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Sun 28 Nov 2010 01:06 PM

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Dubai may consider selling shares in its biggest assets

'Dubai World is now on sound financial footing', Sheikh Ahmed says

Dubai may consider selling shares in its biggest assets
DSFC BOSS: Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum is the chairman of Dubai Supreme Fiscal Committee (ITP Images)
Dubai may consider selling shares in its biggest assets
(Getty Images)

The emirate of Dubai may consider selling parts of government-owned companies as it continues to restructure those hit hard by the financial crisis, top financial officials said on Sunday.

The emirate, a regional financial and trade hub, suffered a blow to its reputation a year ago when state-linked conglomerate Dubai World announced it would ask creditors for a standstill agreement on almost $25 billion in debt.

"Dubai World is now on sound financial footing," Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of Dubai Supreme Fiscal Committee, told a news conference.

In the past year, Dubai World managed to reach a restructuring deal with creditors, allowing the government to tap into improved investor confidence to issue a $1.25bn bond in September.

Prized assets such as DP World, the Atlantis Hotel and casino operator MGM Resorts International were presented under the restructuring as potential assets that could be sold to the public to help raise cash. There is also keen interest in other state-linked assets such as Emirates airlines and Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA).

"We are working on opening up the capital of leading companies to our public," he said.

Property developer Nakheel, which is trying to reach agreement on a proposed restructuring plan, is also returning to health, said Faisal Mikou, the executive vice president of the Investment Corporation of Dubai.

"We are making very good progress on the restructuring... Nakheel's financial and operational restructuring is going according to plan," Mikou said.

Nakheel plans to issue a sukuk, or Islamic bond, to its trade creditors in the first quarter of 2011, he said.

Despite improving balance sheets among Dubai's state-linked companies, significant challenges remain.

In a reminder that Gulf Arab emirate's debt troubles are far from over, financial services firm Dubai Group recently missed two payments on separate loans.

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