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Tue 2 Aug 2011 01:11 PM

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Nakheel chief says trade creditors free to sell claims

Distressed debt firms seen approaching trade creditors to snap up claims

Nakheel chief says trade creditors free to sell claims
Once its restructuring is complete, Nakheel will be owned by the Dubai government

Trade creditors of Dubai's Nakheel can sell their claims to investment banks keen on buying them and the property developer will not get involved in such deals, its chairman said in published remarks on Tuesday.

Nakheel, builder of man-made islands in the shape of palms, was at the center of Dubai's crippling 2009 debt crisis after a property bust brought the firm to its knees.

The developer, which ran a parallel restructuring process to parent firm Dubai World, has offered trade creditors repayment of 40 percent cash and the remaining 60 percent in the form of an Islamic bond, or sukuk.

"The interest of a group of local and international banks in negotiating with the company's creditors to buy their dues reflects these banks' total trust in Nakheel's ability to pay off the necessary debt and the sukuk planned to launch in the near future," Ali Rashid Lootah told the Arabic daily Al-Ittihad.

Dubai avoided an embarrassing default on a Nakheel bond in December 2009 after a last-minute bailout from Abu Dhabi. Two subsequent Nakheel bonds were paid in full on maturity last year and in January.

Lootah's remarks came after a report this week that Hong Kong-based distressed debt investment firm SC Lowy was keen to buy Nakheel's trade creditor claims.

Lootah did not indicate when the sukuk, which was expected to be issued by the end of June, would be launched.

Once its restructuring is complete, Nakheel will be owned by the Dubai government.

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