Abu Dhabi helps Dubai with bank bailout

Acquisition of a struggling Islamic lender by Emirates NBD was bankrolled by Abu Dhabi,
Abu Dhabi helps Dubai with bank bailout
By Staff writer
Wed 15 Feb 2012 04:57 PM

The acquisition of a struggling Islamic lender by Dubai's largest bank Emirates NBD was bankrolled in part by oil-rich neighbour Abu Dhabi, which helped Dubai avoid default just over two years ago, ENBD's finance chief said on Wednesday.

In October, ENBD was ordered by Dubai's ruler to take over loss-making Dubai Bank, which had been rescued by the emirate's government earlier in 2011.

ENBD, whose fourth-quarter results were hit by its exposure to Dubai-linked entities, said the United Arab Emirates' finance ministry gave it a 2.8-billion dirhams ($762.3 million), eight-year loan at below market rates to facilitate the purchase of Dubai Bank.

"We received a liquidity injection from the UAE ministry of finance," Surya Subramanian, ENBD's chief financial officer, said on a conference call. "The Dubai Bank acquisition had the support of both Dubai and Abu Dhabi governments."

Dubai rattled global markets in 2009 when it requested a standstill on $25 billion in debt at flagship conglomerate Dubai World in the wake of a property collapse. Abu Dhabi rode to Dubai's rescue with a last-minute bailout which helped it avert default on an Islamic bond.

Abu Dhabi sits on 10 percent of global oil reserves, accounts for 90 percent of UAE oil output, and is the biggest contributor to the UAE treasury.

As part of the Dubai Bank transaction, Dubai's government has provided ENBD a 768-million dirham guarantee over a period of seven years against losses.

"The issue is not about who pushed for it, whether it was Dubai or Abu Dhabi, but whether those guarantees will be enough," said a Dubai-based fund manager who asked not to be identified.

Abu Dhabi's participation in a bailout at its glitzier neighbour comes just over two years after it lent Dubai $10 billion. The UAE central bank had earlier in 2009 bought up $10 billion of Dubai bonds.

Earlier on Wednesday, ENBD said fourth-quarter net profit fell 62 percent to 152 million dirhams as provisions weighed heavily for the second consecutive quarter. That compared with profit of 403 million dirhams in the same period a year earlier.

It declined to specify the nature of these provisions but has said that there is no profit-and-loss implication from the Dubai Bank deal.

Two analysts had forecast profit of 114 million dirhams and 230.30 million dirhams.

Impairment allowances jumped 425 percent in the quarter to 1.06 billion dirhams, from 201 million dirhams previously.

Total impairments for 2011 stood at 4.98 billion dirhams, up 56 percent from 3.2 billion dirhams in 2010.

ENBD had warned in October -- following a 59-percent drop in third-quarter profits on provisioning against government-linked debt exposure -- that its final quarter numbers were likely to be hit by further impairment charges.

Net profit for 2011 rose 6 percent to 2.48 billion dirhams compared to 2.34 billion dirhams in 2010.

ENBD wrote down its investment in developer Union Properties by a further 750 million dirhams during the course of 2011.

Union Properties, in which ENBD has a 47.6-percent stake, sealed a 3.8-billion debt deal with the bank, its chief executive told a local paper in January, with 1.1 billion of assets transferred to the bank and 2.7 billion dirhams of debt extended for five years.

ENBD set a dividend of 20 percent for 2011. Its shares closed up 0.67 percent on the Dubai index.

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