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20 June 2024

Nakheel plans $1.1bn of early debt repayments in 2014

By Reuters

Dubai developer Nakheel plans to repay up to Dh4 billion ($1.1 billion) of bank debt due in 2015 this year, its chairman said on Saturday, as the firm benefits from a rebound in the emirate's property sector.

With the property market rebound in 2013, prices are up around 22 per cent versus 2012 and as a result of the rebound, Nakheel will not require further government support and is targeting annual profit growth of 15 percent, Ali Rashid Lootah told a news conference.

Nakheel's profit jumped in recent quarters on the back of the local real estate recovery - its nine-month net profit was 58 per cent higher year-on-year, it said in October.

The recovery has allowed Nakheel to restart projects which had previously been shelved because of the crisis, including another palm-shaped island.

"We will have four new hotels to be announced this year. This is part of our strategy to build more cash generating assets," Lootah said, adding that it plans 4.7 billion dirhams of new retail and hospitality projects this year.

The company's total cash outflow of Dh56.9 billion that was assessed after the restructuring has been cut to Dh41.3 billion, and the net deficit has dropped by Dh22 billion to Dh8 billion.

Of the Dh4 billion it will repay early, around Dh2.35 billion is earmarked for payment in the first quarter of this year, he said. The total debt facility due in 2015 is worth $2.2 billion.

Lootah had said in June that discussions were ongoing with the around 30 local and international banks to refinance the loan, having said in February the firm was looking to extend the loan's lifespan as it was very short.

"These funds came from increased sales and also by mitigating claims of creditors," he added.

Nakheel will also have no problems repaying a $1.2 billion Islamic bond, which it issued to trade creditors as part of its restructuring plan due in 2016, Lootah said.

Of trade creditors' 8 billion dirhams of claims against the company, nearly all have now been settled amicably, with the expected payout to be worth around 15 percent of the total, according to the presentation.

Trade creditors often settled claims at a steep discount as they needed the funds quickly after a long delay in repayment by Nakheel as it secured its restructuring, as well as to ensure the maintenance of a good relationship with one of the key real estate developers in Dubai.