Dhabi said on Friday. In most investors' minds, the question is not whether Abu Dhabi will support Dubai but when and how. Abu Dhabi, which pumps 90 percent of the oil that make the United Arab Emirates the world's third-largest oil exporter, has already provided $15 billion in indirect support for Dubai through the UAE central bank and two private Abu Dhabi banks. How much more support the emirate provides for its cash-strapped neighbor, however, will depend on how Dubai clarifies its stand on unresolved issues. (Reuters)