Kuwaiti creditor said to refuse Abraaj deal, may prompt provisional liquidation

Abraaj founder Arif Naqvi stepped aside from investment decisions earlier this year, following allegations of the misuse of $200 million worth of funds. (Getty Images)
Updated 06 June 2018
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Kuwaiti creditor said to refuse Abraaj deal, may prompt provisional liquidation

  • Refusal draws firm nearer provisional liquidation
  • Abraaj seeks standstill agreement

A Kuwaiti creditor is refusing to agree to a debt settlement deal with Abraaj, which could push the private equity firm to seek provisional liquidation, three sources close to the matter said.

The refusal by Kuwait’s Public Institution for Social Security (PIFSS) to join other creditors in a debt freeze may complicate Abraaj’s efforts to sell its investment management unit to New York-based Cerberus Capital Management, the sources told Reuters.

Abraaj, which bankers estimate has debt of about $1 billion, is already grappling with allegations that it misused investor money. The Middle East and Africa’s largest private equity firm has denied any wrongdoing.

Two sources said Abraaj had started preparations for applying for provisional liquidation, a process in which a court appoints a liquidator on a provisional basis before hearing or ruling on a petition to wind up a company.

A separate source close to Abraaj said that a provisional liquidation was not its focus and it was working on reaching a consensual deal with secured and unsecured creditors.
Abraaj said in a statement to Reuters that it was continuing to engage closely with a single creditor, which it did not name, “to reach a consensual outcome for the benefit of all parties.”

“The firm is continuing its discussions on the sale of the fund management business and talks are at an advanced stage,” Abraaj said, adding it was working with potential acquirers and other stakeholders “toward achieving a positive outcome.”

Abraaj, which is being advised by Houlihan Lokey, said it was focused on concluding a standstill agreement with creditors, saying the “vast majority” of them backed the debt deal.

Sources said the standstill agreement was needed to help facilitate the sale of its investment management business to Cerberus. But sources said PIFSS, an unsecured lender, held out and was given a 48-hour deadline to agree.

The Kuwaiti fund has since notified Abraaj that it intended to continue a winding up petition it filed through the Cayman Islands last month, the sources said. The next hearing in the process is scheduled for June 29, one of the sources said.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that PIFSS filed a case in a Cayman Islands court against Abraaj, claiming it was unable to repay a $100 million loan and $7 million interest.

Officials at PIFSS were not immediately available for comment. Its management has previously declined to comment on an ongoing legal action.

A sale of the Kuwaiti creditor’s position to debt funds could help overcome the impasse in the process, the sources said.

A number of distressed debt buyers had emerged to potentially buy the Kuwaiti creditor’s claim, two sources said, but they said PIFSS was not willing to sell.
Cerberus, which manages assets totalling more than $30 billion, specializes in investments in distressed assets. The US company has not responded to Reuters requests for comment.

Abraaj is facing an investigation by some investors, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Bank’s lending arm over how the firm used some of their money in its $1 billion health care fund.


US-China trade deal hopes grow as oil prices decline

Updated 19 June 2019
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US-China trade deal hopes grow as oil prices decline

  • Data suggested a smaller-than-expected fall in American crude inventories
  • Preparations underway for Donald Trump to meet Xi Jinping next week at the G20 summit in Osaka

LONDON: Oil prices declined on Wednesday as data suggested a smaller-than-expected fall in American crude inventories, as hopes for a US-China trade deal continue to grow.
Brent crude futures were down 51 cents at $61.72 a barrel.
US West Texas Intermediate crude fell 25 cents to $53.65 a barrel. On Tuesday, it had recorded its biggest daily rise since early January.
After weeks of swelling, US crude stocks fell by 812,000 barrels last week to 482 million, the American Petroleum Institute said on Tuesday, a smaller fall than the 1.1-million-barrel drop analysts had expected.
Official estimates on US crude stockpiles from the US government’s Energy Information Administration are due during afternoon trading.
US President Donald Trump offered some support, saying preparations were underway for him to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping next week at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, amid hopes a trade deal could be thrashed out between the two powers. Trump has repeatedly threatened China with tariffs since winning office in 2016.
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi also offered a boost, saying on Tuesday that he would ease policy again if inflation failed to accelerate.
Tensions remain high in the Middle East after last week’s tanker attacks. Fears of a confrontation between Iran and the US have mounted, with Washington blaming Tehran, which has denied any role.
Trump said he was prepared to take military action to stop Iran having a nuclear bomb but left open whether he would approve the use of force to protect Gulf oil supplies.
On Wednesday, oil markets shrugged off a rocket attack on a site in southern Iraq used by foreign oil companies.
“It is interesting to note that the crude oil futures market could not rally on hawks planting bombs in the Strait of Hormuz but could rally on doves planting quantitative easing,” Petromatrix’s Olivier Jakob said in a note.
“This is an oil market that doesn’t know how to react when an oil tanker blows up but knows how to react when the head of a central bank makes some noise.”
Members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries have agreed to meet on July 1, followed by a meeting with non-OPEC allies on July 2, after weeks of wrangling over dates.
OPEC and its allies will discuss whether to extend a deal on cutting 1.2 million barrels per day of production that runs out this month.