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Mon 8 Aug 2011 02:52 PM

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Dubai opts to repay, not refinance $4bn loan

Emirate's sovereign wealth arm says ‘committed and able’ to meet debt obligations

Dubai opts to repay, not refinance $4bn loan
Dubai has estimated debt refinancings of about $30bn to 2012

Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD), the emirate's sovereign wealth arm, on Monday said it will repay in full a $4bn loan maturing on August 21, financing it mainly with dividends from its investments.

ICD had been expected to repay part of the loan and had already agreed with banks to refinance $2.8bn of the upcoming maturity, in what would have been the largest loan to emerge from Dubai since its 2009 debt crisis.

"Today's announcement demonstrates that as part of the government of Dubai, ICD is committed and able to meet its debt obligations," Mohammed Al Shaibani, executive director and chief executive of ICD said in a statement.

ICD holds about $70bn in assets and its portfolio includes Emirates airline and stakes in Dubai's largest bank, Emirates NBD, developer Emaar Properties and Borse Dubai.

“From a headline perspective, the announcement is
encouraging. However, it is not clear where the cash is going to come
from," said John Bates, head of fixed income at asset manager Silk Invest.

"They have talked about using dividends from portfolio
companies for repayments but there isn't much information on the structure of
the repayment."

Dubai airline Emirates, which issued a heavily oversubscribed $1bn
bond in June, contributed about AED2bn ($544.6m) in dividends to the government
last year.

The Gulf Arab emirate is working to rebuild its credibility
amongst investors who fled after state-owned conglomerate Dubai World announced
in 2009 that it would restructure about $25bn in debt.

The crisis left the tiny desert city state with grand
ambitions coping with a burst property bubble and a debt pile estimated at over
$100m at its state-owned companies.

Dubai's debt insurance costs have narrowed since Dubai World
reached a deal with creditors last year, however, hitting pre-crisis levels in
June. It launched a $500m bond this year, its second since the debt crisis, in
a sign appetite for Dubai debt and confidence is returning.

The emirate is seen as a safe haven amid the political
instability engulfing the wider region.

"Given the level of concern that has prevailed
regarding Dubai Inc's ability to repay or refinance obligations in 2011 and
2012, today's news is very significant indeed," said Chavan Bhogaita, head
of markets strategy at National Bank of Abu Dhabi.

About $30bn in refinancing is due by 2012.

The $4bn loan to be repaid is the three-year tranche of a
total $6bn deal signed in 2008. The remaining $2bn, five-year tranche matures
on 21 August 2013.

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