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
0

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.


Oman regulator suspends KPMG from new auditing work over ‘irregularities’

Updated 14 November 2018
0

Oman regulator suspends KPMG from new auditing work over ‘irregularities’

  • In Oman, KPMG is banned for one year from doing new auditing work for companies regulated by the CMA
  • It is another setback for KPMG, which is under scrutiny after losing clients in South Africa following its role in a high-profile corruption scandal there

DUBAI: Oman’s securities regulator said on Wednesday it has suspended audit firm KPMG from doing new work for a year after finding major financial and accounting irregularities at some listed companies.
The Capital Market Authority (CMA) took corrective steps at those companies to protect investors, it said in a statement without naming the firms or giving other details.
A review by the CMA “established professional negligence on the part of some audit firms that warranted disciplinary measures against them in the interests of the investors and other stakeholders,” the CMA said.
It is another setback for KPMG, which is under scrutiny after losing clients in South Africa following its role in a high-profile corruption scandal there and has faced investigations in Britain over its auditing of some clients.
In Oman, KPMG is banned for one year from doing new auditing work for companies regulated by the CMA, including listed companies, securities firms and insurers.
The penalty does not affect projects where KPMG has already been appointed, and KPMG has a right to appeal against the penalty before an independent authority, the CMA said.
KPMG said it could not immediately comment on the CMA’s statement.